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ABC's "According to Jim" -- It's Alive! Alive!
December 2, 2008  | By David Bianculli
Here's a TV mystery for you: Beginning tonight, ABC's According to Jim is back. In prime time. With new episodes. Starting its eighth season.

It's an inexplicable rebound, more improbable than the return from the ashes of Fox's Family Guy or, to go all the way out on the TV limb, the updating of The Bionic Woman and Knight Rider. Already, Jim Belushi has starred on this ABC sitcom two years longer than his brother, John, appeared on Saturday Night Live.


But here's what really, really astounds me about According to Jim. Say what you will about it -- and I'll start by saying it's not funny -- it is a situation comedy about what used to be known as a nuclear family. Husband, wife, kids. First marriage.

This particular comedy situation, in the history of situation comedies, was all over the place in the 1950s and 1960s. But where is it as we inch towards 2009?

On Fox, you can find such nuclear families on The Simpsons and King of the Hill -- but those shows are animated. What other half-hour comedies in prime time right now feature a mom-and-pop-and-kids operation?

Well, there's Everybody Hates Chris on the CW. And...


And, except for According to Jim, that's it.

According to me, anyway.

And that, no less so than the return of Jim, is astounding.




Gregg B said:

What is astounding is that ABC keeps finding a place for this terrible show but can't find a place for Pushing Daisies. Maybe an ounce of advertising this season for Daisies would have given it an audience. Maybe using Dancing with the Stars or Ugly Betty as a lead in for an episode of Daisies might generate some ratings and get some stickiness. Look at the Seinfeld example, ABC. I know I'm beating a dead horse but this Jim thing sticks in my craw after the cancellation of one of the most unique shows on television. (I couldn't have said it better myself. And thanks to your post, I didn't have to try... -- David B.)

Comment posted on December 2, 2008 11:54 AM

Gregory Kibitz said:

Sorry, but I've always liked this show (Even though I hate sports and sports fans and machismo, but this show does more to make fun of that than to celebrate it).

Yes, it is not super funny (gut splittingly funny like Worst Week for instance) or cutting edge (Like so many Cartoons or Seinfeld or something)or anything else (things that are sometime very importsant to me). However, but it is always comfortable and nice and simple and basic and seems like real people having some real fun so not so contrived.

Furthermore, as much as I am a very strong proponet of the exopression of any or all alternate values and alternate lifestyles on TV that should not be the only thing we ever see. I also think the traditional values and traditional lifestyles (and by that I don't mean Good Christian but just some hetero nuclear families) need to be represented as well.

This show just like shows like Everyone Loves Raymond seems to do that pretty well. I think we have lost touch with the concept of married once and working hard to stay together for life or at leadt to raise your kids and its nice to see at least someone on TV doing that. Not that I am a proponet of bad, harmful or abusive couples staying together (like my A-Hole Parents did, they should have been diviorced) but too many go their separate ways simply becasue of lack of real commitmment or desire to do the real work or from ennui or just because they can't keep it in their pants and that just teaches our kids that quitting for no good reason and/or infidelity are okay and that marriage is just a temporary relationship whose only basis is who you are screwing (or who will let you screw them) and that is a very sad thing.

Comment posted on December 2, 2008 2:35 PM

Greg Kibitz said:

Apologies for the bad editting of the above. Hope it was still literate enough for y'all! (My apologies, too, for not proofreading. I was on my way to class, and wanted to update the comments before I left. But the passion shines through, so no apologies necessary. -- David B.)

Comment posted on December 2, 2008 5:39 PM

Esther said:

I was re-reading an older Susan Faludi book that talks about the kinds of families that are represented on television, and now that I think about it, how many families show a family being raised by a single, working mother?

I can only think of Rachel Griffith's character in Brothers and Sisters.

Am I wrong? (Even in sitcoms, which was the focus of my "According to Jim" column, it's very rare right now. "The New Adventures of Old Christine" has a single mom, but she's rarely seen working. And here's something to chew on: In the old days of TV, the first single parents in sitcoms, for the most part, were dads: "Bachelor Father," "The Andy Griffith Show," "My Three Sons." For more detail, read my "Dictionary of Teleliteracy," a perfect holiday gift, he says shamelessly. -- David B.)

Comment posted on December 3, 2008 12:31 AM
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