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The Good Life aired from January until April 1994 on NBC.
This rather pedestrian home-and-workplace comedy revolved around John Bowman ( John Caponera), an amiable Dad living with his family in the Chicago suburbs. On the home front their was Maureen( Eve Bowman), his somewhat dippy wife, a grade-school tutor; happy-go-lucky, long-haired teenager Paul ( Jake Patellis); worldly-wise teen Melissa( Shay Astar); and cute little Bob ( Justin Berfield), who worshiped his dad. Over at Honest Abe's Security Products, a lock-distribution business where John managed the loading dock, the main characters were dumpy, crew-cut bachelor Drew ( Drew Carey), co-manager of the loading dock and John's best friend, and Tommy ( Monty Hoffman), a rather dumb, Dunkin' Donuts-obsessed worker. Among the continuing stories was Maureen's ambition to become an avante-garde playwright and her incomprehensible plays.
A Review from Variety
anuary 2, 1994 11:00PM PT
The Good Life
New family on the TV block -- if another's needed -- is headed by comedian John Caponera playing John Bowman, who's married to Maureen (Eve Gordon). They, their three kids and John's associates make up the familiar horseplay that's greeted with suspicious outbursts of audience laughter. "The Good Life" ain't that good.
By Tony Scott
John’s blue collar, working with Drew (Drew Carey) and Tommy (Monty Hoffman) at a place that doesn’t require much concentration. There’s teenage daughter Melissa (Shay Astar), 15-year-old brother Paul (Jake Patellis) and small son Bob (Justin Berfield).
Warren Bell’s script, which has some agreeable moments, runs into trouble when Paul dates a practicing Buddhist and, instead of learning from her, the sitcom ridicules Buddhist customs and beliefs.
Caponera, appearing ill at ease, rises to several occasions. Paul Feig’s smart timing lights up his brief role. Gordon’s Maureen complements John, and Patellis’ Paul shows promise. Carey’s sidekick role, showing potential, puts in a couple of good innings. Young Berfield is acceptable, while Astar’s Melissa hasn’t much to do.
Director Gerry Cohen does what he can with the mild situations, but no sense of ensemble work as yet shows. The Bowman family’s the kind that can grow into something positive if it can garner a few more genuine laughs and omit its bigotry.
Actual series begins Jan. 4.
The Good Life
NBC, Mon. Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m.
Production: Taped by Interbang Inc. and Touchstone TV. Exec producers, Jeff Martin, Kevin Curran; supervising producer/writer, Warren Bell; producers, George A. Sunga, David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic; co-producers, Richard Baker, Rick Messina, Jimmy Miller, Wendy Braff; director, Gerry Cohen; creators, Jeff Martin, Kevin Curran, Suzanne Martin; based on the standup comedy of John Caponera.
Crew: Art director, Richard Inprota; music, Jonathan Wolff. 30 MIN.
Cast: Cast: John Caponera, Eve Gordon, Drew Carey, Jake Patellis, Shay Astar, Justin Berfield, Monty Hoffman, C.C. Pulitzer, Donna Wilson, Dah-Ve Chodan, Ralph Ahn, Paul Feig, Lynsey Barilson, Sheryl Bernstein, Ethan Glasser, Randy Rudy.
A Review From The New York Times
Review/Television; A Stand-Up Guy, and His Family
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: January 3, 1994
Another sitcom. Another show with a goofy dad, a wry mom and three troublesome but wonderful kids. Television marches on. Groan. But then, against all odds, the tired formula works. Latest instance: "The Good Life," getting an NBC preview tonight at 8:30 before settling into its regular weekly time period tomorrow at 8:30.
This is still another series squeezed out of a stand-up comedy act. On the current scene, just think of Roseanne Arnold ("Roseanne"), Jerry Seinfeld ("Seinfeld") or Tim Allen ("Home Improvement"). This time the stardom scepter descends on the shoulder of John Caponera, a guy who has paid his dues on everything from "Star Search" to "Comic Strip Live" to "An Evening at the Improv." A native of Chicago, Mr. Caponera plays John Bowman, a middle-class, suburban-Chicago husband and father struggling to find a reasonable middle ground to contemporary survival. Not easy.
