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Great Scott ran from October until November 1992 on FOX.
Gentle comedy about a daydreaming teenager. Scott Melrod ( Toby Maguire), a freashman at Taft High School, daydreamed to overcome his insecurity. He wanted desperately to be accepted by his peers, and his life was full of Walter Mittyesque fantasies in which he turned his bland suburban existence into a series of imaginatively weired encounters. Of course, they always ended when he was jarred back to reality. In gym class he would see himself winning the state wrestling championship just before being pinned by his opponent or he would envision himself impressing his ideal dream date just before in real life she dumped him. Others in Scott's bland family were his dad Walter ( Ray Baker), a successful civic-minded businessman who saw Scott as a chip off the old block; his overly protective mom Beverly(Nancy Lenehan); Nina ( Sarah Koskoff), his prissy neurotic older sister; and Larry ( Kevin Connolly), the cousin who was everything at school that Scott fantasized about being-adventuresome, popular, athletic, and outgoing. Scott's parents considered Larry a role model for their son, repeatedly telling him that he could be like Larry if only he would " come out of his shell."
What's that you said Mom?
A Review from Variety
October 2, 1992 12:00AM PT
Great Scott" centers around 15-year-old Scott Melrod (Tobey Maguire), whose Walter Mitty-esque fantasies turn his gentle suburban life--where lawns are emerald and wide, parents are modern versions of Ozzie and Harriet, and the interracial community is friendly--into a benignly humorous minefield of imagination. Although the show often stretches into the ludicrous, its heart is in the right spot. It's "The Wonder Years" with the emphasis on "wonder."
By Christopher Meeks
The series hinges on keeping up with what is real and what is imagined. The pilot episode sets the rules quickly.
When Scott answers the door, he’s confronted by the girl of his dreams, classmate Caroline (Vinessa Shaw), who is delivering his freshly laundered gym suit by wearing it.
In a flash, the person is a dry cleaner’s delivery man with the suit on a hanger.
Nothing ever works out as in Scott’s imagination–but it works out. When he misses the bus home, so does Caroline. As he tries to charm her, she finds him a bit nerdy–but she later accepts his invitation to a movie.
Despite its recycled elements, the series has much going for it, particularly with its warm cast. As Scott, Maguire has a face that speaks volumes about teenage angst. He brings the exaggerations of teenhood alive.
Shaw’s lithe and beautiful Caroline works as Scott’s dream girl because she, like viewers, seems to be won by Scott’s struggles.
As his parents, Nancy Lenehan and Ray Baker come across as well-meaning but overly concerned. (In future episodes, he’ll have a sister, played by Sarah Koskoff.)
Like most mothers, Lenehan manages to do everything wrong, according to Scott’s sensibilities, and in the great tradition of ’60s sitcoms, Baker’s dad has no clearly defined role other than just being there. The show’s creators, Tom Gammill and Max Pross, who are also the writers of the pilot, clearly play with the cultural touchstones of their youth, but at the same time they offer a certain honesty.
For instance, when Scott’s mom claims she won’t embarrass him, he responds that she will: “You’re a big, stupid embarrassment,” he vehemently shoots in a way that teenagers know how to do well.
In this idyllic Midwestern town–“Blue Velvet” without the undertow–there may not be enough reality to convince today’s youth of its charm. For their parents, however, the scenes play out as remembered traumas through the kindly filter of nostalgia.
(Sun. (4), 7-7:30 p.m., Fox TV)
Production: Filmed by Castle Rock Entertainment. Executive producers-writers, Tom Gammill , Max Pross; supervising producer-director, Brad Silberling.
Crew: Camera, Victir Goss; art director, William Blanchard; production designer, Ninkey Dalton.
Cast: Cast: Tobey Maguire, Ray Baker, Nancy Lenehan, Kevin Connolly, Vinessa Shaw.
An Article from The New York Times on the Fall 1992 Television Season
TELEVISION VIEW; TV's Midterm Grade: A 'D' for Effort
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: November 1, 1992
Young people can think deeply about their wardrobes and the future as long as they're gorgeous and live near a bikini beach. Blacks are great for a laugh but tend to become invisible after 9 P.M., when things are liable to get serious. Couples, married or not, must have a repertory of one-liner put-downs to keep each other entertained. And older folk, if seen at all, make convenient bashing targets.
Thus has network television, armed with numerous audience-research studies, looked at the nation, calculated carefully and brought forth a 1992-93 season that, for the most part, verges on the scandalous. Creativity and social responsibility have gone into a joint nose dive as the networks further pare budgets and intensify their focus on younger segments of the audience. That process, encouraged by advertisers, continues to emphasize divisions between generations. The upshot: a season of clones, crass exploitations and uninspired diversions.
