Family (TV series)

Family (TV series)

infobox television
show_name = Family

caption =
format = Drama/Family
runtime = 60 min.
creator =
starring = James Broderick
Sada Thompson
Gary Frank
Kristy McNichol
Elayne Heilveil
Meredith Baxter
Quinn Cummings
country = USA
executive_producer = Leonard Goldberg
Mike Nichols
Aaron Spelling
network = ABC
opentheme =
camera =
first_aired = March 9, 1976
last_aired = June 25, 1980
num_episodes = 86
num_seasons = 5
tv_com_id = 624
imdb_id = 0073992
website =

"Family" is a television drama series that aired on ABC from 1976 to 1980. Creative control of the show was split between executive producers Leonard Goldberg, Aaron Spelling and Mike Nichols. A total of 86 episodes were produced.


The show featured James Broderick and Sada Thompson as Doug and Kate Lawrence, a happily married middle-class couple living in Pasadena, California. Doug was an independent lawyer, and Kate was a housewife. They had three children: Nancy (portrayed by Elayne Heilveil in the original mini-series and later by Meredith Baxter), Willie (Gary Frank), and Letitia, nicknamed "Buddy" (Kristy McNichol). The show raised the profile of all of its featured actors during its run and, in particular, catapulted McNichol to stardom.

The show attempted to depict the "average" family, warts and all. Storylines were very topical, and the show was one of the first to feature shows that have recently been termed as "very special episodes." In the first episode, Nancy, who was pregnant with her second child, walked in on her husband Jeff (John Rubinstein) making love to one of her friends. During the second season she and Jeff divorced, but Jeff would continue to appear regularly as an active father, as well as finding himself involved in more of the Lawrence family's affairs. Other topical storylines included Kate having to deal with the possibility that she had breast cancer, as well as Buddy dealing with advances from boys. In the later seasons, there were instances in which Buddy had to decide whether or not to have sex; she always chose to wait, most notably in an episode with guest star Leif Garrett, who was a teen idol at the time. "Family" also dealt with alcoholism (Doug's sister; Buddy's old friend) as well as adoption, when the family adopted a girl named Annie Cooper (Quinn Cummings). One episode in 1979 guest-starred Henry Fonda as a visiting elderly relative who was beginning to experience senility / memory loss.

The rights to "Family" are currently owned by Sony Pictures Television. The first two seasons of "Family" were released on DVD in September 2006.

Theme Music

In the original spring 1976 miniseries run of "Family", the theme music was a dramatic sounding, yet low key piano solo with minor orchestral contingents, composed by cast member John Rubinstein (son of famed classical musician Artur Rubinstein). When "Family" was picked up as a regular series for the fall 1976 schedule, the theme music was changed to a more cheery, upbeat instrumental dominated by trumpets and horns. It was this version that lasted the rest of the run.

Legal dispute

"Family" became the subject of one of the longest running legal disputes in television history when writer Jeri Emmet Laird filed a lawsuit against Spelling Television in 1977, claiming Spelling had stolen the idea for the show from a script she had submitted entitled, "The Best Years".

Spelling stated that he came up with the idea in his kitchen with then-partner Leonard Goldberg, and passed it on to Jay Presson Allen to write the pilot script. Allen, who died in May 2006, had just completed the screenplay for the film "Funny Lady" starring Barbra Streisand and directed by Herbert Ross.

After over a decade in court, a jury awarded Laird $1.69 million against Spelling, which she then lost on appeal (see [ Laird v. Blacker] , 2 Cal.4th 606 (1992)).

[ Laird sued Spelling again] in 1996 after he published his memoirs, claiming that he defamed her in his book by not crediting her with the original idea for "Family", but again she lost on appeal in 2001 when the court stated, "you can't steal the same idea twice!" The litigation finally concluded some 25 years after the show first aired on television, with Jay Presson Allen retaining her "created by" credit on the series.


External links

*imdb title|0073992|title=Family
* [ 1230 Holland St.]
* [ DVD release planned]
* ['s "Family" page]
* [ "Family's" Jump the Shark page]

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