Step by Step (TV series): Wikis

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Step by Step
StepByStepOpening.jpg
The Step By Step opening title from Season 2–5.
Format Family sitcom
Created by William Bickley
Michael Warren
Developed by Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Starring Patrick Duffy
Suzanne Somers
Brandon Call
Staci Keanan
Angela Watson
Christine Lakin
Christopher Castile
Josh Byrne (seasons 1–6)
Sasha Mitchell (seasons 1–5)
Patrika Darbo (season 1)
Peggy Rea (season 1)
Jason Marsden (seasons 5–7)
Bronson Pinchot (season 6)
Emily Mae Young (seasons 6–7)
Theme music composer Jesse Frederick
& Bennett Salvay
Opening theme "Second Time Around",
performed by Jesse Frederick and Theresa James
Ending theme "Second Time Around" (instrumental)
(Season 1 only)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 160 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
William Bickley
Michael Warren
Alan Eisenstock & Larry Mintz (season 1)
Ross Brown (seasons 2–7)
Bob Rosenfarb (seasons 4–7)
Location(s) Port Washington, Wisconsin (setting)
Warner Bros. Studios,
Burbank, California (filming location)
Camera setup Film; Multi-camera
Running time approx. 0:23 (per episode)
Production company(s) Bickley-Warren Productions
Miller-Boyett Productions
Lorimar Television (1991–1993)
Warner Bros. Television
(1993–1998)
Broadcast
Original channel ABC (1991–1997),
CBS (1997–1998)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original run September 20, 1991 – June 26, 1998
Status Cancelled/ended

Step By Step is an American television sitcom which aired on ABC from September 20, 1991 to August 15, 1997 and with a network change moved to CBS from September 19, 1997 to June 26, 1998. The series starred Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Somers as the heads of a large stepfamily. The show was a part of ABC's TGIF lineup from 1991 until 1997 before moving to the CBS Block Party lineup from 1997–1998.

Contents

Premise

The premise of the show, which was set in Port Washington, Wisconsin, is about re-building one's life one step at a time after things have fallen apart. Frank Lambert, a divorced contractor who had three children from a previous marriage, impulsively marries Carol Foster (Suzanne Somers), a widowed beautician who has three children of her own. Both of them were residents of Port Washington, and the two met while vacationing separately in Jamaica. In the pilot episode, Frank mentions that he "followed" Carol to Jamaica after speaking with her travel agent, Velma. Their children were surprised and angered when they learned of the marriage.

The title of the show has a double meaning. One meaning deals with the main idea of the show, which is getting re-married after the divorce/death of a spouse, and putting your life back together. The other meaning is that every member of the family is "step-" to half of the rest of the family, such as: stepbrother, stepmother, stepsister, stepfather, stepdaughter, and stepson.

Stories depicted typical situations of a new blended family trying to get to know each other and become friends. This was often easier said than done, especially in the case of J.T. and Dana, who could barely stand each other. In many ways, however, many of the situations mirrored that of The Brady Bunch.

The show lasted for seven seasons, and the main cast changed as the storyline progressed. Cody, who Dana liked even less than she did J.T., left Port Washington in 1996 to travel the world. This was done because series star Sasha Mitchell (a regular appearance since the first season), was forced out following allegations of domestic violence; he was later acquitted of those allegations. Mitchell returned to the show for one episode in 1998.

The show's biggest change came in 1995, when Carol announced she was pregnant. In the 1994–1995 season finale, she gave birth to Lilly, the only child to take both the "Foster" and "Lambert" surnames. Like many other sitcom babies, Lilly (Emily Mae Young) was suddenly aged five years after one season as an infant. In 1997, J.T.'s friend Rich Halke (Jason Marsden, who became a permanent fixture in the opening credits) moved in with the family after becoming Dana's boyfriend; also during that time, Al took a serious interest in acting.

Josh Byrne (Brendan Lambert) appeared less and less as the show progressed (especially after Lilly's birth). When the show moved from ABC to CBS, his character disappeared and his absence was never explained. The series' producers later admitted in a TV Guide interview that despite his absence, the Lamberts would still refer to their "7 children".

Cast

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Foster family

  • Carol (Suzanne Somers) – high-strung wife/mother who eventually learned to "cut loose".
  • Dana (Staci Keanan) – smart, but a perfectionist. She was also known as a feminist and wisecracker and was openly hostile to the Lamberts, particularly J.T., Frank and Cody. Later in the series, she dated J.T.'s best friend, Rich. She also made a small appearance in the Boy Meets World episode "The Happiest Show on Earth". Her biggest flaw was her prejudice and unwillingness to accept that intelligent people aren't always going to fit within her mold, although she later learns to live and be patient with them, particularly after Rich (who in many ways is very much like J.T.) becomes her boyfriend. She also had a strong sense of morals and was quick to call on someone when she thought they were wrong.
  • Karen (Angela Watson) – an aspiring model, who was very vain, yet could be level-headed at times.
  • Mark (Christopher Castile) – A nerd, who was into computers and academics. Later on, he matured to be "a normal teenager" with "manly" friends and even a girlfriend, although he remains a very high academic achiever. Also constantly wore sweatshirts around his waist, sometimes with a fanny pack to match.

During the first season, the Foster family had two additional characters — Aunt Penny Baker (Patrika Darbo), Carol's man-hungry younger sister; and "Grandma" Ivy Baker (Peggy Rea), their outspoken mother. Both characters were dropped for the second season.

Lambert family

  • Frank (Patrick Duffy) – A husband and father, who was an avid sports fan, especially of the Milwaukee Bucks and Green Bay Packers.
  • John Thomas, a.k.a. "J.T." (Brandon Call) – A slacker who was into sports and was academically challenged. Like his stepsister Dana, he resented his new step-family members, particularly Dana (his favorite name to insult her was "Barky"). During the fourth season, it is revealed he is dyslexic. In his very well remembered quote he exclaims, "Hey great news everyone, I have dyslexia!"
  • Alicia, aka "Al" (Christine Lakin) – A tomboyish all-American girl, who later matured in her own right, and learned to be feminine without giving up who she was. Several episodes during the series' final season centered on her newfound interest in acting.
  • Brendan (Josh Byrne; eventually disappeared from the series after season 6) – shy, carefree youngster
  • Cody (Sasha Mitchell; appearances in season 1, seasons 2–5, and 1 episode in season 7) – Frank's nephew, whom J.T. looked up to. An eccentric adolescent, Cody had a crush on Dana and lived in his van in the driveway. However, he showed bouts of wisdom on numerous occasions had a heart of gold. He had a few catchphrases, such as "Dude!" "Dude-sy!" "No way!" and "Ch-yeah!" Cody's off-screen departure in Season 6 was explained as him taking a job overseas. He later returned without warning in a Season 7 episode – much to the other characters' surprise.

Other cast members

  • Lilly Foster-Lambert (Lauren and Kristina Meyerling; season 5, Emily Mae Young; seasons 6–7) – first child conceived by Frank and Carol together.
  • Rich Halke (Jason Marsden; appearance in season 5, seasons 6–7) – J.T.'s best friend. He could be both a slacker and seriously devoted. He later dated Dana (to the others' dismay). The character was named after a former writer of the series.
  • Samantha "Sam" Milano (Alexandra Adi; seasons 6–7) – J.T.'s one-time girlfriend, introduced in the season six episode "She's the One". She worked as a mechanic in a garage.
  • Jean-Luc Rieupeyroux (Bronson Pinchot; season 6) – a male beautician, and Carol's business partner. He was brought in to replace Sasha Mitchell's character on the series.
  • Matt Crawford (Andrew Keegan; season 5) – Al's boyfriend for a few episodes. In the episode "Snow Bunnies," he turned down an unforgettable evening with a popular blond named Stephanie Leifer, who was nicknamed the "Love Boat", showing his deep loyalty to Al.
  • Jake "Flash" Gordon (Jeff Juday; season 5) – One of Frank's employees, he only appears in the final three episodes of Season 5 and in the two-part season five finale "We're Going to Disney World," tries to break a Russian man's world record for riding all Disney World's rides and attending their attractions.

Episodes

Season Episodes First airdate Last airdate
Season 1 22 September 20, 1991 April 24, 1992
Season 2 24 September 18, 1992 May 21, 1993
Season 3 23 September 24, 1993 May 20, 1994
Season 4 24 September 23, 1994 May 19, 1995
Season 5 24 September 22, 1995 May 4, 1996
Season 6 24 March 7, 1997 August 15, 1997
Season 7 19 September 19, 1997 June 26, 1998

Production

The series was created and executive produced by William Bickley and Michael Warren, and developed and executive produced by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett, who also produced the popular ABC sitcoms Family Matters, Full House and Perfect Strangers.[1] The series was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions, Miller-Boyett Productions in association with Lorimar Television (who produced the show from 1991 to 1993, when the show became produced by Warner Bros. Television).

Prior to the series' debut, Christopher Castile and Staci Keanan were cast in another Miller/Boyett-produced ABC sitcom called Going Places which debuted the season prior to Step by Steps series premiere; the creators of that series, Robert Griffard and Howard Adler, would end up as the show's co-executive producers and writers until Step by Step's fifth season.

Several episodes of the series, starting with the third season, were directed by Patrick Duffy. The house shown in establishing shots for scenes set at the Lambert-Foster house is located at 2011 Fletcher Ave. in South Pasadena, California; though the series was actually filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.

Along with Family Matters, Step by Step moved to CBS in the fall of 1997, as that network attempted to build its own Friday night lineup of family-friendly situation comedies called "The CBS Block Party". The ratings, which had been declining for several seasons, continued to fall, and the show ended its run in July 1998. There was no official series finale, although the last show was about Frank and Carol considering selling the house.

