Clueless (TV series)

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Clueless
CluelessCast.jpg
The main characters of Clueless, (from left to right), Amber, Sean, Dionne, Murray, and Cher.
Genre Sitcom
Comedy-drama
Created by Amy Heckerling
Starring Rachel Blanchard
Stacey Dash
Elisa Donovan
Donald Faison
Sean Holland
Theme music composer Charlotte Caffey
Anna Waronker
Opening theme "Ordinary Girl",
performed by China Forbes
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 62 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Amy Heckerling (season 1)
Tim O'Donnell (seasons 2-3)
Camera setup Film; Single-camera
Running time approx. 23 minutes
Production company(s) Cockamamie Pictures
Paramount Network Television
Distributor Paramount Domestic Television (2000-2006)
CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006-2007)
CBS Television Distribution (2007-present)
Broadcast
Original channel ABC (1996-1997)
UPN (1997-1999)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original run September 20, 1996 – May 25, 1999

Clueless is a television series spun off from the 1995 teen film of the same name (which was inspired by the Jane Austen book Emma). The series originally premiered on ABC on September 20, 1996 as a part of the TGIF lineup during its first season. The show then spent its last two seasons on UPN ending on May 25, 1999.

Synopsis[edit]

Rachel Blanchard played the role of Cher that was originated by Alicia Silverstone in the movie. Stacey Dash (Dionne), Donald Faison (Murray), Elisa Donovan (Amber), Wallace Shawn (Mr. Hall), and Twink Caplan (Ms. Geist) all reprised their movie roles for the television series. Sean Holland, who appeared as Lawrence in the movie, portrayed the new character Sean Holiday in the TV series. The program aired on ABC from 1996 to 1997 and with a network change on UPN from 1997 to 1999. The theme song for the TV series, "Ordinary Girl", was written by Charlotte Caffey (of the Go-Go's) and Anna Waronker, and was performed by China Forbes.

Differences between the movie and the TV series[edit]

There are several notable inconsistencies in both characters and storylines between the Clueless film and the subsequent television series.

Cher was considerably more selfish and less optimistic in the film than she was in the series, where she was portrayed as more naturally caring and positive.

In addition to Rachel Blanchard as Cher, two other major roles were recast for the television series. For example, when the Clueless series began, the role of Cher's father Mel, the part Dan Hedaya originated in the film, was portrayed by Michael Lerner and was again recast with Doug Sheehan by the beginning of the show's second season on the air. At this time, Mel had grown significantly more mellow and humane than the character Hedaya had originated.

David Lascher took over the role of Josh from Paul Rudd in the television series, and the idea of having the character serve as a romantic interest for Cher was almost non-existent in the TV version of the plot, while it was a major plot in the original film. By the time the show moved to UPN, Josh was written out of the series entirely. Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist suffered this same fate and were also gone from the show by the time it switched networks.

Julie Brown's character in the original film was Coach Millie Stoeger, but in the television series, her character's name was changed to Coach Millie Diemer. In addition, Sean Holland, who only had a very minor role in the film as Murray's friend Lawrence, was playing a new character named Sean Holiday. Regardless, Holland's character had significantly more exposure on the television series (and was considered one of its stars) than the character of Tai Frasier (who was also recast with Heather Gottlieb when Brittany Murphy opted not to reprise the role), who only appeared in three episodes of the show, despite being considered one of the main characters in the film. The gay character of Christian, played by Justin Walker, was not included in the television series at all. Amy Heckerling, who wrote and directed the film, also wrote and directed several episodes of the show's first season, but did not remain on board with the series full-time.

Although they did not reprise their original roles of Josh, Travis and Tai, actors Breckin Meyer, Paul Rudd and Brittany Murphy all made guest appearances in one episode each on the series as new characters: Meyer portrayed Harrison in the episode "Do We with Bad Haircuts Not Feel?" Rudd portrayed the character of Sonny in the episode "I Got You Babe". And Murphy played the character Jasmine in the episode "Driving Me Crazy".

