Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Next week will mark the start of our coverage on The Nanny, so I’m excited to set the figurative table by resurrecting another entry from this blog’s nine-year run. Here’s how it works: I’ll provide a link to a piece that I first published many seasons back, and then I’ll offer a bit of updated commentary. But, as I always caution, please be gentle; this early article is from a long time ago, and my standards have changed as I’ve changed — I’ve improved as a thinker, a communicator, and a television-watcher.
So, let’s revisit… The Ten Best THE JOHN LARROQUETTE SHOW Episodes of Season One: https://jacksonupperco.com/2018/03/20/the-ten-best-the-john-larroquette-show-episodes-of-season-one/
Okay, first thing’s first — The John Larroquette Show has nothing to do with our upcoming look at The Nanny. Although both premiered in the 1993-’94 season and offered highly enjoyable debuts, their sensibilities are totally different — The Nanny is a brightly lit, winking burlesque, while John Larroquette, at least initially, is a dark, brooding, thematic rebellion. Yes, they both have a handful of well-defined leads who nevertheless exist inside some guiding idea-led trapping — either a premise (The Nanny) or a style (John Larroquette) — that is built to contextualize their characters until it eventually gets mitigated. But this series’ trajectory is entirely unique. It boasts a memorable first season that fans hail as an underrated masterpiece — a melancholy affair with a flawed protagonist and a dramatic arc regarding his recovery from alcoholism — before the network stepped in with a variety of ineffective changes to brighten up the show and make it more broadly affable to a wider audience. When I first covered this series, I concurred that the first season was its strongest, but I believed then — and maintain now — that it needed some big help. That is, it wasn’t in perfect shape — it was relying more on its tonal swagger than its actual leads, and with its initial “12-step program” hook ending in the middle of the first season, those actual leads (as a collective) had to be able to fill the void of that premise by more directly inspiring story. This would require more development of the characters who were well-rendered (like Mahalia and Dexter), and the cultivation of a cast that was fully functional, with no weak links. But NBC asked for tweaks that were unnecessary — adding regulars who had even less color and were therefore even less utilizable. And as the series’ trademark darkness evaporated for reasons that had little to do with the evolution of its central character, these changes felt largely unmotivated and unwelcome. Accordingly, The John Larroquette Show’s first season is its best — not because it’s superb, but because it has a lot of potential that then gets squandered, once decisions were made that did the opposite of improving it. What does this have to do with The Nanny? Again, nothing. But I was briefly revisiting this show when it recently popped back up in syndication. In fact, I updated the screen-caps for our first season post. So, I just wanted to take this time to reiterate my thoughts on a fascinating year of an ill-fated, never-quite-ideal series.
Come back next week for The Nanny! And stay tuned tomorrow for a new Wildcard!