Suddenly Susan

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Suddenly Susan
SuddenlySusan-Emmy-Ad.jpg
1997 promotional Emmy advertisement
GenreSitcom
Created byClyde Phillips
Developed by
Starring
Opening theme
  • "Ode to Joy" (cover version), composed by Ed Alton
    • (season 1)
  • "Nothing on Me", performed by Shawn Colvin
    • (seasons 2–3)
  • Two unknown themes, composed by Ed Alton
    • (season 4)
ComposerEd Alton
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes93
Production
Executive producers
  • Gary Dontzig
  • Steven Peterman
    • (both; seasons 1–3)
  • Christopher Vane
    • (mid-late season 3)
  • Maria Semple
    • (mid-season 3 – season 4)
  • Mark Driscoll
    • (season 4)
Camera setupVideotape; multi-camera
Running time23 minutes
Production companyWarner Bros. Television
Release
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 19, 1996 (1996-09-19) –
December 26, 2000 (2000-12-26)

Suddenly Susan is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC from September 19, 1996, to December 26, 2000. The series was created by Clyde Phillips and starred Brooke Shields in her first regular series. Shields played Susan Keane, a glamorous San Francisco magazine writer who begins to adjust to being single, and who learns to be independent-minded after having been taken care of all her life. The series was developed by Gary Dontzig and Steven Peterman, who also served as executive producers during the first three seasons, and was produced by Warner Bros. Television.

Synopsis[edit]

Susan Keane (Brooke Shields) has always been taken care of by someone else. She worked as a copy editor at The Gate, a fictional San Francisco magazine. On her wedding day, she realizes that she and her wealthy, vain fiancé, Kip, are not meant for each other and that there is more to life than just being known as the "s" in "The Kip Richmonds." She abruptly leaves him at the altar. Now, she's suddenly just Susan. Susan's parents, played by guest stars Swoosie Kurtz and Ray Baker, were less than ecstatic about their daughter deciding to end her engagement to Kip, though her grandmother and confidant, Nana (Barbara Barrie) stands as a pillar of support for Susan.

The day after the wedding, Susan goes to her boss, Jack Richmond (Judd Nelson), the rebellious brother of Susan's former fiancé, Kip, begging for her job back. Instead, Jack assigns Susan to write a regular column about being suddenly single. Susan's coworkers include photographer Luis Rivera (Nestor Carbonell), boyish rock music reporter Todd Stities (David Strickland), restaurant critic Vicki Groener (Kathy Griffin), and, in later episodes, investigative reporter and Susan's old enemy Maddy Piper (Andréa Bendewald).

In the show's final season, The Gate is taken over by Ian Maxtone-Graham (Eric Idle) and overhauled into a men's magazine that's run out of an old warehouse in Chinatown. Along with this, Ian brings his own team of workers, including executive assistant and U.S. Navy veteran Miranda Charles (Sherri Shepherd), sports writer Nate Knaborski (Currie Graham), and freelance photographer Oliver Browne (Rob Estes). Susan is faced with a new set of problems and has to prove herself all over again.

Besides the task of putting together a magazine and focusing on the lead character's life, Suddenly Susan also focuses on the private lives of many employees in the show.

Cast[edit]

The character portrayed by Idle is not connected in any way with the television writer of the same name.

Episodes[edit]

