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 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, below.
Frasier 1994 - 2002
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 1990
Questionable Dad: David Stuart (Stephen Collins) / Divorced
Why It Doesn't Count: Storyline: 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. Well, 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 1993 (ABC) - 1994 (FOX)
DAD: Jay Sherman (voice of Jon Lovitz) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Critic
KIDS: Marty (voice of Christine Cavanaugh)(10)
WHERE'S MOM?: Around .
STAND-IN "MOM": none
Why It Doesn't Count: Jay Sherman doesn't have primary custody. His ex-wife Ardith does. However, he does have Marty with him on many occasions. Under the Martin Tupper Sub-Rule of Parental Possession, Jay's not custodial, and ineligible. Sorry!
Sister, Sister 1994-95 (NBC)/ 1995-99 (WB)
Questionable Dad: Tamera's Dad (Tim Reid)
Why It Doesn't Count: THIS is the reason TVDads.com 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!
Oh Grow Up 1999
DAD: Hunter (Stephen Dunham)/Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Unknown
KIDS: Chloe (Niesha Trout)(18)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced
STAND-IN "MOM": a DOG named "MOM?"
Why It Doesn't Count: Would have almost worked, except Chloe doesn't live in the same apartment as Dad - she's just moved back and lives in his *neighborhood* - Sorry, Hunter!
A Family for Joe 1990
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 1990-91
DAD: Jack Taylor (Gregory Harrison) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Fireman
KIDS: Jeff (John Buchanan) (16), Steve (Scott Weinger) (14), Brian (Matthew Brooks) (11), Allison (Ashleigh Blair Sterling) (5)
WHERE'S MOM?: Died in an automobile accident
STAND-IN "MOM": Joe Alberghetti (Al Molinaro) / Father-in-law.
From the creators of Full House. My 3 Sons + 1 Daughter would be a great name for this show. This show was SUCH a throwback to the 60's. You've got the boys and their differences, you've got the precocious daughter. You've even got THE Murray the Cop for a live-in housekeeper!
Now, you're reading the cast list and you're saying, "Scott Weinger ... Scott Weinger..WHY do I know that name?" Well, Scotty shows up in not one but TWO single dad situations in the future. In 1992, he winds up as D.J.'s boyfriend on Full House and later that year pops up as the speaking voice of Aladdin in the movie of the same name (Aladdin, in case you didn't notice, is a Movie Single Dad film).
Flesh 'n' Blood 1990
DAD: Arlo Weed (David Keith) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Mooch
KIDS: King (Chris Stacy) (16), Beauty (Meghan Andrews) (11)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead - unknown reason
STAND-IN "MOM": Rachel Brennan (Lisa Darr) / Aunt - District Attorney
Okay, you're thinking: Thursday night lead-in on NBC's brand-spankin' Must-See-TV lineup of Cheers, Wings, and the L.A. Law slot. So NO show could be a miss, right? WRONG. To put it briefly, this show was Ally McBeal meeting The Beverly Hillbillies. Except it just could NOT get itself in gear.
David Keith, the man made famous by swallowing a diamond ring in An Officer and a Gentleman, played dirtbag Arlo Weed, the long-lost brother of District Attorney Rachel Brennan. Arlo and his two near-teen knockoff children, patterned on Elly May Clampett and Jethro Bodine, moved in with the unobliging Rachel to "share the wealth." The hijinks never ensued, however. Cap this one off with a theme song by Leon Russell AND David Keith (!!) and you have an easy recipe for a cratering disaster.
Some day, someone will write a book about the Bad Show Choices of NBC, hopefully naming it, "What on EARTH Were They THINKING??"
DAD: Nick Russo (Ted Wass) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Musician
KIDS: Blossom (Mayim Bialik) (16), Joey (Joey Lawrence) (17), Anthony (Michael Stoyanov) (20-something)
WHERE'S MOM?: (Melissa Manchester) Divorced, lives in Paris
STAND-IN "MOM ": Nick's last-season wife, Carol (Finola Hughes)
Update: Mom's alive! A few readers of this page pointed out a 2-hourBlossom TV movie where Blossom went and lived with her mom in Paris for a while - well, for two hours. And guess who Mom is? Melissa Manchester!
(A tip of the Fred MacMurray Memorial pipe to "email@example.com" for the latest info.)
And thanks again to Katie Burell (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the info on Blossom's "stand-in mom" and the eldest Russo child. Thanks again, Katie!
Update #2: Lee Yancey wrote in with some interesting "inside" info about Blossom's pilot episodes:
"Speaking as a person who worked as a lighting technician occasionally on Blossom, I can tell you that the show debuted in January of 1991 and concluded in May of 1995. The January episode was the second pilot, having Ted Wass replacing Richard Masur (Masur is currently the president of the Screen Actors Guild!) as the father, and they deleted Barrie Youngfellow as the mother as well, in this second pilot."
"Also, actress Paige Pengra played Maddy Russo (the mother) in early flashback episodes."
A tip of Mrs. Livingston's Memorial Duster to Lee Yancey (PAWS@PRODIGY.NET) for the info (including getting the decade right!) on Blossom. Thanks, Lee!
Update #3: Please don't write to me about a 1990 FOX series with Mayim Bialik called Molloy -- her dad was MARRIED in that show, a fact that seems to elude past viewers of that show. Thanks!
American Dreamer 1990-91
DAD: Tom Nash (Robert Urich) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Columnist/Ex-TV Newsman
KIDS: Rachel Nash (Chay Lentin) (14), Danny Nash (Johnny Galecki) (12)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
TV Formula: when your wife dies, quit your Peter Jennings-style day job, move to Walton's Mountain, and write "slice of life" articles. This show was trotted out for the fall season in 1990, then yanked and used for schedule-plugs the following spring.
Note: this show was the beginning of the Robert Urich TV Single Dad Hegemony... read on as Mr. U's tries at single parenthood haunt the 90's...
Uncle Buck 1990-91
DAD: Uncle Buck Russell (Kevin Meaney) / Foster Parent
DAD'S JOB: Slob. No defined job.
KIDS: Tia (Dah-ve Chodan) (16), Miles (Jacob Gelman) (8), Maizy (Sarah Martineck) (6)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead. So's Dad. Accident.
STAND-IN "MOM": Maggie Hogoboom (Audrey Meadows) / Kids' grandmother
What a mistake! CBS was trying to take a leaf out of the FOX playbook and show a nasty Married With Children-styled sitcom during WEEKNIGHT PRIMETIME! This showed died a miserable, lingering death in just a few months. Here's a rule for sitcom writers who think they want a career in Family Hour: NEVER have the first words of the show, from the mouth of a six-year-old, be "You SUCK!"
Goof Troop 1991-93
DAD: Goofy / Widower?
DAD'S JOB: Works for Pete - something to do with sales
KIDS: Max (14-ish)
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Gawrsh! Since the days of Pinocchio, the Disney Organization has been parlaying the Single Dad genre into hundreds of cartoons. In this venue, Goofy and Max live in the dog-eat-dog suburb of Spoonerville, and all sorts of wacky (or should I say, "goofy?") hijinks ensue.
ABC, the gloved Hand of Disney, pumped this show on its network on Saturday mornings, and syndicated it on weekdays through the Disney's Afternoon cartoon omnibus.
Coach 1990 - 97
Dad: Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Coach
KIDS: Kelly (20)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced. Around.
STAND-IN "MOM": Christine Armstrong (Shelley Fabares) / TV journalist
I am a dim bulb on Coach. However, astute viewer Msdelta308@aol.com couldn't help but point out that Christine is now a full-time mom to a new baby boy. Also, Kelly was no longer a regular on the show for the last, so if the show lasted much longer, Hayden Fox would have fallen under the Mike Brady majority exemption and be kicked out of the TV Single Dads Hall. Fortunately, the ax fell...
I'm the only person in the universe who didn't watch Coach. If you have more information on Coach, please e-mail me.
Another tip of the Sebastian Cabot Memorial Bowler to Katie Burell (email@example.com) for the info on Shelley Fabares's character name. Thanks again, Katie!
Darkwing Duck 1991 - 1995
DAD: Darkwing Duck / Drake Mallard (voice of Jim Cummings) / Single
DAD'S JOB: Crimefighter
KIDS: Gosalyn Mallard (voice of Christine Cavanaugh) / adopted
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Launchpad McQuack (voice of Terence McGovern) / Sidekick
Astonishingly long-lived afternoon cartoon show, Darkwing Duck protected the city of St. Canard from a plethora of wrongdoers. His adopted daughter Gosalyn acted as a less-bright version of Inspector Gadget's niece Penny, assisting the slightly askew Darkwing in crimefighting.
Davis Rules 1991 (ABC) 1992 (CBS)
DAD: Dwight Davis (Randy Quaid) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: School Principal
KIDS: Robbie (Trevor Bullock), Charlie (Luke Edwards), Ben (Nathan Watt)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead
STAND-IN "MOM": Gunny Davis (Jonathan Winters) / Grandfather
This show was mostly a premise for Jonathan Winters to do improv for most of the half-hour. Winters used the three kids as an audience for discussions of his childhood, his raising of Dwight (Quaid), and impossible stories about the Marines.
A semi-regular girlfriend for Dwight was introduced as Robbie's algebra tutor, Cosmo Yeargin (Patricia Clarkson) after the move to CBS. It didn't help the show survive, though.
Drexell's Class 1991-92
DAD: Otis Drexell (Dabney Coleman) / Unknown
DAD'S JOB: School teacher
KIDS: Melissa (A. J. Langer), Brenda (Brittany Murphy)
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
For most of his television career, Dabney Coleman has played variations of the same cranky, self-serving character in all his series. In this show, Dabney was a guy who cheated on his taxes, and was forced to take a teaching position to pay back the IRS. Picture Welcome Back Kotter, but in this case, the teacher doesn't want to be there.
I'll Fly Away 1991 - 1992
Dad: Forrest Bedford (Sam Waterston) / Married
DAD'S JOB: Attorney
KIDS: Nathaniel (Jeremy London), Francie (Ashlee Levitch), John Morgan (John Aaron Bennett)
WHERE'S MOM?: Mentally ill in an asylum.
STAND-IN "MOM": Lilly Harper (Regina Taylor) / Housekeeper
Lawyer Forrest Bedford struggles to raise his family and deal with a mentally ill wife amid the civil rights unrest of the South in the early 1960s. When his long time housekeeper retires, he hires Lilly, a young black woman, to act as his housekeeper and to care for the children.
Clarissa Explains It All 1991 - 1994
Dad: Sam's Dad (unnamed?)
DAD'S JOB: Newspaper Editor
KIDS: Sam (Sean O'Neal) (15)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced, lives in Seattle
STAND-IN "MOM": Janet Darling, Clarissa's Mom
How about a peripheral character having the Single Dad? Sam, Clarissa's next-door neighbor/confidant, has a dad who works for the local newspaper. Both Sam's father and mother (Debbie) have been the subject of several episodes.
Debbie left Sam's Dad for a career in the Roller Derby. In one episode, Debbie returns to make a new life with Sam. She plans to take Sam away to Seattle, where they will live in a mobile home while running a laundromat/health food store. Fortunately, Sam (with Clarissa's help) convinces his mother that his home is with Dad. An interesting internal custody battle; as far as I can tell, it's a TV first.
