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need i say more, this show is from the 80s, its already a classic. this
is hilarious. this show was also the most popular show in 1981.
Henry Rush, a conservative San Francisco cartoonist of children's comic book heroine, Cosmic Cow, resided in the upstairs apartment of a two story home with wife, Muriel, a former big band singer, (which allowed us to occasionally hear Nancy Dussault's terrific voice), and free-lance photographer. Their college-aged daughters, pretty brunette Jackie, a bank teller and sexy blonde Sara, a freshman at San Francisco State, wanting independence, moved into the downstairs apartment. Guys came and went and Henry agonized over his 2 "little girls".Other characters in the show included Henry's boss, tiny Mr. Wainwright, Monroe, Sara's goofy school friend and thorn in Henry's side, Mildred Rafkin, the sister of the deceased former transvestite downstairs resident and Henry's Cosmic Cow puppet, which he always wore when he was drawing.During the subsequent seasons, Henry's hippie niece April stayed with the family for a year, Muriel became pregnant and gave birth to son, Andrew, Henry's hated mother-in-law Iris was a semi-regular, Jackie became a fashion designer and was engaged to a policeman, Brad, but broke the engagement, and went to Italy to pursue her career. Sara became a TV weather girl and eventually Monroe and she graduated from college.When the show's title changed from "Too Close for Comfort" to "The Ted Knight Show", there was a huge format change. Henry purchased a 49% share in a weekly newspaper, the Marin Bugler, and Muriel, Andrew and he moved to Mill Valley, CA to be closer to his new business. Jackie and Sara were not seen as they were now on their own. Monroe, who had lived with the Rush family in San Francisco and worked as a security guard, worked for Henry at the newspaper, but had his own place, which was never seen. The Rushes' gained a Hispanic housekeeper, Lisa, and the publisher of the Bugler, 51% owner, Hope Stinson, who enjoyed her conflicts with Henry, the editor. Muriel worked as a staff photographer. "The Ted Knight Show" was due to go into its second season of production when its star, who was ill with cancer, passed away.
Finally Ted Knight got a hit show, the last Mary Tyler Moore alum to do so. While hardly top-notch, this sitcom was nonetheless a great 80s memory for me. Sure Jim J. Bullock was annoying as hell, but Ted Knight was good for a chuckle as Henry Rush, and watching his two on-screen daughters jiggle around didn't hurt either. The only drawback is that I now always refer to the memory of Ted's on-screen wife as "Murual" ...and only recently realized the actress had a real name: Nancy Dassault. And that theme song is just oh-so-80s.
This was probably Ted Knight's second most famous role behind that of Ted Baxter. This show allowed him to pretty much play a role that was totally the opposite of that character. While Baxter was an annoying and vain dim bulb, Henry was more or less a very intelligent man who had a hard time dealing with the changing world around him. Also, the running gag on the show was that he was still trying to get over the fact that his daughters were growing up and that even though they technically didn't live in "his" house, they still were under the same roof. Also, Nancy Dussault was great in the role of Muriel. She pretty much was the middle ground between Henry's conservatism and the girl's more liberal attitude. The only thing that keeps it from being more fondly remembered is Jm J. Bullock as Monroe. He and the character of Steve Urkel were two of the most annoying characters ever created for television.
I first saw "Too Close for Comfort" last fall as reruns on a local WLVI-TV in Boston.Ted Knight, in his last TV role, was excellent in the role of Henry Rush, cartoonist of "Cosmic Cow". Oh sure.....I also thought Henry's wife Muriel and and two grown up daughters Sara and Jackie added comic relief but my all time favorite character has to be Monroe Ficus (JM J. Bullock) who was a very geeky and stupid person. He became a very big part of Henry's family in later episodes originally passed as Sara's student friend from college.
