Too Close for Comfort
|Too Close for Comfort|
|Also known as||The Ted Knight Show
(season 6 title)
|Created by||Brian Cooke|
|Developed by||Arne Sultan
Lydia Cornell (seasons 1-5)
Jim J. Bullock (as JM J. Bullock)
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (seasons 1-5)
Deena Freeman (season 2)
Audrey Meadows (season 3, regular; seasons 4-5, recurring)
Pat Carroll (season 6)
Lisa Antille (season 6)
|Theme music composer||Johnny Mandel|
|Opening theme||"Too Close for Comfort", performed by Johnny Mandel|
|Composer(s)||Johnny Mandel (all season 4, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.12, multiples)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||129 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Earl Barret
Arne Sultan (seasons 1-4)
Aaron Ruben (seasons 5-6)
Jerry McPhie (season 1)
Norman Hopps (seasons 2-3)
Volney Howard III (seasons 4-6)
Austin Kalish & Irma Kalish
& Phil Doran (season 3)
George Yanok (seasons 4-6)
|Camera setup||Videotape; Multi-camera|
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||D.L. Taffner Productions
Metromedia Producers Corporation
Sony Pictures Television
|Original channel||ABC (1980–1983)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original run||November 11, 1980– September 27, 1986|
|Related shows||Keep It in the Family
Too Close for Comfort is an American television sitcom which ran on the ABC network from November 11, 1980 until May 5, 1983, and in first-run syndication from April 7, 1984 until September 27, 1986. It was modeled after the British series Keep It in the Family, which premiered nine months before Too Close for Comfort debuted in the U.S. Its name was changed to The Ted Knight Show when the show was retooled for its final season.
Ted Knight and Nancy Dussault star as Henry and Muriel Rush, owners of a two-family house in San Francisco. The two story red house, seen at the opening and closing of each episode, was shot at 171–173 Buena Vista Avenue in the city.
Henry is a conservative cartoonist who authors a comic strip called Cosmic Cow. During scenes in which Henry draws in his bedroom, Knight used his earlier acquired ventriloquism talents for comical conversations with a hand-puppet version of "Cosmic Cow." Muriel is a laid back freelance photographer, having been a band singer in her earlier days. They have two grown children, older daughter, brunette Jackie (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) who works for a bank; and younger daughter Sara (Lydia Cornell), a blonde bombshell and a college student.
At the start of the premiere episode, Jackie and Sara are living with their parents in a cramped, awkward arrangement. Their longtime downstairs tenant, Myron Rafkin, recently died. The family discovers Rafkin was a transvestite, and the many strange women Henry had been opening the door for all those years were actually Rafkin himself. Jackie and Sara convince their parents to allow them to move into the now-vacant downstairs apartment. In a running gag, Henry falls off the girls' ultra-modern chairs or couch every time he attempts to sit down. Despite the daughters' push for independence and moving into the downstairs apartment, Henry proves to be a very protective father and constantly meddles in their affairs.
Due to an actors' strike led by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, new programming for the fall 1980 season was pushed back several months. As a result, Too Close for Comfort did not debut until November 11, 1980, and its initial season consisted of 19 episodes. The show garnered high ratings, benefiting from its placement in ABC's powerhouse Tuesday night lineup following hits like Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Three's Company.
A few episodes into the series, Sara's addle-headed friend Monroe Ficus, played by actor Jim J. Bullock, made an appearance. Although Monroe was originally intended to be used for only a single episode, producers added the character to the series and he became just a "friend" of Sara's, and Henry's principal (if unintended) foil. During the first two seasons, Selma Diamond made guest appearances as Mildred Rafkin, sister of the late Myron. Sardonic, deadpan Mildred initially showed up to collect belongings left by Myron in the downstairs apartment, but continued to hang around thereafter. Seemingly, there were sentimental reasons, but occasionally she would attempt to make time with the much younger Monroe, whom she had an eye for.
Also added in early 1981 was Arthur Wainwright (Hamilton Camp), Henry's boss and head of Wainwright Publishing, who nearly decided to force the veteran cartoonist, and Cosmic Cow, into retirement in order to maintain a youth-oriented staff. The short-statured Mr. Wainwright, who spoke with Shakespearean diction and fancied himself an amateur detective (as a result of the famous mystery novels his company published), eventually let Henry stay with the firm, after the latter proved adept in helping him solve the mystery of Sara's stolen purse. Wainwright no longer appeared in person after the first season, but was referred to. Later, at the start of the fifth season, Graham Jarvis began appearing as Wainwright in a few guest appearances.
Developments in seasons two and three
During its second season, the series' principal stories are focused around Muriel's pregnancy. Additionally, Henry's niece April (Deena Freeman) comes from Delaware to live with the Rush family. The season concludes with Muriel giving birth to a son, Andrew (later played regularly by twins William and Michael Cannon from 1983-84).
For the third season, April departs and the character of Muriel's mother, Iris Martin (Audrey Meadows) is added in order to help take care of Andrew. Also that fall, Jackie becomes engaged to her steady boyfriend, police officer Brad Turner (played in a few guest appearances by Jordan Suffin), but they broke it off after a short time. Jackie eventually moved into the field of fashion design, taking courses and producing her own clothing templates, which she later had produced as "The Jacqueline Rush Collection". Sara, meanwhile, decided to major in communications and, while continuing her studies, became a weather girl for a time at a major San Francisco TV station. Monroe seemed to be detached from Sara's circle of friends, but was taking the same major as her and became a security guard around campus.
The character of Henry Rush became famous for wearing sweatshirts from various American colleges and universities. It was revealed in one episode that he wore the different sweatshirts because he himself had never gone to college. Eventually fans would send in sweatshirts from universities around the country hoping they would be used during filming.
