Just The Ten Of Us aired from April 1988 until June 1990 on ABC.
Five young girls found themselves in an all-boys school, to their father's alarm, in this spin-off from tv's Growing Pains. Coach Lubbock ( Bill Kirchenbauer) was introduced as Mike Seaver's favorite teacher on the Growing Pains series. When Coach Lubbock was abruptly fired, he moved his family to Eureka, California, to accept a position at St. Augustine's Academy - a Catholic boys' school where everyone of the 600 students wanted a date with those lovely girls of his. The chubby, bald coach fumed and yelled but the kids were always up to something.
The large family included: Elizabeth ( Deborah Harmon), Graham's very fertile wife; Marie ( Heather Langenkamp), the eldest, studious and ultra-conservative daughter; Cindy ( Jamie Luner)- the space cadet; Wendy ( Brooke Theiss) - the gorgeous blond flirt; Connie ( JoAnn Willette), the literary one; 8-year-old genius Sherry ( Heidi Zeigler)and young hustler J.R.( Matt Shakman), who always seemed to be overshadowed by his sisters. The 4 oldest of whom formed their own singing group called "The Lubbock Babes." Little Harvey ( Jason and Jeremy Korstjens) and baby Melissa rounded out the ten. Other cast members included: Father Hargis ( Frank Bonner), the forgetful head of the school; Sister Ethel ( Maxine Elliott), the scatterbrained little old nun; Duane ( Dennis Haysbert), the head of athletics at the academy who had gotten Graham the job , Father Bud ( Lou Richards) , another teacher at the school, and Doosler( Evan Arnold) , a dorky friend.
Lots of heartfelt lessons on dating, saving money ( nobody had any), and the importance of family and faith were learned by all. In one episode the show even took care to show that Elizabeth really liked being a full-time mother of eight, no matter how much some of the liberated '80s working women of the community looked down their noses at her. It was that kind of " Family is good," thinking that made Just the Ten of Us a popular show among that same Growing Pains audience. The spin-off series lasted three seasons on ABC's prime-time schedule , forming part of ABC's proto-TGIF Friday night lineup.
Also worth noting was the Nightmare on Elm Street connection. Heather Langenkamp who played eldest daughter Marie was the star of the first, third and final Elm Street films. She even made a reference to it in the first episode of the series. While working on this show, Heather began being stalked by some obsessed fans who worshiped the Marie character. So she and Wes Craven twisted the story and it became the basis for the final entry in the Elm Street series, Wes Craven's New Nightmare. JoAnn Willette who played Connie ( and was actually in her 30's while she played a 14 year old on the series) appeared in the opening scene on A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge and Brooke Theiss who played Wendy, donned a wig between seasons of Just the Ten of Us to star in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. JR played by Matt Shakman often spotted Freddy Krueger apparel and had Elm Street posters in his room.
An Article From USA TODAY
'Ten,' an ABC leader in blue-collar gusto
Published: February 9, 1989
By Monica Collins
Roseanne cracked a brew and the foam sprayed all over the place. Almost everyone was delighted with this new ABC working-class comedy.
Just the Ten of Us cracked a brew and the beer was flat. The ABC censors complained about the alcohol consumption while almost no one noticed this working-class comedy.
Roseanne airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. EST/PST; Just the Ten of Us airs Fridays at 9:30. Roseanne is a hit, consistently among the top five shows. Just the Ten of Us hangs in the middle; No. 36 last week.
" When Roseanne went on the air we watched as everyone went ' huzzah, huzzah, blue-collar comedy comes back to TV," says Steve Marshall, executive producer and co-creator of Just the Ten of Us. " But ( our show) has a messier living room."
Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. Take that Roseanne. The Ten Of Us house is messier than your house. It was messier first. And it's not such a bad little show either.
Ten Of Us, a spinoff of the ABC hit Growing Pains, premiered last year, months before Roseanne. Critics barely noticed and those who did skewered this show about a schlubby basketball coach who moved his large brood ( pregnant wife, seven kids) to Eureka, Calif., to take a teaching job at an all-boys Catholic school.
Bill Kirchenbauer, who plays Coach Lubbock, is, ahem, quite-portly. And bald. Like Roseanne Barr, the star of Roseanne , Kirchenbauer isn't a classic TV looker, like Barr, his looks embody the "just us working folks" appeal of Ten of Us.
" When we created Just the Ten of Us we didn't want to just be doing Growing Pains with more kids," Marshall says. " We wanted a slightly earthier tone and maybe a little bit more relatability. I'm not saying that any sitcom family is totally relatable. But Growing Pains is very much an idealized kind of family."
Coach Lubbock screams a lot. He screams at his kids ( he has six daughters and two sons), he screams at his students. The veins in his head pop out a lot.
" He screams at them out of frustration," says Marshall. " We hope it's never out of meanness or vindictiveness."
He has reason to scream on occasion, trying to support a large brood on a high school coach's salary.
His wife ( Deborah Harmon) is a devout Catholic who's always pestering him to go to church. His adolescent daughters are ditsy. His bespectacled grade-schooler is a nerd. And their's that living room of his-a tornado zone.
On top of that the censors wanted to take his beloved beer away. " This is a point of controversy," says Marshall.
When the show first began, Lubbock used to drink over-sized cans of Australian beer. The censors intervened, stipulating that he only drink one small can of beer per episode.
" Then I was watching Roseanne," says Marshall, " and I saw John Goodman ( who plays Roseanne's husband) tearing into an eight-pack.
" I thought, 'Gee, I guess they have a different set of rules.'"
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