Blossom (TV series)

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Blossom
Blossomlogo.jpg
Genre Sitcom[1]
Created by Don Reo[2]
Starring Mayim Bialik[3]
Joey Lawrence
Michael Stoyanov
Jenna von Oÿ[4]
David Lascher
Barnard Hughes
Ted Wass
Theme music composer Stephen Geyer
Mike Post
Opening theme "My Opinionation" performed by Dr. John
Composer(s) Frank Denson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 114 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Don Reo
Paul Junger Witt
Tony Thomas
Gene Reynolds
David Amico
Judith D. Allison (seasons 4–5)
Rob LaZebnik (season 4)
Allan Katz (season 5)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 22–25 minutes
Production company(s) Impact Zone Productions
Witt/Thomas Productions
Touchstone Television
Distributor Buena Vista Television
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Audio format Stereo
Original run July 5, 1990 (1990-07-05) (pilot preview)
January 3, 1991 (1991-01-03)  – May 22, 1995 (1995-05-22)
(as a regular series)[5]

Blossom is an American sitcom broadcast on NBC from July 5, 1990 to May 22, 1995. Don Reo created the series which starred Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo, a teenager living with her father and two brothers.[6][7][2] It was produced by Reo's Impact Zone Productions in association with Witt/Thomas Productions and Touchstone Television.

Synopsis[edit]

The series began with Blossom's mother having left the family to pursue her own life and career; the show concentrated on the family's attempts to adjust. Blossom's father, Nick, a session musician who was frequently between gigs and tours, was played by Ted Wass. Her oldest brother Anthony (Michael Stoyanov) is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who eventually became a paramedic. Joey (Joey Lawrence), the middle brother, is a stereotypical "dumb jock", known for the drawn-out delivery of his catchphrase, "Whoa!" Her mother, Maddy Russo, was played by Melissa Manchester.

Blossom's best friend Six Lemeure (Jenna von Oÿ) also plays a significant part in her life. Six, an especially fast talker, was best known for her tendency to ramble. Blossom also frequently received advice from celebrities in fantasy scenes, such as Mr. T, Hugh Hefner, Phylicia Rashad, David Spade, ALF, and Will Smith. Blossom became a fashion icon for young girls, following the introduction of the "floppy hat" to television, which held such a presence that the hat was personified in later episodes by up and coming actress Brittany Lacour.

