City (TV series)
|Created by||Paul Haggis|
|Directed by||Howard Storm|
Mary Jo Keenen
Rodney Ueno (pilot only)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Haggis|
|Production location(s)||CBS-MTM Studios|
Studio City, California
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||CBS Entertainment Productions|
|Distributor||Eyemark Entertainment (1996-2000)|
CBS Television Distribution (2007-present)
|Original release||January 29 –|
June 8, 1990
City is an American sitcom that aired on CBS from January 29 to June 8, 1990. The series was a new starring vehicle for Valerie Harper, which went into development not long after she and husband Tony Cacciotti won their lawsuit against Lorimar-Telepictures over her dismissal from her NBC sitcom Valerie (which eventually continued without her as The Hogan Family). City was created by Paul Haggis, and like Harper's previous series, was also executive produced by Cacciotti.
Harper portrayed Liz Gianni, the city manager of an unnamed American city. In her line of work came dealings with the all-too-realistic but sometimes lighthearted issues of the modern-day city, from budget cuts to bureaucratic and political corruption, and the socioeconomic travails of inner-city life. Despite the turmoil that often ensued because of these problems, Liz focused on them with much exuberance, with a little kookiness thrown in, which ultimately made this a return to the type of character that first brought Harper fame on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda in the early 1970s. Liz's breezy, Amazonian mentality played more to her advantage at home, where she had to constantly keep up with—-and fret over—-her rapidly maturing 19-year-old daughter Penny (LuAnne Ponce). Liz and Penny's frantic repertoire and sweet "mother-daughter" moments, filled with witty dialogue, was the other central base of the show.
At work, Liz oversaw a multi-ethnic staff of crazies and eccentrics. Roger Barnett (Todd Susman) was the assistant city manager who spends most of his time betting on sports and trying to sell a worn-out racehorse he owns. Anna-Maria Batista (Liz Torres) is the tough Cuban purchasing agent whose most obvious character trait was pronouncing "yep" as "jep". Wanda Jenkins (Tyra Ferrell) was the sarcastic black secretary, who often discussed how she didn't want her young son to turn out like his father, a composer of classical music who actually made very little money. Also seen around City Hall were Gloria Elgis (Mary Jo Keenen), the city social coordinator, a stereotypically beautiful airhead spoiled by her wealthy family; Lance Armstrong (Sam Lloyd), the creepy statistician; and Victor Sloboda (James Lorinz), a dumb security guard, who in one episode thought a bandit had stolen the entire supply of White-Out for use in processing records for illegal immigrants. His solution to the problem: painting his entire body in correction fluid in order to "keep his eyes" on the supply! Liz and the gang all answered to Ken Resnick (Stephen Lee), the totally powerless, monumentally rotten Deputy Mayor. Running the newsstand/lunch counter at City Hall was Sean (Shay Duffin), an acerbic Irishman. Chuck (Rodney Ueno), an aggressive Asian mail clerk, was also part of the cast, but his character was dropped after the pilot.
- Valerie Harper as Liz Gianni
- Todd Susman as Roger Barnett
- Tyra Ferrell as Wanda Jenkins
- Stephen Lee as Ken Resnick
- Sam Lloyd as Lance Armstrong
- Liz Torres as Anna-Maria Batista
- Mary Jo Keenen as Gloria Elgis
- James Lorinz as Victor Sloboda
- LuAnne Ponce as Penny Gianni
- Shay Duffin as Sean
Ratings and scheduling
Upon its January 29, 1990, premiere, City immediately cracked the Nielsen Top 10. The show kept up this performance through February sweeps, but the early success did not last long. Audiences diminished over the next few months, and although the series was still pulling respectable numbers at the end of its inaugural season that April, CBS passed on giving City a second season. From January until April, the show aired in the plum time slot of Mondays at 8:30/7:30c, between freshman hit Major Dad and sophomore hit Murphy Brown. CBS then pulled the show for May sweeps, during which time the series was cancelled. City reappeared on Fridays at 8:30/7:30c in June, where it aired three remaining original episodes before leaving the air for good.
