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Phenom aired from September 1993 until August 1994 on ABC.

Bright sitcom about a teenage-prodigy, Angela ( Angela Goethals), who had the potential to become a top tennis star ( a " phenom") if she would but follow the guidance of abrasive , egotistical coach Lou Del La Rosa ( William Devane). Angela's vacillating mom , Dianne ( Judith Light), was not sure whether this was the right career choice for her daughter, but strong willed Lou pulled her along, together with her neurotic older brother Brian ( Todd Louiso) and jealous younger sister Mary Margaret ( Ashley Johnson).

Because of billing disputes, William Devane's name didn't appear in the opening credits although his face was featured.

These 12 sitcoms of the 1990s were brief hits but only lasted a year

The volume of television shows increased dramatically in the Nineties. Upstart networks The WB and UPN joined the big three and the blossoming Fox — and that's not even mentioning the proliferation of cable. The TV biz became much more of a dog-eat-dog world. Plugs were pulled with far more haste.

The top sitcoms of the era — your Seinfields, Full Houses, Roseannes and whatnot — anchored hit programming blocks like ABC's TGIF and NBC's Must-See TV Thursdays.

However, there was always that one slot in those blocks that seemed jinxed. Many of these short-lived series sat in those choice, but highly pressurized time slots. Critics loved some and loathed others. Regardless, they all brought in viewers, for a time, and quickly vanished.

Do you watch any of these shows?

1. Grand


The cast was enviable, with Bonnie Hunt, Michael McKean and Joel Murray onboard, and the concept was proven. Grand was same sort of soap opera parody that Soap had perfected a decade earlier. That was perhaps its biggest hurdle, as well. Sandwiched between Cheers and L.A. Law, it climbed to No. 25 in the ratings. That was not enough to make it one of the rare television programs to run for two shortened seasons within the same calendar year.

2. Carol & Company


With a troupe of talents that included Jeremy Piven, Richard Kind and Peter Krause, Carol Burnett made a comeback with this anthology series for NBC. Unlike her sketch-filled Carol Burnett Show, Carol & Company crafted a stand-alone 30-minute spoof sitcom each week. For example, one episode parodied Doogie Howser, M.D., with guest star Neil Patrick Harris playing "Hoogie Dowser." They can't all be "Went with the Wind," folks. Betty White and Tim Conway made cameos, helping the show claw its way into the Top 40, but the series only lasted 33 episodes and a little over a year.

3. Baby Talk


Critical praise typically has little relevance on sitcom longevity. Take Big Bang Theory, for example. Or Happy Days, for that matter. Speaking of Chachi, Scott Baio appeared with George Clooney (yes, Clooney and Baio once worked together) in this loose adaptation of the Look Who's Talking movies. Only this time, Tony Danza was the voice of the baby, not Bruce Willis. A 1991 critical poll named Baby Talk the Worst Series on Television. Nobody but Baio seemed to want to be a part of it. Star Julia Duffy, the second actress cast as the mother of the talking baby, begged to leave and was released after the first season. "We're just going to do the best we can," Baio stated, "And [if that's] what the people like, that's going to stay on." Shoved between Who's the Boss? and Roseanne on ABC, Baby Talk broke into the Top 30. However, it only ran for 14 months.

4. Room for Two


A lead-in is everything. This Patricia Heaton and Linda Lavin mother-daughter comedy sailed to No. 12 in the spring of 1992, as it rode in the wake of Roseanne. However, a jump from Tuesday to Thursday — going head-to-head with Wings — lost its audience. Heaton would certainly do well for herself in later sitcoms

5. The Jackie Thomas Show


Speaking of Roseanne, a great deal of off-screen drama swirled around this comedy vehicle for her then-husband Tom Arnold. The concept was heavily indebted to The Dick Van Dyke show. Roseanne Barr and Arnold pressured ABC into slotting the sitcom after Roseanne, then the No. 2 show in TV. It worked, for a time. The Jackie Thomas Show premiered with the highest ratings of any network series debut since Twin Peaks, and it held onto 90% of Roseanne viewers. At the end of the season, it ranked at No. 16. Barr publicly threatened to leave the network if Jackie Thomas was not renewed. Spoiler: It was not renewed. Arnold switched networks. Barr stayed at ABC — and the couple divorced.

