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Season 1 intertitle
|Created by||Gary David Goldberg
|Starring||Michael J. Fox (seasons 1–4)
Charlie Sheen (seasons 5–6)
Carla Gugino (first 12 episodes)
Heather Locklear (seasons 4–6)
Connie Britton (seasons 1–4)
Alexander Chaplin (seasons 1–4)
Victoria Dillard (seasons 1–4)
Jennifer Esposito (seasons 2–3)
Lana Parrilla (season 5)
with Barry Bostwick as The Mayor
|Theme music composer||Shelley Palmer (seasons 1-4)
Danny Pelfrey (seasons 5–6)
|Opening theme||Spin Doctors (Seasons 2–3)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||145 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Gary David Goldberg (seasons 1–3, 5–6)
Michael J. Fox (seasons 1–4)
Bill Lawrence (season 3)
David S. Rosenthal
Andy Cadiff (season 4)
Tom Hertz (season 6)
|Camera setup||Film; Multiple camera|
|Running time||approx. 20 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Ubu Productions
Lottery Hill Entertainment
|Distributor||Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV; entire run)
720p (HDTV; season 6)
|Original run||September 17, 1996– April 30, 2002|
Spin City is an American television sitcom that aired from September 17, 1996, until April 30, 2002, on ABC. Created by Gary David Goldberg and Bill Lawrence, the show was based on a fictional local government running New York City, and originally starred Michael J. Fox as Mike Flaherty, the Deputy Mayor of New York. After Fox left due to his battle with Parkinson's disease, Charlie Sheen took the reins as the show's lead Charlie Crawford. The show was cancelled in 2002 due to low ratings.
The series focuses on the Mayor of New York City, Randall Winston (Barry Bostwick), and his staff as they run the city—although the main person in charge is Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty (Fox). Mike is excellent at his job, dealing with spin and lies, but not so good with his personal life, which he often neglects. Other members of staff at City Hall include press secretary Paul Lassiter (Richard Kind), the office cheapskate, suck-up, and noted coward, who has a habit of being a loudmouth and is often kept in the dark about things; chief of staff Stuart Bondek (Alan Ruck), who loves the ladies, and is often very sexist; and head of minority affairs Carter Heywood (Michael Boatman), a gay black man with a suicidal dog named Rags.
Carter Heywood was seen as a revolution in modern television. As the writer Orville Lloyd Douglas noted on his blog GayBlackCanadianman, "Far too often whenever a character is gay on television it's always a white person. In North America gayness equals whiteness and gay black men are displaced due to race, gender, and sexual orientation. Finally, the writers and producers of Spin City got it right. Carter was a well adjusted young black man he wasn't on the down low, he also wasn’t confused or conflicted about his homosexuality." Despite their overwhelming personal differences, Stuart and Carter actually become roommates and best friends.
Also on the staff are speech writer James Hobert (Alexander Chaplin), who is easily led and quite naive; Mike's secretary Janelle Cooper (Victoria Dillard); and accountant Nikki Faber (Connie Britton). Janelle later becomes the mayor's secretary and Stacey Paterno (Jennifer Esposito) joins the show as Mike's secretary and Paul's arch-enemy. Together, this group helps run City Hall, improves the Mayor's image, and covers for his frequent gaffes—while sorting out their personal lives.
At one point in development, the show was simply called Spin. At the start of the series, Mike is dating reporter Ashley Schaeffer (Carla Gugino). In early promos for the series, this relationship is shown to be the main premise of the show. After just a few episodes into the series, Gugino decided to leave. The nature of Carter and Stuart's relationship became a running gag during the series. The two ended up becoming so close,their friendship was mocked by others, and their arguments sounded so much like husband and wife, a whole episode was dedicated to the notion that the two argued like a married couple. The two ended up meeting an older duo of best friends (one black and one white) who were virtual twins of Carter and Stuart in terms of personality; when it was discovered that the two older versions had become a couple, it ended up scaring Stuart quite a bit. For his part, Stuart tends to be very possessive of his time with Carter, going so far as to be genuinely jealous when Carter spends more and more time with new campaign manager Caitlin (Heather Locklear). In spite of all the jokes and innuendo, they prove to be best friends willing to do anything for both their friends and each other. This, too, was considered an important moment in television history, with Douglas noting, "I love the fact that the writers of Spin City explored the fact that gay men and heterosexual men can be friends. The straight man doesn’t have to worry that the gay man might hit on him."
The later years
In 1998, Michael J. Fox announced he had Parkinson's disease. As a result, a new character, Caitlin Moore (Locklear) was introduced at the start of the 1999–2000 season to help share Mike's workload. Caitlin was Mayor Winston's campaign manager as he decided to run for Senator, and much friction occurred between Mike and Caitlin about who was in charge of the Mayor. Their relationship was more complex than a simple rivalry, and hints were dropped that it would become more than platonic.
