The 90’s

Single Dads in Space

The Nineties saw the further disintegration of the classic broadcast networks. Alternate cable broadcast outlets spawned the need for more software (programs), and writers turned yet again to the TV Single Dad for familiar, snappy storylines.

It's surprising that so many of these Single Dad shows were half-hour cartoons, a return to the days of Jonny Quest*.

The third development of this decade was the rise of the Single Dad peripheral character. Shows such as Rug Rats and Clarissa Explains it All had Single Dad characters who were not the main focus of the show.

*Jonny Quest, surprisingly enough, made a comeback himself. See below...

First, the Questionable Shows of the 1990s...

  • Frasier

    Aired: 1994 – 2002 NBC

    Questionable Dad: Frasier’s Dad, Martin Crane (John Mahoney)

    Why It Doesn’t Count: Frasier is not included in this list because the dad is not the head of household; Frasier is the head. The dad is in the same position as Grandpa on The Munsters.

  • Working It Out

    Aired: 1990 NBC

    Questionable Dad: David Stewart (Stephen Collins)

    Why It Doesn’t Count: David and Sarah are single parents who meet during a cooking class and decide to "work out" their relationship. David is a single dad. What’s the problem? We NEVER SEE his kids — they’re AWAY at college. This violates Rule One of the Single TV Dad Rules: The Single Dad must be seen in a parental role, caring for his "children" without their biological mother or stepmom. Dad must have an obvious participation in providing for his children’s well-being.

    The implicit thought here is that we, as viewers, must actually SEE these kids on screen at least once. This never happened during the brief history of that show.

  • The Critic

    Aired: 1993 ABC, 1994 FOX

    Questionable Dad: Jay Sherman (voice of Jon Lovitz) / Divorced

    Why It Doesn’t Count: Jay Sherman doesn’t have primary custody. His ex-wife Ardith does. However, he does have his son Marty with him on many occasions. Under the Martin Tupper Sub-Rule of Parental Possession, Jay’s not custodial, and ineligible. Sorry!

  • Oh Grow Up

    Aired: 1999 ABC

    Questionable Dad: Hunter (Stephen Dunham)/Divorced

    Why It Doesn’t Count: Would have almost worked, except Chloe (Niesha Trout) doesn’t live in the same apartment as Dad – she’s just moved back and lives in his *neighborhood* – Sorry, Hunter!

  • Sister, Sister

    Aired: 1990 The WB

    Questionable Dad: Tamera’s Dad (Tim Reid)

    Why It Doesn’t Count: THIS is the reason gets so many hits – – people talk about this show INCESSANTLY and then write me about their opinion of whether or not this show qualifies as a true TV Single Dad show. Understand that this site has been operating since 1996 and people are STILL writing in to argue about this series.

    My ruling on this dubba-dubba-WB series is that it is NOT a TV Single Dad show.

    Why? Because it violates Rule One of the Single Dad Rules: "The Single Dad must be seen in a parental role, caring for his ‘children’ without their biological mother or stepmom ." The sisters Tia and Tamera sleep in the same room as each other, and Tamera and Tia both live in the same house as Tia’s stepmom. Therefore, Tim Reid’s character, single or not, is not caring for his "children" without a stepmom. If you don’t like my decision, build your own website!

Next, the Hall of Fame Shows:

  • A Family for Joe

    Aired: 1990 NBC

    DAD: Joe Whitaker (Robert Mitchum) / Single Homeless Guy

    DAD’S JOB: Homeless Guy

    KIDS:Nick Bankston (David Lascher) (16), Holly Bankston (Juliette Lewis) (15), Chris Bankston (Ben Savage) (9), Mary Bankston (Jessica Player) (7)

    WHERE’S MOM?: Mom and Dad dead – unknown

    STAND-IN “MOM”: Roger Hightower (Barry Gordon) / Neighbor

    A great way to kick off the decade is to try parenthood-by-coercion. Joe was a homeless guy in need of a home. The Bankston kids lost their rich parents and were going to be forced to live in orphanages and foster care unless they could produce an adult, like a grandpa or something, to live in their house. Voila! Instant Sitcom!

    Oh, what a TEDIOUS, “heartwarming” show this was. A mid-season replacement, this show didn’t survive the summer. Robert Mitchum’s TV swan song sank into ratings oblivion.

    Side note: In the pilot episode, Nick was played by Chris Furrh, Holly was played by Maia Brewton, and Chris was played by Jarrad Paul. I guess they only liked Jessica Player from the original cast to play Mary.

  • The Family Man
  • Flesh ‘n’ Blood
  • Blossom

  • American Dreamer
  • Uncle Buck
  • Goof Troop
  • Coach