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Conveyed through a series of glimpses, the episode's deft writing showed how death swoops in and weighs down the simplest of conversations. He would say anything, he didn't care how silly he was. Tonight at 8 on KOMO/4, the series takes the Hennessys back to their half-hour time slot, while the specter of Dad's death remains present.Their final moments with their dad were typical gaffes and random moments -- Cate (Katey Sagal) laughing at her husband's lost socks, Rory (Martin Spanjers) tripping over Paul's shoes left on the stair, Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) and Kerry (Amy Davidson) lamenting their meaningless insults as he left -- all imbued with terrible importance after his death. The laugh track is supposed to return, although to maintain the series' feeling, the formula's going to need some tinkering.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.Having seen that power, the announcement that "8 Simple Rules" would continue was understandably met with a bit of cynicism.Cate’s father, Jim Egan (James Garner), moves in to help and Cate’s very immature nephew, C. (David Spade), moves in for additional comedy relief. There was initially a great deal of curiosity about how the death of Ritter would impact the show. She asks Rory to do it instead and Kerry, tired of being a “goodie two-shoes,” wants to be part of it. Cate comes home soonafter and she’s not happy about the four-legged houseguest either.

Last week "8 Simple Rules" showed what it can do at its best.

In the midst of last week's storm surrounding CBS and "The Reagans," you may have missed something sweet and lovely that happened over on ABC.

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.

The writers could have fallen back on maudlin sap and fancy speeches, but commendably, they didn't.

Instead, the Hennessys' sorrow was allowed to exist as hollow, unchartered space, exactly as it should be. So, somebody's going to have to take up the cornball slack around here." A fitting statement, because Paul's funeral is over.

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