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Too Close for Comfort (TV series)

Too Close for Comfort is an American television sitcom which ran on the ABC network and in syndication from 1980 to 1985. It was modeled after the British series Keep it in the Family. It evolved into The Ted Knight Show in early 1986, although episodes of this series are usually considered a part of the Too Close for Comfort package.

Synopsis

The show starred Ted Knight and Nancy Dussault as Henry and Muriel Rush, owners of a duplex in San Francisco. Henry was a cartoonist who authored a comic strip called Cosmic Cow. Muriel was a freelance photographer, having been a band singer in her earlier days. They had two grown daughters. Brunette-haired Jackie (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) worked for a bank, while the younger Sara (Lydia Cornell), a blond bombshell, was attending college.

At the start of the first episode, Jackie and Sara were still living with their parents, an awkwardly cramped arrangement. When the downstairs tenant, a transvestite named Rafkin, died suddenly, Jackie and Sara moved into his gaudily-decorated apartment. Despite the daughters' minor push for independence, Henry proved to be a very protective father and meddled in their affairs constantly.

During the first season, Sara's addle-headed friend Monroe Ficus, played by actor Jim J. Bullock, was added to the cast. Although the Monroe character was originally intended to be a single-episode guest appearance, Monroe quickly became Henry's principal (if unintended) foil (a "human wrecking ball"). It was the dynamics between Henry and Monroe that would eventually become the core of the show.

Developments

Due to an actor's strike led by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, new programming for the fall 1980 season was pushed back several months. As a result, Too Close For Comfort did not debut until November 11, 1980, and its initial season consisted of 19 episodes.

The show garnered high ratings, benefiting from its placement in ABC's powerhouse Tuesday night lineup following hits like Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Three's Company.

During its second season, the series' principal story are focused around Muriel's pregnancy. The season concluded with her giving birth to Andrew. Additionally, Henry's niece April (Deena Freeman) came from Delaware to live with the Rush family.

For the third season, April departed and Muriel's mother, Iris Martin, was added to the cast in order to help with taking care of little Andrew. Played by Audrey Meadows, Iris offered a perfect sparring partner for Henry.

In the fall of 1982, ABC moved the series to Thursday nights, which proved to be a disaster for the show. Paired with failures such as Joanie Loves Chachi, Star of the Family and It Takes Two, Too Close for Comfort's ratings plummeted. At the conclusion of the season, Too Close for Comfort was canceled by ABC.

The last first-run episode of Too Close for Comfort aired on ABC on May 5, 1983, was actually a pilot for a proposed spin-off series called Family Business. The series was to have focused on the misadventures of Lucille Garabaldi (Lainie Kazan) and her two sons (played by George Deloy and Jimmy Baio) as they tried to run a construction business.

ABC aired reruns of the show in daytime at 11:00 a.m. (EST) from June to September 1983.

Revival in syndication

During the early 1980s, Metromedia was attempting to build a fourth major television network around original programming (what would eventually become the Fox Broadcasting Company). When Too Close For Comfort was canceled by ABC, Metromedia elected to pick up the series and began producing all-new episodes to run in syndication on its various stations throughout the country.

Starting in April 1984, a total of 14 new episodes were broadcast for the show's fourth season, featuring the same cast as seen on the ABC episodes. Monroe and Iris were still around to bother Henry, and Jackie and Sara were still downstairs. Little Andrew had grown up to the point where the audience was allowed to hear some of his thoughts.

The show's ratings had improved in syndication, and Metromedia would order an additional 30 episodes, airing through November 1985. With a total of 107 episodes of Too Close For Comfort having been produced, the show became a popular staple for syndicated reruns throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The Ted Knight Show

In late 1985, the producers decided to overhaul the show. Henry quit his job as a cartoonist and became editor and 49% owner of the Marin Bugler, a newspaper in Marin County north of San Francisco. Hope Stinson (played by Pat Carroll), owned the other 51%, creating friction between the two. Muriel took a job with the paper as a photographer.

Henry and Muriel moved from their duplex in San Francisco to a house in Marin County. Naturally, Monroe made the transition with them, ensuring Henry's perpetual flabbergastation. However, Jackie and Sara did not come along and were written out of the show. Lisa (Lisa Antille) was added to the cast as the Rushs' maid.

With the immense changes in the show, the series was retitled The Ted Knight Show (not to be confused with the short-lived 1978 CBS show of the same name). First-run episodes were broadcast starting in April 1986.

A total of 22 episodes of The Ted Knight Show were produced prior to the summer of 1986. Although the show was scheduled to resume production for a second season, series star Ted Knight developed colon cancer, and died on August 26, 1986, aged 62. First-run episodes continued to air through September 1986.

With only a single season worth of episodes in the can, The Ted Knight Show was infrequently rebroadcast. When it has been reaired, it has usually been packaged as additional Too Close For Comfort episodes.

DVD releases

The first two seasons of Too Close For Comfort were released on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time by Rhino Entertainment. The first season featured featured syndication episodes while the second season features unedited episodes. No further releases have been planned as it is believed that Rhino has lost the distribution rights.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 19 November 2, 2004
The Complete Second Season 22 June 7, 2005

Trivia

  • Ted Knight's character of Henry became famous for wearing sweatshirts of colleges and universities. Eventually fans would send in sweatshirts from universities around the country hoping to get Henry to wear them.
  • The Rush's original two story red-painted house at the opening and closing of each episode was shot at 171-173 Buena Vista Avenue in San Francisco.

External links

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