This was a break out hit for its time. Fans of the old Mary Tyler Moore Show knew that Ted Knight was a valuable talent, and changing him from an unbearable idiot newsman to an overprotective likeable father of two gorgeous daughters was a great stretch for him. One made even more likeable by making him a cartoonist for the fictional Cosmic Cow cartoon. Making the series even more enjoyable was the casting of sexy Lydia Cornell and adorable Deborah Van Valkenburgh as his daughters who tried to prove that they could live on their own in the bottom half of their duplex. The jokes ran rampant over Cornell's incredible figure: "Don't overload the washing machine again." "It was Jackie's blue jeans that did it." "It wasn't my jeans; it was your bra !" The series probably would have worked equally as well as a vehicle more for the daughters than Knight as Jackie contemplated cosmetic surgery for herself and Copley turned out to be smarter than her character, but then in walked one annoyingly grating actor named Jm J. Bullock. Hired for a one-shot performance as an idiot who followed Cornell home, he stayed and stayed and stayed and stayed..... The jokes got worse instead of better, and the show was given the final nail in the coffin by having the mom, played by Nancy Dussault, get pregnant. Reworking the show for syndication didn't help. The girls vanished, the baby became five years old and Bullock stayed to get in the way and ruin the show. What a lousy end to a once good show.
Ted Knight played cartoonist, Henry Rush, who lives with his photographer wife, Muriel, in a two family home in San Francisco, California. The series opens up with the loss of their downstairs tenant, Mr. Rafkin, who was a transvestite. Selma Diamond played his sister. Henry and Muriel's adult daughters, Jackie and Sara, lived with them in their two bedroom apartment upstairs. It would be sensible for the girls as they were called to move downstairs. The actresses who played the daughters were fine. Nancy Dussault is ideal as Muriel. Jim J. Bullock played the annoying Monroe Ficus. While there were plenty of memorable moments between Monroe and Henry, there were tender moments between him and Muriel and his daughters. Audrey Meadows joined the show as Muriel's adopted mother. There were lots of friendly, light moments mixed with heavy issues as well. But there was a general tenderness there that isn't in today's sitcoms.
Oh, I remember this great series very well. I remember Henry Rush, and his fictional cartoon creation "Cosmic Cow", his upstair's neighbour Monroe, his two beautiful daughters, his wife, and his much hated mother-in-law. I remember how much this series made me laugh. This show was the perfect sitcom, it had good laughs, a great cast, and a very sucessful series run. But by 1985, I had lost interest in this show after re-tited "The Ted Knight Show" because the setting moved from Apartment to house, and the two daughters were nowhere to be seen. All, and all, a great series that will live on forever!!!
Three years after the success of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",fellow
alumnus Ted Knight was finally given his own weekly situation comedy
series,after years of playing second fiddle characters not to mention
voice-over for several animated cartoons for television. However,Ted
Knight was one of the last MTM alumnus to do so,and it turned out to be
not only one of the funniest situation comedies of the 1980's,but did
Ted Knight go out in grand style! The series,"Too Close For Comfort",
was one of the most popular shows of its day when it premiered on ABC's
prime-time lineup on September 11,1980,and to anyone's surprise it
lasted three seasons on the network producing 63 episodes until May
5,1983. After ABC canceled the series in the spring of 1983 it wasn't
until the fall of 1984 when the series appeared in new episodes for
first-run syndicated from April 7,1984 until September 27,1986 after 66
episodes,which was also titled,"The Ted Knight Show",and was produced
by the same individuals who brought you another successful series that
was also at the top of the Nielsens during the 80's on ABC...."Three's
Company",which was the highest rated show on the air. "Too Close For
Comfort",surpassed it as it became of the most popular shows when it
premiered in 1980 and making Ted Knight one of the most respected
actors of the 1980's.
