Going Places (American TV series)
Going Places opening title
|Created by||Robert Griffard
|Developed by||Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Philip Charles MacKenzie
|Theme music composer||Jesse Frederick
|Opening theme||"Going Places", performed by Mark Lennon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||19 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Howard Adler
Robert L. Boyett
Thomas L. Miller
& Larry Mintz
Robert Blair (episodes 1-13)
Ronny Hallin (episodes 13-19)
Shari Hearn (episodes 13-19)
James O'Keefe (episodes 13-19)
|Camera setup||Film; Multi-camera|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Miller-Boyett Productions
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original run||September 21, 1990– March 8, 1991|
Going Places is an American situation comedy that aired on ABC from September 21, 1990 until March 8, 1991. The show was created and executive produced by Robert Griffard and Howard Adler, and developed and executive produced by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett. Going Places was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions in association with Lorimar Television.
The series was broadcast in Germany under the title Zwischen Couch und Kamera (Between Couch and Camera), airing on TV.München from 1993 to 1994.
Going Places has been described by media researchers Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh as American television's ultimate expression of navel-gazing, as it was a program written by young television comedy writers about the lives of young television comedy writers. It notably paired four young stars, known for recent breakout roles in movies and television during the late 1980s, together as the leads: Alan Ruck, known for his role as Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller's Day Off; Jerry Levine, who rose to prominence as Stiles in Teen Wolf and starred in the NBC series The Bronx Zoo; Hallie Todd, who played Penny Waters on the Showtime sitcom Brothers; and Heather Locklear, who became a sex symbol via her concurrent roles on Dynasty and T.J. Hooker.
The show's original premise was that four young writers, conservative Chicago ad man Charlie Davis (Ruck), his rambunctious, insecure brother Jack (Levine), whose background was in improvisational comedy, sexy Denver native Alexandra "Alex" Burton (Locklear), a writer, and New Yorker Kate Griffin (Todd) were the writing staff of Here's Looking at You, a Candid Camera-type program featuring real people caught in their unawares. When Charlie and Jack first arrived in Los Angeles, they were pleased to find that their writing partner was to be Alex, whose kittenish sex appeal and laid-back sensibility drew both of them in. Almost at the last minute, Kate entered the picture, whose wisecracking sarcasm caused friction with the other three. They thought putting up with Kate was only going to have to be relegated to the studio, but when Charlie, Jack and Alex learned they would be renting a beach house together, Kate was there to greet them with a hearty, "The big bedroom's mine!".
The gang's professional lives were then essentially indistinguishable from their personal ones, as all lived together in the opulent, mansion-like beach home. Renting it out was their boss, Dawn St. Claire (Holland Taylor), the executive producer of Here's Looking at You. At turns, Dawn was tyrannical and neurotic, but generally supportive of her new writing staff.
Before long, the group found their common ground, spending long hours both at home and at the studio dreaming up and executing sight gags galore, while seeking out all that the L.A. lifestyle had to offer. Charlie and Jack proved to be an effective team on their own, but only after normal brotherly squabbles and pulling pranks on each other followed. Alex, who often played referee to the proceedings, quickly got through to Kate, who began to show her softer side and formed a sister-like relationship with her. Jack and Alex also established their active social lives, while Charlie and Kate formed their own unique friendship, playing Parcheesi together on Saturday nights when the dating scene got them down. The foursome's neighbor, vivacious teenager Lindsay Bowen (Staci Keanan), also shared in the many misadventures the gang found themselves in, both at the studio and around town.
At mid-season, there were changes. The original concept failed to garner much of an audience, but rather than canceling the show, the fictional Here's Looking at You was canceled instead. In the wake of this development, Dawn announced she was pursuing a new career as a prison counselor (in which she claimed wanting "to work with convicts who hadn't been with a woman for many years"), and departed from the series. The four then went to work as the production team for a manic daytime talk show host, Dick Roberts (Steve Vinovich). The gang took advantage of joining a successful hot spot for celebrities such as The Dick Roberts Show, engaging in over-the-top stunts in hopes of getting noticed as on-screen talent. One of these included Charlie being forced to dress in drag for a segment on the talk show. Dick Roberts' assistant and producer was frazzled Arnie Ross (Philip Charles MacKenzie).
