Comedy begins at home.
According to Jim follows the exploits of Jim (Jim Belushi, K-9) and Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith, Ally McBeal), a typical married couple with three young children. Jim is a happy, football-loving, macho goofball with a sweet spirit and a serious lazy streak. Cheryl is his long-suffering wife, who puts up with him as long as possible until Jim does something that crosses a line. Then it’s up to Jim to find some way to make things better. Sometimes, Jim and Cheryl hang out with Cheryl’s siblings, Andy (Larry Joe Campbell, Wedding Crashers) and Dana (Kimberly Williams-Paisley, We Are Marshall).
Twenty-two episodes are spread across four discs.
• Pilot: Mom and Dad share Little Ruby’s separation anxiety as she enters kindergarten.
• “No Nookie”: Cheryl and Jim try sexual abstinence to re-light their romantic fire.
• “The Cat Came Back”: Cheryl’s beloved cat dies, and Jim’s lack of sympathy leaves her cold.
• “Anniversary”: Jim cajoles Dana into buying his anniversary gift for Cheryl.
• “Unruly Spirits”: It’s eerie tricks for Andy and sneaky treats for Gracie on Halloween.
• “The Crush”: Jim is jealous of Cheryl’s crush on Dana’s new boyfriend.
• “Cheryl’s Old Flame”: Jim gives the kids their own tv, and Andy tries therapy to boost his ego.
• “The Turkey Bowl”: Jim goes bowling on Thanksgiving Day, proving to Cheryl that there’s more than one turkey in the house.
• “Andy’s Girlfriend”: Andy’s vegetarian girlfriend gives meat-loving Jim something to chew on during a spirited family dinner.
• “An According to Jiminy Christmas”: Cheryl is in panic-pleasing mode when her mother visits at Christmas.
• “Bad Word”: Jim’s colorful language is repeated by the kids.
• “Model Behavior”: Jim has big plans for Ruby when she’s hired for a cookie ad.
• “The Money”: Without Jim’s knowledge, Cheryl dips into the vacation slush fund to loan Andy money.
• “Blow-up”: Jim exhibits a revealing Valentine photo of Cheryl.
• “Racquetball”: It’s Cheryl vs. Jim in a racquetball battle of the sexes.
• “Under Pressure”: Cheryl attempts to eliminate all stress from Jim’s life.
• “Date Night”: Cheryl’s romantic date with Jim is spoiled by infantile behavior…from Jim.
• “Birthday Boys”: Jim’s pride is put on the line when Dana spoils his kids.
• “The Receipt”: Jim’s habit of losing receipts gets him in hot water with Cheryl.
• “Old Friends”: Jim tries to relive his rowdy partying days when he runs into an old buddy.
• “Cheryl’s Day Off”: Jim misplaces the kids while Cheryl takes a relaxing day off.
• “No Surprises”: Cheryl finds out about Jim’s surprise party for her…so he cancels it!
I have a co-worker who is well into his 70s. He tends not to like television very much. “Everything that’s on today is trash,” he’s fond of saying. “I remember the days when they had good television shows on: Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver…those were funny shows. I don’t know what is wrong with television today.” One day, I was startled to discover that my co-worker had discovered a new show that he liked. “Have you ever seen this thing called According to Jim?” he asked. “Wow, that’s a really funny show. There’s another one coming on tonight. I’m going to record it.”
If your tastes are similar to those of my co-worker, perhaps you will love According to Jim too. If your tastes are similar to mine, perhaps not. According to Jim is the sort of wheezy family sitcom that grew old at least a decade ago, and this latest version of the concept brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Belushi states, “It’s a show about men and women…the differences between men and women, the battle between men and women.” Haven’t we seen enough of that on, oh, The Simpsons, The Cosby Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, etc.? The vast majority of the shows are more or less the same. Jim does something stupid. Cheryl gets angry. Jim and Cheryl fight, and then Jim does everything he can to try and fix things. By the end, Jim and Cheryl are both happy, and move along to fight another day.
Still, I can’t say that the show is unwatchable. At times, it’s actually quite pleasant. Most of this comes from the fact that Jim Belushi is simply a likable guy. He is evidently enthusiastic about this show, and his joy goes a long way to making this terribly unoriginal stuff engaging. Courtney Thorne-Smith doesn’t fare quite so well, as she is more or less forced to get angry and irritable every show. It’s the old rule of television sitcoms: men get to be slobbish, stupid, and funny, while women get to be smart, sensible, and unfunny. There are a few nice guest turns throughout the season. My favorite comes from Dan Ackroyd in “Old Friends,” playing a genuinely “wild and crazy guy.” Former SNL star Garrett Morris also turns up to offer a nice little performance in “Turkey Bowl.”
The transfer is rather mediocre here. In fact, most of these programs look no more impressive than they do on television. The image is flat and uninvolving, and there’s occasionally some slight color bleeding. There’s a notable lack of detail, too. The 5.1 sound is not bad, but this isn’t exactly a busy audio track. The laugh track is cranked a little loud at times. Supplements include two audio commentaries with Belushi, a seven-minute making-of featurettes, a ten-minute tour of the set offered by Belushi, some cast and crew interviews, and a gag reel. I don’t know why it has taken seven years for the first season of this popular show to hit DVD, but you would think that they could have done a little better than this for a sitcom with so many fans. I don’t really care for According to Jim much, but I don’t really have the heart to condemn it. If you like it, have at it. I wish you no ill. Part of my motivation comes from this ominous Jim Belushi statement: “All those critics that didn’t like us when we started…well, they all probably have different jobs now.” If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s having Jim Belushi as an enemy.