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Dave's World aired from September 1993 until July 1997 on CBS.

Dave Barry ( Harry Anderson) was a syndicated newspaper columnist living in Miami with his perky, supportive wife, Beth ( DeLane Matthews), and their 2 young sons, Tommy and Willie ( Zane Carney, Andrew Ducote). Dave was a kind of whimsical, overgrown kid who didn't quite understand how to deal with children, technology, changing social values, or the world of the nineties. His off-center reactions to things and observations about the absurdities of life were all grist for his column in the Miami Record-Dispatch, called "Barry's World." Since Dave worked at home, Beth's decision to go back to teaching should not have created problems, but like everything else in Dave's World, the adjustment did not go smoothly. Dave had 2 close friends, his self-centered womanizing editor Kenny ( Shadoe Stevens), who was incapable of sustaining a meaningful relationship, and his college buddy and neighbor Shel ( Meshach Taylor), a recently divorced plastic surgeon with a cute young daughter Carly ( Shannon Sharp and later Angell Conwell). Others seen were Kenny's secretary Mia ( J.C. Wendel), with more ambition than talent; Mia's boyfriend Eric ( Patrick Warburton), a handyman with limited skills; and Beth's sister Julie ( Tammy Lauren), a recent divorcee. Earnest, a bloodhound, was the Barry family dog.

In the fall of 1995, Julie threw herself at Eric, and when Mia saw them together, she dumped him. In the spring with Julie having departed, Mia and Eric reconciled and he proposed to her. She moved in with him and they almost got married, but in December they broke up again. Kenny was fired when it was discovered he'd had an affair with the publisher's wife, and after a difficult job search, he found one recording books-on-tape. In the spring of 1997, Shel discovered that his accountant had skipped the country with all his money. He had a tough time adjusting to a more spartan lifestyle.

This series was adapted from the Pulitzer-Prize-winning columns of the real Dave Barry.

A Review from the LA Times

Dave's World' Spoof Not Very Funny for Dave Barry : Television: A Miami alternative newspaper's parody of the new show based on the life and writings of the humor columnist hurts Barry--and infuriates CBS.



MIAMI — CBS Entertainment executives promise that "Dave's World," a new sitcom based on the life and writings of syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry, will be the funniest show on television this fall, and not a few industry insiders think the series could be a Monday night hit.

But no one at CBS is laughing over a parody of "Dave's World" published in New Times, a weekly alternative newspaper here, that includes a phony script of the pilot and a faked memo, purportedly from creator and writer Fred Barron. The memo describes an evening of drinking with Barry at his favorite Miami pub in which the humorist becomes a "nasty" drunk, insults his colleagues at the Miami Herald and issues a set of demands, including one that the show be retitled "Dave's World: Misadventures of a Pulitzer Prize Winning Smartass."

So incensed were CBS officials over the parody that corporate lawyers pored over the issue, published Aug. 18, and contemplated legal action. CBS will not sue, Susan Tick, a network spokeswoman, said from Los Angeles. "But," she added of the parody, "we're not happy. If it was meant to be humorous, the humor escapes me."

Neither was Dave Barry amused. He first learned of the parody, headlined "The Secret Script," while on vacation last week in Italy with his wife and son. Read parts of the article over the phone, he called it "freshmonic, a level below sophomoric."

Since returning home to Miami, he's seen the entire article, which is illustrated with photos of made-up documents, including the alleged Barron memo and a letter on Miami Herald stationery purportedly signed by publisher Dave Lawrence. "It didn't seem to have any point except to be vicious," Barry, 45, the best-selling author of several books and whose column runs in 300 newspapers each week, said. "This never got to the level of funny. It was failed humor. I was kind of hurt."

New Times editor Jim Mullin--who with several staff writers authored the unsigned parody--expressed surprise over the flap. "If they have such a humorless reaction to this good-natured spoof, then what on Earth can we expect from the program itself?" he said.

Barron did travel to Miami recently, Barry said, and the two did have dinner together. But none of the other events or conversations described in the fake memo took place, he added.

As for the phony script, it, like the real pilot (which airs Sept. 20), contains a plot line that has Barry coaching his son's soccer team. But the difference, say Barry and Tick of CBS, is that Barron's script is funny, and New Times' isn't.

