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A young off-duty New York cabbie spots a pretty girl on the street, trying to hire a ride.  Intrigued, he decides he’s now “on duty” and stops for her.  She likes the guy too, and after a few “meet cute” visuals, she exits at the school where she teaches.  That afternoon, as she leaves, guess what cab (and what cabbie) is waiting for her?  Before anyone can say “musical montage”, we see scenes of a young couple newly in love, kissing sweetly.  Then, unfortunately, the following exchange occurs:

Bridget meets Bernie

“You know, this is crazy.  I don’t even know your full name!”

“Bernie… Steinberg.  What’s yours?”

“Bridget.  Bridget… Teresa… Mary… Colleen… Fitzgerald.”

“I think we have a problem….”

–the first actual lines in the pilot episode of Bridget Loves Bernie

Such is the set-up for one of the more popular romantic comedies of the early 1970’s, Bridget Loves Bernie.  It was a tumultuous time in America, with the ending of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the fall of the Nixon Presidency.  Public opinion was changing on lots of things, both political and societal, and in the midst of this change came a romantic comedy about two people deeply in love… and their families, who were as opposite as they could be.

“The important thing is for us not to over-react.”
–Bridget’s father to her mother, about to meet Bernie

Bridget (Meredith Baxter) was a schoolteacher from a rich Catholic home.  Her parents Walter and Amy (played by TV vets David Doyle and Audra Lindley, respectively) were very traditional stock, and despite the quote above, they’re very good at over-reacting.  They really only accept Bernie (and his Jewish faith) because it seems a lesser difficulty than their initial fear of Bridget bringing home an African-American (or, as Amy puts it in the vernacular of the time, “colored”).  They try to put on a brave face, but make just about every possible “enlightened” mistake they could make along the way.  Their efforts of acceptance make walking on eggshells look easy.

Of course, if the Fitzgeralds have eggshells, the Steinbergs make omelets.  Sam and Sophie Steinberg (Harold J. Stone and Bibi Osterwald) own a deli, and are a bit awed by the wealth of the Fitzgeralds.  We meet them (and their underdog attitudes) as they arrive at the Fitzgeralds, looking for a missing Bernie.  Bridget is also missing, and so the opposing families are united in their worry.  The only things they agree on are the safety of their children, and that their relationship should be stopped before it starts….

That’s kind of difficult when Bridget and Bernie have taken matters into their own hands.  They were missing due to having an appointment at the courthouse, and their civil marriage ceremony.  Even with no priest for the Fitzgeralds or rabbi for the Steinbergs, Bridget and Bernie are still married (a fact the parents will now have to get used to).  Although it’s too late for the parents to stop the wedding, they’ll still interfere in their own ways.

Bridget and Bernie do have some allies in all this.  Bridget’s brother Michael (Robert Sampson) is a priest, but is likely one of the more level-headed members of this bunch (and understanding of the relationship).  Bernie’s uncle Moe (Ned Glass) is a guy for whom religion is important, but practicality and people will trump it every time.  And finally, we have the couple’s friend Otis (William Elliott), who shares cab-driving duties with Bernie.  Otis happens to be the African-American initially mistaken for Bridget’s beau, giving a friendly perspective on the trials the young couple is going through.

Living above the deli in Bernie’s small apartment, Bridget Loves Bernie uses the marriage, and the families and friends, to examine many of the social issues of the day.  Religious differences, political alignments, social classes, racial prejudices, and pretty much every other disparate point of view are on display here.  The surprising part is, this wasn’t new news, even in 1972.

Broadway cast of Abie's Irish Rose, 1927

“Showing that the Jews and the Irish crack equally old jokes.”
–theatre critic commenting on Abie’s Irish Rose

Bridget Loves Bernie is primarily based on an old Broadway play called Abie’s Irish Rose from the 1920’s.  Made twice into a movie (and forming the basis for more), the critics thought the show was rehashing old ideas and prejudices even then.  The play was, however, a popular success, setting (at the time) the record for the longest running Broadway show EVER.  It was also made into a radio series, running for two and a half years.  Audiences loved the idea of feuding families, as the concept had likely been around even longer (say, Romeo and Juliet?)

You would think, especially after the turbulent ’60’s, America might accept such a television series.  After all, the success of CBS’s previous season hit All in the Family (and its groundbreaking use of the Archie Bunker character) likely meant the audience was more than ready for such a comedy.  Bridget Loves Bernie was slotted in the half-hour immediately following All in the Family, and achieved enough viewer interest to become a top 5 success on all of television for the season.

But success brings attention, and attention sometimes brings controversy.  Archie Bunker was, for most people, lovably WRONG in his attitudes, demonstrably so.  Most watching All in the Family agreed.  But when Bridget Loves Bernie presented, in a bit more realistic way, disagreements many families were currently dealing with (prominently featuring religion as a sticking point), all of a sudden tradition, religion, and faith take on a slightly different color.

People get blind spots when discussing religion; more so than many other personal positions.  It tends to define much of who we are as individuals, as family, as class.  Religion, sometimes more than ethnic background, forms the basis of identity, and when we see it (supposedly) tossed away by our youth, over-reactions are common.  It is no wonder that the Steinbergs and the Fitzgeralds argue, as the relationship seems to threaten their own life-identities… or, at the very least, the identities they had believed true for their own son or daughter.

But here’s the big difference, one which was true in Romeo and Juliet, in Abie’s Irish Rose, in Bridget Loves Bernie, and even today.  RELIGION IS NOT FAITH.  Bridget truly loves Bernie, not in spite of his being Jewish, but because he’s Bernie, and that encompasses everything about him, including the fact that he and his family are Jewish.  Bernie does the same, loving Bridget (and, by extension, her family) for everything she is.  Both of them do so, allowing for their parents misconceptions and misunderstandings, for the sake of each other.

Bridget and Bernie, bridging the gaps

Love is that strong.  Faith is that strong.  Religion, on the other hand, is just rules, made by others, for the practice of faith.  But true belief, in each other, and in whatever supreme being you may have, is what makes faith real, concrete, and part of our lives.  Religion is just the (sometimes unnecessary) trappings thereof.  Bridget, Bernie, and their friends and families, learn to live beyond religion, but not beyond faith.  Your faith does not, and never will, threaten mine… and mine will never threaten yours, if we can simply agree to have both love and faith.

