Step by Step (TV series)
|Step by Step|
|Created by||William Bickley
|Developed by||Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Emily Mae Young
|Theme music composer||Jesse Frederick
& Bennett Salvay
|Opening theme||"Second Time Around",
performed by Jesse Frederick and Theresa James
|Ending theme||"Second Time Around" (instrumental)
(season 1, used sporadically afterwards)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||160 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Alan Eisenstock & Larry Mintz (season 1)
Ross Brown (seasons 2–7)
Bob Rosenfarb (seasons 6–7)
|Location(s)||Sony Pictures Studios
Culver City, California (1991-1993)
Warner Bros. Studios,
Burbank, California (1993-1998)
|Camera setup||Film; Multi-camera|
|Running time||approx. 23 minutes (per episode)|
|Production company(s)||Bickley-Warren Productions
Lorimar Television (1991–1993)
Warner Bros. Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original channel||ABC (1991–1997),
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original run||September 20, 1991 – June 26, 1998|
Step by Step is an American television sitcom that starred Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Somers as two single parents (each with three children), who spontaneously get married after meeting one another during a vacation, resulting in them becoming the heads of a large blended family. The series aired for seven seasons, originally running on ABC as part of their TGIF lineup on Friday nights from September 20, 1991 to August 15, 1997, and was canceled by the network after six seasons, reportedly due to declining ratings. The series was picked up on CBS and aired on that network from September 19, 1997 to June 26, 1998 for its seventh and final season.
Set in a substantially fictionalized version of the city of Port Washington, Wisconsin, Frank Lambert, a divorced contractor with three children, sons J.T. and Brendan and daughter Al, impulsively marries Carol Foster, a widowed beautician who also has three children, daughters Dana and Karen and son Mark. Both were residents of Port Washington, but met while vacationing separately in Jamaica. Their children are surprised and angered when they learn of the marriage. Stories depicted typical situations of a new blended family, their differences causing arguments and resentments between them, but the family eventually growing to tolerate and develop loyalty to one another.
The show lasted for seven seasons, and the main cast changed as the storyline progressed. Frank's nephew Cody was introduced in the second season and lived in his van in the family's driveway, then left the series in 1996. In the 1994–1995 season finale, Carol gave birth to daughter Lilly. Like many other sitcom babies, Lilly was suddenly aged five years when she appeared in the next season. In 1997, J.T.'s friend Rich moved in with the family after becoming Dana's boyfriend.
Brendan Lambert appeared less and less as the show progressed, especially after Lilly's birth. When the show moved from ABC to CBS, his character disappeared; the series' producers later admitted in a TV Guide interview that despite his absence, the Lamberts would still refer to their "seven children", making Brendan an unseen character for the final season.
- Carol Foster-Lambert (née Baker) (Suzanne Somers) – The matriarch, who runs a beautician studio from her home with her mother Ivy and her sister Penny. Eventually, with Frank's help, she opens a bigger studio at a stand-alone location.
- Dana Foster (Staci Keanan) – Carol's eldest daughter who is depicted as a smart, wisecracking feminist who is openly hostile to the Lamberts, particularly J.T., Frank, and Cody.
- Karen Foster (Angela Watson) – The second-oldest daughter who is an aspiring model and sometimes a country singer, and is portrayed as vain and not very bright, but with frequent moments of level-headedness.
- Mark Foster (Christopher Castile) – Carol's only son and the youngest child, who is depicted as a nerd, into computers and academics. Later on, he matures to be "a normal teenager" with friends and even a girlfriend, while still a high academic achiever.
- Frank Lambert (Patrick Duffy) – The patriarch, a contractor with his own company, is seen as laid-back and an avid sports fan. Frank is a big fan of the Green Bay Packers.
- John Thomas "J.T." Lambert (Brandon Call) – Frank's eldest son and the oldest child in the family, J.T. is a slacker, is into sports (like his father, J.T. is a Packers fan), and is portrayed as academically challenged, which is later attributed to dyslexia. He resents his new step-family members, particularly Dana, whom he calls "Barky."
- Alicia "Al" Lambert (Christine Lakin) – Frank's only daughter who is a tomboyish all-American girl, who later matured and softened. Several final-season episodes centered on her newfound interest in acting. She is openly hostile towards Dana, Karen and Mark.
- Brendan Lambert (Josh Byrne) – The youngest of Frank's three children, who is portrayed as a shy, carefree youngster, and one of the most accepting of his new family.