Batman: The Animated Series 1991 - 1995
Dad: Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) / Single
DAD'S JOB: Bazillionaire Crimefighter
KIDS: Dick Grayson (Loren Lester) (21), Tim Drake (Matthew Valencia) (13)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dick's mom and dad killed by gangsters, Tim's parents - unknown.
STAND-IN "MOM": Alfred Pennyworth (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.)
If you think Batman is a paunchy guy chasing Cesar Romero, you haven't been exposed to the universe of DC Comics.
Batman is a vigilante maniac, obsessed with fighting crime. This is a payback to the psychotic monster who killed his parents. The dark, relentless pain of Batman, so missing from the 60's series, finally emerges in this Fox prime time show.
This series, unlike the Adam West vehicle, faithfully tracks with the comic book universe. Bruce Wayne, the Caped Crusader, now faces estrangement of his no-longer-Youthful Ward Dick Grayson. Grayson, too, has grown weary of being Robin the Sidekick. Dick leaves home, becoming Nightwing. A new Robin, in the person of pickpocket/kid Tim Drake, enters the tutelage of Mr. Wayne. Tim winds up being the go-between for Batman and Nightwing. I guess breaking up IS hard to do, especially for Men in Tights.
DAD: Brian Stevens (Jonathan Walker) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Weatherman
KIDS: Jessica (Rhea Silver-Smith) (6)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead - unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Scorch (voice of Ronn Lucas) / Dragon
Somewhere, someone at CBS thought this would be a fascinating show. What if weatherman Brian Stevens had a daughter with a pet dragon? Think of the wacky hijinks! This could be the next ALF!
Or not. Unfortunately, they ran out of stories after six episodes.
Funniest part? This show was the lead-in for the equally short-lived Fish Police, an animated show about, yeah, fish in a police station. What were they THINKING?
Droopy, Master Detective 1993-94
DAD: Droopy / Unknown
DAD'S JOB: Master Detective
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Fresh from his triumphant guest shot in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the sleepy hound dog Droopy appeared on a Saturday-morning shot on the Fox network. Droopy and his son Dripple doggedly (ha-ha) hunted down crooks.
Rug Rats 1991- 2004
DAD: Charles "Chaz" Finster (voice of Michael Bell) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Unknown - something white collar
KIDS: Chuckie (2)
WHERE'S MOM?: Died after a long illness.
STAND-IN "MOM": None - unless "It takes a village..."
(This is paraphrased from Billy D'Augustine's excellent Rugrats page at http://www.gti.net/azog/rugrats/, which unfortunately has just been abandoned.):
Chaz is the father of Chuckie. A widower, he is the single parent of his 2-year-old son. Chaz is the only single father of the series. Most of Chaz's parenting skills come from the writings of a Dr. Lipschitz, who is the Dr. Spock of Rugrats. Chaz is a realistically-portrayed, frazzled single dad, trying to juggle work, fatherhood, and housekeeping by himself. Most of Chaz's hobbies are of an introverted nature (chess, Latvian folk music) . Apparently Chaz isn't left with much time to hone his social skills.
Update May 10, 1997: Chaz is officially a widower, as shown in a Rugrats Mother's Day special, and pointed out by alert viewer Christina TSingleDad@aol.com) . The Mother's Day special goes into detail about Chuckie's mom's illness and death in the hospital. A very moving episode. By the way, Chuckie's Mom, Melinda, is voiced by Kim Catrell.
A wave of the Punky Brewster Memorial Pigtails to Christina (TSingleDad@aol.com) for the update. Thanks, Christina!
AND a flap of the Fran Drescher Memorial Miniskirt to Meghan Gleason for filling me in on details about Chuckie's mom. Thanks, Meghan!
Update: The Mike Brady Clock has kicked in, with the marriage of Chaz Finster in the Nickelodeon movie Rugrats in Paris, in 2000. As a series, Rugrats now has until 2009 to finish its production, or face the dreaded Brady disqualification.
Further update: Alert Viewer Varakorn Ungvichian writes in with some chronological corrections: "The series premiered in August 1991. Chazz got hitched in November 2000. (Rugrats in Paris was actually a FALL film...) Thus, by my calculations... That actually means the 'Rats have til Feb 2010!"
Actually, we'll start the Brady Clock at January of 2001, as Chaz doesn't appear married on TV until then, so it buys the show another month. Of course, this assumes a 20-year run of the series. Good luck, Finsters.
A flap of the Benton Quest Memorial Lab Coat to Varakorn Ungvichian for the corrected Mike Brady calculations. Thanks, Varakorn!
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest 1996
DAD #1: Dr. Benton Quest (voice of George Segal, first season; John DeLancie, second season) / Widower
DAD #1'S JOB: Scientist / Maniac
KIDS OF DAD #1: Jonny Quest (14), Hadji (16)
WHERE'S MOM?: Murdered.
STAND-IN "MOM": Roger "Race" Bannon
DAD #2: Roger "Race" Bannon (voice of Robert Patrick, Season 1; Granville Van Dusen, then Robert Foxworth, Season 2) / Divorced
DAD #2'S JOB: Babysitter / Bodyguard
KIDS OF DAD #2: Jesse Bannon (Voice of Jesse Douglas, season one; Jennifer Hale, season 2) (15)
WHERE'S MOM #2?: Archaeologist in Columbia
STAND-IN "MOM": Mom (Estella), down in South America
This is NOT your father's Jonny Quest:
Jonny and Hadji are older in this show, and a lot more self-sufficient than their 60's incarnations. Their being left alone by Dr. Quest is more reasonable, mostly because they are more mature in their approach to adventure and mayhem.
The biggest change to this show's format is the creation of a new TV Single Dad in a familiar character: Race Bannon! Race has a live-in daughter named Jessie. Jessie's mom lives in South America. It's unclear exactly why Jessie lives with Dad but, as the show is still in production, perhaps the reasons will become more clear.
Hey, and isn't it cool that Race's voice was being done by the guy who played the T-1000 from Terminator 2?
Update: Alert Viewer Ina-Chan sent in some fascinating details about the rebirth of Jonny's show. For example:
1996 JQ revealed Jonny's mother to be named "Rachel".
1996 Race Bannon had three voice actors: Robert Patrick in Season 1; Granville Van Dusen in Season 2 -- but he was replaced by Robert Foxworth after two episodes.
1996 Jonny had two voice actors: J.D. Roth (of "Funhouse" fame) in Season 1, and Quinton Flynn in season 2.
1996 Hadji had two voice actors: Michael Benyaer (Bob from Season 1 and 2 "ReBoot") in season 1, and Rob Paulsen (Yakko from "Animaniacs") in Season 2.
Jessica "Jessie" Velasquez Bannon had two voice actresses: Jesse Douglas in Season 1, and Jennifer Hale (Felicia Hardy from "Spiderman") in season 2.
Race's ex's name is Estella Velasquez, an archaeologist from Columbia.
Thanks for the details, Ina-Chan!
One more aside: If you want to hear a great rendition (by the Rev. Horton Heat) of the Jonny Quest theme, check out MCA Records' Saturday Morning, available wherever fine records are sold. Note the six chord changes in the song. Cool!
A tip of the Andy Griffith Memorial Sheriff's Cap to Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the marital status of Race and the vocal ID on Dr. Quest. Thanks, Ben!
...And a loud ring of the Bruce Wayne Memorial Bat Phone for 'Nancy' for spotting Race Bannon's ex's first name. Thanks again, Nancy!
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 1993-1999
DAD #1: Cmdr. Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks) / Widower
DAD #1'S JOB: Station Chief
KIDS OF DAD #1: Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) (13)
WHERE'S MOM #1?: Dead (in this universe, at least). Killed by the Borg at Wolf 3-5-9.
STAND-IN "MOM #1": none
DAD #2: Rom (Max Grodenchik) / Married, but lives apart
DAD #2'S JOB: Assistant Mgr, Quark's Bar - recently became Station Asst. Engineer
KIDS OF DAD #2: Nog (Aron Eisenberg) (13) - Now going to StarFleet Academy
WHERE'S MOM #2?: Lives on the Ferengi Home World
STAND-IN "MOM": Quark (?)
Apart from the Bajorans, the phaser weapons, and the Klingons, this show isn't much different from The Rifleman.
Worf doesn't qualify in this show, as he did in Star Trek: The Next Generation, because his son doesn't live with him on the space station.
Update 6/15/97: Alert viewer Amy (email@example.com) noted that Rom married the Bajorian Dabo girl Leeta. This means that either the series or the marriage has to end before the 2002 season starts, or Rom fails the Mike Brady test of being a Single Dad for more than half the series. Stay Tuned!
Update 4/29/99: Certain to telegraph the end of any TV Single Dad show, the main dad (Ben Sisko) got married in this week's episode. Doom approaches!
Update 4/29/99: Rom's Single Dad title is secure, now that the series wraps up in June of '99. Goodbye, Sisko and Rom families!
A tip of the Juliet Mills Memorial Nanny Hat to Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the info on Rom's marital state. Thanks, Amy!
Top of the Heap 1991
DAD: Charlie Verducci (Joseph Bologna) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Apartment Building Superintendent
KIDS: Vinnie (Matt LeBlanc) (20's)
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Ralph Kramden had Ed Norton, Fred Flintstone had Barney Rubble, and Married with Children's Al Bundy had Charlie Verducci as a Best Buddy. Charlie's big, Jethro-Bodine-brain-sized clod of a son, Vinnie, lived with Charlie in the apartment building Charlie managed. Most of the stories revolved around Charlie trying to get Vinnie to marry rich, so the two of them could live off the in-laws' money. Vinnie didn't get much of a chance to achieve that goal, as the show folded in four months.
This is Joseph Bologna's second outing as a TV Single Dad - - he was on Rags to Riches in 1987.
DAD: Dudley Bristol (Dudley Moore) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Piano player at "Liaison's" nightclub
KIDS: Fred (Harley Cross) (14)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced - couldn't "handle" taking care of Fred.
STAND-IN "MOM": Marta (Lupe Ontiveros)
Ouch - this show lasted exactly 6 weeks. Fred, Dudley's son, was TROUBLE and Dudley couldn't figure out the basics of raising his son.
Here's the only funny bit about this show - the Foreign-Born Domestic (remember, a staple of TV Single Dad shows) only speaks Spanish. Dudley doesn't speak Spanish, but Fred does. So, piles of conversations over Dad's head. Ha. Ha.
Lupe Ontiveros is better known as the actress who portrayed the singer Selina's killer in the biopic of the same name.
DAD: Johnny Hawkins (Robert Urich) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: NYC prosecutor on sabbatical
KIDS: Dylan (Dalton James) (16)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead. Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Pay attention here: as the mossy pile of old TV shows grows, it gets easier and easier to plug one show's plot into the circumstances of another show.
With that in mind, take a premise like Chico and the Man, where you have a Troubled Youth and a Kindly Parent. Okay, next take the plot of Then Came Bronson, where you have someone who looks for solutions by being On The Road, like some kind of Kerouac Therapy.
Johnny Hawkins, a big-shot Manhattan prosecutor, quits his job to take his Troubled Son Dylan on a road trip across the continent. On the road, they meet people who interact with them and solve problems together. Maybe it's Route 66 or something, too?
Covington Cross 1992
DAD: Sir Thomas Grey (Nigel Terry) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Lord of Covington Castle
KIDS: Richard (Jonathan Firth) (22), Cedric (Glenn Quinn) (20), Armus (Tim Killick) (17), Eleanor (Ione Skye) (18)
WHERE'S MOM?: Died of plague when Eleanor was 7.
