My Sister Sam
|My Sister Sam|
|Created by||Stephen Fischer|
|Written by||Lisa Albert
|Directed by||Peter Bonerz
|Theme music composer||John Bettis
|Opening theme||"Room Enough for Two" performed by Kim Carnes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||44 (12 unaired)|
|Executive producer(s)||Diane English|
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Pony Productions
Warner Bros. Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||October 6, 1986– April 12, 1988|
The sitcom follows the lives of a 29-year-old San Francisco freelance photographer named Samantha "Sam" Russell (Pam Dawber) and her 16-year-old sister Patti (Rebecca Schaeffer). Sam's life is turned upside down when Patti, who has been living with the sisters' Aunt Elsie and Uncle Bob after the death of the girls' parents in rural Oregon, shows up on Sam's door step and announces that she is going to live with Sam.
The supporting cast includes Sam's neurotic agent Jordan Dylan "J.D." Lucas (Joel Brooks), Sam's sarcastic assistant Dixie Randazzo (Jenny O'Hara) and Jack Kincaid (David Naughton), Sam's womanizing photojournalist neighbor who frequently stops by Sam's apartment.
- Pam Dawber as Samantha "Sam" Russell
- Rebecca Schaeffer as Patricia "Patti" Russell
- Joel Brooks as Jordan Dylan "J.D." Lucas
- Jenny O'Hara as Dixie Randazzo
- David Naughton as Jack Kincaid
Notable guest stars in the series included Scott Bakula (episode 1.7), JoAnn Willette (episode 1.18), Robert Pastorelli (episode 2.11, who was hired by Diane English for Murphy Brown soon after), Rob Estes (episode 2.18), Ed Marinaro (episode 2.19), and Cristine Rose (episode 2.20).
The series was created by Stephen Fischer and was developed by Pam Dawber's production company, Pony Productions (in association with Warner Bros. Television). Dawber and her agent, Mimi Weber, spent three years searching for the most ideal television series project for their company to co-produce, but after screening several of them, Dawber had not found one that truly spoke to her. In the midst of this search, she and Weber produced a few TV movies under the Pony Productions nameplate, in which Dawber played lead roles.
By late 1985, Stephen Fischer and Diane English submitted their screenplay to Dawber and Weber, one centering on the life and times of a young photographer on the fast track who takes in her teenage sister, titled Taking the Town (based on the phrase "taking the town by storm"). At last, Dawber found a fulfilling script, and the creative team (she, Weber, Fischer and English) had the pilot successfully pitched to CBS. The network gave it a berth on its successful Monday night sitcom lineup for its 1986-87 fall schedule, originally as Taking the Town, with the title changing to My Sister Sam as summer pre-promotions ramped up.
The series was initially intended to be a starring vehicle for Dawber, who found success on television opposite Robin Williams in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy. Dawber later said that she wanted the focus of the show to be on the cast as a whole, stating, "I am not a comedian. I'm a reactor to all the zany people who revolve around me."
Reception and cancellation
My Sister Sam premiered on October 6, 1986 at 8:30 EST, scheduled between Kate & Allie and Newhart, both hit shows for CBS. The series earned solid ratings and was ranked #21 by the end of its first season. Due to its success, CBS renewed the series for a second season. CBS then moved My Sister Sam to Saturday nights at 8:30 EST opposite The Facts of Life, which was a part of NBC's successful Saturday night comedy lineup. By the end of October 1987, the show's audience had dwindled to one of the lowest on network TV ranking at #71. The series was put on hiatus in November 1987 but remained in production while the network decided its fate.
CBS brought the series back to the air on March 15, 1988 due in part to letters from fans and the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike which affected the production of other television series for CBS and the other two major television networks. CBS chose to move My Sister Sam yet again to Tuesday nights. By April, ratings had failed to improve and the series was again pulled from the lineup. CBS announced the series' cancellation in May 1988, leaving 12 episodes of the second season unaired.
