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Who's the Boss
Who s The Boss.jpg
Who's the Boss title screen
Format Sitcom
Created by Martin Cohan
Blake Hunter
Starring Tony Danza
Judith Light
Alyssa Milano
Danny Pintauro
Katherine Helmond
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 196 (List of episodes)
Production
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) Embassy Television (1984–1986)
Embassy Communications (1986–1988)
Hunter-Cohan Productions (1987–1992)
ELP Communications/Columbia Pictures Television (1988–1992)
Distributor Columbia Pictures Television (1992–1996)
Columbia TriStar Television (1996–2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
The Program Exchange (2006–present)
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run September 20, 1984 – April 25, 1992
Chronology
Related shows The Upper Hand
Living Dolls

Who's the Boss? is an American television sitcom starring Tony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano, Danny Pintauro, and Katherine Helmond. It was broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from 1984 to 1992.

Contents

Background and history

In early development, the series was titled You're the Boss, in reference to Angela's character employing Tony, and the highly unusual (at the time) gender role reversal. Eventually, before the fall 1984 premiere, the producers changed it to Who's the Boss?, an open ended title which hinted that any one of the leads (including Mona) could get their own way – or be the "boss".

The series' pilot was shot in November 1983, a full 10 months before the show actually took to the air. ABC originally was planning to put it on mid-season in January 1984, but due to creative differences between producers and the network, the show was delayed until the next season. The show debuted on September 20, 1984.

While the show was shelved for an extended amount of time in early 1984, Danza was arrested for fighting in a New York bar, after a fellow patron made a rude remark about a lady friend of his. A few months later, Who's the Boss? resumed taping. During his court date that July, Danza faced a choice of jail time or community service, as a result of battery and other charges. Danza opted for community service, which he was in the middle of serving when the series finally premiered in September 1984.

Later in the show's run, it was reported that Danza was exhibiting erratic behavior on the set. These stories ranged from Danza getting after the directors to arguments with the writers, forcing minor script revisions. While it was uncovered that only the writing became an issue for Danza, his frustrations to have the show be a "well-oiled machine" boiled over at the start of the 1989–90 season, where he staged a single-man walkout for two weeks until he calmed down. The remainder of the cast filmed scenes without Danza in the meantime. Upon his return, Danza offered an apology to everyone on the set, and resumed work. However, the crew then monitored Danza's mood, and a few weeks later made light of the whole incident by issuing shirts on set that said "I Survived Week Six". (according to the E! True Hollywood Story)

In the fall of 1991, after more or less seven years on its established Tuesday night slot, Who's the Boss? was moved to Saturday nights, along with fellow long-running sitcom Growing Pains. Originally suspected by the insiders that the move was due to the show's waning popularity on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (respectively), ABC attempted to diffuse this fact by adding another long-running show with somewhat higher ratings, Perfect Strangers, to the Saturday lineup in February 1992. All three shows, along with the new cartoon Capitol Critters, launched the new I Love Saturday Night lineup – an equivalent to the hit Friday TGIF lineup. While Perfect Strangers saw a record ratings drop due to the move, Who's the Boss? (as well as Growing Pains) had been falling lower than ever all season, which led to the ultimate decision to end the series – while "some people were still watching". The hour-long series finale aired Saturday April 25, 1992, along with the finales for Growing Pains and MacGyver, which only aired on that night for its final show, even though it still aired on Mondays for its last season.

Cast of Who's the Boss?

Plot

Widower Anthony Morton "Tony" Micelli (Danza) is a former second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals who was forced to retire due to a shoulder injury. He wanted to move out of Brooklyn to find a better environment for his daughter, Samantha (Alyssa Milano). He ended up taking a job in upscale Fairfield, Connecticut as a live-in housekeeper for divorced advertising executive Angela Bower (Judith Light). The Micellis moved into the Bower residence. Also starring were Danny Pintauro as Angela's son Jonathan and Katherine Helmond as Mona Robinson, her feisty, "sexually progressive mother". Mona attracted and dated all kinds of men, from college age to silver-haired CEO's. This portrayal of an "older woman" with an active social and sex life was most unusual for television then.

The title of the show referred to the clear role reversal of the two lead actors, where a woman was the breadwinner, while a man stayed at home and took care of the house. Moreover, while Angela employed Tony, it was Tony who seemed to run the house, thus the question of who the "boss" really was. It challenged media stereotypes of Italian-Americans as wholly ignorant of life outside of urban working-class neighborhoods.

The contrast between easy-going, spontaneous Tony and driven, self-controlled Angela resulted in their mutual attraction. While there was playful banter and many hints of attraction for much of the run, Tony and Angela did not at first consummate the relationship, and dated others. They did, however, become best friends along the way relying on each other frequently for support. Angela had a steady man in Geoffrey Wells (Robin Thomas), while Tony had many girlfriends who came and went, including Kathleen Sawyer (Kate Vernon) in seasons six and seven. Finally at the start of the eighth season, Tony and Angela admitted their love for each other, and had a whirlwind romance until the end of the series which did not close with the widely expected marriage but on a more ambiguous note. This was due primarily to concerns by the network that a marriage, representing a definitive ending, could hurt syndication. Tony Danza, too, vehemently opposed the marriage, saying it would contradict the original purpose of the show.

