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Wednesday, September 17, 2003


The New Rules

Many of you have expressed outrage that the producers of ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" have decided to continue the show despite John Ritter's death.

C'mon, folks. I mean, really.

People die all the time. And sometimes they happen to be the star of one of your highest-rated TV shows. You just don't go canceling an entire production just because someone had a faulty O-ring in their heart valve.

I remember back when I was brought in as consultant on the foundering German sitcom "Die Verrückte Hosenfamilie" ("The Crazypants Family"). Late in the crucial third season, our star, Huber Wedemeier, held out for more money. I don't know what you've heard about the German television industry, but they are ruthless in their dealings with talent. The writers planned to plot his death (naturally I was shocked and didn't participate), while I was charged with somehow incorporating this into the series storyline. Alas, the uproarious demise of Wedemeier's character in a slapstick beer hall accident was never used when the actor settled his salary dispute, uncomfortable with the hobbling the writers inflicted on his invalid wife. But it was an excercise that sharpened my skills as a television writer.

So I was not surprised when the producers of "8 Simple Rules" came calling to enlist me to help keep the show on the air despite the tragic loss of their lead actor. "Bunsen," said one producer, "everything has changed. The rules have changed, and we need you to write the new rules." He had to say this twice as my eyes were fixed on the pendulum of the eightball he was dangling in front of my nose.

"I'm in," I said, eager to help yet another show overcome loss while coincidentally keeping the money train rumbling on towards Syndication Station.

I am known in the Hollywood community as a fast worker. Within fifteen minutes, I emerged from the hot tub on the roof of my compound with the 8 New Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter. So without further ado, here are the blueprints for the posthumous (and prehilarious!) era of the hit show...

8 New Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter

8. You may not refer to the continuation of my situational comedy family as a coarse money-grab by the network. It is an opportunity to show life's unpleasant realities in a humorous light.

8. You may not attempt to fuck my daughter as a way to get her to stop crying at my funeral.

7. You may not tell my daughter that I have bad breath. I have died, and the smells of decomposition are sometimes overpowering.

6. You may not return my daughter home after her curfew. If you do, it may appear that I am waiting for her in the living room. In actuality, my wife just propped my body up on the couch to scare you into respecting our rules.

5. You may not visit my daughter when there is no adult supervision. For example, If you are making out on the couch in my empty home with my daughter and hear a strange noise, she may tell you it's just the house settling. She is lying. The noise is that of my restless soul trying to possess you and force you to plunge to your death through our bay window.

4. You may not accept my wife's offer of a nightcap when you arrive to pick up my daughter. She has been drinking quite heavily since my passing, and a family show cannot effectively generate humor from a widow trying to have sex with her daughter's teenage boyfriend.

3. You must not be disturbed when my daughter repeatedly fires bullets into my corpse to convince you that I'm really dead and that it's OK to feel her up even with me in the room.

2. You must play nine holes of pitch-and-putt golf with me and the ghost of Bob Hope at least once per week before taking my daughter to the drive-in. During these meetings, the ghost of Bob Hope and I will dispense humorous-yet-sage advice about how to deal with women, which you must then hilariously misapply to the courting of my daughter. You must also look the other way when the ghost of Bob Hope kicks his ball out of the rough and onto the fairway. He is very old, even by ghost standards.

1. You may not refer to my memory without mentioning that I was a genius of physical comedy and ignore the fact that my best work was done on a misunderstanding-and-jiggle show. You must also forget that for much of the time I was pretending that I was a homosexual so that I could cohabitate in a swingers' apartment with two women of loose morals, as this might tarnish my memory in my daughter's eyes.


[If you really love me, you'll immediately send a link to this site to ten of your friends who are not already in my thrall. Do it right now, before you forget.]

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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