STAND-IN "MOM": Lady Elizabeth (Cherie Lunghi) / Neighbor, one castle over
One of the easiest parts of writing for television is that you can take familiar situations, place the situations in a different time period, and WHAM! -- a new show. In this case, the writers took the plot of The Big Valley, changed the single mom to a single dad, set the whole family back in the 14th century, and suddenly a show was born.
Sir Thomas Grey had three young sons and a hottie-yet-tomboy-ish teenage daughter living in a big old castle in Kent, England. All the typical stuff with brawling brothers and infatuated daughters came into every episode. This show lasted almost six months, which is pretty long for a medieval drama.
DAD: Scandal "Cobra" Jackson (Michael Dudikoff) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Crimefighter
KIDS: Danielle LaPointe (Allison J. Hossack) (20)
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": maybe Dallas Cassel (James Tolkan) / Cobra's boss
Ever see La Femme Nikita? It's about a woman who loses her previous identity and goes to work for a crimefighting organization. Okay, make Nikita a man, give him a daughter, and you've got Cobra. Cobra was shot in the face and left for dead. A crime-fighting organization put the pieces back together and gave him a job as an operative. This show was like the ten thousand other syndicated "action" shows of the nineties, where you had a stubble-shaven hero working for some nondescript organization against generic "evil."
Not much of a Single Dad focus on this show.
NYPD Blue 1993 - 2005
DAD: Andy Sipowitz (Dennis Franz) / Widowed
DAD'S JOB: NYC Detective
KIDS: Theo (Austin Majors) (4)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead - Ada Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence) killed in a courthouse shooting
STAND-IN "MOM": Detective Connie McDowell - Girlfriend
For the longest time, this show wasn't on the list - I didn't watch the show, and for some unknown reason nobody ever pointed out this obvious TV Single Dad until June of 2000.
Sipowitz finally married his girlfriend in 2003, but fortunately the Mike Brady Clause did not come into play -- the series ended in 2005.
Although I got a lot of letters about this show on the same day (during a Fathers' Day appearance on a several radio shows) credit for the "find" must go to Kid Cruise of WJYY 105.5 in Concord, NH. Thanks, Kid!
Yes, tell me lots of things about Sipowitz, but please remember this is *not* The NYPD Blue Official Fan Site, okay-dokey? Thanks.
It Had To Be You 1993
Robert Urich, Faye Dunaway
DAD: Mitch Quinn (Robert Urich) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Carpenter
KIDS: David (Justin Whalin) (16), Christopher (Will Estes) (13), Sabastian (Justin Jon Ross) (8)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead
STAND-IN "MOM": Laura Scofield (Faye Dunaway) / Girlfriend
Four episodes -- that's how long this magical series lasted.
Ever watch Murphy Brown? Remember Eldin, Murphy's handyman? Imagine Eldin dating Murphy and you've got the plot of this show, which died midway through October.
Robert Urich, in his THIRD try at single dad-ness (see American Dreamer and Crossroads, above), was a cabinetmaker working for high-falutin' book publisher Faye Dunaway. Dang -- they never tied the knot so his kids could star in "Step-Mommie Dearest."
A clang on the Hop Sing Memorial Chuck Wagon Triangle for Halaria333@aol.com for pointing out this feather in Mr. Urich's acting cap. Thanks, Halaria333!
Daddy Dearest 1993
DAD: Steven Mitchell (Richard Lewis) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Psychologist
KIDS: Danny (Jeffrey Bomberger) (11)
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Al Mitchell (Don Rickles) / Grandfather
Same question posed in The Odd Couple: "Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?" Richard Lewis played Dr. Steven Mitchell, a single dad/psychologist in New York City. His father, played by Don Rickles, recently separated from his wife (Steven's stepmom). Of course, having Don Rickles for a dad was no picnic, and living in the same apartment with him was no joy, either. The stories focused on Steven's attempts to get his dad reconciled with his stepmom. Strangely enough, this show was in the same time slot as Top of the Heap.
In the pilot episode, Danny was played by Jonathan Gibby.
ER 1994 - 2009
DAD: Dr. Peter Benton (Eriq La Salle) / Single
DAD'S JOB: Emergency Room Surgeon
KIDS: Reese (Matthew Watkins) (4)
WHERE'S MOM?: Carla (Lisa Nicole Carson), the ex-girlfriend, is married to Someone Else
STAND-IN "MOM": Jackie (Khandi Alexander), Benton's sister
Let me tell you *why* I loathe this show: every day I get more and more mail about what's wrong with descriptions of the relationship between Dr. Benton, Reese, and Reese's mother, Carla. I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to think people running fan sites about this show don't even watch the same series.
Here's the part that seems to be in agreement: Dr. Benton and Carla were dating and wound up having a baby. Dr. Benton loves his son Reese and sought custody of his child when Reese's mom was going to move to Germany with her husband. He has custody, but still has visitation from the mom, who wound up not moving to Germany after all. Dr. Benton's son is hearing-impaired, and Dr. Benton spends a lot of time seeking identification as to what exactly is the extent of the hearing loss.
There is a great quote from Dr. Benton about his son, a quote I think I've heard from lots of single parents (both custodial and non-custodial):"I wake up in the morning, that little boy is the first thing on my mind. I go to sleep at night, he's the last."
Credit for this show goes to Alert Viewer and radio producer Neil Martin of WBZ-1030 AM Boston's "Jordan Rich Show." Thanks, Neil!
Yes, write me about this series, but please remember I'm not running an ER fan club site, okay? Thanks.
Me and the Boys 1994
DAD: Steve Tower (Steve Harvey) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Video store manager
KIDS: Artis (Chaz Lamar Shepherd) (16), William (Wayne Collins) (13), Andrew (Benjamin D. LeVert) (10)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead - unknown cause
STAND-IN "MOM": Mary (Madge Sinclair) / Grandmother
There's a point in TV history where a template develops, a paradigm of a plot framework that so many shows derive their structure from. In the 90's, the standard low-budget TV Single Dad comedy formed around the template of Me and the Boys. Even the template itself is a derivative of the 50's My Three Sons. The difference between this show and My Three Sons is merely a reduced budget and a studio audience. Oh, and Uncle Charley in this case would be Grandma Mary.
Grandma Mary was quite a "get" for this show: Madge Sinclair was an Emmy award-winning actress who also played Queen Aoleon, Eddie Murphy's mom in Coming to America. She later wound up playing Geordi La Forge's mom on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Daddy's Girls 1994
DAD: Dudley Walker (Dudley Moore) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Women's clothier
KIDS: Amy (Stacy Galina) (20's), Samantha (Meredith Scott Lynn) (20), Phoebe (Keri Russell) (16)
WHERE'S MOM?: Annette / Divorced - Ran off with Dudley's partner
STAND-IN "MOM": Dennis Dumont (Harvey Fierstein) / studio designer
Mark your history books - from May of 1993 until September of 1994, Dudley Moore did NOT play a Single Dad on CBS.
For the second consecutive year, Dudley played a put-upon single parent in a lackluster show on the Tiffany network. The only bump in the history of Popular Culture concerning this show was that it was the first series for Keri Russell, now known to so many angst-ridden teenagers as the star of Felicity. This show tanked in six weeks. Sorry, Dudley!
Under One Roof 1995
James Earl Jones
DAD: Neb Langston (James Earl Jones) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Police officer
KIDS: Ron (Joe Morton) (30's), Ayesha (Monique Ridge) (20?), Marcus (Merlin Santana) (16), Charlotte (Essence Atkins) (15), Derrick (Ronald Joshua Scott) (10)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
This show is Empty Nest without the comedy. Chicago policeman Neb Langston raised bunches of kids, then most of them moved away, then his wife died, then the adult kids moved BACK. As if that weren't enough, Officer Neb adopted Troubled Youth Marcus, who said stuff like "You're NOT my father -- you CAN'T tell ME what to do." Heartwarming by a writing committee. It was dead after 4 episodes. Although, with James Earl Jones on the payroll, I would imagine the commercial bumpers for the show ("Next time, on an all new episode of Under One Roof...") must have been AWESOME.
Is it too obvious to point out that James Earl Jones was also the voice of one of the most famous Movie Single Dad? You know -- Darth Vader in Star Wars 4,5,6 and 3?
On Our Own 1994-95
DAD: Josh Jerrico (Ralph Louis Harris) / Eldest brother
DAD'S JOB: Restaurant busboy
KIDS: Jimi Jerrico (Jojo Smollett), Jai Jerrico (Jazz Smollett), Jesse Jerrico (Jussie Smollett), Jordee Jerrico (Jurnee Smollett), Joc Jerrico (Jake Smollett), Jarreau Jerrico (Jocqui Smollett)
WHERE'S MOM?: Mom and Dad are dead -- car accident
STAND-IN "MOM": Josh Jerrico's cross-dressing alter ego, "Aunt Jelcinda"
Think Party of Five and you've got the story. Oh, and eldest son's cross-dressing is something obviously ripped out of Mrs. Doubtfire. Yawn.
Dr. Katz 1995-99
DAD: Dr. Katz (voice of Jonathan Katz) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Professional Therapist
KIDS: Ben (20-something)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced, somewhere else
STAND-IN "MOM": None
Watch this show and think about Batman and Robin.
Note: Dr. Katz's wife has been identified as being divorced, on one episode. She was voiced by Carrie Fisher.
The Sinbad Show 1993-94
DAD: David Bryan (Sinbad) / Bachelor
DAD'S JOB: Video game programmer
KIDS: Little John "L.J." Beckley (Willie Norwood) (13), Zana Beckley (Erin Davis) (5)
WHERE'S MOM?: unknown - foster kids
STAND-IN "MOM": none
Think Family Affair with less money and no family relation between kids and the "dad" -- Oh, and no Mr. French, either. An utterly forgettable series, except that future gah-gah movie star Salma Hayek was a cast regular the first year.
Something you'll notice in the early 90's that continued through the decade (and even spilled into the next century) is the enormous amount of shows built around the stage banter of comedians. 1994 was a pretty egregious year for this trend, with almost a dozen shows premiering, based on different comedians' acts. Of course the comedians were the stars of these shows.
Byrds of Paradise 1994
Jennifer Love Hewitt,
Timothy Busfield, Ryan O'Donohue,
and Seth Green in Oahu
DAD: Dr. Sam Byrd (Timothy Busfield) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Hawaiian private school headmaster
KIDS: Harry Byrd (Seth Green) (16), Franny Byrd (Jennifer Love Hewitt) (15), Zeke Byrd (Ryan O'Donohue) (11)
WHERE'S MOM?: Killed at an ATM in Connecticut
STAND-IN "MOM": Sonny and Manu Kaulukukui (Robert Kekaula & Lani Opunui) Housekeepers / Nannies
TV Single Dad Plot Number One: This time Dad (college professor Sam Byrd) moves his family to Hawaii and takes a job being headmaster of a school in Oahu. Picture every script being some variation of the kids saying "I HATE IT HERE!" and you've got the plotlines down pretty good. Any wonder why this show only lasted 8 episodes?
Betcha didn't know that Seth Green and Jennifer Love Hewitt played brother and sister. Always a great factoid to pop out when you're watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Charlie Grace 1995
DAD: Charlie Grace (Mark Harmon) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Ex-cop turned P.I.
KID: Jenny Grace (Leelee Sobieski) (12)
WHERE'S MOM?: Leslie Loeb (Cindy Katz) is in JAIL for the murder of Hubby #2
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Want to know why this show died after just 6 aired episodes? Could it be because it was on opposite NBC's Friends? Hmmm.
