The Powers That Be (TV series)
|The Powers That Be|
|Created by||David Crane
|Directed by||Hal Cooper
David Hyde Pierce
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||21|
|Executive producer(s)||Norman Lear|
Patricia Fass Palmer
|Running time||24 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Act III Television
Castle Rock Entertainment
Columbia Pictures Television
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
|Original run||March 7, 1992– January 16, 1993|
At the center of the series is U.S. Senator William Powers, a parody of the political establishment in Washington, D.C. Margaret, the senator's status-hungry wife, treats Charlotte, their maid, with comedic disdain. Caitlyn, the senator's daughter, has an eating disorder and is married to Representative Theodore Van Horne, who is suicidal; their son, Pierce, is mature beyond his years from having to care for his unbalanced parents. Sophie Lipkin, the senator's illegitimate daughter, is a loud, crass New Jerseyan who surprises the family when she moves to Washington and begins to bond with her father. The senator's staff includes an intelligent and beautiful aide, Jordan Miller — who is also Powers' mistress — and the feckless aide Bradley Grist.
- John Forsythe as William Powers, the senior United States Senator from an unnamed New England state. He is a liberal Democrat. Powers is basically a good man who wishes to do the best for his constituents and is kind to his unfortunate maid Charlotte, son-in-law Theodore, and grandson Pierce. However, he is also something of a ladies' man, having an affair with his aide Jordan.
- Holland Taylor - Margaret Powers, William's wife. She is a status-seeking "superbitch"- her only interest is in what others think (when Pierce hacks into his school computer, she says that's fine, but when it is revealed he got caught, she is furious). She ingratiates herself with Hillary Clinton in order to have Bill made Ambassador to Britain, although this only results in her giving people food poisoning. Margaret strongly dislikes Bill's daughter Sophie, but pleads with her not to move out their home, as then Bill's mother would have to stay with them. She is always trying to get one up on her friend, Mimzie. Nancy Reagan once gave Margaret a pistol as a gift.
- Eve Gordon - Jordan Miller, Bill Powers' chief of staff and mistress. She is confident and savvy and is keen to promote her boss's career. She has an Electra complex about the Senator, calling him "Daddy".
- Peter MacNicol - Bradley Grist, Powers' press secretary. Bradley is a parody of political aides. He is willing to do anything to make his boss look good; for example, when Powers is accidentally shot, Bradley's first thought is as to how it can be spun. He is generally unlucky in his flirtations; however, in one episode he does accidentally marry General Gurdy Walker, his mother's best friend, who "hit Schwarzkopf during Desert Storm".
- Valerie Mahaffey - Caitlyn Van Horne, Bill and Margaret's daughter. Caitlyn is very unhappy in her marriage and begins an affair with Joe Bowman, her father's election opponent. Not very bright, and very shallow, Caitlyn is nevertheless quite a sweet-natured woman.
- David Hyde Pierce - Theodore Van Horne, Caitlyn's husband. Theodore was first elected to Congress in 1987, but first made his maiden speech in 1993- it was the shortest speech ever made in the House. He is incredibly shy and often suicidal, but he is friends with his son Pierce.
- Elizabeth Berridge - Charlotte, Bill and Margaret's maid. Charlotte is very deferential and quiet. However, she falls in love with Theodore. Margaret abuses her, and she does leave in one episode.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Pierce Van Horne, Caitlyn and Theodore's son, who is more clever than his parents, who manages to hack into his school's computer.
- Robin Bartlett - Sophie Lipkin, Bill's illegitimate daughter from a liaison in Korea. She was brought up by a Jewish mother in New Jersey. She lived with a man called Larry but left him because of his inconsiderate behaviour. Margaret and Caitlyn avidly dislike Sophie as she is loud and irrepressible- but ironically, she is a far smoother political operator than the two Establishment insiders. Sophie works in Bill's office.
- Marta Kauffman - Creator
- David Crane - Creator
- Norman Lear - Executive Producer
- Charlotte Brown - Executive Producer
Step to fame
Although the program was short lived, several of the principals subsequently became involved in long-running and popular sitcoms created after the show's demise. Series creators Crane and Kauffman went on to develop Friends, which lasted 10 years. Among the actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt took a role in 3rd Rock from the Sun, Robin Bartlett played a recurring part on Mad About You, Peter MacNicol would soon reach fame with a similar eccentric character (as John Cage) in Ally McBeal, and David Hyde Pierce was chosen for his role as Niles Crane in the series Frasier partly on the basis of his work in this program. Holland Taylor also went on to greater sitcom stardom later in the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men.