"It seems like New Times hates the Herald, and I represent the Herald and this was a way to attack," said Barry. "I didn't detect any lightheartedness in it."

Barron, also responsible for "Seinfeld," could not be reached for comment.

A Review from The Chicago Tribune

Dave's World' Works, A Mixed Blessing
September 20, 1993|By Rick Kogan, Tribune TV Critic.

Not being a Dave Barry fan, I was understandably not as excited as I might have been at the prospect of watching a new TV series based on the writings of this Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald columnist.

In fact, I found such a thing was all but unimaginable. A series based on the life of a columnist? The last time that premise was floated, Robert Urich's "American Dreamer," it proved disastrously dull.

But "Dave's World" (premiering at 7:30 p.m. Monday, CBS-Ch. 2) is as solid and gentle a sitcom as the new season has produced.

It is a show that tries for laughs not in the insult-throwing manner employed by far too many sitcoms or in unrealistic scenarios but in subtle, observational ways.

Starring Harry Anderson, late of "Night Court," it is sharp and sophisticated enough to fit nicely into CBS' snazzy Monday lineup.

That said, the show also is a feast of yuppie fatuousness.

Dave Barry (Anderson) is trying to cope with advancing adulthood, which comes with responsibilities he's reluctant to accept, lest they make him think too hard. His wife, Beth (DeLane Matthews), has, since the couple's 5- and 8-year-old boys appear to be relatively good kids, been a fine mother, but is chafing at the apron strings.

Dave's the sort of guy who spends his days at a newspaper magazine office that, with games of catch taking place, looks like a day-care center, and his nights in selfish pursuits, such as playing around with an old electric guitar.

"I don't want to make a difference," one son tells Dave. "I want to be like you."

That would mean being a strange sort of man-child, a person who seems more excited at finally having a "president who knows all the words to `Louie, Louie' " than at coaching his son's soccer team.

That's our Dave, and he's got friends to match, most prominently Shel (Meshach Taylor), who is an old college buddy and successful plastic surgeon, and Kenny (Shadoe Stevens), his editor at the magazine.

The dialogue is as upscale as the characters (Dave wears a "Stephen Hawking Fan Club" T-shirt) and the situtaions are milked energetically, as in Shel's obsession with his ex-wife and Kenny's I'm-getting-old paranoia, fueled by being called "Sir" by salesgirls.

Anderson does laid-back to perfection and Matthews is attractively mature. Taylor is always a pleasure to watch, but the casting of Stevens is bizarre. An editor? With his disco demeanor, he looks as if he'd have trouble spelling his own name.

I have few doubts that "Dave's World" will be one of the few new season hits, even while being troubled that it threatens to elevate navel-gazing yuppie self-absorption to a comedic art form.

A Review from The New York Times

Review/Television; Wisecracks and Angst: Fortyish Baby Boomers

Published: October 25, 1993

"Dave's World" is a prime-time approximation of the world of Dave Barry, the humorist who writes his syndicated Pulitzer Prize-winning "Dave's World" column for The Miami Herald. While the sitcom, Mondays at 8:30 on CBS, is based on two Barry books, Mr. Barry pointedly keeps his distance from the series, not wanting the real Dave to be confused with the television version. Yeah, sure. Just keep those checks coming.

Like Mr. Barry, this television family lives quite comfortably in a Miami suburb. Unlike Mr. Barry and his wife, who have one son, television's Dave (Harry Anderson) and his wife, Beth (DeLane Matthews), have two. They also have two close friends, Shel (Meshach Taylor), a plastic surgeon, and Kenny (Shadoe Stevens), Dave's editor. Kenny's secretary is Mia (J. C. Wendel), who wouldn't think of missing a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" starring John Davidson.

On one basic level, this is standard sitcom with a steady flow of wisecracks. "Dave," asks Beth, "where are my pumps?" "I don't know," he says without missing a beat, "I always put them back when I'm finished." Kenny offers Shel his opinion of plastic surgeons: "Any time you need some money, you just go suck bacon cheeseburgers out of someone's thighs."

But "Dave's World" has another, more substantial level. Its portrait of aging baby boomers tends to go bittersweet even while luxuriating in a kind of smugness about how enlightened they all are. There's an earnest "Fortysomething" lurking under the light banter. "Ugh," says Beth suddenly, "I just sounded like my mother." Dave frets about becoming an "old fud" to his children. In case you might miss the point, Dave spells it out: "Adulthood is a big sleek jungle snake swimming just around the bend in the river of life."

