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Mr. Belvedere

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2011 05:48PM EDT

Mr. Belvedere

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Mr. Belvedere
Mr Belvedere.jpg
Mr. Belvedere title card, from seasons 3–6
Genre Sitcom
Developed by Frank Dungan
Jeff Stein
Written by Jay Abramowitz
Lisa A. Bannick
Gene Braunstein
Jack Carrerow
Frank Dungan
Jeffrey Ferro
James Kearns
Wayne Kline
Lissa Levin
Doug McIntyre
Bob Perlow
Liz Sage
Tony Sheehan
Dennis Snee
Doug Steckler
Jeff Stein
Fredric Weiss
Directed by Don Corvan (1987-1990; 56 episodes)
Noam Pitlik (1985-1987; 44 episodes)
Tony Sheehan (1985, 1987-1988 9 episodes)
Michael Zinberg (1987; 3 episodes)
Alan Bergmann (1987; 2 episodes)
Gerren Keith (1987; 1 episode)
Howard Storm (1987; 1 episode)
Tony Singletary (1987; 1 episode)
Rob Stone (1990; 1 episode, as "co-director")
Starring Christopher Hewett
Ilene Graff
Rob Stone
Tracy Wells
Brice Beckham
Bob Uecker
Theme music composer Judy Hart-Angelo
Gary Portnoy
Opening theme "According to Our New Arrivals" performed by Leon Redbone
Composer(s) Lionel Newman (music supervision, seasons 1 & 2 only)
Ben Lanzarone (additional music, seasons 3-6)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English.
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 117 (10 unaired)
Production
Executive producer(s) Frank Dungan
Tony Sheehan
Jeff Stein
Producer(s) Patricia Rickey
Editor(s) Edward J. Brennan
Jessie Hoke
Don Wilson
Location(s) ABC Television Center
Camera setup Videotape
Multi-camera setup
Running time 23–24 minutes
21–22 minutes (Syndication)
Production company(s) Lazy B/F.O.B. Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format 1.33 : 1 (Full screen)
Audio format Monaural
Original run March 15, 1985 (1985-03-15) – July 8, 1990 (1990-07-08)

Mr. Belvedere is an American sitcom that originally aired on ABC from March 15, 1985, until July 8, 1990. The series was based on the Lynn Aloysius Belvedere character created by Gwen Davenport for her 1947 novel Belvedere, which was later adapted into the 1948 film Sitting Pretty. The sitcom stars Christopher Hewett in the title role, who takes a job with an American family headed by George Owens, played by Bob Uecker.

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Format

The character of Lynn Belvedere was originally created by Gwen Davenport in her 1947 novel, Belvedere. The following year, the title character was portrayed by Clifton Webb in the film Sitting Pretty. Webb's performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Sitting Pretty told the story of an arrogant genius who answers an employment ad for a baby sitter for three bratty kids. He accepts such employment because he is secretly writing a novel about a community filled with gossips and busybodies. Webb reprised the role in two more movies, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949) and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (1951).

As early as the 1950s, attempts were made to adapt the character to television, with three pilots made during the '50s and '60s, including a 1965 version starring Victor Buono in the title role. All efforts, however, were unsuccessful until 1985, when ABC was finally able to get the show up and running with British actor Christopher Hewett playing Lynn Belvedere.

[edit] Premise

A middle-class family in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, takes in an English butler after he emigrates to the United States.

The posh butler, Lynn Belvedere, struggles to adapt to the Owens household. The breadwinner, George (Bob Uecker), is a sportswriter. His wife Marsha (Ilene Graff) is attending law school. At the show's start, oldest son Kevin (Rob Stone) is a senior in high school, daughter Heather (Tracy Wells) is a freshman, and Wesley (Brice Beckham) is in elementary school. Over the course of the series, George becomes a sportscaster, Marsha graduates from law school and starts a career as a lawyer, Kevin leaves for college and gets his own apartment, and Heather moves up in high school.

Several episodes dealt with Belvedere and Wesley, with whom he shares a close, if often adversarial, relationship. In one of many very special episodes, one of Wesley's classmates contracts HIV via Factor VIII, like Ryan White. When all of Wesley's classmates shun him for still associating with his friend (due to the belief at the time of stereotypes of AIDS being mainly associated with drug addicts and gay men), Belvedere is there for him and the child, and he helps the other students befriend the boy. In another episode, Wesley confronts a scout leader who had touched him inappropriately. Mr. Belvedere serves as a mentor of sorts to Wesley any time he has trouble, and also helps the other children when needed.