Some people had problems with this, as tightly woven the concept of religion was in their lives.  It was the same way with Abie and Rose’s parents, and the same with Bridget and Bernie’s, at least at first.  But some didn’t let go of this idea, and were outraged that they were somehow being portrayed as “wrong” on television (they weren’t… that’s the blind spot).  Encouraged by religious leaders, complaint letters were sent to the network (even by people who’d never sampled the show), and although the series was extremely popular, CBS got tired very quickly of all the negative publicity.

Despite all this, the show was hugely popular.  As I said, during its one and only season Bridget Loves Bernie was the #5 rated show on television… and thanks to the pressure campaign, it was still canceled.  These days, corporate masters would simply say all the right things and placate those who generated a disproportionate response, and keep Bridget Loves Bernie on the air.  And, as much as I would love to say the show would be kept on for the right reasons, it would be kept on only for the money it would generate… which tells you about the type of “faith” television networks believe in these days.  But at least the series would have continued, and positive messages of love and belief might have triumphed over blind spots and over-reaction.

Bridget Loves Bernie was that rare show that tackled topical subjects with a heart… and its heart was broken.  I would like to hope that people can find a way past their differences if love is truly in their hearts… and at the very least, understand and allow for differences along the way.  This is true for families, and just as true for strangers along the way.  Messages are more important that individual shows.  Allowing others to love, in their own way, harming no one else, is the message I will always have faith in.

Bridget:  “Our poor parents.  We chose each other.  It’s going to be tough on them.”

Bernie:  “I wouldn’t worry.  We’re going to be there to help them through the rough spots.”

MEREDITH BAXTER (Bridget Teresa Mary Colleen Fitzgerald Steinberg) had success early, as she’d been in the television business less than two years when she was cast as Bridget.  In 1976 she became a supporting member of the cast of Family, earning two Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama.  Her most popular role was as Elyse Keaton in Family Ties, which ran for seven seasons.  She’s the author of Untied:  A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering, which discusses her life amid alcoholism, breast cancer, and her decision to openly declare her homosexuality.

DAVID BIRNEY (Bernie Steinberg) has earned Broadway credits, appearing in Amadeus and Man and Superman, in addition to numerous other stage roles in major theatres across the country.  He’s starred in a number of TV series, including Serpico and St. Elsewhere.  He’s best known on television for roles in various miniseries, including a star turn in the early American drama The Adams Chronicles.

DAVID DOYLE (Walter Fitzgerald) is a television veteran, guesting on numerous series.  As the featured male on Charlie’s Angels, he was surrounded by beautiful women on a regular basis (yet still shone enough to earn himself an Emmy nomination).  In his later years, he specialized in voice-over acting for many animated series, until his death in 1997 due to a heart attack.

AUDRA LINDLEY (Amy Fitzgerald) played many years on two soap operas, Search for Tomorrow and Another World, before making it to prime time with Bridget Loves Bernie (where she was nominated for a Golden Globe).  She reached stardom in her memorable portrayal of Mrs. Roper in Three’s Company, although the spin-off featuring her character not as successful.  She continued acting in recurring parts on both Friends and Cybil, until her death in 1997 at the age of 79 (supposedly with her next Cybil script on the table next to her!)

HAROLD T. STONE (Sam Steinberg) found Broadway fame as a young man, appearing on the Great White Way in 1939.  A few years later, he headed west and found a film career as a steadily working actor in movies.  He found his niche in the early days of television, appearing in well over 150 different shows.  He was a regular on My World and Welcome to It as well as Bridget Loves Bernie, but was best known for the many tough-guy guest roles he played on ’60’s and ’70’s series.  He passed in 2005 at the age of 94.

BIBI OSTERWALD (Sophie Steinberg) never achieved stardom, but in her lengthy career she did perform guest roles in series such as Route 66, All in the Family, Remington Steele, and Home Improvement.  One of her favorite roles was Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly, where she once was understudy to famed dancer Ginger Rogers.  She died of lung disease in 2002.

ROBERT SAMPSON (Father Michael Fitzgerald) was a surprising choice for comedy in Bridget Loves Bernie, considering in most of his career he’s been featured in dramatic roles.  He appeared on many early TV series, including the original Twilight Zone, Bonanza, and Combat!  After Bridget Loves Bernie, he was seen on Police Story, Falcon Crest, Matlock, and Profiler.  He was also featured in the cult horror film Re-Animator, in a significant enough role that he still makes convention appearances to this day.

NED GLASS (Uncle “Moe” Plotnick) made a career out of playing slightly disreputable small-time crooks, usually for laughs.  He played opposite comedic legends like The Three Stooges, Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, and Phil Silvers.  He was nominated for an Emmy for his role in Julia, and performed with everyone from Elvis Presley and Jack Lemmon to Herbie, the Love Bug.  He passed, after a lengthy illness, in 1984.

WILLIAM ELLIOTT (Otis Foster) was a recurring character on Adam-12, but other than his role on Bridget Loves Bernie, he’s best known for his roughly eight-year marriage (and later divorce) to Grammy-winning singer Dionne Warwick.  Elliott died in 1983 at the age of 49.

Bridget Loves Bernie has never been available on DVD.  Two episodes are available on YouTube, including the pilot, where you’ll also find the appropriately titled theme song, “Love is Crazy”.  Bridget Loves Bernie holds the distinction of being the highest rated full season show ever canceled by one of the big three networks (finishing at #5 for the year), and in this day of money and corporate decision-making, it’s doubtful that record will ever be broken.  There has been a multitude of information written about the subsequent marriage and eventual break-up (and further reasons for it) between the show’s stars, Meredith Baxter and David Birney, but this website is NOT the place for such intensely personal discourse.  Quite honestly, the themes of the show are much bigger, and so they are the focus of this article.

We love you, too.

One would like to think that, in our modern, more enlightened (?) times, the types of differences examined in Bridget Loves Bernie would no longer be prominent.  Mixed marriages of religion, not to mention race, are becoming much more commonplace, and for many don’t even rate a mention, let alone an argument.  And yet, newer disagreements are taking place all across the land, for many of the same reasons.  The fight for gender equality and the rights of civil, let alone religious, marriage for same-sex couples divides many families and households.  The depiction of Catholic vs. Jew seems almost quaint for some… and yet for others it is a difference causing permanent separation between loved ones.  The battles are old.  Just the fighters are new.