Sounds like a cool premise: Charlie is a hard-boiled L.A. detective with daughter Jenny in tow, having custody due to the fact that mom is in jail for supposedly offing her second husband. Charlie still holds a torch for her, and is always trying to figure out how to prove the Mrs. didn't kill the Next Ex.
Wish I could have seen this show, but it was smothered in the ratings by Jennifer Anniston's hair. Too bad.
Say, if you worked on this show or have any photos of this production, could you please e-mail them to email@example.com? Thanks!
The Nanny 1992-1999
DAD: Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Broadway Producer
KIDS: Maggie (teens), Brighton (10), Grace (7)
WHERE'S MOM?: Sarah / Dead - don't know how.
STAND-IN "MOM": Fran Fine, "The Nanny" (Fran Drescher)
A classic comedy show in the purest sense of 60's sitcoms -- a "sweetened" studio audience, big clunky sets, slapstick acting -- what a throwback. From what I've seen in only watching a handful of episodes, it's basically a twist on the '60's show The Farmer's Daughter, except the "Nanny" is a gold-digger in this one.
Coincidentally (or is it?), there are three kids in this show, the same number that were in that other "Nanny" show, Nanny and the Professor.
This show could also compare as a single-dad version of Hazel, though Fran Drescher sure doesn't look like Shirley Booth!
Here's how CBS is explaining The Nanny in its press releases:
"THE NANNY focuses on the life of Fran Fine, the Nanny, a quintessential girl from Queens with a face out of Vogue and a voice that seems to emanate from her nose. She first appeared peddling cosmetics on the doorstep of widowed Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield and stumbled into the life of a nanny. Her bludgeon-like honesty and offbeat nurturing have captured Maxwell as well as his kids. Maggie, 17, has blossomed under Fran's care from an awkward teen to a confident young woman. Brighton, 14, is brilliant, devious and quick-witted, and Grace, 9, no longer confides in a therapist since the arrival of Fran. Also on hand are C.C. Babcock, Maxwell's snooty but elegant business partner, who fantasizes about a love relationship with him, and Niles, the sardonic butler, who takes a fiendish pleasure in poking holes in C.C.'s pretentiousness and sees clearly that Fran is the best thing that's ever walked through the mansion door."
Update May 13, 1998 -- A sure sign of the imminent demise of a series: The Nanny married her boss! It happened at the season finale, except that the two of them fell off the side of a yacht. Tune in next year to find out if The Nanny will suffer under the Mike Brady Clause ... or suffer the Curse of Series Weddings Death Knell, like My Three Sons and The Farmer's Daughter
Update April 24, 1999 --Doom strikes. The wedding proved to be the cannonball through the wheelhouse. Boom! Precipitous ratings declines spelled disaster -- so bad that CBS shelved the last five episodes for network viewing and decided on just showing the series finale during May sweeps. So long, Sheffield family!
Update April 28, 1999 -- Weirdness strikes. Viewer fan mail bent CBS into a scheduling pretzel - they decided to air the last six episodes in the order 6-1-2-3-4-5, so that they didn't lose the May sweeps and still appease the Nannyphiles out there.
Hudson Street 1995-96
DAD: Tony Canetti (Tony Danza) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Hoboken, NJ Detective
KIDS: Mickey (Frank J. Galasso),
WHERE'S MOM?: Lucy (Shareen Mitchell) Split custody, but later disappeared after a Very Special Wedding episode.
STAND-IN "MOM": Melanie Clifford (Lori Loughlin) / Reporter
Your typical half-hour romantic comedy about a Barney Miller-like detective who becomes personally/professionally involved with the Hoboken Reporter's police column reporter.
The series either self-destructed or was destroyed by TriStar/Sony Pictures (depending on whose interpretation of the disaster you're willing to believe). TriStar/Sony Pictures dumped Lori Laughlin mid-second-season so that Tony could date. A victim of over-focus-grouping, the series lost its plot foundations and hit a ratings wall at the mid-season break.
DAD: Eric Duckman (voice of Jason Alexander) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Private Detective
KIDS: Charles (voice of Dana Hill), Mambo (voice of E.G. Daily), and Ajax (voice of Dweezil Zappa) (teens)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead for a while
STAND-IN "MOM": Bernice (voice of Nancy Travis)
Eric Duckman lives with his late wife's identical twin Bernice (Nancy Travis), who hates him and vows to make sure that her brother-in-law Duckman doesn't destroy the lives of her nephews. The kids, Charles (Dana Hill) and Mambo (E.G. Dailey), are Duckman's preteen two-headed twin sons whose main interests are Nintendo games and arguing with each other. Ajax (Dweezil Zappa)is Duckman's goofy teenage son, a good but bumbling kid who's constantly gettinginto trouble.
Note that Duckman, like Donald Duck, has the responsibility of caring for three ducklings ... coincidence?
Also, allow me to point out that the world's most overlooked actress, Elizabeth Dailey, is a part of this cast. Elizabeth, or E.G., plays the voice of Tommy Pickles on Rugrats, and also co-starred inPee-Wee's Big Adventure. I was (according to Elizabeth, when I met her in 1980) the first person to actually recognize her out in public (she was working on the short-lived PBS series The Righteous Apples) and she was very happy to have a picture taken with me. Anyway, she's finally found a niche in voice-over work, and it's good to see somebody steadily employed. Good luck, Elizabeth!
3rd Rock from the Sun 1995-2001
DAD: Dick Solomon (John Lithgow) / Actually an alien
DAD'S JOB: High Commander
KIDS: Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) (apparent age 15)
WHERE'S MOM?: Mom's a fake Guest Star! (Roseanne)
STAND-IN "MOM": ??
Here's a show that pushes the TV Single Dad envelope: Does it count if both the "Dad" and the "Son" are actually impersonating human beings, when really they are a group of alien explorers? And if I'm letting this show in, do I have to let 'Starman' in, too?
Another tip of the Juliet Mills Memorial Nanny Hat to Greg Bulmash (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the always intriguing info. Thanks, Greg!
...And a flap of the Uncle Charley Memorial Dish Towel for Faith84@aol.com for the info about Dick's alien ex-wife Janet. Thanks, Faith84!
DAD: Kirk Hartman (Kirk Cameron) / Single
DAD'S JOB: Comic-book illustrator / Sign painter
KIDS: Corey (Will Estes)(15), Phoebe(Taylor Fry)(13), Russell(Courtland Mead) (7)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead, or something
STAND-IN "MOM": ??
What about when the TV Single "Dad" is actually the brother? Does this count? Allow me to quote from the press release:
"Kirk Hartman (Cameron) is convinced that the best years of his life are just about to begin. Recently sprung from college, Kirk is an aspiring illustrator who is constantly creating superhero characters in the hopes of someday starting a new action/adventure comic book. In the meantime, he just landed a job as a sign painter for an outdoor advertising company in New York, moved into a great bachelor pad in Greenwich Village near his best pal... and lives across the hall from the woman of his dreams. But before Kirk even has a chance to unpack -- never mind let loose -- his aunt shows up with the news that she's off to Florida to be married, leaving Kirk in charge of his younger brothers and sister permanently."
Update: KIRK is a DEAD show. Rest in Peace, Hartman family!
Clueless 1996-97(ABC) 1998(UPN)
DAD: Mel Horowitz (Michael Lerner, ABC) / (Doug Sheehan, UPN) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Lawyer
KIDS: Cher (Rachel Blanchard) (16)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead, from "routine liposuction surgery"
STAND-IN "MOM": None
F'sure, it's the 90's epitome in TV Single Dad shows. Here's how ABC Television explained Clueless:
This colorful and fun-filled new series is based on the delightful blockbuster motion picture, Clueless. Join the irrepressible Cher (Rachel Blanchard) as she blithely guides us through the epic intricacies of Beverly Hills teenage life.
Although those around her might have a tendency to disagree, Cher considers herself a responsible person. After all, she takes care of her widowed father, Mel (Michael Lerner), a high-powered attorney, and plans his social calendar as well. And she's always doling out her unique brand of advice to others.
Fortunately, that leaves lots of time for her greatest passion -- shopping. Like every other privileged California teenager, Cher requires a few bare necessities: Designer clothes, cellular phones, manicured nails, beepers -- and more importantly, boys.
Accompanying Cher on her way cool escapades are her best friend and fellow shopper, Dionne (Stacey Dash); Cher's rival, fashion victim Amber(Elisa Donovan); and Dionne's street-wise boyfriend, Murray (Donald Adeosun Faison). And trying to get the good-natured Cher to deal with the real world -- away from the mall -- are a few very patient teachers and her idealistic pseudo-stepbrother, Josh (David Lascher).
In 1997, ABC abandoned Clueless and Paramount's UPN network picked it up as part of its Tuesday-night lineup. Following the tradition of Bewitched, a substitution of Doug Sheehan for Michael Lerner in the Mel/Dad role took place without anybody noticing.
My opinion? This was a funny show. The stories, emphasized with cartoon-like sound bites, rolled along with a continuous stream of topically astute dialog. The scripts were simple but funny, witty, and rapid-fire.
A toot on the Fred MacMurray Memorial Saxophone to Rob Elliott (email@example.com) for the tipoff on Clueless. Thanks, Rob!
And a snap of the David Hasselhoff Memorial Beach Towel to Carrie Salazar (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the info on the circumstances surrounding Cher's mom's demise. Thanks, Carrie!
DAD: Jack McKenna (Chad Everett) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Trail Outfitter
KIDS: Guy (dead) (24), Brick (Eric Close) (20), Cassidy (Jennifer Love Hewitt) (15)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead - unknown.
STAND-IN "MOM": None
Sometimes, watching TV Single Dad shows is a painful exercise. Take THIS show, for instance. Let me see if I can lay out the story premise: Chad Everett is the owner of a travel/mountaineering/outfitter company in Oregon. His son Guy gets killed mountain-climbing. Chad's son Brick (yes, BRICK), who left home to race cars, comes back to help his dad, who is struggling with grief, to get the company back on its feet. Sounds tedious and predictable? Guess it was -- the show aired three times before getting the axe. That, and putting it on opposite NBC's "Must-See-TV" Thursdays was the icing on the burial cake.
Doesn't it feel like there should be an exclamation mark after that show name? McKenna!
Jennifer Love Hewitt was a Kiss of Death for some of these TV Single Dad shows, apparently. She was on Byrds of Paradise the same year, and it croaked too!
Party of Five 1995 - 2000
DAD: Charlie Salinger (Matthew Fox) / Eldest Son
DAD'S JOB: Manager of Salinger's Restaurant (the late Dad's restaurant)
KIDS: Bailey (Scott Wolf), Julia (Neve Campbell), Claudia (Lacey Chabert), Owen (Steven & Andrew Cavarno)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead. So's Dad.
STAND-IN "MOM": Kirsten (Paula Devicq), Owen's nanny
Similar situation to UPN's Kirk. Mom and Dad are dead, so young Charlie acts as head of household for the other orphans.
A flap of the Mrs. Livingston Memorial Apron to Laine Worrix (email@example.com) for some of the info on "Party of Five" -- Thanks, Laine!
Update: Alert Reader "Chameleon" reports that Kirsten married Charlie in the 6th and final season. Charlie did not break the Mike Brady Clause, though, so the show still counts. Thanks Chameleon!