- Cody Lambert (Sasha Mitchell) – Frank's nephew, who appears as a recurring guest in season 1, then regularly in seasons 2–5, and for one episode in season 7. An apparently-dimwitted, eccentric adolescent, Cody often shows maturity and intelligence belying his dimwitted nature. Cody lived in his van in the driveway.
Other cast members
- Penny Baker (Patrika Darbo; season 1) - Carol's man-hungry younger sister; the character is written out of the series after Season 1.
- Ivy Baker (Peggy Rea; season 1) - Carol's outspoken mother; the character is written out of the series after Season 1.
- Lilly Foster-Lambert (Lauren and Kristina Meyering; season 5, Emily Mae Young; seasons 6–7) – Frank and Carol's biological child together.
- Rich Halke (Jason Marsden; appearance in season 5, seasons 6–7) – J.T.'s best friend. He could be both a slacker and seriously devoted. He later dated Dana (to the others' dismay). The character was named after a former writer of the series.
- Samantha "Sam" Milano (Alexandra Adi; seasons 6–7) – J.T.'s one-time girlfriend, introduced in the season six episode "She's the One". She worked as a mechanic in a garage.
- Jean-Luc Rieupeyroux (Bronson Pinchot; season 6) – a male beautician, and Carol's business partner. He was brought in to take the place of Sasha Mitchell's character on the series, but disappeared when Pinchot took the title role in Meego.
|Season||Episodes||First air date||Last air date||Nielsen ranking|
|Season 1||22||September 20, 1991||April 24, 1992||#36|
|Season 2||24||September 18, 1992||May 21, 1993||#35|
|Season 3||23||September 24, 1993||May 20, 1994||#34|
|Season 4||24||September 23, 1994||May 19, 1995||#39|
|Season 5||24||September 22, 1995||May 17, 1996||#54|
|Season 6||24||March 7, 1997||August 15, 1997||#61|
|Season 7||19||September 19, 1997||June 26, 1998||#102|
The series was created and executive produced by William Bickley and Michael Warren, and developed and executive produced by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett. The series was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions, Miller-Boyett Productions in association with Lorimar Television (who produced the show from 1991 to 1993, when the show became produced by Warner Bros. Television). The casting of Patrick Duffy fulfilled a contract obligation Lorimar made to give him a new show after his previous one, Dallas (also produced by Lorimar), had ended its run. The show was created off of the idea of combining two of the most popular TV stars from the 1970s known for their good looks (Duffy and Somers) to star as parents to attract adult viewers with current teen celebrities (Keanan from My Two Dads and Going Places, Call from Baywatch and Mitchell from Dallas) to star as their children to attract kids and teen viewers.
Staci Keanan and Christopher Castile had previously appeared on the Miller-Boyett-produced ABC sitcom Going Places, which debuted the season prior to Step By Step. Keanan was the first of the two Going Places stars to join the development of Step By Step in the spring of 1991. Castile, who had played a gawky child on Going Places, brought the same character traits to the Mark Foster role, which was speculated to be Miller-Boyett's continued attempt to give the Family Matters character Steve Urkel a white counterpart.
When Step By Step was originally cast, child actor Jarrett Lennon had the role of Mark Foster. Lennon had been chosen by the producers after guest starring in the last original episode of the Miller-Boyett series The Hogan Family, produced in late 1990. After shooting the first pilot for Step By Step, which remains unaired, Lennon was dismissed from the role of Mark, leading to the producers replacing him with Castile (who had blonde hair like on-screen mother Somers, as opposed to Lennon having brown hair). Most of Lennon's pilot scenes were reshot with Castile, but during Step By Step's first season, footage of Lennon remained in the show's opening title sequence. Lennon only appeared in far away shots with the Lambert/Foster family or, in the case of Suzanne Somers' credit scene, fleetingly appearing at the bottom of camera view as the kids huddled around Somers. All traces of Lennon were edited out by season two. In 1996, these two actors had the tables turned on each other; Castile was the original voice of Eugene Horowitz on the Nickelodeon cartoon Hey Arnold!, but after a few episodes was replaced by none other than Lennon, who voiced Eugene for the remainder of the first season.
The creators of Going Places, Howard Adler and Robert Griffard, would end up as the show's co-executive producers and writers until the fifth season of Step By Step; Adler and Griffard later wrote an episode as freelancers in the seventh season. Patrick Duffy directed several episodes of the series, starting with the second season. The house shown in establishing shots for scenes set at the Lambert-Foster house is located at 2011 Fletcher Ave. in South Pasadena, California though the series was actually filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.
