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Clueless ran from September 1996 until August 1999 on ABC and UPN.

This fluffy teen sitcom, painted in a riot of bright colors and easy gags, was based on the equally fluffy hit 1995 movie of the same name starring Alicia Silverstone. It was set in Beverly Hills, where the teens cruise swank Rodeo Drive, compete for fashion plate of the day, and call each other across the classroom on their cell phones instead of passing notes. At the center of the action was Cher ( Rachel Blanchard), the perky, way-cool daughter of rich, widowed lawyer Mel ( Michael Lerner and later Douglas Sheehan). Dee( Stacey Dash), was her stylish, African-American best friend, and Amber ( Elisa Donovan), her obnoxious fashion rival at Bronson Alcott High. Murray ( Donald Adeoson Faison), was Dee's hip boyfriend and Sean ( Sean Holland), his none-too-bright buddy. Watching the kids have a groovy time was Miss Geist( Twink Caplin), the disheveled guidence counselor, whom Cher, in an effort to avoid more homework, had fixed up with nerdy debate coach Mr. Hall ( Wallace Shawn). Josh ( David Lascher), was Cher's handsome ideolistic " non stepbrother ," Mel's stepson from another marriage. In the spring 1998 season finale Mel broke the news that his business manager had skipped town with all their money, and he was going to have to sell the mansion and take a job in blue-collar Bakersfield. What a bummer! Resourceful Cher wound up working as a waitress in Bakersfield, brieftly, until Mel got rich again ( funny how that happens), and they moved back to Beverly Hills. In April 1999 Cher and Dee, who was their class valedictorian were accepted to Stanhope College. As graduation approached it was revealed that Sean had gotten into Bronson Alcott because Cher's dad was friendly with his mother and had faked his address-he actually lived in East Las Angeles. After graduation Murray and Dee, who had broken up, got back together.

Five members of the initial cast-Stacey Dash, Donald Faison, Elisa Donovan, Twink Caplin, and Wallace Shawn-reprised their roles from the 1995 film, which was produced by the same producer, Amy Heckerling. In fact Ms.. Heckerling claimed that the story was originally conceived as a tv series, and was loosely based on the Jane Austen novel Emma.

A Review from The New York Times

'Gidget' Redux, or Maybe 'Emma'

Published: September 20, 1996

On ABC's T.G.I.F. schedule tonight, the one night of the week when this network flexes its rating muscles, is ''Clueless,'' based on the movie that was supposedly based on Jane Austen's ''Emma.'' If you stand on your tippy toes and listen really carefully, you might, indeed, detect a faint echo of Ms. Austen. Don't strain.

The movie made an instant star of Alicia Silverstone, who, given the vagaries of media hype, you may never hear of again. Now television has hired Rachel Blanchard, a Canadian whose career began in a McDonald's commercial, to play the California teen-ager named Cher. She wastes no time in announcing that she lives a ''way cool life in a nice part of Beverly Hills with my Dad.'' Widowed Dad (Michael Lerner) is a high-powered lawyer who talks occasionally about justice. Also at home is Josh (David Lascher), Cher's very cool and lovable stepbrother.

Add a best friend, Dionne (Stacey Dash), and a catty rival, Amber (Elisa Donovan), and ''Clueless'' floats effortlessly into the kind of teen-age entrapment that television had been churning out from time immemorial. Well, at least since the 1960's and shows like ''Gidget,'' about another California nymphet with a widowed father.

In fact, Cher is a consumer society's dream. Her world is a mindless whirl of clothes, cellular phones and beepers. And boys, of course. Life as a joy ride. What a concept! Popping up in a reprise of his role from the movie is the fine actor Wallace Shawn, as the acerbic high-school teacher. Hey, it pays the rent. I hope.

A Review From USA TODAY
Published: September 20, 1996

Partially 'Clueless'

ABC adaptation lacks the film's giddy charm

Clueless is starless
Way chronic.
And so last year ago.
Even so, with its fluorescent style and zippy energy, this has to be considered a big step up in ambition and execution from what constitutes the creaky TGIF norm. ( Frankly, Urkel is getting to old for that act, and it's scaring me.)

Adapting last summer's delightful movie comedy into a weekly TV series , something has been lost. ( Big surprise) What was brilliant is now dimmed into a lesser being that only occasionally sparkles.

The missing link: Alicia Silverstone as the blissful Cher, the muddled meddler inspired by Jane Austin's Emma by way of Beverly Hills 90210. Now she's played by Rachel Blanchard, a gorgeous dead-ringer who's also something of a dead weight, bringing too little life to the party.

She's such a Tori, chirpily vacant where a cooler brand of unaware irony is needed. ( This is the show Party Girls's Christine Taylor-Marcia of the Brady Bunch Movie-should have been signed for.)

But will the target audience notice or even, like care?

There are plenty of distractions. The show has a feature film feel to it, with a sleek look and eye-popping designs( Mona May's costumes are a special kick). The supporting cast is largely plucked from the movie: Stacey Dash and Elisa Donovan as fellow fashion plates and Twink Caplan ( an executive producer)and Wallace Shawn as teachers.

