Who's Watching the Kids?
This article does not cite any sources. (April 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Who's Watching the Kids?|
Who's Watching the Kids? opening title
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||15 (6 unaired)|
|Executive producer(s)||Garry Marshall
Anthony W. Marshall
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Henderson Productions
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 22 – December 15, 1978|
Who's Watching the Kids? is an American sitcom produced by Garry Marshall which aired on NBC from September 22, 1978 to December 15, 1978. The series focused on two young Las Vegas showgirls, working and rooming together, who each had a younger sibling living with them.
The series originated as the pilot special Legs, which NBC aired on May 19, 1978.
The sitcom centered around two sexy Las Vegas showgirls sharing their lives together, each with a younger sibling in tow. Raving blonde beauty Stacy Turner (Caren Kaye) and voluptuous brunette Angie Vitola (Lynda Goodfriend) were close friends living their dream as Vegas performers at a local venue, Club Sand Pile. The club may have been third rate, but it was the perfect launching pad for the girls' career aspirations. While Stacy and Angie shared an apartment together, added responsibilities were present from the get-go, since both had custody of their much younger siblings. Living with them were Angie's 15-year-old brother Frankie (Scott Baio) and Stacy's 9-year-old kid sister Melissa (Tammy Lauren). Frankie and Melissa were rambunctious and worldly, and were forever getting into trouble; they loved to cook up schemes that would get them access to everything Sin City had to offer, including, for Frankie (who styled himself as "the Fox") closer opportunities to make time with the other beautiful women who performed at Club Sand Pile.
Stacy and Angie had to divide their time between their careers and keeping the kids on the straight and narrow, but it was always a challenge. In order to ease their situation, they acquired the help of their next door neighbor, aspiring journalist Larry Parnell (Larry Breeding) to watch the kids while they were off performing. Larry found himself alternating between the roles of family friend and foe, as he often had to chase Frankie and Melissa around in the midst of their scrapes every week. The two liked having Larry around, but they stopped at nothing to undermine anyone's supervision. Larry hoped someday to become a successful writer/reporter, but in the meantime had only made it to covering garden and weather reports at local TV station KVGS. Larry's friend and main cameraman at KVGS, the klutzy Bert Gunkel (James Belushi), also lived in the building and often helped Larry keep an eye on Frankie and Melissa.
Also in the cast were Mitzi Logan (Marcia Lewis), the heavyset host and owner of Club Sand Pile, who in addition to helping Angie and Stacy land their big break, was also their landlady. Memphis O'Hara (Lorrie Mahaffey) was a singer at the club, and was the most prominent object of Frankie's affection, although Frankie also made attempts to become friendly with Venus (Shirley Kirkes) and Bridget (Elaine Bolton), two other dancers at the club and close cohorts to Stacy and Angie.
- Caren Kaye as Stacy Turner
- Marcia Lewis as Mitzi Logan
- Scott Baio as Frankie Vitola
- Lynda Goodfriend as Angie Vitola
- James Belushi as Bert Gunkel
- Tammy Lauren as Melissa Turner
- Larry Breeding as Larry Parnell
Development and connection to other Garry Marshall series
Who's Watching the Kids? employed several actors who were already familiar faces from shows produced by Garry Marshall and his associates Thomas L. Miller and Edward K. Milkis. Those who had already worked with the producers were Caren Kaye, Lynda Goodfriend, Scott Baio, Shirley Kirkes and Elaine Bolton. These five originally appeared together as co-stars on Marshall's short-lived 1977 Happy Days spin-off Blansky's Beauties, which starred Nancy Walker. Blansky's Beauties had a very similar plotline to what became Who's Watching the Kids?: a bevy of Las Vegas showgirls seeking fame and fortune under the watchful eye of den mother and choreographer Nancy Blansky (Walker). Kaye, Goodfriend, Kirkes and Bolton were four of Blansky's showgirls, and Baio, in his first TV series role, played Anthony DeLuca, a 12-year-old romeo who was always trying to score with the older beauties.
Blansky's Beauties was cancelled after half a season, but Marshall refused to give up on the idea of a sitcom with a Las Vegas showgirls theme. Marshall took the basis of Blansky's Beauties and retooled it for a new series concept, that mainly focused on a group of sexy young ladies trying to make it in the Vegas entertainment world, without the aid of an older confidant or the presence of children. The concept proved to be even more sexually-driven than Blansky's Beauties, and was given the title Legs. NBC was interested in the new project, and agreed to a pilot which would be aired in the spring of 1978 as a one-time special. If the special fared well in the ratings, they would commit to a weekly series. Four of the original Blansky beauties—Kaye, Goodfriend, Kirkes and Bolton—were hired back by Marshall to star in Legs. For Lynda Goodfriend, this was the second transition from one Marshall series to another. After the cancellation of Blansky's, Goodfriend took up Marshall's offer to join the cast of Happy Days as the 1977-78 season began, playing Lori Beth Allen, the new love interest of Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard). If Legs went on to be a successful series, it is presumed that Marshall would have written off the character of Lori Beth on Happy Days in order for Goodfriend to commit to her co-starring role on the new show.
Legs was successful as a one time special when it aired in May 1978; therefore, NBC provided a berth for the series on its 1978 fall schedule. However, the network talked with Marshall about adding more of a family appeal to the sex-farce sitcom, which he eventually agreed to. Marshall added two young kids to the cast, and hired another one of his Happy Days actors away, Scott Baio, who had also joined the cast of that series in the fall of 1977, along with Lynda Goodfriend. Baio had become familiar to Happy Days viewers as Charles "Chachi" Arcola, cousin of Fonzie (Henry Winkler). He and young actress Tammy Lauren were entered into the fray of Legs as two kids who lived with their showgirl sisters. Only now, two showgirls instead of four would be the main focus; Kaye and Goodfriend were chosen to be the top-billing stars, while Kirkes and Bolton were relegated to smaller supporting roles. Marshall re-wrote the format so the kids could be well-integrated; the ultimate catch in the re-write was the dilemma Kaye and Goodfriend's characters faced as they were always busy in their performing career: "just who will be watching the kids?" This prompted the ultimate title change.
While the show is nominally about the showgirls, and their children, the intro tends focusses on the men (Belushi and Breeding) and the children , taking the focus away from the showgirl element and making it to appear more like a family show.