The band Luscious Jackson, who performed the catchy dance song "Here" for the Clueless movie soundtrack also guest starred on the series in the episode "Sharing Cher" in order to perform their song "Naked Eye."

A few of the show's first season episodes were broadcast out of order. The first episode to be broadcast was "As If a Girl's Reach Should Exceed Her Grasp" on September 20, 1996. The actual pilot episode, "Don't Stand So Close to Me," aired later on November 1, 1996.

Network change[edit]

After the series was canceled by ABC, the reruns of the episodes (on their Friday night TGIF line-up) proved to be ratings winners for ABC. However, it was too late for ABC to get the series back, and they prevented UPN from broadcasting the series until their contract ran out in late September. Clueless finished #46 in the ratings with 13.3 million viewers. Only Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (a show for which Elisa Donovan and David Lascher would eventually become regulars) had higher ratings for Friday. Reportedly the star of Sabrina, Melissa Joan Hart, was considered for the part of Cher on the Clueless TV series.

The writing and style of the first season on ABC has been considered to be more relaxed, confident, and slow paced, while the UPN version of the show had a quicker, sassy, off-the-cuff, and celebrity-reference filled style (Some fans even feel that the UPN episodes were more in touch with the style of the movie). UPN cancelled the show after the third season (1998–1999) reportedly because of increasingly dwindling viewership. By the last season, they had about 30% of the viewers left who were still watching the show when it began on ABC in 1996.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

Reportedly, Alicia Silverstone was asked to reprise her role before she turned it down in order to focus on her blossoming film career.

Recurring[edit]

Episodes[edit]

U.S. television ratings[edit]

Season Season premiere Season finale TV season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1st September 20, 1996 February 14, 1997 1996–1997 #52[1] 8.6[1]
2nd September 23, 1997 May 19, 1998 1997–1998 #148[2] 3.6[2]
3rd October 6, 1998 May 25, 1999 1998–1999 #141[3] 2.8[3]

Crossovers[edit]

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch crossover[edit]

During the Season 1 episode "Mr. Wright",[4] Melissa Joan Hart makes a brief cameo appearance playing Sabrina Spellman, her character on the high rating Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (although she is not mentioned by name). At the end of the episode, Cher and Sabrina walk out of a building together and Cher seems confused that Sabrina has allegedly attended Bronson Alcott High School since September of that year. Cher had never seen Sabrina before even though she (Cher) knows everyone. Sabrina then says, "What Cher, you think I just snapped my fingers and magically appeared? As if!" With Cher's back turned, Sabrina snaps her fingers and disappears, completely baffling Cher.

Moesha crossover[edit]

See also: Moesha

In a Halloween-themed episode[5] spoofing the popular Scream films, Cher, Dionne and Amber try to catch a stalker. Later, Amber hints at a Moesha crossover after calling out Moesha's name when the girls are looking for Murray and Sean. Shar Jackson and Lamont Bentley also appeared in a later episode reprising their Moesha characters. The crossover was designed to promote Brandy's upcoming film I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

Syndication[edit]

Clueless entered syndication in fall 2000 along with Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Moesha and 7th Heaven, all of which are owned by CBS Television Distribution. It was the only series out of the four that was not picked up for a second season of syndication.

Reruns later aired on Nickelodeon and then The N until September 2009.

In Canada, it airs weekdays at 2:30 pm on MuchMusic, following Sabrina reruns.

In New Zealand, it airs on Saturday and Sundays at 5:30pm on FOUR, following Sabrina reruns.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Retrieved 02-12-2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ a b "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Retrieved 02-12-2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ a b "TV Winners & Losers: Numbers Racket A Final Tally Of The Season's Show (from Nielsen Media Research)". GeoCities. June 4, 1999. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved 02-12-2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ Mr. Wright
  5. ^ Scream Again Murray, Scream Again! (2)

External links[edit]