Update May 3, 2000: End of an era. The series completed after a 6-year run. Bye, Salinger family!
The Pretender 1996-1999
DAD: Broots (Jon Gries) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Computer expert
KIDS: Debbie (Kelsey Mulrooney)(11)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced and Unfit
STAND-IN "MOM": Miss Parker (Andrea Parker)/ Co-Worker
As far as I can tell, this is Delaware's first TV Single Dad.
Broots is a computer nerd for this tippy-top secret organization trying to catch a guy named Jarod (played by Michael T. Weiss). Broots doesn't really want to catch Jarod, because Jarod helped him get custody of his daughter from Broots's gambling, no-good ex-wife.
NBC got tired of paying for the show, so the series drifted off to the TNT network. I'm not sure if the occasional Pretender specials ever feature Debbie anymore. If you know, please tell me, okay?
A toot on the Fred MacMurray Memorial Saxophone for Peter Frank in pointing out this TV Single Dad. Thanks, Peter!
Soul Man 1997-98
DAD: Rev. Mike Weber (Dan Aykroyd) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Minister
KIDS: Kenny (Kevin Sheridan), Meredith (Courtney Chase), Andy (Brendon Ryan Barrett), Fred (Spencer Breslin)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead.
STAND-IN "MOM": Bridgette Collins (Melinda McGraw), reporter
Watched it only a few times: Predictable as the North Star. But that's a GOOD thing sometimes. The comedy flows easier when you don't have to concentrate on the circumstances. For example, wouldn't a full-time pastor have a LOT more interactions with his congregation? I mean, I watched four episodes and I never saw a direct reference to Rev. Weber's customers.
Here's TV Guide's take on the whole thing:
Dan Aykroyd stars in a sitcom from the creators of Home Improvement. "I've always believed that comedy is best delivered from a structured platform," Aykroyd explained on the set of the show, where his "platform" is a pulpit. He plays Mike Weber, a widowed, motorcycle-riding minister with four unruly youngsters. In the opener, Mike makes an off-the-cuff remark to a reporter about his personal life, which, to his embarrassment, winds up in print.
Update July 11, 1998: Looks like Soul Man went to its eternal reward. ABC dumped the show in June, and the producers, Wind Dancer Production Group, tried to find another home for the show. UPN looked like a promising candidate, but industry sources report that negotiations broke down over a money issue. Apparently Wind Dancer wanted close to three quarters of a million dollars per episode. Forget that, said UPN.
TV Guide reported that the problem was Aykroyd, not money. Seems that Mr. A didn't want his show on UPN. Oh well, it's over now. Goodbye, Weber family!
UPDATE: What was the TRUTH in all this, exactly? I talked to The Man himself -- Dan Aykroyd -- to get to the bottom of this rumor pit. Check out the interview by clicking here. Gee, it's fun to be me, sometimes. :)
The Gregory Hines Show 1997
DAD: Ben Stevenson (Gregory Hines) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Works for a publisher
KIDS: Matty (Brandon Hammond) (12)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead a year and a half ago.
STAND-IN "MOM": You tell me
Certainly the first show in a long time to hype the Single TV Dad aspect of a new show. Here's CBS's take on their venture into TV Single Dadness:
Gregory Hines, star of stage, screen and television, makes his series debut as Ben Stevenson, a widower who's been mother, father and confidant to his 12-year-old son, Matty (Brandon Hammond), since his wife's death a year and a half ago. Now, even Ben has to admit that it's time to resume a social life. As he eases back into dating, he finds he has as much to relearn about women as Matty is learning for the first time. Contributing plenty of advice are Ben's brother Carl (Wendell Pierce) and his dad James (Bill Cobbs), as well as his publishing house co-worker Alex (Mark Tymchyshyn), Alex's ex-wife Nicole (Robin Riker), and their assistant Angela (Judith Shelton). This process proves even more awkward than necessary, since the modest Ben, with his offbeat wit, has no idea how attractive he is to women. For Ben and Matty, who have never had trouble talking openly about anything, now even the simplest conversation becomes complicated -- especially when the subject matter turns to the women in their lives.
After watching this show, I've decided that this was one of the most realistic portrayals of Single Dads on TV. The interaction between father and son was plausible and compelling. It was one of the best examples of the role a single dad needs to play in the lives of his children. Ben Stevenson's life was more intertwined with his son's than Tom Corbett on The Courtship of Eddie's Father.
Hey! Count the Bens in TV Single Dad History: Cartwright, Sisko, and now Stevenson!
Update - May 30, 1998: This show is officially DEAD. No ratings and storyline erosion hastened its demise. Goodbye, Stevenson family!
DAD: Edward Parker (Ed Begley, Jr.) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Doctor
KIDS: Alex (Jonathan Lipnicki), Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg), and Trip (Will Estes) Parker
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead (?)
STAND-IN "MOM": Meego? (Bronson Pinchot)
First pass on this show? HIDEOUS. It's like Mork and Mindy, only not funny. CBS puts it this way:
Bronson Pinchot, best known as Balki in "Perfect Strangers" and Serge from "Beverly Hills Cop," returns as Meego, a wise-beyond-his-9,000-years alien whose spaceship crashes onto Earth. He's discovered by three children, Alex (Jonathan Lipnicki), Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg), and Trip (Will Estes) Parker, who could use a little TLC, and pass him off to their single dad, Dr. Edward Parker (Ed Begley, Jr.), as the perfect caretaker.
Originally intending to stay until his spaceship can be repaired, Meego has a change of heart and decides to move in after he becomes emotionally attached to the kids, particularly young Alex -- and realizes that he has an out-of-this-world knack for child-rearing on planet Earth.
Oh, did they mention that Jonathan Lipnicki was just coming off a big-screen national exposure as the cute little kid in Jerry Maguire and that Michelle Trachtenberg just got more kid-pull from her exposure on the Harriet the Spy movie? A public relations bonanza!
Will Estes dropped back into another Single TV Dad family after being in one on Kirk. Typecasting?
Update - May 30, 1998: This show is officially DEAD. Another object lesson that Plot Does Matter. Goodbye and good riddance, Meego and the Parker family!
Hiller & Diller 1997
DAD: Diller (Richard Lewis) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Comedy Writer
WHERE'S MOM?: Left.
STAND-IN "MOM": Hiller (Kevin Nealon)
Funnier than the reviews would lead you to believe. The surprise is that Nealon had the better lines (and the better delivery). Picture the Dick Van Dyke Show, but concentrate on the Buddy and Sally portions of the comedy, and you've got the banter level.
Here's how ABC is describing this show:
Responsible, slightly neurotic Hiller (Kevin Nealon) and impulsive, very neurotic Diller (Richard Lewis) are television comedy-writing partners and best friends. When Diller's wife leaves their street-wise kids in his care, he transforms overnight into a model father who single-handedly molds his offspring into well-mannered little darlings who become overachievers just like Hiller's kids ... wait, that's not what happens.
Strangely enough, this was Richard Lewis's SECOND TV Single Dad show, following his short-lived Fox series Daddy Dearest of 1993.
Update -- April 6, 1998: This show is officially DEAD. ABC can read a ratings book and tell when something Ain't Working. Toodles, Hiller and Diller!
The Tony Danza Show 1997
DAD: Tony DiMeo (Tony Danza) / Separated
DAD'S JOB: Newspaper writer
KIDS: Tina (Majandra Delfino) (16), Mickey (Ashley Malinger) (11)
WHERE'S MOM?: Living wherever the separated live.
STAND-IN "MOM": Either Carmen Cruz, the secretary (Maria Canals), or Stuey, the doorman (Shaun Weiss)
I saw the first episode, and I'd say it's like "Who's The Boss" without Judith Light and with two Alyssa Milanos.
"Tony Danza ("Taxi," "Who's the Boss?") stars in the half-hour comedy "The Tony Danza Show" as freelance New York sportswriter Tony DiMeo, a recently separated dad who's bent on raising his two daughters with a few old-fashioned values. DiMeo longs for the days when reporters banged out their columns on noisy typewriters, athletes didn't yell "Show me the money!" and kids listened to their parents. Danza, who also serves as executive producer, believes the show will especially hit home with baby boomers. "A lot of people my age will relate. We all swore we'd be better parents than our parents, and we are really good with little kids, but what happens when they hit 16?" The series is about a nontraditional family, in which a single father is the primary parent. But "what actually makes it special is Tony himself," says executive producer/writer Ian Gurvitz ("Wings"). "With this character we've recaptured the charm he radiated -- and audiences loved -- in "Who's the Boss?" In addition, I think we have some real break-outs in our cast."
At 16, DiMeo's strong-willed daughter Tina (Majandra Delfino, "Zeus and Roxanne") goes head-to-head with her father, and 11-year-old Mickey (Ashley Malinger, "Tom Clancy's Op Center") drives her loving dad to distraction with her neuroses and hypochondria. Meanwhile, a daytime fixture in the family's West Side apartment is DiMeo's assistant, computer whiz Carmen Cruz (Maria Canals, "My Family/Mi Familia"). She relishes bantering with her boss and being a surrogate mother of sorts for the girls. The attractive, quick-witted Carmen is one of the reasons young doorman Stuey Mandelker (Shaun Weiss, "The Mighty Ducks," NBC's "Mr. Rhodes"), whose father owns the high-rise building, likes to hang out with the DiMeos. "The Tony Danza Show" is an NBC Studios production in association with Columbia TriStar Television and Katie Face Productions and Kokoro Productions.
Update - March 19, 1998: This show is officially DEAD. If warrants were issued, Tony Danza would be arrested for beating a dead horse with this series. Maybe a show about a guy who drives a taxi would be more to the public's liking.
The Tom Show 1997-98
DAD: Tom Amross (Tom Arnold) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: TV Show Producer
KIDS: Kenlon (Lisa Wilhoit) (13), Alissa (Mika Boorem) (9)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced Tom on live TV
STAND-IN "MOM": Nobody really fit the bill
This show is obscure enough to be an urban legend. The WB network didn't even list it on their web page when the show was in production! Hope you caught it fast because it had absolutely no support from its own network. It's so forgotten, I'll bet if you do a Google search on "The Tom Show", this website will get a hit higher than Warner Bros.
According to rumor, Tom Arnold is a TV producer whose TV-star wife, Maggie (Shannon Tweed), divorces him on live televsion, then gives him custody of their two daughters. He leaves Hollywood for St. Paul, Minnesota, where he produces the morning TV show, "Breakfast With Charlie"
Update June 9, 1998: The dubba-dubba-WB has proclaimed this show to be officially DEAD! Now we'll NEVER find out if Tom found a housekeeper! Bye, Tom!
Smart Guy 1997-1999
DAD: Floyd Henderson (John Marshall Jones) / Widower
KIDS: Marcus Henderson (Jason Weaver) (16), Yvette Henderson (Essence Atkins) (15), T.J.Henderson (Tahj Mowry) (10)
WHERE'S MOM? Dead -- unknown cause
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Ever see the movie, Little Man Tate? Cross out Jodie Foster and make her a dad, and you've got Smart Guy.
Here's Disney's take on The Smart Guy:
Tahj Mowry stars as 10-year-old genius T.J. Henderson, whose fast-track leap into high school throws his life and family into uproarious upheaval, in Walt Disney Television's new half-hour comedy series, "Smart Guy"
Here's two factoids about the main "Smart Guy" actor, Tahj Mowry:
Factoid One, he's the younger brother of twin sisters who are on a show that ALMOST qualifies as a TV Single Dad show (but doesn't, because the Mom line gets too vague sometimes): Tia and Tamera Mowry of Sister, Sister.
