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You know the funny thing about "Family Matters" is that I'm not sure if
anyone knows the title of this show, lol, I mean, it just became about
Steve Urkel. One of the ultimate characters of the 90's, the kid who
made it so cool to act like a nerd. I know Jaleel White hates his type
cast now, but he has to admit that not too many actors can do what he
has accomplished by creating an icon. No one could ever forget that
famous line "Did I do that?" or Urkel's attire or his voice.
The first season was pretty basic, it was a just a typical family sit com, also a spin off of Perfect Strangers, we are learning about Harriet, the elevator operator and her loving family. Harriet is the mom and loving wife who is abrasive but extremely loving. Carl, her husband and the father, he's a Chicago police officer and is very hot tempered but also has a good heart. Mother Winslow, Carl's mom who has moved in with the family and is one "hip" grannie. Rachel, Harriet's sister, who has moved in with her baby, Richie, since her husband passed away. Eddie, who is the eldest son, he's not the sharpest tool in the box, but tries his best anyways. Laura, the second oldest, she's the smart goodie two shoes of the bunch and is extremely popular at school. Judy, the youngest, and the snappiest little girl. Richie, Rachel's son, who is the hot little guy and dancer of the group. And Steve Urkel, the nerd next door who quickly turns into one of the Winslow's.
Since the first season was pretty basic and unoriginal, there was only one thing that kept viewers watching and that was Steve Urkel. His crush on Laura, his attire, his voice, his kind heart, his clumsiness, everything about him screamed good ratings. As the seasons progressed, the show became more and more about him, so much to the point where he actually moves in with the Winslow's. The show had a lot of laughs in the beginning and was a lot of fun to watch, I still watch it to this day, I'll admit.
There are some flaws along with the show though, they quickly killed off characters that had potential and not to mention the actual family members, like Judy and Rachel. They left the show, Rachel had some reason where she left to help a family member, but she leaves Richie, her son, with the family. Judy just seemed to be a person that they HAD to add into the story, so they just never bothered with her again. The show also got to be unbelievable where they would put Steve in life threatening situations almost every episode. Then they also over did it with Steve eventually turning him from popular into annoying.
The main thing that kept the series running was the love story between Steve and Laura, she keeps rejecting him throughout the series. I know there are a lot of Laura haters out there, but I liked her character, she wasn't a bad person, she didn't treat Steve kindly all the time, but they became good friends and I thought she was a good person. I didn't like how the series ended, but I think they were just rushing at that point to end it since Jaleel was getting sick of his character.
Whole point being is this was one of the high lights of T.G.I.F.-Friday's night line up. I remember this being after Full House and how much Steve and Carl would make me laugh. The show is a pleasure to watch, just they should have quit while the writers were ahead. Replacing Harriet with a different actress and changing the whole point of what the original story was wasn't cool in my book. But here we are almost 20 years later and still talking about the show, that's gotta say something.
The character Urkel gets a lot of trash thrown his way, but look at what the actor himself did: He stole a sitcom. It doesn't happen often. Now I'm not certain when he was first introduced on the show, but I believe it was during the first season. He was the "wacky neighbor" with a crush on Laura -- nothing more. Within two seasons, the show was his. He owned it. Huge plot lines revolved around him; he got as much if not more screen time and dialogue as anyone else, and in many cases, more than the entire cast. Some may not like him, but he stole the show out from under the original cast through pure energy and originality. He developed a dead-pan 'look' that rivaled Johnny Carson's and one-upped Mr. Roper's. His physical comedy was outrageous, sometimes slightly ridiculous, but ideally suited to a basic family sitcom. Anyone of-age who has watched some TV in their time knows who Urkel was -- because he was dominant. Like him or not, Urkel is a unique, unforgettable character in TV history, and for that massive achievement, he deserves credit.
I watched this show for a long time, I watched in reruns and when it was on TGIF, that ABC Friday lineup (Thank God it's Friday) The truth be known this show would be absolutely nothing without Steve Urkel. The show was essentially a typical sitcom of the eighties that was goody two shoes and nothing ever really bad happened. In a way it remained that way even after the show but Steve Urkel made it so much funnier.
The show was about the Winslow family, the burly man of the house, Carl Winslow, his wife Harriot, an elevator operator, her sister, Rachel, Carl's grandmother, Estelle, and their children, Laura, the smart girl, Eddie, the cool guy, Judy, the average girl, and Rachel's little boy, Richie.
