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Bless This House aired from September 1995 until January 1996 on CBS.
Foul-mouthed stand up comic Andrew Dice Clay shortened his name and attempted to change his image in this short lived sitcom that could be described as The Honeymooners with kids. Burt and Alice ( Andrew Clay, Cathy Moriarty), were a working-class couple living in an aging apartment complex in Trenton, New Jersey, with their 12 year old daughter Danny ( Raegan Kotz), and young son Sean ( Sam Gifaldi). Blustery Burt was a post office supervisor, and sharp-tongued Alice worked in the parts department of a local car dealership. Sure they fought-often-but they loved each other and their kids. Living on the floor below were new parents Phyllis( Molly Price), Alice's best friend, and klutzy, well-meaning Lenny ( Don Stark), who worked with Burt at the post office. Others seen regularly were Cuba ( Wren T. Brown), another postal worker, Vicki ( Patricia Healy), the sexy divorced mother on the make who lived in the building, and Jane ( Kimberly Cullum), Danny's best friend.Throughout most of the series short run the Claytons were trying to buy a house and move out of their apartment, but when they finally succeeded, the costs were such that they had to rent the house to one of Burt's co-workers ( who moved in with 22 of his relatives) and ended up back in the apartment.
A Review from The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW;The 'Dice' Is Back, And So Is The Act
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: May 15, 1996
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How's this for television delivering the unexpected: feeling sorry for Andrew Dice Clay. This foul-mouthed comic, who made his debut on a 1988 Rodney Dangerfield HBO showcase, ran into a wall of revulsion with the verbal swill he dumped on women, homosexuals, blacks and, it seemed, anyone else who wasn't a swaggering loudmouth from Brooklyn. Mr. Clay was stunned to discover that many viewers and critics were less than thrilled. He wept openly during an excruciatingly memorable appearance on Arsenio Hall's talk show.
This past season, promising reform and even dropping Dice from his name, Mr. Clay popped up in the CBS sitcom "Bless This House," providing a reasonably appealing portrayal of a working-class father, a lovable lug with a heart of gold plate. Alas, the series failed to snag survival ratings. It has been canceled. So, without pausing to blush, the Dice Man is back in yet another HBO stand-up special, his third. "Assume the Position" can be seen tonight at 10.
Adjustments have been made. Women are still primarily sex objects, dragged out to perform in Mr. Clay's repertory of orgasmic fantasies. Still, Mr. Clay no longer denigrates their social and economic gains, feminist or otherwise. And blacks and homosexuals have just about disappeared from his bilious rantings. But Mr. Clay is trapped as he tries to salvage his old persona while venturing awkwardly in new directions. He continues to enter the performing arena as if he were Elvis impersonating a champion boxer for his adoring, raised-fist fans. There's the leather ensemble, from bat-winged jacket to snug pants; the gold chains; the dark glasses, and the cigarette (unlighted for most of the hourlong performance).
Quickly, though, the seams begin to show. Mr. Clay is nervous; the hand mike shakes a little too much when he goes into his standard overdrive of shouted street language. The new routines are tepid. A bit about thinking the Philharmonic is an act called Phil and the Harmonica ("They don't even have a lead singer!") only makes his fans realize that even they aren't that dumb. The audience energy wanes dangerously.
A Review Of Bless This House And The Drew Carey Show From Entertainment Weekly
The Drew Carey Show, Bless This House
Reviewed by Ken Tucker
I suppose we can hold Roseanne responsible for both BLESS THIS HOUSE (CBS, Wednesdays, 8-8:30 p.m.) and THE DREW CAREY SHOW (ABC, Wednesdays, 8:30-9 p.m.). After all, if she hadn't single-handedly revived the notion of the lower-middle-class situation comedy -- a sitcom subgenre that had languished since Archie Bunker bellowed his final epithet -- chances are the networks wouldn't be taking chances on the cheerfully crass protagonists of these two new shows.
In Bless This House, Andrew Clay stars as a voluble postal worker in a show so anxious to be compared to The Honeymooners, it had Clay yelling, ''Hey, Alice, I'm home!'' in the pilot episode. The Drew Carey Show features the bullet-shaped stand-up as a harried department-store assistant personnel director whose highest words of praise for a woman are, ''She's crude, she's vulgar, and she hates all the same people I do.''
Both of these shows take for granted the beliefs that Roseanne brought to the genre -- namely, that members of the lower middle class may be ill-educated, but are not stupid; that they feel ill-respected by those above them and aren't going to take it anymore.
