I watched the E! True Hollywood story about 3 times on tape over the past few days. Like a few fans, I was disappointed that it was only an hour long. Judging from the size of the cast, it should have been two hours to cover the individual actors more throughly.
A few surprises came during the show, among them, the late Diana Hyland was the first one casted for the show. I didn't know about the Mark Hamill car accident in December 1976 that effectively got him off the show. But it worked out better since Grant Goodeve filled the role of David better in my opinion since he was more of a man, making his independent role living on his own more believable. I thought of Mark as a older teen boy making him too youthful looking for the role, though his
Star Wars movies were a perfect fit as a hero. Why didn't E! expand on Grant, adding that he did sing on a Christian CD and hosts an outdoor show after the show ended among other facts? I would have liked to learn more about Grant in the years before EiE.
BTW: In the novelty song "Star Wars Cantina" sung by Mark Jonathan Davis, you can hear a snippet of his Luke Skywalker character yell after Mark sings "He kissed his sister, his hand got chopped off!" OWW! "In a galaxy far away, Luke has had a lousy day." The song was a hit on the Dr. Demento radio show in 1997.
I didn't think Lani worked after the second reunion show. I'm surprised Laurie quit acting for the most part as she could have gotten some mom roles on some sitcoms or thirtysomething by then. The special didn't elaborate too much on either one, but some more research on their part should have yielded some other interests in their lives.
Dianne is just hard to believe; she still looks youthful. I'm not sure how she takes care of her self, but I always thought she was the prettiest, as I saw her once in the 1979 Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon. She was also in the movie 1941, appearred as a regular in three other series, Reggie, Glitter, and Once a Hero, all flops. She was also in guest spots such as Starsky and Hutch, Kids From CAPER, and who knows what others. I wish E! did a longer piece on Dianne Kay; she deserved more
Connie Newton Needham has an interesting monogram (CNN). I saw her on Police Squad and in a few episodes of Fame, but like Dianne, Connie deserved more coverage. I believe she was on a Compound W commercial in the late 70's.
I'd like to know what commercials the actors all did in their past. I know Adam Rich did a toy organ commercial (I guess) around 78, but I can't place any commercials I saw Susan do, though the E! documentary did mention it.
They did do a good job on Willie Aames, however, including the Bibleman stage play he's starring in. Did anybody see his shows live? Being the same age as Willie, I could relate to some of the male teenage struggles I had around the time (fighting with your sisters over the use of a bathroom, dating problems, etc.) Willie had more charisma and personality than the actor he replaced. At least I have fewer sisters to fight over the bathroom.
Kimberly Beck looked just too mature for the role of Nancy. I wonder what other roles she did afterward.
Adam I thought was going to do ok when he landed the role in Code Red immediately after the show was cancelled, but like a lot of child actors, Adam could have kept hard at work refining his acting craft if that's what he wanted to do for a long time, living life slow instead of getting problems as he grew up. Well, who knows, at his age in 1990, he could have been a cast member on 90210, Blossom, Hull High, Parker Lewis, or Saved By The Bell when there was a flood of teenage sitcoms in
1990 (I know, I watched them all). If Adam didn't stray from the course, he would be doing some work in Providence or NYPD Blue by now. You're a cute kid for only so long, but while you're hot as a kid, you better be planning for the future as it has been proven that fame is fleeting. Riding high in April, shot down in May.
I thought Dianne was the prettiest, but among the girls, Susan was my favorite. I could say she was a cross between an older Peppermint Patty and my next door tomboy Diane Flick or something. I always liked her smile and that literally blew me away. Susan was just a complex daughter I couldn't seem to classify at all.
E! did seem to do a lot of research on Susan, though they never named the commercials she appearred in. I guess that among the kids (a kid at 24?), she was the most experienced in acting creditials. They didn't mention anything about her singing gig in 1981 and her attempt to get a music career going, in fact, Susan plugged her songs on Password. It was a little sad seeing all the hard times she had to struggle through after the show ended. Somehow, Susan was strong enough to get through
them all. Not sure how anyone could go through a divorce, substance abuse, abduction, and a nervous breakdown all in one lifetime, it's so overwhelming. I guess she was a fighter, not a quitter, and got herself through these problems. Susan deserved a better hand than what was dealt her in life. But I'm glad she's doing better with the help of her friends and family and her fanbase to give her emotional support through her latest ordeal last year. Whatever Susan does with her life is fine
right now taking care of the elderly in a nursing home, but if she decides to get back into acting or singing, I'd be curious what they would sound like.