And yet, here’s the common thing, the one thing that gives me hope all along the way.  Love wins out, every time.  Only those who close their hearts and cling to rules instead of humanity lose, and they do it only by their own choice.  There’s a reason the show was called Bridget Loves Bernie… and it’s because, after all is said and done, it is not religion, or social class, or anything else that matters.  The only thing that matters is love….

Vital Stats

24 aired episodes — none unaired
CBS Network
First aired episode:  September 16, 1972 (the day before CBS aired the first episode of M*A*S*H)
Final aired episode:  March 3, 1973 (no pre-emptions — you don’t pre-empt a hit)
Aired at Friday, 8/7 Central?  Saturdays, 8:30, 7:30 Central.  A year later, this Saturday night became the best night of television on television, with the five shows airing on CBS all making Time Magazine’s list of the best 100 TV shows in historyBridget Loves Bernie, if it had survived, could easily have been there too.

Comments and suggestions appreciated, as always.

–Tim R.

The subtitle for the movie Star Trek VI was The Undiscovered Country.  It refers to Shakespeare’s use of the phrase in Hamlet (Act III, Scene I) and the famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.  The undiscovered country is, of course, “not to be”, as it is a reference to death and the fears of what lies beyond our existence.

Strangely enough, Star Trek and Shakespeare’s concept of death also combine in the life of one of the most creative and best writers in modern television, who gave us one of the quirkiest and most engaging shows in recent history.  The man is Bryan Fuller, and the show is Pushing Daisies.

“I’m fascinated by life and the fact that we’re conscious, and that we have thoughts that string together to form words to have conversation.  And life holds a lot of mystery.  And I think my obsession with death is really an obsession with life.”
–Bryan Fuller

The facts are these….

Life. Death. Love. Daisies.

An amazing and colorful vision appeared on ABC television screens in the Fall of 2007.  Pushing Daisies told the story of Ned (Lee Pace), proprietor of The Pie-Hole bakery and possessor of a very unique ability — he could bring the dead back to life with a simple touch.

Of course, the ability had a couple of drawbacks:  if he didn’t touch the (previously) deceased again within a minute, someone else nearby would die instead, and if he touched the person he’d saved again, they’d immediately die with no more second chances.  First touch, life… second touch, eternal death… if he EVER touched them again!!!!  Young Ned discovered these facts as a child when he tried to revive his own mother (seemingly causing the death of his childhood sweetheart’s father across the street), then accidentally causing his own mother to die once again (permanently) from a simple kiss goodnight.

Ned literally had life and death in his hands… a terrific power that became a terrible burden for him around those he loved.  (He had even brought his faithful dog back to life, but now has to pet it with a mechanical hand/back scratcher, because his own touch would mean losing his beloved companion forever!)  After the (final) death of his mother, young Ned was sent away to school and became a loner, keeping others at an emotional arm’s length throughout his life, and never told anyone about his secret.

Unfortunately, his ability to resurrect the dead is accidentally discovered by private eye Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), who figures Ned would come in real handy tracking down unsolved murders.   All Ned would have to do is “revive” the victim, allow them a minute to tell Emerson who their killer was, then let them expire in peace with another touch.  This would allow Emerson to find justice for the deceased (not to mention collect any reward money) with little of the work.  They first become partners (grudgingly) through Emerson’s blackmail threat to expose Ned, then later as friends when Ned discovers he can actually put his ability to some good use this way.  It might work… but a particular dead body changes everything….

Ned finds out his childhood sweetheart has been killed under mysterious circumstances, and convinces an unsuspecting Emerson they should take the case… but it’s really a ruse for Ned to visit the funeral home and revive his long-lost (and temporarily deceased) love, Charlotte Charles (Anna Friel).  Since the debacle with his mother, Ned’s never been tempted to keep another dead body alive, but he can’t let his true love die… so he lets the minute elapse… and the crooked funeral director dies instead.  “Chuck” (as she prefers) is amazed to be alive again, and even more amazed to discover her benefactor is Ned, the boy she loved as a child growing up across the street.  (They were long-lost sweethearts, each other’s first and only real love… no wonder he couldn’t let her die!)  Chuck is the catalyst for Ned to use his power for helping others by fulfilling their dying wishes (even if they’re already technically dead).  This puts her at odds with Emerson, as there’s only so much information that can be expressed in 60 seconds, and at odds with Ned, who has recovered the woman he loves, yet can’t touch her again without killing her.  No holding hands, no comforting touch, no kiss… Ned and Chuck are a couple in deep emotion only, for even holding hands would be the end of it all.

Ned:  “You’re supposed to be dead.  You’re pushing your luck.”
Chuck:  “Yeah, well luck pushed me first.”

Vivian and Lilly, the Darling Mermaid Darlings

Chuck and Emerson are introduced as Ned’s “friends” to Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), the waitress at The Pie-Hole.  She’s been pining for Ned’s attentions (to the point of moving in next-door to him) and wants to be involved in solving the mysteries as well.  Although Olive is unaware of Ned’s ability, she discovers that Chuck’s family thinks Chuck is still dead, and she believes that Chuck is merely hiding from them for some reason.  Olive befriends Chuck, and later also befriends Chuck’s aunts Lily and Vivian (Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene), although she doesn’t give away to them the knowledge of Chuck’s revival.  Oh, and Chuck doesn’t know about the whole “I think I killed your father” thing with Ned either….

Secrets abound, death abounds, life abounds.  See, it’s Hamlet all over.

“Everything we do is a choice.  Oatmeal or cereal?  Highway or side-streets?  Kiss her or keep her?  We make choices and we live with the consequences.  If someone gets hurt along the way, we ask for forgiveness.  It’s the best anyone can do.”
–Ned

Actually, it isn’t Hamlet.  Instead, it’s an incredibly stylistic display of color, mystery, laughter, whimsy, romance unrequited and romance unfulfilled, and a very light way to treat death.  Pushing Daisies was a mystery show, a comedy, a romance, and even on occasion a musical (because it would be a crime to put either Kristin Chenoweth or Ellen Greene in a show and not have them sing once in a while).

If we can't kiss, we'll let the toy monkeys do it for us.

