Grand (TV series)

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Grand
Grand (TV series).jpg
Genre Comedy
Starring Sara Rue
Bonnie Hunt
Joel Murray
John Neville
John Randolph
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 26
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Carsey-Werner Company
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run January 18, 1990 (1990-01-18) – December 27, 1990 (1990-12-27)

Grand is a half-hour situation comedy that aired on the NBC network in 1990. The series featured an ensemble cast including Pamela Reed, Bonnie Hunt, Michael McKean, John Randolph, Andrew Lauer, John Neville, Joel Murray and Sara Rue. It was created by Michael Leeson, executive produced by Leeson, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner. Grand ran for 25 episodes, from January 18 to December 27, 1990.

Premise[edit]

Grand was a comedy of manners, satirizing three social classes in rural Pennsylvania. The wealthy upper class was represented by Harris Weldon, founder of the town of Grand and owner of the Weldon Piano Works. Weldon lived in a mansion with his shiftless ne'er-do-well son, Norris, and his Jeevesish manservant, Desmond. The middle class was represented by Weldon's niece, Carol Ann Smithson and her husband Tom who had moved to Grand so Tom could begin a management job at the piano works, but from which he was fired by Harris on his first day. The lower working class was represented by cleaning lady Janice Pasetti, a single mother raising her teenage daughter Edda in a travel trailer.

Grand mocked soap opera conventions by featuring numerous story arcs which carried through several episodes, most notably Harris' attempts in the first season to secure a date to take to a ceremony honoring him at Carnegie Hall, Janice's struggle to come to terms with her divorce while fending off the amorous attentions of police officer Wayne Kazmurski, Tom's attempts to first hide from Carol Ann the fact that he had a teenaged son from a previous marriage and then his attempts to integrate the son into their lives, and Harris allowing Desmond to believe that he was actually Norris's father, although Harris knew it was not true. The pseudo-soap-opera format was abandoned after the second episode of Season 2, but resumed in the series' final four episodes. A 26th episode was filmed but never aired.

Grand was the story of three interconnected families. It was more of a satire of soap operas (to the point where it could be termed a "soap operetta") than it was a traditional situation comedy; the program often mocked the conventions of soap opera. The three families were the wealthy Weldons, the impoverished Pasetis, and the middle class Smithsons.

The Weldons were the wealthiest family in the small town of Grand, Pennsylvania; they owned the largest industry, a piano factory which was starting to fall on hard times due to the declining sales of its pianos, a situation that patriarch Harris Weldon (John Randolph) blamed on Asian imports. In Weldon's household were his dimwitted son, Norris (Joel Murray) and the acerbic butler, Desmond (John Neville), whom Weldon kept despite his acid tongue as he had once been responsible for saving Weldon's life. Weldon's housekeeper Janice Paseti (Pamela Reed) barely scraped by on what Weldon paid her; she lived in a mobile home with her obese daughter, Edda (Sara Rue). In between these two extremes were Weldon's niece Carole Ann Smithson (Bonnie Hunt) and her husband Tom (Michael McKean), who was constantly hoping to improve his financial position by getting a position, preferably an executive one, at his wife's uncle's factory.

This program was less successful than the somewhat similar Soap, which had also featured an acid-tongued butler and mocked many of the same soap opera conventions; Grand ran from January to December 1990 (with breaks in May and September) prior to its cancellation.

Cast[edit]

Recurring cast:

Production notes[edit]

The series at one time was being considered as a one-hour comedy series given the size of its cast.

By the time production began on the last episode of the first season, NBC had still not committed to a second season. But, being a production of the network's leading producers Carsey, Werner and Bill Cosby, the series was renewed and given the prized Thursday 9:30pm slot. Believing the show would be cancelled, the final episode of the season was entitled "Blow Off," an apparent stab at NBC's indecision regarding the show. The episode concluded with the town of Grand being devastated by a tornado and the disappearance of the entire cast, save for Wayne.

However the show's ratings (finishing 15th among mid-season shows) proved to be high enough for NBC to finally order a second half-season (13 episodes). Unfortunately by the time the network executives made a decision, at least two cast members and several members of the production staff had already committed to other projects. The second season wrote-out the character of Tom Smithson as an illegal alien who had stolen $50,000 from a Texas Savings and Loan and used the tornado as a means to disappear when the FBI began to close in on him. The character of Wayne Kazmurski and all the recurring characters and their story lines with the exception of Eddie Pasetti were dropped with no explanation.

The reduction in cast and the sudden change in production staff and writers took the show in a dramatically different direction from Season 1. The first episode of the second season dealt with what became of Janice's trailer, rather than answering questions about the characters who had disappeared, and the second episode wrapped up Tom Smithson's storyline. The premise of the show then changed from that of a complex comedy of manners to a simple situation comedy, indistinguishable from other sit-coms of the day. The series format abandoned the soap-opera style and half of the second season were standard, stand-alone situation comedy episodes. The result was a major decline in the overall quality of the series. Ratings steadily declined throughout the second season, the decline bolstered by the fact that it was run against ABC's freshman series and media darling Twin Peaks.

The final four episodes of Grand returned the show to its soap-opera format, however instead of featuring identifiable, believable story arcs about the foibles of three economic classes, the arcs were outrageous, improbable stories featuring witchcraft, gangsters, a possible corporate takeover of the piano works, and Carol Ann's decision to adopt a teenager who was raised by wolves.

The series was cancelled after its 25th episode. A 26th episode was filmed, but has never aired.

Because Grand began its first season as a mid-season replacement and ended its second season without airing its final episode, it stands as one of the rare instances of a two-season series having aired its entire run within a single calendar year.

Episode guide[edit]

Season 1 (January – April 1990)[edit]

Title Airdate
1 "A Tale of One City" 1990·Jan·18
2 "The Pretty Good Mother" 1990·Jan·25
3 "Sex, Lies and Cable TV" 1990·Feb·01
4 "A Boy and His Dad" 1990·Feb·08
5 "Faded Genes" 1990·Feb·15
6 "Legends of Sport" 1990·Feb·22
7 "Deer Hunter" 1990·Mar·01
8 "The Bald, the Blond and the Dead" 1990·Mar·08
9 "Carnegie Hell" 1990·Mar·15
10 "An Obtuse Triangle" 1990·Mar·22
11 "Trigonometry Made Easy" 1990·Mar·29
12 "Czech, Please!" 1990·Apr·05
13 "Blow Off" 1990·Apr·12

Season 2 (October – December 1990)[edit]

Title Airdate
14 "Janice Steals Home" 1990·Oct·04
15 "The Chickens Come Home to Roost" 1990·Oct·11
16 "The Healing" 1990·Oct·18
17 "The Return of Yale Pinhaus" 1990·Oct·25
18 "Desmond's Mother" 1990·Nov·01
19 "Norris' Romance" 1990·Nov·15
20 "Roamers and Rumors" 1990·Nov·22
21 "Lady Luck" 1990·Nov·29
22 "One Way Out" 1990·Dec·06
23 "The Mother Load" 1990·Dec·13
24 "Wolf Boy" 1990·Dec·20
25 "The Well" 1990·Dec·27

Unaired final episode[edit]

Title
26 "The End of the World as We Know It"

References[edit]

Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows

External links[edit]