Pearl (TV series)

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Cast of Pearl (Back row: Lucy Liu, Malcolm McDowell, Kevin Corrigan. Front row: Carol Kane, Rhea Perlman)
Created by Don Reo
Starring Rhea Perlman
Carol Kane
Kevin Corrigan
Dash Mihok
Lucy Liu
Malcolm McDowell
Composer(s) Craig Safan
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 22
Executive producer(s) Paul Junger Witt
Rhea Perlman
Tony Thomas
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Impact Zone Productions
Witt/Thomas Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Original network CBS
Original release September 16, 1996 (1996-09-16) – June 25, 1997 (1997-06-25)

Pearl is an American sitcom which aired on CBS from September 16, 1996 until June 25, 1997. The series starred Rhea Perlman, in what was her return to television after the conclusion of her long-running series Cheers three years earlier on NBC. Don Reo created the series, and Perlman served as an executive producer alongside Reo, Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas and Gary S. Levine. Pearl was produced by Impact Zone Productions and Witt/Thomas Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.


Pearl Caraldo (Rhea Perlman), a middle-aged widow, is the loading dock manager for University Electronics but who wants to achieve a higher level of education. She is accepted as a night student at the prestigious Swindon University. By contrast, her 20-year-old son Joey (Dash Mihok), a single father with no apparent ambition, is disappointed that his mother is no longer readily available as a live-in babysitter for his infant daughter. Also less than thrilled is Pearl's sister-in-law Annie (Carol Kane), who is concerned that with her greater educational attainment, Pearl will become another "one of them intellectuals." A professor of a required course, Stephen Pynchon (Malcolm McDowell), further complicates matters by his belief that higher education is for a cultured elite, not working-class people like Pearl, and sets out to embarrass and belittle her whenever possible in hopes that she will withdraw from the university.


Main cast[edit]

Guest cast[edit]



When Malcolm McDowell's name was put forward as a candidate to play Prof. Pynchon, creator Don Reo was initially skeptical, feeling that McDowell was more associated with villainous parts, but when McDowell read for the part, it was clear that he was very suitable. McDowell modeled the character on Lindsay Anderson, as well as British comics Eric Morecambe, Benny Hill, and John Cleese[1][2].


"Pearl" was broadcast on Wednesday evenings at 8:30 p.m. on CBS, opposite "The John Larroquette Show" on NBC, a show that was also created by Don Reo. Reo said "It's a really difficult, bizarre phenomenon, ... the Larroquette show is in its fourth year and the last thing in the world I want to do is contribute to its demise"[3].


