The Family Man (U.S. TV series)
|The Family Man|
The Family Man opening title
|Created by||William Bickley
|Written by||William Bickley
John Steven Owen
Susan Cridland Wick
|Directed by||Richard Correll
Ashleigh Blair Sterling
|Theme music composer||Jesse Frederick
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||22|
|Executive producer(s)||Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Myron Lee Nash
|Camera setup||Film; Multi-camera|
|Running time||30 mins. (approx)|
|Production company(s)||Catalina Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 11, 1990 – July 17, 1991|
The Family Man is an American sitcom which aired on CBS from September 11, 1990 to July 17, 1991. The series, starring Gregory Harrison, was created by William Bickley and Michael Warren, who also served as executive producers with Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett. Martha Williamson served as supervising producer, with Ross Brown as co-executive producer. In addition to being produced by Lorimar Television and Miller-Boyett Productions, the show was also under the Catalina Television marque (Harrison's production company).
Lasting for 22 episodes, The Family Man originally aired on Saturday nights at 8 p.m. alongside the established Miller-Boyett series The Hogan Family, which had moved to CBS from NBC.
The Family Man was the first television starring vehicle for Harrison since leaving his most popular role of Dr. "Gonzo" Gates on Trapper John, M.D. in 1986, just before that series ended. Harrison assumed this series directly from Lorimar Television after having played the featured role of businessman Michael Sharpe in the ninth and final season of the CBS drama Falcon Crest, another Lorimar show.
Harrison played Los Angeles fire captain Jack Taylor, a recent widower holding his family together as both a mother and a father, along with the inept help of his father-in-law, Joe Alberghetti (Al Molinaro, also in a return to series TV after many years off, and in his third sitcom for Miller and Boyett). Joe's stay with the family after his daughter Teri's death was only supposed to be temporary, but by the end of the pilot, after Jack and his kids showed how much they needed him in their lives, he decided to permanently move out from New York City. Jack's four children were 16-year-old Jeff (John Buchanan), headstrong and athletic; 14-year-old Steve (Scott Weinger), who, despite being the resident troublemaker, was still trying to find a positive self-image; 11-year-old Brian (Matthew Brooks), who had the hardest time dealing with the death of his mother; and the wise-beyond-her-years 6-year-old, Allison (Ashleigh Blair Sterling), who really could do no wrong.
Stories focused around Jack's unique relationships with each of his children, the problems and adjustments of a suddenly motherless household, and the misadventures and scrapes of the growing brood. Jack's high-demand job as fire captain also had prominence; his charges and best buddies at the firehouse included Gus Harbrook (Edward Winter), Eddie Cooper (Peter Parros), and the younger Ted Reinhard (Adam Biesk), who could always be counted on to shake things up. They also joined him for poker night in almost every episode. Adding some adult female perspective was the Taylors' next-door neighbor, Hilary Kozak (Gail Edwards), a divorcee who it seemed was originally going to be a love interest for Jack, but it never quite happened. She had a young son, Patrick (Josh Byrne), who was Allison's best friend.
Upon the show's return in June 1991 after a seven-month hiatus, firefighters Gus and Ted were dropped from the cast, leaving only Eddie regularly in evidence at Jack's poker nights as well as at the firehouse. The rest of the cast remained intact, but coming into the picture was pretty local news reporter Jill Nichols (Nancy Everhard), who first met the stolid fire captain on assignment during an interview. Sparks flew instantly and they began dating.
CBS, in the midst of a third-place ratings slump in the spring of 1990, was planning a major shake-up for that fall's schedule. The network, in dire need of youth demographics (which are attractive to advertisers), sought to occupy five out of seven nights a week with an 8-9 p.m. comedy block aimed at families and children. While already underway in greenlighting other such projects (Uncle Buck, Lenny), CBS turned to Lorimar Television, and by extension, Miller-Boyett Productions and their associates, to contribute to the rejuvenation of youth-oriented shows on the schedule. William Bickley and Michael Warren, long-time associates of Miller and Boyett who had launched Family Matters on ABC the previous year, sought out to create a new series for the CBS deal which featured with a widower raising his kids with the help of his father-in-law, as a modern-day variation of My Three Sons. Bickley and Warren gave the father three sons, but to be original to the concept, a young daughter was added to the brood, and the father was given the high voltage career of a fire chief (which still matched the exciting career of aviation engineer for My Three Sons' Steve Douglas). The original working title was Five Alarm Family.
