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Excluding the baseball playoffs, the actor's final TV appearance on the ABC comedy "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" was the most-watched program on television Tuesday night, according to early ratings released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.
Tuesday night's show drew 17.45 million viewers and captured 20% of the 18-to-49-year-old audience that is the primary target of most advertisers.
With no storyline of his own, Rory pops up every other scene with a cute punch line about his dad's inept parenting or his sisters' latest predicaments, just as Roseanne's D. What makes the show slightly twisted, however, is the knowledge that only a few years ago, Ritter would have been playing one of Bridget's or Kerry's sex-obsessed suitors, rather than protective father.
While it is expected that boys will be sex-obsessed in their youth, it is also expected that they will grow up into monogamous individuals.
The similarities between the two shows do not end there. And his two daughters bear uncanny resemblances to the other two-thirds of the celebrated 1970s trio.
There's Bridget (Ladies Man's Kaley Cuoco), the dimwitted blonde bombshell à la Suzanne Somers' Chrissy, and Kerry (Amy Davidson of the Olsen twins-driven So Little Time), a petulant brunette who makes Joyce De Witt's Janet seem almost congenial.
In ABC's new comedy, 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, Ritter plays Paul Hennessy, a columnist who's forced to take on more responsibility at home when his wife, Cate (Married With Children's Katey Sagal, looking great sans her Peg Bundy bouffant 'do), goes back to work.
The first two episodes of the series are concrete proof that Ritter's still got it, that intangible and inexplicable ability to elicit gut-busting laughter with a twitch of an eye.
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(Good luck.) Or maybe you once were a teenage daughter.
Or maybe you have an antique table that's crooked and need something about an inch thick to put under one of the legs.
But his character is too familiar, his context too trite.
In fact, Paul is the man Jack Tripper might have grown up to be, had failed contract negotiations and a revolving door for blondes not driven Three's Company to an early grave.Widowed mom Cate Hennessy raises three teens in this sitcom, which shifted focus in 2003 following the sudden death of its star, John Ritter, just before the start of its second season.