It also brought the “quirky” in full force.  Aunts Lily and Vivian were known as the Darling Mermaid Darlings, famous for their synchronized swimming act (that is, until Lily ended up with an eyepatch and Vivian became agoraphobic and wouldn’t leave their house anymore).  Emerson had a long-lost daughter and a collection of pop-up books, and used the books to try to find her (don’t ask).  Chuck’s hobby was urban beekeeping (and that suit came in handy to prevent any accidental touching by Ned).  Olive became a nun at one point (I told you, don’t ask).  And Ned was a simple pieman with a long-held secret that might destroy his chance at love beyond death (twice).

Ordinary, Pushing Daisies certainly wasn’t….  For that, we thank the extraordinary Bryan Fuller.

“I got into writing to become a Star Trek writer.  I was a rabid fan.  I had shelves and shelves and shelves of action figures in my bedroom that scared away more dates than I care to admit to.  So it was really… if back then, you told me ‘you’re gonna write for Star Trek for twenty years,’ I couldn’t have imagined a happier career.”
–Bryan Fuller

Fuller got his start by being an obsessed Star Trek fan, like so many others.  But his imagination allowed him to become part of the strangeness that is television.  Watching Deep Space Nine, he was struck by how the episodes and stories were put together, and submitted a spec script (meaning unsolicited) to the producers through Trek‘s “open script search” program (unique in the industry, and never really repeated thereafter).  His initial idea was strong enough that the producers bought it for the show, and invited him to “pitch” other stories for potential scripts.  Another idea was sold to DS9, and he ultimately ended up on sister series Star Trek:  Voyager as a staff writer for four years, contributing over 20 scripts and learning from writers that went on to produce CSI, the Battlestar:  Galactica revival, Castle, and many other successful series.

He created both the Showtime series Dead Like Me and the Fox series Wonderfalls, each featuring off-kilter storylines and unusual protagonists dealing with large issues in smaller ways.  Dead Like Me obviously uses death as a central theme, but in a very different way from Pushing Daisies.

“And I, you know, I think with death, you can’t minimize it.  It’s so big.  It’s something that holds a lot of magic and mystery for me.”
–Bryan Fuller

Magic and mystery, two very important elements of Pushing Daisies.  The mystery element is there in the form of the “procedural”, solving murders and getting clues from dead people in the morgue.  The magic… well, that was everywhere on this show.

Young Ned. Young Chuck. Young love.

There were flashbacks to Ned and Chuck as children and their innocent young love (where Young Ned receives his first and only kiss).  These were narrated by British actor Jim Dale, famous for turns as the audiobook reader for the Harry Potter series, and performances as the silver-tongued P.T. Barnum on Broadway and the tongue-twisted villain in Disney’s Pete’s Dragon.  The verbal skills served Dale well, as much of the dialogue featured in the narration (and the series as a whole) used alliteration and rhyming schemes occasionally reminiscent of Dr. Seuss.  (Dale’s flashback narration usually began with the phrase “The facts are these” used here near the beginning of this article.)

Who would kill clowns in a clown car?

Then there’s the color palette.  With the possible exception of the original Star Trek, it’s doubtful any show on television was this colorful, this bright, this saturated with hues.  Here was a show about death, yet presented in a way that was more beautiful and vivid than real life.  Add in unusual murder victims (a man claims his wife killed him, but the group then finds out he was a polygamist), weird locations (an entire village of windmills), and outrageous characters (a traveling homeopathic drug salesman, a guy with an incredibly sensitive nose who lives in a sewer, and a woman who trains dogs and uses the same methods on people), and you end up with an intoxicating concoction and a whimsical examination of love and death.  No wonder it didn’t last.

“We lost our momentum, we were off the air for almost a year, ten or eleven months we were off the air.  As much as the billboards in Los Angeles and New York are great for the people who live in Los Angeles and New York, all the cities in between weren’t really aware we were coming back.  Ten months is a long time to say, “Yeah, I remember that.”  And people generally don’t.”
–Bryan Fuller

Please God, don't let them cancel our show!

The series was a huge hit for its first season.  Pushing Daisies garnered both critical acclaim and significant audiences.  Then the Writer’s Strike of 2007 stopped everything, cutting short the season (to nine episodes) and removing the show from the public eye.  Although it returned almost a year later for 13 more episodes, the previous attention the show had received was lost and the audience never returned.  Despite 17 Emmy nominations and 7 Emmy wins over its two shortened seasons, even Ned’s ability couldn’t bring Pushing Daisies back from “the undiscovered country”.

(An aside about the biographies:  this is simply one of the most talented casts I’ve ever seen.  I had to leave out more in the biographies than I can usually find to put in for people.  They’re all simply incredible!)

LEE PACE (Ned) is primarily a movie actor, but his two TV series (Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls, both created by Bryan Fuller) have landed articles on this website.  He was first noticed in the Sundance/Showtime film Soldier’s Girl, a role for which he lost 25 pounds and gained a Golden Globe nomination.  He will be seen in both parts of the upcoming Twilight Saga movie series, Breaking Dawn.

ANNA FRIEL (Charlotte “Chuck” Charles) began acting professionally in Britain at the age of 13, appearing in series such as G.B.H., Emmerdale, and Brookside (gaining a National Television Award  in the UK for “Most Popular Actress” in the latter role).  Also a Golden Globe nominee for Pushing Daisies, she’s spent succeeding years focusing on other projects, appearing onstage in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in London’s West End and playing the villain in the upcoming miniseries Neverland.

CHI McBRIDE has been a regular on many series, playing both comedy and drama with ease.  First featured on The John Laroquette Show, he’s appeared on The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, Boston Public, The Nine, and House.  His current gig is as a regular on the series Human Target.  His nickname “Chi” is actually short for Chicago, his hometown.

KRISTIN CHENOWETH is a star in almost any medium, and an unstoppable force with a huge voice in a tiny body.  While her own starring TV series died a quick death (Kristen), she’s been a Broadway stalwart winning a Tony Award for the revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and a nomination for Wicked (an award she lost to her co-star, Idina Menzel).  On television she’s played Marian the Librarian in The Music Man, and now has a recurring role on Glee.  She’s also cited as the inspiration for Aaron Sorkin creating the Harriet Hayes character in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

SWOOSIE KURTZ is another amazingly talented performer, earning Tony and Emmy awards herself.  First a regular on the Tony Randall series Love, Sidney, she later starred in the series Sisters and is currently seen on Mike & Molly.  Her stage career includes performances in House of Blue Leaves, Fifth of July, and Imaginary Friends.  Her unusual first name comes from the type of plane (“half swan, half goose”) her Air Force father flew on many missions during WWII, a plane that hangs in the National Museum of the USAF.

