Tuesday, June 28, 2011

30 Forgotten Boob-Tube Favorites

Shortly after my pal Matt at BoyCulture had a fun post about favorite short-lived television series -- a subject I can talk about forever -- I came across a couple photos I had gotten in a press kit for "Everything's Relative," a doomed 1987 sitcom I was highly attached to because of one of its leading men. (And no, I'm not talking about Jason Alexander, who would strike sitcom gold a couple years later.)

I was over the moon that John Bolger -- who played hunky Michael in the seminal gay film "Parting Glances" -- was now going to be part of my weekly TV regimen, but alas it was not meant to be. As I recall, Bolger and Alexander played brothers who were -- surprise! -- opposite in every way. Julian was booksmart, nebbish and not exactly a hit with the ladies, while brother Scott (even his name is hotter!) was a sexy construction-worker type, whose dashing good looks no woman could resist. (Or no gay college guy, as the case may be.) Anne Jackson (Mrs. Eli Wallach in real life) played their mom. Besides Peggy Cass making a guest appearance on one episode, the main thing I remember most about "Everything's Relative" is the way John Bolger looked in a tight T-shirt and jeans. (You're welcome.)

Here are some of my other "forgotten" favorites -- please tell me about yours!

  • "Get Christie Love" (1974): Best remembered for Teresa Graves' catchphrase -- "You're under arrest, sugar!" -- I still have vivid memories of watching this tough-as-nails undercover cop in the L.A.P.D/'s Special Investigations Division running around with big hair in glamorous outfits catching the bad guy. Haven't seen it since -- should my parents have been allowing me to watch this at age 7?
  • "Another April" (1974): My brother Bill reminded me of this one, about a liberal, recently divorced mother, who returns with her son to Seattle to live with her conservative parents. Leslie Charleson -- aka Dr. Monica Quartermaine on "General Hospital" -- played the month in character, April Weston Moss. Given the political climate these days, I'll bet this one holds up well.

  • "All's Fair" (1976): My parents DID let me stay up for this sitcom about a middle-aged man (Richard Crenna) and a young woman (Bernadette Peters) who fall in love amidst the political backdrop of Washington, D.C. (I've mentioned this one before!)
  • "Mr. T and Tina" (1976): The show -- East meets West when a widowed Japanese inventor moves his extended family from Tokyo to Chicago and hires a young American governess to keep domestic order -- was ripe with racial stereotypes, but I just remember loving Pat Morita (Arnold from "Happy Days") and that the place they lived in reminded me of my Tuesday Taylor penthouse apartment.

  • "Holmes and Yoyo" (1976): I can't say for sure that this show was any good -- Richard B. Shull played accident-prone Det. Alexander Holmes who was partnered with a new robotic police officer in the guise of Det. Gregory "Yoyo" Yonovich (John Shuck) -- but I remember my brothers and I LOVED watching it.

  • "James at 15" (1977): The greatest show ever, and a big part of the reason I wanted to live in a city. Need I say more?

  • "Angie" (1979): I've written about this one before -- loved Donna Pescow and loved Robert Hays even more!

  • "Breaking Away" (1980): It only lasted a season, but I loved the TV version of the classic bike-racing film. Shaun Cassidy, who had just gotten a lot of praise for his role as a mentally challenged young man in a TV film called "Like Normal People" (great title!), was adorable.

  • "Love, Sidney" (1981): IMDB describes the premise of this cult classic as "A middle-aged gay artist shares his New York apartment with a single mother and her little girl," but I'm pretty sure Sidney wasn't "openly" gay on the show. It was a revelation, though, even if it didn't translate to Tony Randall's real life.

  • "The Brady Brides" (1981): This goes without saying -- who DIDN'T want more Bradys at that point -- but it is most notable because with all the Brady reunions that would happen over the next 10-plus years, this wound up being the ONLY one to feature the entire original cast. (And they said Jan was trouble -- it was ALL those Brady girls!)

  • "Harper Valley PTA" (1981): I honestly don't remember too much about this show, I just remember it aired on Friday nights with "The Brady Brides" and that Barbara Eden made a tease of a troublemaker!

  • "Square Pegs" (1982): For a forgotten show, this one's pretty well-remembered. But you couldn't make a list without it.