In addition, Tony provided a much-needed male role model for geeky almost feminine Jonathan, while Angela (and even Mona) gave Samantha the woman's guidance she had been missing.

Keeping ties with Tony's and Samantha's Brooklyn roots, motherly former neighbor Mrs. Rossini (Rhoda Gemignani) and several other friends who turned up a few times each season, whether visited by the cast in New York or by way of them coming to Connecticut.

Amid the surroundings of prosperity between Angela (who eventually opened up her own ad firm in the third season) and Mona, Tony decided to go back to school, enrolling in the same college that daughter Samantha would later attend in 1990. Samantha's best friend Bonnie (Shana Lane-Block) was a recurring character during these seasons, while steady romance came into her life in the form of boyfriend Jesse Nash (Scott Bloom) during her senior year of high school and into college.

By the fall of 1990, with Samantha in the beginning of college and Jonathan in high school, Who's the Boss?, like other series getting on in years, fell victim to the infusion of a new "cute child" to the cast. For the seventh season, producers added 5-year-old Billy (Jonathan Halyalkar), a kid from the Micellis' old Brooklyn neighborhood, who seemed to move into the household but actually frequently visited. Billy was a comic foil to Tony, but also attempted to get into the mix in other character's storylines. He only lasted that season however. In the E! True Hollywood Story about the series, Katherine Helmond remarked that Halyalkar was a gifted performer but had difficulty catching up to the pace of the acting and writing that had been set by the cast and crew for several seasons.

Episodes

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Nielsen Ratings

Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 1984–1985 N/A N/A
2 1985–1986 #10[1] 18.12[1]
3 1986–1987 #10[2] 19.22[2]
4 1987–1988 #10[3] 19.22[3]
5 1988–1989 #7[4] 18.80[4]
6 1989–1990 #12[5] 16.48[5]
7 1990–1991 #19[6] 13.96[6]
8 1991–1992 N/A N/A

Theme song and opening sequence

The show's theme song, "Brand New Life", was written by series creators and executive producers Martin Cohan and Blake Hunter, with music composed by Larry Carlton and Robert Kraft. There were three versions used throughout the series' run. They were performed by Larry Weiss, Jonathan Wolf and Steve Warnier during the show's run[7][8]. Tony Danza did not perform the theme. The second version, which was used from 1986–1990, was performed by country music singer Steve Wariner. The third version was used for the final two seasons.

Four full versions of this song, as well as two short versions were used during the course of the series. The original version featured the opening verse, "There's more to life than what you're livin'", which was changed to "There's a time for love and a time for livin'" in the show's third season. The season three version also had the opening instrumental elongated and a slightly mellower music. A modified version was used during the show's seventh season and modified again for season eight. Various instrumental versions of this theme were used as a closing theme during the series.

The pilot episode's opening sequence featured the van (which supposedly belongs to Tony) driving from New York to the Bowers' house in Connecticut, with the cast and executive producer's names credited over it (the footage of the van driving to Connecticut was truncated to the very beginning of the opening for the beginning with episode two, limited to the first five seconds for the first two seasons and extended to the first twelve seconds afterwards with the remainder replaced with episode clips). During the first season, Alyssa Milano and Danny Pintauro were credited together (they were credited separately from season two onward).

The original airing of the pilot episode featured a slightly different intro, compared to what was used in later airings. In it, there were shots of Samantha and Tony in the van, as well as the two of them boarding the van, and then driving off.

Guest appearances

Rotund comic James Coco was a frequent guest beginning in season one, as Tony's father in-law visiting from New York. People have credited his appearances on Who's the Boss? as a prime example of his comedic abilities on TV, despite the fact that he wasn't a regular and had never starred in a successful TV series of his own. When Coco died in February 1987, prior to the conclusion of season three, his character was written out as having died as well (with a funeral episode and tribute).

Frank Sinatra made a guest appearance in a 1989 episode, as well as Ray Charles and Mike Tyson.

Versions in other countries

Several versions of Who's the Boss? have been produced for foreign television markets. In 1990, The Upper Hand, aired nationally in the United Kingdom while the original version was screened regionally. It featured Honor Blackman in the role originally played by Katherine Helmond. In 1993, Helmond appeared in an episode of this version as Madame Alexandra. [9]

A Spanish language version, produced in Mexico by TV Azteca and Sony Pictues Television International, debuted in 1998 under the title Una familia con Ángel starring Laura Luz and Daniel Martínez; it was broadcast in the U.S. on the Telemundo network.