Each episode ended with Mr. Belvedere writing in his journal about the day with the Owens family, ending with him either giving a witty comment off the record or continuing in some odd activity he is engaged in along with his writing.

A frequent gag on the show involved Heather's best friend Angela Shostakovich (Michele Matheson), often mispronouncing Mr. Belvedere's name (with such variations as "Mr. Bumpersticker" and "Mr. Bellpepper"). Another frequent gag involved Mr. Belvedere making fun of Wesley's best friend Miles Knobnoster (Casey Ellison) because of his orthodontic headgear. Yet another recurring gag featured George always trying to be initiated into the Happy Guys of Pittsburgh, a local men's club. Wesley's highly acrimonious relationship with the never-seen next door neighbors, the Hufnagels, was another recurring plot element.

In the two-part series finale, Mr. Belvedere marries and moves to Africa.

[edit] Cast

[edit] Main characters

[edit] Recurring characters

  • Miles Knobnoster, Wesley's best friend, who is always being made fun of because of his orthodontic headgear. Played by Casey Ellison
  • Angela Shostakovich, Heather's best friend, who is always mispronouncing Mr. Belvedere's name. Played by Michele Matheson
  • Burt Hammond, bombastic and overly talkative chief spokesman and membership director for the Happy Guys of Pittsburgh, a local men's club; he is always trying to initiate George as a member. Played by Raleigh Bond. The "Stakeout" episode from season 5 was his final appearance. Bond died months after that episode was taped.
  • Carl Butlam, Mr. Hammond's obsequious assistant. Played by Jack Dodson.
  • Wendy, Kevin's female and geeky high school friend. Played by Winifred Freedman.
  • Robert Goulet, legendary singer and actor. Occasionally sings duets with Marsha. George finds him to be irritating. Played by Goulet himself.
  • Skip Hollings, George's co-anchor at the TV station. Played by Norman Bartold. Prior to the character's first appearance in season 4, Bartold played as a hotel clerk in a season 3 episode.
  • Carl, Kevin's best friend. Played by Willie Garson.
  • Tami, one of George's co-anchors at the TV station. Played by Patti Yasutake and in some episodes by Maggie Han.
  • Marjorie, Junior High student, and one of Wesley's love interests. Appeared during the final season. Played by Laura Mooney. Prior to season 6, Mooney appeared as "Roberta" in a season 4 episode.

[edit] Episodes

[edit] Theme song

The show's theme song was performed by ragtime singer Leon Redbone. It was written by Judy Hart-Angelo and Gary Portnoy,[1] who had previously written the theme songs to Cheers and Punky Brewster.

The song was originally composed in 1984 for a rejected TV pilot called Help (which was later resurrected as Marblehead Manor for NBC in 1987). It starred a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards as an inept member of an eccentric couple's household staff, who were perpetually conniving to pull the wool over the eyes of the mansions' newly hired head butler. With a minor lyrical re-write, it quickly became the theme song to Mr. Belvedere.[2]

In 2007, a never-before-heard full-length version of the theme was released by Portnoy on his CD, Destiny.

For syndicated reruns, a shorter 30 second version was recorded, in order to accompany the shorter opening for the syndicated airings. The original theme song was 55 seconds long. The 55 second version has been restored on Shout! Factory's DVD releases.

There were three different ending themes during the show's original run:

  1. An instrumental version of the theme song was used as the ending theme for Seasons 1 and 2.
  2. A Dixieland rendition of the ending theme was used in Season 3.
  3. A jazzier rendition of the ending theme was used in Seasons 4–6.

[edit] Ratings and cancellation

The series did not rate in the Top 30 shows in any of its six seasons, but it did have a relatively solid ratings base, and often won its time slot.

Its first season (1985) was exempt from the Nielsen ratings as it aired too few episodes before the end of April to be counted.[3]

In its second season (1985-86), the show ranked #45 with a 14.8 rating.[4]

In season three (1986-87), the show fell to #51 with a 13.7 rating.[5] At the end of the 1986-87 season, ABC decided to cancel the show,[6] but brought it back in October 1987.[7]

In season four (1987-88), the show won its Friday night time slot over Dallas, but still fell to #64 and an 11.5 rating for the year.[8]

In season five (1988-89), the show rose to a 12.2 rating and #47 for the season.[9]

However, in the sixth and final season (1989-90), the show was moved to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday nights, which led to a steep ratings decline from its old Friday night slot. Mr. Belvedere fell to a 6.3 rating, merely ranking #93 out of 106 shows. In its final airing before being shelved (December 30, 1989), the series ranked #70 out of 83 shows.[10] The two-part finale, which aired on July 1 and July 8, 1990, ranked #59 and #37, respectively, out of the 86 shows airing those weeks.[11][12]