The E! story got Sarah's birthdate wrong. It was Feb 27, not Mar 27. How do I know this? Let's go back to March 10, 1980, that was the day my mother had an aneurysm and was hauled away to a hospital by an ambulance. At the time, my mother went through a divorce, smoked six packs a day, was stressed out, and was literally henpecked by my sisters. As for me, I was withdrawn into a world of college, computer lab, and television, as I just didn't like the effect of the divorce it had on me. The
next day, March 11, my Aunt Marie settled in my house for a few weeks, and the first thing she did was get groceries and she happened to pick up the Star tabloid among others (back then, it wasn't a cheap ragpiece it is now), and I thumbed through it (dated March 17 or 18) and one story just stood out: Susan Richardson gave birth to Sarah on Feb 27. In a week of bad news, I'm glad I ran into some good news for a change. What I didn't know at the time was on the day I read the news, it was
Susan's birthday, but once I started collecting celebrity birthdays for my website a few years later, I found her birthday in the World Almanac. Now Sarah is 20 and will soon be a bride to Benjamin who's training in the armed forces.
And last, but not least, one question remained unanswered by the E! story: Why was Eight is Enough cancelled in June 1981? They never explained why ABC dropped the show abruptly. Guess what they replaced it with? A lame soaper Kings Crossing that bombed badly, in fact, Elvira on channel 9 beat out the ABC show at 8 in 1982 in Los Angeles. But even if Eight is Enough went one more year, what direction would the show have went? The E! story mentioned a bit that in 1981, they were clearly
adults (except for Adam) who seemed to never succeeded in leaving the nest (except for Susan and David). In the previous season, the show should have begun recognizing that the roles of Mary, Joanie, and Nancy were no longer post-teenagers and they shouldn't have and have writers come up with more grown-up storylines, in 1980, have Elizabeth go back to high school (didn't her character graduate in 1978 or so?) Sure there was some relationship being developed by Joanie, and we could have seen
her character gotten married and leaving the nest on her own. In 90210, they didn't have Brandon, Kelly, and David remain teenagers or post-teens for the entire 10-year series run; their characters matured and went out on their own, dealt with real-life problems, got married, struggled through college, got jobs, ran businesses, lost some of their parents, left town, got busted, had substance abuse, and so forth. Maybe 90210 was what EiE would have been like if Aaron Spelling produced EiE; in
fact, there were basically eight teens/young adults as principals on the show. Lorimar should have borrowed some of the Dallas writers to come up with more adult EiE storylines, or would EiE ended up as Melrose Place? Oh well. By the time EiE was cancelled, I was engulfed with the Ewing soaper on Dallas (I was 20 when I got hooked on the show).
In conclusion, Brooke who was from E! should have stayed around and asked us questions about Eight is Enough, and consulted us with her research in the hopes of catching some of the errors and omissions the young researchers have written. Some of us elder fans, who watched it when it was in first runs, could have been more than happy to help them out and get some of the facts straightened out. Did anybody thought that Gary Frank from Family looked like Willie Aames?
Well, let's hope that someone who writes an EiE story gets it right the second time around. Maybe someone is thinking of writing a book or doing a TV movie about the making of Eight is Enough.
One thing I have noticed in the three years since I created the EiE website/forum is that a lot of people, in today's times of WB teen soapers and Fox's adult dramas, have rediscovered this TV drama/comedy or dramedy, that is of the genre that many TV producers and programmers have all but forgotten about. Eight is Enough was contemporary in its time period of the late 70's, as 90210 was in the 1990's. Surely, it wasn't the Bradys, although what scares me a bit is that Brady and Bradford
share the first four letters in their names! Good thing they changed it from Braeden, or it would be compared to that other family (The Braeden Bunch!). We didn't need a Brady Bunch in 1977 (ok, but we got them singing and dancing in that hokey Donny and Marie clone whether we cared or not as Eve Plumb wisely didn't do the show.) and we already had two hourlong family dramas set in the past (Waltons, Little House), but at first, Eight is Enough was going to be a drama, but as for why the show
went to a comedy/drama with a canned laugh track, I cannot answer. Did Fred Silverman, the boss at ABC at the time, demand that the show be funnier?
