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Eight is Enough was one of the best shows from the late 1970's and early 1980's. It was considered a dramedy. It had drama because the show could be serious at times but it also had comedy because the show was funny and it had a laugh track. Eight is Enough is now seen in reruns on CTS up here in Canada and I am happy about that. I had a major crush on Willie Aames (Tommy Bradford) when I was younger. Too bad there aren't many T.V. shows on now like this. Those were the good old days of television!
I remember very fondly the Friday evenings of the late 70s and early 80s, when I sat down in front of the TV set and watched "Eight Is Enough". (It was a glorious season: on Saturday evenings they used to broadcast "Charlie´s Angels" and, posteriorly, "The Love Boat"!). The Bradford family won my heart in so little time: they were sympathetic and cheerful and they loved one another -and, of course, they weren´t flawless, which gave them an additional appeal. All five girls in the show had something attractive to me: Mary (Lani O´Grady) was sort of an "ugly duckling" among her sisters and a tempestuous and bespectacled rebel, but pretty soon you could find that she had a tender heart; her temper appeased increasingly after a while and you could discover that she was really a very attractive woman; Joannie (Laurie Walters) was a funny "screwball" lady with a head full of crazy ideas and a special sensitivity; Susan (Susan Richardson) was a chubby red-head (too bad that she dyed her hair later!) whom love turned into a mature person very quickly; Nancy (Dianne Kay) was an ingenue-with-a-doll-face that could sometimes be a little tricky, and Elizabeth (Connie Needham) was a long-haired and petite but very well-built beauty who danced as if she were made of rubber. The boys too were nice: David (Grant Goodeve, who took over from Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill) was a somewhat insecure and independent character (the male reply to Mary) but he loved his family and was always ready to help; Tommy (Willie Aames) was a typical product of his age: the long-haired curly boy with the ambition of becoming a rock star and a special ability to make money in any kind of "business", but with all the heartaches and doubts that come from the fact of becoming an adult, and Nicholas (Adam Rich) was the kid who said the darndest things (what a source for his father´s articles!) and showed naïvety when he had to be naïve and was smart when he had to be smart. As for the adults, I must begin by saying that Diana Hyland´s death (and subsequently Joan´s) affected me when I learned of it; I have nothing against Abby or Betty Buckley, but I wonder: since only four or five episodes of the series had been made when Hyland died, couldn´t they have replaced her by another actress in the same character (as it has been done in many other TV series) instead of "killing" the mother so mysteriously? (We never get to know when, where or how she died.) Maybe the producers and writers of the show were tempted by the idea of how a young stepmother would fit into this big family and how she was initially rejected by some. Anyway, Hyland was a very attractive woman and she seemed a loving mother. And we get to Abby: she was charming, clever and understanding, and Buckley (don´t you find that she has a certain resemblance to Julie Andrews?) grabbed the character to perfection. (I was only annoyed by the fact that the "first name" she was known as was actually a diminutive of her late first husband´s surname; it´s a habit I loathe.) Dick Van Patten was simply a delight as Tom, the lovable, caring, generous and somewhat old-fashioned father of the brood. He really has the face of a good person and his phrases were usually gems. The recurring characters (Dr. Maxwell and his wife Daisy, Susan´s husband Merle [why did he sometimes call his father-in-law "Mr.B.", for God´s sake?], David´s wife Janet, Tom´s boss Eliot Randolph, Donna the secretary, Tommy´s friend Ernie, aunt Vivian, officer Bernstein, etc.) were also a treat to watch. Fortunately, a different TV channel made once a re-run of many of the episodes of the series (though, alas, not all of them) and I could record them on video. (I´m seeing them again at this time.) One of the few things I regret about the show is that Ralph Macchio didn´t have more time to develop his character of Abby´s orphaned, neglected and tormented nephew, Jeremy, and the family didn´t get to be so understanding to him as they were to one another. (Ironically, Macchio became a star a little bit later and the other boys and girls didn´t!). The series should have been lenghtier. Anyway, it´s a pity that programmes like this are no longer made on TV and are even subjected to quips from some young and not-so-young viewers and some new TV series. This makes me feel terribly nostalgic. Thank God it ever was Friday!
This show pretty much picks up where the "Brady Bunch" left off, but on a more serious tone. This show was definitely one of the first "dramadies", but it still managed to have its lighter moments. Most of them were provided by Willie Aames as the entrepreneur Tommy and Adam Rich as the cute Nicholas. These two young actors helped make this show one of the most loved of the 1970's. I do think that the major flaw in shows of this type though is the conflict of whether or not it was to be a serious drama or whether it was to be a cute domestic comedy along the lines of the aforementioned "Brady Bunch" and another show of that era "The Partridge Family".
I loved Eight is Enough growing up. Age wise, I was in between Tommy
and Nicholas, so I enjoyed those two the most. Plus, I think they had
more story lines given to them than the others. I think there were just
too many girls for any of them to stand out to me and David was way too
old for me to relate to.
I liked the balance of drama and comedy. I could be laughing about one part of the show and crying about another part. I believe the death of the mother (Joan) set this show apart from the other big family shows (The Waltons, The Brady Bunch). They dealt with it pretty realistically. And when Abby joined the family, the kids continued to call her Abby instead of mom, which was much more believable. Ironically, Abby became my favorite character and I think Betty Buckley was the best actor in the bunch. But I enjoyed pretty much every Bradford and loved their big family scenes the most.
Eight is Enough was an excellent family show that still stands the test of time.
What is with these credits? They don't contain all of the family members, and the few that are there are buried in this monstrous list and the stars such as Dick Van Patten are listed as having appeared in only one episode! Are they serious? I also agree with the comment that Betty Buckley's character would NEVER have been called "Abby", no one picks up a nickname AFTER they have been married and THAT name derived from the name of their husband, surely her husband might have been called "Abe" or some such thing short for Abbott, but the only way she would have been called "Abby" is if HER maiden name had been Abbott. I was also, as someone else said baffled by why they did not just replace Diana Hyland, that whole year of courtship was awkward and stupid and the show was all about the kids anyway. Those were the stories we wanted to follow. I enjoyed the show tremendously. I had just had my second child in 1977 and knew for a fact that it was impossible that anyone could ever have eight children and live, two were killing me, so I guess in a way, it gave me hope that I might just make it with two...
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