Tonight's installment of "8 Simple Rules" (7 p.m., ABC) marks the last episode John Ritter taped before his death. The series will return to repeats for a period while the producers create additional episodes that incorporate the death of his character, Paul Hennessy. It remains to be seen how a sitcom as slight as "8 Simple" will contend with tragedy, or if audiences who tuned in to watch Ritter will continue to follow the show without him.
You have to reach back pretty far in primetime history to recall a hit show that survived the death of a star playing a principal character. Bea Benadaret, who played Aunt Kate, died in 1968 at the beginning of the fourth season of "Petticoat Junction" The sitcom ran two seasons more, but most contemporary critics felt the show was never the same.
Tonight's other highlights
- Emily decorates Rory's dorm without telling her on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).
- National League Championship Series Game One (7 p.m., Fox).
- Wendie Malick guest stars as the brothers' former baby-sitter on "Frasier" (8 p.m., NBC).
- The "Fab Five" from "Queer Eye" guest star on "Good Morning, Miami" (8:30 p.m., NBC).
A dead commander washes ashore on "Navy NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Mavis' blind date on "Whoopi" (7 p.m., NBC) ... Alex is intimidated by Patrick's brainy ex on "I'm With Her" (7:30 p.m., ABC).
Lulu has doubts about her move on "The Guardian" (8 p.m., CBS) ... Jim's bingo sin on "According to Jim" (8 p.m., ABC).
Amateur wrestling on "The Mullets" (8:30 p.m., UPN).
Uma Thurman, Ricky Gervais and Renee Fleming appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Dennis Miller on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).