I gotta admit, on the day the show premiered, I was underwhelmed overall. On that day it premiered, the second half was on opposite Hot Lips' wedding on M*A*S*H, which at the time was one of my favorite shows at the time. The next week, the CBS shows began their rerun season, and EiE was in first runs, so I gave them another shot. This time, I noticed that Nancy was a bit cuter and David was much more mature due to cast changes. Some things started to click better and I sensed some
chemistry between the children was getting noticable. The late actress that starred in the show, Diana Hyland, was also the mother of the Boy in the Plastic Bubble TV movie played by John Travolta of Welcome Back, Kotter, and I have never saw Diana in any other shows aside of those at the time as the shows she did were for a much more adult audience such as medical, crime, and western dramas Diana guested in over the several years before Eight is Enough. So in a sense, Diana was getting some
exposure to a younger audience around my age when she started playing Joan the mother.
Now, let's stop for a moment. This is 1977 I'm talking about. Around the time, beautiful mature women around the late 20's and early 30's were the rage on television such as Jaclyn, Kate, and Farrah on Charlie's Angels, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, Lindsay Wagner as The Bionic Woman, and others I can't think of now. They were all gorgeous, smart, and had personality, especially Farrah. At first, when I saw Diana on EiE, I thought she was too young to play a mother of eight children; she was
one beautiful actress who deserved to live a longer life and make a longer lasting mark as the matriarch on the show, but sadly, cancer got her and the show went into a tizzy with the show's writers wondering how to deal with Ms. Hyland's death and what to do with Joan. I though this problem out for several years and I came to the conclusion that instead of having Joan "being away", they should have, and I believe that only Diana could have played the role of Joan, is to write an episode where
Joan died peacefully in her sleep, but unfortunately, the direction the show was going was more comedy, and what they should have done is to have a story that was basically dramatic with little comedy as several episodes of M*A*S*H, a comedy/drama, did when that series has its serious dramatic moments separate from its comedy pieces. On M*A*S*H, the drama worked as well as the comedy, and I and the other fans understood that this wasn't a cookie-cutter sitcom; it was more true to life,
believable, as not everything in a show has to be funny all the time. There has to be some sad moments on the show as well and have the characters deal with them in a believable manner.
Getting back to the EiE mom dying, in real life, the Braedens, the family they were based on,
were mostly intact until 1994 when the real-life son, Tommy, died, and their mother, Joan, passed on in 1999. To have a character be left in limbo as being away for many months when we know that the actress who played her died (I was studying a U.S. Government textbook when my mom told me of her death) was a bit on the irresponsible side on the writers part. It wouldn't have been right to recast the role of Joan as it would have been an insult to Diana's fans, and belive me, I heard from a
couple of Diana fans who e-mailed me a long list of Diana Hyland guest appearrances on about 100 TV shows she appearred in and I asked them if it would have been right to recast Joan and they said they would have stopped watching EiE and watched Grizzly Adams instead.
OK, so this review is getting a bit on the long side, so I better end this long review with a hope that the next time some TV producer wants to do a story about a TV series of the past, they better consult with the fans as well as the research.
RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!
Friday, 11-Aug-00 21:06:59
Hi David and friends,
I couldn't have stated it better than your review of the E' special. I,like so many of you, have been waiting with anxious anticipation to see the finished product, only to be letdown. I too, feel that it definitely should have been 2 hours and much,more indepth, especially the interviews with the cast. I guess being than we are such loyal eie fans, we are going to notice blunders and I am sorry but I do agree with John that the producers and staff of the E' show had plenty of time, well over 6 months to make sure their research and info was accurate! Yes, I do think that Susan, Connie, Dianne, Willie, Betty and Dick looked great and it was a treat to see them all but I felt kinda cheated that we didn't get a chance to see the others, Laurie, Lani, Grant, and adorable Adam Rich. I really would have loved to have had them all take part in this special. It just seemed kinda incomplete.