Factoid Two: This is Tahj's THIRD TV Single Dad show! He made his debut as a guest star on Who's the Boss? and later had a recurring role as Teddy, a friend of the Olsen Twins, on Full House. Typecasting?
Update May 19, 1999: The WB said, "Goodbye, Guy!" to this series, while at the same time cancelling Taj's sisters' show. Must have been a bad day at the Mowry house. Bye, Henderson family!
7th Heaven 1996-2007
DAD: Wilson West (Andrew Keegan) / Unmarried school kid
KID: Billy West (Dylan & Casey Boersma) (3)
WHERE'S MOM?: Died in childbirth
STAND-IN "MOM": Mary Camden (Jessica Biel) / Faithful Non-Pregnant Girlfriend
Okay, this TV Single Dad was the occasional guest-star boyfriend of Main Supporting Character Mary Camden on this very-very wholesome show. Here's the best I can do in piecing together the details: In a 1997 episode, "Dangerous Liaisons, Part I", Mary met Wilson at a park. Wilson introduced Billy as his brother, setting the stage for Mary to find out the truth right at the end of the first of a two-part episode.
Mary runs out of her father's church service and smack into an oncoming car. Don't worry, it all got tidied up by the second half of a Very Special Episode.
Series creator/producer Brenda Hampton told me that Andrew Keegan's agent wanted him out of the show to pursue a movie career, and the character moved away from the Camdens. No signs of major star-ness for Mr. Keegan yet, so Wilson West may someday reappear on their doorstep.
Update 23 April 2001 - The return of Wilson! Andrew Keegan reprises his TV Single Dad role and re-fires the ol' Mary romance flame. In one episode, Andrew rekindles his character and extends the Mike Brady Clause for the show by at least 4 years.
Love Boat: The Next Wave 1997
DAD: Captain Jim Kennedy (Robert Urich) / Divorced / Your Ship's Captain
KID: Danny Kennedy (Kyle Howard) (16?)
WHERE'S MOM?: Had enough raising Danny. Dumped him dockside at show's opening.
STAND-IN "MOM": Suzanne Zimmerman (Stacey Travis) / Your Ship's Cruise Director
Ah, love, exciting and re-hashed...
No, wasn't bad at all. If you didn't get enough with Captain Stubing and Co. in the 70's, come back for another tour. More of the same, with Kennedy being Stubing and Danny being Vicki and ... you get the picture. Only was TONS better than the 70's show, at least in terms of plotlines and SUBTLETY. Like THAT'S difficult.
Best feature of this show? Giving Phil Morris the role of Your Yeoman Purser. I've liked Phil ever since his performance on the 1987 Mission Impossible TV series. God bless his dad, Greg Morris (THE man who got me interested in connecting blue wires to red wires) for having the sheer GUTS to name his son after a tobacco company.
By the way - with this show, Robert Urich becomes the record holder of Most Times a TV Single Dad. This includes Love Boat: The Next Wave, It Had To Be You, Crossroads, and American Dreamer. Until, of course, Tony Danza returns to prime-time television.
Hey, while you're on the internet, go do a Google search on "Kyle Howard" -- some of the most ardent, wacky fan pages on the planet. Most of the web pages about him have some kind of "ASK NO QUESTIONS ABOUT KYLE!" dire warning.
Stressed Eric 1998
DAD: Eric Feeble (Hank Azaria) / Divorced
KID: Claire, Brian
WHERE'S MOM?: Left Eric for a Buddhist
STAND-IN "MOM": Maria, the drunken live-in nanny
So, I asked NBC if they're planning on ANY TV Single Dad shows for 1998. They say "No." -- So, suddenly I find a press release in my e-mail:
NBC Telecasts its First Animated Series Since "Mr. Magoo" (1964- 65)
NBC will telecast six episodes of the hit British animated series "Stressed Eric," an irreverent look at the life of a stressed- out, divorced father of two in London, beginning Wednesday, August 12 (9: 30-10 p.m. ET) . The series originally aired on BBC2 and was Britain's first half-hour animated sitcom.
The show, which became an instant favorite with British television audiences, was named Best International Co-Production and Best Scenario at the British Animation Awards in March 1998. "Stressed Eric" represents the first time NBC has aired a regular primetime animated series since "The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo" aired on Saturday nights (8: 30-9 p.m. ET) during the 1964- 65 television season.
Although the original dialogue will remain the same, the voice of the title character, Eric Feeble, will be redubbed by actor Hank Azaria, and he will be portrayed as an American living in London. Eric is a middle-aged, middle-class worker trying to cope with the hassles of modern life. Eric's wife left him for a Buddhist; his daughter, Claire, has allergies; and his son, Brian, never speaks. Among the other characters in the series are Eric's domineering boss, P.P., his irritating secretary and his incredibly successful neighbors, the Perfects.
"Stressed Eric" is a co-production of Absolutely Productions, the BBC and the Emmy Award-winning U.S. animation studio Klasky Csupo. Executive producers for the NBC version are Miles Bullough for Absolutely Productions and Carl Gorham and Howard Klein for 3 Arts Entertainment. Series creator/writer is Carl Gorham. Animation is by the Los Angeles-based firm Klasky Csupo ("The Simpsons," "Rugrats," "Duckman") which has won five Emmys and two CableACE awards for its animation.
They could have told me a little earlier...
Watching the first episode, it's quite a savage show about being a single dad -- especially dealing with berserk ex-spouses and bosses. It's quite pessimistic, and I don't see how this show COULD have survived more than six episodes.
The Powerpuff Girls 1998-2001
DAD: Professor Utonium (Tom Kane)/ Single Guy
DAD'S JOB: Inventor/Scientist
KIDS: Bubbles (Tara Charendoff), Blossom (Catherine Cavadini), and Buttercup (Elizabeth G. Daily)
WHERE'S MOM?: Mom was a beaker.
STAND-IN "MOM": The Mayor (Tom Kenny), or Sara Bellum (Jennifer Martin)/Mayor and Headless Secretary
Force yourself to go back in time and consider the series "Milton the Monster," a Frankenstein tale of a scientist who creates a super creature with too much Added Tenderness.
Fast-forward to the late 1990's, where we have a similar circumstance of a man trying to create life. This time, he's using sugar, and spice, and ... well, you know the rest. However, instead of "too much Tenderness," the Professor accidentally pours in a bottle of Chemical X (due to a mishap with his lab monkey and later arch-nemesis, Mojo Jojo) and creates an accidental trio of pint-sized anime superheroines.
This is still not confimed, but the Powerpuff Girls may be the first TV Single Dad character likenesses to appear on the tail of a commercial aircraft. Delta Airlines has added to their livery by painting the characters and logos of the show on one of their 737 aircraft.
Also a first is an actor portraying (at least by voice) two children of TV Single Dads on two different shows, simultaneously. Elizabeth "E.G." Daily voices Buttercup on Powerpuff Girls and Tommy Pickles on Rugrats
A twirl of the Sebastian Cabot Memorial Egg Whisk to Meg G. for the first sighting report on this show, and to Joseph Doyle for his extensive notes and details on the show. Thanks a bunch!
Two of a Kind 1998-1999
DAD: Kevin Burke (Christopher Sieber) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Science Professor
KIDS: Mary-Kate and Ashley Burke (12^2) (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead since the girls were in the third grade.
STAND-IN "MOM": Carrie (Sally Wheeler) / 28-year-old Freshman
Ah, the Olsen Twins -- veterans of that great TV Single Dad show, Full House. Only this time they appeared on the show at the same time!
ABC presents it thusly:
The Olsen Twins return to ABC in a new family comedy with a romantic twist. Kevin Burke (Christopher Sieber) is a science professor and single father who believes there is a scientific explanation for everything -- except how to control his scheming pre-teen daughters!
Mary-Kate and Ashley are identical twin sisters who are complete opposites. Mary-Kate is a tomboy whose biggest interest is perfecting her curve ball; and Ashley is a straight-A student starting a boy-crazy phase. Enter Carrie (Sally Wheeler), a 28-year-old freshman in Kevin's seminar who has come late to college after exploring the world.
Carrie is quirky, difficult, beautiful and quick to speak her mind, so when she answers Kevin's ad for a part-time nanny, he is convinced she's nothing but trouble. The girls think she is a dream-sitter come true and agree to put their differences aside and join forces to make a little chemistry between their by-the-book dad and the beautiful woman who seems to drive him crazy in all the right ways.
From Griffard/Adler Productions, Dualstar Productions, Miller/Boyett/Warren Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. Tom Miller, Bob Boyett, Michael Warren, Howard Adler and Bob Griffard are executive producers. Also starring Orlando Brown.
Update May 19, 1999: ABC announced the show's been renamed "ZERO of a Kind" ... apparently the Olsens didn't pull in the required demographics to stay on the air. Bye, Burke family!
Update: Alert Viewer Maurice Valmont notes that the late Mrs. Burke died when the girls were in the third grade, per a re-run on the Fox Family Channel. Mail is peaking on this show, since it's currently aired twice-a-day on cable. Funny, it wasn't this popular on first-run TV!
A tip of the Sebastian Cabot Memorial Bowler to Maurice Valmont for the Dead Mom tip. Thanks, Maurice!
Brother's Keeper 1998-1999
DAD: Porter Wade (William Ragsdale) / Widower(?)
DAD'S JOB: English Professor
KID: Oscar (Justin Cooper) (6)
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown.
STAND-IN "MOM": Bobby Wade (Sean O'Bryan) / Uncle
Yet ANOTHER Professor Dad show! Notice that the dad in this series was none other than William Ragsdale, who played the title appendage in "Herman's Head" a few years back. Another graduate of the Kevin Arnold School of Staring-During-a-Voice-Over. ABC sez:
Porter Wade (William Ragsdale), a straight-laced English professor, is happy raising his eight-year-old son, Oscar (Justin Cooper, "Liar Liar"), on his own in Northern California. But he and Oscar don't know what's in store for them when Porter's brother Bobby (Sean O'Bryan) unexpectedly arrives in town with a new multi-million-dollar contract with the 49ers. Bobby is a notorious bad boy in the NFL, and there's a catch to his lucrative new deal. In order to reform his trouble-making habits, Bobby must live with a responsible party. And, of course, the most responsible person Bobby knows is his dependable brother, Porter!
An Axelrod/Widdoes Production in association with Studios USA Television. Jonathan Axelrod, James Widdoes and Donald Todd are executive producers. Also starring Bess Meyer.
Update May 19, 1999: In a clean sweep of their 1998 TV Single Dad series, ABC announced that Brother's Keeper isn't being kept in the schedule. Toodles, Wade Family!
DAD: Ned Logan / Widower(?)
DAD'S JOB: Strong Progressive Patriarch (that's a job?)
KIDS: Sean Logan, Clay Logan, Alice Logan, Lexy Logan, Street-Smart 17-year-old Orphan Boy, Sporty Logan, Posh Logan (Sorry, skip those last two)
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown.
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Friday at 8 in 1998 was the Hour of TV Single Dadness. This show was up against the aforementioned Two of a Kind.
UPN told it this way:
Set in the rolling hills of 1880's Kentucky, this sprawling drama focuses on the Logan Family; horse ranchers living in the rapidly changing late 19th century.
