8 Simple Rules... It feels so strange to sit here, welling up with tears, watching what's normally a silly TV sitcom. This week, it's different because the show acknowledges John Ritter's death in its storyline. The Hennessy family learns Paul collapsed in aisle three at the supermarket, which is why he never came home with the milk. It's such an odd situation. The show's supposed to be a comedy, but whenever it shoots for sitcom-style laughs and wisecracks, the most it manages to eke out of me is an uneasy chuckle. To be honest, James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette's bickering as Kate's estranged parents seems more annoying and out-of-place than amusing. But still, it's really good these familiar faces are there, just to do the grandparental thing and hug everyone. I like Grandpa's "man to man" talks with grandson Rory. And I like Grandma's clumsy moments with Kate, as she tries unsuccessfully to "say the right thing" and use religion as a balm for her widowed daughter's grief. Despite the awkward attempts at laughs, a lot rings true about this episode, most especially Katey Sagal's damn fine acting performance. The lady's obviously in a rough position, but she does much to make this the touching, fitting farewell that Ritter and his character deserve.
Fear Factor Okay, I just finished watching the most poignant hour of TV I've seen in a while. Now, I'm looking at greedy losers bobbing for something — it looks like French fries? — in a vat of "soggy cow brains." No. Especially not tonight. Click.
24 Watching Kiefer Sutherland (as Agent Jack Bauer) struggle with that drug needle is perverse fun. Only because you know actors love hamming it up with this type of substance abuse storyline. Will he shoot up? Or can he resist the temptation to get high? Phew! He makes like Nancy Reagan and just says no — for the moment.
Judging Amy Did anyone think Amy would really marry Stu (Reed Diamond)? Ever since PAX refugee Adrian Pasdar joined the series — as ADA David McClaren — it's been obvious Amy's gonna end up dating him. (Not that Amy Brenneman shares much screen chemistry with this guy, which worries me.) But didja see Stu wipe his nose with his forearm at the table, during that pre-wedding family meal? Clearly, he's a goner.
By the way, Dan Futterman's return as Amy's prodigal brother, Vincent, was funny. Only because boring cousin Kyle (Kevin Rahm) was introduced to Judging Amy to fill the subplot void after Futterman left. So the fact that Kyle's girlfriend found Vincent more attractive and interesting than Kyle — just like we do at home! — was sort of amusing. Yet sad. Like Amy's whole tragicomic hyperventilation moment when she cancelled the wedding. Freaky! Get this judge a chill pill, stat!