Family Matters is an American sitcom about a middle-class family living in Chicago. The series aired from September 22, 1989 to May 9, 1997 on ABC and moved to CBS on September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998.
The show, a spin-off of Perfect Strangers, originally focused on the character of Carl Winslow and his family: wife Harriette Winslow, rebellious son Eddie Winslow, intelligent daughters Laura Winslow, and youngest child Judy Winslow. The family had opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother Estelle Winslow as well as Harriette's sister Rachel Crawford and her son Richie Crawford after the death of Rachel's husband. The Winslows' nerdy next-door neighbor Steve Urkel was introduced midway through the first season, and quickly became the focus of the show. It was part of ABC's TGIF from 1989 until 1997 before it became part of the CBS Block Party lineup from 1997 until 1998.
The kids, along with their policeman father Carl (Reginald VelJohnson), elevator operator mother Harriette (Jo Marie Payton), aspiring writer Aunt Rachel Crawford (Telma Hopkins), and her young son Richie (infant twins Joseph and Julius Wright during the first season, Bryton McClure thereafter), and Carl's feisty mother Estelle Winslow (Rosetta LeNoire), found themselves in typical sitcom-family situations.
Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) was the most famous character on the show. Introduced midway through the first season, the bespectacled Urkel, complete with high-pitched voice and suspenders, was the ultimate nerd; he was highly intelligent, but was very clumsy. His trademark line, "Did I do that?" (whenever he caused an accident) became a pop-culture catchphrase. When Urkel caused someone else to have an accident, he would say, "Look what you did!" If Urkel was frustrating Carl, Carl would tell Steve, "Go home, go home, go home!" Steve would reply, "I don't have to take this, I'm going home." Another aspect of the Steve Urkel character that made him famous was his snorting laugh. ABC hosted contests in which viewers were asked to send in their best impression of Urkel to win a grand prize. Originally intended to be a one-time-only character, White's portrayal of Urkel caused the entire studio audience to erupt into chants of "Urkel! Urkel!" during the filming of the original episode. With the series struggling in ratings in the first season, the Steve Urkel character was hastily re-written into several already-completed episodes. By the second season, Jaleel White had joined the show as a regular cast member.
The show's original theme was the Louis Armstrong classic "What a Wonderful World," but was scrapped after the first season in favor of "As Days Go By", written by Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay, and Scott Roeme, and performed by Jesse Frederick until 1995, when the theme was cut in favor of showing the opening credits over the episode's first scene. A longer version of "As Days Go By" can be heard in the first three seasons. The first-through-third-season version of the opening credits features a scene showing the family riding their bicycles across a bridge over the Chicago River; an allusion to Perfect Strangers, which featured a scene of Larry and Balki riding a tour boat underneath the same bridge in its own opening credits.
A curiously large number of episodes threw the major characters into life-or-death situations, such as Carl falling into a frozen pond, Steve nearly falling out of a hot-air balloon, Eddie and his friends hanging precariously from a fire escape, Carl and Steve hanging from a tall building by their fingers, Carl discovering a bomb in a treadmill and having to get off the treadmill without causing the bomb to detonate, or Steve becoming a human lightning rod. These key events were always resolved within a few minutes.
Another recurring theme was the humor derived from gratuitous property damage. Whether Urkel was knocking over a lamp, burning down a building (the building previously known as Leroys), breaking the Winslows' windows (on several occasions), taking the blame for crashing the Winslow family station wagon into the living room (even though Eddie was the driver), completely destroying Carl's garage shelves, or having inventions go wrong, and ending up destroying various parts of the house -- breaking something was a tried and true way to get a laugh, after which he would usuallly inquire, "Did I do that?" Alternate reactions would include turning to a present character and saying, "Look what you did." Other times he would state, "Well, the important thing is that no one was hurt." Another character, (usually a fuming Carl) would say, "Not yet!"
Jo Maire Payton left because she felt the show had lost its meaning to it because of all Steve's impossible inventions
No explanation was ever given for Carl and Harriette's youngest child Judy's mysterious disappearance. Many fans have noted that this plot anomaly was similar to a situation on Happy Days wherein Richie Cunningham's older brother Chuck inexplicably disappeared. Judy was never popular with fans, having rarely had any plotlines centering on her character. In the third and fourth seasons, she was little more than a background character, appearing in episodes merely to fulfill contractual obligations, and often not getting a single line. Jaimee Foxworth explained to audiences on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Tyra Banks Show that her mother demanded that her character be developed in order to receive more money, and the demands were denied. Foxworth was let go, and the producers felt no need to hire another actress to replace her. The producers admitted that they did not think audiences would notice Judy's disappearance, which is why her absence was never explained. Later episodes even have the Winslows acknowledging they only have three children. The last time Judy was ever seen on the show was going up the stairs to her room. In the last episode, Harriette told Laura to "go get her sister" when they were watching TV while Steve was in space. Laura then went upstairs, a gag of Judy going upstairs and then never coming down (as she was written out of the show).
In later seasons, other characters also disappeared. Shawn Harrison's character, Waldo, was said to have gone off to culinary school. Waldo had been mentioned a season later by Maxine, who received a poorly addressed Dear Jane letter from Waldo. Bryton McClure, who played Richie, started to appear less once 3J was introduced, and disappeared by the last season. Rosetta LeNoire, who played Carl's mother Estelle Winslow, was gone by the last season as well, due to aging (she was 85 in the 8th season). JoMarie Payton-Noble, the original actress who played Harriette (originating the character on Perfect Strangers), left in December 1997 (prior to the final season) because she was unhappy with the emphasis placed on Steve Urkel and his subcharacters (Stefan, Myrtle, O.G.D., etc.). Many believe this is a case of a series jumping the shark. When a Parade viewer asked why she was replaced, Payton-Noble stated that she also wanted to write or direct an episode, but never could. She was replaced by Judyann Elder.
In the Season 9 Christmas episode "Deck the Malls", Estelle, Richie, and Rachel appear for the last time. It is also JoMarie Payton's last appearance as Harriette.
|BMI Film & TV Awards|
|1992||Won||BMI TV Music Award||Bennett Salvay|
|1991||Won||BMI TV Music Award||Bennett Salvay|
|1996||Nominated||Emmy||Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects|| Kelly Sandefur (special visual effects)|
For episode "Send In The Clone".
|1997||Won||Image Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Jaleel White|
|1996||Nominated||Image Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Jaleel White|
|1995||Won||Image Award||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Jaleel White|
|1994||Won||Image Award||Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress||Jaleel White|
|Kids' Choice Awards, USA|
|1996||Nominated||Blimp Award||Favorite Television Actor||Jaleel White|
|Favorite Television Show|
|TV Land Awards|
|2008||Nominated||TV Land Award Favorite Character(s)||Who "Went Missing"||Jaimee Foxworth|
|Young Artist Awards|
|1993||Won||Young Artist Award||Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series|| Bumper Robinson|
Tied with Aeryk Egan for "Brooklyn Bridge" (1991).
|Nominated||Young Artist Award||Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series||Shawn Harrison|
|Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series||Patrick J. Dancy|
|Best Young Actress Recurring in a Television Series||Cherie Johnson|
|Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series||Darius McCrary|
|Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series||Kellie Shanygne Williams|
|1992||Nominated||Young Artist Award||Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series||Kellie Shanygne Williams and Michelle Smith|
|1991||Won||Young Artist Award||Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series||Jaleel White|
|Nominated||Young Artist Award||Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series||Darius McCrary|
|Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Series||Kellie Shanygne Williams|
|Best Young Actress Supporting or Re-Occurring Role for a TV Series||Jaimee Foxworth|
|1990||Won||Young Artist Award||Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series||Randy Josselyn|
|Nominated||Young Artist Award||Best New Television Series|
|Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series||Darius McCrary|
When Nick at Nite airs the Family Matters episodes, the theme song is cut short (unlike ABC Family, which airs the full theme song from Seasons 1–3), and towards the middle of the episode, goes straight to commercial (ABC Family went to commercial after the theme song). Also, when the series airs reruns of the show's fourth season, Telma Hopkins' title card is removed during the short version of the opening credits/theme song.
`DID I DO THAT?'; AS IT APPROACHES ITS 200TH EPISODE, `FAMILY MATTERS' AND ITS LOVABLE GEEK, STEVE URKEL, HAVE THE SECOND-LONGEST-RUNNING PRIME-TIME SHOW ON TELEVISION, A NEW NETWORK AND SOME SLIGHT WARDROBE CHANGES.(L.A. LIFE)
Sep 30, 1997; Byline: Janet Weeks Daily News Staff Writer George Clooney stares at the asphalt, rhythmically bouncing a basketball and...