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Caroline In The City aired on NBC from September 1995 until April 1999.
A romantic comedy set in Manhattan, Perky Caroline Duffy ( Lea Thompson), had found success with her autobiographical comic strip, " Caroline In The City" about the experiences of a young single woman in the big city which had expanded into greeting cards, books, and calanders. Working out of her Trebeca Apartment, she hired stiff, eccentric Richard ( Malcolm Gets), a frustrated painter to work with her as her colorist. Romantic sparks quickly flew but both denied it. Instead, Caroline became engaged to ex-boyfriend Del ( Eric Lutes), the President of Eagle Greeting Cards which published her work. Annie ( Amy Pietz), a sometimes employed dancer who was Caroline's best friend helped the affair along neither of them realizing that it was quiet Richard who was Caroline's true love. Charlie ( Andy Lauer), was the energetic gofer for the card company and Remo ( Tom Lagrua), ran the Italian Restaurant where the gang hung out. Salty was Caroline's cat ( referred to by Richard as Beast).
After Caroline called off her impending engagement to Del in early 1997, she and Richard still denied their mutual attraction and dated others. During the following season Caroline dated Trevor ( Richard Gant), while Richard met and eventually married bartender, Julia ( Sofia Milos). But Richard's marriage blew up, and by 1998 Caroline and Richard had finally accepted the obvious and begun dating. In the same year Del's company merged with a large corporation and Caroline began working at it's offices, changing the setting for the show.
As the series drew to a close Caroline and Richard were planning their wedding when he suddenly took off for Italy after discovering that Julia had had their baby and had abandoned it. Meanwhile Del and Annie began to date, and Caroline , not waiting for Richard started to date her old boyfriend Randy ( Anthony Tyler Quinn). In the series finale, Caroline and Randy where about to say their " I do's" when Richard showed up at the wedding with his infant son. The series was canceled at that point so Caroline and Richard's relationship remained in limbo.
97 episodes were produced.
The series was illustrated with the cartoons of Bonnie Timmons.
A Review from Variety
Caroline in the City
((Thurs. (21), 9:30-10, NBC))
By CAROLE HORST
Filmed in Los Angeles by Barron/Pennette Prods. and Three Sisters Entertainment in association with CBS Entertainment Prods. Executive producers, Fred Barron, Marco Pennette; co-exec producer, Dottie Dartland; consulting producer, Ian Praiser; executive consultant, Bob Ellison; producers, Faye Oshima Belyeu, Bill Prady; director, James Burrows; writers, Amy Cohen, Jennifer Glickman, Ellen Idelson, Rob Lotterstein, Michelle Nader.
Cast: Lea Thompson, Eric Lutes, Malcolm Gets, Amy Pietz, Andy Lauer, Tom La Grua, Jason Workman, Cathy Ladman, Sean Gregory Sullivan, John Mariano, Christine Taylor.
By sandwiching "Caroline in the City" in the highly desirable spot between "Seinfeld" and "ER," NBC obviously has high hopes for the frosh sitcom -- with good reason. Lea Thompson turns in a winning perf as cartoonist Caroline in this sophisticated yet loopy sitcom. "Caroline" should hold on to the "Must-see TV" crowd and deliver more female demos to the already heavily female-skewing "ER."
Caroline draws the highly successful "Caroline in the City" comic strip (which is very similar to the real-life strip "Cathy"). She draws on her life experiences and friends for ideas: sexually liberated neighbor Annie (Amy Pietz) , whose dating exploits help fuel the comic strip; on-again, off-again boyfriend Del (Eric Lutes); and Richard, the comic strip colorist that she has just hired (Malcolm Gets).
Pilot finds Caroline off again with Del, and he tells her that he has a hot date. She lies and tells him, of course, that, gee, she's got a hot date, too, and of course, both couples are skedded to eat at the same restaurant.
But what's fresh and entertaining is that the snappy, smart dialogue and the empathetic characters transcend the old chestnut of a plot, winning over the audience.