Not surprising, the rush is on to get back to the drawing boards. Already canceled or, as they say, put on hiatus: CBS's "Angel Street" and "Frannie's Turn"; ABC's "Laurie Hill"; NBC's "Round Table," "Secret Service," "Final Appeal" and "Rhythm and Blues." The list, be assured, will grow. Of course, on future crap shoots, it is entirely possible that the networks will stumble across unexpected surprises, the equivalents of an intelligently offbeat "Northern Exposure" or a hilariously pointed "Roseanne." We the viewers will continue to hope, certainly.
Meanwhile, a glance or two at the record to date: Youth Fountain
Advertisers have always put a premium on younger audiences, but courting them aggressively began in earnest several years ago with the entry of Fox into the network sweepstakes, just when the other networks were losing viewers to cable and VCR's. Fox simply decided to go after younger audiences exclusively.
A peak of sorts was reached with "Beverly Hills 90210," chock-full of beautiful people playing sweetly sincere high-school students. Next came "Melrose Place," a twentysomething spinoff, earlier this year. Now there's "The Heights," wherein, remarkably like the stars of the Irish film "The Commitments," the telegenic cast members portray working-class types trying to put together a rock group. They don't succeed on any level. Coming up this winter is "Class of '96," in which the pretties will share a coed dorm at a Northeastern college.
The other networks would indeed like a bigger piece of the youth pie, but they tend to be a bit more inhibited than Fox. CBS floundered this past summer with a couple of toned-muscle collections, "Freshman Dorm" and "2000 Malibu Road." And ABC now has "Going to Extremes," which, coming from the team of Joshua Brand and John Falsey ("Northern Exposure," "I'll Fly Away"), has a loftier context (medical students struggling for a degree on a Caribbean island). But students and faculty still get out to the beach as often as possible, occasionally for a bit of skinny-dipping.
The operating premise at Fox seems to be that if anything works halfway decently, do it again, repeatedly. So, plumbing the shallow waters of youthful daydreaming, "Ferris Bueller" and "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" (both introduced in 1990) spawned two look-alikes on Sundays this season. "Great Scott!" is about a teen-ager susceptible to Walter Mitty fantasies, and "Flying Blind" is about a straitlaced Long Island fellow courting, in reality and in his dreams, an experienced and uninhibited young woman. The trite situation is lent considerable charm by the performances of Corey Parker and Tea Leoni. And in satirical comedy, "In Living Color" has now given birth to "The Ben Stiller Show," a scattershot delivery of parodies that occasionally hit the target, and "The Edge," a collection of skits that are at their best whenever Julie Brown shows up.
Fox is lively, irreverent and aggressively adolescent. And is it succeeding? As of this writing, Fox can claim 8 of the 10 series at the very bottom of the ratings chart. Black America
On the face of it, this is a banner season for the employment of black talent on television. Five new series feature predominantly black casts, among them some of the most promising new faces of the season. Martin Lawrence, also the host of HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," stars in Fox's "Martin" as a hip radio talk-show host doing his best to keep his sensitive side a secret. Morris Chestnut ("Boyz N the Hood") and Duane Martin ("White Men Can't Jump") co-star as goofing friends working at a disco for goofy Patti LaBelle in NBC's "Out All Night."
The networks, it would seem, are finally acknowledging the importance of their black viewers, who, according to various studies, watch more television than other groups. But by now, the black sitcom is an established component of the schedule. And these new shows, while crammed with first-rate performers, are blazing no new comedy trails.
NBC's "Here and Now," starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner as a youth-center volunteer, means well, but its attempt to put a humorous spin on inner-city problems can be off-putting. ABC's "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" is a "Three's Company" look-alike that boasts an attractive cast (Mark Curry, Holly Robinson and Dawnn Lewis) but is already being forced to revise its basic concept. Mr. Curry's character will get more to do as a substitute teacher than as domestic swain. And NBC's "Rhythm and Blues," which was put on hiatus just last week, was yet another series set in a black radio station. Oddly enough, the show was monopolized by its only white character, a new disk jockey played by the stand-up comic Roger Kabler in what looked like a homage to Robin Williams.
The lingering question: How do black performers, and black issues and concerns, get beyond what more and more looks like the tokenism of sitcom employment? Blacks who don't necessarily want to make us laugh are largely limited to supporting roles or period pieces like "I'll Fly Away." Some network executives concede there is a problem but then are apt to say that it's difficult to find workable proposals. Black writers, directors and producers readily beg to differ.