ELLEN GREENE began her performance career as a cabaret singer, moving quickly to the world of New York theatre.  She originated the role of Audrey in the Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, and reprised the role in the cult hit film version with Rick Moranis.  She’s recently appeared as Miss Adelade in a star-studded concert version of Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl, and been seen on episodes of The Young and the Restless.

Pushing Daisies garnered many fans, especially during its inaugural season.  Some fans were moved to create great websites dedicated to news and information about the series, like this one.  A limited number of episodes are available at The WB website (the show’s production company), and these are rotated out every week so you can see what you’ve missed.  Both seasons are available on DVD (with yummy extras).  A first-season music CD was released, with the second-season music just announced for April 2011.  A special limited edition comic book came out during Comic-Con 2007, and news is that the story of Pushing Daisies will live again in comic form in the Spring of 2011 with new stories by Bryan Fuller AND a soundtrack likely available online with the original cast!  (Even when this show does a comic, it’s different!)  Finally, the Paley Center in L.A. did a retrospective on the show with the entire cast and some of the production staff, and that event was filmed and is available on DVD and Video on Demand through Amazon.

Everything about Pushing Daisies screams unique, from the storyline to the music to the colors to the acting and writing.  Bryan Fuller was just a typical fan of television watching at home, and ended up becoming a TV creator and producer involved in some of the best and most inventive television made in the last two decades.  He’s approached J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot Productions with ideas on adapting their rebooted Star Trek for television after the current movie run is done, helping resurrect the venerable TV franchise from the dead once again.

His story, and the story of Pushing Daisies, gives hope to all those whose dreams and efforts may have died that there is still life.  There is still a way for dreams to come true.  There is still hope for amazing things.  The Pieman’s magic touch may be fantasy, but it was wrought out of a combination of reality, hard work, and dreaming impossible things that come true.  And that is really the definition of both Star Trek and Pushing Daisies.  Life after death.  The facts are these….

Vital Stats

22 aired episodes — none unaired
ABC Network
First aired episode:  October 3, 2007
Final aired episode:  June 13, 2009, although the majority of episodes ended the previous December, as ABC simply burned off the final three episodes on Saturday nights long after the show was officially canceled.
Aired at Friday 8/7 Central?  With the exception of the burnoff episodes, Pushing Daisies aired on Wednesday nights at 8/7 Central.

Comments and suggestions appreciated, as always.

–Tim R.

“Life is complicated.  Love is simple.”
–Trevor on Cupid (2009)

Simple?  Really?  Face it, Valentine’s Day is not made for those who have yet to find their soulmate.  The search for that “perfect match” can be long and trying, and a person can get their heart broken more than once along the way.  Those looking for that special someone often wish that the journey weren’t quite so difficult, or that there was somebody out there who could  help them.  People turn to friends, books, even computers and online dating services to be successful.  But it doesn’t always work.

Then, when you least expect it, sometimes love just falls into your lap, like a gift from the gods.  Sure, it still takes a lot of work, and you really can’t take anything for granted.  But suddenly the possibility is there… if you don’t screw it up.  All you need is a little help.  All you need on your side is Cupid.

Trevor and Claire circa 1998

Debuting on ABC in 1998, Cupid opens with psychiatrist and author Dr. Claire Allen (Paula Marshall).   She has written a number of best-selling books on love, but can’t get it right in her own life.  Although she’s great at helping others find that “special someone,” for some reason she’s always found a way to foul it up for herself, mostly by thinking about it too much.  With other people, she does the thinking for them, and lets all that mind stuff get out of the way of their hearts.  But she can’t get out of her own way, because she’s “thinking” instead of “living”, let alone finally getting to the possibility of “loving”.

Her newest patient (recently institutionalized) is Trevor Hale (Jeremy Piven), who seems normal in many respects except for one thing — he has this belief that he’s actually the ancient Greek god Eros, or as he is also known by humans, Cupid.  Trevor tells Claire that his apparent mission, as Cupid, is to make romantic matches for 100 couples so he can go back to Mt. Olympus and once again become a god.  This mission isn’t really a mission though… it’s a punishment.  Cupid was a bit lax in his duties (according to Trevor) and now he has to prove his worth through 100 perfect matches here on earth — without the use of his bow, arrows, or magic of any kind.  He’s got to do it the old fashioned way, as a mortal.  Claire still thinks he’s a bit crazy, yet Claire’s mission (or punishment) from the mental health commission is to help Trevor back into human society… and forget all this Cupid business.

“I only get credit for a match if it’s true love… the kind of love you’d cross oceans to find.  Romeo and Juliet counts.  Romeo and the coat check girl doesn’t.”
–Trevor/Cupid

Easier said than done, as Trevor/Cupid really wants to go “home” and he sets out to start matchmaking… with less than perfect results.  He says he’s used to doing things the easy way, with “magic”, and while he knows a lot about what love should be, he doesn’t necessarily know that much about the much harder human process of getting there.  For that part, he needs help, and he decides that’s where his human guide Claire comes in.

It takes two... tries

Trevor discovers Claire is good at some things, but her supposed “expertise” as a relationship therapist goes against what he knows about the final product… so he promptly goes about debunking pretty much everything she’d ever believed and taught.  Trevor’s good ideas of passion and “living in the moment” occasionally resemble more modern-day sexual hook-ups for some than lasting relationships, so occasionally Claire might have a better idea of what will keep a couple together.  The truth is somewhere in the middle, so the running battle is on between the two.  They try to help people find true love while they learn that love may be standing right beside them, if only they’d look at each other.  The audience can tell from a mile away that they’re fated to be together, no matter what missions they may have or how blind they can be to the obvious.

“We’re all hungry for true romance and true connections.  We have two characters with divergent points of view, but they’re united in trying to help others strengthen their own relationships.”
–Scott Winant, producer/director

Cupid got great reviews and 14 episodes on Saturday nights, a time period that was quickly becoming a TV wasteland (and who would watch a romance show late on Saturday when lovers are out dating anyway?)  The series ended up with one episode left unaired and a Dear John letter from the network.  It didn’t look like Cupid would get to shoot any more arrows.

