The Fitzpatricks (TV Series 1977–1978) Poster


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Television's All-Time Best Family Show
aimless-464 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In the late 70's network television finally began to emerge from a staggeringly bad period of programming (1967-1976 which might be described as Television's Moronic Age) with some very good shows. One of these was "The Rockford Files" which ran for many seasons and is still being shown on cable. "The Fitzpatrick's" was of the same high quality but was one of those programs that never got a chance to find its audience. Only 13 episodes (60 minutes per episode) were made before cancellation.

Set in the Flint, Michigan of Michael Moore's memory it featured an Irish Catholic (big surprise) family. The father (Mike) was an autoworker and the mother (Maggie) was a waitress. To capture all the demographics there were teen sons (Sean and Jack), a teenage daughter (Mo), and a grade school son (Max) who was inserted for a cuteness factor. Even the love interest teenage neighbor girl had an Irish first name (Kerry) and a multi ethnic last name (Gerardi); she was played by a very young Helen Hunt.

Although I enjoyed all the episodes that I saw (it was difficult to catch the show because the network frequently changed the time slot or substituted some special) one in particular made a lasting impression. In "A Love Story" young Jack (Jimmy McNichol) is playing hockey and meets a girl his age at the local skating rink, she is a serious competitive figure skater (the country was going through a Dorothy Hamill fixation at that time).

The two fall in love despite the opposition of the girl's parents, who consider the romance an unwanted distraction from their daughter's goal. A prominent national skating coach wants the girl to train with him out west. She is faced with having to choose between Jack and her dream of being a world-class skater. She tells Jack that she has decided to stay but the next day changes her mind and leaves.

Jack is crushed, but begins to recover after a father-son session where Mike insightfully points out that there was never really a choice to be made. The qualities that made Jack fall in love with her were the very things that required her to follow her dream no matter what the sacrifice. The girl he was in love with could never have stayed nor would he have fallen in love with a girl who would have stayed. A very profound resolution (especially for television) and my all time favorite hour of television. I just wish it were available on DVD.

The episode apparently impressed someone else at the time because McNichol somewhat reprised the role two years later in a television movie called "Champions: A Love Story".

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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EP I remember the most
Maherjunkie3 September 2006
I remember the one where I think a school bully of sorts goes into a haunted house (of course it was Halloween) and gets trapped in there until a couple of bowling pins (Sean and a friend in costume) let him out. Do I have the right show? Wasn't James Spader in this show too, having an affair with an older woman, who was a friend of the family? I remember Jimmy McNichol from "Champions:A Love Story". That was a great movie. I wonder what happened to Joy De Luc? I never understood why Kristy was more popular than Jimmy. Did you follow their singing career? Think they could carry a tune? How do you think this show compared to "Apple's Way" or other family dramas?
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CBS Failed Us!
julierom31 January 2018
In 1977 TV was filled with some great shows that have withstood the test of time and some which have not. "The Fitzpatrick" was a wonderful family show which lasted for only 10 episodes due to the fact that it was programmed against rating powerhouses "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley". In retrospect, "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" have not aged well. It's a shame that CBS didn't give "The Fitzpatrick" a chance to find its audience because I remember it was like a modern day "Waltons" filled with touching stories and great moral messages. It's one of those forgotten gems that deserved better than CBS gave it. In this case, it was CBS's failure to give the show a break. I was sad when it was cancelled after 10 episodes simply because it had the unfortunate luck to air against the silliness of the ABC shows.
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