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • Blossom Ruby Russo (played by Mayim Bialik) – Youngest child and only daughter of Nick and Maddy Russo.[7] She was best friend to Six and longtime on-again off-again girlfriend of Vinnie. Blossom learns many hard lessons from the lives of herself, her family and Six, including abuse, alcohol, drugs, divorce, and many more. She does not always get along with her stepmother Carol, but their relationship does improve over time. Blossom learns from Nick during the run that she was named after the jazz singer Blossom Dearie.
  • Joseph "Joey" Russo (played by Joey Lawrence as a teenager, Matthew Lawrence at age 11, Andrew Lawrence at age 2) – A not-so-smart baseball player, ladies man and middle child. He can be sweet and smart when he wants to be. Joey gets accepted to Arizona State University, but decides to play professional baseball after graduating from high school. He makes everybody's day by saying "Whoa!" and realizes after several years that he and Six are friends.
  • Anthony "Tony" Russo (played by Michael Stoyanov) – A recovering drug addict and alcoholic, he has difficulty remembering four years of his life.[2] He worked at a doughnut shop for a while before becoming a paramedic. He is extremely close to Blossom, who often comes to him for advice. He dates Playboy bunny Rhonda, but later he marries Shelly in Las Vegas after a night of drinking and gambling. Despite the suddenness of their marriage, they decide to give a relationship a try and ultimately decide to stay together.He and Shelly welcome a son, Nash Metropolitan Russo, into the world in November 1994.
  • Six Dorothy Lemeure (played by Jenna von Oÿ) – Blossom's best friend who has a crush on Joey. Her parents are divorced. In the pilot, she alluded to the fact that she was named Six because of the number of beers her father fed to her mother to get her pregnant. A later explanation is that she was the sixth child in her family, although none of her siblings were ever seen. Six goes through many hard times including becoming an alcoholic, dating a married older man, and a pregnancy scare. She thought of the Russo family as her own family and talks really fast when she is happy, angry, or nervous. Producers originally offered the role to Melissa Joan Hart who declined taking the lead role on Clarissa Explains It All instead.[8] Von Oÿ was credited in the pilot's opening sequence, but for the first season was moved to the closing credits as a "guest star". Between the shooting of the Blossom pilot and its pickup as a regular series, von Oÿ had earned a part on the CBS sitcom Lenny (also from Witt/Thomas and Don Reo). With the cancellation of Lenny by March 1991, von Oÿ had reclaimed her originally intended status as a regular Blossom cast member, and in season two moved back to the opening credits.
  • Vinnie Bonitardi (played by David Lascher) – Blossom's on-again, off-again boyfriend. Nick did not always like him, but their relationship improves over time. Vinnie gets along with Blossom's family for the most part and though he projects a tough-guy image, can be quite sweet at times.
  • Rhonda Jo Applegate (Portia Dawson) - Anthony's former on-again, off-again girlfriend. Rhonda is a pin-up model on whom Joey also had a crush.
  • Buzz Richman (played by Barnard Hughes) – Father of Maddy and grandfather of Tony, Joey, and Blossom. Buzz is a war veteran and has been married multiple times, but Ruby was his first and Maddy's mother. He loves women, cigars, jokes, and alcohol and moves into the Russo household for a while.
  • Nicholas "Nick" Russo (played by Ted Wass) – Blossom, Joey, and Tony's father. The main care giver for his three children after his wife, Maddy, leaves him. He works as a piano player, playing with various gigs with a wide range of bands. He later marries Carol, and becomes stepfather to Kennedy, and grandfather to Nash and treats Six like his own daughter.

Supporting characters[edit]

  • Madeline "Maddy" Russo (played by Melissa Manchester) – Ex-wife of Nick, and mother of Tony, Joey, and Blossom who leaves them to have her own life. She moves to Paris to pursue a singing career and returns a few years later in an attempt to re-connect.
  • Sharon Lemeure (Gail Edwards) – The mother of Six who is divorced and dated Nick at one time. Sharon tries to be a good mother, although Six gets in some trouble at times. She is almost identical to her daughter in several ways, including her habit of talking very fast when nervous, upset, or happy. She and her daughter have been known to mirror each other on several occasions.
  • Shelly Lewis Russo (Samaria Graham) – Wife of Tony and mother of Nash.[9] She is an illustrator who planned to marry her boyfriend Roscoe in Las Vegas when she got drunk, married Tony, then fell in love. Shelly gave birth to son Nash in the backseat of a vintage Nash Metropolitan.
  • Carol Russo (played by Finola Hughes) – English woman with a daughter, Kennedy, who marries Nick. She becomes stepmother of Blossom, Joey, and Tony and still has an amicable relationship with her second ex-husband.
  • Kennedy Russo (played by Courtney Chase) – A young, precocious English girl about age eight who is Carol's daughter with her Scottish ex-husband Graham. She has puppy love for Joey for a period and after a while, bonds with Tony and Blossom.
  • Agnes (played by Eileen Brennan) - Blossom's neighbor/confidant who was seen during the show's first season.
  • Carl Lewis (played by Ivory Ocean) - The father of Shelly Lewis.

Series development[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

In 1988, series creator Don Reo had begun a producing partnership with Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, in which the latter two were bringing his screenplays to television under the established Witt/Thomas Productions nameplate. The genesis of the project that eventually became Blossom occurred soon after Reo's association with Witt and Thomas began, and coincided with another series they were bringing to CBS in 1989, Heartland. The project that would be Blossom had two sources of inspiration. The creation process was born when Reo attended a family party thrown by his long-time friend Dion DiMucci, the lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts. Reo regarded DiMucci as being a "hip, with-it musician father", giving calm, sage, non-judgmental advice to his children and loving them unconditionally. During the party, DiMucci demonstrated and reinforced the interraction with his children, and inspired Reo to him to his family dynamic for a pilot in which the "cool" father would be a highlight.