That John manages to squeak through so convincingly must be credited to the creators of the show -- Jeff Martin, Kevin Curran and Suzanne Martin -- whose extensive credits include substantial stints with David Letterman and "The Simpsons." There's a somewhat mellow, hip veneer to "The Good Life," a kind of easy wallowing in pop-culture artifacts. When this family watches television, Dad doesn't hesitate to notice that the students at a particular Beverly Hills high school all look like 30-year-old teen-agers.
In this evening's preview, "Paul Dates a Buddhist," all about 15-year-old son Paul (Jake Patellis) teetering on the edge of a relationship that has troubling overtones of cultism, the sitcom manages to drag in references to Patrick Swayze in "Ghost," public television's "Civil War" series with that letter beginning "My Very Dear Sarah" and, somehow, videocassette rentals of "Die Hard" and "Fried Green Tomatoes." Furthermore, it all hangs together.
In tomorrow's "premiere," "Maureen's Play," John's wife, Maureen (Eve Gordon), a high-school teacher involved as a director in community theater, recovers from a disastrous "Camelot" with a production of her own play "The Cycle of Womanhood," a steamy essay that leaves John's friends convinced that "your life with Maureen is one long Fellini movie." And John's friends, actually his co-workers, are off-the-wall prizes brought to a wonderful level of lunacy by Drew Carey and Monty Hoffman.
Even the children in this sitcom are appealing. Melissa (Shay Astar) is the perfect sarcastic 12-year-old, commenting after the Crucifixion tumble of an obese lead in "Jesus Christ Superstar": "You think a guy that fat would've bounced." And 6-year-old Bob (Justin Berfield) is delightful as a kid who has already decided to agree completely with whatever his father says. This is one of those shows in which everybody in the cast seems to be having a genuinely good time. That's a good sign. Mr. Caponera is onto something. The Good Life NBC, tonight at 8:30. (Channel 4 in New York) A production of Interbang, Inc. in association with Touchstone Television; Jeff Martin and Kevin Curran, executive producers. John . . . John Caponera Maureen . . . Eve Gordon ...Paul . . . Jake Patellis Drew . . . Drew Carey Melissa . . . Shay Astar Bob . . . Justin Berfield Tommy . . . Monty Hoffman
A Review from USA TODAY
TV PREVIEW/BY MATT ROUSH
'Good Life' joins sitcoms starring stand-up comics
The trend of '93 extends to '94: A stand-up gets a sitcom.
Is this the good life, or could it be a dead end?
Sorta depends, as NBC dumps one John ( Mendoza) for another ( Caponera) in the ongoing Tim Allen sweepstakes for instant stardom. Ater tonight's preview episode, the Caponera-inspired The Good Life enters the Tuesday lineup, squeezing out the Mendoza-inspired The Second Half.
Actually, inspired might not be the best word to use here.
The Good Life is as vague as its title, a middling family sitcom with some smart writing that could be sharper, especially given its creators credentials : Late Night With David Letterman, The Simpsons, Married...With Children.
Happily, there's a potential breakout star in the supporting cast: fellow stand-up Drew Carey-" a big toe with glasses," Caponera calls him. He looks like Michael Douglas' Falling Down psycho after a month's fast-food binge.
With his narrow ties, white short-sleeved shirts, horn-rimmed glasses, buzz-cut, squat body and dry wit , he could do for nerds , what Seinfeld's Kramer did for geeks.
As for Caponera, he's a benign Bundy. Al, not Ted. A blue-collar bumbler, he has an artsy wife( fetching Eve Gordon) and a standard three-pack of kids: studly boy teen, smart-mouthed girl near-teen and a cloyingly cutesy tyke.
Our hero describes himself as a " meat and potatoes kind of guy." He might have mentioned leftovers. There's little that's memorable or distinctive abot his grimace of macho bluster and befuddlement that greets most situations at home or work. Worse, he shouts his lines too much.
That said, he's a likable lead, and he cuddles nicely with Gordon, who spends most of her time directing awful community-theater musicals.
At the workplace, a warehouse of security products, The Good Life shows most of its promise. Best-pal Carey is the most high-calorie of stud muffins, attracting babes improbably but hilariously. And Monty Hoffman, as the loading-dock foreman, is Homer Simpson in the flesh, if not as funny.