But love (and television) can be surprising.  After creator Thomas’ next fantastic show Veronica Mars became a high-profile hit, both The CW and ABC came back like competing lovers to ask for a revival of Cupid.  Since The CW had recently canceled Veronica Mars and ABC was the original home of the show, Thomas went with ABC.  Maybe there was still a relationship here after all….

 

Claire and Trevor, circa 2009

In 2009  ABC ordered Cupid as a mid-season replacement.  A few modest changes ensued:  New actors were hired for the leads (Sarah Paulson and Bobby Cannavale); the last names of the two lead characters were changed, from Allen to McCrae and Hale to Pierce; the venue of the series moved from Chicago to New York (although both versions were shot on location, providing a more realistic counterpoint to the slight fantasy element of the show).  But for the most part the series premise was intact:  Trevor was still either crazy or a god, Claire was still thinking too much, and they were still meant for each other.  The search for 100 couples and true love was on again.

“Fifteen years of training has prepared me to help these people.”

“And being the god of love for 3000 years has prepared me for what?  Desk job at Hallmark?”

–typical Claire and Trevor, no matter which version

Both versions of Cupid suffered (to at least some extent) from the Moonlighting syndrome, in which potential couples are set up to possibly be the “perfect match” for each other (arguing all the way), and then obstacles are put in the way of the romance.  The audience wants to see them together; the couple is shown to be exactly what each other wants and needs; and pressure starts building on the writers and producers to actually get them together and release all the pent-up romantic tension that the series has built.  And fans are waiting on the edge of their seats for it to happen, if the build-up is done right.

The problem is, giving in to the fans is exactly the wrong thing for a show to do in this case.  The engine of the show is the sputtering relationship between the leads, that “perfect match” that never quite gets struck.  The moment you do go to that point, when feelings are acknowledged and love consummated (emotionally or sexually), the engine sputters and there’s no place for a show to go.  The trick becomes finding something else to sidetrack the characters instead, the big roadblock that will keep them from becoming devoted lovebirds for the run of the series.  In the case of Cupid, the roadblock is actually rather straightforward once you buy into it.  Both Claire and Trevor had to finally discover if Trevor was really the Cupid of mythology.

“I just knew I wanted to write it as though he might be… or he might not be.  There wasn’t some big secret that the writers were in on.  The original suggestion [was made] that we treat him like Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street.  That was the mandate.  I believe most viewers absolutely wanted him to be Cupid.  I think I leaned, slightly, to the notion that he was off his rocker.”
–Rob Thomas, creator/producer

There are different ways this could have gone.  Trevor could have been actually crazy, but in such a way that Dr. Claire was still the perfect match for him, as long as she didn’t try to “fix” him anymore.  Trevor might have actually been the mythological Cupid, and Claire loses him when couple #100 finally gets fixed up, but she’s learned what love might be along the way and she’s able to find her own soulmate.  The original Greek mythology of Cupid has him marrying Psyche, a mortal.  This is even mentioned in the first episode of each series.  (Telegraph much?  Claire is a psychiatrist!)  All great ideas for stories, but they all depended on one thing:  getting to that hundredth couple.  They were going to need a few more revival series for that.

like any relationship, we keep on trying

The second version of Cupid lasted only 7 episodes on Tuesday nights.  Again, the casting was great, but perhaps the execution wasn’t the best, as the newer version sacrificed some sweetness for more modern cynicism at times, trying too hard not to become saccharine.  It’s hard to find that balancing act between sparring and romance without crossing the Moonlighting line.  While the actors (in both versions) may have been the perfect match, the tone and the writing just didn’t make a match with the viewing audience and Cupid was reduced to being a myth once more.

JEREMY PIVEN (’98 Trevor/Cupid) is probably best recognized for his role as Ari Gold on Entourage, for which he’s won three Emmy Awards.  He was also featured on Ellen and The Larry Sanders Show.  He’s also known for a stage career, although one Broadway engagement was cut short due to mercury poisoning, likely contracted from his 20-year habit of eating fish twice a day.

PAULA MARSHALL (’98 Claire) is a veteran of many shows, including regular stints on Snoops, Cursed, Hidden Hills, Out of Practice, Veronica Mars, and Californication.   She recently starred on the comedy Gary Unmarried.  Oh, and one of her first jobs was in an episode of the original Grapevine, another second-chance romance you can read about here.

BOBBY CANNAVALE (’09 Trevor/Cupid) first came to fame in the series Third Watch, but is best known a recurring part on Will & Grace, for which he won the Emmy for Best Guest Actor.  He also was on multiple episodes of Cold Case.  Another veteran of Broadway, he was nominated for a Tony award for his performance in Mauritius.

SARAH PAULSON (’09 Claire) is one of our favorites, appearing as Merlyn in the cult favorite American Gothic (which will forever make her repeated line “Someone’s at the door” one of the most scary phrases in TV history).  Other starring roles included the series Jack & Jill, Leap of Faith, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

“I think a good romantic story is always worth telling.  People want to feel like it’s possible that it could work out great.”
–Bobby Cannavale

The 1998 version of Cupid (all 14 episodes) is available for streaming on YouTube, where you can also find some promo spots for the 2009 version along with some interviews with Cannavale and Paulson.  Fans of the show have also shown their love by creating some great websites full of interesting quotes and information about the shows.  Neither versions is available on DVD however, so it’s the bootleg route once again if you must.

How different are the two series?  Not only are large chunks of dialogue repeated almost word-for-word in the pilot episodes, but the plot for the first 2009 episode was one that creator Rob Thomas had planned for the 16th episode of the original (if it had run that long).  Thomas also wanted original actors Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven to reprise their roles in the 2009 remake.  Unfortunately, Marshall was already committed to the sitcom Gary Unmarried and Piven was involved with HBO’s Entourage.

The recasting brings up an interesting idea:  What if only one had been available?  We could have seen Marshall psychoanalyzing Cannavale, or Paulson rolling her eyes at the antics of Piven.  Could either of those shows have succeeded where the originals failed?  There’s no way to know, obviously, but it just shows how unpredictable the true course of winning at love (and television) can be.  Maybe we need the help of Cupid to figure it out….