Theme song and opening sequence

Theme song

The show's theme song "Second Time Around" was performed by Theresa James and Jesse Frederick, which the latter co-wrote with Bennett Salvay (both wrote the themes for other Miller-Boyett sitcoms, such as Full House, Perfect Strangers and Family Matters). Season one was the only season using the full version, becoming progressively shorter afterwards until it was down to 1 minute, 6 seconds in season four. The fourth verse was cut and the chorus was truncated in season two, the kid chorus accompanying Jesse Frederick was cut by season three and the beginning guitar portion was cut in season four. By season six (the final season on ABC), the theme was dropped entirely. However, when the show moved to CBS for its final season, along with Family Matters, the theme returned with only the chorus and the long instrumental at the end (which was lengthened from the season five version) remaining. It is a common fan misconception that the first line of the theme is "The dream, wide broken...," when in fact the actual first line of the theme is "The dream got broken..."

Opening sequence

The opening sequence featured the Lambert-Fosters at an amusement park, with the cast's first names and surnames sliding together from opposite sides of the screen (save for Angela Watson, Christine Lakin, Christopher Castile and Josh Byrne; who were credited together (Lakin and Castile's names slid from the right side of the screen, while Watson and Byrne's slid from the left)). From seasons one through three near the end of the sequence, the family, except for Mark and Ivy (in season one; Cody from then on until early season four), were shown on a roller coaster, then cutting to a shot of the coaster, as the camera zoomed out with the names of the producers displayed. For the first three seasons and season four's first two episodes, the credits began with the family SUV passing a sign, "Port Washington, Wisconsin. Population: 9,338". This scene was actually filmed on Meridian Ave. in South Pasadena, California (note the museum and antiques shop, nearby the Metro Gold Line station). After season three, the sequence started with the real theme park's main roller coaster zooming down the track toward the camera. After the second episode of season four, the portion where Carol and Frank are standing on a bridge next to a water ride, splashing them as it came down the track was dropped. For season four, the scenes featuring the six younger cast members were reshot, while Patrick Duffy, Suzanne Somers and Sasha Mitchell's videoshots were left unchanged, and the end of the sequence went straight to the pan shot of the coaster (this end scene was also used in the closing credits for most episodes during the first five seasons).

The scenes comprising the opening credits were filmed at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. A CGI lake is inserted into the space in the foreground where the park's parking lot really is, as the camera pans away from the park (this is noticeable as when the camera aimed at the coaster shifts slightly right, the lake shifts slightly left). The names of cast members and some producers were shown in the opening teaser for season six, as the theme song was dropped entirely. When the show moved to CBS for season seven, an opening sequence returned featured the amusement park, but now with the cast members shown in still pictures on a photo booth picture reel.

The portion of the sequence showing the Lambert-Fosters walking through the amusement park with the show title animation was used as a beginning-of-show bumper, shown immediately before the teaser scene for the show's first five seasons (for the final two seasons, it was replaced with a kitchen scene with the Lambert-Fosters as they watch Lilly blow the candles out of a birthday cake).

Syndication

In September 1995, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution began distributing Step by Step for broadcast in off-network syndication.

In the United States, reruns of the series aired on ABC Family (joining the network in 2001, when the network was known as Fox Family), and was one of ABC Family's longest-running off-network syndicated programs (along with Whose Line Is It Anyway? and America's Funniest Home Videos, both of which still air on the channel). The show aired in various timeslots throughout its run and initally aired from 6–7 p.m./ET weekdays and 12-1 p.m./ET weekends and by early 2009, had aired only once a day on weekday mornings at 9:00 a.m./ET before the CBN-produced Living the Life; and until September 2009, was double-run on weekend mornings (it was replaced by Sabrina, the Teenage Witch on weekend mornings). On March 2, 2010, ABC Family's contract expired after nine years (it was replaced by Grounded for Life in its 9AM/ET timeslot)[2].

ABC Family's telecasts of the series generally omitted the tag scene during the end credits, despite the fact that the series had rarely used the instrumental version of the theme song after the first season. The most notable instance of this was in season three's "Great Expectations"; in which the tag scene featured John Stamos playing himself as a date Carol brought to the house to set Dana and Karen up with only finding out after they refused to be set up by Carol after meeting two men dressed as Beavis & Butt-head that Carol arranged a date with the girls; Stamos is also credited for his appearance, but since the tag was dropped from ABC Family airings, viewers who did not see the original version of the episode were misled into thinking that Stamos was cut out of the episode. When first aired on Fox Family, some episodes had to be edited for adult content or for the most part, to add commercial time and they would later be the prints ABC Family syndicated.

There is a rumor that Step By Step would be airing on WGN America, but the rumor has not been proved true.

DVD releases

Warner Home Video released a 6-episode Television Favorites collection on June 27, 2006.[3] Much like other TV shows from the Television Favorites Collection, SBS has gone out of print. There are no current plans by Warner Home Video for complete season releases.

References

External links


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