"Caroline's" New York setting and attractive bunch of young professionals are a perfect fit for NBC's juggernaut Thursday lineup. Thompson is winning and strikes a balance between totally together careerist and single woman searching for a mate.
As Richard, Gets does a fine job fleshing out what could be just a morose weirdo, grounding him with humanity. Pietz and Lutes round out the pro cast.
Vet director James Burrows keeps the pace zesty and light. Tech credits are tops.
An Article from The New York Times
COVER STORY;Just Trying to Be the Girl Next Door
By BRUCE NEWMAN
Published: February 25, 1996
SHE is the girl next door in television's most exclusive neighborhood, but lately Lea Thompson has been looking around for new digs. It's not the time slot. "God forbid," Ms. Thompson says.
No, she is quite happy at 9:30 Thursday nights on NBC, sandwiched between that nice Seinfeld boy and the hunkarama at "E.R." Her new sitcom, "Caroline in the City," was the season's fourth-highest-rated series coming into the current sweeps period. It is such a triumph, in fact, that it has all but compelled Ms. Thompson to start looking for correspondingly dazzling living quarters for her family - her husband, for film director Howard Deutch, and their two daughters. Recently she has toured some of the palazzos of Beverly Hills. "I walk into these houses and think, 'I don't know how to throw a dinner party befitting this place,' " she says. "I like to fit into the landscape."
Caroline" - about a single cartoonist on her own in Manhattan - has fit so snugly into NBC's high-rise Thursday night lineup that the show's caretors now occasionally stop worrying about the ratings long enough to do a little creative fine tuning. Like trying to recreate the you-can-turn-the-world-on-with-a-smile feel of one of television's most enduringly popular comedies. "Everyone's been trying to make 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' happen again since that went off the air," says Ms. Thompson. "The girl next door is a big icon in America, as big as apple pie and Mom. But to break through that icon and make her funny is very difficult, which is why nobody's been able to do it." But they're going to try.
Like Caroline, Ms. Thompson grew up in Mary Richard's neighborhood, though she remembers it as the farthest thing from a sitcom childhood. "The building Mary worked in was the same building as my father's office in downtown Minneapolis," Ms. Thompson recalls. "My dad was an insurance salesman, but he wasn't particuarly great at it. Five kids, and my dad couldn't make a living. God bless him.
"We had no money. It was very humiliating. I remember chasing off bill collectors, and getting our heat turned off in the dead of winter, which is kind of a big deal if you live in Minneasota. It was just a really bad time."
So bad that after her parents divorced when she was 7, her mother was obliged to take work as a lounge singer. "My mother was a alcoholic, and she had just quit drinking," Ms. Thompson says. "But the only thing she knew how to do for money was sing and play piano, so even though it must have killed her, she had to go to work in piano bars."
With no heat in the wintertime and bill collectors at the door, Ms. Thompson's was the childhood of the girl next door only if you happened to be living in Bleak House. Forced by these Dickensian straits to do without a television until she was 13, and therefore bored to tears, she joined the Minnesota Dance Theater at 9, was making a modest living as a ballerina at 14, and graduated from high school three days after her 16th birthday.
She spent two and a half years dancing with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company, before being told by Mikhail Baryshnikov that at the age of 19 she was "too stocky" to be considered for the American Ballet Theater. "Dancing was my dream, and when he said that I realized it just wasn't going to happen," she says. "It broke my heart. Plus, I was really thin at the time, so it made me mad."
Ms. Thompson gave up ballet, transformed herself into an actress, and within six months had won a featured role as the stocky yet charming ingenue in "Jaws 3-D." In her second film, she played opposite Tom Cruise in "All the Right Moves," and went on to star opposite such young leading men as Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and in the "Back to the Future" canon, Michael J. Fox.
"I was equal to them when I started," she says. "Then they all became famous and powerful, and I stayed the same. I used to be bitter about that. One of the beauties of being on TV is that there's more of a chance to contribute if you're a woman. You could actually almost be equal."