Season 1 (1996–97)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Viewers (millions)
11"First Episode"Andy AckermanStory by : Clyde Phillips
Teleplay by : Gary Dontzig & Steven Peterman & Billy Van Zandt & Jane Milmore & Clyde Phillips
September 19, 1996 (1996-09-19)30.12[1]
22"Dr. No"Steve ZuckermanDan O'ShannonSeptember 26, 1996 (1996-09-26)28.49[2]
33"The Best Laid Plans"Shelley JensenMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsOctober 3, 1996 (1996-10-03)25.07[3]
44"Suddenly Susan Unplugged"Steve ZuckermanRick Singer & Andrew GreenOctober 10, 1996 (1996-10-10)26.61[4]
55"Hoop Dreams"Shelly JensenHeather MacGillvray & Linda MathiousOctober 17, 1996 (1996-10-17)24.35[5]
66"Lie! Lie! My Darling"Shelley JensenIan PraiserOctober 31, 1996 (1996-10-31)23.68[6]
77"Golden Girl Friday"Shelley JensenRick Singer & Andrew GreenNovember 7, 1996 (1996-11-07)28.05[7]
88"Beauty and the Beasty Boy"Steve ZuckermanMaryanne MelloanNovember 14, 1996 (1996-11-14)28.08[8]
99"Cold Turkey"Rod DanielStory by : Gary Dontzig & Steven Peterman
Teleplay by : Dan O'Shannon
November 21, 1996 (1996-11-21)28.15[9]
1010"Was It Something I Said?"Steve ZuckermanMarc FlanaganDecember 12, 1996 (1996-12-12)24.51[10]
1111"The Walk-Out"Barnet KellmanHeather MacGillvray & Linda MathiousDecember 19, 1996 (1996-12-19)25.30[11]
1212"The Me Nobody Nose"Shelley JensenMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsJanuary 9, 1997 (1997-01-09)28.61[12]
1313"The Ways and Means"Gail MancusoJana BartoFebruary 27, 1997 (1997-02-27)21.66[13]
1414"What a Card"Shelley JensenRick Singer & Andrew GreenMarch 6, 1997 (1997-03-06)24.18[14]
1515"Love and Divorce American Style: Part 1"Shelley JensenIan PraiserMarch 13, 1997 (1997-03-13)25.62[15]
1616"Love and Divorce American Style: Part 2"Pamela FrymanDan O'ShannonMarch 20, 1997 (1997-03-20)22.80[16]
1717"Love and Divorce American Style: Part 3"Pamela FrymanSusan FalesMarch 27, 1997 (1997-03-27)22.45[17]
1818"With Friends Like These"Shelley JensenMaryanne MelloanApril 10, 1997 (1997-04-10)22.84[18]
1919"Where the Wild Things Aren't"Shelley JensenMaryanne MelloanApril 17, 1997 (1997-04-17)21.47[19]
2020"A Boy Like That"Shelley JensenGary Dontzig & Steven PetermanApril 24, 1997 (1997-04-24)21.68[20]
2121"Family Affairs"Gail MancusoPhil Baker & Drew VaupenMay 1, 1997 (1997-05-01)21.87[21]
2222"I'll See That and Raise You Susan"Shelley JensenNeil J. DeiterMay 8, 1997 (1997-05-08)21.44[22]

Season 2 (1997–98)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Viewers (millions)
231"I Love You, I Think"Tom MooreSteven Peterman & Gary DontzigSeptember 22, 1997 (1997-09-22)13.02[23]
242"Past Tense"Tom MooreMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsSeptember 29, 1997 (1997-09-29)11.51[24]
253"Truth and Consequences"Pamela FrymanChristopher VaneOctober 6, 1997 (1997-10-06)12.20[25]
264"Next Stop, Heaven"Shelley JensenBecky Hartman EdwardsOctober 13, 1997 (1997-10-13)12.76[26]
275"Susan's Minor Complication"Shelley JensenChuck TathamOctober 20, 1997 (1997-10-20)11.67[27]
286"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Maddy World"Shelley JensenPhil Baker & Drew VaupenNovember 3, 1997 (1997-11-03)10.52[28]
297"It's My Nana and I'll Cry If I Want To"Pamela FrymanChuck TathamNovember 10, 1997 (1997-11-10)11.63[29]
308"A Kiss Before Dying...on Stage"Tom MooreDrew Vaupen & Phil BakerNovember 17, 1997 (1997-11-17)11.71[30]
319"The Old and the Beautiful"Philip Charles MacKenzieRick Singer & Andrew GreenNovember 24, 1997 (1997-11-24)10.69[31]
3210"I Didn't Write This"Pamela FrymanLisa AlbertDecember 8, 1997 (1997-12-08)11.50[32]
3311"Yule Never Know"Philip Charles MacKenzieMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsDecember 15, 1997 (1997-12-15)10.69[33]
3412"A Kiss is Just Amiss"Tom MooreChristopher VaneJanuary 5, 1998 (1998-01-05)12.85[34]
3513"The Big Shalom"Alan RafkinRick Singer & Andrew GreenJanuary 12, 1998 (1998-01-12)12.04[35]
3614"Matchmaker, Matchmaker"Alan RafkinBecky Hartman EdwardsJanuary 19, 1998 (1998-01-19)11.81[36]
3715"Car Trouble"Shelley JensenPhil Baker & Drew VaupenJanuary 26, 1998 (1998-01-26)11.12[37]
3816"Ready...Aim...Fong!"Shelley JensenChuck TathamFebruary 2, 1998 (1998-02-02)12.28[38]
3917"Daddy Piper"Joyce GittlinDan O'ShannonMarch 9, 1998 (1998-03-09)11.29[39]
4018"Not in This Life"Leonard R. Garner, Jr.Christopher VaneMarch 16, 1998 (1998-03-16)10.03[40]
4119"Models and Strippers and Wasps, Oh My!"Tom MooreDavid KirkwoodApril 6, 1998 (1998-04-06)9.16[41]
4220"Poetry in Notion"Joanna KernsBecky Hartman EdwardsApril 6, 1998 (1998-04-06)9.32[41]
4321"Pucker Up"Philip Charles MacKenzieAndrew GreenApril 13, 1998 (1998-04-13)9.71[42]
4422"5,947 Miles"Philip Charles MacKenzieJana BartoApril 20, 1998 (1998-04-20)8.84[43]
45
46
23
24
"A Tale of Two Pants"Roger Christiansen
Alan Rafkin
Michael McCarthy
Rick Singer
May 4, 1998 (1998-05-04)9.59[44]
47
48
25
26
"Oh, How They Danced"Shelley JensenSteven Peterman & Gary DontzigMay 18, 1998 (1998-05-18)12.28[45]