[edit] Broadcast history

[edit] Network history

  • March 15, 1985 – April 26, 1985 (Friday nights; 8:30 P.M.)
  • August 16, 1985 – March 6, 1987 (Friday nights; 8:30 P.M.)
  • May 1, 1987 – September 11, 1987 (Friday nights; 8:30 P.M.)
  • October 30, 1987 – January 8, 1988 (Friday nights; 9:00 P.M.)
  • January 15, 1988 – February 12, 1988 (Friday nights; 8:30 P.M.)
  • March 4, 1988 – July 28, 1989 (Friday nights; 9:00 P.M.)
  • August 4, 1989 – September 1, 1989 (Friday nights; 8:30 P.M.)
  • September 9, 1989 – December 30, 1989 (Saturday nights; 8:00 P.M.)
  • July 1 and 8, 1990 (Sunday nights; 8:30 P.M.); the 2-part series finale

Sources: Mr. Belvedere Online, Los Angeles Times

[edit] Syndication history

The show first went into reruns on ABC's daily daytime schedule from September 7, 1987 to January 15, 1988, (replacing the short-lived game show Bargain Hunters). The daytime reruns consisted entirely of seasons 1–3.

On September 11, 1989 (around the same time the show entered its final season), and continuing in an on-again, off-again manner until 1996, it was seen in local syndication on Fox affiliates. Along with the addition of seasons 4–6, ten previously unaired episodes, two from season 5 and eight from season 6, were also added to the syndication package.

The series was also seen on the FOX satellite channel Foxnet in the early 2000s.

It also aired in Canada on CTS from 2002–2004. Certain episodes were not shown due to their perceived offensive nature.

On December 17, 2009, American Life Network showed both of the shows' Christmas-themed episodes, as part of their month-long block of Christmas-themed episodes from TV shows owned by 20th Century Fox Television ("Christmas Story" from season 4 and "A Happy Guy's Christmas" from season 6). This was the first time in a little over a decade that the show has been seen in US syndication.

As of October 3, 2011, reruns are currently airing on FamilyNet, the first time in over 15 years this show has been in regular syndication.[13]

[edit] DVD releases

Shout! Factory (under license from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) has released the first four seasons of Mr. Belvedere on DVD in Region 1.[14][15][16][17][18][19] Currently, Shout! Factory doesn't have the rights to seasons 5 & 6, and is still in long-drawn-out negotiations to acquire those remaining episodes (46 in total).[20]

All episodes released so far are presented as they originally aired, but without the commercial bumpers, which were also intact in syndication.

DVD Name Ep# Release Date Special Features
Seasons One & Two 29 March 17, 2009
  • New interviews with Bob Uecker, Ilene Graff, Rob Stone, and Brice Beckham
  • "The Guy who Plays Mr. Belvedere Fanclub" sketch from Saturday Night Live with Tom Hanks from 1992
Season Three 22 September 8, 2009
  • Six audio commentaries with Ilene Graff, Rob Stone, Tracy Wells and Brice Beckham ("Debut", "Kevin's Date", "Pills", "The Crush", "The Competition", "Kevin's Older Woman")
Season Four 20 January 19, 2010
  • Episode promos created for the syndication package
Season Five 24 TBA
  • TBA
Season Six 22 TBA
  • TBA

[edit] Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1985 Primetime Emmy Award Won Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Series George Spiro Dibie
(For episode "Stranger in the Night")
1986 Young Artist Awards Nominated Best New Television Series – Comedy or Drama
-
Best Young Supporting Actor in a New Television Series Brice Beckham
Won Best Young Actress Starring in a New Television Series Tracy Wells
1987 Nominated Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress, Starring in a Television, Comedy or Drama Series Tracy Wells
Exceptional Performance by a Young Actor Starring in a Television Comedy or Drama Series Brice Beckham
1988 Nominated Best Family Comedy Series
-
Best Young Female Superstar in Television Tracy Wells
Best Young Male Superstar in Television Brice Beckham
1989 Nominated Best Young Actress Guest Starring in a Drama or Comedy Series Laura Jacoby
(For episode "Pigskin")
Best Young Actress – Starring in a Television Comedy Series Tracy Wells
Best Young Actor – Starring in a Television Comedy Series Brice Beckham
Best Family Television Series
-
2004 TV Land Award Nominated Best Broadcast Butler Christopher Hewett

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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