Certainly the arc of Ms. Thompson's film career - after 19 feature films and 6 television movies - was more suggestive of "Howard the Duck" (in which she starred) than "Howards End" (which she only saw). That 1986 fiasco turned her career sharply in the direction of smaller character roles, a spiral form which she is only now recovering. "How could you be a human being and not feel bad," she says, "when people are going, 'You're terrible'? At that point, if 'Howard the Duck' had been a hit, I would have become a major movie star. Because it was a bomb, I just went back to doing what I do."
She was doing just that two years ago in an NBC movie called "The Substitute Wife" when she received a call from the head of the network's entertainment division, Warren Littlefield.
"I really had never wanted to do a series," Ms. Thompson says, "but Warren called me up and said, 'I want to be in business with you' I was like, 'Yeah, right,' but he persisted." At Mr. Littlefield's urging, Ms. Thompson developed both a one-hour drama and a sitcom, then chose the drama.
Again the phone rang. Again it was Mr. Littlefield. He told her she would not be happy spending that much time away from her daughters, Madeline, 4, and Zoey, 1. "He said, 'This has everything you want. You don't have to be second to a guy,' " Ms. Thompson recalls. "I don't really want to be the girlfriend anymore."
While not nominally second to anyone now, Ms. Thompson has found herself in the alarmingly deuxieme-ish role of feeding straight lines to her co-star Malcom Gets, who plays Caroline's neurasthenic colorist, Richard. Caroline remains the most pallid of the show's characters, and with no comic shtick to fall back on, Ms. Thompson occasionally looks like two slices of white brea in search of a sandwich.
"We had rocky times the first couple of episodes trying to figure out exactly where the show was going," says the director, James Burrows, who has previously guided such hits as "Cheers" and "Friends." "The one constant was that people wanted to tune in to see her."
"She's got this face that people want to watch, this sweet wonderful quality about her," Mr. Burrows continued. "I think what she tried to do in the beginning is play sweet and wonderful, and you don't have to do that when you are. You just have to not do anything to cover it up."
What Ms. Thompson brings to Caroline instead of a strong sense of humor is that discernible likability. During the November sweeps, hers was the highest-rated new show in almost a decade, but the show's bulletproof time slot has cast doubt on the depth of its audience support.
"It's kind of weird to be this successful and not feel successful," Ms. Thompson acknowledges. Then she is on to a discussion of lead-in percentages and her show's desirable demographic base and suddenly she sounds a lot like the girl next door - to a Nieldsen family.
An Article from The New York Times
TELEVISION;Room Enough to Stretch the Imagination
By ANITA GATES
Published: March 3, 1996
MARLO THOMAS HAD A LOT to answer for in the late 1960's. Young single women streamed into Manhattan, demanding that real estate agents find them decent apartments they could afford. After all, if Ann Marie, the chronically unemployed actress played by Ms. Thomas in the ABC series "That Girl," could afford a pretty little one-bedroom that was clearly on a town-house block in the East 70's, why couldn't they? Ann was apparently paying the rent with her earnings from waitressing and handing out product samples at department stores.
Middle-class New Yorkers have been apologizing to out-of-town friends and relatives for decades because of what television tells America about local real estate. ("Mom, I really am making $70,000," says the real-life New Yorker. "Lots of people live in one room. With a roommate. In Queens.")
Things were different before "That Girl." In the 1950's, on "The Honeymooners," the Kramdens appeared to live in a large, ugly kitchen in Brooklyn, the best they could afford on Ralph's salary as a city bus driver. And on "I Love Lucy," the Ricardos' Manhattan apartment was a pleasant but unspectacular one-bedroom, which they could afford as not-so-young-marrieds because Ricky Ricardo was a bandleader and then a nightclub owner.
Housing has sometimes looked tougher in other cities. Despite Mary Richards's good job as an associate producer at WJM-TV on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," she lived in a studio, and that was in affordable Minneapolis in the 1970's.