In 2000, as his symptoms worsened, Fox announced he was leaving the show at the end of the season to spend more time with his family and to raise money for awareness of and research into Parkinson's. His character left City Hall at the end of the show's fourth season, taking the blame for an alleged Mafia link the Mayor unknowingly had. He later moved to Washington, D.C. as an environmental lobbyist, there (offscreen) meeting a senator named Alex P. Keaton, the name of the character Fox played on Family Ties. Executive Producer/co-creator Bill Lawrence also left the show, along with a few cast members and writers/producers.
The remaining producers decided to carry on the series with a new lead. For the show's fifth season, production moved from New York to Los Angeles, and Charlie Sheen, as new Deputy Mayor Charlie Crawford, joined Caitlin, Paul, Stuart, Carter, and the Mayor. The characters of Nikki, James, and Janelle were not carried over (like Stacey, their absences are presumed to be because the actors felt the show should not continue without Fox), replaced by assistant Angie Ordonez (Lana Parrilla), who likewise left after one season without explanation (Parrilla feeling the character was underused).
|Michael J. Fox||Mike Flaherty||1996–2000, 2001||1–4, 6 3 episodes||103|
|Charlie Sheen||Charlie Crawford||2000–2002||5-6||45|
|Carla Gugino||Ashley Schaeffer||1996, 1997||1 12 episodes, 3 1 episode||13|
|Heather Locklear||Caitlin Moore||1999–2002||4–6||71|
|Richard Kind||Paul Lassiter||1996–2002||1–6||145|
|Michael Boatman||Carter Heywood||1996–2002||1–6||145|
|Alan Ruck||Stuart Bondek||1996–2002||1–6||140|
|Connie Britton||Nikki Faber||1996–2000||1–4||100|
|Alexander Chaplin||James Hobert||1996–2000||1–4||100|
|Victoria Dillard||Janelle Cooper||1996–2000||1 (recurring), 2–4 (starring)||90|
|Jennifer Esposito||Stacey Paterno||1997–1999||2–3||46|
|Lana Parrilla||Angie Ordonez||2000–2001||5||21|
|Barry Bostwick||Mayor Randall Winston||1996–2002||1–6||144|
|Faith Prince||Claudia Sachs||1996–1999, 2000||1–3 (recurring), 5 (guest)||21|
|Rags the Dog||Rags the Dog||1998–2002||3–6 (recurring)||20|
- Michael J. Fox as Mike Flaherty. Deputy Mayor of New York and womaniser, Flaherty lives in a New York apartment and is constantly juggling his personal life and his job, trying to maintain a healthy balance between the two. Mike leaves the show at the end of season four, after taking the hit for an unknown mob connection the Mayor had, (It is later revealed Michael J. Fox had Parkinson's disease) . He returns for the first three episodes of the sixth season, as we see him get married.
- Charlie Sheen as Charlie Crawford, was the replacement for Mike during the final two seasons. He, too, is a womaniser and at first struggles to keep his troubled past from getting in the way of his new job. He eventually becomes romantically involved with Caitlin by the end of the series' run. He was romantically involved with Jennifer Duncan, played by Sheen's real ex-wife Denise Richards. His father is also played by real-life father Martin Sheen.
- Carla Gugino as Ashley Schaeffer was a journalist and romantic interest for Mike during the first 12 episodes. She was written out when the show started to focus more on the workplace. She returned once more in season three.
- Heather Locklear, as Caitlin Moore, came into the show in season four to ease Michael J. Fox's workload after he announced he had Parkinson's disease. Her job was as the marketing campaigner and took her desk where James used to reside, while James became Mike's secretary. She was romantically involved with both leads during the end of each of their respective tenures on the show.
- Richard Kind, as Paul Lassiter, was press secretary at City Hall. A known cheapskate and gullible member of the group, he was often misled in regards to practical jokes or slip-ups at City Hall. During the show, he marries Claudia Sachs, who in season five leaves him to become a nun. By the end of the show, he moves into an apartment across the hall from Carter and Stuart.
- Michael Boatman, as Carter Heywood, was head of Minority Affairs at City Hall. His character was met with positive reaction because of his portrayal as a prominent gay black character in a TV series. He also owns a suicidal old dog named Rags. Near the end of the show, Rags dies, and in the same season, Carter decides he will adopt a baby, which he does in the final episode, a boy, named Sam.