I was watching this show when Urkel became a phenomenon. There were Urkel dolls, toys, everyone was saying his catch-phrases, Did I do that?' Salutations,' and his pig-life laugh. I have to admit, he still cracks me up. He was incredibly clumsy too, he had a tendency to destroy almost anything he touched. And I remember Do the Urkel,' the guest appearances by Shanice, Freddie Jackson, Donna Summer (as Aunt Una from Altoona), and I watched almost everyone of the early shows in first run. This was great stuff.
Many people do not know this, but this show was actually a spin-off of Perfect Strangers, where Harriot Winslow was an elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle, where Balki and Larry worked. This show outlasted Perfect Strangers by five years. The show was hilarious. Early in the show there was Carl's boss, who was hilarious, Lieutenant Murtaugh. After he left, the show lost some of it's hilarity. Then there was the incredibly stupid Waldo Geraldo Faldo, a friend of Eddies. It was much funnier in it's first few seasons, but never seemed to capture the early years in it's later shows.
I think part of the reason it did was the early years with Urkel seemed to be a little more fun. There was the episode where Steve had a dream sequence where his computer destroyed the world. There were very good episodes about Urkel being a nerd and not being able to fend for himself. As the show went on it became a little off the wall, like Stefan Urkel, Steve's suave alter ego becoming a separate person. Still there were some great episodes all the way through.
The show was definitely on it's last leg in the 1995-1996 season. They just seemed to run out of stuff to do. The situation was not helped when soon after the show was moved to CBS. I actually watched one or two episodes on CBS, it was terrible. The best part of the show to me was watching Carl and Steve go at it. Carl was a great foil to Steve Urkel. It was always funny to watch Steve's futile attempts to go after Laura Winslow. You always wanted him to get with her, you know, pulling for the underdog.
This is a great show. If you ever get a chance to watch it in reruns watch it, it is very funny. On occasion there were some serious issues dealt with, like under-aged drinking, racism, gang violence, sexism and some other things. It was actually pretty cool, the show did not always have a happy ending either, something else that was pretty cool about the show. Anyways I think it's cool, and I think it is still funny.
Like it or not, 'Family Matters' did produce a cultural icon. People
everywhere knew who you were talking about when you mentioned the name
'Urkle,' the accident-prone next door neighbor who wore red framed
glasses, suspenders, highwater pants, and had a passion for cheese and
an admiration for Laura Winslow. Funny, too, that his becoming a
regular on the show was by mere accident, since they only wrote Steve
in for one episode. Like all cultural icons, it will be the one that
actor Jaleel White will be forever associated.
'Family Matters' was a terrific comedy series, save the last one or two seasons where the situations became pretty desperate as an aging Jaleel White likely got tired (and too old) to play the hapless nerd character, and wanted to just be normal Steve (which he could because in the show he invented a machine where he often played a Dr. Steve and Mr. Urkle type towards the end of the series). It was also one of the few pleasant black comedies on television then and now, as few these days seem to offer anything more than insulting stereotypes and idiotic characters. The Winslows were a loving family (and one that didn't speak in ebonics just because they're black) who faced difficult problems in their lives and so forth. The show addressed issues of racial pride, of prejudice, of love, your typical family values.
The Winslow family consisted of the sometimes impulsive Carl (VelJohnson), the father; Harriet the intelligent mother (Judyann Elder); the oldest son, Eddie (McCrary); the oldest daughter, Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams); the youngest sister Judy (Jaimee Foxworth), who appeared occasionally before disappearing altogether; and later, they added a little fellow named Ritche (Bryton McClure). There was also Mother Winslow (LaNoire); and of course, Steve Urkel.
Urkle did compete a few years later with Waldo (Shawn Harrison), Eddie's friend, because like all television comedy series, they need an idiot character. Urkel did create many misadventures because he never seemed to pay attention to what he was doing, but he was no idiot. Or, at least not the way Waldo was. He was a pretty funny guy for the while he was on the show.
And they were a pretty funny family, especially in the moments between Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson), the father of the household, and his dufus friend, Urkel, which went on for some time the way Dennis the Menace often got on the nerves of George Wilson. Likewise, Urkel found it easy to annoy many of those in the Winslow household, namely the object of his affection: Laura, who squirmed around the hopeless dork, but finally managed to look past his faults (basically, just his appearance and awkward manner).
It was a pleasant show that ran in the TGIF line-up for quite some time, with other family comedy series that generated an audience and developed into series in a way that ABC may never again be able to reproduce. Everyone on the show was terrific, although my favorite, wasn't Urkel, but the lovely Rossetta LeNoire who played Mother (Estelle) Winslow. She was always such a pleasant character, and gave such a great performance.