|Episode #||Episode Title||Original Airdate|
|1||"Samantha Russell, Man Stealer"||October 6, 1986|
|2||"Patti's Party"||October 20, 1986|
|3||"Shooting Stars"||October 27, 1986|
|4||"What Makes Samantha Run?"||November 3, 1986|
|5||"Roomies"||November 10, 1986|
|6||"The Aunt Elsie Crisis: Day One"||November 24, 1986|
|7||"Teacher's Pet"||December 1, 1986|
|8||"Mirror, Mirror... on the Wall"||December 8, 1986|
|9||"Babes in the Woods"||December 15, 1986|
|10||"Jingle Bell Rock Bottom"||December 22, 1986|
|11||"Club Dread"||January 12, 1987|
|12||"Anything for a Friend"||January 19, 1987|
|13||"Almost In-laws"||January 26, 1987|
|14||"Go Crazy"||February 2, 1987|
|15||"Another Saturday Night"||February 9, 1987|
|16||"Family Business"||February 16, 1987|
|17||"Making Up Is Hard to Do"||February 23, 1987|
|18||"If You Knew Susie"||March 2, 1987|
|19||"Sister, Can You Spare a Fifty?"||March 16, 1987|
|20||"Exposed"||April 6, 1987|
|21||"Campaign Contributions"||April 13, 1987|
|22||"Fog Bound"||May 4, 1987|
|Episode #||Episode Title||Original Airdate|
|23||"Goodbye, Steve"||October 3, 1987|
|24||"And They Said It Would Never Last"||October 10, 1987|
|25||"Deep Throat"||October 17, 1987|
|26||"Never a Bridesmaid"||October 24, 1987|
|27||"Who's Afraid of Virginia Schultz?"||October 31, 1987|
|28||"Drive, She Said"||November 7, 1987|
|29||"Revenge of the Russell Sisters"||March 15, 1988|
|30||"Play It Again, Sam"||March 22, 1988|
|31||"Ol' Green Eyes Is Back"||March 29, 1988|
|32||"Life, Death, and Admiral Andy"||April 12, 1988|
|33||"It's My Party and I'll Kill If I Want To"||Never aired|
|34||"Good Neighbor Sam"||Never aired|
|35||"Patti, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Oregon Anymore"||Never aired|
|36||"The Art of Love"||Never aired|
|37||"Camp Burnout"||Never aired|
|38||"The Grand Prize"||Never aired|
|39||"Walk a While in My Shoes"||Never aired|
|40||"The Wrong Stuff"||Never aired|
|41||"The Thrill of Agony, the Victory of Defeat"||Never aired|
|42||"The Good, the Bad and the Auditor"||Never aired|
|44||"A Day in the Lives"||Never aired|
Rebecca Schaeffer's death
On July 18, 1989, more than a year after My Sister Sam had been canceled, series cast member Rebecca Schaeffer was fatally shot in the doorway of her Los Angeles apartment building by Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan who had been stalking her for three years. In August 1989, Pam Dawber, Joel Brooks, David Naughton and Jenny O'Hara reunited to film a public service announcement for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence in Schaeffer's honor.
The show's pilot episode appeared on the bonus disc Warner Bros. 50 Years of TV Commemorative: Volume 2. It was packaged with some releases of Murphy Brown Season 1 DVD set. No other episodes of the series have been released on DVD.
Awards and nominations
|1987||BMI Film & TV Awards||Won||BMI TV Music Award||Steve Dorff|
|1987||Primetime Emmy Award||Nominated||Outstanding Costume Design for a Series||Bill Hargate (costume designer)
(For episode "Jingle Bell Rock Bottom")
- Holston, Noel (October 20, 1986). "'My Sister Sam' needs a stronger focus". The Vindicator. p. 21. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- O'Connor, John J. (October 20, 1986). "TV Review; 'My Sister Sam', Series Starring Pam Dawber". Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- Terry, Clifford (June 6, 1987). "Dawber Moves From Mindy To TV Mogul". Sun Sentinel. pp. 11–D.
- Buck, Jerry. "Pam Dawber reacts to people". Kentucky New Era. p. 4B. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (1995). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (6 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 718. ISBN 0-345-39736-3.
- "Saturday, Time Slot Slams 'Sam' Into 71st Place, Down 50 Notches". Akron Beacon Journal. October 22, 1987. p. C6.
- "'Once a Hero' Is No Hero to ABC - Axed". The Fresno Bee. October 9, 1987.
- Donlon, Brian (October 8, 1987). "'Max Headroom' could be headed for the ax". USA Today. p. 3D. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- "'My Sister Sam' Loses Views In Move To Saturday Lineup". Akron Beacon Journal. October 14, 1987. p. D6.
- "CBS Adding Two New Series and Returning An Oldie In New Shuffle". The State. December 8, 1987. p. 6B.
- Gliatto, Tom (March 8, 1988). "CBS Shuffle". USA Today. p. 1D.
- O'Malley, Kathy; Gratteau, Hanke (March 22, 1988). "Gopers On the Go". The Chicago Tribune. p. 14. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Matt, Roush (March 9, 1988). "'Molly Dodd' gets a date; 'Night Court' will move". USA Today. p. 3D.
- "CBS Pulls Plug on '&' Shows". Miami Hearld. May 27, 1988. p. 1B.
- "Short-lived series find new life on cable". Austin American-Statesman. May 5, 1991. p. 8.
- Johnson, Beth (July 14, 1995). "A Fan's Fatal Obsession". ew.com. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- Tom, Green (August 16, 1989). "'Sister Sam' cast honors slain co-star". USA Today. p. 1D.