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. Season four was the where the series started to let loose and have fun, with some of the more classic "According to Jim" storylines.
Season Five is past what became the show's halfway mark, and though it's on the other side of the beginning, season five does continue to hold its own with several memorable episodes. Season five continues to bring Cheryl to the forefront, trying to outdo Jim during one of his usual ploys, rather than have her in the traditional mom role. Needless to say, two adults trying to outwit each other often leads to problems. Like in "Anec-Don'ts," Cheryl pretends that she met Oprah after overhearing that Jim thinks her stories are boring. Jim, never one to let things go, decides to make up a bigger story and tells Cheryl that his office burned down. This doesn't go over well, especially when he accidentally does start a fire.
Of course, the season isn't all about Cherly and Jim trying to outwit one another. With Dana's husband, Ryan (Mitch Rouse) part of the mix, Jim sets out to look for a new best friend when Andy starts hanging out with Ryan in "Jim's Best Friend," and even has Jim scrambling to remain the best son-in-law when Cheryl and Dana's mom, Maggie (Kathleen Noone) comes to town in. There are some serious episodes as well, such as "Daddy Dearest" where Jim runs into his dad (Joseph Bologna) that abandoned him, only to learn he's now raising a son closer to his daughter's age.
There are some underwhelming episodes that feel like usual sitcom-fare, but for the majority, season five continues to entertain with fresh ideas and several guest stars (in entertaining episodes) including, Hugh Hefner ("Charity Begins at Hef's" ), Julie Newmar ("The Grumpy Guy"-based on an actual experience between Jim Belushi and Julie Newmar), Linda Hamilton ("Lean On Me"), and Erik Estrada ("Mr. Right").
The season five DVD is the complete season and includes two features. After five seasons, "According to Jim" remains consistent and entertaining. Fans of the series may want to pick up the DVD to add to the collection.
5-01 20/Sep/05 Foul Ball
5-02 27/Sep/05 The Tale of the Tape (part 1)
5-03 27/Sep/05 The Tale of the Tape (part 2)
5-04 04/Oct/05 Charity Begins at Hef's
5-05 11/Oct/05 The Race
5-06 18/Oct/05 Anec-Dont's
5-07 01/Nov/05 Chick Whisperer
5-08 08/Nov/05 James & the Annoying Peach
5-09 15/Nov/05 The Dream
5-10 29/Nov/05 Lean on Me
5-11 13/Dec/05 The Gift of the Maggie
5-12 10/Jan/06 Sex Ed Fred
5-13 24/Jan/06 Renewing Vows
5-14 07/Feb/06 The Stick
5-15 07/Feb/06 Mr. Right
5-16 21/Feb/06 Get Your Freak On
5-17 28/Feb/06 The Grumpy Guy
5-18 07/Mar/06 Polite Jim
5-19 07/Mar/06 Daddy Dearest
5-20 14/Mar/06 The Thin Green Line
5-21 21/Mar/06 Jim's Best Friend
5-22 02/May/06 Belaboring the Point
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 5 According To Jim Featurette" - Similar to previous DVD releases of "According to Jim," the featurette is a look back at the season. The feature begins with Jim Belushi talking about coming into season five and how American Idol came along and began to take away ratings from them as well as others. He goes onto discuss other aspects of the season including getting raises, moving to smaller sets, guest stars and more. There are clips from some of the episodes, and Jim talks about several of them including "Foul Ball" that features his real life son, Robert Belushi, and "The Race" that features his real life daughter, Jamison Belushi.
"The House That Jim Built" - The feature has interviews with Jim Belushi and Director of Photography, George Mooradian about lighting a comedy, creating a set/look with warm tones, building the sets on a soundstage (including Mooradian walking through an empty soundstage and pointing out where pieces of the set go) and more.
Final Thoughts: There are still some good, old-fashioned chuckles throughout the fifth season, but the show starts to show some signs of getting a little worn at this point. The DVD edition boasts satisfactory audio/video quality, as well as next-to-no extras. Rent it.