Miller-Boyett was having great success at ABC with their established and new programs alike (Perfect Strangers, Full House, Family Matters), resulting in blockbuster ratings on the network's TGIF lineup. The producers also had The Hogan Family running at NBC, which was nearing the end of its fifth season. Although still drawing in decent ratings, NBC decided to make room for shows with even younger demographics, and sold the series off. In April 1990, Lorimar cut a deal which moved The Hogan Family to CBS that fall, providing a companion series for CBS' new Miller-Boyett project. CBS naturally paired the two sister series on the same night (Saturday, when it was assumed families with young children would be home to watch), and given the success of back-to-back Miller-Boyett shows on ABC, optimism was high. When the new project was announced on CBS' schedule in May, it was still referred to as Five Alarm Family. Shortly after, to be further indicative of Harrison's role, Bickley and Warren changed the title to The Family Man.
The series ran ten episodes for the first half of the season, but after the December 1, 1990 telecast both The Family Man and its older sister show The Hogan Family were put on hiatus by CBS due to low ratings. Gregory Harrison remained in the time slot, however, as one of the programs that immediately took The Family Man's place was the documentary series True Detectives, which he hosted.
While it was determined in the intervening period that The Hogan Family had no future on its new home at CBS, the network felt willing to give The Family Man another chance. Originally, CBS was planning to return the series on a weeknight in March 1991, pairing it with the upcoming Steven Spielberg cartoon Family Dog, and collectively promoting the scheduling as "The Family Hour". Family Dog fell behind in production, however (it remained shelved before finally having a short run on CBS in the summer of 1993), causing the network to delay The Family Man as well until they could find a "protected time slot" (i.e., one preceded by a hit lead-in) for the show.
The decision was then made to bring it back in the summer, airing on both Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30, with two new episodes airing per week. Monday episodes were to feature story lines that brought the adults of the cast to the forefront (including the new affair of Jack and Jill), while Wednesday episodes focused on the kids. With tailor-made episodes fitting both the older Monday demographics (with a Major Dad lead-in) and younger Wednesday demos (lead-in by half-hour repeats of Rescue 911), CBS was sure that The Family Man would find its audience after all. The network even went ahead and ordered 13 additional episodes to premiere mid-way through the 1991-92 season if the summer ratings climbed. The show resurfaced on the CBS schedule Monday, June 10, 1991, with twelve more episodes ahead for the summer. The ratings didn't improve with all the changes, and in mid-July, after the last completed episode aired, The Family Man was canceled. Seeing that the series was possibly heading for an eleventh hour renewal based upon its summer performance, CBS included footage of Harrison as his Family Man character Jack Taylor in promos for the 1991-92 network campaign, The Look of America. By the time they aired, both Harrison series (including True Detectives) had been canceled, but his footage remained in the fall promos.
The Family Man finished #113 out of 141 prime time shows for the 1990-91 season Nielsen rankings.
Theme music and presentation
The series' theme music was composed by Miller-Boyett mainstay artists Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay. Unlike their works on most other shows from Miller-Boyett, The Family Man's theme was instrumental. It did, however, maintain the uplifting, inspirational sound that was prevalent on its sister programs; this was complete with scenes of the cast frolicking, having fun and working around the sunny Los Angeles setting of the show, and the signature sweeping aerial pullbacks.
|This section needs a plot summary. (September 2015)|
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"Pilot"||September 11, 1990|
|2||"Family Day"||September 15, 1990|
|3||"Making Babies"||September 22, 1990|
|4||"Roommates"||September 29, 1990|
|5||"Tea for Two"||October 13, 1990|
|6||"Drive My Car"||October 27, 1990|
|7||"Torn Between Two Brothers"||November 3, 1990|
|8||"Fire Break"||November 10, 1990|
|9||"The New Guy"||November 17, 1990|
|10||"The Coach"||December 1, 1990|
|11||"Double Date"||June 10, 1991|
|12||"My Little Runaway"||June 12, 1991|
|13||"Jack and Jill (Part 1)"||June 17, 1991|
|14||"Trading Places"||June 19, 1991|
|15||"Jack and Jill (Part 2)"||June 24, 1991|
|16||"You Bet Your Life"||June 26, 1991|
|17||"Scenes from a Marriage"||July 1, 1991|
|18||"A Tiny Advantage"||July 3, 1991|
|19||"Throw Momma from the House"||July 8, 1991|
|20||"Father Figure"||July 10, 1991|
|21||"The Boss's Daughter"||July 17, 1991|
Awards and nominations
|1991||Young Artist Awards||Nominated||Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under Nine||Ashleigh Sterling|
|Best Young Actor Starring in a New Television Series||Scott Weinger|
|1992||Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series||Scott Weinger|
- Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows