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Growing Pains
Growing Pains screenshot1.jpg
The cast of Growing Pains
Genre Sitcom
Created by Neal Marlens
Directed by Burt Brinckerhoff
Iris Dugow
Nick Havinga
Gerren Keith
Jack Shea
Renny Temple
John Tracy
Jonathan Weiss
Starring Alan Thicke
Joanna Kerns
Kirk Cameron
Tracey Gold
Jeremy Miller
Ashley Johnson (1990–1992)
Leonardo DiCaprio (1991–1992)
Theme music composer John Bettis
Steve Dorff
Opening theme "As Long As We Got Each Other"
Composer(s) Steve Dorff
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English.
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 166 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Neal Marlens (1985–1986)
Mike Sullivan
Steve Marshall
Dan Guntzelman
(1985–1991)
Dan Wilcox
(1991–1992)
Producer(s) Neal Marlens (unaired pilot)
Arnold Margolin
Bruce Ferber
David Lerner
(season one)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Guntzelman/Sullivan/Marshall Productions (seasons 5–6)
Warner Bros. Television (entire run)
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run September 24, 1985 (1985-09-24) – April 25, 1992 (1992-04-25)
Status Ended
Chronology
Followed by The Growing Pains Movie
Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers
Related shows Just the Ten of Us

Growing Pains is an American television sitcom that ran on the ABC network from 1985 to 1992.

Contents

Synopsis

The show's premise is based around the fictional Seaver family, who reside on Long Island, New York. Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke), a psychiatrist, works from home because his wife, Maggie Malone (Joanna Kerns), has gone back to work as a reporter. Jason has to take care of the kids: troublemaker Mike (Kirk Cameron), honors student Carol (Tracey Gold), and rambunctious Ben (Jeremy Miller). From 1988 on, Chrissy Seaver became a part of the family. She was played in her infant stage by twins Kristen and Kelsey Dohring (who alternated in the role). Beginning in the fall of 1990, Chrissy's character's age was advanced to six years old, whereupon Ashley Johnson took over the role. The show was relevant in the mid-1980s, as women going to work was becoming more and more common, as were stay-at-home dads.

Cast

Principal cast

  • Alan Thicke as Dr. Jason Roland Seaver
  • Joanna Kerns as Margaret Katherine "Maggie" Malone (she kept her maiden name, although at some points she did refer to herself as Maggie Seaver)
  • Kirk Cameron as Michael Aaron "Mike" Seaver
  • Tracey Gold as Carol Anne Seaver (1985–1992) (Gold replaced Elizabeth Ward after the pilot was shown to test audiences with poor results.)
  • Jeremy Miller as Benjamin Hubert Horatio Humphrey "Ben" Seaver
  • Ashley Johnson as Christine Ellen "Chrissy" Seaver (1990–1992)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Luke Brower Seaver (later became a Seaver after they adopt him) (1991–1992)

Recurring characters

  • Josh Andrew Koenig as Richard Milhous "Boner" Stabone (1985–1989, and character was also mentioned during flashbacks in the series finale in 1992); Mike's friend. Left to join the United States Marines.
  • K.C. Martel as Eddie; Mike's friend.
  • Lisa Capps as Debbie (1987–1988)
  • Rachael Jacobs as Shelley (1987–1988)
  • Jodi Peterson as Laura Lynn (1989–1991); Ben's girlfriend / love interest.
  • Jane Powell as Irma Seaver (1988–1990); Jason's mother.
  • Gordon Jump as Ed Malone (1989–1991); Maggie's father.
  • Betty McGuire as Kate Malone (1989–1991); Maggie's mother.
  • Chelsea Noble as Kate MacDonald (1989–1992)
  • Jamie Abbott as Stinky Sullivan (frequent guest star 1987–1989, regular cast member 1989–1991); Ben's friend.
  • Julie McCullough as Julie Costello (1989–1990); Mike's former girlfriend.
  • Bill Kirchenbauer as Coach Graham Lubbock (1987–1988 on Growing Pains, starred in spin-off Just the Ten of Us); gym teacher.
  • Sam Anderson as Principal Willis DeWitt (frequent guest star); who had started as Mike's history teacher early in the series.
  • Fred Applegate as Francis X. Tedesco (1991), principal of the learning annex where Mike teaches

Notable guest stars

Opening sequences

The Season 1 main opening featured various works of art, closing with a shot of the cast, which goes from black-and-white to color.

The opening credits from Seasons 2 through 5 featured an opening shot of the cast in front of the house where establishing shots of the Seaver house are used, switching to photos of each cast member from childhood and, in Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns' case, to adulthood, mixed with various episode clips. In all episodes that aired from 1986–1990, the opening sequence ends with a "house gag" immediately after the final episode clip, and, starting with the fifth season, ran while the executive producers names' were listed. The house gag changes from episode-to-episode, and usually features the cast standing in front of the Seavers' house. A typical gag featured all but one member of the cast (this was usually the cast member whom the main story was about in that particular episode) leaving to go inside the Seaver house, with the other leaving seconds later. This was a running visual joke mildly similar to that of the "couch gag" sequences on The Simpsons. Most house gags last only about 10 seconds, but the longest one lasted about 20 seconds. Certain house gags include:

  • Jason starts leaving before the rest of the cast, only to stop and turn back, and the rest of the cast leaves seconds later. (This was the static open for the 1986 and 1987 seasons.)
  • In the Season 4 episode "Birth of a Seaver", in which Chrissy is born, the sequence goes as normal, though the clips are abbreviated in the form of the syndication airings, while the full theme plays as normal. Near the end of the sequence, a pregnant Maggie realizes and announces to the rest of the family that she is in labor, to which everybody follows and guides Maggie back in the house.
  • Near the end of the opening credits in the next episode, fittingly, Carol holds up a sign saying "It's a Girl", which blocks Mike's face.
  • Everybody leaves, except for Carol. Noticing this, Ben, Mike, and Jason then turn back and pick Carol up and carry her into the house.
  • Everybody leaves to head into the house, except for Mike. Carol angrily turns back and taps Mike on the shoulder, and makes a hand gesture telling him to come in with them.
  • The family stands outside in the rain wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas, and they all head toward the house.
  • Everyone leaves, except for Ben. When Mike notices, he comes back, whispers something in Ben's ear, and they both go in the house.

The opening used in Seasons 6 and 7 featured an opening shot of the mantle on the Seavers' fireplace panning over pictures of the cast. The past photos of each cast member were kept, but the clips where each cast member's name is overlaid was replaced with current photos of each cast member. In this sequence, the males wore tuxedos and the females wore formal dresses. The only exception was Leonardo DiCaprio: when he was added to the cast, his photo featured him wearing a hooded shirt and jeans, although for the first few episodes he appeared in, the camera would zoom to a wide shot, then his name was displayed. The end of this sequence featured various still-shots of the entire cast trying to get together for their picture, closing with a shot of the pictures on the wall on and above the mantle.

Theme song

The show's theme song is "As Long As We've Got Each Other," which was written and composed by both John Bettis and Steve Dorff. It was performed by:
B.J. Thomas (singing solo); Season 1
B.J. Thomas & Jennifer Warnes; Seasons 2, 3, 5, part of 7
B.J. Thomas & Dusty Springfield; Season 4
Take 6 (Grammy-winning jazz acapella group); Season 6, part of 7, series finale

There were nine versions of the theme song; others included a Halloween-themed version not sung by Thomas or Warnes used in a 2-part Halloween episode in 1990. The first 3 seasons featured an instrumental part at the end of the theme, but in the fourth season, the original last verse of the TV version of the theme song, "Sharing the laughter and love," was added in its place. There was also an a cappella version of the song which was used for all of Season 6, but this version was abandoned for most of Season 7 in favor of the reinstatement of Thomas's and Warnes's duet version, although the a capella theme returned for three episodes [1], as well as the series finale. A full-length version by Thomas and Springfield was released as a single in 1988. By this time, however, the show was already a well-established hit and the song failed to chart.

Controversies

Despite the show's success, there were a few behind-the-scenes controversies.

Kirk Cameron's clashes

In 1987, Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian. Afterward he began to increasingly raise objections behind the scenes to what he viewed as the depiction and promotion of immoral behavior on the show.

After Cameron's conversion, his beliefs frequently interfered with production of the show. He insisted that no "adult themes"[citation needed] be incorporated into episodes, and he often demanded that entire episodes be re-written when he objected to the content (when one planned episode revolved around Julie giving Mike the key to her apartment, Cameron objected to the sexual connotations, and he asked for a new script to be written).[citation needed] According to the Growing Pains episode of E! True Hollywood Story, Cameron was so adamant on keeping the show free of anything he thought was derogatory that at one point he called the President of ABC and referred to executive producers Dan Guntzelman, Mike Sullivan and Steve Marshall as pornographers, due to the content of some of the episodes.

In 1991, after the show's sixth season, the three men quit the show as a result of Cameron's actions and statements. Cameron's conflicts with the writers were frequent in part due to his low level of tolerance for perceived immoral behavior. For example, according to the aforementioned E! True Hollywood Story episode, one scene which he objected to would have shown Mike in bed with a girl. The camera would then pull back to reveal that the two were on stage, rehearsing a scene for a play. It is rumored that Kirk Cameron was responsible for Julie McCullough being fired from her role as Mike's girlfriend. Kirk Cameron's autobiography states that this was not the case.

