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According to Jim aired from October 2001 until June 2009 on ABC.
This was another one of those sunny family sitcoms in which a lovable lug was married to a beautiful and much smarter wife. Jim ( Jim Belushi) was a contractor who worked with his brother-in-law in their own small construction firm, Ground Up Design He liked to posture and act macho, and always thought first of himself, but underneath he was a big pussycat who adored his wife and kids. Putting up with him was Cheryl ( Courtney Thorne-Smith), who was as smart and sophisticated as Jim was crude; but he made her laugh, and they were truly in love. The kids were adorable little Rudy and Gracie, ( Taylor Atelian, Billi Bruno) and baby Kyle ( Connor & Garrett Sullivan and later Connor Rayburn). Often visiting in Jim's suburban kitchen were Cheryl's chubby, cheerful architect brother Andy ( Larry Joe Campbell) who worked with Jim and played with him in his garage blues band; and Cheryl's neurotic sister Dana ( Kimberly Williams), a vice president in an ad agency, who verbally sparred with Jim. Dana was desperately trying to find a man. Unfortunately, due to her insecurities she had many first dates but few second ones.
Although critics lambasted the series as pedestrian, viewers found it appealing and kept it on the schedule season after season. Kyle quickly grew up and entered kindergarten, while Dana finally married the man of her dreams, Dr. Ryan Gibson ( Mitch Rouse), and became pregnant with her own child. By marrying she also became the only member of the family with a last name-no one else seemed to have one.
A Review from Variety
Posted: Fri., Sep. 28, 2001, 4:23pm PT
According To Jim
(Series -- ABC, Wed. Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m.)
By Laura Fries
Filmed in Los Angeles by Touchstone Television in association with Brad Grey Television. Executive producers, Suzanne Bukinik, Tracy Newman, Jonathan Stark, Marc Gurvitz; director, Andy Cadiff; writers, Newman, Stark.
Jim - Jim Belushi
Cheryl - Courtney Thorne-Smith
Dana - Kimberly Williams
Andy - Larry Joe Campbell
Ruby - Taylor Atelian
Gracie - Billi Bruno
Stop us if you've heard this one before: A patronizing, pontificating, bumbling doofus thinks he knows everything, only to be thwarted in the end by his smarter, better-looking wife. The man of the house pounds his chest, wifey sits back and lets him make an ass of himself, but nobody ever asks: If the wife is so damn smart, why did she marry such a boob? To be fair, Jim Belushi's bumbling father figure in the ABC comedy "According to Jim" has a certain primal appeal. The sometimes bigscreen star has never really found his niche, but paired with the Alphabet's modest midseason hit "My Wife and Kids," Belushi may yet find a home.
Fox's "Grounded for Life," another bumbling-dad comedy starring Donal Logue, stands out as the only possible homewrecker for Belushi at 8:30 p.m. Otherwise Wednesday night is demographically divided between "Dawson's Creek's" teens, "Enterprise's" Trekkers and, once "Lost" ends, "Ed."
Pilot introduces Jim and his put-upon wife, Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith), who struggle through the day-to-day with three kids. The current turmoil revolves around their eldest daughter's first day of kindergarten. Ruby (Taylor Atelian) has separation issues and Cheryl winds up spending the day at the school. Jim boasts that it's a situation easily handled because men are tougher.
Jim is uncomfortable with anything less than a full tank of testosterone. He doesn't like to open up to his wife or his friends. He enjoys sports, playing in his garage blues band and avoiding responsibility. Of course, the tough act is all a ruse because Jim can't bear to leave his crying daughter either, and ends up switching her school without telling his wife.
Writers Tracy Newman and Jonathan Stark do a nice job of incorporating realistic parental dialogue, including several familiar mantras, while director Andy Cadiff offers some good sight gags involving loose change as well as the fighting rituals of married couples. For the most part, however, the concept is pedestrian and secondary characters are reduced to stereotypes.
The show works better when it stays within the family unit, where Belushi is key; he reps the definition of a lovable lug. His character's idea of playing with the kids is sitting in the chair and reading the newspaper. It's a stunt he pulls off while still remaining likable.
Thorne-Smith's role as the overburdened wife is a big step down from her glamour days on "Melrose Place" and "Ally McBeal." She is working her way up the alphabet in terms of network exposure, but lacks some credibility as the mature mother and wife.