However, just prior to attending the DiMucci party, Reo had toyed with the idea of writing a pilot that depicted a wise-beyond-his-years, introspective teenage boy, modeled closely after protagonist Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.[10] He decided to include both the hip father and Holden Caulfield-esque boy in the new pilot, with the boy eventually becoming the lead character. With Witt and Thomas' support of the storyline, Reo pitched the project to NBC in 1989 under the title Richie. Reo had the utmost faith in NBC agreeing to the format as it were, and believed that the unique characters would transform family sitcoms if it became a series. NBC liked the screenplay, but ordered changes to the format. Network executives told Reo and Witt/Thomas that they wanted to see the lead character go from being the Holden Caulfield-like Richie to that of his older sister, Blossom, and that the girl should have Richie's character traits instead. At the same time, NBC felt that the combination of a such an emotionally intuitive child and a super-chic father was too radical to put on the air, so they urged Reo and Witt/Thomas to give Blossom and her siblings nuclear, conservative parents.

In the Blossom series finale, the titular character records a new entry into her video diary, in which she discusses the changes happening in her life post-high school. As she also examines how much she has grown since her first video diary entry at the beginning of the series, Blossom describes herself as "a teenage Holden Caulfield". Reo wrote the finale with series producer Judith D. Allison, and thus decided to make an allusion to the inspiration of the lead character.

Pilot episode[edit]

At the time Mayim Bialik signed on for the pilot, she had recently worked on another sitcom project for Fox, entitled Molloy. Both NBC, which had bought the Blossom pilot, and Fox were planning to broadcast both Bialik projects in 1990, with either of the two set to continue as a regular series beyond its preview/tryout run, depending on which was more successful. The pilot episode of Blossom was taped in the spring of 1990, and was the first of the projects to air, with NBC broadcasting the pilot as a special on July 5, 1990. Four weeks later, Fox commenced a seven-episode tryout run for Molloy, whose episodes had been produced in 1989, prior to Bialik signing on for the NBC pilot. Molloy faced low ratings, and Fox canceled the series after the seven-episode order completed. NBC executives, who had been pleased with the ratings of the Bialik pilot special, ordered Blossom as a midseason replacement for January 1991.

In the pilot, Blossom Russo lived with both her parents, in a more conservative, nuclear household. Her father was played by Richard Masur, and was named Terry Russo; Barrie Youngfellow (fresh off It's a Living, another Witt/Thomas production) played Blossom's mother, named Barbara Russo. All other cast members were present in the pilot, all with their familiar character names, except for Joey Lawrence's character whose name was Donny Russo. Anthony was going through his first drug/alcohol rehab period (in which Terry remarked that "he had a serious problem--he missed all of 1989"), and had his own separate scene with Blossom in the kitchen, late at night, as he gave her sage anecdotes about their lives. Neither of Blossom's parents had musical careers in the pilot, with Terry working as an accountant and Barbara, a stay-at-home mom. (Coincidentally, Youngfellow's It's a Living co-star Gail Edwards would later be a recurring guest star during the series' run, as Six's mother, Sharon LeMeure).

The original subject of divorce, was carried out differently after the pilot, involved Blossom suspecting that her parents were having marriage troubles.[11] Blossom confides in Six about the fights and discussions she overheard them having, which is followed by Terry and Barbara's announcement over dinner that they were going to meet with an attorney friend. Blossom's fears continue to grow until her parents reveal that they were only having their wills drawn up. Notable guest stars in the pilot included Debra Sandlund as Terry's secretary and Justin Whalin as William Zimmerman, a boy at school who wishes to go steady with Blossom.