It is, though, pretty creepy to see Andrew Clay attaching himself to themes like this. Just a few years ago, Clay was ''the Diceman,'' venting more obscene spleen than any stand-up comedian before him, rousing rabble and becoming less and less funny by the second. But the bottom fell out of his shock act, and now he's acting the lovey-dovey husband with costar Cathy Moriarty. Moriarty brings timing, depth, and sympathy to Bless This House, which is lucky for Clay, since he's primarily around to look like a big, befuddled teddy bear and to deliver his lines in his usual Brooklyn slur. (Holding up a small pair of trousers, he bleats, ''Ya shrunk my paints!'')
Bless has smart things to say about how hardworking parents manage family life, but the show is hobbled by its endless succession of squalid sex jokes. When the 12-year-old daughter in the family (Raegan Kotz) asks Moriarty, ''How long did it take you to become a mother?'' Moriarty replies, ''Two minutes and a bottle of Chianti.'' Call me a square, but this is pretty yucky stuff for a mother-daughter exchange. Bless This House is best when Clay and Moriarty argue and then make up; that's when their wrangling romance rings most true.
Drew Carey has been a far more interesting stand-up comic than Andrew Clay, so it's not surprising that The Drew Carey Show, while taking up the themes of Roseanne, is smart enough to place its own spin on these notions. Carey's character -- called Drew Carey -- is an affable cynic, a Cleveland shlub who's bought his parents' old house and keeps a pool table in the backyard. Drew doesn't want much out of life, just a fridge full of beer and the company of his pals-played by the likable but so far interchangeable Diedrich Bader and Ryan Stiles, along with the utterly charming Christa Miller, whose Kate is already one of the more vivid women on television, neither bombshell nor Rhoda-esque wiseacre -- a regular person, for a change!
Carey himself is a fidgety guy. He doesn't just deliver a line -- he kind of dances around it, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. At first I found this, combined with his habit of looking down and grinning fixedly when he speaks to someone, pretty annoying. But his lines are so amusing and his timing so sharp that I've come to like Carey's anti-acting style. Unlike most airless sitcoms, The Drew Carey Show has a real sense of place and atmosphere; Drew's house looks lived in, and when he's sprawled on a couch reading a comic book (Harvey Pekar's marvelous Cleveland-based comic American Splendor), he looks utterly at ease. I'd rather bless Carey's house than Clay's. Bless This House: C The Drew Carey Show: B+
A Review from The Los Angeles Times
Clay's New Show a Roll of the Dice : Television: CBS is betting that 'Bless This House' audiences will give the actor-comedian a chance to distance himself from his notorious stand-up act.
September 11, 1995|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER
Andrew Clay has rolled his "Dice."
But whether audiences will be willing to gamble is up in the air.
Clay, whose notorious foul-mouthed "Dice" character made him one of the most loved and hated comedians in modern times, is now ready for prime time. The comic, whose X-rated routines contained graphic depictions of sex and disparaging remarks about women, minorities and gays, is starring in CBS' "Bless This House," a blue-collar comedy airing during the so-called family hour at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, starting next week.
To distance himself from his stand-up character, Andrew (Dice) Clay has dropped the "Dice" from his name. In interviews, Clay has said that while he continues to do stand-up, "Dice" is gone. He said he became trapped by that persona when all he really wanted was to be recognized as an actor.
Officials at CBS, the executive producers of the new series and other observers of Clay's career acknowledge that overcoming expectations about Clay is a formidable task.
Fans expecting him to appear in a rhinestone-studded leather jacket spouting vulgarities and raunchy nursery rhymes are bound to be disappointed. And people who were repulsed by his stand-up comedy may not be willing to give the show a chance.
Further exaggerating CBS' dilemma with the comedy is that the network has not had a hit in the Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot since "Good Times" in 1977.
But Leslie Moonves, president of CBS Entertainment, said he felt that the network's marketing of the actor and a positive response to the show would overcome anti-Clay sentiment. In on-air promotions, Clay is shown as a brash but warm-and-fuzzy husband and father.
"Yes, people do come to him with a preconceived notion, so that's why with all the advertising and other things we're doing, we're letting folks know that this is a very, very different Andrew Clay, and it's OK to watch him in a family sitcom at 8 p.m.," Moonves said.
On the show, Clay plays a struggling postal worker, Burt Clayton, who lives in a rental home with his wife (Cathy Moriarty) and their two children. The style of the show and the bantering between the two main characters have drawn some comparisons to "The Honeymooners."
In market research that CBS has conducted on Clay, "audiences come in with one notion about what they think, and they leave with an opposite opinion," Moonves said. "Women have come in thinking that he's anti-women. They remember what happened with Nora Dunn [a "Saturday Night Live" cast member who boycotted the program when Clay hosted in 1993].
"But after they've seen the show, they leave very surprised. They said they find him to be a very warm, likable man who genuinely cares about his wife and family on the show. It seemed to surprise a lot of people."
