According to Jim: The Complete First Season
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // $39.98 // October 21, 2008
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted November 12, 2008
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The First Season

According to Jim is a situation comedy (sitcom) that first aired in 2001 on ABC and is about to start its eighth season. It was created by Tracy Newman and Jonathan Stark, who both have experience working on shows like Ellen and The Nanny. The show is a fairly typical sitcom about the daily lives of a neurotic family with no last name and a couple in-laws (bother and sister). For the most part, the comedy is light-faired and works at times. Personally, I have never been a huge fan. While watching the first season on DVD, it did not grow on me anymore.

Jim Belushi stars in According to Jim as Jim. Jim is the head of a family (whose last name is not revealed). He is an architect and owns his own business, which he runs with his brother-in-law. His wife is Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith). She is a stay-at-home mom and works hard to keep their neurotic family in check. Their kids are Gracie (Billi Bruno), Ruby (Taylor Atelian), and Kyle (Anthony & Brian Toro). Gracie is the oldest child, but still very young. Ruby is the middle child and just entering kindergarten. Kyle is a baby and offers little as a character (beyond being a baby). The other characters are Dana (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), Cheryl's single, career-oriented sister who butts heads with Jim, and Andy (Larry Joe Campbell), Cheryl's brother, who works with Jim and is also his close friend.

In season one, Jim, Cheryl, and the rest of the family go through typical sitcom ordeals, which involve lying, disobedient children, financial issues, the in-laws, responsibility, spousal disagreement, and more. For the most part, the storylines are generic to other sitcoms and there really is not a whole lot that makes the show stand out. Jim Belushi is pretty funny. His character has two main personality traits: laziness and machismo. In almost every episode, Jim tries to get out of chores, responsibilities, and makes references to eating and drinking. While neither trait is very funny, Belushi carries his character in a manner that makes the issues funny.

Beyond Belushi, the rest of the cast is average. Thorne-Smith makes for a good character across from Belushi. Her character's personality balances out Jim's faults, but of course she has her own (such as needing to have people like her). However, at times I had a hard time accepting her in a comedy role (as far as I am concerned, she will forever be Alison from Melrose Place). The other lead performers Williams-Paisley and Campbell offer little. Williams-Paisley has an aggressive character who is constantly going against Jim, which works for some of the storylines, but at the same time never feels like an important character. Even more so is Campbell, who is lacking. He plays the dumber-than-thou role, which is rarely convincing (there are a couple exceptions). Overall, I really did not care for the cast as a whole.

As for the season one episodes, there are a few that are good. However, the laughs are still pretty limited. "Bad Word" is a solid episode. Cheryl leaves the kids and one of their friends under Jim's supervision. Unfortunately, it is during a football game. At some point, he says a bad word. The girls learn the word and repeat it. As the episode goes on, Jim tries to get himself out of hot water by convincing Cheryl it was not his fault. Of course, the truth comes out in a very public venue. "Andy's Girlfriend" is also a pretty strong episode. This one was an exception to my dislike of Campbell's role. I think he did a good job here. In this episode, Jim and the family have dinner with Andy's new girlfriend, who Jim has a hard time warming up too.

Overall, According to Jim is a decent sitcom that is probably best reserved for fans of the show. I did not care much for it, but I have never been a fan. I do not mind watching an episode here or there, but an entire season too much for me. The characters offer little and the storylines are far too generic with far too few hilarious jokes in between.

Episode Guide

1. Pilot: Mom and Dad share little Ruby's separation anxiety when she enters kindergarten.
2. No Nookie: Cheryl and Jim try sexual abstinence to re-light their romantic fires.
3. The Cat Came Back: Cheryl's beloved cat dies, and Jim's lack of sympathy leaves her cold.
4. Anniversary: Jim cajoles Dana into buying his anniversary gift for Cheryl.
5. Unruly Spirits: It's eerie tricks for Andy and sneaky treats for Gracie on Halloween.
6. The Crush: Jim is jealous of Cheryl's crush on Dana's new boyfriend.
7. Cheryl's Old Flame: Jim gives the kids their own TV, and Andy tries therapy to boost his ego.
8. The Turkey Bowl: Jim opts to go bowling on Thanksgiving Day, proving to Cheryl that there's more than one turkey in the house.
9. Andy's Girlfriend: Andy's vegetarian girlfriend gives meat-loving Jim something to chew on during a spirited family dinner.
10. An According to Jiminy Christmas: Cheryl is in panic-pleasing mode when her mother visits at Christmas.
11. Bad Word: Jim's colorful language is repeated by the kids.
12. Model Behavior: Jim has big plans for ruby when she's hired for a cookie ad.
13. The Money: Without Jim's knowledge, Cheryl dips into the vacation slush fund to loan Andy money.
14. Blow-up: Jim exhibits a revealing Valentine photo of Cheryl.
15. Racquetball: It's Cheryl vs. Jim in a racquetball battle of the sexes.
16. Under Pressure: Cheryl attempts to eliminate all stress from Jim's life.
17. Date Night: Cheryl's romantic date with Jim is spoiled by infantile behavior...from Jim.
18. Birthday Boys: Jim's pride is on the line when Dana spoils his kids.
19. The Receipt: Jim's habit of losing receipts gets him in hot water with Cheryl.
20. Old Friends: Jim tries to relive his rowdy partying days when he runs into an old buddy.
21. Cheryl's Day Off: Jim misplaces the kids while Cheryl takes a relaxing day off.
22. No Surprises: Cheryl finds out about Jim's surprise party for her -- so he cancels it!

The DVD

Video:
The video in this release is given in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is good. It has a slight grain, but detail remains clear. However, there are moments when the picture suffers noticeable compression artifacts.

Audio:
The audio in this release is given in English and Spanish5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. Overall, the sound quality is very good, providing an audible and clean audio track. The majority of activity is in the forward channels.

Extras:

  • Audio Commentaries: are included for episodes "The Pilot" and "Old Friends" with Jim Belushi and Larry Joe Campbell.
  • Season One According to Jim (7:26): is a featurette with Jim Belushi discussing different aspects of the series, specifically season one. He opens with a reflection about how easier it was to come up with material in the beginning. He continues talking about specific season one storylines. While I was not a big fan of the show, I enjoyed Belushi's dissection of the season one episodes.
  • Tour the According to Jim Set (11:12): is a featurette with Jim Belushi giving a tour of the set (from season eight). He talks about some of the props, camera angles, where they do jokes, wardrobe, etc.
  • Comedy Begins at Home (11:52): is a behind the scenes featurette about the show. Jim Belushi opens with a dialogue about how he got involved on the show. It continues with cast and crew members discussing different aspects from storylines to writing to characters to its success.
  • Outtakes (2:53): is a short bloopers reel with the cast messing up during filming.

Final Thoughts:
According to Jim is a sitcom that stars Jim Belushi. The series is about a neurotic family and two of their in-laws going through the ins and outs of life. As for season one, I thought it was pretty generic. The comedy, characters, and storylines did not offer much very much. There are a few exceptions, but not nearly enough to make this set worth purchasing. Overall, this season set is best reserved for the fans. Everyone else should rent.



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