In the episode immediately following the switch to the talk show, Kate's eight-year old nephew, Nick Griffin (J.D. Daniels), dropped by for a visit from New York. Having taken his first trip alone across country to enjoy the glamorous L.A. life with Kate, Nick was supposed to be taken home by his father at the close of the vacation. Kate's brother eventually leaves a message on the gang's answering machine, claiming that he'll be too busy to return for his son. Nick effectively moves into the beach house, adding an even more youthful appeal to the show. While the rest initially took to the young boy, they soon found themselves having to act as parents and babysitters, which put a considerable crimp in their carefree lifestyles. Kate and Nick, feeling snubbed, moved out for one episode to a dreary apartment. Jack, Charlie and Alex then had the idea to convert the beach house attic into a bedroom for Nick, which they surprised him with, much to Nick's fascination. The Griffins then moved back in, forming a unique blended family. All the while, it remained unexplained as to whether or not the absent Dawn still owned the beach house.
In the last few episodes, Sam Roberts (Christopher Castile), Dick's awkward young son, showed up and became a recurring character. Sam, with a portable pharmacy he carried in a suitcase, countless phobias and traditional geekiness, was accepted as a friend by the well-adjusted Nick, despite their differences. Nick, along with guidance from mentors Charlie and Jack, began to teach Sam little lessons in making friends and being a carefree kid. In many respects, the addition of Sam to the show was the producers' attempt to replicate the popularity of Steve Urkel, who was introduced on associated series Family Matters the previous year.
Theme and title sequence
The series' theme song was self-titled "Going Places", written and composed by Bennett Salvay and Jesse Frederick (who had also composed the title tracks for other Miller/Boyett shows such as Perfect Strangers, Family Matters and Full House) and sung by Mark Lennon, of the band Venice; Lennon was aided by a chorus of male and female backup singers. Similar to title tracks on its sister Miller/Boyett shows, the theme was very lyric-heavy with upbeat instrumentation and an inspirational sentiment in its lyrics. Such lines as "Sparks are flyin' from your heels, nothing's gonna hold you back this time!" and the chorus, "Going places, brand new faces/Wide open spaces for my dreams, no one figured it." kept in tune with the show's underlying theme, a bunch of young people working to find success in Hollywood.
As in other series from Miller-Boyett, sweeping exterior views of the show's setting were seen in the title sequence; the show's four leads even traveled up a major highway in a vintage convertible as the title was shown, just as in the opening credits of Full House. The opening sequence begins with a series of quick overhead views, including the side-view of an airplane landing at the Los Angeles International Airport, the view of a "Welcome to Los Angeles" sign under a highway bridge, the clover-leaf rotary of a Los Angeles highway, the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, the Hollywood sign and the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier. These lead into an overhead shot of Charlie, Jack, Alex and Kate running down the sands of Santa Monica Beach in the late afternoon, where in the next scene the four (in different clothes) play a game of beach volleyball in the early afternoon. The volleyball scenes are arranged so that Charlie serves the ball to Alex, who in turn hits the ball to Kate, who then aims the ball to Jack. Jack palms the ball, which appears to travel back to Kate, and a close-up shot follows of the volleyball falling from the air and onto camera view. The ball shot originally gave way to a scene of Jack driving the gang down a major highway in their vintage Ford Thunderbird, while all are looking out and pointing at their surroundings. An ascending, panoramic side-view of the Thunderbird traveling up the highway is then shown, as the show's title appears on the screen.
An exterior view of the palace entrance of Mann's Chinese Theatre as the Thunderbird stops out front, is then seen. Each cast member then explored, in their own scene as their credits appeared, the section of Hollywood Boulevard's tourist and shopping district surrounding the theatre. The four principal characters posed on sidewalk hand and knee imprints left by past Hollywood legends within the landmark, which represented their dreams of making it in show business. In order, Charlie fit his shoes into the shoe prints of Jack Benny, Alex placed her hands inside those of Betty Grable, Kate fit hers into the prints of Bette Davis, and Jack kneeled down into the knee prints of Al Jolson. Jerry Levine was the last to appear with "and" billing; for the first half of the season, Holland Taylor and Staci Keanan appeared between Hallie Todd and Jerry Levine, in scenes in which they were seen walking and stopping within the Chinatown courtyard. After the cast credits, the principal four are seen making dinner in their kitchen, while dancing and huddling around their kitchen's island. Over this scene, the "Produced by" credit appears. The closing scene features the four in a visible close-up shot of them riding a sailboat along the ocean of Santa Monica Beach, that pans out to feature the sunset-stricken ocean with the boat appearing in the foreground as the sequence fades. Additional producing credits are shown over this entire scene.