Vital Stats

Cupid 1998

14 aired episodes — 1 unaired episode
ABC Network
First episode aired:  September 26, 1998
Final episode aired:  February 11, 1999
Aired at Friday 8/7 Central?  Worse, if that’s possible.  Saturdays at 10/9 Central

Cupid 2009

7 aired episodes — none unaired
ABC Network
First episode aired:  March 31, 2009
Final episode aired:  June 16, 2009 (although the series was canceled a month earlier)
Aired at Friday 8/7 Central?  A bit better time slot, Tuesdays at 10/9 Central.  One has to wonder if an earlier time slot would have helped a drama with comedic overtones like Cupid.

Comments and suggestions appreciated, as always.

–Tim R.

“This is not a docu-comedy, you know.  It’s not a story about news or a story about Boston.  It’s a story about people.  Goodnight Beantown is just a medium to bring together two adult people and try to do adult stories.  And I don’t mean X-rated adult.  I mean intelligent adult, where people get together and talk and spar with each other.”
–Bill Bixby, talking about fellow star Mariette Hartley and Goodnight Beantown

Chemistry on a television show cannot be overrrated.  It’s that mysterious quality characters (and actors) have that keeps audiences coming back for more, even when sometimes plots or situations aren’t quite perfect.  When a show doesn’t have it, even the best premise can die quickly.  Find people you like in roles that show off that rarity, and suddenly a viewer becomes a fan of most anything they do.

Casting directors crave that valuable chemistry, searching for the right person to be both believable in a part and still let their own qualities shine through.  They hope to hire the stars that may have previously built up that fan base and will bring viewers to a show.  It’s true in drama, comedy, and even in local newsrooms, where many anchor pairings have either reached new lows or new heights depending upon how well they got along.  Sometimes, it’s saying hello to disaster.  Sometimes, it’s waving Goodnight Beantown.

Matt, Susan, and Jennifer

The gentle romantic comedy Goodnight Beantown premiered on CBS in 1983.  The title comes from the sign-off line used by long-time Boston anchor Matt Cassidy (Bill Bixby), the respected star of WYN-TV’s nightly newscast.  But local broadcasting was changing in the ’80’s, and “hard” news was quickly being replaced by a “softer” approach.  Those in charge brought in a new co-anchor, Jennifer Barnes (Mariette Hartley) to join Cassidy as on-air host and bring a new perspective to the presentation.  Needless to say, Matt did NOT approve of the idea of him needing help, to the point of deliberately reducing her sign-off to a little wave goodnight.

A professional rivalry ensues, with her stealing his catch-phrase the next night.  After some escalating one-upmanship, a rather prickly professional relationship is born, as they both learn to respect each other’s work.

A personal relationship might also be in the news, although they don’t know it right away.  As he leaves for work on the first day of this new arrangement, Matt helps the 13-year old Susan moving in across the hall of his duplex.  Susan convinces Matt that her mom would be a terrific blind date for him, and later convinces mom that the cute guy across the across the hall is interested.  When the professional rivals discover they’ve been set up as potential love interests for each other, a push-pull relationship is born.  With a gentle nudge from Susan, they could probably fall in love, if only they didn’t have to work together.

Bringing work home: L-R, Jennifer, Valerie, Matt, Albert, Frank

Back at work, other changes would soon occur at WYN-TV.  Valerie Wood (Stephanie Faracy) was a “Features” reporter on “lifestyle” stories.  Valerie’s overly sensitive heart may have been in the right place, but her brain was occasionally on vacation.  Sports reporter Frank Fletcher (Jim Staahl) was always on his game… and when he wasn’t chasing after other skirts, he had an unrequited crush on Valerie, who was oblivious to both his interest and his supposed charm.  This crew was watched over by news director Albert Addleson (G.W. Bailey).  He did his best to control these various personalities in his newsroom, at least for the 30 minutes they were on the air.

“How come my opinions are always opinions and yours are always facts?.”
–Jennifer Barnes to Matt Cassidy, debating as usual

Yes. No. Yes. No... Maybe.

Before the nightly cameras rolled, the fur flew at work.  Matt was very much a traditionalist, not chauvinistic per se, but rather set in his ideas about how news should be gathered and presented.  Jennifer was probably a bit more aggressive in her pursuit of stories (if only to prove herself), and more willing to use unusual methods to cover them (like when she investigated “ladies of the evening” in Boston… and Matt got arrested when he “propositioned” her to stop.)  Yes, the relationship was sometimes adversarial, but it was surprisingly smart.  It didn’t resort to immaturity, and was a welcome change portraying two reasonable adults with opposite points of view who ultimately could get along (and even fall in love despite their differences).

“Mariette is so much fun to play with.  The kind of verbal tennis we play on the show is the same way we do in our personal lives.  We start in makeup in the morning and one of us throws a verbal challenge at the other.”
–Bill Bixby, again talking about Mariette Hartley

Real adult relationships (the kind that don’t constantly rely on sexual tension) are tricky to portray on television, because if that mysterious thing called chemistry isn’t present, then those portrayals don’t stand a chance.  Fortunately, both Bixby and Hartley had built up plenty of goodwill over their individual careers among the viewing audience, and they made a pretty good romantic-comedy team.  They had actually played husband-and-wife previously, with Hartley earning an Emmy for her dramatic performance as the doomed wife of Bixby’s David Banner on the second season premiere of The Incredible Hulk.

“I know I am associated with television and I can’t seem to break that.  It seems to be my lot.  You could do worse.  I could be not working at all!”
–Mariette Hartley

Smile for the Polaroid camera

While some thought her award was more due to her spectacularly well-received series of Polaroid commercials with James Garner (of Maverick and The Rockford Files fame), Hartley had been a well-known and popular actress for many years.  Memorable roles in everything from the original Star Trek to prime-time soap Peyton Place and numerous guest star television roles had given her significant recognition.  Her performance in Goodnight Beantown was enough to earn her a second Emmy nomination, this time for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.  She’s such a television favorite that she’s one of the few women who have received Best Actress nominations in Comedy (Beantown), Drama (Hulk and Rockford Files), and Limited Series categories (M.A.D.D., Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

“I have even more rapport with Bill than with Jimmy.  Bill is quicker–he’s like a terrier while Garner is more of a sheepdog.”
–Mariette Hartley on working with Bixby and Garner

Bixby had already been beloved by television viewers for many years.  His previous series included My Favorite Martian, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, The Magician, and The Incredible Hulk.  That’s over 280 episodes and eleven and a half seasons of being welcomed into people’s living rooms prior to Goodnight Beantown.  Here was a man who had earned not only viewers’ respect, but their loyalty.

