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A World of 'Unmarried Popes?'

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This page is here because of the amazing pile of shows people bring to my attention from around the world. It's been difficult deciding where to place these shows on the TV Single Dads site. Certainly, it's not fair to skip over these TV Single Dads from other countries, but I can't really review them if I don't understand the language.

So, I'm organizing the shows on this page by country of origin and date of production. Note that American shows with different names do NOT qualify for this page. (As an example, Rugrats is the same show when it's called "Aventuras en Pañales" in Mexico.)

I'm going to try and get native translations of my descriptions just beneath my English descriptions. I can't guarantee they'll be flawless, but I'll try. If you're bilingual and can see that I'm not saying in your language what I'm saying in English, please let me know.

Thanks to Alert Viewer (and very groovy reporter) Vicki Trevino of Mexico's El Norte press for the impetus to add this page.

Jim

P.S. - Why the "unmarried Popes" reference in the subtitle? It's from trying to translate the title of one of Mexico's most popular TV Single Dad shows. The show name is "Papa Soltero," which, according to Babelfish's interpretive skills, meant "unmarried Pope" in Spanish.


Australia Australia


Hey Dad! 1995-97

Hey Dad

DAD: Martin Kelly (Robert Hughes)/Widower

DAD'S JOB: Architect

KIDS: Simon (?)(17), Nudge (Christopher Truswell)(17), Debbie (?)(16), Jenny (?) (11)

WHERE'S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN "MOM": Betty Wilson (Julie McGregor)/Live-in cousin

Picture a Brady Bunch where Mike never remarried. Oh, and there's a son and two daughters instead of three sons. And Alice isn't a maid, she's a live-in cousin.

Here's a familiar occurrence - a peripheral, quirky character becomes very popular, so the whole show gets revamped to give that character more airtime. Think of Fonzie on Happy Days, or Urkel on Family Matters.

In this show, the quirky character is Nudge, best buddy of Simon. Nudge moves into the Kelly household and pretty much takes center stage in verbal byplay with Dad.

Strangely, this show has quite a following in Germany. And no, it's not called Achtung, Papa!, despite e-mails to the contrary.


All Together Now 1990-1993

All Together NowSteven Jacobs, Jane Hall, Jon English,
Rebecca Gibney, Gary Who, and Bruno Lucia

DAD: Bobby Rivers (Jon English) / Single

DAD'S JOB: Rock Singer

KIDS: Thomas Sumner (15)(Steven Jacobs); Anna Sumner (15)(Jane Hall)

WHERE'S MOM?: Died in a plane crash

STAND-IN "MOM": Traci (friend of Mother)(Rebecca Gibney) and Doug (Dad's taxi-driver friend)(Gary Who)

Jon English is the Swiss Army Knife of Australian entertainment. Imagine if Billy Joel decided to star in sitcoms and Broadway plays in the middle of his career, and you'll get an idea of this guy's range.

In this series, he plays rock singer Bobby Rivers -- a man who doesn't want to let go of the 70's. After his ex-girlfriend dies in a plane crash, he learns he has has a son and daughter, 15-year-old twins. The twins and Tracy, the woman who looked after them when their mother was traveling the world, move in with Bobby. The generational differences of Bobby's 70's sensibilities and the kids' 90's realities make the comedy work on the show. Bobby's friend Doug acts as an 'interpreter' for Bobby's dealings with the modern world. Bobby's weird agent Wayne (Bruno Lucia) provides the 'quirky' character inherent in most Aussie sitcoms.

A tip of the Sebastian Cabot Memorial Bowler to Phil Bell on pointing out this series. Thanks, Phil!


Skippy the Bush Kangaroo 1968-69

Skippy

DAD: Matt Hammond (Ed Devereaux)/Widower

DAD'S JOB: Park Ranger

KIDS: Sonny (12)(Garry Pankhurst)

WHERE'S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN "MOM": Skippy?(almost-pet)

Arguably the first major television export of Australia, Skippy imprinted itself on the Down Under culture for decades. Just as most Americans think of any deer as "Bambi," most Aussies think of Skippy when they see a kangaroo.

Here's the easiest way to understand the show, for those not versed in Skippyology: think Flipper, only hopping.

Network Nine, the company responsible for the original series, cranked out a new series with different actors and characters in 1992. I'm still digging up info on that series, so check back soon.

A tip of the Ed Devereaux Memorial Ranger Hat to Rebecca de Regt for insights on the series. Thanks, Rebecca!


Round the Twist 1989, 1993, 1998, 2000

Round the TwistSam Vandenberg, Rodney McLennan, Richard Moir, Tamsin West

DAD: Tony Twist (Richard Moir)/Widower

DAD'S JOB: Lighthouse Keeper

KIDS: Pete (Sam Vandenberg)(13), Linda (Joelene Crnogorac/Tamsin West )(13), Bronson (Rodney McLennan)(9)

WHERE'S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown

Pretty much TV Single Dad Formula One - - this time, Dad moves the kids to a lighthouse. The "Round the Twist" bit, though is when strange things start happening in the realm of Are You Afraid of the Dark?-type scary stories. Survived four seasons over a period of a decade, which is pretty lively for an Australian series.