  • "Gloria" (1982): Sally Struthers' now-divorced character from "All in the Family" got a spinoff, playing an assistant to a couple of rural veterinarians, the crusty Dr. Adams (Burgess Meredith) and the liberated Dr. Lawrence (Jo de Winter). (Christian Jacobs starred Joey Stivic, now 8 years old -- I suppose he was anatomically correct, too!) I don't remember too much about the show -- the la-la-la theme song will never go out of my mind and I recall Carroll O'Connor making a guest appearance -- but I just loved the idea of seeing Gloria later in life. She and Mike had left "All in the Family" way back in '78. (I had a thing for spinoffs, too, like "Rhoda," "Phyllis" and even "Checking In," Marla Gibbs' short-lived show as Florence before "227" came along!)
  • "The Best of Times" (1983): Three pals at U.S. Grant high school -- Robert Romanus (Damone from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"), Leif Green and Chris Nash -- got into all sorts of trouble with bullying jocks, girls and the school's sadistic security chief. Thanks to my brother Bill for reminding me of this brilliant show, which helped soften the blow when 1982's "Square Pegs" got canceled.

  • "Oh Madeline" (1983): Madeline played a bored housewife who was always jumping on the latest bandwagon -- health food, aerobics, male strip clubs(!) -- in an attempt to spice up her middle-class existence. Madeline Kahn did slapstick really well -- and with a buxom blonde as romance-novelist husband Charlie's amorous editor, there was plenty of opportunity for misunderstandings and marital drama. Jesse Welles played Ethel to Madeline's Lucy, a timid divorcee formerly married to Charlie's best friend, a middle-aged swinger named Bob.

  • "Amanda's" (1983): Beatrice Arthur starred in this post-"Maude"/pre-"Golden Girls" sitcom inspired by the British classic "Fawlty Towers." I don't remember if it was very good or not, but I always loved watching Bea.

  • "Goodnight, Beantown" (1983): Two of my faves -- Bill Bixby ("The Courtship of Eddie's Father") and Mariette Hartley (the Polaroid lady!) -- starred as rivals and occasional lovers in this smart sitcom set in a local TV newsroom in Boston. (It was like my first "job" after WGM laid me off!)

  • "It's Your Move" (1984): Jason Bateman's ahead-of-its-time sitcom I wrote about HERE.

  • "Spencer" (1984): Even more than "It's Your Move," this Chad Lowe vehicle was a HUGE favorite in my house. My brother Terence and I used to watch it together, although my crush on Chad probably had more to do with my interest in the show that its (actually) clever writing. (In a contract dispute, Lowe left the show after only six episodes, as did I. He was replaced by Rossie Harris and the show was renamed "Under One Roof.")

  • "Double Trouble" (1984): Sitcom about the antics between two twins, Kate and Allison (played by real life twins Liz and Jean Segal) was great until they retooled it too much.

  • "All Is Forgiven" (1986): Paula Russell (Bess Armstrong) accomplishes two feats in one day. First she marries Matt Russell, a doughnut executive (Terence Knox), who has a teenage daughter, Sonia. She also starts a new job as a producer of a TV soap opera. The other characters (including Carol Kane) on the show are all associated with the TV soap opera. I remember liking this one because it depicted a relationship between a child and a stepparent.

  • "Day by Day" (1988): This half-hour sitcom was about a yuppie couple named Brian and Kate Harper -- he was a stockbroker, she a lawyer -- who quit the rat race and opened a day care in their home so that they could spend more time with their own kids. I was originally drawn to the show by its leading man, Doug Sheehan, who had played Joe Kelly on "General Hospital" back when I watched it with my mom and brother in the early '80s -- but it also starred a post "Summer School" Courtney Thorne-Smith as a sexy teenager hired to help out in the day care and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Brian's brash former business associate. Linda Kelsey played the wife.

  • "Class of '96" (1993): Should have known this Fox show was doomed when it was about four years in the life of a group of college kids -- at Havenhurst College, a fictitious Ivy League school located in New England -- yet it didn't get off the ground until 1993. Jason Gedrick was the lead, and the lead reason I kept coming back for more -- well, until it got canceled after four months.

  • "My So-Called Life" (1994): OK, so this isn't little-known anymore. But is it widely known that I used to see Angela's adorable dad Graham Chase at JR's in Washington back in the day? (Jordan who?!)

