September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

ABC (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET)

One of his three children calls him “the dumbest man that ever lived.” His wife says he behaves like a 9-year-old. Yes, Paul Hennessy of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter is yet another TV father who doesn’t know best. But he’s played by John Ritter, and ABC apparently figures that gives us reason enough to watch.

A quarter-century after he began romping through Three’s Company—then considered racy—Ritter gives his all in this new but familiar sitcom as a middle-aged newspaper columnist who is shocked to discover that his 16-year-old daughter Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) wears thong underwear.

“While the boys flock to the Barbie-like Bridget—and her father sternly warns them to be perfect gentlemen—sister Kerry (Amy Davidson), 15, only pretends to be too smart to care about her relative unpopularity. Dad’s so busy misunderstanding his daughters that he doesn’t take time to ask why his 13-year-old son Rory (Martin Spanjers) habitually hides in the girls’ closet. Paul’s wife, Cate (Katey Sagal from Married…with Children), who recently returned to work as a nurse, seems to enjoy his parental ineptitude.

A lot of this material may be hackneyed, but Ritter puts it over with energy and a slathering of shtick. It’s simple, really: Like him, like the show.

Bottom Line: Ritter rules routine roost

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