Promotional cast photo
|Created by||Linda Bloodworth-Thomason|
Jay R. Ferguson
|Narrated by||Ossie Davis|
|Opening theme||Instrumental theme
by Sonny Curtis (1990–1992)
Theme with lyrics
by Bobby Goldsboro (1992–1994)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||100|
|Executive producer(s)||Linda Bloodworth-Thomason|
|Running time||30 minutes
Burt Reynolds Productions
|Distributor||20th Television (domestically)
CBS Television Distribution (internationally)
|Original run||September 21, 1990 – May 23, 1994|
Evening Shade is an American sitcom television series that aired on CBS from 1990 to 1994. The series stars Burt Reynolds as Wood Newton, an ex-professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who returns to rural Evening Shade, Arkansas to coach a high school football team with a long losing streak. Reynolds personally requested to use the Steelers as his former team because he is a fan.
The general theme of the show is the appeal of small town life. Episodes ended with a closing narration by Ossie Davis summing up the events of the episode, always closing with "... in a place called Evening Shade." The show's final episode saw the guest appearances of Willie Nelson and Buzz Aldrin as escaped convicts on the run from authorities, the final scene being a spectacular shoot-out reminiscent of the final scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The opening segment included clips from around Arkansas, including the famous McClard's Bar-be-que, which is situated on Albert Pike Blvd. and South Patterson St. in Hot Springs National Park.
- Woodrow "Wood" Newton (Burt Reynolds)
- Ava Evans Newton (Marilu Henner)
- Evan Evans (Hal Holbrook)
- Ponder Blue (Ossie Davis)
- Dr. Harlan Eldridge (Charles Durning)
- Herman Stiles (Michael Jeter)
- Taylor Newton (Jay R. Ferguson)
- Molly Newton (Melissa Renée Martin) (1990–1991), (Candace Hutson) (1991–1994)
- Will Newton (Jacob Parker)
- Nub Oliver (Charlie Dell)
- Frieda Evans (Elizabeth Ashley)
- Merleen Eldridge (Ann Wedgeworth)
- Fontana Beausoleil (Linda Gehringer)
- Margaret Fouch (Ann Hearn)
- Dorothy (Jane Abbott)
- Virgil (Burton Gilliam)
- Andrew Phillpot (David A.R. White)
- Doug (Nick Toth)
- Aimee Thompson (Hilary Swank) (1991–1992), (Ari Meyers) (1992–1993)
- Emily Newton (Alexa Vega) (1993–1994)
A former pro football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers who quit due to injury, Wood Newton has settled down to a quiet life as the coach of the Evening Shade high school football team - a position that is slightly controversial as the team is notorious for losing every game. He and his wife, Ava, whom he married when she was only 18 (a frequently voiced grievance by her father, Evan Evans, the owner of the local newspaper), are devoted to one another despite the age difference. Ava is an ambitious and successful practicing lawyer who in the first season is elected District Attorney while pregnant with their fourth (unintended) child, Emily. Among Wood's and Ava's closest friends are the somewhat older Harlan Eldridge, the town doctor, and his trusting wife, Merleen, who is always eager to believe the best of people.
The show's plots focus on the various difficulties that Wood faces in living a much different life than he'd ever expected, as well as the obvious family pressures of two jobs and four children. Additional tensions come from Ava's Aunt Frieda, Evan's perennially discontented sister, who especially disapproves when Evan begins dating Fontana Beausoleil, who works as a stripper and who discovers in season two that she is the long-lost daughter Merleen gave up for adoption when she was 15. Evan and Fontana get married in a three-part episode in season two, and have a child in season three. The show also gets mileage out of the incongruity of the decidedly unathletic assistant coach Herman Stiles, the most the school can afford due to budgetary pressures. Herman is well-meaning and intensely eager to learn the job. In the course of the first season he catches the eye of the somewhat prim and proper high school principal, Margaret, and they begin dating.
A spin-off show, Harleen and Merleen, saw the Eldridges open their home to young pregnant women who needed help (one of whom was also played by Remini), but was cancelled after only a few episodes.
Nielsen ratings/Broadcast history
|1) 1990–1991||Friday night at 8:00 pm||#32||N/A|
|2) 1991–1992||Monday night at 8:00 pm||#15||15.6||14,367,600|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2014)|
The show's production company, Mozark Productions, was a joint venture by creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason of Missouri and her husband, Arkansas native, Harry Thomason, which concurrently produced another successful show set in the South, Designing Women. Hal Holbrook's Designing Women character was killed off to free the actor to star in the newer program.
The series was produced in association with CBS Productions (now CBS Television Distribution), Burt Reynolds Productions, and MTM Enterprises (now 20th Television). CBS retained full ownership of the series while MTM syndicated the series in the United States. CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment has released the entire first season on DVD, albeit with music changes and rescoring.
- Letofsky, Irv (October 29, 1990). "The Sitcom Behind the Sitcom : Television: The countdown to an 'Evening Shade' rehearsal can be comedic. Just ask writer and producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- Wallace, David (February 17, 1991). "TELEVISION : The Dawning of 'Evening Shade' : How the producing team of Harry and Linda Thomason lured Burt Reynolds and other movie heavyweights to a sitcom". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 12, 2010.