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Step by Step is an American sitcom television series created by William Bickley and Michael Warren which originated on ABC from September 20, 1991, to August 15, 1997, and moved to CBS from September 19, 1997, to June 26, 1998. It starred Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Somers as two single parents (each with three children), who spontaneously get married after meeting one another during a vacation, resulting in them becoming the heads of a large, blended family.

Premise[]

Set in a substantially fictionalized version of the city of Port Washington, Wisconsin, Frank Lambert, a divorced contractor with three children, sons J.T. and Brendan and daughter Al, impulsively marries Carol Foster, a widowed beautician who also has three children, daughters Dana and Karen and son Mark. Both were residents of Port Washington but met while vacationing separately in Jamaica. Their children are surprised and angered when they learn of the marriage. Stories depicted typical situations of a new blended family, their differences causing arguments and resentments between them, but the family eventually growing to tolerate and develop loyalty to one another.

The show lasted for seven seasons, and the main cast changed as the storyline progressed. Frank's nephew Cody was introduced in the fourth episode of the first season and lived in his van in the family's driveway, then left the series in 1996 but returned for the second to last episode of the series. In the forth season finale, Carol gave birth to daughter Lilly. Like many other sitcom babies, Lilly was suddenly aged four years when she appeared in season 6. In 1997, J.T.'s friend Rich moved in with the family after becoming Dana's boyfriend.

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; the series' producers later admitted in a TV Guide interview that despite his absence, the Lamberts would still refer to their "seven children", making Brendan an unseen character for the final season.

Cast[]

Images (6)

Main[]

Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Patrick Duffy Frank Lambert Main
Suzanne Somers Carol Foster Lambert Main
Staci Keanan Dana Foster Main
Sasha Mitchell Cody Lambert Main Guest
Brandon Call J.T. Lambert Main
Angela Watson Karen Foster Main
Christine Lakin Al Lambert Main
Christopher Castile Mark Foster Main
Josh Byrne Brendan Lambert Main
Lauren and Kristina Meyering Lilly Foster-Lambert Main
Emily Mae Young Main
Jason Marsden Rich Halke Guest Recurring Main

Other/recurring[]

Episodes[]

Main article: Episode Guide
Season Episodes Originally aired (U.S. dates)
Season premiere Season finale Network
1 22 September 20, 1991 April 24, 1992 ABC
2 24 September 18, 1992 May 21, 1993
3 23 September 24, 1993 May 20, 1994
4 24 September 23, 1994 May 19, 1995
5 24 September 22, 1995 May 17, 1996
6 24 March 7, 1997 August 15, 1997
7 19 September 19, 1997 June 26, 1998 CBS

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. It was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions, Miller-Boyett Productions and Lorimar Television (the latter doing so from 1991 to 1993, when Warner Bros. Television assumed production responsibilities for it and Lorimar's other television series after shared corporate parent Time Warner consolidated the two production companies). The casting of Patrick Duffy fulfilled a contractual obligation that Lorimar made to give him a new show after his previous series, Dallas (which was also produced by Lorimar), had ended its run. It was created off of the idea of combining two of the most popular television stars from the 1970s known for their good looks (Duffy and Somers) to star as parents to attract adult viewers, with current teen celebrities (Staci Keanan from My Two Dads and Going Places, Brandon Call from Baywatch and Sasha Mitchell from Dallas) to star as their children to attract children and teen viewers.

Staci Keanan and Christopher Castile had previously appeared on the Miller-Boyett-produced ABC sitcom Going Places, which debuted the season prior to Step By Step, playing characters with no familial relation (Keanan – who played Lindsay Bowen, the teenage neighbor of the show's adult characters – as a series regular, Castile as a recurring character). Keanan was the first of the two Going Places stars to be cast on Step By Step in the spring of 1991. Castile, who had played gawky child Sam Roberts on Going Places, brought the same character traits to the Mark Foster role, which was speculated to be Miller-Boyett's continued attempt to give the Family Matters character Steve Urkel a white counterpart. In a similar instance of hiring actors over from their other TV series, the producers also cast Josh Byrne as Brendan Lambert on Step By Step, after he had just finished a supporting role as Patrick Kozak on Miller-Boyett's single-season CBS sitcom The Family Man.