When a young clerk at the dry cleaners calls Kenny "Sir," he goes into trauma wondering if, despite his fashionable suits and funky hair, he has become some "pathetic middle-aged guy." America's most persistent fear, evidently, is the specter of growing up. "Dave's World" skewers it deftly. It also appreciates life's wonderful moments, the ones with bright, laser-eyed children, or the private exchanges between a husband and a wife still very much in love after 14 years of marriage. "How'd we do it?" says one. "We're lazy," replies the other.

"Dave's World" is nicely performed -- Ms. Matthews is this year's ideal wife and mother, and Mr. Taylor steals every scene he's let near -- and the series is nicely produced. It is, in short, a nice show, something that the CBS Monday lineup might find invaluable now that Burt Reynolds's very public displays of his private life have put the 8 P.M. future of "Evening Shade" in jeopardy. Dave's World CBS, tonight at 8:30 (Channel 2 in New York) Produced by C. Andrew Reeder. A CBS Entertainment Production in association with the Producers Entertainment Group and Fred Barron Productions. Executive producers, Jonathan Axelrod, Fred Barron and James Widdoes. Dave Barry . . . Harry Anderson Beth Barry . . . DeLane Matthews Sheldon Baylor . . . Meshach Taylor Kenny Becket . . . Shadoe Stevens Mia . . . J. C. Wendel Tommy Barry . . . Zane Carney Willie Barry . . . Andrew Ducote

A Review from USA TODAY


'Dave's World'spins slightly out of kilter

The difference between a Dave Barry column and Dave's World is roughly that between a backyard cookout and drive-through fast-food.

Both go down all right, but one's more savory.

Given the source material, you'd expect TV's Dave to be something a little more special than a shaggy-dog arrested adolescent who cringes everytime he has to take charge of anything. He might admire President Clinton as our first leader who knows all the words to Louie Louie-a cool notion-but he's also secretly horrified at what that implies.

" Someone has to be the grown-up, and now it's our turn," he says in an opening Wonder Years-style voiceover. Another closes the show, with final thoughts that liken adulthood to "a sleek jungle snake swimming just around the bend in the river of life."

If Barry wrote like that too often, he'd probably have to give back his pulitzer.

Still the show is a slick enough concoction that it's likely to add a needed mainstream boost to CBS' Monday lineup, hurt by Burt Reynolds ( Evening Shade) divorce, Love & War's growing pains and the aging though still potent reputations of Murphy Brown and Northern Exposure.

Harry Anderson is a confirmed TV star, and brings a goofy lanky likeability to Dave. Petulant and sheepish, he 's just a big kid. And his two cute boys know it, ragging him about his nose hairs and his lazy-seeming habits: lounging around in his bathrobe, playing his electric guitar into the night-albeit plugged into headphones so as not to disturb the neighbors.

Offering standard neurotic support are pals Meshach Taylor as a newly divorced plastic surgeon and Shadow Stevens as Dave's editor, an insecure peacock of a would-be ladies man. But Dave's best friend, and Dave's World's greatest asset is DeLane Matthews as his wife, Beth, alluring and appealingly casual about her domestic place in life: " I just open the cans, I don't read them."

Beth, who also isn't thrilled about always having to be the responsible one , yells at Dave when he glibly tells his kids that life should be fun.

But he's on to something. For Dave's World to take off as CBS predicts it will, life will have to be a lot more fun.