In the fall of 1982, ABC moved the series to Thursday nights, which proved to be a disaster for the show. Paired with failures such as Joanie Loves Chachi, Star of the Family and It Takes Two, the ratings for Too Close For Comfort plummeted. At the conclusion of the season, the series was cancelled by ABC. The last first-run episode broadcast by ABC on May 5, 1983 was a pilot for a proposed spin-off series called Family Business. The series was to have focused on the misadventures of Lucille Garabaldi (Lainie Kazan) and her two sons (played by George Deloy and Jimmy Baio) as they tried to run a construction business. ABC aired reruns of the show at 11:00 a.m. (ET) from June 27 to September 16, 1983.
During the early 1980s, TV station owner Metromedia was expanding its portfolio of original syndicated programming through its production subsidiary, Metromedia Producers Corporation. Its efforts would eventually lead to the creation of the Fox Broadcasting Company. When Too Close for Comfort was canceled by ABC, Metromedia Producers Corporation elected to pick up the series and began producing all-new episodes to run on various stations throughout the country.
Starting in April 1984, a total of 14 new episodes were broadcast for the show's fourth season, featuring the same cast as seen on the ABC episodes. Monroe and Iris were still around to bother Henry (although Meadows had cut back her involvement to guest shots only), and Jackie and Sara were still downstairs. The girls continued to advance in the respective career paths; Sara auditioned for a news anchor position at the TV station, but was passed over in favor of a female candidate who may have not had Sara's looks, but had greater experience in hard news. This caused Sara to learn the valuable lesson that her sex appeal alone would not get her everywhere. Monroe eventually moves in to a remodeled attic, with the entrance from the Rushes' kitchen. Henry agreed to have Monroe as a tenant in a fleeting moment of compassion, but Monroe still proved to be a constant annoyance to him.
The show's ratings improved in syndication, and Metromedia ordered an additional 30 episodes, airing through November 1985. When the fifth season began, a single child actor, Joshua Goodwin, took over the role of Andrew Rush (which he would hold for the remainder of the series). Henry was now working out of his own fancy office at Wainwright Publishing, as a result of toddler Andrew's "terrible twos" behavior interfering with his concentration at home. Everyone else's worldly, or, in the case of Monroe, wacky affairs, were also proving to be an intense distraction, considering they were all living under the same roof. Near the end of the season, Jackie accepted a job offer in Italy that would help further her clothing line, with her family and friends giving her a big send-off. With a total of 107 episodes of Too Close for Comfort having been produced, the show became a popular staple for syndicated reruns throughout the late 1980s.
The Ted Knight Show
In late 1985, several changes were made before further episodes were produced, including changing the show's title to The Ted Knight Show (not to be confused with the short-lived 1978 CBS show of the same name). Neither Jackie nor Sara appeared in this season. Henry, Muriel and Andrew move to a house in Marin County, north of San Francisco. Henry leaves the cartoonist profession and becomes editor and 49% owner of a newspaper, The Marin Bugler, while Muriel takes a job with the paper as a photographer. Monroe becomes a reporter-in-training at the paper, and under the Rushes' supervision, proves to be more resourceful than in years past. Hope Stinson (Pat Carroll), owns the other 51% of the Bugler, creating friction with Henry. Lisa Flores (Lisa Antille) was also added to the cast as the Rushes' maid and eventual romantic interest for Monroe. Along with the new title, a new opening was filmed in Marin County. The theme song was re-recorded in a smoother style.
First-run episodes of The Ted Knight Show were broadcast starting in April 1986. A total of 22 episodes were produced prior to the summer of 1986. The revamped show continued to be successful and was scheduled to resume production for another season, but Ted Knight, who had been battling colon cancer since 1985, died on August 26, 1986 at age 62, and the series was not continued. First-run episodes continued to air through September 1986.
With only a single season complete, The Ted Knight Show was added to the Too Close for Comfort re-run syndication package. However, The Ted Knight Show title in the revamped opening was replaced with the original Too Close for Comfort logo and name instead.
- Ted Knight as Henry Rush
- Nancy Dussault as Muriel Rush
- Deborah Van Valkenburgh as Jackie Rush (1980-1985)
- Lydia Cornell as Sara Rush (1980-1985)
- JM J. Bullock as Monroe Ficus
- Hamilton Camp as Arthur Wainwright (1981)
- Deena Freeman as April Rush (1981-1982)
- Audrey Meadows as Iris Martin (1982-1983, recurring guest in 1984)
- William and Michael Cannon as Andrew Rush (1983-1984)
- Joshua Goodwin as Andrew Rush (1985-1986)
- Pat Carroll as Hope Stinson (1986)
- Lisa Antille as Lisa Flores (1986)
Notable guest stars
- Selma Diamond as Mildred Rafkin
- Jordan Suffin as Officer Brad Turner
- Elyse Knight as Samantha Bishop ("The Runaway", 1984)
- Graham Jarvis as Arthur Wainwright (1985)
- Ernie Wise as Ernie (1985)
The show entered daily syndication in the fall of 1986, which continued until 2003. The syndication rights for Too Close for Comfort are held by DLT Entertainment, a production and distribution company.
Rhino Entertainment released the first two seasons of Too Close for Comfort on DVD in Region 1 in 2004/2005. Rhino did not obtain the original versions of the episodes for the Season 1 release and instead used the versions edited for syndication, which are missing several minutes of footage, including the final scene of each episode before the closing credits. There are no known plans for additional releases.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||19||November 2, 2004|
|The Complete Second Season||22||June 7, 2005|
- Too Close for Comfort at the Internet Movie Database
- Too Close for Comfort at TV.com
- Interview with Lydia Cornell by Michael Sutton
- Interview with Lydia Cornell on the podcast The Future and You (anecdotes about Ted Knight and Too Close For Comfort)