Ancillary characters don't quite add up, either. Kimberly Williams stars as Cheryl's younger, single sister Dana, who pops in and out the house at all hours offering up bitter barbs. When preschooler Gracie, Jim's youngest daughter, announces at breakfast, "I have a vagina," Dana retorts, "Me too. That means we have to work twice as hard as men to earn the same money."
Larry Joe Campbell, whose resume includes last season's miserable "The Trouble With Normal," is Cheryl's neurotic brother who makes Jim look like a catch. All that's missing is the meddling neighbor.
Camera, Peter Smokler; editor, Joe Bergen; sound, Kerry Boggio; music, Jonathan Wolff; casting, Lisa Miller Katz. 30 MIN.
A Review from The New York Times
By CARYN JAMES
Published: October 2, 2001
ACCORDING TO JIM
ABC, tomorrow night at 8:30
(Channel 7 in New York)
Somehow Jim Belushi has made a career out of playing lovable lunks, even though no one finds his lunky characters lovable. The mystery continues with ''According to Jim,'' among the season's worst new shows. With Mr. Belushi as a suburban dad and Courtney Thorne-Smith as his soccer-mom wife, the sitcom grabs every stereotype in its reach. ''I didn't know if you wanted me to do the dishes or not,'' Dad tells Mom. ''So I didn't.'' The series tries to latch onto the success of the show it follows, Damon Wayans's funny family comedy, ''My Wife and Kids,'' but with a natural, up-to-the-minute feel, the Wayans show has and all the humor ''Jim'' doesn't.
A Rising ABC Rediscovers Its Inner Regular Slob
By BILL CARTER
Published: June 23, 2003
Every fall television season, one new program is singled out for the dubious honor of least likely to survive past three episodes.
Two seasons ago, advertising agency executives and critics had little trouble agreeing on a candidate for this annual booby prize: a seemingly hopeless and blandly derivative ABC comedy called ''According to Jim.''
Cut to last Tuesday night. Not only was ''According to Jim'' still on the network, it was the anchor of ABC's programming at 9 p.m. And a repeat episode scored the highest rating among the advertiser-friendly 18-to-49-year-old audience segment of any show that night, beating several first-run reality shows, including Fox's ''American Idol'' spinoff, ''American Juniors.'' It may be stunning to certain critics but it is true: ''According to Jim'' is starting to look like a hit.
ABC executives say they believe they know the reason. In ''According to Jim,'' a traditional family comedy, complete with the usual living room and kitchen sets and starring a happy, pot-bellied Jim Belushi, the network has gone back to its roots. It was a legacy the network had forsaken, with unhappy results.
''Among all our shows,'' said Lloyd Braun, the chairman of ABC Entertainment, ''I think 'Jim' personifies best the traditional, successful ABC comedy.''
By that, he said, he meant a comedy that was ''anchored by an accessible, likable lead character with an everyman quality to him.''
After too many years wasted trying to be like NBC, with its collection of hip, sophisticated comedies, ABC is now trying to reclaim its own identity as a network. It is an idea that seems to fly in the face of the whole notion of broadcasting. Broadcasters are supposed to aim shows at the masses, contrasting with the niche networks of cable, like the Golf Channel or the Food Network, which feature programming aimed at specific viewers.
But executives throughout the television business acknowledge that at least since cable came along and started carving off pieces of the mass audiences, each of the big four networks has acquired a distinct, identity -- and they stray from that identity at their peril.
''Networks absolutely have certain identities,'' said Garth Ancier, who has worked at several networks, including a time running NBC's entertainment division.
Preston Beckman, who was the chief program scheduler at NBC before he took over that job at Fox, said, ''I learned a lesson a long time ago in this business: you've got to know who you are.''
For CBS the identity is a bit older, somewhat more rural, and is typified by shows like ''JAG'' (which did not work on NBC but has become a solid performer on CBS) and ''Everybody Loves Raymond,'' in which the age 40-ish lead characters interact more with the age 70-ish grandparent characters as they would if the show were on ABC.
Fox, meanwhile, has an identity that is more youthful, iconoclastic and male than the other three, as underscored by its signature hit, ''The Simpsons.'' NBC's shows are geared to a more urban and professional audience, and try to be a little naughty, like ''Friends.''