6. Laurie Hill


Another victim in the battle between the Arnolds and ABC was this medical sitcom, most notable for featuring Ellen DeGeneres as a ditzy nurse. Despite Ellen's involvement, there was an overwhelming apathy surround the show, from network to cast. The last show premiered by the network that season, Laurie Hill had little promotional enthusiasm from ABC. Five episodes aired and everyone moved on with a collective shrug. Nevertheless, it did chart at a respectable No. 38 in the Nielsen ratings.

7. Phenom


Judith Light headlined as the mom in this charming sitcom about a young tennis phenom. A cushy time slot between Full House and Roseanne served this show well, as it ranked in the Top 20. There was even a lovely theme song written and performed by Carly Simon. Major champion Tracy Austin served as a technical consultant on the believably choreographed tennis action. Oddly, ABC ousted the show after one season. Where's John McEnroe to argue a call when you need him?

8. Me and the Boys


Steve Harvey stepped into Phenom's vacated slot for his first starring role. This comedy about a widowed father and video rental manager scored enviable ratings, coming in at No. 20 with Nielsen. ABC canceled this one, too, after a single season.

9. Can't Hurry Love


Nancy McKeon, best known as Jo on The Facts of Life, starred in what was essentially a watered-down precursor to Sex in the City. Despite having an average household rating of 11.4, tying it for 24th place among all TV shows that year, Can't Hurry Love was rushed off the schedule.

10. Boston Common


No time slot of the 1990s was more cherished and cursed than the half-hour between Friends and Seinfeld on NBC's Must See TV. The network plugged countless fleeting "hits" into the spot. Basically "Friends but in Boston," Boston Common was a Top 10 smash as a mid-season replacement. The sitcom relocated to Sunday night — but its viewers did not. The show sunk like tea in the sea, plummeting from 8th to 52nd place.

11. Fired Up


NBC quickly learned that Thursday evenings was the only environment with oxygen for fledgling sitcoms. Like Boston Common, this Leah Remini one was the No. 6 show on TV — when it aired immediately after Seinfeld. A move to Monday led to Fired Up being just fired.

12. Stark Raving Mad


The People's Choice Award for Favorite New Television Comedy Series. Talented, beloved stars Tony Shalhoub and Neil Patrick Harris. A clever concept that was The Odd Couple meets Stephen King. Ratings consistently in the Top 20. So what went wrong? Why was this canceled after one season on NBC? That remains a mystery, like the writings of Shalhoub's fictional "Ian Stark

A Review by Variety

September 20, 1993 12:00AM PT
Phenom Abc, Tues. Sept. 14, 8:30 p.m.

By Tony Scott

The center of “Phenom” is a disturbed family headed by insecure divorced mother Dianne Doolan (Judith Light) whose spoiled 15-year-old daughter Angela (Angela Goethals), one of four kids, has the makings of a top tennis player. Luckily vain, maddening pro tennis coach Lou Del La Rosa (William Devane) steps onto the court; faced with this dismal clan, he’s an ace.

The coach, who runs a tennis academy, phones Angela after seeing her play. He sends her an egotistical, amusing videocassette demonstrating his facility and talents. Angela, not known as self-conscious or disciplined, goes for it, but Dianne, who woos rather than disciplines her children, tells Angela she’d rather have her grow up like a normal girl, not like a tennis star.

That, of course, should be the end of it, but not in sitcomland, where youngsters sound off or manipulate their parents into doing their bidding. Devane’s loudmouthed Del La Rosa breezes in like a zephyr to clear the air, and the Doolan family slowly raises its collective head.

Light’s Dianne comes off as well meaning, while Goethals’ Angela needs severe guidance before she’s human, much less amusing. Todd Louiso plays teenage brother Brian, who’s retreated into numbness; Ashley Johnson is little sister Mary Margaret, who makes mischievous phone calls. It’d sure be interesting to meet Mr. Doolan.

It’d also be interesting to see if the bragging, shouting Del La Rosa, a solid comic character, can teach Angela discipline, manners and modesty. He may have met his match.

It’s Devane’s show. He pumps vitality into the otherwise lusterless Doolan household where wrangling and pleading are the order of the day. Without him there’d be no game.

Phenom Abc, Tues. Sept. 14, 8:30 p.m.