A Review from Entertainment Weekly

Cover Story
By Ken Tucker

In what is probably the first sitcom based on the work of a Pulitzer Prize- winning writer, Dave's World brings the columns of syndicated humorist Dave Barry to television. Barry is portrayed by Night Court's Harry Anderson as a hapless suburban husband and dad, heavy on the wryness and sarcasm. ''What's most exciting to me about this is the potential to put on a show for families, for real families,'' says Anderson. ''Not the families that we should have, not the families that we think we'd like to pretend we have, but the families that we really do have in this country.'' Hmmm-sounds potentially kind of scary. Nestled as it is between Evening Shade and Murphy Brown, Dave's World (premiering Sept. 20) is expected to be one of the new season's most successful rookies-in fact, CBS Entertainment president Jeff Sagansky says he thinks Dave's ''is going to make a big difference (for) Murphy Brown,'' which, despite its Dan Quayle publicity, was down slightly in the ratings last season. Though Anderson and the show's producers are pushing the notion that this is the ongoing tale of an aging baby boomer, what ought to make the show distinctive is its potential to capture the tone of Barry's prose-laid-back wackiness reveling in suburban anxiety and absurdity. Executive producer Fred Barron describes Barry as ''the voice of the '90s'' and feels the humorist's work will translate well to TV because ''we're all in our 40s, we're in this situation we're all struggling.'' Well, some of us are all those things, Fred; the rest of us might be busy identifying with Blossom. As Dave's wife, DeLane Matthews displays a lighter comic touch than she did in the leaden Laurie Hill last season. ''I'm hot for DeLane,'' Anderson says with a laugh. ''We got along immediately; she is very, very bright and funny and vibrant.'' Meshach Taylor-the long-suffering but no less vibrant Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women-costars as Shel, a plastic surgeon and one of Dave's best buddies. In the most peculiar casting of the season, slick L.A. deejay-announcer Shadoe Stevens has been chosen as Dave's earnest editor. Shadoe Stevens parsing Dave Barry's split infinitives? Can't picture it. In any case, Anderson says his new show ''is about friendships and relationships and (the idea that) problems don't have to be overwhelming.'' Which makes Dave's World sound like a nice place to live.

An Article from The Pilot Gazette
Published June 6, 1994


{LEAD} EVER WONDER how much columnist Dave Barry has to do with ``Dave's World,'' the CBS sitcom that is supposed to be about him, his family and friends?
The answer is not much.

{REST} ``Dave's quite happy to get his checks in the mail and go on with his life,'' said Harry Anderson, who plays the lead on ``Dave's World,'' which is on tonight at 8.

It's in reruns until September, when the show moves to 8:30 behind a new sitcom, ``The Boys Are Back,'' co-starring Hal Linden and Suzanne Pleshette.

Why CBS is bringing ``Dave's World'' back for a second season is a mystery to me. It's a mediocre sitcom that struggled to stay among the Top 40 shows in the ratings in its first season.

I have a category for ``Dave's World'': TV shows I've watched twice and never intend to watch again unless I'm laid up in a hospital bed in a body cast and can't reach the remote.

Other series in that category are ``Wings,'' ``Coach'' and ``Thunder Alley,'' a show starring Ed Asner that ABC premiered not long ago.

It got high ratings initially because the network put it in a hammock between two showings of ``Home Improvement,'' TV's No. 1 show. Next season, ``Thunder Alley'' will stand alone on Wednesday at 8 p.m. before the new ``All-American Girl,'' showcasing Korean-American comic Margaret Cho.

Asner is going to lose the ratings war at 8 to either ``The Nanny'' on CBS or Bill Cosby's new mystery series on NBC.

Here's another little category of mine for network series: Shows that every other TV critic in America is crazy about but me.

I put ``Frasier,'' ``The John Larroquette Show'' and ``The X-Files'' in that category. I like science-fiction on TV but not ``The X-Files,'' because the writers create endings that frustrate me. Just once, I'd like to see the FBI bag an alien.

When ``Frasier'' goes head to head with ``Roseanne'' Tuesdays at 9 p.m., next season, ``Frasier'' will finish second. ``Roseanne'' has more laughs.

NBC last season gave ``Frasier'' one of the best time slots in TV - right after ``Seinfeld'' and before ``L.A. Law.'' Next season, ``Madman of the People'' (starring VMI graduate Dabney Coleman) will follow ``Seinfeld.''

That show will do well in the ratings for about a month, or until Coleman scares off more than half of the ``Seinfeld'' audience. Hasn't Coleman always run off viewers? Remember him on the edge in ``Buffalo Bill''?

Another of my TV categories: Shows that have been on for ages but that I can't find time to watch. That list includes ``Murder She Wrote,'' ``Family Matters,'' ``Full House'' and ``The Commish.''

Next season, I will catch the first episode of ``Murder'' just to see how Angela Lansbury is getting around on her new artificial hip.