It seems to me that since all the cast members are still around with the exception of Diana Hyland that I bet a reunion special, with Betty Buckley reprising her role with be a ratings winner. and I for one would be glued to the set as I was on Sunday nite when the special aired. Well That is just my 2 cents,for whatever, its worth. Well I hope you all have a nice weekend, sorry for not posting lately. Ive been working a lot of hours,last week I put in over 65 hours so this is the first chance that I've has to catch up with the messageboard. Well, take care and I will be posting again real soon!!
P:S John, If you get a chance and read my post, let me know if that special about Ms. Payton will be on again. I'm sorry that I missed it, on Mysteries and Scandals. When did it orig air? Well hope all is well with you, enjoy the rest of the summer!!!
Thursday, 17-Aug-00 08:57:39
Glad to hear you're doing well (except for those long work hours...take it easy, it's summer!)It's good that you like your job, though. That's very important and not everyone can say that...so keep it up.
The Barbara Payton MYSTERIES & SCANDALS was originally shown 6 times during the week of June 5, then a few weeks later it was run another 6 times. I imagine they'll show it again as E! repeats its shows a lot. Right now I'm working with Grammy-winning country/pop singer Jody Miller on an interview for OUTRE Magazine (my article on 70s actress and former girlfriend of Burt Reynolds, Conny Van Dyke is set for late fall in OUTRE). And in September, I'll be interviewing Cherie Currie, the former lead singer of the 1970s all-girl rock group The Runaways, for an article in FEMME FATALES Magazine. So, I'm pretty busy! I'm still "fine-tuning" the Payton book and looking for a publisher, so keep wishing me luck, 'cause I really need it. Still want to collaborate with Susan someday on her story. I hope it happens.
Take care, Nancy, and stay well. Hope your Mom is doing fine.
Monday, 21-Aug-00 21:34:33
You are truly a very special eie buddy! Thanks for responding back to me. Sorry, that I didn't catch the special. I am not working the overtime right now just a normal 40 hour work week. Thanks for asking about my Mom, yes she is doing really well, in fact we spent the weekend in Wildwood, just the two of us, we spent one day on the beach and walked the boardwalk, it was a great time. I will definitely keep wishing good thoughts and saying a special prayer that your dream does come true. Keep thinking positive as I will too and enjoy what is left of the summer which is almost over.
Disappointed in E! Show
Monday, 07-Aug-00 11:14:22
I don't think the show was one of E!s better efforts. I really think they had enough material to do 2 hours and I don't know why they didn't...the show seemed rushed with not enough coverage on the individual members of the cast. It also would've played much better if the program's producer was able to round up and interview if not EVERY former cast member, than at least MOST of them...
E! had several months to put this one together (at least 6, right)? I just think it could've turned out MUCH better. After watching the show, it seems to me that the DEFINITIVE Eight Is Enough retrospective remains to be seen...
Monday, 07-Aug-00 18:17:46
John...I agree with you one hundred percent! After watching that documentary, I was left feeling unsatisfied and dissapointed. It seemed so silly to rush through all that material in just one hour. Also, some many complex issues deserved much more attention, yet E! decided to just give a generic overview of the cast difficulties. Lani O'Grady has an incredibly intense story of her overcoming her panic attacks. Diana Hyland had the cast come to the hospital to announce her terminal illness in a very poignant moment shared by the cast. Where were all these important details?? Also, I would of loved to hear the stories about things that happened on the set...It's a shame they didn't get Laurie Walters, Grant Goodeve or Adam Rich to speak. ::Sigh:: Very dissapointing. I felt cheated and I also feel as if we are yet to see a decent EiE retrospective. Too bad we couldn't have done it. I feel that the show would have gotten the coverage that it deserved.
Tuesday, 08-Aug-00 00:17:46
I too was very disappointed with how quickly the special was rushed (DEFINATELY should have been two hours) and also that they didn't get to interview all the cast members and that the updates were so brief and really didn't tell you much. Joan Prather made a comment during the special that after the 1989 reunion movie got poor reviews, she didn't think they'd ever be asked to do a reunion movie again. I, for one, would love to see another reunion movie if it was well written (and only if they could get the whole cast and preferrably with David reunited with Janet.) I loved the show growing up and I would watch a reunion show in a heartbeat.