I know it’s unusual for me to talk so much about TV, but I do want to mention Tuesday’s episode of “Eight Simple Rules.” It was the first new episode filmed since the death of John Ritter and I have to say that it was well done. In fact, it might have been the best treatment of death I have seen on TV.
Avoiding histrionics and over-dramatics, I think the characters acted like normal people would react. In the show, Ritter’s character collapsed in the supermarket and died. And the family was left with the expected responses. The mother was alternately sad, angry, bewildered, and comforting to her kids. The son was angry and punched the wall. One daughter replayed the event, looking for ways it could have been different, analyzing it over and over. The other daughter felt guilty for being mean to him the last time she saw him. And the tears we saw felt like real tears for the actors’ real loss and that added to the sense of veracity.
The mother rejected God and her own mother’s platitudes about God’s plan and accepting fate. But it was her conversation with her father at the end that I thought was the best. She said, “He didn’t deserve to die.” Her father responded, “No, he didn’t. But we don’t deserve a lot of things. I don’t deserve two beautiful daughters. I don’t deserve three wonderful grandchildren. Yet we accept what we get and cherish it while we can.”
I think it was a very good way of saying that everything in life is grace and we must appreciate it and accept it for what it is. We don’t deserve life itself, but it is through the merits of Jesus Christ that we have it. It was as good as prime time TV has been on this subject, outside of “Touched by an Angel.”
I don’t know if “Eight Simple Rules” will last very long—can it really go back to being a sitcom and can it do so without its star—but at least this episode was a good tribute and good TV.