Along with Family Matters, Step By Step moved to CBS in the fall of 1997, as that network attempted to build its own Friday night lineup of family-friendly situation comedies called "The CBS Block Party". The ratings, which had been declining for several seasons, continued to fall, and the show ended its run in June 1998. There was no official series finale, although the last show was about Frank and Carol considering selling the house.
The show's theme song "Second Time Around" was written and composed by Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay (both of whom wrote the themes for other sitcoms produced by Miller-Boyett Productions such as Full House, Perfect Strangers and Family Matters); the theme was performed by Frederick and Teresa James. Only the first season of the series used the full 87-second version of the theme, with the song becoming progressively shorter during the subsequent seasons until it was reduced to a length of 65 seconds during the fourth season. The season two edit of the theme removed the fourth verse and truncated the chorus, the kid chorus accompanying Jesse Frederick was cut by the third season, followed by season four with the removal of the electric guitar riff at the beginning of the song. The theme was dropped entirely for the sixth season, although it was restored upon the show's move from ABC to CBS for its seventh and final season in the form of an edited version that included only the chorus and the instrumental portion at the end of the theme (restoring the original longer symphonic instrumental heard in the original long version and the season two and three edits).
In the opening credits, the amusement park seen is supposed to be located on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Wisconsin. Wisconsin does not have an amusement park located on the shores of this lake. The amusement park is actually at Six Flags Magic Mountain, located in Valencia, California, many miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. In the closing credits, the body of water is seen to have large waves on a seemingly calm day. These waves are much too large for Lake Michigan in the absence of a storm. The body of water depicted in the opening credits is in reality the parking lot of Six Flags Magic Mountain.
In September 1995, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution began distributing Step by Step for broadcast in off-network syndication.
In the United States, reruns of the series aired on ABC Family from 2001–2010, and became one of the cable channel's longest-running off-network syndicated programs in its history. Reruns began in 2001 (on what was then known as Fox Family), airing in various timeslots during its run ranging from late afternoon to the morning hours. For much of its run on the channel, Step by Step aired twice daily in an hour-long block, but by early 2009, weekday reruns had been reduced to a single airing on weekdays (at 9 a.m./ET, as the lead in to the CBN-produced Living the Life). However, for several months afterward, episodes continued to be double-run on weekend mornings until September 2009, when it was replaced by Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and family-oriented movies. On March 26, 2010, ABC Family's contract expired after less than nine years, and Step by Step was replaced by Grounded for Life in its 9 a.m./ET weekday timeslot).
Throughout its run on ABC Family, the tag scene was generally omitted, replaced by marginalized credits to allow the airing of promos for ABC Family programming, even though the shorter instrumental version of the show's theme was heard over the closing credits for all episodes only during the first season and most episodes from season two onward replaced the instrumental theme with a tag scene over the closing credits.
In Australia, Step by Step was operated on the Seven Network in 1991 to 1998. In 2012, Step by Step was currently on the digital TV for 7TWO in Australia.
Beginning October 7, 2013, the show began airing on The Hub Network.
Warner Home Video released a 6-episode Television Favorites collection on June 27, 2006. Much like other TV shows from the Television Favorites series, SBS has gone out of print. There are no current plans by Warner Home Video for complete season releases. iTunes, Hulu, Shout Factory, Mill Creek or DVD-R wbshop.com versions are all unknown at this time.
References in other media
- In a season one episode of South Park titled "Volcano", Cartman mentions the show.
- Jack mentions Step by Step in the Will and Grace episode titled Christmas Break.
- In the season three episode titled "Murder?..Anyone?..Anyone?..Bueller?" of "Psych" Shawn mentions that he didn't attend high school football games because they were played on Friday nights when he was busy at home watching Step by Step
- Moore, Frazier (July 8, 1994). "NEWSMAGAZINES CROWD INTO TOP OF RATINGS". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
- "Complete TV Ratings 1994–1995". fbibler.chez.com.
- "Complete TV Ratings 1995–1996". fbibler.chez.com.
- "Complete TV Ratings 1996–1997". fbibler.chez.com.
- "Final Ratings for '97–'98 TV Season". sfgate.com. May 25, 1998.
- Entertainment Weekly: Step by Step series review
- Step by Step Leaving ABC Family After 9 Years; ABC Family March 2010, Sitcoms Online, February 10, 2010.
- "Step by Step (Television Favorites Compilation) (1991)". amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-20.