Movies, by contrast, with the advantage of real locations, have shown a little of everything. Woody Allen generally puts his characters in homes they can afford, from a prostitute's one-bedroom in a postwar high-rise to a prosperous actress's rambling co-op on Central Park. On the other hand, few newly divorced women with part-time jobs have the luck of Jill Clayburgh in the 1978 film "An Unmarried Woman." She signs a lease on a light-flooded garden apartment with two fireplaces and great moldings, telling a friend apologetically that it's the best she can afford.
These days, television has become somewhat more realistic about New York apartments, but there are still pockets of fantasy, not to mention some dangerous lapses in home security for these digs.
NBC's "Friends," of course, wins the Ann Marie Award for the 90's. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Monica (Courteney Cox), a coffee-bar waitress and an unemployed assistant chef, respectively, are mysteriously able to afford their funky but spacious Greenwich Village apartment with terrace. (A "spacious 1 BR" with "sun and charm" in their neighborhood was recently advertised for $1,750 a month.) The hope is that viewers will "suspend disbelief," says a series spokesman.
TWO OTHER CHARACTERS IN "Friends," Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Chandler (Matthew Perry), were sharing a two-bedroom until a few weeks ago. After being offered an apartment with "park views and high ceilings," Joey moved out, announcing, "I'm 28 . . . and I'm finally at a place where I've got enough money that I don't need a roommate anymore."
NBC, which currently has at least five series with New York apartment settings, wins points for greater credibility on the others. The producers haven't made the apartments smaller, darker and more depressing; they've simply given the characters more money.
Jerry Seinfeld (the character) on "Seinfeld" is at least a moderately successful stand-up comic. Recently he surprised his father with a gift of a new car (a Cadillac, no less). Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) was shocked: "I had no idea you had this kind of money." No wonder. She was standing in Jerry's painfully modest Upper West Side one-bedroom, which has a kitchen along one wall, a bathroom that can be seen from the living room and no real storage space (a bicycle hangs on the wall).
Caroline Duffy (Lea Thompson) on NBC's "Caroline in the City" is also a single, successful New Yorker. She's a nationally syndicated cartoonist whose Midwestern hometown named a park for her, so she can probably afford the loft in which she lives and works. The show's producers say it's in TriBeCa and that the blond-wood staircase leads to Caroline's rarely seen bedroom and a bath. Like many sitcom New Yorkers, and real-life loft residents, Caroline has a kitchen in the living room. It contains a sure sign of her financial well-being: a Sub-Zero refrigerator ($2,850 and up). But why, with even a small loft running to 1,200 square feet, do she and her colorist, Richard (Malcolm Gets), work at a partners' desk in the middle of the living room?
IN SOME CASES, THE NET works have made apartment dwellers a little older and toned down the decorator ambiance. On "The Single Guy," the West Village apartment occupied by the title character (Jonathan Silverman), whose friends are afraid he'll never marry, is refreshingly dumpy. The living room is furnished with an undersize sofa, a television that the cable installer made fun of and a dining table that doubles as a desk.
The tenants' association appears to have the power of a co-op board; not long ago it (briefly) dismissed the building's one doorman, who incidentally wears a uniform that would look more at home on Park and 72d. The creator of the series, Brad Hall, swears the building is inspired by one he lived in on Cornelia Street.
Jamie and Paul Buchman's (Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser's) one-bedroom Village apartment on "Mad About You" seems realistic for a two-career couple in their mid to late 30's. He's a documentary film producer, doing well enough to have had Yoko Ono approach him with a project. She's a public-relations executive, although she recently quit to go back to school. The apartment's rent or maintenance has never been mentioned, but the building's garage recently went condo.
Jamie and Paul clearly took the apartment because of the kitchen. This huge, windowed room, with nooks, crannies and an island (large enough for the Buchmans to have used it for a romantic encounter), belongs in a renovated classic six on Riverside Drive.