When the series was casting its characters, child actor Jarrett Lennon originally landed the role of Mark Foster. Lennon had been chosen by the producers after guest starring in the last original episode of the Miller-Boyett series The Hogan Family, which was produced in late 1990. After shooting the original (unaired) pilot for Step By Step, Lennon was dismissed from the role of Mark, and the producers later replaced him with Castile (who had blonde hair like on-screen mother Somers, as opposed to Lennon having brown hair). Most of Lennon's pilot scenes were reshot with Castile, but during the first season, footage of Lennon remained in the show's opening title sequence. Lennon only appeared in wide shots with the Lambert/Foster family or, in the case of Suzanne Somers' credit scene, fleetingly appearing at the bottom of camera view as the kids huddled around Somers. All traces of Lennon were edited out by the second season. In 1996, these two actors had the tables turned on each other; Castile served as the original voice of Eugene Horowitz on the Nickelodeon animated series Hey Arnold!, but after a few episodes was replaced, coincidentally, by Lennon, who voiced Eugene for the remainder of the show's first season.

Going Places creators Robert Griffard and Howard Adler would end up employed with Step By Step as co-executive producers and members of its writing staff until the show's fifth season; Adler and Griffard later wrote an additional episode of the show as freelancers in the seventh season. Patrick Duffy directed several episodes, starting with the second season. The house shown in establishing shots for scenes set at the Lambert-Foster home is located at 2011 Fletcher Avenue in South Pasadena, California, although the series was actually filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.

ABC chose to delay the series' sixth season to the 1996–97 mid-season (premiering in March 1997), in order to make room on that season's fall schedule for freshman sitcoms Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Clueless, which joined established series Family Matters and Boy Meets World on the TGIF lineup; the network canceled it after six seasons in May 1997, due to declining ratings. CBS concurrently reached a deal with Miller-Boyett Productions to acquire the rights to it and Family Matters from ABC, as that network attempted to build its own Friday night lineup of family-friendly situation comedies for the fall of 1997, called the "CBS Block Party". The series' ratings, which had been declining for several seasons, continued to erode, and the show ended its run in June 1998. It ended without an official series finale, although the last episode centered on Frank and Carol considering selling the house. According to Staci Keanan and Christine Lakin, the series was supposed to end with Dana and Rich's wedding at the house, and elaborate preparations were underway for it prior to the series' abrupt end.

Reception[]

Reviewing the pilot episode, Jean Rosenbluth of Variety wrote that, despite being an unoriginal clone of The Brady Bunch, it is a "modestly amusing, occasionally heartwarming show".

Syndication[]

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

ABC Family was the first to acquire cable television rights to the series, and it became one of the cable channel's longest-running off-network syndicated programs in its history. Reruns began airing on there in 2001 (on what was then known as Fox Family), airing in various timeslots during its run ranging from late afternoon to the morning hours. On March 26, 2010, ABC Family's contract expired after less than nine years.

The series returned to U.S. syndication on October 7, 2013, when the Hub Network began airing reruns; the network dropped it on October 12, 2014, as part of a change in the focus.

In Australia, Step by Step aired on the Seven Network from 1991 to 1995 and on the Nine Network from 1996 to 2000. In 2011, Step by Step was acquired by 7TWO. In 2015, 111 Greats started airing the whole series.

On September 29, 2017, Step by Step, along with the other classic "TGIF" shows, can be streamed on Hulu, however on October 1, 2021, it was moved and began streaming on Max after its streaming rights expired from Hulu.

DVD Release[]

Step by Step (S1) DVD

DVD release cover for Season 1

Warner Home Video released a six-episode Television Favorites collection on DVD on June 27, 2006. Much like other television shows from it, the Step by Step edition has gone out of print.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 22 June 12, 2018
The Complete Second Season 24 September 18, 2018
The Complete Third Season 23 November 20, 2018
The Complete Fourth Season 24 February 12, 2019
The Complete Fifth Season 24 November 5, 2019
The Complete Sixth Season 24 February 11, 2020
The Complete Seventh and Final Season 19 April 21, 2020

Reception[]

Reviewing the pilot episode, Jean Rosenbluth of Variety wrote that, despite being an unoriginal clone of The Brady Bunch, it is a "modestly amusing, occasionally heartwarming show".

See also[]

External links[]

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