Led by Ned, a strong patriarch with firm progressive beliefs, this family includes Sean, the eldest son, with political aspirations and a secret love that could threaten his dreams; Clay, the hard-working, yet sometimes hot-tempered son; Alice, the very proper but conflicted daughter who's searching for her own identity; and Lexy, the youngest, but possibly the most willful and unpredictable Logan of all, who offers a wide-eyed perspective of the times.
Add to this mix a street-smart 17-year-old orphan who joins the family, charms the girls, and butts heads with the boys. Together this family will struggle to maintain their values and grounding in a rapidly changing, opportunistic world -- something every modern family faces today.
Guys Like Us 1998-99
DAD: Jared Harris (Bumper Robinson) / Single Older Brother
DAD'S JOB: Unknown
KIDS: Maestro Harris (Maestro Harrell) (6)
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown.
STAND-IN "MOM": Possibly Brigette Cole (Tammy Townsend) / Schoolteacher, or Sean Barker (Chris Hardwick) / Roommate
I just wanted to be there when the introductions were made on set: "Maestro -- Bumper. Bumper -- Maestro."
Cribbing from UPN's fact sheet: Jared and Sean are a couple of wild and swingin' guys until Jared's 6-year-old brother comes to live with them. Things don't turn out too grim because the kid is better than having a Golden Retriever when it comes to meeting women. Predictable? Sure, but so was Three's Company, and people watched THAT.
There's something really weird about this show's video quality -- it's like it's shot on tape and put to film, like a kinescope or something. I see that same weirdness when you watch Shelby Woo on Nickelodeon.
Holding the Baby 1999
DAD: Gordon Stiles (Jon Patrick Walker) / Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Salesman
KIDS: Daniel Stiles (Brendan and Kyle McRoberts) (baby)
WHERE'S MOM?: Ran off with Yoga instructor (sorry, that's what the press kit says)
STAND-IN "MOM": Kelly O'Malley (Jennifer Westfeldt), Adorable but Opinionated Graduate Student -- ably assisted by Gordon's womanizing brother, Jim (Eddie McClintock)
Wait a minute, wait just a dang minute here! Go back and look in at Two of a Kind and tell me if Kelly reminds you just a leetle bit of Carrie?
This show, name and all, was lifted from a UK series on Granada Television.
Um, just reading the plot blurb from FOX about this show makes me NOT like the Single Dad in it. This character, Gordon, is written pretty much as someone trying to "dump" their kid on hired hands. Not even nanny-employers such as Bill Bixby and Brian Keith would take the attitude expressed by this dad.
I watched three episodes of this show, and it went ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE. The jokes were telegraphed, the storylines trite, the characters paper-thin. Anyhow, the show's been cancelled with 6 unscreened shows left in the can. Yep, it was that bad.
Family Rules Mid-season Replacement 1998-99
DAD: Nate Harrison (Greg Evigan) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Basketball Coach
KIDS: Hope (Maggie Lawson) (18), Ann (Shawna Waldron) (15), C.J. (Andi Eystad) (13), and Lucy (Brooke Garrett) (12)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead!
STAND-IN "MOM": Phil (Markus Redmond) best buddy and neighbor
Originally named "The Home Team," UPN announced yet another TV Single Dad show in June of 1998, making *3* new UPN Single Dad shows for the year! This time, Greg Evigan, of the 80's show My Two Dads, took on the Coach-ish role of a basketball coach for a Major University. Throw in the pitfalls of raising four girls, and of course, wacky hijinks ensued.
Also big Monster News was that this was a HENSON Production, but sans Muppets. Definitely better than Buddy in maintaining viewer interest.
Here's UPN's Press Clip on the subject:
If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then Nate Harrison is in trouble! As the widowed father of 4 teenage girls, Nate is outnumbered, overwhelmed and way out of his element.
Nate is a basketball coach by day, but off the court he's out of his element, trying to bring his daughters up. They include Hope, a popular blonde girl who the boys can't resist; Ann, a smart, responsible and wise girl; C.J., the thrill-seeking sports junkie always looking for adventure, and Lucy, the bright-eyed happy-go-lucky youngster.
In watching several episodes now, I'm of two minds. First, the writing was funny and the plots, though predictable, were entertaining. The actors meshed well and the show was more than adequate in enjoyment. However, the positioning of this show between Moesha and Malcolm & Eddie doomed it to an early grave, as the demos for the shows wrapped around Family Rules were significantly older. This show should have been pitched at the ABC TGIF crowd.
UPDATE May 20, 1999: As predicted, this show got the axe when the 1999 Fall Season was announced. A real shame. Bye, Harrison family!
DAD: Jim Hansen (Mike Farrell) / Widower
DAD'S JOB: Veterinarian
KIDS: Dr. Sydney Hansen (Melina Kanakaredes) (30-ish), Joanie Hansen (Paula Cale) (20-something), Robbie Hansen (Seth Peterson) (20)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead -- but don't let that stop her.
STAND-IN "MOM": Mom's ghost (Concetta Tomei)
I swear, writers make up these shows just to test the limits of the definition of TV Single Dads.
How do you judge this one? A recently-widowed veterinarian has his plastic-surgeon daughter move back into his house, along with her unmarried pregnant sister. Mom died in the first episode, but she's around as a ghost in every show.
I'm weighing in on the case FOR this being a TV Single Dad show for two reasons: First, Mom is DEAD, so even if her ghost is around, she is not LIVING with the children. Second, the dad is keeping a roof over all their heads, so even if the kids are adults, they still rely on Dad for a place to live.
If you wish to argue, you can stand in the corner and write "Kanakaredes" one hundred times on the board.
Safe Harbor Premiered Monday, Sept 20, 1999
DAD: John Loring (Gregory Harrison)/Widower
DAD'S JOB: Sheriff in Magic Beach, Florida
KIDS: Hayden (Christopher Khayman Lee) (16), Turner (Jeremy Lelliott) (14), Jeff (Jamie Williams) (12), Jamie Martin (Chyler Leigh)(15)
WHERE'S MOM?: Dead - Boating "Accident" (no points for quoting Richard Dreyfuss here...) - actually killed by a bomb meant for Dad.
STAND-IN "MOM": Grandma Loring (Rue McClanahan)/grandmother
Brenda "7th Heaven" Hampton created this show about a Florida sheriff and his three boys and a (formerly) runaway "daughter."
After the pilot episode was filmed, the WB flushed some of the first bunch of kids (4 boys) and replaced them with the 3+1 ensemble. Oh, and there's Jeff's "cosmic twin" buddy Chris (Orlando Brown) who was born on the same day as Jeff - but he pretty much is a pal and not a family member. Kinda like Boner on "Family Ties."
News I'm getting from some folks in Aaron Spelling's production company is that Orlando Brown's part of Chris was recast as an African American character to defuse charges of an all-white fall season.
Mr. Harrison and Ms. McClanahan did retain their jobs after the Purge, but the series went waay behind schedule.
The weird backdrop to this show is that Gregory Harrison starred in an EXTREMELY similar program in 1990 called "The Family Man" - also with three sons and a daughter. Al Molinaro played the Rue McClanahan role.
After watching the pilot episode, I became convinced this show was doomed to a November retirement unless the writing improved substantially. In the pilot, Dad supposedly had an aversion to water after his wife's death, and couldn't talk about it with his kids. Inside of a one-hour episode, he forgets about his fear of boats, captures his wife's murderer, and completely opens himself up to talking about Mom with the boys. The internal structure of the show held possibilities, but the writing left the actors with nothing to work with, and that's Trouble.
The second episode seemed to confirm the death-spiral nature of this show's future. The characters were adrift, the storylines were detached (grandma is dating a 32-year-old bullfighter - so what?), and the plots were made of elements no 7th Heaven-fan would watch (in the second episode, an Alex Mack-lookalike joins the cast to escape her sexually-molesting father). This show had less of a future than Meego ever did.
Still, being on opposite Monday Night Football, Ally McBeal, Law & Order, and Everybody Loves Raymond probably didn't help much, either.
Here's the WB's blurb on the show: From Brenda Hampton, the creator and executive producer of The WB's highest-rated series, "7th Heaven," comes a heartfelt new drama about an unconventional family that will similarly touch the hearts and minds of viewers.
Gregory Harrison ("Trapper John, M.D.") returns to series television as widower John Loring, the local sheriff of a quaint seaside town, Magic Beach, Florida, who has his hands full raising a brood of soon-to-be men. Part drill sergeant, part den mother, part loan officer, John is lent a hand in their upbringing by his eccentric mother (Emmy Award winner Rue McClanahan, "The Golden Girls"), who houses the entire family under the roof of the Magic Beach Motel, a beachfront property that now has a permanent "No Vacancy" sign in the window. The widow of a Catskills magician, Grandma has a never-ending supply of tricks up her sleeve, but ultimately she wishes she could make her family's pain disappear as they deal with the recent loss of John's wife.
The testosterone-laden household is led by sixteen-year-old Hayden (newcomer Christopher Khayman Lee) who is the quintessential all-American boy, with the added allure of actually living in a motel. Right on his heels on the path to manhood is 14-year-old Turner (Jeremy Lelliott, "Jack"), a genius and steadfast non-conformist with a flair for the radical.
Twelve-year-olds Jeff (Jamie Williams, "Rudyard Kippling's The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo") and Chris (Orlando Brown, "Two of a Kind") are lifelong best friends, but remain convinced they are "cosmic twins" since they were born on the same day in the same town - never mind that it was to different parents and Chris is African-American. Chris' father, the Assistant D.A. in Magic Beach and a good friend of John's, doesn't seem to mind that his son practically lives with the Lorings.
Rounding out the inhabitants under the motel's brightly colored roof is the most recent addition, Jamie Martin (newcomer Chyler Leigh), a 15-year-old runaway whose high-powered family has done her more harm than good.
Filmed on location in Jacksonville, Fla., the series was created by Hampton, who also serves as executive producer along with Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent ("7th Heaven," "Charmed," "Beverly Hills, 90210"). The family drama is produced by Spelling Television.
Update 9-7-99: Alert Viewer Alana noted that Jeremy Lelliott, the young actor playing Turner, was also in the original pilot and was not part of the summer purge. Lucky Jeremy!
A flap of the Hop Sing Memorial Apron to Alana (JerNStesMa@aol.com) for the info about Jeremy Lelliott's employment status. Thanks, Alana!
Update 11-30-99: True to form, the WB is dumping Safe Harbor, starting by swapping its position with 7th Heaven "Beginnings" - the Rerun Show. Reports from cast members indicate that, despite some organized viewer campaigns, the show is scrapped.
What killed Safe Harbor? It wasn't the ratings - they were going up each week, and retaining more than half the 7th Heaven lead-in audience. The basic reason the WB abandoned Harbor is because it didn't fit into their plan of 2-hour nightly show blocks - proven audience retainers in the Buffy / Angel franchise, and the 7th Heaven / 7th Heaven : Beginnings saga.
Once and Again 1999-2002
DAD: Rick Sammler (Billy Campbell)/Divorced
DAD'S JOB: Architect
KIDS: Eli (Shane West)(16),Jessie (Evan Rachel Wood)(12)
WHERE'S MOM?: Divorced
STAND-IN "MOM": Lily Manning (Sela Ward)/girlfriend
First out of the box for the last fall of the 90's. Here's an almost-Brady Bunch situation - 'cept that they're not married quite yet...