  • "Party Girl" (1996): Christine Taylor (Marcia Brady) starred as Mary in the spinoff of the cult Parker Posey film, a girl whose mother had died leaving her to find herself in the clubs and parties of New York City. She is finally given a chance to prove herself thanks to godmother Swoozie Kurtz who hires her to work in a library.

  • "Jack & Jill" (1999): This glossy WB show about a group of 20-somethings living in Manhattan was "my" "Sex and the City" before I got cable and discovered the real one. Several of the cast members became quite successful afterward -- Amanda Peete, Jaime Pressley and Justin Kirk -- but I'd trade in all their happiness for one more season with my old gang.
  • "Freaks and Geeks" (1999): I only discovered this one on cable recently -- a New Year's Day marathon. Wow!
  • "Miss Match" (2003): Alicia Silverstone was robbed when her "comeback" series -- in which she played a Los Angeles divorce lawyer who doubles as a high-end matchmaker even though her own love life is less than perfect -- bombed. Ryan O'Neal was perfect as her immature father (go figure!).

  • "Sons & Daughters" (2006): I blame this HILARIOUS show -- about "zany and slightly troubled members of a family trying to make it through life as comedy ensues" -- for my not watching "Modern Family" as it was canceled the second I got hooked -- immediately. (It was even on ABC!)
  • "Love Monkey" (2006): Another heartbreak from ABC, with Tom Cavanagh as a New York City music scout who gets fired from his corporate job and gets a job at a smaller indie label.

  • "Swingtown" (2008): A brilliant slice of American history that should have NEVER been on network television. (What a lost opportunity this was -- and I'm not just lamenting Grant Show's sexy pornstache!)

  • UPDATE: I realize I did one of these lists a couple years ago -- after 10,000 posts, who can keep track? -- and I forgot to mention a few from then, including "Dog Bites Man" and "Central Park West."


    Dwight Supremacy said...

    Loved "Day by Day!" The passage of time could have me romanticizing how good it was though. And the son (Christopher Daniel Barnes) grew up to be pretty cute.

    Felix Hunger said...

    Do you remember 'Jennifer Slept Here' from the early '80s starring Ann Jillian? That was a pretty good show full of camp.

    Also, remember 'Love Sidney' about the first gay man on TV?

    Kenneth M. Walsh said...

    @Felix: Oops -- "Love, Sidney" has to be added to the list. (I had it on last time!) Was he openly gay? I always thought it was more implied, but I could definitely be wrong. IMDB remembers it the way you do.

    Chad said...

    Double Trouble was my favorite show as a kid! I even loved it when they moved to San Fran (?) to live with their kooky aunt played by Barbara Barrie. Love it!!

    Giovanni Vitacolonna said...

    Frank's Place
    Doctor, Doctor and Action are worthy of that list. Oh and Homefront

    Michael-Lamont said...

    I used to love "Get Christie Love". I would watch it with my father. It came on around the same time as "Police Woman" starring Angie Dickenson. My father would get mad , because Angie Dickenson would get help in fighting the bad guys, but Thresa Graves(Christie Love) would have to take them on mano a mano. I also remember in the opening scene of the premiere episode Christie gets called the N-word for not sleeping with a john while she was working as an undercover prostitute.

    Jim said...

    I think "Parker Lewis Can't Lose", it brought us the cuties, Corin Nemec, Billy Jayne and Abraham Benrubi. It only lasted three seasons, but had some interesting camera work when cutting between scenes.

    Larry said...

    I think I watched nearly every one of the shows you listed from the 70s and 80s...loved "Angie," "Square Pegs," "Love Sidney" and "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" the most.

    Some of my other faves were "It Takes Two," which starred Patty Duke and Richard Crenna but featured young Helen Hunt and Anthony Edwards as their kids; "Grand," from the 1990s, which starred Pamela Reed, Sara Rue, Bonnie Hunt and Michael McKean; "The Powers that Be," which had John Forsythe as the president of the US and featured a pre-Frasier David Hyde Pierce, and my favorite recent "gone too soon" show was "Better off Ted"--probably one of the best-written and funniest shows in recent years, and Portia de Rossi was AMAZING!

    maxx said...

    "...but I'm pretty sure Sidney wasn't "openly" gay on the show."

    You're right. However, this series started as a TV movie, in which the character is clearly identified as gay. Then when it became a TV series, all of this was evacuated.

    Kenneth M. Walsh said...