Meanwhile, some sitcom producers are themselves trying to remedy the situation, at least partially. The NBC series "A Different World," once little more than broad comedy fluff, has evolved into a platform for analyzing issues and events from date rape to the Los Angeles riots. Slipping in through the back door of comedy is one way to let blacks get serious on prime time. It's hardly enough. Police Stories
Formerly a television staple, law-enforcement dramas, like westerns, have gone into a curious decline. One reason is the emergence of so-called reality shows like ABC's "Top Cops." The formats are cheaper, and producers don't have to cope with demanding stars. But that fad may be fading. Witness the quick demise, even with an established host like Robert Stack, of NBC's "Final Appeal," a spinoff of "Unsolved Mysteries."
Except for NBC's "Law and Order" and CBS's (formerly NBC's) "In the Heat of the Night," the current schedule shies away from cop shows. There have been only two police dramas in the new season so far, both from CBS. One, "Angel Street," starring Robin Givens and Pamela Gidley as policewomen, has already been canceled. The other is "The Hat Squad," a rather dopey and dangerous vigilante yarn about a policeman and his three foster sons, all of whom fancy vintage detective fedoras.
The law-enforcement format can still pack a powerful wallop, as was demonstrated by the recent NBC movie "In the Line of Duty: Street Wars," a harrowing fact-based portrait of poverty and drugs in Brooklyn. But the networks, it seems, in their eagerness to lull, are ever more reluctant to burden viewers with unpleasant realities. Just pass the tranquilizers. Modern Romances
Nails continue to be hammered into the coffin of "Father Knows Best." Two of the season's most likely hits, courtesy of enviable time slots on CBS's blockbuster Monday lineup, have been created by women with formidable feminist track records. In "Hearts Afire," an offbeat liberal sort of woman (Markie Post) catches the rapt attention of an offbeat conservative Washington aide (John Ritter). The series comes from Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, whose previous credits include "Designing Women" and "Evening Shade." Then "Love and War," in which Susan Dey and Jay Thomas play the ostensibly mismatched lovers (he's blue -collar, she's post-yuppie), was developed by Diane English, the "Murphy Brown" genius.
In the same romantic-comedy vein, Wednesdays on NBC, is "Mad About You." Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser star as New York newlyweds with decidedly different personalities (he's determined, she frets) but a continuing ability to survive life's little negotiations.
In typical, sometimes tired sitcom fashion, each series surrounds its central characters with the requisite number of goofy friends and relatives. Shtik is still shtik. But make no mistake, these women are never going to be found worrying about the burned roast, and these men accept that. On a "Love and War" date, Mr. Thomas cooked the meal, winning the heart of Ms. Dey with his collection of Flintstone drinking glasses. Even Delta Burke in ABC's cloying "Delta" had the gumption in the first episode to dump her possessively jealous husband and try to establish a career as a country singer, the season's most unlikely eventuality. The Golden Years
From commercials showing adorable children frowning at the prospect of visiting Grandma to the cancellations of series because they appeal primarily to older viewers (who are not especially valuable to advertisers), television has had a sorry record when it comes to the inevitability of growing old. And its anti-age bias seems to be on the rise.
"Frannie's Turn," mercifully put to rest after a few weeks on the air, featured a mother-in-law, basically bedridden and apparently drifting into senility. The character was trotted out periodically to say silly things when she couldn't clearly hear what was being said around her. Even a first-rate show like ABC's "Roseanne" recently had Roseanne and her sister ridiculing their despised mother, played by Estelle Parsons, and talking about swiping her nest-egg money. All right, you might say, that was a slip, an aberration. But a few nights later, "Mad About You" spent its entire half-hour making fools of the wife's unsophisticated parents visiting from the outback of New Haven. With a combination of poor writing and execrable timing, what was supposed to be funny bordered on viciousness.
At the same time, as it happens, public television's "Masterpiece Theater" was showing two British imports, "The Best of Friends" and "Memento Mori," in which some of England's most distinguished veteran actors offered dazzling demonstrations of what advancing years and experience might offer a more tolerant world. American television's reckless fostering of the generational wars is well on its way to becoming a social menace.
To watch some clips from Great Scott go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=great+scott+tobey+maguire&aq=f
For more on Great Scott go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Scott!_(TV_series)
To find out Before they were stars go to http://www.tvparty.com/1-before-they-were-stars.html
To watch the opening credits of Great Scott go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYXmGnOZEK0
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Keywords: Great Scott: Cast Photo (Links Updated 7/29/18)