If you ever get to see the reruns of the show, which do appear on network television every now and again, I would recommend watching it. It was a pretty good family series for it's day. And one that produced a cultural icon.
Family Matters was the perfect show for the family. It wasn't sappy or annoying like most of the other family shows on tv. Carl and Steve Urkel were the best characters and the funniest. The show, like others, began to lose quality over the years and met cancellation. In my opinion, the show was better than all the other TGIF shows ever.
Family Matters started out as a rather ordinary Cosby Show-like sitcom
about an everyday African American family living in suburban Chicago.
But then something happened. Next door neighbor Steve Urkel was
introduced. And just like that, ABC's TGIF line-up would never be the
I'll agree with most and say that the first six seasons were very funny. Classic episodes included Steve playing the role of Laura's husband for a school project, Carl teaching Steve how to drive, the introduction of Stefan, and the obligatory trip to Disneyland. Unfortunately, after Season Six (ie. when Steve finally moved in with the Winslows) it was pretty obvious the series was starting to wear thin. The writers seemed to be running out of ideas, often having to rely on Steve Urkel himself and his inventions for all the comedy, his cousin Myrtle was re-introduced for no reason, and even Steve's own character cooled down to the point where by the last season, he no longer seemed like the clumsy, nerdy Steve Urkel we all knew and loved.
Essentially, Family Matters was a very funny show for a while, but also one that should have stopped while it was still at its prime, rather than being forced to end after two or so seasons of lousy ratings.
I know many are trashing the show because of Steve. But I agree with many of
the those who say that Steve made the show what it was.
Granted Steve could be annoying at times. But thats what Steve was all about. Granted it got a little silly as the years past, but I'd watch Family Matters any time over The Nanny.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have a lot to say about this show. In the first few seasons Family
Matters was very enjoyable. It centered around Harriette Winslow and her
family in Chicago. However the show started to go downhill at the end of
season 5 when Urkel started inventing and it lost the sense of reality.
episodes started to become more and more cartoonish.
To prove my point I want to compare some episodes from the first few seasons and the later seasons. Some episodes in the early seasons: when Harriett lost her job and the family was there to comfort her, Laura wanted to start a Black History curriculum, and another one when Harriett and Rachel found their father(these episodes contain the true concept of Family Matters). Then in the later seasons we have Stefan Urquelle, Steve cloning himself, teleporting the family to Paris, and Urkel, 3J, and Richie turning into Bruce Lee Urkel too unrealistic and the concept is buried. The series started to focus too much on Urkel's inventions and less on the Winslows.
Although Urkel was a funny character and he did add more humor to the show they overused him. The other characters needed a chance to shine more especially because the premise of the series is about the WINSLOWS! The disapperance of Rachel and Judy hurt the show. To make more room for episodes to revolve around Urkel they chose not to develop Judy's character and Rachel's character was starting to develop but then she left. Also the replacement of Harriette was horrible because she had no chemistry with anybody else on the show. Watching this show in the later seasons was sad because I think about when it first came out and the concept was there and the MAIN focus on the Winslow family.
Like it or not, "Family Matters" has placed a positive staple on
American Television and has created some unforgettable moments that
will be talked about from now until eternity. Part of the reason why
"Family Matters" was a good show is not because of the topics that it
covered during it's lengthy run on prime-time television but because it
also was a perfect contrast to another popular African-American show
known as "The Cosby Show." Even though the Cosby's were about a upper
class African-American family, family matters was about a regular,
average family who had average jobs and average lives.
"Family Matters" debuted at a good time in American Television. During this time, "The Cosby Show" was the king of all television and when that show ultimately ended, "Family Matters" began to pick up where "The Cosby Show" left off: that is presenting a good wholesome show that the whole family can watch.
Another part of the reason why this show was a big success, probably have already been mentioned, was because of Steve Urkel, the nerdy next door neighbor that always drove the Winslows' angry. I will go as far as to say that without the Urkel character, this show wouldn't had been as successful as it was.
In regards, "Family Matters" is a very good show. It's good to catch this show on syndication now so I could remember the good times of television.
I've loved this show for a really long time. I thought that the entire
family was great and Urkel was the best nerd I have ever seen. And the
thing is, Jaleel White isn't a nerd! I've got a problem with this show
though. Where did Judy go? Why did Rachel move away and Richie stay.
First, I didn't really care for her but she just disappeared. Second, it
would be quite strange for a little boy to stay with a different family than
his mother with no sickness or harassment.
Overall the show is great and could've made the top 5 on my favorite shows but the two things knocked a half point off. Rating *** out of ****.
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