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On Tuesday night, the cast, producers and writers of "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" took their tragic loss of a co-star and friend and, in a nod to moving on, created honest, wonderful television. Considering the way television can bungle these things, the sitcom's return without John Ritter, whose sudden death of an aortic dissection in September shocked so many, could have been a lot worse.
After Ritter's death, the cast and the network mourned, quite publicly, to strong ratings that, overnight, turned the network's modest hit into a legitimate contender bleeding viewers from its comedy competition on NBC.
I had just turned 16 and I walked in wearing a very tiny outfit.
I was sitting at the table reading my script when John walked in the room.
The trio took frame-worthy snapshots, and even received a special gift each.
@martinspanjers @amy_davidson #johnritter #grandpagarner we miss you every day! A photo posted by @normancook on Jul 19, 2015 at pm PDT costars Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers this week.
After entering a hiatus, the series continued without Ritter, incorporating the death of his character.
Having seen that power, the announcement that "8 Simple Rules" would continue was understandably met with a bit of cynicism.
Some wondered if the Ritter-less series would exploit the beloved 54-year-old's death for the sake of ratings, drumming us over the head with ersatz sorrow.
The show's premise and title were derived from the book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter: And other tips from a beleaguered father (not that any of them work) by W. The third season (after Ritter's death) took a creative turn, revolving more around cousin C. (David Spade) and grandfather Jim (James Garner), than the immediate Hennessy family, more specifically not revolving around the raising of the Hennessy girls.
After the novelty of newly added ensemble characters wore off, the series returned to its original format.