Her show and ``60 Minutes'' will miss the strong lead-in that professional football delivered to CBS on Sunday nights. Fox bought eight CBS affiliates in major markets just months after winning the rights to the NFL games.

That's why David Letterman refers to his network as CBS lite.

Getting back to ``Dave's World'' and Anderson, with whom I shared a buffet dinner not long ago in Los Angeles, Barry's contribution to the series is slight. Beyond letting the producers use his name, he has written one line of dialogue. Barry appeared in one episode in which he spoke 23 lines.

The producers agreed to use the line he suggested just to be nice to Barry, Anderson said. He doesn't read Barry's column because it's published in Los Angeles on Mondays, which is Anderson's day off.

He withdraws completely from ``Dave's World'' on his day off.

Reading Barry's column wouldn't be much help to him or the writers, said Anderson, who added: ``His columns have no dramatic lines to them. They don't go anywhere.''

Instead, it is the essence of Barry's work you see on the series, Anderson said. ``Snappy and sarcastic comments.''

Isn't one season of that enough?

An Article from The New York Times

TELEVISION; The Peculiar Dialect Of Sitcomese

Published: November 27, 1994

A man is in bed, he has just turned out the light when he hears a suspicious noise downstairs. What does he do? Turn to his wife, sound asleep beside hime, and say: "Good thinking. I'll go check, see what that is. You stay here, guard the pillows."

He doesn't? Maybe that's because unlike Harry Anderson, who spoke those lines in a recent episode of the CBS series "Dave's World," this man does not live in Sitcom World. It's a peculiar planet, one where people sit on only three sides of the dining room table and have a language all their own. In other words, no one in his right mind would ever say such things in such a situation. But in Sitcom World, people say all sorts of improbable things, supposedly because they're funny. Here are some guidelines for speaking elementary sitcomese, with examples from the current season. ANITA GATES

An Article from The New York Times

An Ordinary Boy In the Weirdness Of Hollywood

Published: February 5, 1995

OUTGOING and gracious, Zane Carney handles questions about his career with aplomb. But he would rather show off his collection of video games or talk about how much he likes the rock band Aerosmith and the action movie "Street Fighter." Given any kind of small, round object, he turns into a perpetual-motion machine, offering a juggling exhibition with only the slightest encouragement. Sometimes this exasperates his mother, Marti Heil-Carney, who has a bowl full of balls that she has confiscated from him.

In other words, Zane, a 9 1/2-year-old Clinton native, acts like an ordinary boy. But these days he is caught up in extraordinary circumstances. For two years, Zane has worked in Hollywood, portraying Tommy Barry in the sitcom "Dave's World," seen on Monday nights on CBS.

The series, which stars Harry Anderson, is loosely based on the books of Dave Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated humor columnist. Upon the show's debut in October 1993, TV Guide's critic Jeff Jarvis praised it as "sweet and funny" and called it one of his favorite new shows. It has scored an average 13.7 rating and 21 share in its second season. (A Nielsen rating point represents 954,000 homes; share is the percentage of homes with televisions in use at a particular time that are tuned to one show.)

Show business is a tradition in Zane's family. His grandfather, Jack Carney, created "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" for CBS in the 1950's. Jack's brother Art Carney, a resident of Westbrook, first gained stardom on "The Honeymooners."

Zane's father, John Carney, writes and produces commercials for clients like Coca-Cola, Corona Beer and McDonald's. His mother is a singer, actress in commercials and a jewelry designer whose creations have been sold at Barney's and the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan. Zane's brother Reeve, 11, is a model and actor, and his sister Paris, 7, has just begun working as a model.

Well aware of the potential pitfalls of show business, Ms. Heil-Carney did not intend for any of her children to pursue acting, she said in a recent interview. But she enrolled Reeve in a children's acting workshop in New York City when he was 5 years old, she said, to help him overcome shyness.

"He loved Halloween and loved dressing in costume," she said. Before long, she found that Reeve loved acting, too. When he pleaded with his mother to go to auditions, she relented. Zane, who had entered the same acting workshop two years after his brother, went to his first audition just before his seventh birthday.

By the time he auditioned for "Dave's World" in the spring of 1993, Zane was no longer a novice. In addition to doing commercials, he had appeared in the Off Broadway play "Nightmare 101," as the child of a dysfunctional family. He had also been considered for the role of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin in "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and did a screen test for the film with Robert De Niro.