- Alan Ruck, as Stuart Bondek, was chief of staff at City Hall. He is known as shallow and sex-crazed, although he is unsuccessful at garnering a relationship. Early on in the series, he moves into an apartment with Carter, which generates a clash of personalities as he is a homophobe and is generally wary of Carter's dog and his high-strung lifestyle, but they eventually become best friends.
- Connie Britton, as Nikki Faber, was a co-worker at City Hall. She is a promiscuous and outgoing member of the group and is often seen dating unreliable men. She develops an on-again-off-again relationship with Mike. She leaves after season four for unknown reasons.
- Alexander Chaplin, as James Hobert, was a speech writer at City Hall. He is shown to be nervous and paranoid, and early in the show has a crush on Nikki. While he is first the speech writer, during season four, he is fired in favor of Caitlin being hired as marketing campaigner, and James is hired as Mike's secretary, although he is led to believe his position is as 'Deputy Deputy Mayor'. He also leaves after season four for unknown reasons.
- Victoria Dillard, as Janelle Cooper, was Mike's secretary during the first season, and is promoted to the Mayor's secretary during the second. She develops a relationship with the Mayor during season three. Janelle, James, and Nikki left after season four for unknown reasons, although behind the scenes, it was because filming was being moved from New York to Los Angeles. She was part of the recurring cast during season one, but was promoted to the main cast for the rest of her tenure on the show.
- Jennifer Esposito, as Stacey Paterno, replaced Janelle as Mike's secretary for seasons two and three, after Janelle became the Mayor's secretary. She is from Brooklyn and is shown to be very outgoing, much like Nikki. She left the cast after advice from director Spike Lee. Her absence is never explained in the show, although it is pointed out that a new secretary for Mike is needed, and her role is replaced by James, who was once the speech writer.
- Lana Parrilla, as Angie Ordonez, was Charlie's secretary the character of James left the show between seasons. She was only featured in season five, so Parrilla left, thinking her character was underused. No secretary was shown during season six, and her desk is left empty. Some of the cast are shown using it, albeit not permanently, implying Charlie is no longer using a secretary and the desk is filling other roles.
- Barry Bostwick, as Mayor Randall Winston, was the dim-witted Mayor of New York City. At one point during the show, he runs for the Senate, although between seasons he apparently decided not to. He develops a relationship with his secretary Janelle during season three. At the beginning of the show, he is married, although he gets divorced during the show's run and his now ex-wife writes a tell-all book about life with the Mayor. During the final season, he develops a relationship with Judge Claire Simmons, played by Farrah Fawcett, but she dumps him when she reveals she does not want to live life in the public eye like the mayor.
Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Spin City.
Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
|Season||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Ranking||Viewers
|1st||September 17, 1996||May 13, 1997||1996–1997||#17||11.7|
|2nd||September 24, 1997||May 20, 1998||1997–1998||#47||11.2|
|3rd||September 22, 1998||May 25, 1999||1998–1999||#28||13.1|
|4th||September 21, 1999||May 24, 2000||1999–2000||#33||12.4|
|5th||October 18, 2000||May 23, 2001||2000–2001||#56||7.1|
|6th||September 25, 2001||April 30, 2002||2001–2002||#78||8.4|
Awards and nominations
DreamWorks released two best-of sets entitled "Michael J. Fox – His All Time Favorites" Vols. 1 and 2 in 2003, both containing 11 episodes. All 22 episodes are taken from the four seasons containing Fox, each starting with a brief interview in which he describes what he likes about the episode. In the 2003 interviews, Fox shows symptoms of his ongoing illness. Both DVD boxes contain bonus material with fund-raising TV commercials for Parkinson's disease research, starring the Spin City cast.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||24||November 4, 2008|
|The Complete Second Season||24||April 28, 2009|
|The Complete Third Season||26||November 3, 2009|
|The Complete Fourth Season||26||February 15, 2011|
|The Complete Fifth Season||23||August 16, 2011|
|The Complete Sixth and Final Season||22||December 13, 2011|
- "Carter On Spin City Was A Breakthrough Black Gay Male Character". Mar 25, 2008.
- Rice, Lynette (January 18, 2000). "'Spin' Out, The three-time Emmy nominee plans to devote himself to his family". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
- "Goodbye Pt. 2". Spin City. Season 4. Episode 26. 2000-05-24. ABC.
- "Poobala.com". Crossover between Family Ties and Spin City. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
- "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Fbibler.chez.com. July 26, 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Final Ratings for '97-'98 TV Season". Sfgate.com. May 25, 1998. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Final ratings for the 1998-1999 TV season". Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "TV Ratings 1999-2000". Fbibler.chez.com. July 26, 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "TV Ratings 2000–2001". Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "How did your favorite show rate?". Usatoday.Com. May 28, 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
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