Bixby was also a producer and occasional director on Goodnight Beantown, so he was particularly concerned with the portrayals of all the characters, even if some others wanted him to be the “star” attraction.  He was more than willing to share the limelight with his fellow actors, knowing it was the relationships between them that would ultimately sell the show to viewers.  This sometimes meant his Matt was the one to be “wrong” in some way, in order for Hartley’s Jennifer to be an equal foil.  Bixby was secure enough as an actor to be shown in a less than flattering light.  His fan base liked him so much he didn’t always have to be “right” as long as he wasn’t a complete villain.

Between them, Hartley and Bixby had that mysterious chemistry.  The two were great real-life friends, and brought their underlying respect and camaraderie to the onscreen relationship for all the world to see.  Goodnight Beantown premiered as a mid-season replacement (starring  Bixby, Hartley, and Gold with different supporting players) in the Spring of 1983, and although only five episodes were produced and aired at the time, the promising tryout of the show earned it a Fall slot on the CBS schedule.  But that Fall slot might not be all it was cracked up to be.

“We’re doing fine in the ratings.  We’re number 26 right now and that is exactly where I want to be.  I never wanted to be number one—ever.  This year is getting off to the same kind of start as ‘Eddie’s Father’ did on its first year.  I think we have a good basic sound following audience which is still finding us.   And that is what every show needs.  We’ve had everything you can imagine thrown at us by other networks.  They’re stunting with heavy-duty movies.  But we know they’re going to run out of movies sooner or later.”
–Bixby on the beginning of the Fall season

CBS knew the Fall was going to be difficult, even with the promise Goodnight Beantown showed.  The Sunday night time slot for the show was the most competitive on television that year, and Beantown was the newest show of the bunch.  In the hopes of gaining even more of an audience, changes were made.

No, do it THIS way...

G.W. Bailey’s Addleson was added to the show at this time.  The show’s previous news director (played by George Coe) was deemed too similar to the point of view of Bixby’s Matt.  Addleson was more comical, and more middle-of-the-road between Matt and Jennifer.  The new season also brought the addition of Valerie and Frank, giving the two news anchors other people to bounce their personalities off of (and not be quite so directly confrontational with each other).

The net result of these changes made for a better show from a dramatic and scripting point of view, but the power of the Hartley and Bixby chemistry together was diluted in some ways.  The tone and the comedy were a bit softer and more intelligent than the prevailing shows it aired with, so when push came to shove it was the odd show out.  The stars sharing their screen time with others to that degree plus the added competition for the series in the Fall led to a final sign-off (and a little wave goodnight) for Goodnight Beantown.

BILL BIXBY (Matt Cassidy) hosted the kids’ series Once Upon a Classic, featuring dramatizations of many favorites of literature.  He was also a prolific television director in addition to his previously mentioned work.  He directed 3 episodes of Goodnight Beantown, as well as helming duties on Sledge Hammer!, two of the three sequel Incredible Hulk TV-moves, and Wizards and Warriors.  He was a regular director on the sitcom Blossom, his last assignment finishing just six days before he succumbed to a battle with cancer in 1993.

MARIETTE HARTLEY (Jennifer Barnes) has performed in many issue-oriented TV-movies, and she’s passionate about those causes because she’s had to deal with many of them in her own personal life.  Her family history includes alcoholism, suicide, and depression, and her own diagnosis with bi-polar disorder.  Her best-selling memoir Breaking the Silence was published in 1990 detailing her life and struggles.  She is a co-founder of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

TRACEY GOLD (Susan Barnes) had quite a career just as a teen actress, playing daughter in various series to Shirley Jones (Shirley), Nell Carter (the original pilot for Gimmie a Break!), and Alan Thicke (Growing Pains, her most famous role).  She later had her own personal battles with anorexia nervosa, detailed in her book Room to Grow:  An Appetite for Life.

G.W. BAILEY (Albert Addleson) is best known for his role as Rizzo in the M*A*S*H television series.  He also appeared as a regular on St. Elsewhere, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, and the Police Academy series of movies.  Currently he can be seen on The Closer on TNT.  For the last 10 years he has been the executive director of the Sunshine Kids Foundation, providing transportation and events to kids suffering from cancer.

STEPHANIE FARACY (Valerie Wood) was a featured actress in the landmark mini-series The Thorn Birds, and later became a regular on His and Hers and True Colors.  She’s a working guest actress, having recently appeared on Castle, How I Met Your Mother, and Desperate Housewives; and Get Him to the Greek on the big screen.

JIM STAAHL (Frank Fletcher) has segued from comedic actor to comedic writer, having written for numerous adult and kids shows like Sledge Hammer!, Bobby’s World, and Dragon Tales.  His acting career included regular appearances on Mork and Mindy and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  He also teaches comedy writing for the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program.

“I’m disappointed only in the sense that we were trying to aspire to something a little softer and not quite so hard-hitting… and communicating between two male and female adults.  And we did it.”
–Bill Bixby

Goodnight Beantown isn’t available on DVD, but two episodes are on YouTube for streaming in chunks.  There are great fan sites devoted to both Bill Bixby and Mariette Hartley (and I’m grateful to both sites for many of the individual quotes used in this article).  Much more information about their legacy on television and in life can be found there.  These sites are two more examples of the devotion these stars engender in their viewers even today.  And just for fun, here’s a YouTube link to one of the Hartley/Garner Polaroid commercials from 1981.

A final wave Goodnight

Very few actors and actresses like Bixby and Hartley become so welcome on our TV sets and in our living rooms.  Even more rarely do they come together in the same vehicle for our enjoyment.  Despite the changes that were made in order to supposedly “help” the show, nothing anyone altered could replace the basic idea of chemistry.  It is what makes the best characters work, the best relationships work, and the best television shows work.  Mess with that magic and you invite peril.  But there will always be a place in our hearts and on our screens for those we love.

Vital Signs

18 episodes — none unaired
CBS Network
First aired episode:  April 2, 1983
Last aired episode:  January 18, 1984
Aired at Friday 8/7 Central?  No, the most competitive slot that year was Sunday nights.  The show aired at 8/7, then 9:30/8:30, then 8:30/7:30 for a set of reruns late in the ’84 season.

Comments and suggestions welcomed as always.

–Tim R.

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