Coincidences between City and The Hogan Family
City had more than one coincidental occurrence with Harper's former series, now known as The Hogan Family. Ms. Harper's husband, Tony Cacciotti, had served as co-producer on both series. However, the connection became stronger when LuAnne Ponce was cast as Penny Gianni in City—she was the sister of Hogan Family star Danny Ponce (thus giving the Ponce siblings the distinction of having both been TV children of Valerie Harper). Harper's characters on both series had husbands named Michael. As if that weren't enough, CBS just happened to schedule City on Monday nights directly opposite The Hogan Family. Both shows even had a number of episodes directed by Howard Storm. City even used the same Cooper Black credit font that The Hogan Family had been using during all seasons in which Harper's replacement on that series, Sandy Duncan, had starred.
Despite its short run, the pilot episode of the series has continued to be seen by many around the world to this very day, through their participation in product and consumer research. Research Systems Corporation, which runs public invitation-only conventions known as The New Television Preview, had acquired selected copies of City episodes from CBS for showings at their public events, which were falsely passed off, along with actual unaired network pilots, as a test preview for a new series being considered for nationwide broadcast.
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"Pilot: City"||January 29, 1990|
|Liz has to solve an emergency: a development project levels a cemetery, causing caskets to go sliding into neighboring backyards.|
|2||"Family Business"||February 5, 1990|
|Ken feels that Liz is indebted to him after he fires the mail clerk and gives the job to her 19-year-old daughter Penny.|
|3||"Another One Died on the Steps Last Night"||February 12, 1990|
|A homeless man who played the sax outside City Hall dies there overnight, leaving personal effects indicating he was a man Liz knew in high school.|
|4||"The Miracle at City Hall"||February 19, 1990|
|Although he uses a wheelchair, a new employee's greater disability is his attitude.|
|5||"Your Park of Mine"||February 26, 1990|
|Liz finds herself attracted to a charming councilman named Gene Whalen (Bruce Davison) with whom she's having a political feud.|
|6||"The Big Leak"||March 12, 1990|
|Ken's diversion of rec-center funds to his own pocket drives Liz to leak the story to the press, but Ken gets wind of the scoop and orders Liz to find the source.|
|7||"You Can't Bite City Hall"||March 19, 1990|
|Anna-Maria is held hostage by Penny's new boyfriend (Robert Petkoff), an animal-rights activist who is protesting the selling of pound animals for research.|
|8||"Unfinished Business"||April 2, 1990|
|The ghost of Liz's late husband throws in his two cents on her relationship with councilman Gene Whalen (Bruce Davison).|
|9||"Love Among the Ruins"||April 9, 1990|
|An emergency practice drill forces the staff to stay in the building, but everyone believes it might be the real thing.|
|10||"Oil and Water"||April 16, 1990|
|A defective oil tanker, owned by Babette Croquette (Zsa Zsa Gabor), the head of Babette Cosmetics, is leaking vast quantities of oil in the river, but she refuses to pay any cleanup costs.|
|11||"Seems Like Old Times"||May 12, 1990|
|A confused former city manager (Estelle Getty) returns to City Hall after 31 years and tries to take charge of a library project.|
|12||"With a Song in Your Heart and a Knife in Your Back"||June 1, 1990|
|When Anna-Maria's husband is released from a Cuban prison, he arrives announcing he's married someone else.|
|13||"Just a Passing Dad"||June 8, 1990|
|Liz is reunited with her estranged father (Alan Young), but she suspects he's shown up again only because he wants something from her.|
- "Land of the Lost (Valerie Harper) TV Series: City" Go Retro!". Retrieved 2015-08-13.
- Pfalum, Nadia (July 15, 2004). "Viewer Discretion Advised". The Pitch. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present (8th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-345-45542-0.