No. Ep Title Writer Director Airdate Viewers
1 1 "Pilot" Don Reo James Burrows 16 September 1996 (1996-09-16) TBA
Pearl Caraldo, who has been recently widowed, decides to return to college, but immediately encounters an arrogant professor.
2 2 "Teacher's Pet" Judith D. Allison and Don Reo Robby Benson 18 September 1996 (1996-09-18) TBA
Pearl wants to get on the right side of Prof. Pynchon, so she volunteers to become his teaching assistant, but finds it is taking up all her time.
3 3 "Your Cheatin' Heart" Janis Hirsch Jay Sandrich 23 September 1996 (1996-09-23) TBA
Pearl cheats on a test, but admits it and asks for the opportunity to make up her grade with an oral exam.
4 4 "Billy" Andrew Nicholls and Darrell Vickers James Burrows 30 September 1996 (1996-09-30) TBA
Prof. Pynchon's estranged brother Billy (Billy Connolly) comes to town to try to reconcile with his brother to fulfill their father's last request.
5 5 "The Naked Truth" Janis Hirsch James Burrows 7 October 1996 (1996-10-07) TBA
Pearl's longtime friendship with Annie is tested when long buried truths begin to emerge.
6 6 "Pynchon's Pynchon" Teresa O'Neill John Whitesell 14 October 1996 (1996-10-14) TBA
Prof. Pynchon's former mentor (Aubrey Morris) comes to town to promote his new book, but Pynchon is shocked when he discovers it's his own Oxford graduate thesis.
7 7 "Ticket to Ride" Teresa O'Neill Gil Junger 30 October 1996 (1996-10-30) TBA
Prof. Pynchon asks Pearl for a ride to New York City to see a play, she mistakenly thinks he's asked her out, but he is planning to go to the theater with a friend.
8 8 "Homecoming: Part 1" Judith D. Allison and Don Reo Terry Hughes 6 November 1996 (1996-11-06) TBA
Pearl's new classmate, Carlo (Jonathan Del Arco), falls hard for her and asks her to a dance, Pearl lies, saying she is already going with Professor Pynchon.
9 9 "Homecoming: Part 2" Judith D. Allison and Don Reo Terry Hughes 13 November 1996 (1996-11-13) TBA
A number of dates for the grand homecoming ball hinge on a lost wager, an attempted bribe, second thoughts and fate.
10 10 "Lessons in Love" Judith D. Allison and Don Reo Peter Chakos 20 November 1996 (1996-11-20) TBA
Prof. Pynchon chains himself to the library doors when the University threatens to ban certain books. Pearl decides that she must join him in the fight against censorship.
11 11 "The Tutor" Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa John Ratzenberger 11 December 1996 (1996-12-11) TBA
Pearl asks for the advice of a University "senior advisor", 9-year-old genius, Samantha (Mara Wilson). In return Pearl advises Samantha on how to be a kid.
12 12 "Christmas Daze" Don Reo Don Scardino 18 December 1996 (1996-12-18) TBA
An attack dog that Pynchon's brother sent him for Christmas proves to be a bit overzealous and prevents Pynchon and Pearl from leaving the classroom on Christmas Eve.
13 13 "Power Play" Terri Minsky Gil Junger 8 January 1997 (1997-01-08) TBA
Prof. Pynchon's students have written papers on the abuse of power, and Pynchon assigns them to grade one another's work which results in a great deal of friction.
14 14 "Pearls Before Swine" Janis Hirsch Peter Bonerz 15 January 1997 (1997-01-15) TBA
When Uncle Bobo's widow Tina arrives to collect a $5,000 debt incurred by Pearl's deceased husband, Pearl fears she will have to drop out of school to repay the debt.
15 15 "Mission ImPearlsible" Don Reo Peter Chakos 29 January 1997 (1997-01-29) TBA
Pearl, Amy and Frankie work on a project with "Weird Guy Bob" (Seth Green) who sabotages their paper, so the group have to break into Pynchon's house to replace it.
16 16 "Dean Cuisine" Janis Hirsch Don Scardino 5 February 1997 (1997-02-05) TBA
The Dean of the University, Dean Aston Martin (Danny DeVito), asks Pearl out for a date as she turns out to be a dead ringer for his late wife.
17 17 "The Write Stuff: Part 1" Judith D. Allison and Don Reo Don Scardino 12 February 1997 (1997-02-12) TBA
Pearl is working on an assignment, but is suffering from writer's block, meanwhile Joey's ex-wife arrives in town.
18 18 "The Write Stuff: Part 2" Judith D. Allison and Don Reo Don Scardino 19 February 1997 (1997-02-19) TBA
Pearl continues working on her writing assignment and she incorporates elements from her own life into the paper, creating a fantasy version of her late husband (Ted Danson).
19 19 "The Two Mrs. Rizzos" Teresa O'Neill Pamela Fryman 4 June 1997 (1997-06-04) TBA
Annie's ex-boyfriend, Freddy Rizzo (Sam McMurray), is released from prison and seems to be attracted to both Annie and Pearl.
20 20 "Mommy Dearest" Michael Platt Ken Levine 11 June 1997 (1997-06-11) TBA
Frankie's mother, Miriam Spivak (Carlene Watkins), arrives in town and announces that she's left Frankie's father, and Pearl discovers she is having a fling with Prof. Pynchon.
21 21 "My So-Called Real Life" Gary Janetti Don Scardino 18 June 1997 (1997-06-18) TBA
Frankie submits a documentary film about Pearl, Amy, Joey, Annie and Pynchon in lieu of a written term paper which causes conflict.
22 22 "Billy Returns" Judith D. Allison and Don Reo Don Scardino 25 June 1997 (1997-06-25) TBA
Pynchon's brother (Billy Connolly) returns to town and asks Pearl on a date. Pearl isn't sure if he really likes her or if he is just trying to annoy his brother.


Critical reception[edit]

"Pearl" received very positive reviews, David Bianculli reviewed it in the New York Daily News comparing it to the 1973 movie The Paper Chase, and calling it "a gem". He also said James Burrows "directs the pilot masterfully"[4]. For the Buffalo News, Alan Pergament said that "McDowell really is the star of the show, delivering his sarcastic lines with relish", and that "with some minor polishing", the show "could really give [Rhea] Perlman something more to cheer about"[5]. Tom Jicha in the Sun-Sentinel also called it "a gem" and says that Perlman and McDowell's "exchanges crackle with venomous vitality". He also calls McDowell "a revelation in his episodic TV debut" stating that "he has the comedic timing of someone who has been doing it all his life"[6].


Year Association Category Nominated artist/work Result
1997 American Choreography Awards Outstanding Achievement in Television Toni Basil Won
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a TV Comedy - Guest Starring Young Performer Bridget Flanery Nominated


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]