In 2003, according to the article "The Re-birth of Kirk Cameron" in Christianity Today, Cameron "admits he made some mistakes common to new believers — such as distancing themselves so far from the world that they do no good for anyone ... In time, however, he realized his missteps. In 2000, he re-joined his former cast members for a Growing Pains reunion movie. He stood in front of his TV family, and apologized for his behavior. 'I was a 17-year-old guy trying to walk with integrity, knowing that I was walking in the opposite direction from many other people. I didn't have the kind of maturity and graceful way of putting things perhaps that I would now,' he says. Cameron's fellow actors immediately embraced him.

Other problems

In addition to the problems with Cameron, the show's constant references to Carol Seaver as "fat" (notwithstanding her normal weight and size for her age) took their toll on Tracey Gold. The producers were unaware that Gold had a long history of eating disorders, and the constant insults of her character eventually triggered a serious case of anorexia nervosa in Gold. She was forced to resign from the cast in January 1992 and did not return until the 2-part final episode, for which she had to leave the hospital where she was still undergoing treatment.

In addition, in 1990, Jeremy Miller, who played younger son Ben Seaver, began to be stalked by an older man who wrote letters to Miller expressing his plans to rape and kill the actor. The threat to Miller resulted in heightened security until the stalker revealed his home address in a threatening letter and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned.

Decline

At the beginning of the seventh season, a new character, homeless teen Luke Brower (then-unknown Leonardo DiCaprio), was introduced in a last-ditch attempt to salvage ratings, to no avail. Growing Pains had declined slightly on its established Wednesday time slot in Season 6, and was moved to Saturday nights in the fall of 1991 to make room for newer comedies. The other long-running show initially affected by this strategy was Who's the Boss?, which also moved to Saturdays. Ratings for both shows plunged to new lows, with insiders stating that ABC was getting rid of both programs by putting them on the "graveyard shift".

To diffuse this fact, ABC moved the long-running sitcom Perfect Strangers, a show with reasonably high ratings, to Saturdays in February 1992; its presence helped to launch a new comedy block known as I Love Saturday Night. This final effort at scheduling had an adverse effect for all three shows, and, most of all, for new cartoon Capitol Critters, which was cancelled after only two months. By then, Growing Pains (along with Who's the Boss? and MacGyver) was canceled.

Spinoff

Growing Pains spawned the spin-off series, Just the Ten of Us, which featured Coach Graham Lubbock, Mike and Carol's gym teacher, moving to California with his large family to teach at an all boys Catholic school after he was fired from Thomas Dewey High School. It was a consistent hit on the Friday lineup, but was abruptly cancelled after three seasons.

Episodes

Nielsen ratings

Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 1985–1986 #17[2] 16.75[2]
2 1986–1987 #8[3] 19.84[3]
3 1987–1988 #8[4] 19.84[4]
4 1988–1989 #13[5] 15.91[5]
5 1989–1990 #21[6] 14.18[6]
6 1990–1991 #27[7] 13.13[7]
7 1991–1992 N/A N/A

Reunion movies

In 2000, the cast reunited for The Growing Pains Movie, followed by Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers in 2004.

Reruns/Syndication

International names

Country Name Literal translation
Mainland China 成长的烦恼 (Chéngzhǎng de Fánnǎo) The pains in growing up
Taiwan 歡樂家庭 (Huānlè Jiātíng) Happy Family
France Quoi de neuf docteur? What is new doctor? or What's up doc?
Germany Unser lautes Heim Our loud home
Italy Genitori in blue jeans Parents in blue jeans
Japan 愉快なシーバー家 (Yukai na Seava (Seaver) Ke) Happy Seaver's family
Latin America Ay! Cómo duele crecer Ouch! How painful is growing up
Poland Dzieciaki, kłopoty i my Our kids, trouble and us
Slovenia Ne mi težit' Don't bother me
Spain Los Problemas Crecen The Problems grow
Sweden Pappa vet bäst Dad knows best

United States

ABC aired reruns of the show on its daytime schedule from July 1988 to August 1989. The show originally aired at 11:00am (EST) until January 1989, when with the cancellation of Ryan's Hope and the expansion of Home to an hour (from 11:00am-noon), the reruns moved to 12:00pm.

In the fall of 1989, the show was sold to local syndication, which continued until 1997. The show also aired on TBS for several years.