The original theme music in the pilot was Bobby Brown's 1988 hit single "My Prerogative", which was featured over the first season opening credits format of Blossom dancing in her bedroom, as she taped herself on home video. Between production of the pilot and regular series, the producers hired Dr. John (who had sung a cover of the standard "Accentuate the Positive" as the theme for Bialik's other series, Molloy) to perform the replacement theme, "My Opinionation". The title sequence was re-shot so that Bialik's dancing was more in sync with "My Opinionation". In syndicated reruns of the Blossom pilot, "My Opinionation" is used for the opening sequence, with Bialik's dancing (originally to "My Prerogative") noticeably out-of-sync with the song.

Soon after NBC picked-up Blossom as a regular series, Reo successfully convinced programming chief Brandon Tartikoff and his executives to allow the lead character to have the chic, divorced musician father he had originally envisioned for the project. Masur and Youngfellow were dismissed and Witt and Thomas then convinced Ted Wass, who had previously starred on their 1970s sitcom Soap, to portray Blossom's single dad Nick Russo, on Wass' condition that he could also direct numerous episodes. Mayim Bialik claimed to have had influence in Wass' casting, as she enjoyed auditioning with him the most out of other actors who were trying out when the role was being recast. Earlier, before the pilot was shot, Bialik had single-handedly been responsible for Michael Stoyanov joining the project, after she had seen him as a guest star on sister series Empty Nest. Not only did Bialik enjoy watching Stoyanov, but she also felt they shared a strong physical resemblance (both have prominent Russian facial features), and that they would be believable as brother and sister.

Production[edit]

Five seasons of Blossom were produced, with a total of 114 episodes.

Bill Bixby became a frequent director on the series in its third season, a role he continued for several episodes into the fourth, despite his ongoing battle with prostate cancer. On November 15, 1993, shortly after learning that his illness was terminal, Bixby collapsed on the Blossom set and was hospitalized. He died six days later.[12]

Opening sequences[edit]

The theme music was "My Opinionation" by Mike Post and Steve Geyer and performed by recording artist Dr. John.[1] The opening sequence featured Blossom filming herself in her bedroom on home video dancing, performing aerobics, making silly faces, pretending to talk on the phone, etc.

Season two switched exclusively to a sequence of dance moves by the title character, this time on film and in front of a pastel blue/pink background. Blossom's outfit changed in each dancing scene, and a variety of dance moves were performed, from belly dancing to voguing. The second season added Barnard Hughes to the show and opening credits, under the "With" heading, preceding Ted Wass.

In the third season, the dancing concept was expanded upon in the opening sequence. Core cast members Lawrence, Stoyanov, von Oÿ and Wass joined Bialik as she danced. They each appeared one at a time as their credit was shown around Blossom's dancing. With Barnard Hughes relegated to recurring status on the show, his name no longer appeared in the opening credits, but Portia Dawson and David Lascher's names were added (despite their not being physically present in the sequence). This version of the intro lasted through the end of season four. Also beginning in season three, most segments of the show opened and closed with the first frame of a scene being frozen in a multi-colored watercolor effect. The watercolor stills lasted through the end of the series.

The fifth and final season dropped a full-fledged intro, instead displaying the Blossom logo over the watercolor effect that opened and closed segments, while a short piano remix of the first few notes of "My Opinionation" played to open the show. The opening credits ran over the prologue of the episode. During the 1994-95 season, NBC began running its credits in the squeeze-screen format.[6]

Episodes[edit]

Nielsen ratings[edit]

  • Season 1: #44-11,283,720
  • Season 2: #34-12,074,310
  • Season 3: #27-12,568,500
  • Season 4: #32-12,520,000
  • Season 5: #55-9,921,600

Syndication[edit]

Reruns of Blossom were syndicated for several years in the 1990s, including on Superstation WGN. After its syndication run ended, the series would not return to U.S. television until 2014, when the Hub Network acquired broadcast rights to the show.