And ABC? The network's identity has long been tied to basic blue-collar values, especially in its comedies. The examples are numerous: ''Home Improvement,'' ''Roseanne,'' ''Grace Under Fire'' and ''Who's the Boss.''
In more recent years, ABC got lost. It was openly trying to emulate NBC, said one longtime program executive from the network. Indeed, ABC program executives in the mid-90's publicly acknowledged that NBC was doing far better selling its shows to advertisers because they reached a more desirable, young, affluent audience. ABC began introducing comedies like ''Clueless,'' ''Oh, Grow Up,'' ''The Secret Lives of Men'' and ''The Geena Davis Show.'' All failed, and quickly.
Mr. Braun noted that even when ABC did more sophisticated, NBC-style workplace comedies well, like ''Sports Night'' and ''The Job,'' it found it almost impossible to make them work. There was no place to schedule them, Mr. Braun said. ''You're trying to recruit a separate and distinct audience in an isolated half-hour. On NBC or HBO both those shows would have had a greater chance at success.''
ABC's core schedule was suffering from a steady drought of hits. Between the fall of 1997 and the midseason of 2002, ABC introduced only one series, the comedy ''Dharma and Greg,'' that lasted more than three seasons on the air. The drift away from its brand cost ABC, as well as the network's parent company, the Walt Disney Company, dearly. Since the mid-1990's, the network has been in a steep decline, interrupted only by the aberration of ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,'' the short-lived game show phenomenon that pushed ABC to the top of the ratings for one season. That year, 2000, ABC led Disney's broadcasting properties to operating profits of almost $1 billion. Last year the broadcast division lost about $36 million.
So two years ago ABC began, as Mr. Braun put it, ''to go back to our brand.'' And Jim Belushi walked into the room.
Suzanne Bukinik, one of the executive producers of ''According to Jim,'' had been an executive in ABC's comedy department and had worked on ''My Wife and Kids,'' the first family comedy in some time to perform well for the network and one that definitely fit the brand. ''I knew they would be looking for a companion show,'' she said.
She had seen Mr. Belushi, who had bounced all over television and the movies in a long career, steal scenes in the movie ''Return to Me,'' playing a slobbish, but lovable, husband and father. ''I knew Jim Belushi was a TV star,'' Ms. Bukinik said.
Marc Gurvitz, another executive producer on the show, said: ''We had perfect timing. ABC was looking to go back to its roots. We walked in with Jim and told them he was going to be the male Roseanne.''
In ''According to Jim,'' Mr. Belushi has a part similar to the one in ''Return to Me,'' playing a Chicago contractor with a beautiful wife (Courtney Thorne-Smith) and three children.
Mr. Gurvitz said, ''We came in at a time when everybody else was trying to reinvent the wheel,'' he said. ''We were doing a basic family comedy. We weren't trying to be 'Scrubs' or 'Larry Sanders.' ''
Of course, ABC did not want either of those shows because they would never have worked on ABC. They wanted what they got. ''Great lead character. Everyman quality. Great relationship with conflict to bring out the comedy. And, of course funny,'' Mr. Braun said. ''It sounds easy but it is not an easy thing to do.''
It also tends to leave critics cold. ''Jim'' was dismissed as trifling or worse. ''People thought it looked like a show from 1985,'' Mr. Braun said. Mr. Belushi ''was getting all upset about the reviews,'' Mr. Gurvitz said. ''He canceled his subscription to The Los Angeles Times.''
But ABC did place ''According to Jim'' behind ''My Wife and Kids'' and ''Jim'' posted passable ratings in its first season.
ABC moved the show to Tuesday last fall and placed it after its most promising new comedy, ''8 Simple Rules.''
In the spring, ABC decided to try something more challenging: moving ''According to Jim'' to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, where it would compete against one of NBC's defining comedies, the sophisticated, Emmy award-winning ''Frasier.''
The very first week ''According to Jim'' faced ''Frasier'' it beat it in the 18-to-49 age group competition that both NBC and ABC use as their only yardstick of success. That marked the first time in more than five years that any comedy had beaten ''Frasier.'' The one that did it last was ABC's ''Home Improvement.''
The outcome was not a fluke. ''According to Jim'' beat ''Frasier'' four of the six times they faced each other last spring.
''We think we have huge upside,'' Mr. Braun said. A lot of people are just coming to the show. ''The show has snuck up on people.''