In Episode 13, "The New Job", Philip Charles MacKenzie and Steve Vinovich, in that order, have shots placed between Taylor and Keanan. In order to accommodate the footage, the clip of the volleyball falling onto the camera led directly into the side-view of the Thunderbird driving up the highway, with the show's title shown, eliminating the portion where the gang is seen in the convertible from the car's front side. The beginning of the kitchen scene was also shortened by a couple of seconds. From Episode 14 ("New Kid on the Block", aka "New Kid in Town") onward, Taylor's credit shot is removed, as she had been dropped from the series; MacKenzie, Vinovich and Keanan's credit scenes all move up one spot, and a shot featuring J.D. Daniels is placed next-to-last in the order, preceding Levine. Christopher Castile, due to his recurring status, was only billed in the closing credits during his entire time on the show.
As on Full House and Family Matters (and also on The Hogan Family during most of its run), the closing credits featured additional exterior views. The first closing scene centers itself on the facade of the gang's beachfront house, as the door opens with Alex leading the gang outside, as they jog down the walkway and out to the sidewalk in the direction of the beach. The camera ascends and follows and stops to show them from the rear as they turn the corner from the walkway and jog down the sidewalk. This cross-fades into an extended version of the opening title footage of the scene of them running down the beach shore. The camera slowly pans out from them to feature the beach landscape as a whole, and the four become less visible as they turn to run parallel with the shore. After a few more seconds, the camera turns left into the ocean, with the movement stopping as the sunset is positional directly in the middle of water view.
Development and original pilot
Series creators Robert Griffard and Howard Adler joined Miller-Boyett Productions in 1987, originally as writers and executive story consultants on Perfect Strangers. Two years later, Griffard and Adler were named co-producers on Perfect Strangers, during which time they began penning a screenplay which they would soon discuss with Miller and Boyett, in hopes of turning it into a pilot.
After ABC found success in the 1989-1990 season with their Friday TGIF lineup, which was then composed of three back-to-back Miller-Boyett shows (Full House, Family Matters and Perfect Strangers), the network decided that, for the 1990-91 season's fall schedule, a fourth Miller-Boyett show would help capitalize on the TGIF success. They also felt, as well, that a full two-hour Miller-Boyett comedy block would create a more seamless appearance throughout the lineup, since all the shows had the same visual look. Miller and Boyett, who were by then already interested in developing a show for Griffard and Adler, pitched the latter's project to ABC, which ultimately won their approval. The concept of four young, single writers living together, while working to further themselves in show business, fit perfectly with ABC's idea of installing a Miller-Boyett series with enough adult appeal to fit in the post-Perfect Strangers 9:30/8:30c slot.
The first pilot, produced in the spring of 1990, had slight differences in the relations of the main characters and their history. Griffard and Adler's original plan was to base the Davis brothers and Alex Burton on the characters depicted in the 1989 box office success The Fabulous Baker Boys. In comparison with the hot shot piano-playing brothers played by Jeff and Beau Bridges, and the sultry girlfriend of Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges' character), played by Michelle Pfeiffer, the Going Places pilot had Jack, Charlie and Alex as actors from a world-renowned Chicago improvisational comedy troupe, with Jack and Alex as lovers. The three were hired on a trial basis to write for Here's Looking at You in Los Angeles by Dawn St. Claire (Taylor), who subsequently paired them with wisecracking Kate (Todd). Footage from this unaired pilot, which is featured in ABC's fall 1990 upfronts preview reel, shows Jack, Charlie and Alex arriving from Chicago together, as they face a few obstacles in adjusting to Los Angeles, prior to meeting with Dawn St. Claire. Most of the plot points that were carried over into the series were evident, in which the gang is forced to accept Kate as their co-worker and roommate, along with their attempts to professionally win over the formidable Dawn. A direct allusion to the show's cinematic inspiration showed up in the original pilot script; when Kate first meets Charlie, Jack and Alex in the offices of Here's Looking at You, she acknowledges their relations to each other and says, "Oh look, it's the fabulous Baker boys!" In the first pilot, the gang's only neighbor was Dawn, as the house she rented to them was part of her beach house property.