Production: Taped at Sony Studios, Culver City, by Gracie Films Prods. and Columbia Pictures TV. Exec producers, James L. Brooks, Dick Blasucci, Danny Kallis; co-exec producer, Jonathan Vitti; supervising producer, David Richardson; producers, Kathy Anne Stumpe, Richard Sakai, Hudson Hickman; co-producers, Fred Graver, Tracey Ormandy; director, Ed. Weinberger; writers-creators-story, Blasucci, Marc Flanagan, Sam Simon.

Crew: Music, Stephen Graziano; song, title music performed by Carly Simon. 30 MIN.

With: Cast: Judith Light, William Devane, Angela Goethals, Todd Louiso, Ashley Johnson, Jennifer Lien, Maggie Linderman, Randy Josselyn, Johnny Whitworth, Bette Rae.

An article from the LA rimes

Why ABC Decided to Cancel 'Phenom' : Television: Ranking 28th among network series and holding 95% of the lead-in audience aren't enough to earn a second season. Creative differences may be why.

"Phenom," a sitcom about a single mother with three children, one of them a tennis star, ranked 28th among this season's 133 prime-time network series--and ninth among youngsters. A first-year show airing Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., it retained 95% of the lead-in audience from longtime hit "Full House."

So why did ABC cancel it last week?

"A complete mystery to me," says Dick Blasucci, one of its creators and executive producers.

Blasucci acknowledges that the network was not always high on the show but, even so, given the ratings, the worst he expected was that it would be moved to a new time slot come fall.

"We were in a prime place, and I thought, 'Well, maybe they'll bury us and see if we succeed without the boost (of "Full House")," he said. "What can I say? I thought we fulfilled everything in terms of what an 8:30 show should do."

The cancellation was noteworthy not only because of "Phenom's" ratings but also because it was produced by Gracie Films, headed by one of Hollywood's most successful writer-producers, James L. Brooks ("The Simpsons," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Terms of Endearment"), with whom ABC had a multishow production deal.

Some industry insiders suggest that ABC, buoyed by its strong second-place finish behind CBS for the season, was reasserting itself, unhappy that Brooks wouldn't move "Phenom" in the direction it felt the series should be going. Some note too that "Phenom" is being replaced in the fall by "Me and the Boys," a comedy from ABC's own production company.

Brooks himself is clearly seething, sending this rather cryptic message through a spokeswoman: "I have no comment while I'm developing the muscle to lie about my reaction to what ABC did." One person close to Brooks said their feeling is that "ABC has become drunk with power."

For the network's part, ABC spokeswoman Sherrie Berger says, " 'Phenom' was canceled despite a very talented cast. In the past, we have had the luxury of being patient and allowing a show a second year to see if it would pop in its time period. This season we had strong pilots and fewer time periods available and, as a result, we were in a position to judge more strictly."


Although it rarely happens, when a well-rated show is canned it's usually because it is losing a significant amount of its lead-in audience or there is research showing that ratings problems are looming. But "Phenom" was not losing its audience. In fact, quite the opposite, according to a research executive at Columbia TriStar, the studio behind it.

"It consistently went up in the key demographics over the season," the researcher said. "And while it didn't always beat 'Full House' in the number of households watching, it beat that show in the number of desirable young adults watching."

The executive points out, however, that "ABC creatively didn't like the show, and that means they find ways to say it isn't working." Blasucci also says the network "would occasionally tell us its own research didn't match ours."

Even those involved say "Phenom," which starred Judith Light as the mother and William Devane as her daughter's tennis coach, was still finding its way creatively.

"It can be a long process to find the voice of a show," says Light, the former star of "Who's the Boss?" "This is a show that was particularly hard to define.

"For Jim Brooks, complexities and nuances can be as automatic as breathing, and he brought in some very original writers. But he was also working on a film ("I'll Do Anything"), and, though he was with us as much as he could be, he was in and out.

"One can argue that any show in the top 20s should get a second season, but then one can also argue that maybe we should have distilled the show faster. Obviously, I'm sad that we couldn't develop these characters further, but, in this case, I really think both sides are right."

To watch clips of Phenom go to

For more on Phenom go to

For an Article on Phenom go to

For the Official Website of Judith Light go to

For a review of Phenom go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Tue June 24, 2014 � Filesize: 59.2kb, 109.3kbDimensions: 772 x 1000 �
Keywords: Judith Light, Angela Goethals & William Devane (Links Updated 8/2/18)


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