The Buchmans share a quirk with their prime-time New York neighbors: they never double-lock their door. Sometimes television Manhattanites don't lock their doors at all. On "Seinfeld," Jerry's apartment door wears an impressive array of hardware, but he never seems to put the locks to use. This is probably for the same reason that other series leave apartment doors unlocked: so the zany next-door neighbor can barge in, without tempo-slowing buzzers and bells.
How can sitcom characters be so careless in the big, bad city? In the case of "Caroline," whose title character recently left for a movie and dinner date without locking up, high security makes the difference, says Tom Azzari, the show's production designer. "It's a secure building with an intercom," he says. "You know who has access. You pretty much know who's there." (Well, yeah, until the pizza guy gets buzzed in by the apartment next door and decides to stop by for Caroline's jewelry on his way out. And as old fans of "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" know, you can't even count on a doorman to stop suspicious visitors.)
Building security may be a less serious issue in Metropolis, where citizens can often count on Superman to catch burglars in the act; otherwise the place looks a lot like New York. In all fairness, Lois Lane's apartment has always posed problems for set designers. Lois is just a hard-working reporter at The Daily Planet, but she needs a balcony where Superman can make graceful landings. In the 1978 film "Superman," the designers gave Lois a terrace the size of Montana.
On ABC's "Lois and Clark," the apartment that Lois lives in has one of those glamorous kitchen-in-the-living-room layouts, good closet space (big enough for a visiting robot) but a fire escape instead of a terrace. She reaches it, however, by walking through what look like French doors. (Getting a great apartment was easy for Clark Kent, a k a Superman. He just signed a lease on a dump, then renovated it one afternoon with his superpowers.)
The series that makes the most important statement about Manhattan housing may be Fox's "Ned and Stacey," which was created on the premise that New Yorkers will do almost anything to get a fabulous apartment at below-market-value rent. In the pilot episode, Stacey, a writer for The Village Voice, enters the apartment of Ned, an advertising executive, furious. But she stops mid-rant when she notices the wall of windows looking out on Central Park and the skyline beyond. "Nice apartment," she says. "One bedroom?"
It turns out to be a spacious Upper West Side rent-controlled two-bedroom with large terrace for only $1,500. The primary tenant is an elderly woman who lived there for 30 years, is now in a nursing home and has sublet to Ned under the mistaken impression that he's her nephew. Ned's employer gives promotions only to family men, so Ned is looking for a wife, fast, just for appearances. Stacey sizes up the place, knowing she'll never get anything else like this for $750. She's in her wedding dress before the credits roll.
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
Published Nov. 1, 1996
'CAROLINE' ON OUR MINDS
A COMIC BLAST OR A COSMIC DUD? CRITICS BRUCE FRETTS AND KEN TUCKER ENGAGE IN ANIMATED DISCOURSE ON WHY THE MUCH-MALIGNED 'CAROLINE IN THE CITY' DOES, OR DOESN'T, DRAW THEM IN.
Last season, it became fashionable to bash CAROLINE IN THE CITY (NBC, Tuesdays, 9:30-10 p.m.) as a mere time-slot hit. People watched it, critics said, only because it aired between Seinfeld and ER. Last summer, a funny thing happened: NBC moved Caroline to a riskier spot on Tuesdays, and the show didn't just survive -- it thrived, often building on its Frasier lead-in. This fall, Caroline has held its own against ABC's highly hyped Spin City. Turns out people really do like Caroline.
I'm one of those people, and I'm not afraid to admit it. I'll concede that Caroline's writing isn't stellar; after all, the sitcom was created by Fred Barron and Marco Pennette, and these men were once responsible for Dave's World. But the show's ensemble cast is so winning, and the pacing so brisk (especially in the episodes directed by James Burrows), that it's able to wring big laughs from its sometimes-predictable punchlines.
As cartoonist Caroline Duffy, Lea Thompson leads the cast, and her sunny personality radiates through the show. Aside from her sharp turn as Michael J. Fox's mom in the first Back to the Future movie, Thompson hasn't had too many opportunities to display her comedic talents on the big screen. Yet on the small screen, she finally seems to have found her groove. She's endearing and intelligent -- just the kind of person you want to invite into your home every week.