Season 3 (1998–99)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Viewers (millions)
491"Birds Do It, Bees Do It, Even Some of These Do It"Shelley JensenSteven Peterman & Gary DontzigSeptember 21, 1998 (1998-09-21)11.96[46]
502"Feels Like the First Time"Shelley JensenChristopher VaneSeptember 28, 1998 (1998-09-28)10.90[47]
513"Don't Tell"Philip Charles MacKenzieMaria SempleOctober 5, 1998 (1998-10-05)11.08[48]
524"Sleeping with the Enemy"Philip Charles MacKenziePhil Baker & Drew VaupenOctober 12, 1998 (1998-10-12)10.77[49]
535"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Susan's Party"Alan RafkinChuck TathamOctober 26, 1998 (1998-10-26)10.35[50]
546"War Games"Philip Charles MacKenzieRick SingerNovember 2, 1998 (1998-11-02)11.34[51]
557"Seems Like Old Times"Alan RafkinBecky Hartman EdwardsNovember 9, 1998 (1998-11-09)9.05[52]
568"Trash-Test Dummies"Alan RafkinAndrew GreenNovember 16, 1998 (1998-11-16)9.96[53]
579"The Thanksgiving Episode"Shelley JensenChuck TathamNovember 30, 1998 (1998-11-30)10.36[54]
5810"The Apartment Hunt"Shelley JensenMaria SempleNovember 30, 1998 (1998-11-30)11.61[54]
5911"Merry Ex-Mas"Shelley JensenRick SingerDecember 14, 1998 (1998-12-14)10.68[55]
6012"Wedding-Bell Blues"Leonard R. Garner, Jr.Christopher VaneJanuary 11, 1999 (1999-01-11)9.88[56]
6113"On a Clear Day You Can Hear Forever"Leonard R. Garner, Jr.Becky Hartman EdwardsJanuary 18, 1999 (1999-01-18)10.70[57]
6214"One Man's Intervention Is Another Man's Tupperware Party"Roger ChristiansenGary Dontzig & Steven PetermanJanuary 25, 1999 (1999-01-25)8.48[58]
6315"Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut"Shelley JensenPolly LevyFebruary 8, 1999 (1999-02-08)10.08[59]
6416"Ben Rubenstein, Meet Joe Black"Shelley JensenAndrew GreenFebruary 22, 1999 (1999-02-22)10.38[60]
6517"The Song Remains Insane"Philip Charles MacKenzieMichael McCarthyMarch 1, 1999 (1999-03-01)9.66[61]
6618"Revenge of the Gophers"Roger ChristiansenPhil Baker & Drew VaupenMarch 15, 1999 (1999-03-15)9.61[62]
6719"In This Corner...Susan Keane!: Part 1"Philip Charles MacKenzieChuck TathamMay 3, 1999 (1999-05-03)7.62[63]
6820"In This Corner...Susan Keane!: Part 2"Philip Charles MacKenzieAndrew GreenMay 10, 1999 (1999-05-10)7.43[64]
6921"The First Picture Show"Michael KellyPhil Baker & Drew VaupenMay 17, 1999 (1999-05-17)7.67[65]
7022"Bowled Over"Shelley JensenJana BartoMay 24, 1999 (1999-05-24)8.63[66]
7123"A Day in the Life"Alan RafkinUnknownMay 24, 1999 (1999-05-24)12.35[66]