This isn't a wonderful life, but there are many far worse that sre doing good business. It's worth keeping an eye on.
An Article from USA TODAY
Published on January 4, 1994
For John Caponera, 'Life' is sweet
By Jefferson Graham
HOLLYWOOD-Having graduated from the boat docks of Chicago to his own NBC series, comedian John Caponera is truly living The Good Life.
Caponera is another in a long line of comedians who have gotten sitcoms based on their acts; his show began as a cross between Home Improvement and Roseanne but evolved into a show that's closer in tone to a '90s version of The Honeymooners.
The Good Life, about a fellow who has a wife and three kids and manages a security device company with his best friend ( comedian Drew Carey), has been honored by NBC as the show to promote to the huge audience following the Super Bowl broadcast in late January. That will come after the sitcom has already aired several times ; the show premiered Monday and moves to its regular time slot-Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT-tonight.
Caponera, 37, grew up in Chicago, the son of a fireman. He worked on the docks as a teen-ager during the summers to pay for his college tuition, and it was then that he turned to comedy.
In a speech class, he did a monologue offering celebrity impersonations at an imaginary all-star baseball game. It went over so well that he started performing at local Gong Shows, winning $500 a pop, which led to a job as a bartender/comic at Zanie's, a Chicago comedy club.
His act was his life: a Chicago guy who worked on the docks and the blue-collar characters he encountered , along with jokes about sports and family.
By 1985, Caponera was in Los Angeles appearing on Star Search, where he lasted several weeks, eventually losing the competition to Jenny Jones, who has since moved on to hosting her own talk show. But even though he lost, he stayed in L.A., signing with powerful comedy managers Messina/Baker/Miller ( They also handle Tim Allen), working the Comedy Store and touring to make ends meet.
Then his life changed last November. Disney Studios Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg saw Caponara perform at the Comedy Store and decided he could be the studio's next Tim Allen, who stars in Disney's Home Improvement.
" For seven years, I couldn't get arrested," Caponera says. " And then suddenly, in one week, everything changed."
ABC asked Caponera to star in Joe's Life; NBC's offer was his own series, built around his act. Figuring he'd rather fail or succeed in something that he had more control over, he opted for the good life of John Bowman.
Bowman is the guy he would have become had he stayed on the docks, Caponera says. " I'd be in middle-management with an ambition of getting into sales. John Bowman is a guy who's very well-intentioned , but everything backfires on him. That's what makes him endearing and vulnerable.
Originally the show was to be about a working-class hero because there " seemed to be an enormous frustration among working people in the country, and we wanted to find an outlet for that on television," says Disney TV executive vice president Dean Valentine. " But the show evolved into something different, a lot goofier and less political, a funny show about two guys and their relationship."
The first 13 episodes of his new show are in the can, and Caponera has a " good feeling" that his show is going to make it. The NBC machine is at work, placing him on The Tonight Show, and of course there's that post Super Bowl berth. " We have a legitimate shot."
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
TWO STAND-UP GUYS FALL FLAT IN A SUBSTANDARD SITCOM
By Ken Tucker
A situation comedy built around the styles of not one but two stand-up comedians, the good life (NBC, Tuesdays, 8:30-9 p.m.) features John Caponera as a harried family man and Drew Carey as his best friend and coworker in a company that manufactures locks. Caponera is a better actor than many other stand-ups-turned-sitcom stars, but he hasn't been given any amusing lines. Carey fares worse-without the material that gives his nightclub act some punch, he spends most of his time standing around grinning sourly. It's too bad, because, with his beefy frame, buzz cut, and square-guy horn-rims, Carey is a cartoon waiting to be funny. Caponera's character has been issued three bland children, and in an utterly thankless role, Eve Gordon-so good recently in The Powers That Be-plays the chipper wife. At one point Caponera is called upon to say, ''There's too many good things in the world.'' The Good Life ain't one of 'em. D
To watch some clips from The Good Life go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+good+life+john+caponera&aq=f
For A Website dedicated to John Caponera go to http://www.johncaponera.com/
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Keywords: The Good Life Cast (Links Updated 7/29/18)