Though the show had been broadcast in Germany in a dubbed version as 'Wer ist hier der Boss? since 1992 on RTL Television, a year later the channel produced 15 early episodes with a German cast. The show was called Ein Job fürs Leben (A Life's Job). Tony was named Vito, an Italian guest-worker from Berlin-Neukölln and former striker of soccer club Hertha BSC. Angela Bower was named Barbara Hoffmann, their home was located in Hamburg's upscale suburb Othmarschen. Despite these little changes, the original scripts were used for shooting, and even the stage set was an almost 1:1 replica of the original American set with only minor details changed such as paintings and bric-a-brac in German style. RTL Television gave the same treatment to Married with children. The two shows shared the first hour on Thursdays in prime time slot from 8.15 pm to 10.15 pm.

In 2005, the Argentinian network Telefé also made its own local version, called ¿Quién es el jefe? (a direct translation of the original American title) starring Nicolás Vázques, Gianella Neyra and Carmen Barbieri.

In 2006, Colombian network Caracol TV did the same, producing ¿Quién manda a quién? (which was the title of the original show when dubbed in Spanish).

A Polish version I kto tu rządzi? debuted in 2007, starring Małgorzata Foremniak and Bogusław Linda.

A Russian version – Kto v dome hoziain? (Who's the Boss in this House?) started on CTC – Moskva in 2005, starring Andrej Noskov, Anna Nevskaja and Darija Bondarenko.[citation needed]

Aired in France starting 1987, first on "Antenne 2" (now France 2) then on M6. The show is renamed "Madame est servie" ("Dinner is served" but literally "Madam is served", referring to Tony being Angela's housekeeper). For the entire series, only the pilot intro is used.

In Turkey, it is aired as "Patron Kim?" (Who's the Boss) on ATV Turkey.

Spin-offs

Who's the Boss? spawned two short lived spin-offs. One was a show called Charmed Lives, about two women up for a job. Starring Fran Drescher and Donna Dixon, it only lasted three episodes and was immediately taken off the air. The second spin-off was Living Dolls. Premiering and ending in 1989, the show starred Leah Remini, Michael Learned, and Halle Berry. The show featured Remini, who had appeared in two Who's the Boss? episodes as a friend of Samantha's, as a homeless model taken under the wing of an agent played by Learned. In those same Who's the Boss? episodes, Jonathan Ward played Learned's son Rick; in the Living Dolls series, David Moscow took over the role. The show lasted less than one season.

Syndication

Who's the Boss? aired on TBS Superstation in the 1990s after it was canceled, and was also added to the ABC Family Channel line-up in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Nick at Nite broadcast the show between 2004 and 2006. In 2005, TV Land broadcast the show as part of Nick at Nite's 20th Anniversary Celebration. The series also aired on ION Television on Monday, July 9, 2007 airing Mon-Thurs at 9:00 & 9:30 p.m. ET[10] . It has since left the schedule.

There were three episodes of Who's the Boss? that did not air during the show's original run. The first one was "Charmed Lives" in season 2, which was the pilot for the short-lived series Charmed Lives. The second was season 3's "Mona," which was a pilot for a spin-off about Mona that never happened. The third one was "Life's a Ditch" in season 6, originally a Living Dolls episode. Comcast has partnered with Sony to bring shows like Who's The Boss? from the 50's to the 90's through their On Demand service called Tube Time. Several episodes from seasons one, two, and eight can be viewed for free in Minisode format on Crackle, which is owned by Sony Pictures Television.

DVD release

On June 8, 2004, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the first season of Who's the Boss? on DVD in Region 1. Due to low sales for the first season, it is highly unlikely that more season DVD sets will be released unless Sony sells the rights to another company.[11]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 22 June 8, 2004

References

  1. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1985–1986". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1985.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  2. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1986–1987". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1986.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  3. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1987–1988". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1987.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  4. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1988–1989". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1988.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  5. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1989–1990". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1989.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  6. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1990–1991". ClassicTVHits.com. http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1990.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  7. ^ "Who'S The Boss? | A Television Heaven Review". Televisionheaven.co.uk. http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/wtb.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  8. ^ "Larry Weiss, Award Winning Tunesmith of Rhinestone Cowboy fame". Rhinestonecowboy.com. http://www.rhinestonecowboy.com/main.html. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  9. ^ ""The Upper Hand" Tunnel of Love (1993)". Imdb.com. 1993-02-22. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0737951/. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  10. ^ "News Blog: ION Television July: Designing Women and Who's the Boss? Join Line-Up; Still Standing Joins Atlanta TBS; Network Notes". Sitcomsonline.com. 2007-06-08. http://www.sitcomsonline.com/blog/2007/06/ion-television-july-designing-women-and.html. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  11. ^ Lambert, David (2006-06-17). "Boy Meets World – Trade Mag Explains Why No More Seasons for Boy Meets World, Who's The Boss, Night Court, Airwolf & More!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=5868. Retrieved 2006-12-21. 

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