Moonves said that Clay's new persona is a reflection of his new lifestyle: "He is happily married and is the father of two young kids. I'm very happy with him. He's a terrific talent."
A Review from The Virginian Pilot
ROLLING THE DICE ANDREW CLAY HAS DROPPED HIS MIDDLE NAME AND HIS RAUNCHY IMAGE FOR SITCOM.
THE BIG GUY in the blue bowling shirt who co-stars in ``Bless This House,'' a sitcom that begins its run on CBS tonight at 8 after a sneak preview two nights ago, is The Diceman himself.
With the exception of maybe Mark Fuhrman, Clay is the last man you would expect to see cast as a lovable lug and a devoted family man in an 8 p.m. network sitcom.
Working as a chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, female-bashing, sex-obsessed stand-up comic who dressed in black leather studded with rhinestones, he was so wild and raunchy that MTV banned him for life. Howard Stern is Alistair Cooke compared to the Clay of the 1980s.
``Nightline,'' which usually concerns itself with international crises such as the mess in Bosnia, took up the subject of Clay's vulgarity about six years ago because he had outraged so many women. Ted Koppell looked disgusted.
``The Diceman thing sort of got out of hand. Newspapers such as the The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times were saying my act would be the demise of Western civilization,'' Clay said when meeting recently with members of the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles.
When audiences lost interest in The Diceman, the comic, Clay turned to films, appearing in ``The Adventures of Ford Fairlane'' and ``Amazon Women on the Moon,'' to name a few. As they flopped, so did Clay's concert career.
He was hot, and then he was not.
``Three years ago, I couldn't get a dog-food commercial,'' he said.
Look at him now.
Andrew ``Dice'' Clay is the respectable Andrew Clay, husband and father of two co-starring on network TV with the marvelous Cathy Moriarity in a show that is, without apologies, an update of Jackie Gleason's ``The Honeymooners.'' Gleason starred in that hit from 1956 to 1971.
Clay suggested that his portrayal of postal worker and ardent bowler Burt Clayton is ``a mix of both Gleason and Roseanne.''
The Diceman, who appealed to audiences ``who just wanted cursing and vulgarity,'' was not the real Andrew Clay, he said.
If he offended women in the past, he apologizes for it today.
``I always had respect for women,'' he said. ``There were things written and said about me that were blown way out of proportion. I never had a woman come up to me and say, `I hate you.' (Nora Dunn of ``Saturday Night Live'' came close when she refused to appear on camera with Clay).
``When I do The Diceman on stage, it is an act. A character. In the sitcom, the part of Burt is closer to who I am. He's human.''
His co-star, Moriarity, shrugs off Clay's past as the comic from hell, referring to him as ``my huggy bear.''
This Academy Award nominee - a lovely presence with her long blond hair and all - has comic timing as sharp as Audrey Meadows ever had playing opposite Gleason's Ralph Kramden.
And her Bronx accent! His Brooklyn accent!
Burt and wife Alice - didn't I say ``Bless This House'' was a testimonial to ``The Honeymooners'' gang? - live in a too-small Trenton, N.J., apartment. They'd like a house in the suburbs.
But how can they afford it?
``We have only enough and nothing extra,'' said Burt, speaking for blue-collar families everywhere. Alice works as a cashier.
So they go on paying rent as they have done for 13 years.
The Diceman cast as a caring husband and father. Do wonders ever cease?
``This cleanliness thing of doing a situation comedy feels good,'' Clay said. ``Burt's a real guy, a guy from the middle class who wants better for his family. I call him the underdog.''
Clay has not retired as a stand-up comic. Only his act has changed. ``Today, I make myself the butt of the jokes,'' he said. ``I now have a reality-based act, like when I talk about quitting smoking. I quit smoking a year ago but I still buy cigarettes just to hold them. How dumb is that?''
Although ``Bless This House'' is light years away from Clay's stand-up, it is stretching things to call it clean entertainment. There is a trend at the family hour on network TV to introduce one-liners about sex and body functions.
In ``Bless This House,'' the dialogue makes reference to butts, boobs and venereal disease. The kids hear about adults ``doing it'' on the coffee table.
Perhaps The Diceman isn't so far from his element after all. To the criticism that ``Bless This House,'' and several other shows airing from 8 to 9 p.m., push the limits of taste, producer Bruce Helford told TV writers, ``The kids of today, as opposed to kids in the families of the 1950s, know so much more. You really can't hide much from them.''
I guess that justifies the scene in ``Bless This House'' when mom (Moriarity) chastises daughter Danny (12-year-old Raegan Kotz) for monopolizing the bathroom: ``You shouldn't stand around all day admiring your little hooters. . . .''
To watch the pilot of Bless this House got to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edSzOOsj0II
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Keywords: Bless This House Cast (Links Updated 7/24/18)