    Thanks, Maxx! That explains the confusion.

    overseer01 said...

    Sugar Time with Barbie Benton and Married: The First Year.

    Harry said...

    John Bolger. Wow. I loved me John Bolger. Had I known this show existed, I'd be watching it nonstop. I remember staying up late to watch 'Parting Glances' on cable back in 1987 only because I saw a trailer which featured a Bronski Beat song. Lo and behold, my teenage-self fell in love with him after watching the movie. This whole post was a great flashback...

    tim said...

    A few years ago, I was riding the subway when this extremely attractive man sat across from me. His salt-n-pepper temples paired with his deep eyes had me staring. Then I realized it was the actor from a soap I watched who I lusted over. It was Jon Bolger. Still amazingly handsome after all these years.

    Dennis said...

    The one I remember is "Over the Top" from 1997 that filmed 12 episodes but got canceled after the first four aired. The chemistry between Annie Potts and Tim Curry was amazing, but I think it is another of those "too smart" shows that never got a chance. I wish I could find the series on DVD or online; we got cheated out of 8 episodes. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118420/

    philly76 said...

    I also remember "Everything's Relative". There was one particular episode in which John takes off his shirt and is just in jeans....I completely melted. Didn't he star in a drama series in NY also in the 80's?? "New York Blue" or something like that...I think he played a fireman...HOT, HOT. HOT...

    tobyweiss.com said...

    The Stockard Channing Show! Coupled with Angie and Makin' It, there was a brief moment when everything John Travolta touched turned into a TV show!

    Johnny said...

    Did you ever see the 1991 "Sons and Daughters" with Lucie Arnaz? Good show, hot guys, not sure why it was canceled so soon... :)

    Frank Anthony Polito said...

    Awesome list! MANY of my former faves included... Though I wasn't a regular viewer of "Day By Day" I do recall the episode where the son, "Ross," dreamed he was the 4th Brady boy, "Chuck Brady." Special guests included Flo Henderson, Bob Reed (sporting a 'stache) "Peter," "Bobby," a pregnant "Marcia," and good old Ann B. Davis as "Alice." Coincidentally (or not!), the actor who played "Ross" wound up playing "Greg" in "The Brady Bunch Movie." And speaking of Angela Chase's dad... I once ran into him at The Phoenix in the EVil -- much to my delight! Though I overheard him say (in a LOUD voice), "I hope nobody recognizes me."

    x-ray said...

    I would totally add Makin' It and Better Off Ted. Ted being canceled actually hurt. I would add a few more to the list. I never missed It's a Living with Ann Jillian, Susan Sullivan (who I would follow to Falcon Crest) and Crystal Bernard (whom I forgot was on it). One show I loved that only lasted 6 episodes before ABC was pressured to canceled it, Good & Evil with Teri Garr, Margret Whitton, Lane Davis (i followed him from Santa Barbera) and Seth Green. It was styled like a soap opera spoof like Soap the top and funny. Two last ones are the pre-Glee, Pre-Nip Tuck Ryan Murphy show Popular with Sara Rue, Chris Gorham (sigh), Tammy Lee Michaels, Leslie Grossman etc etc. Every other scene in Glee feels like scenes Ryan wanted to put in Popular or updated from the show for Glee. Last is Jack and Bobby starring Logan Lerman, Christine Lahti, Matt (sigh) Long, John Slatterly and Bradley Cooper. I'm a fan of Brad Meltzer and was sad to see this one end as well.

    Monkey Business said...

    GREAT post! One correction though: "Love Monkey" was a CBS show. I very much miss it, as it had the interesting subplot over the first two or three episodes of one of the four guy friends coming out to the others. It was played with an appropriate sense of realism for a "dramedy."

    Another show to add on a future list: Fox's "Profit" with Adrian Pasdar as a sexy sociopath.

    Also second "Better Off Ted"! If ABC had stuck with it for one more season, it would have fit in perfectly in its Wednesday block with "Modern Family, "Cougar Town," etc. So it goes.

    Sam said...

    That was so much fun to read. You put so much work into it. Thanks.

    Michael Luongo said...

    This was a fun post...I loved this and going back in time too.....Mike

    Steve Reed said...

    Awesome list! I remember "Angie" well -- I even produced a puppet show in my living room that involved spoofing the theme song, if you can believe it. And "Square Pegs" was an all-time fave. I was really upset when that got cancelled!