Union Square (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||14 (1 unaired)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original release||September 25, 1997 –|
January 22, 1998
Union Square is an American sitcom television series created by Marco Pennette and Fred Barron, that was broadcast on NBC for one season from September 25, 1997 to January 22, 1998. The show was supposed to serve as a vehicle for actress Mel Gorham, using her life as its basis, but was retooled into an ensemble sitcom without Gorham after the original pilot was poorly received.
The pilot of Union Square follows Mel (Mel Gorham), a small time actress who decides to quit her job working at a Miami gift shop and become a Broadway star. Armed with her wits and her large dog named Bird, Mel heads for New York City to stay with her friend Lana. She is later shocked to find that Lana and her boyfriend, Micheal (Michael Landes) broke up, resulting in Lana moving out. Mel tries to reason with Michael to let her stay with him until she can get an apartment of her own. Despite consistently telling her no, she persists and follows him to the Union Square Diner. Michael used to be a lawyer but gave it up to focus on his passion of becoming a playwright, but writes instructional manuals to make money.
At the diner, she meets Carrie, a musician, who works at the diner as a waitress; Suzanne, a snarky real-estate agent; Albie, the other waiter at the diner who can be dim-witted, Jack Pappas, the hunky head chef of the diner who is known for his womanizing, and Vince, the owner of the diner. Mel goes on an audition for a Neil Simon play, but misplaces her lucky locket. She goes to the audition anyway with Michael finding it later on. However, Michael only dropped it off to her as a means of avoiding Lana, who was going to come by the diner to check on Mel. After not only failing to get the part but getting so nervous she throws up on Neil Simon, Mel reluctantly concedes she might have rushed her dreams a little. Michael cheers her up just as Lana comes to the diner. Lana reveals that Michael was not a passionate lover and didn't seem to care about their relationship. Mel helps Michael make Lana jealous and Michael agrees to let Mel stay with him, mostly out of fear for what she might have her dog do to him if he said anything to the contrary.
Changes from the original pilot
After poor test screenings and negative assessments from advertisers for the pilot, the producers retooled the show and replaced Gorham, who played a struggling actress named Mel Suarez, with Constance Marie as Gabriella. Once Gorham was replaced, the show was retooled into an ensemble cast format. Landes was also later dropped from the program since his plot line was no longer relevant to the show's new premise. The show instead centered on the goings on around the diner and some of the ways the group helped each other with their ambitions, goals or plans.
- Constance Marie as Gabriella Diaz
- Harriet Sansom Harris as Suzanne Barkley
- Jim Pirri as Jack Papas
- Jonathan Slavin as Albie
- Christine Marie Burke as Carrie
- Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter as Vince
Original pilot cast
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||"Hasta La Muerta, Baby"||James Burrows||Marco Pennette & Fred Barron||September 25, 1997|
|2||"The Audition"||James Burrows||Gary Murphy & Neil Thompson||October 2, 1997|
|3||"Enjoy Your Haddock"||James Burrows||George McGrath||October 9, 1997|
|4||"A Stool with a View"||James Burrows||Eric Abrams & Matthew Berry||October 16, 1997|
|5||"Michael's First Stand"||Arlene Sanford||Michael B. Kaplan||October 30, 1997|
|6||"Harassed"||James Burrows||Gary Murphy & Neil Thompson||November 6, 1997|
|7||"Get Rusty"||Leonard R. Garner Jr.||Michael B. Kaplan||November 13, 1997|
|8||"Jack Gets a Hot Tip"||James Burrows||Donald Todd||December 4, 1997|
|9||"No Sex 'Til After Homework"||Lee Shallat Chemel||Donald Todd||December 11, 1997|
|10||"The First Christmas Show"||James Burrows||Teleplay: Nora Lynch & Phil Palisoul; Story: Eric Abrams & Matthew Berry||December 18, 1997|
|11||"What Are Friends For?"||Leonard R. Garner, Jr.||Colleen Taber||January 8, 1998|
|12||"Out and In"||James Burrows||Neil Thompson & Gary Murphy||January 15, 1998|
|13||"It Takes a Thief"||James Burrows||Michael B. Kaplan||January 22, 1998|
|14||"Smarty Pants"||Brent Carpenter||TBA||Unaired|
Production and broadcast
The program replaced Fired Up on NBC's "Must See TV" night of programming; it was given an 8:30 p.m. timeslot on Thursday evenings, a highly coveted spot due to its location between popular sitcoms Friends (which aired at 8:00 p.m.) and Seinfeld (which aired at 9:00 p.m.). Like The Single Guy, Union Square attempted to capitalize on attractive singles in their 20s and 30s enjoying New York City life, which both Seinfeld and Friends (as well as other NBC programs) had turned into successes. Despite the advantages of its timeslot, Union Square lost a large portion of its lead-in audience from Friends, and was cancelled in January 1998, after 14 episodes had been made.
Union Square was ranked #7 in the ratings for the 1997–98 season, and was the second highest-rated new show of the season, with almost 20 million viewers, though it still lost a large portion of its lead-in audience from Friends.
The show was poorly received critically. Ray Richmond of Variety described the show as having "all the wit and charm of a pepper-spray canister", and concludes ""Union Square" is like "Friends" on decaf — grumpy, disconnected, tired. The snore you hear may be your own." Will Joyner of The New York Times states that ""Union Square"... has a disconcertingly familiar feel to it."
- Jenny Hontz (June 18, 1997). "NBC strikes star Gorham from 'Union'". Variety. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
- Studio Briefing News (June 19, 1997). "News for Mel Gorham – Big Break Broken". Internet Movie Database.[permanent dead link]
- Jenny Hontz (June 19, 1997). "NBC taps Marie for 'Union' role". Variety. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
- Bill Carter (January 21, 1998). "TV Notes; Comedies to Go". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
- Ray Richmond (September 28, 1997). "Union Square". Variety. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
- Will Joyner (September 25, 1997). "In the Diner They Come and Go, Bringing to Mind Another Show – 'Union Square'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-24.