Oh, this gets tension-filled. Okay - see if you can track with this: Single Dad Rick has a son and a daughter, 16-year-old Eli and 12 year-old Jessie. Mom Lily has two girls: 14-year-old Grace and 9-year-old Zoe. Grace has a crush on Eli, Zoe wants Mom to remarry the bio-dad, and Rick and Lily just fell in love. Wacky hijinks are certain to ensue.
A quote from the press blurb:
From the creators of "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life" comes an endearing story of two families (from left to right, Julia Whelan, Sela Ward, Meredith Deanne, Billy Campbell, Evan Rachel Wood and Shane West) coping with the challenges of divorce, teenage angst and finding love...again, in "Once and Again," a new one hour series for ABC.
Billy "The Rocketeer" Campbell is the TV Single Dad of this show. I talked with his publicity folks, but they say he's too busy for interviews right now. Quite an interesting tactic for a brand-new show, don't you think?
I've watched the first episode. Darn, I actually LIKED the show. And I was expecting it to be waaay too Lifetime Network for my tastes. It was funny and subtle, instead.
One big discrepancy with Real Life is: these people have WAY too much money for single parents. How on earth do they afford California-styled houses (loaded with Mahogany/teak furniture) in Chicago after divvying up their marital assets? Sela Ward's character should be living in a One Day At A Time - style apartment, rather than the mansion she seems to own. Oh well, that's TV living.
Here is what will kill this show: when the main characters get married. Actually, it'll be either the last episode or the third-to-last episode: last, if the show is successful, third-to-last if the show is struggling to stay on the air and the writers are Jumping the Shark
Update- June 12, 2001: Speaking of shark-jumping, the principals got married in the season closer. Yes, fans, we've started the ever-popular Mike Brady Clause Clock, so expect this show to either drop off the TV Single Dad list, or just drop off the air, sometime in 2002.
Stick-A-Fork-In-It Update- March 28, 2002: Just in time to be saved from the Mike Brady Clause, ABC did the honorable thing and put a bullet in this puppy. So long, Sammler-Manning Clans!.
Thanks to Alert Viewer Colleen Gielskie for the info on Rick's occupation and the Chicago location of the series.
Mission Hill1999 - 2000
"DAD": Andy French (voice of Wallace Langham)/Older Brother
"DAD'S" JOB: waterbed sales, then advertising schlub
KIDS: Kevin French (voice of Kevin Menville)(17)
WHERE'S MOM?: Moved to Wyoming with Dad
STAND-IN "MOM": Posey Tyler (voice of Vicki Lewis)/roommate
Formerly called "The Downtowners," Mission Hill sounds like an animated version of 1996's Kirk show, where the older brother is left in charge of a troublesome teen. Actually, it's got a bit of Sanford & Son, too, as the child seems more capable than his guardian.
Here's the promising part of this show: it's by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein - the guys who made The Simpsons, or, more importantly, made them funny. This show has the possibility of being a hoot.
Here's the photo caption from The WB: "Mission Hill," an outrageous new primetime animated comedy series created and executive produced by the Emmy Award-winning writing duo of Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ("The Simpsons") chronicles the lives of four oddball roommates living in a New York City loft. The Castle Rock Television production is slated to debut on the WB during the fall 1999 season. Pictured: (left - right) Stogie [formerly Stoly] (the dog), Jim Kubeck, Andy French, Kevin French, Posey Taylor.
I've watched the first episode of this show and I see the weakest point: it's trying to be edgy by focusing on Southpark-style language. Not that I'm a prude, but relying on the shock-value of dialogue to maintain viewer interest could be THE big mistake in this series. There's a lot of potential in the show, but the writing has to be able to stand on its own without trusting in rude one-liners to hang onto the audience. Oh, and more Stogie would help too. Stogie's as dumb as a box of hair, and that WORKS.
Update: Check out my interviews with Wallace Langham and producers/creators Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein in the Interviews section.
Update October 19, 1999: First casualty of the 1999 TV Single Dad crop - The WB has dropped Mission Hill into the lingering-death spiral of "hiatus." Reason? My website has more viewers than this show did. The network says the show may return in mid-season. I'd say the next chance of seeing the show will be on Comedy Central next fall. Maybe.
Update June 13, 2000: The Show That Wouldn't Die! Just got a call from the production offices, and Mission Hill is apparently going to rise from the ashes of hiatus-land June 25th, 2000. Look for it Sundays at 9:30/8:30pm ET/CT on The WB.
Update July 19, 2000: The Show That Wouldn't Die just died. A message from Bill and Josh announced the re-demise of the series. Apparently the WB needed another blood sacrifice for its advertisers. Details in the second interview with Bill Oakley in the INTERVIEWS section.
Update October 18, 2001: The Show That Died comes back to life! At least for those in the True North Strong and Free - - Canada's Teletoon network is showing ALL 13 episodes every weekend at 10:30pm. Check it out, eh? Even more good news: Cartoon Network began airing the entire series on Adult Swim in 2002.
Popular 1999 - 2001
DAD: Mike McQueen (Scott Bryce)/divorced
DAD'S JOB: Investment Broker Guy
KIDS: Brooke McQueen(Leslie Bibb)(16)
WHERE'S MOM?: Abandoned the family
STAND-IN "MOM": Jan McPherson (Christine Dunford)/Dad's fiancée
Think Clueless, but Dad's got a girlfriend.
Gotta love a show set in Jacqueline Kennedy High School. Actually, this show is a twist on the aforementioned Once and Again: children dealing with their respective single parents getting engaged. Basically it's a jocks-vs.-geeks dramedy, with Single Dad Mike's daughter Brooke being a cheerleader vs. stepdaughter-to-be Sam McPherson being the outcast geek.
Here's a quick blurb on the photo they sent: Kennedy High School students (from left) Mike Bernardo (Ron Lester), Carmen Tessi (Sarah Rue), Lily DeMarcus (Tamara Mello), Harrison John (Chris Gorham), Sam McPherson (Carly Pope), Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb), Josh Ford (Kip Pardue), Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels) and Mary Cherry (Leslie Grossman) find that popularity is the hardest terrain for teens to navigate or control in "Popular," the new hour-long drama for The WB.
Update - July 13th 1999: Apparently Scott Bryce wasn't popular enough for the role. Murmurs from the WB indicate a reshuffle in the casting deck. Stay tuned for mo' news...
Another Update - July 30th 1999: Scott Bryce is back, and back with a vengeance! What was once a "with Special Guest Star" part has become a series regular cast role. Read all about Mr. Bryce and his Popular-ity contest in the Interviews section.
Watched the first episode - very vivid camera work, and a full two minutes and six seconds of Scott Bryce being a Single Dad. Also a rather obvious series of drop-ins of assorted ethnic high-schoolers left out of the series pilot as the WB tries to correct the major boo-boo of a lily-white fall season.
Update: June 12, 2001: Doom. The WB has pulled the plug. Bye, all you pretty McPhersons and McQueens.
Sponge Bob Square Pants 1999 -
DAD: Mr. Krabs / Unknown Marital Status
DAD'S JOB: Owner of the Krusty Krab snack shop
KIDS: Pearl (a whale) / 16
WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Animated series on Nickelodeon seem to have a pathological need for TV Single Dads of any kind. I'm still trying to figure out how a crab could have a teenage whale for a daughter, but that's the beauty of animation, ain't it?
Alert Viewer DaughterKatie points out that SpongeBob's show has crossed the decade mark in production, surpassing even Rugrats as the longest-lived TV Single Dad show in Nickelodeon history.
DAD: Angel / Single
DAD'S JOB: Vampire Righter-of-Wrongs
KIDS: Connor / Baby
WHERE'S MOM?: Gone in a puff of smoke
STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown
Wow - when the episode where Angel becomes a Dad aired, I think I got fifty emails about this show.
Here's the scoop from Alert Viewer Veronica:
Yes he is a single dad. A freak incident/prophecy made him able to make a baby with Darla (former Vampire lover). In a dramatic episode, she killed herself (they turn to dust) when she was having problems having the baby and poof there was Connor. The baby was then stolen by a bad guy who took him to a hell dimension and poof the next season Connor was all grown up and had a big attitude towards his dad. Probably more than you wanted to know.
Rocket Power 1999-2004
DAD: Raymundo Rocket (voice of John Kassir)/ Widower
DAD'S JOB: Surfer and Owner of Shore Shack Store
KIDS: Oswald "Otto"( voice of Joseph Aston) (9), Regina "Reggie" (voice of Shanya Fox) (11)
WHERE'S MOM?: Died?
STAND-IN "MOM": Violet Stimpleton (voice of Edie McClurg) / neighbor
Yet another TV Single Dad cartoon from the powerhouse production company of Klasky Csupo, the producers of Rugrats, Stressed Eric, and Duckman.
Raymundo runs a store/snack bar in Rocket Beach, California, raising his two hyper-sportific children Otto and Reggie. The Shore Shack's head chef, Tito, is the Yoda-like advice giver to Ray on child-rearing, while next-door neighbor Violet acts as a mom-figure to the kids.
Interesting to note is the inclusion of another Chuckie Finster-like character of pal Sam Dullard (voiced by Sam Suletta, then Gary Leroi Gray, then Sean Marquette) who, like Chuckie has a single parent; only this time, it's a single mom, named Paula.
Nickelodeon describes the show thusly:
"Rocket Power" is the story of four friends who are addicted to action and extreme sports. Otto Rocket, his sister Reggie, and their pals Twister and Sam excel at just about every aggressive sport you can imagine. Their hometown Rocket Beach, CA is the ultimate place for shooting the curl, skating the half-pipe or blading on the boardwalk. There are extreme sports for all seasons, however, so don't be surprised if you catch the kids heading up to the mountains for snowboarding, ice hockey, and all manner of arctic action. All that competition can get, well, pretty competitive sometimes. So it's a good thing folks like Otto and Reggie's dad Raymundo are around to remind everyone that way cool friendships are more important than winning events. Extreme sports, extreme fun, and extreme friends--that's "Rocket Power."
Update: Alert Viewer Varakorn Ungvichian adds info on an upcoming special about the death of Raymundo's wife...
"Actually, there will be a telefilm next year that explains this (so I've heard Csupo say). That same telefilm will also see Ray get remarried, BTW."
A swing of the Treat Williams Memorial Stethescope to Varakorn Ungvichian for the info on Mrs. Rocket, Sam's voice talent, and Sam's mom's name. Thanks, Varakorn!
Another Update: Alert Viewer Varakorn is following the show closely, and checks in with more info:
Ray Rocket (the single dad on Rocket Power) will be getting married soon, as KC says: "Fans of Ray Rocket can look forward to a wedding, as he ties the knot with one of Tito's cousins he meets in Hawaii in an upcoming Rocket Power special to air next year!"
Still More Updates: Alert Viewer Varakorn comes back with the Mike Brady Clock Start for Rocket Power -
On Rocket Power, Ray Rocket married Noelani Makani in the ep "The Big Day" on July 30... however, Ray had been shown already married to her on June 16 in "After Shocked".
And possibly the Final Update for the Series: Alert Viewer Varakorn reports the Curtain has fallen -
"The special I mentioned earlier was titled "Island of the Menehune". Although it did indeed discuss about the Rocket sibs' mom Dani (same voice as the daughter), they did _not_ mention how Dani died. "Guess they didn't want to bring up her departure too much." (Master NC, Nickdisk). Also, the marriage was not featured in the special, but in another separate ep titled "The Big Day", and there has also been one ep with Ray and Noelani married. But don't start that clock, since the show is already out of production."