Still, he said, he never thought he would be chosen to play Tommy Barry, even when he rose to the top of a field of 1,000 hopefuls.

"At one point, we told him there were only three kids in the country being seriously considered for his part," Ms. Heil-Carney said. "That made him feel terrible. He said, "Oh, no, two other kids? I don't stand a chance!' "

His jitters did not subside when he went to Los Angeles for a screen test and encountered his competition.

"I saw one kid come in with a pierced ear and long blond hair," Zane said. "He thought he was so cool. It was scary. Another kid was late because he was making a movie. Then one of them started buttering up the casting people, saying: 'Nice shirt. I like that tie.' "

Zane's mother said she was convinced that his unspoiled ways ultimately won him the role. And she is determined that he will never change. His work schedule requires him to be on the set four days a week, three weeks every month, so in addition to getting on-set tutoring, Zane spends his weekdays off attending public school in Los Angeles with youngsters who are not in show business.

He's made a lot of friends this year," Ms. Heil-Carney said. "After school, I try to let him hang out at the school handball court, have ice cream, just be a kid." When he is at work, she and her husband make sure that one of them is always on the set. "We're the ones providing the moral guidelines," she said.

Ask Zane about his "Dave's World" co-stars, and his eyes light up. He insists he has no favorites.

Mr. Anderson "is really funny," he said. "He does a lot of magic tricks for me. He can take anything and make it disappear." Shadoe Stevens, who plays Dave's friend and editor, Kenny Becket, has taught Zane some kickboxing moves. "And he gave me the idea for a really cool way to write my signature."

Zane said that he and DeLane Matthews, who plays his mother, Beth, speak to each other in a funny language of their own invention. "We don't even know what it means," he admitted, "but we use it anyway."

Zane said he cheered when he first heard that Andrew Ducote won the role of his younger brother, Willie.

"He and Andrew are just like real brothers," said Ms. Heil-Carney. "They really get along great." She added that a "goofy, loving atmosphere" pervades the set.

"If those people weren't actors, I'd still want them to be around my kids," she said, "because they have great humor. But they also have self-discipline. Lots of actors from other TV shows come to see ours, and they tell me how lucky Zane is to be on a show that's so stress-free."

And what do his co-stars say about Zane? "He's a pleasure to work with since he stopped drinking," Mr. Anderson said in a telephone interview. "Actually, he's sensational. We're very good friends. I think he comes from a good, healthy family base. There's a lot of love there. That's why he makes such a positive impression on adults. He's pretty down-to-earth."

Mr. Anderson, who lives in Washington state, noted that the series took him away from his own wife and children. "So I transfer my affections to Zane and Andrew," he said. "They have an extra dad on the set." Zane has been a guest at Mr. Anderson's home and has become a friend of his 9-year-old son, Dashiell.

The character of Tommy has developed with the series. "Zane's been given more responsibility as he's demonstrated his ability to handle it," Mr. Anderson said. "There have been several episodes -- and there are key episodes coming up -- in which Tommy carries the story along." One February episode showcases Zane's skills on the piano.

Though he said he liked acting and rarely experienced stage fright, Zane admitted that his kind of life had its downside. "You can't always see your friends, and you can't get scratches, because they'll show up on camera," he said. When he does have spare time, he likes to read and play roller hockey, football or baseball, he said.

The Carneys said they did not like living on the West Coast. "They don't exactly have seasons," Zane said. "It's so sunny in California, I almost forgot when Christmas was coming up."

So when the shooting schedule and the school year both end, his family spends time at their home in Clinton, which Zane's parents bought in 1980. "It used to be a ranch-style house, now it's a pretentious ranch," said Ms. Heil-Carney. "Our friends call it the Blob, because we keep building onto it at different angles."

She still frets from time to time that, however much he loves doing the show, the pressures of being a child actor might prove overwhelming for Zane.

"If I thought he was unhappy at all, I would stop it," she said. "When I asked Zane the hardest thing about his job, his answer was really eloquent. He said: 'People expect me to be perfect. I get mad and sad like everybody else.' "

An Article from Miami Beach 411

Dave's World: Miami Herald Columnist Dave Barry Goes TV
by Matt Meltzer on July 29, 2007, filed under Entertainment

For ten years, Dave Barry selflessly slaved away as a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. His long, long hours spent scouring the Herald archives and newsroom performing research on topics such as exploding cows and boogers finally mildly paid off in 1988 when he received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. But in America, literary awards and recognition are about as important to the general public as that Hardest Tryer award you win in Summer camp. So it would be another half-decade until Dave Barry's effort REALLY paid off.