Reruns aired on the Disney Channel from 1998–2001 with the episodes featuring Leonardo DiCaprio given special emphasis in an attempt to draw in pre-teen crowds who had recently seen him in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic. The cable rights for the show moved to sister network ABC Family, where it ran from 2001 to 2004. It has also aired on ION Television in 2007.

Nick at Nite began airing Growing Pains on February 12, 2007, launching with a marathon from 9:00PM ET-1:00AM ET. It was pulled from the line-up shortly after, and later moved to sister network The N, where it aired up until early 2009. It is no longer considered to be on at a regularly scheduled time, but GP has seen rare showtimes on The N's rebranded TeenNick, having aired episodes since October 12, 2009.

Asia

Mainland China
  • This show was dubbed in Chinese by the Shanghai Television in the late 1980s with the title of "Chéngzhǎng de Fánnǎo" (成长的烦恼; Chéngzhǎng means Growing, Fánnǎo means Pains). It was one of the first American sitcom introduced to mainland China and instantly became a smash hit. The show also had a great impact on the Chinese family values and broadened many people's ideas of parenting. Some parents regard Dr. and Mrs. Seaver as models and try to befriend their kids after watching the show. The show has been rerun numerous times across mainland China up to date. It is becoming popular once again due to the new DVD release in 2006. Growing Pains remains one of the most favorite American TV shows in China, where the major cast members still enjoy huge popularity. Many Chinese use this show as materials for English learning.
  • The recent Disney Channel TV show Lizzie McGuire was titled in Chinese as the "New Growing Pains."
  • The Chinese sitcom Home with Kids is considered to be a Chinese adaptation of Growing Pains.
Taiwan
Japan
  • Growing Pains was dubbed in Japanese, and broadcasted by the NHK of Japan in the title of "Yukai na Seaver Ke(愉快なシーバー家)" (Happy Seaver's family) from 1997 to 2000.

Europe

Two books published in French exclusively about Growing Pains: Cyrille Rollet, Ph.D (EHESS, Paris),

  • Physiologie d'un sitcom américain (voyage au cœur de Growing Pains), (volume 1) – Physiology of an American Sitcom (Journey to the Heart of Growing Pains)
  • Circulation culturelle d'un sitcom américain (volume 2) – The Cultural Circulation of an American Sitcom

DVD release

On February 7, 2006, Warner Home Video released the complete first season of Growing Pains on DVD in Region 1. In conjunction with the release, Thicke, Kerns, Cameron, Gold, and Miller reunited for a CNN Larry King Live interview, which aired on that same date.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 22 February 7, 2006

References

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

A Highland Regiment and Other Poems by Ewart Alan Mackintosh
Growing Pains

                    I

MY virtue is gone from me. Nevermore
  Shall I see all the flowers and grasses plain,
But only sit and think how once I saw,
  And only pray that I may see again.
And in my ears all melody will die,
  And on my lips the songs I make will fade.
And I shall only hear in memory
  A far-off echo of the songs I made.
And the old happy vision of God's grace.
  Where I have mingled with eternal light,
Will comfort me no more, but in its place
  There will be darkness and eternal night ;
And faintly in the darkness you will move.
And I shall keep the memory of love.

                     II

I cannot see your face, I cannot see
  The hair back-sweeping from your candid brow,
For night eternal overshadows me,
  And eyes that saw you once are sightless now ;
I cannot hear the music of your voice
  That was so beautiful while I could hear,
But only wait upon you and rejoice
  To know that in the darkness you are near.
Oh come to me, my dear, and loose my chain,
  And with your magic break the evil spell,
And bring me back into the light again
  To the fair country where I used to dwell.
For now my ears are deaf, my eyes are blind.
And endless darkness gathers in my mind.


                    III

The end has come for me, the end has come,
  The fairies have rung out their silver bell,
And after time will find and leave me dumb
  With no more tales of fairyland to tell.
The end has come for me, the end of all,
  Of song half-uttered and of quick desire,
And hopes that strained to heaven in their fall.
   And high dreams fashioned out of clay and fire.
The earth is black about me, and the sun
  Is blotted out with darkness overhead,
There is no hope to comfort me not one.
  For love has stolen away, and faith has fled,
And life that once was mine has passed me by.
And I am desolate and shall not die.


                     IV

There is a city built with walls of gold,
  Which is the birthplace of the fairy kings.
Full of strange songs and stories yet untold,
  And all the happiness that childhood brings.
The city's gates are open night and day.
  And night and day the travellers ride through,
And many that have wandered far away
  Would reach again the happy town they knew.
But they can only watch the vision die,
  And hear the music cease along the strand.
And from the merry dancing-ring no cry
  Comes down the falling wind to where they stand,
And so they turn away again to try
The darkness of the undiscovered land.

Oxford, 1913








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