The series itself is indeed a timeless classic with Ted Knight playing a conservative San Franciscian Henry Rush,a cartoonist of children's comic book heroine,Cosmic Cow,who resides in an upstairs apartment of a two story house with his wife,Muriel Rush,a former big band singer(which allows us to occasionally hear Broadway performer Nancy Dussault's terrific voice in several of the episodes),and free-lance photographer.Their college-aged daughters,pretty brunette Jackie,a bank teller(played by that gorgeous babe Deborah Van Valkenburgh from the movie "The Warriors"),and sexy blonde Sara(played by Lydia Cornell)who is a freshman at San Francisco State University,wanting freedom and independence,moved into the downstairs apartment. Guys came and went as Henry agonized over his "2 little girls" since he is very overprotected of them.There is also the overprotected as Muriel's mother,Iris Martin(played with absolute prowess by TV alum Audrey Meadows of "The Honeymooners")where in some of the episodes comes by for visits and usually spends time with the family,her and Henry's mother-in-law have a match with words over whatever and it is some of the lowest insults ever depicted for TV. Other characters on the show included Henry's boss,Mr. Wainwright(played by Hamilton Camp),and others including the upstairs neighbors Mrs. Rafkin(Selma Diamond),and Mrs. Stinson(Pat Carroll).
In some of the episodes,and this was during the subsequent two half seasons,Henry's hippie niece April stayed with the family for a year while Muriel became pregnant and gave birth to their son,Andrew while the oldest daughter Jackie became engaged and moved off on her own to Italy to pursue her career,while Sara became a TV weather girl and eventually toward the end of the series,she graduates from college. Sure,Ted Knight was a joy to watch,but who was the most repulsive character on that show? MONROE! J.M. Bullock's character of Monroe was not only the most annoying as hell,but was also the first-ever "openly gay" character ever depicted in a comedy series. He was just as annoying as he ever was now,and during this show he was a real pain in the ass. Believe me,watch some of the episodes and you'll see why he drives Ted Knight up the wall with some of his antics and downright hilarious schemes. But their were some interesting things that occur,especially when Knight's character would be drawing up his Cosmic Cow(he usually wear it on his arm)at his desk,and in some of the episodes several guest stars would appear,and one I do recall had the great cartoonist Walter Lantz stopped by for a visit(Walter Lantz was the man behind the cartoon character "Woody Woodpecker" and etc......).
By the 1983,the series "Too Close For Comfort" was canceled by ABC,and in the fall of 1984,the premiere of "The Ted Knight Show" was made for syndication,and only seven episodes were produced which brought back some of the characters from the ABC series with included Nancy Dussault,J.M. Bullock,and numerous others. This time around The Rushes' moved outside San Francisco toward the Mill Valley region of California where Henry is co-editor of a weekly newspaper while the rest of the characters while this time around,the two daughters were not seen often,and also Muriel worked as a staff photographer. The show never made it into its second season,when its star,Ted Knight,passed away in 1986 of cancer. Repeats of the final season lasted in syndication until February 7,1987.
P.S. This commentary was revised on February 21, 2015
To me, this show defies situation comedies. What "really" was the situation? The girls playing the daughters were so bland. Trying to pass Jim J Bullock off as a heterosexual has to be the greatest misfire in TV history, right ahead of the romantic comedy with Faye Dunaway and Robert Urich.
I used to watch this show back in the 80's, then watched all the re-runs,
and still to this day watch it on video. The acting was great as Henry
(Knight) was the over protective father with the ego who always clashed with
clumsy Monroe Ficus (Jim J Bullock). This show dealt with lots of subjects
and was very entertaining.
My favorite on the show was the daughters, both Sara (Lydia Cornell) and Jackie (Deborah Van Valkenburg). Both are beautiful and would steal any mans heart. Sara the blonde ditz is the one that most men would want, but I was intrigued by Jackie as a kid. She is smarter, more confident, more mature, and honestly prettier. Her black hair, pretty smile, and voice were very alluring. Her character as Jackie Rush was the prototype of the type of woman I dreamed about be married to when I got older. The blonde bimbo act can get dry after a while, but it was only an act as Lydia Cornell is a very bright woman in real life. Both these daughters were alway rebelling with their parent to be independent of them, yet always lived in the basement.
I truly miss this show as it was an all time 80's great in the ranks of Threes Company, Silver Spoons, Diff'rt Strokes, and others. How I miss the good old happy 80's. The show may be outdated, but the story lines are still good even in this day and age. Scary how we haven't really progressed by that much. Cell Phones and Internet don't really make the world go round and round.
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