And the material aims way higher than most teen comedies on TV or at the movies. Tonight, Cher is inspired by Browning ( " A girl's reach should exceed her grasp, or what's a dance for?") as she takes over the school paper's advice column with disatrous results.

It's slight but sweet. Maybe that's all that's necessary.

Bottom line: It's totally a rerun.

And you can get that on Nick at Night.

A Review of Clueless and Sabrina from Entertainment Weekly


C-By Ken Tucker

Until recently, the biggest draws on ABC's kid-oriented ''TGIF'' schedule were the munchkinish Olsen twins' munchkinette Michelle on Full House and Jaleel White's elastic ultra-nerd Steve Urkel on Family Matters. But the network's once-dominant Friday-night ratings have declined over the past season or so -- the shows and their stars are getting old. Full House emptied out over a year ago, taking a voluntary cancellation; Urkel's still around, but these days he's looking only slightly younger than Bill Cosby. Of the other TGIF stalwarts, Step By Step, the Suzanne Somers-Patrick Duffy extravaganza, is off the air, in mid-season-replacement limbo, and if much-arrested costar Sasha Mitchell has one more brush with the law, they might as well close down that shop altogether. Boy Meets World is still on the schedule, despite the fact that Ben Savage's Cory Matthews has sprouted into one of the gawkiest, deepest-voiced adolescents in the history of teen stardom.

Hoping to revitalize the evening, ABC has introduced two new Friday-night shows, SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH (9-9:30 p.m.) and CLUELESS (9:30-10 p.m.). Sabrina's title sums it up; this is, after all, a TV show derived from a comic book. But where the Sabrina in the comics is a winky, slinky minx, the TV Sabrina is a more satisfyingly down-to-earth witch, a girl as anxious about peer pressure and curfews as she is comfortable with levitation and hexes. Sabrina has the great advantage of starring Melissa Joan Hart in the title role. Hart is not only a face familiar to millions of kids -- Clarissa in Nickelodeon's popular Clarissa Explains It All -- she's also the best actor in any TGIF show.

Sabrina lives with her two witch aunts, Zelda (Beth Broderick from The Five Mrs. Buchanans) and Hilda (stand-up comic Caroline Rhea), as well as her talking cat, Salem (voice provided by Nick Bakay). Best of all, she has a worthy archenemy in Libby (Jenna Leigh Green, Saved By the Bell), precisely the sort of mean yet popular girl that young people all over America will recognize. To Libby, Sabrina isn't a witch but a ''freak,'' if for no other reason than Sabrina isn't a boy-obsessed harpy in the making like Libby herself. In one beguiling episode, Sabrina turned Libby into a pineapple.

Sabrina isn't the most sharply written show; its idea of wit is to have an aunt sigh, ''Witchcraft in the age of MTV -- it's all quick cuts and funny angles.'' But with Hart adding conviction and tart line readings, its underlying message -- life is tough for teenagers, even when you can turn your enemies into fruit -- must be satisfying for its intended audience.

Clueless, on the other hand, needs to be a whole lot funnier. Producer-director Amy Heckerling has overseen the TV adaptation of her charming 1995 hit movie. Here, materialistic but good-hearted Cher is played by Rachel Blanchard, who goes beyond impersonating Alicia Silverstone -- Blanchard seems to have replicated her DNA. Where the movie's L.A. slang was clever, on TV it's just repetitive (''Dee, you are so Betty''; ''You are approaching the Uma envelope''), and the idea that Cher's decency transcends her charge-card limit is often buried beneath ceaseless jokes about envy and greed. Reprising their movie roles are Stacey Dash as Cher pal Dionne and Elisa Donovan as Cher rival Amber. Also returning is Wallace Shawn as put-upon teacher Mr. Hall. At a time when playwright Shawn's newest work, The Designated Mourner, is getting raves in Britain for its powerfully bleak humor, actor Shawn is mugging and sputtering his way to a weekly TV paycheck. Oh, what a tangled pop culture we weave.

These two series signal a small shift in ABC's strategy in that both feature plucky teenage girls, not cute tykes or screechy dorks, as their protagonists. It looks as if the network is trying to retain its original, now-grown-older audience rather than offering fresh little-kid fare to replace Full House. But ignoring the current crop of kiddies is a mistake, and if ABC wants to know more about why, I have a very dissatisfied 6-year-old in my house ready to explain it to them. Sabrina has the makings of a small hit (Nielsen ratings have it ranked first among children ages 2 to 11), but Clueless, appealing to older viewers, has fared poorly. Maybe it's time to scrap the whole concept of TGIF and try praying to God for some fresh inspiration instead. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: B; Clueless: C-

To watch clips from Clueless go to

For some Clueless-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Wed April 21, 2004 � Filesize: 23.8kb � Dimensions: 331 x 271 �
Keywords: Clueless (Links Updated 7/25/18)


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