The message has not been lost on ABC. Mr. Braun is already announcing the potential of another blue-collar everyman comedy on its schedule, ''George Lopez,'' which started to show some signs of life in the ratings in the last season. And in the fall, ABC is counting on at least two more family shows straight from the network playbook, ''Faith and Hope'' and ''It's All Relative.''
Correction: June 24, 2003, Tuesday An article in Business Day yesterday about ABC's renewed focus on traditional family comedies misstated the title of a series the network plans for the fall. It is ''Hope and Faith,'' not ''Faith and Hope.''
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on May 9, 2005
According to Him...
Why America loves Jim Belushi -- The forces behind ''According to Jim'' talk about the show's success
By Lynette Rice
There's nothing particularly inspiring about gathering in a subterranean conference room with plain walls and fluorescent lights, but According to Jim star Jim Belushi is determined to make the moment uplifting. Today, he and the cast will read the show's 100th episode (airing May 10 at 9 p.m.), and several network executives are in attendance at the Los Angeles backlot to celebrate the milestone. After entertaining guests with a backward somersault and invoking lyrics from a Wilson Pickett song (''I'm trying to make it a hundred because 99 and a half just won't do''), Belushi pats his belly and smiles at the crowd.
''If we make it past 103 episodes,'' Belushi says, ''we'll have one more than ALF!''
Ahh, the stuff dreams are made of.
Then again, expectations were never that high for According to Jim, now the most watched comedy on ABC. A follow-up to Belushi's memorable big-screen turn as a blue-collar hubby in the 2000 romantic comedy Return to Me, Jim is about as low-concept as you can get for a family sitcom: It centers on a beer-gutted contractor from Chicago (Belushi), his stay-at-home wife, Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith), three small kids, and the now-requisite wacky relatives (Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Larry Joe Campbell play Dana and Andy, Cheryl's siblings). Plots largely focus on the couple's opposing views on marriage and Jim's tendency to fib his way through child rearing. The writers haven't even bothered to give Jim a last name.
Debuting in September 2001 with little fanfare (ABC put its marketing muscle behind Jason Alexander's post-Seinfeld flop, Bob Patterson), Jim was almost universally panned by TV critics, who picked apart the lowbrow humor and tired male stereotypes. ''According to Jim is the kind of sitcom that makes people hate sitcoms,'' said USA Today. The Washington Post was even harsher: ''Jim, an inexorably execrable new ABC sitcom, might benefit from being viewed at a distance. Like, say, through the Hubble telescope from 10 billion miles out in space.'' And yes, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY wasn't very kind either: ''Another worthy addition to the Belushi canon, right next to K-911 and Curly Sue.''
To this day, the 50-year-old Belushi claims he's never read Jim's reviews but that makes about as much sense as the reason he gives for the critics' unfriendly fire. ''In the '80s I was a bit of a movie star, so I tried to make it a game to bang every critic's wife or sister,'' says Belushi, paraphrasing a joke he made a few weeks earlier on Jimmy Kimmel Live. When pressed, Belushi admits his staff has shared bad reviews with him. ''They were cheap shots. I thought you guys were better writers,'' says Belushi of EW's reviews in particular. ''But I forgive people.'' Adds Thorne-Smith: ''His feelings get hurt. A lot of the reviews got really personal. People would call and say, 'What did Jim do to such-and-such critic?' I think it is painful, but on the other hand, it's like we have the last laugh.''
True enough. While Jim hasn't earned any Emmy nominations (or even a People's Choice award), it has won more than 10 million viewers most of whom populate the Midwest (Jim's No. 1 market is Louisville, Ky.). And though it now trails CBS' The Amazing Race and Fox's House in its time slot, Jim is one of the top five comedies on TV. ''I got approval,'' says Belushi. ''We're not reinventing the wheel here. We're doing a straight-up family show at a time people want to see a family show. Reviews are for theater and film, where people are spending money,'' he continues. ''TV's free, so people make up their own minds.''
Belushi has very specific rules for writing his eponymous sitcom: The men can't be dumb and the women can't be bitches. And above all, no mean jokes ever except for the occasional wisecrack that Jim's daughter Gracie directs at her uncle, Andy. Belushi realizes his demands may exact a toll on the show's 14 writers ''It is tough to make comedy out of that because you don't have the anger or bitchiness,'' he admits but as a happily married man with two young children (as well as an adult son from a previous marriage), he wants his show to reflect that. ''The bigger picture is to be responsible when you do a family show.''