Season 4 (1999–2000)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Viewers (millions)
721"The New Gate"Lee Shallat ChemelMark Driscoll & Maria SempleSeptember 20, 1999 (1999-09-20)8.07[67]
732"The Billboard"Lee Shallat-ChemelMark Driscoll & Maria SempleSeptember 27, 1999 (1999-09-27)6.87[68]
743"The Pushkin Letters"Lee Shallat-ChemelDavid BabcockOctober 4, 1999 (1999-10-04)4.77[69]
754"Vicki Moves In"Lee Shallat-ChemelSylvia GreenOctober 11, 1999 (1999-10-11)6.27[70]
765"Halloween"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinOctober 18, 1999 (1999-10-18)6.59[71]
776"Cheerleaders"Andrew TsaoDavid FlebotteNovember 1, 1999 (1999-11-01)7.42[72]
787"The Wish List"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinDecember 6, 1999 (1999-12-06)6.69[73]
798"First Date"Alan RafkinDavid BabcockDecember 13, 1999 (1999-12-13)6.66[74]
809"The Birthday Party"Roger ChristiansenJoel H. CohenDecember 20, 1999 (1999-12-20)5.94[75]
8110"Susan's Ex"Craig ZiskRoger PeacockDecember 27, 1999 (1999-12-27)6.05[76]
8211"Luis Gets His Groove Back"Lee Shallat-ChemelEd YeagerDecember 27, 1999 (1999-12-27)6.21[76]
8312"Dinner Party"Andrew TsaoStory by : David Wright
Teleplay by : Stacy Traub
January 3, 2000 (2000-01-03)7.46[77]
8413"Stock Tip"Andrew TsaoBeth Seriff & Geoff TarsonJanuary 3, 2000 (2000-01-03)7.45[77]
8514"I Love You"Andrew TsaoStory by : Anne Rovak
Teleplay by : Sylvia Green
June 6, 2000 (2000-06-06)4.32[78]
8615"The Break Up"Andrew TsaoStacy TraubJune 13, 2000 (2000-06-13)4.75[79]
8716"Girls Night Out"Dana deVally PiazzaRobert PeacockJune 20, 2000 (2000-06-20)5.76[80]
8817"The Bird in the Wall"Gordon HuntLisa K. Nelson & Tod HimmelJune 27, 2000 (2000-06-27)4.59[81]
8918"The Gay Parade"Alan RafkinLisa K. Nelson & Tod HimmelUnaired (Unaired)N/A
9019"Susan and the Professor"Roger ChristiansenBeth Seriff & Geoff TarsonDecember 26, 2000 (2000-12-26)N/A
9120"The Reversal"Michael KellyStory by : Mike Dieffenbach
Teleplay by : Joel H. Cohen
December 26, 2000 (2000-12-26)N/A
9221"The Finale: Part 1"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinDecember 26, 2000 (2000-12-26)N/A
9322"The Finale: Part 2"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinDecember 26, 2000 (2000-12-26)N/A

Original pilot[edit]

In the show's original pilot, written by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore and based on a dramatic script by Clyde Phillips, Susan worked at a publishing house editing children's books. After breaking up with her live-in boyfriend Ted (Brian McNamara), Susan finds herself "single" for the first time in years. Concurrently, Susan faces even greater challenges at work when her boss, Eric (Philip Casnoff), assigns her the task of working as an editor with Charlotte (Elizabeth Ashley), a hugely successful and highly opinionated romance novelist. Always on hand to provide support is Susan's grandmother, Nana (Nancy Marchand), her co-workers, acerbic best friend Marcy (Maggie Wheeler) and Neil (David Krumholtz), who has a crush on Susan.

When the series was picked up, Brian McNamara's "Ted" character did not return, though McNamara did later play the part of Cooper Elliot, who took Susan to Italy at the end of season one. Other changes between the pilot and the series were Barbara Barrie replacing Nancy Marchand in the role of Nana, while Swoosie Kurtz and Ray Baker replaced Kurt Fuller and Caroline McWilliams as Susan's parents, Bill and Liz. In the series, though the setting switches from a publishing house to a magazine, the main office set retained most of its features from the pilot; the most noticeable difference was that the elevator was to the right. While the pilot's storyline featuring Elizabeth Ashley as one of the publishing house's clients was not used in the series, a cardboard cut out of Ashley that was featured in the pilot appears throughout the first three seasons of the show – it can be seen briefly behind Susan's desk, near the filing cabinets along the back wall.