A wave of the Ben Cartwright Memorial Cowboy Hat to Alert Aussie Viewer Clare for this series. Thanks, Clare!


The Genie from Down Under 1996, 1998

GenieGlenn Meldrum, Alexandra Milman, Rhys Muldoon

DAD: Bruce (Rhys Muldoon)/Unknown Marital Status

DAD'S JOB: Genie

KIDS: Baz (Glenn Meldrum)(??)

WHERE'S MOM?: Unknown

STAND-IN "MOM": Penelope Townes (Alexandra Milman)/ Master

Picture Who's the Boss? - - only Tony Danza is a genie. Oh, and imagine that the "master" is Angelica from Rug Rats - - only not a cartoon.

Managed to squeak two seasons out of this show, which is laudable for a kid-themed series on any continent. Shows fall by the wayside more Down Under than in the US.

A shake of the Sebastian Cabot Memorial Feather Duster to Alert Aussie Viewer Clare for this series. Thanks, Clare!


MexicoMexico


Papá Soltero Televisa 1990-1994

DAD: Cesar (Cesar Costa)/Widower

DAD'S JOB: Television producer

KIDS: Cesarin (Luis Mario Quiroz(age ?), (Gerardo Quiroz)(age ?),(Edith Marquez(age ?)

WHERE'S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN "MOM": Unknown

This was a groundbreaking show in the history of Mexican television. This first TV Single Dad show produced in Mexico didn't arrive until the mid-1980's. In fact, the spanish term for "single dad" wasn't coined until this show was titled.

Cesar Costa was a teen heart-throb of the 60's and 70's. Kinda like David Cassidy starring in a single-parent version of "Home Improvement"

A very big gracias to Vicky Trevino, Brígida González, and Raul Acuña for details on this show.


Ángel en la Casa 1999 - 2000

Angel

Telemundo

DAD: Ángel (?) / widower

DAD'S JOB: Housekeeper /Doméstico

KIDS: Paulina (?)(11)

WHERE'S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN "MOM": Marina / Boss

This is a remake of the ABC show Who's the Boss?, and is proving quite popular in the translation. Here's what Telemundo's press release says about the show:

An established career woman, Marina is left without a maid or housekeeper when her mischievous son Adrian scares away the hired help with his collection of snakes and spiders. Always out for a good time, Marina's mother, Mona, a free-spirited and sexually liberated woman seizes the opportunity to hire Angel, an excellent housekeeper...who happens to be a very handsome, single father to pre-adolescent Paulina. Marina's prayers are answered, but Angel's charm and domestic skills soon throw the household into turmoil.

Marina una mujer de buena posición pierde a su empleada doméstica cuando su travieso hijo, Adrián, la susta con su colección de serpientes. La mamá de Marina , una mujer super liberada, se aprovecha de la situación para contratar a Ángel, un excelente amo de casa. Papá soltero de una preadolescente llamada Paulina, Ángel también es un hombre muy guapo. Los deseos de Marina se hacen realidad, pero el carisma de Ángel y sus dotes domésticas revolucionan a toda la casa!


United Kingdom


Steptoe & Son 1962 - 1965, 1970 - 1974

BBC

DAD: Albert Steptoe (Wilfrid Brambell)/ widower

DAD'S JOB: "Rag & Bone Man" (junk dealer)

KIDS: Harold (Harry H. Corbett)(20-something)

WHERE'S MOM?: dead

STAND-IN "MOM": none

Americans know this plotline as Sanford & Son, but this show started a decade earlier than Norman Lear's imitation.

Albert Steptoe was the archetype self-centered Cockney junkman, believing that he "carried" the burden of his business, while Harold was actually the workhorse keeping their livelihood afloat.

The show was on hiatus for five years, before returning with new episodes in the 70's. So popular was this show that the Queen awarded the stars the Order of the British Empire in 2000.


Holding the Baby 1997 - 1998

Holding the Baby

Granada ITV

DAD: Gordon (Nick Hancock)/ divorced

DAD'S JOB: Editor of Carpet Review

KIDS: Daniel (unknown)(2)

WHERE'S MOM?: Ran off

STAND-IN "MOM": Rob (Joe Duttine)/Uncle

This is the source of the American Fox Network's show of the same name. The short lived series about a busy editor who has to juggle a sudden nuturing relationship with his toddler while keeping up with his workload is a by-the-book sitcom drill. The show was panned widely in the U.K., and disappeared quickly without much remorse.

One of the more annoying facets of this show was the typical British over-saturated laughtrack sweetening every line of the script. I've only seen two episodes of this series, but the laughs were so incredibly loud and the jokes so numbingly telegraphed that it's no wonder the show died a quick death.


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