The series stars Jim Belushi as Jim, the head of a family living in the Chicago suburbs. He lives with his wife, Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith, who seemed like the last person on Earth who would make a good pairing with Belushi, but works really well) and children (initially a few, but 5 by the time the series was coming to a close.)
The two adults have their own sidekicks in the form of Cheryl's brother, Andy (Larry Joe Campbell) and sister Dana (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). If the series hit the same note again and again (i.e. Jim does something wrong, Cheryl makes her - understandably - upset face), it at least hit those same notes well enough more often than not. Adding Cheryl's two relatives in the mix only enhanced the series. Campbell and Belushi make a reasonably good Laurel and Hardy-style (or, better yet, Hardy-and-Hardy-style) pairing.
Additionally, Williams-Paisley and Belushi energetically throw one-liners at each other, and Williams-Paisley seems to take a particular delight in riffing on her co-star. Thorne-Smith often plays it straight, but while she frowns on her husband's actions, she's at least not a Debbie Downer. Campbell, while never really getting that many stories of his own on the series, often manages to get bigger laughs than his co-stars, with a loopy delivery that works well.
Seasons one and two of "According to Jim" occasionally felt a small step above generic, feeling at times like sitcom 101. However, by season three, it seems that the writers and actors started to find their stride and really develop the characters and situations in more humorous ways. And while Cheryl continued to be the voice of reason, her character does start to have moments where she, along with sister Dana, start to try and one up Jim and Andy.
There are some storylines that connect a number of the 27 episodes, such as Dana meeting and getting married to Dr. Ryan Gibson (Mitch Rouse), and Jim and Cheryl consider having another baby. While the main storylines are entertaining, it's the in-between episodes that really stand out as some of "According to Jim's" best.
There are several memorable episodes in season four, and some standouts include: "The Hunters" where Jim wants to prove he can hunt his turkey for thanksgiving, but ends up being hunted by the legendary turkey called "Angry Pete." In "Sympathy From the Devlins," Jim and Cheryl's over-the-top neighbors, Cindy Devlin (Cynthia Stevenson) and Tim Devlin (Tim Bagley) make an appearance and Jim starts spending more time with them because he thinks they bring the bulls good luck when they watch a game together. In "The Mustache," a delivery girl tells Jim he should grow a mustache, so he does, much to Cheryl's dismay. So to make a point, Cheryl decides to go brunette, which ends up backfiring. Another enjoyable episode is "The Bachelorette Party." Dana is disappointed with the classy bachelorette party Cheryl throws her, and decides to let Jim and Andy take her out to celebrate instead.
Season four has a lot of memorable episodes that follow the enjoyable storyline of Dana meeting and marrying Dr. Gibson, but it also really stands out in the in-between episodes. With 27 episodes to the season, the season four DVD set is worth a look for fans as it stands out as one of its most enjoyable.
4-01 21/Sep/04 A Hole in One
4-02 28/Sep/04 The Effort
4-03 12/Oct/04 The Grill
4-04 19/Oct/04 The Garage Door
4-05 26/Oct/04 Dress to Kill Me
4-06 09/Nov/04 Father-Daughter Dance
4-07 16/Nov/04 Plot Twist
4-08 23/Nov/04 The Hunters
4-09 30/Nov/04 Poking The Bear
4-10 14/Dec/04 Stalking Santa
4-11 11/Jan/05 Sympathy From the Devlins
4-12 18/Jan/05 Nanny-Cam
4-13 25/Jan/05 The Jealous Husband
4-14 08/Feb/05 A Crying Shame
4-15 15/Feb/05 Guess Who's Cooking Your Dinner?
4-16 22/Feb/05 The Wedding Dress
4-17 08/Mar/05 The Mustache
4-18 08/Mar/05 Shall We Dance
4-19 15/Mar/05 Take My Wife, Please
4-20 22/Mar/05 Spelling Bee
4-21 29/Mar/05 Kentucky Fried Beltzman
4-22 12/Apr/05 The Clock
4-23 19/Apr/05 The Competition
4-24 03/May/05 The Bachelorette Party
4-25 10/May/05 Geronimo Jim
4-26 10/May/05 The Scrapbook
4-27 17/May/05 Wedding Bell Blues
VIDEO:"According to Jim" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen by Lionsgate. The presentation is a little better than broadcast quality; detail looked unexpectedly good (for a TV presentation) and the picture quality - while not without a few imperfections - was at least largely consistent. Flaws included a few traces of artifacting. Colors remained bright and lively throughout, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The series is given a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. Not surprisingly, the show's audio is largely dialogue-driven, leading to little use of the surrounds beyond some reinforcement of the music and light ambience. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: "Season 4 According To Jim" - At just over 11 minutes, Jim Belushi talks about season four including what it meant to him, the 100th episode, guest stars, behind-the-scenes information, some episodes and more. Footage from the season is included throughout.
"According to Kids" - Jim Belushi, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Larry Joe Campbell talk about the kids who played Ruby (Taylor Atelian), Gracie (Billi Bruno) and Kyle (Conner Rayburn) and interacting with them. Additionally, Atelian, Bruno and Rayburn talk about the audition process, what it was like working on the series, and more.
Final Thoughts: The fourth season of "Jim" provides some of the show's best episodes, while the DVD offers a fine presentation of the season.