It's a noble pursuit that results in lines like this:
Jim: ''What do I need to get in shape for? I'm in great shape.''
Cheryl: ''Oh, what shape is that. . .a circle?''
''We look at the comedy from the prism of our own eyes, when we should be looking at it from the prism of the country,'' argues Mark Pedowitz of Touchstone Television, which produces Jim for ABC. Adds ABC Primetime Entertainment president Stephen McPherson, ''We appeal to a broad audience, and there are a lot of people between L.A. and New York.''
Jim's creative team certainly has no complaints about the show's comedy stylings. ''Every time we do a story, Jim has to relate to it,'' says exec producer Nastaran Dibai. Maybe that's why it wasn't hard for the writers to get on board with the whole schlubby-hubby/hot-wife paradox. (It's an old TV trope that has experienced a renaissance with sitcoms like The King of Queens and Jim.) In real life, Jim is married to ex-casting director Jenny, a comely 37-year-old blonde. ''What we wrote was true to Jim's personality,'' says exec producer Jeffrey Hodes. ''He can be so magnetic that once you've got his personality, it is not a difficult equation.''
Also not difficult: Jim's work schedule at least by Hollywood standards. By crafting the same types of Jim-the-loving-liar stories that were introduced in the first episode (the 100th, in fact, involves Jim fibbing to Cheryl about his plans to skydive), the staff keeps reasonable hours (most days in by 10 a.m. and home by 6 p.m., far shorter than typical 14-hour sitcom days). This cookie-cutter approach to comedy might seem mind-numbing, but it works for the cast. ''I know it's not cool and edgy, but I've been on cool and edgy and it's a different animal,'' admits Thorne-Smith, who most recently came from the far hipper, far more turbulent set of Ally McBeal. ''I care about being happy, and I really am here.''
So, it appears, is Belushi who loves how According to Jim affords him plenty of home time, plus the chance to perform 50 shows a year with his blues band, the Sacred Hearts. (He's also partners with actor Dan Aykroyd in the House of Blues.) ''I'd do 40 more seasons if they let me,'' says the actor, who makes around $500,000 an episode. (For now, he'll have to settle for next season, the most ABC will commit to at one time.) ''I want to do this show until the little girls grow up, get married, have children, and I'm in the basement like Jerry Stiller [on The King of Queens],'' he says. ''I'm having the best time of my life right now.''
An Article from the New York Daily News
Inner Tube: 'According to Jim' was dandy, but now it's over
It's the end of the line for ABC's "According to Jim."
The long-running comedy starring Jim Belushi won't return after its eighth season, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson told reporters gathered for the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.
"I think this is probably the final run, but you never say never."
Elsewhere, McPherson said audiences should stick with "Grey's Anatomy" until the end of the season for resolution of the Izzy/Denny ghost story line.
"It's not a ghost, which you will learn," McPherson said. "When you get to the end of the season, you'll see everything creator Shonda Rhimes had in mind. It might not be your cup of tea, but it's smart and insightful for all the characters involved."
As for the behind-the-scenes drama at "Grey's," McPherson dismissed any issues. "I prefer that people do their jobs and have great shows."
Dots all ...
After rumblings that he might leave, WNBC/Ch. 4 investigative correspondent Jonathan Dienst is staying put with a new contract. ... Lifetime has picked up a new comedic drama series, "Drop Dead Diva," about a shallow model-in-training who dies, only to find her soul resurface in the body of a smart, plus-size attorney. The show will launch in the summer. ... WCBS/Ch. 2 anchor Maurice DuBois today emcees the Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs' Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 24th Annual Scholarship Awards luncheon at the Uniondale Marriott. ... WPIX/Ch. 11 marks the day with a special, "Martin Luther King: The Dream Continues" airing today at 5.
To see some clips from According to JIm go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=according+to+jim&aq=f
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20090504101422/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/accordingtojim.html
For a Review of today's Domestic Sitcoms go to
For The Jim Belushi Website go to http://www.jimbelushi.ws/
For an interview with Jim Belushi go to https://www.mlive.com/entertainment/flint/index.ssf/2013/10/jim_belushi_talks_according_to.html
For a Review of According to Jim go to http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/According-to-Jim.html
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-eUxvpR13A
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Keywords: According to Jim