The rest of the ensemble melds perfectly with Thompson. Caroline's acidic assistant, Richard (Malcolm Gets), has become the show's breakout character, and with good reason: Gets delivers his zingers with caustic glee. Equally excellent are Amy Pietz as Caroline's libidinous neighbor, Annie, a dancer in Cats (a pop-culture absurdity that Caroline has mined with great comic success); Eric Lutes as Caroline's himbo ex-beau, Del (his true doofus nature didn't come through until after their breakup); and Andy Lauer as Del's Rollerblading messenger boy, Charlie (Lauer's slacker intonations can render even the most throwaway lines hilarious).
And while most sitcoms use guest stars only as cheap ratings stunts, Caroline often builds entire episodes around them, without overshadowing the series' regulars. The recent show with Frasier's David Hyde Pierce is a prime example. As a Cats-obsessed IRS agent auditing Annie, Pierce got to show off a less repressed side than he does as the stuffy Niles Crane. At the same time, supporting player Pietz got to step into the spotlight for the entire half hour.
It might not be as revolutionary as Seinfeld or as hip as Friends, but Caroline is one thing neither of those shows has been lately: consistently entertaining. And you can't ask for too much more from a sitcom. B+ -- Bruce Fretts
I'll give CAROLINE IN THE CITY its due: Its title character is appealing, and the show doesn't stink on the level of, say, The Single Guy. It's more that Caroline is just so hollow, so drearily predictable. Like the comic strip that Lea Thompson's artist-writer Caroline Duffy slaves over week after week, Caroline has always been promising on paper. Thompson's career switch from mostly feature-film actress to sitcom star was smooth, and she's grown only more relaxed and restrained in the show's second season. It's sometimes even fun to see Caroline hunched over her drawing board, scribbling and sketching her syndicated strip; unlike most sitcoms built around work, this one actually shows its protagonist laboring.
That said, I can't believe how tedious Caroline can be. Once you get past Thompson, this show is weighed down by clashing story lines and supporting characters whose personalities and motivations shift aimlessly. When Caroline debuted, the plucky cartoonist was venturing a relationship with Del (Lutes), a mystifying attraction given that Del never seemed much more than an arrogant prig. (A tall, handsome, impossibly wavy-haired prig, but still...) In its opening weeks, Caroline's weakest second banana was her overly friendly neighbor, Annie (Pietz). Gee, how original -- a TV female who's supposed to make us laugh because she sleeps around. The strongest second banana was Richard (Gets), the inker for Caroline's comic. It's difficult to imagine that the writers didn't realize Richard was just as stuffy and prickly as Del -- that they'd duplicated one annoying character to create another.
At least Richard, as a would-be fine artist reduced to working for Caroline to pay the rent, had a bitterness that gave his feeble jokes some tang. But after the first round of James Burrows-directed episodes, the show quickly settled into blandness. To shake things up, the writers had Caroline and Del almost marry and then break up, while awakening in Richard an attraction to Caroline that seemed totally out of character, if not downright fishy.
The current season has so far been no improvement. A new boyfriend has popped up (Mark Feuerstein), so now there are three dull, whiny guys for Caroline to play with. And the recent installment guest-starring David Hyde Pierce as a theater-loving IRS agent only underscored this show's problems. Pierce's combination of whiplash line readings and deft physical comedy was gleefully awesome, and reminded viewers, Hey, that Frasier -- now, there's a real sitcom.
If I were Caroline, I'd move to another city. D+
To watch some clips of Caroline In The City go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=caroline+in+the+city&aq=0
For a great website for Caroline in the City go to http://sincere.frey-united.com/
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20130406181943/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/caroline.html
For a Website dedicated to caroline in the City go to https://web.archive.org/web/20020207003329/http://hem.passagen.se:80/choylin/citc/
For some Caroline in the City-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/caroline-city
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV3-xyS4hqc
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