DVD releases[edit]

On January 27, 2009, Shout! Factory (under license from rights-holders ABC and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) released Seasons 1 & 2 of Blossom on DVD in Region 1. The 6-disc boxset includes all-new interviews with cast members, the original pilot episode, featurettes and audio commentaries.[13]

Mill Creek Entertainment released a 10 episode best-of set entitled Blossom - 10 Very Special Episodes on October 12, 2010. The single disc release features episodes from the first 2 seasons.[14]

DVD name Ep # Release date
Blossom: Seasons 1 & 2 38 January 27, 2009

Cultural References[edit]

  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, when Leonard and Raj are trying to find a fourth team member for a physics competition, Raj refers to Mayim Bialik as "the girl who played TV’s Blossom. She got a PhD in neuroscience or something". Bialik later joined the show playing Amy Farrah Fowler. There is also a reference in a later episode - Sheldon and Amy are producing a "couples list" for Halloween, and one of the couples on it is "Blossom and Joey" [15]
  • Nicki Minaj and Cassie's song The Boys is quoted as saying "I just come through with the Six like my name is Blossom." Six is a type of BMW, and Six is also the name of Blossom's best friend.
  • In a Saturday Night Live sketch, in an episode hosted by Sarah Gilbert during the 2013 season, Rihanna is portrayed as playing the Barbados version of Blossom. The sketch lampoons the opening credits of Blossom.
  • Saturday Night Live parodied Blossom in an episode hosted by Sarah Gilbert that aired on January 15, 1994. The sketched centered around Blossom telling her father that she plans on having sex with her boyfriend for the 4th time. Cast member Melanie Hutsell portrayed Blossom, Sarah Gilbert played Six, Mike Myers played Joey, and Kevin Nealon played Blossom's father.
  • In the Simpsons episode "Summer of 4 Ft. 2", the Simpson family goes on vacation to a small beach resort town. While there, Lisa decides to change her image and buys a new set of clothes that she believes will make her look "cool". She then begins hanging around with a new set of trendy children. Milhouse, who accompanied the Simpson family on their trip, sees Lisa with her new friends and remarks to Bart, "Hey, Bart. Lisa's skateboarding with some cool kids. And she looks like Blossom!"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (October 17, 2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 155. ISBN 0-345-49773-2. 
  2. ^ a b c Bernstein, Sharon (April 1, 1991). "'Blossom': Teen's Slant on Problem of Addiction". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  3. ^ Herman, Valli (September 25, 1991). "Tv-watching Teens Turn To 'Blossom' For Fashion Inspiration". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  4. ^ Patterson, Jean. "Young 'Blossom' Fans Soon Can Purchase Her Fashions". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  5. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - Blossom". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-08-31. 
  6. ^ a b Johnson, Ted (May 22, 1995). "'Blossom' Goes Off to College as Series Concludes Tonight". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  7. ^ a b Weinstein, Steve (February 15, 1993). "Against All the Odds, 'Blossom' Is Blooming". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  8. ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (July 12, 2011). "Melissa Joan Hart 'Explains It All' to EW, including how 'Melissa & Joey' is racier than you think". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  9. ^ Mendoza, N.F. (March 13, 1994). "Samaria Graham: Is she what 'Blossom' needs to stay fresh?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  10. ^ Hentges, Sarah (January 26, 2009). "Blossom: Seasons 1 & 2". PopMatters. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  11. ^ Paskin, Willa (July 28, 2014). "Full Bloom". Slate. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  12. ^ Oliver, Myrna (November 23, 1993). "Bill Bixby, Star of TV's 'Incredible Hulk,' Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  13. ^ "Shout! Factory Sends Over a Very Special Press Release for Blossom — Seasons 1&2" (Press release). TV Shows on DVD. December 10, 2008. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  14. ^ "Blossom - Mill Creek's 'TV Flashbacks' Release Brings You '10 Very Special Episodes'" (Press release). TV Shows on DVD. September 9, 2010. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 
  15. ^ "Couples Sheldon and Amy Like - Big Bang Theory". Yesterday's Cheese. October 29, 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-08. 

External links[edit]