It was in 1993 that the television show loosely based on his work, Dave's World premiered on CBS. While one might find it rather odd to take the daily musings of a humor columnist and turn them into network TV (especially in the days before UPN and Pax) producers Jonathan Axelrod and James Widdoes thought differently. Widdoes, known more to most as frat president Hoover in Animal House, approached Barry about a possible TV show, getting his attention only because the author knew him from his role in the 1970's classic. (His work as the father on Charles in Charge, while brilliant, goes highly ignored). Axelrod and Widdoes bought the rights to two of Barry's most popular books, Dave Barry Turns 40 and Dave Barry's Greatest Hits. Both huge fans of the Herald Columnist's humor, they soon began work on creating a fictional life for the columnist, one that they felt would compel people to watch the same way they did to read.

The premise for the show was rather simple: A columnist for the factional Miami Record Dispatch deals with the everyday issues of being a father from the hippie generation. Harry Anderson, best known for his work as Judge Harold T. Stone on Night Court was cast as Dave, with DeLane Matthews playing his wife, Beth (the real name Barry's wife at the time. Interestingly, the couple were divorced during the third season of Dave's World so, much like Lucy and Ricky, the TV couple outlasted the real-life one). The supporting characters were made up of his two sons Tommy and Willie, his best friend and Editor Kenny (played by Hollywood Squares legend Shadoe Stevens) and his recently divorced plastic surgeon buddy Shel (played by Designing Women alum Meschach Taylor).

Each episode was based on either an idea derived from one of Barry's columns, or as little as one line out of one of his books. Typically, during each episode, Anderson would read a passage form one of Barry's works as a sort of analysis of what he had learned during the course of the show. But this was about as far as Dave Barry's influence was felt on Dave's World. While CBS had great hopes for this being their next big family comedy hit, Barry still had no desire to do any writing for TV.

Like many programs set in Miami, Dave's World was still filmed in Southern California. The show, despite lacking the pastel and tropical locales of Miami Vice still did manage to make references to various Miami landmarks in each episode, and featured plot lines familiar to South Floridian's such as a house being swallowed by a sinkhole and air-conditioner-buying hysteria (the latter being more recognizable to the modern-day South Floridian as generator-buying- hysteria ). While the show may have been of great local interest to those living in Miami, the rest of the nation was not nearly as amused.

Despite CBS high hopes, the show never got more than lukewarm reviews. Dave's World was only nominated for one Emmy, for lighting in 1996. Other than that, the only recognition any of the actual creative talent received were some child acting nominations for Andrew Ducote and Zane Carney, who played Barry's fictitious sons. Critics agreed that while Dave's World was entertaining, it paled in comparison to Barry's columns. Perhaps it was because of the writer's lack of involvement in the show, but somehow the humor expressed in the pages of the Miami Herald didn't translate to television as much as Widdoes and Axelrod had hoped. Even given a prime starting slot between Burt Reynolds hit Evening Shade and the long-established Murphy Brown, Dave's world got no more than acceptable ratings. It usually ranked in the high twenties to low thirties, enough to get renewed, but not enough to be classified as a hit. After four seasons and 98 episodes, Dave's World was canceled by CBS.

That same year another show about a newspaper columnist and his family premiered on this network, only college buddies were replaced by eccentric family members and the locale was switched from Miami to New York. That show picked up and ran with the ball where Dave's World fell off and became one of the most critically acclaimed series of the past 20 years. So while Everybody Loves Raymond managed to succeed where Dave's World failed, Ray Romano, at the very least, owes Dave Barry a note of thanks.

To watch clips from dave's World go to

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

For a Page dedicated to Dave's World go to

For the Official Website of Dave Barry go to

For some Dave's World-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

To watch the opening credits of Dave's World go to
Date: Wed June 18, 2014 � Filesize: 28.9kb � Dimensions: 500 x 325 �
Keywords: Dave's World Cast (Links Updated 7/25/18)


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