The actual location for the exterior shots of the office was the Newhall Building at 260 California Street in San Francisco.

Death of David Strickland[edit]

David Strickland died by suicide in a Las Vegas hotel room on March 22, 1999. Strickland's death was later incorporated into the show's third season finale, which killed off his character, Todd Stites. Todd has gone missing, and throughout the episode, Susan desperately tries to find him. As the episode progresses, Susan learns about a number of good deeds that Todd had done around his neighborhood that she never knew about. Out-of-character interviews with the supporting cast also appear throughout the episode, with each actor sharing their personal experiences they had with Strickland before his death. As the episode comes to an end, Todd's favorite song, "Praise You" by Fatboy Slim, plays outside in the street as Susan and her co-workers sit in a circle praying for Todd's well-being. At last, the phone in the middle of the room rings, but the camera cuts away before the news of Todd's fate can be revealed. The episode ends with an archive video footage of Strickland and its titles: "The Gods of comedy looked down upon you and smiled".

Fourth season and cancellation[edit]

Suddenly Susan Season 4 cast photo

Before production began on the fourth and final season, Judd Nelson and Andrea Bendewald left the show; series developers and executive producers Steven Peterman and Gary Dontzig also departed, and the series replaced almost its entire writing staff (with the exception of new co-showrunner Maria Semple, who joined Suddenly Susan the previous season and took over showrunning duties alongside Mark Driscoll, one of the new writers hired for that season). The Gate was transformed into a men's magazine by its new owner, Ian Maxtone-Graham (Eric Idle), and relocated from its trendy uptown offices overlooking the bay to a dingy former warehouse in Chinatown. In tow, Ian brought his own team of workers, including executive assistant and U.S. Navy veteran Miranda Charles (Sherri Shepherd), sports writer Nate Knaborski (Currie Graham), and freelance photographer Oliver Browne (Rob Estes). Faced with new challenges, Susan suddenly had to prove herself all over again.

Airing between Seinfeld and ER during its first season, Suddenly Susan was initially a ratings success, attracting almost 25 million viewers per episode,[82] despite mostly unfavorable critical reviews. When the show was moved to Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. (against the Top 30 hit Cosby) for the second season, the show experienced a large decline in viewership, sliding from #3 to #71 in one year, bringing in less than 11 million viewers. The ratings failed to bounce back, and in its final season, the show barely ranked in the top 100, prompting NBC to pull it from the schedule in January. It returned briefly in June, but at the end of the month was pulled from the network's prime-time schedule with five episodes left unaired. One episode, "The Gay Parade", remained unaired by NBC (but was eventually shown on Lifetime a few years later[when?]); the final four episodes (including the two-part series finale) were burned off from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. EST on December 26, 2000, airing as part of the NBC All Night overnight block.

Reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, season 1 has an approval rating of 55% based on reviews from 11 critics. The website's critical consensus was: "Comedic inspiration doesn't spark Suddenly for this Susan, hampered by derivative gags that undermine Brooke Shields' energetic performance."[83]

Caryn James of the New York Times wrote: "Like its lead character, Suddenly Susan has no identity of its own. The beauty of the magic time slot is that it gives Suddenly Susan, with its engaging star and flexible format, a well-deserved chance to grow."[84][85][86]

Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave it a grade C and called it: "A wearyingly self-conscious updating of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: nice girl trying to make it in the competitive workplace of a big town."[87]

Ratings history[edit]

Season TV Season Episodes Season premiere Season finale Time slot (ET) Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 1996–97 22 September 19, 1996 May 8, 1997 Thursday at 9:30 pm (Episodes 1–12)
Thursday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 13–22)
#3[88] 16.5[88]
2 1997–98 26 September 22, 1997 May 18, 1998 Monday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1–19, 21–23, 25)
Monday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 20, 24, 26)
#65[89] 7.9[89]
3 1998–99 23 September 21, 1998 May 24, 1999 Monday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1–9, 11–22)
Monday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 10, 23)
#81[90] 9.5[90]
4 1999–2000 22[a] September 20, 1999 June 27, 2000[b] Monday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1–10, 12)
Monday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 11, 13)
Tuesday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 14–17)
#94[91] 6.6[91]

^[a] Twenty-three episodes were produced for season four, but episode 18, "The Gay Parade" was never broadcast.[92] ^[b] End of the series' original broadcast run. Last four episodes were aired six months later.[93]

References[edit]

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