Thursday, February 11, 2021

A troubled classic: Valerie/Valerie's Family/The Hogan Family (1985-91)

 In the mid-80's, NBC had turned the corner in the ratings with the addition of The Cosby Show to a powerhouse Thursday slate that already had Family Ties & Cheers. However, Little House on The Prairie, one of the few steady hits they had in the 70's, had come to an end, with Michael Landon moving on to his next series, Highway to Heaven. Little House's departure left a void on Mondays to be filled, and the network thought they'd succeeded.

Valerie Harper returned to television in Valerie, some seven years after Rhoda had ended. This time, Harper was a mom with three sons, and it was a loving family. Jason Bateman (ex-Little House, Silver Spoons, It's Your Move) became a teen mag favorite as the eldest son, with Jeremy Licht & Danny Ponce as his brothers. Christine Ebersole came over from Saturday Night Live in a supporting role, but was gone after one season.

And, then, the trouble began.

Harper was in negotiations to renew her contract as season 3 was starting, but the network decided, after it seemed as though things had been settled, that changes needed to be made. Exit Harper, and enter Sandy Duncan. The series was rechristened Valerie's Family: The Hogans for the rest of the season. In the meantime, Edie McClurg (ex-Harper Valley PTA) replaced Ebersole, playing a new next door neighbor. In time, the producers were able to convince Today Show weatherman Willard Scott, the fan favorite who celebrated viewers' centennial birthdays, to make his TV acting debut in a series (he was the original Ronald McDonald).

The series underwent one final name change, to The Hogan Family. Added to the cast was Steve Witting as the stereotypical nerd. Essentially, producers Miller-Boyett decided Witting would be to Bateman what Marc Price was to Michael J. Fox over on Family Ties, the sidekick. Josie Bissett, later of Melrose Place, joined the show in its final season when Hogan Family changed networks from NBC to CBS. That change also brought John Hillerman (ex-Magnum, P. I.) aboard as the kids' grandfather. Unfortunately, it was perhaps, one change too many, and the series ended after 6 seasons and 2 networks.

I only caught the show during the Duncan era, and missed the CBS run. Following is a collection of intros spanning the 6 seasons:

No rating. Didn't see enough episodes.


Roger Owen Green said...

I'd think I'd have seen ONE of those iterations. I liked V Harper and S Duncan. I see why they got rid of the baseball pickle play in the intro; no one understands baseball. But what a jock show! Hockey, football...

hobbyfan said...

Rog: First, thanks for writing in. As for editing off the baseball clips, I think the producers felt Jason Bateman looked more at home on the ice.