Over the summer, after the series had been picked up, the producers decided that the premise would work better if only Jack and Charlie were coming from Chicago. Charlie was changed from being an improv actor to having a background in advertising, while Jack remained with his improv experience. Alex was now brought to Los Angeles from Denver, as a writer, and had no prior relationship with the Davis brothers prior to meeting them for the opportunity on the hidden camera show. Griffard and Adler wanted to heighten the brothers' excitement of working with the sexy Alex, and the innuendos that would arise from living with her as well. Although both brothers would make sexual comments in regards to Alex, it was evident in the second pilot script that Jack was bound to make a serious play for Alex. Kate and Dawn's characters remained the same. However, to add a small amount of youth appeal to the otherwise adult comedy, Staci Keanan was added beginning with the second pilot as the teenage, know-it-all next door neighbor, Lindsay Bowen.
|Season||Episodes||First airdate||Last airdate|
|Season 1||19||September 21, 1990||March 8, 1991|
Broadcast and ratings
Going Places premiered on September 21, 1990 as the end of ABC's newly successful TGIF lineup, in the Friday 9:30/8:30c slot. The series' scheduling was a landmark for both ABC and Miller/Boyett Productions, as all four TGIF programs that season were produced by Miller/Boyett: Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, and Going Places. Being a more adult entry into the all-Miller/Boyett lineup of mostly family-oriented shows, Going Places met with a slower audience growth during its first few months. Despite having Perfect Strangers as its lead-in, which remained a Top 20 show, Going Places lost a lot of that audience on a weekly basis, and came in at #50 during November sweeps, which paled in comparison to the other TGIF programs.
By the end of the year, Miller, Boyett and company decided (after some urging from ABC) that a stronger emphasis on preteen characters and storylines would cause the series to be more compatible with the TGIF lineup, and bring better ratings. Within weeks of the January cast and concept changes, Going Places began a rapid ratings increase, moving all the way up to #34 during February sweeps. ABC announced it would put the series on hiatus after March 8, while it decided on where to proceed with the series in terms of future scheduling (the network now viewed it as a program full of potential as an 8-9 p.m. show, rather than as a strictly-upper-age-group series for 9:30 p.m. as originally envisioned), to consider changes in the TGIF lineup for May 1991 upfronts, and to give the long-delayed sitcom Baby Talk a mid-season premiere in the 9:30/8:30 TGIF slot.
After Going Places took its hiatus, there was talk that one of the three established TGIF comedies would move from Friday nights to Tuesdays for the fall 1991 schedule. It was originally hinted that Family Matters would move from Friday to Tuesday, as the new 8 p.m. anchor for that night (replacing Who's the Boss?, which was moving to Saturday). The change in the TGIF lineup would have assured a renewal for Going Places, and was also leaving room for an upcoming Miller/Boyett series slated for Fridays that fall, Step by Step. However, Baby Talk, which was trying out in the Going Places time slot, was performing very well in the time period—so well, in fact, that it was ranking in the Top 20, higher than Going Places ever had, and better than other comedies ABC had aired in the slot in the past few years (Just the Ten of Us, New Attitude, et al.). When the upfronts were presented in May 1991, Family Matters remained on TGIF (now leading off at 8 p.m.) and Full House was moved to Tuesdays instead.
ABC's decision to stick with Baby Talk (despite the abuse it took from critics), and competition that emerged from the network's stable of strong fall 1991 comedy pilots (Step by Step, Home Improvement, et al.), resulted in the network passing on a second season of Going Places, and the series was officially canceled in May 1991. The series returned on May 31, 1991 for six weeks of summer reruns (mostly of the episodes aired after the concept and character revamp), and last aired on July 5, 1991.
The series was executive produced by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett, along with show creators Robert Griffard and Howard Adler.
The producing lineup included Deborah Oppenheimer (formerly of The Hogan Family); Alan Eisenstock and Larry Mintz, holdovers from Miller and Boyett's Paramount years (having worked on series such as Angie), were supervising producers. Eisenstock and Mintz were chosen by Miller-Boyett to launch a few of their series during the Lorimar era, including Family Matters and Step By Step during their freshman seasons. Robert Blair, another supervising producer who only worked on the first 12 episodes, had also been on the Family Matters launch team with Eisenstock and Mintz. At mid-season, new producers joined the staff to revamp the show's premise. In episode 13, Shari Hearn replaced Blair, and in the following episode, Ronny Hallin and James O'Keefe arrived, expanding the staff. The new producers had been reassigned from other Miller-Boyett series (Hearn and Hallin from The Hogan Family, O'Keefe from Perfect Strangers). For the entire season, Myron Nash served as associate producer, and comedienne/actress Valri Bromfield was also a co-producer.
The majority of Going Places episodes were written by either Griffard and Adler or Eisenstock and Mintz. Other contributing writers included Rob Bragin, the show's story editor; Sheree Guitar; and Maiya Williams, who was also executive story editor.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, Random House, 2003. ISBN 0-345-45542-8