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Better Days was a half-hour sitcom that aired from October 1, 1986 until October 29, 1986 on CBS.

Raphael Sparge starred in this half-hour sitcom as Brian McGuire, a blonde California teenager whose world was turned upside down when his parents suffered severe financial reversals. To help ease the burden, he moved in with his Grandfather, Harry ( Dick O'Neill), and tried to adjust to life in Brooklyn, NY-a far cry from the sunny surfer's life he had led in Beverly Hills. Helping him to adjust, although they never completely accepted him, were Luther and Snake ( Chip McAllister, Guy Killum), two of his street smart teammates on the Braxton High School basketball team. Miss Winters ( Randee Heller) was their cynical, no-nonsense English teacher.

The first casualty of the 1986-1987 season, this culture-shock comedy lasted only five weeks.

A Review From The New York Times


Published: October 15, 1986
IF the elaborate New York City street set for ''Better Days,'' the new series on CBS Wednesdays at 8:30 P.M., seems remarkably similar to the one used on last season's ''Redd Foxx Show,'' it could be because both sitcoms are Lorimar-Telepictures products and both list Stuart Sheslow as an executive producer. Waste not, want not, evidently, as television tightens its budgets nowadays.

Whereas Mr. Foxx owned a Manhattan newspaper stand and diner, old Harry (Dick O'Neill) in ''Better Days'' has a deli-candy store in Brooklyn. Whereas Mr. Foxx adopted a ragamuffin teen-age girl to complicate his fictional life, Harry is forced to take in his teen-age grandson, a sunny fellow named Brian (Raphael Sbarge). Brian has been raised amid the Rodeo Drive glitter of Los Angeles. But now that his father's profligate ways have thrown the family into bankruptcy and divorce, he is being forced to move and attend public school in his crusty-but-lovable grandfather's inner-city neighborhood.

The executive producers, who also include Jeff Freilich and Joel Zwick, stress that the series will be less about Brian adjusting to his new black neighbors than about a Beverly Hills life style meeting the gritty realities of the urban ghetto, where the school cafeteria doesn't accept a credit card. In fact, ''Better Days'' is mostly sitcom business as usual: lots of frantically adorable students getting in and out of scrapes devised by writers with only a dim memory of what school was really like.

When not getting lectures from his grandfather about living according to the old virtues of hard work and honesty, Brian spends a good deal of time trying to ingratiate himself with his new friends, most notably Luther (Chip McAllister) and Snake (Guy Killum). Luther is an affable jock, big in basketball, and Snake is a shrewd clown, adept at reducing all of life's challenges to a bopping rap lyric. Their English teacher (Randee Heller) is a former policewoman who smilingly warns the class, only half-jokingly, that she still packs a gun.

So far, ''Better Days'' has focused on keeping the teacher a half step ahead of her prankish students. In the premiere episode a couple of weeks ago - written by Mr. Silver and directed by Mr. Zwick - Brian convinced Luther that impersonating an African exchange student would somehow solve a problem with homework that was threatening his sports plans. Acting as Luther's ''interpreter,'' Brian, and the show, came very close to being racially insulting as the supposed African dialect became the butt of humor. Last week, Brian teetered on the edge of cheating in order to pass an exam but pulled out at the last minute from a scheme devised by the classroom yuppie, an unscrupulous brat named Terrence (Randall Batinkoff). The producers promise that the series will tackle such diverse subjects as drugs, generation gaps, homelessness and nuclear war. All of that, and adorable students, too? The prospect is daunting.

Here is Dick O'Neill's Obituary from The New York Times.

Dick O'Neill, 70, Actor Known For Role in 'Cagney and Lacey'
Published: November 28, 1998

Dick O'Neill, an actor best known for his work as Charlie Cagney in the television series ''Cagney and Lacey,'' died on Nov. 17 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 70 and lived in Los Angeles.

The cause was heart failure, said his wife, Jackie.

In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Mr. O'Neill played a variety of roles onstage, in films and on television. He began his career in the theater, appearing on Broadway in ''Promises, Promises,'' ''Skyscraper'' and ''The Unsinkable Molly Brown'' among other shows. His stage credits also include ''Inherit the Wind,'' ''A Man for all Seasons,'' ''South Pacific'' and ''Fanny.'' He worked in regional theater, acting in ''Room Service'' at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington and ''The Front Page'' at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven. He was also a member of Arena Stage in Washington in the early 1950's.

In addition to playing the father to Chris Cagney in the CBS series ''Cagney and Lacey,'' which starred Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless as undercover police officers in New York, Mr. O'Neill had recurring roles on ''Home Improvement,'' ''Family Matters'' and ''Cybill.'' He also appeared on ''M*A*S*H,'' ''Cheers'' and scores of other shows.

Mr. O'Neill's films included ''The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,'' ''The Jerk'' and ''Prizzi's Honor.''

Born in New York, Mr. O'Neill attended Syracuse University.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three daughters, Gillian O'Neill of Santa Monica, Caitlin O'Neill Bailing of Los Angeles and Meghan O'Neill Ruona of San Francisco.

For more on Better Days go to

To go to Raphael Sbarge's official website go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Fri June 30, 2006 Filesize: 14.3kb Dimensions: 320 x 280
Keywords: Better Days



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