I've been asked this question as well as others in literally hundreds of e-mails from just about anybody. First off, I need to make a disclaimer:
I am in no way a relative or an associate of anybody associated with the staff of the show or its production staff, distributor, or syndicator.
That should help answer the question of what connections I have with the show, almost none, but to bring up an item that prompted the "almost" part, the closest brush with anyone I had was when Dianne Kay was the grand marshal of the El Cajon Mother Goose Parade in 1979 and I snapped her photo on a 110 camera, but as I had not much money back then, writing to TV stars was out of my budget as I was very busy with school and college back then working on several majors, none of which panned out successfully, and like many graduates, I ended up doing service work in the food industry.
"So," as some people ask, "how did you become a fan of the show?"
Let's go wa-a-a-a-a-ay back, back to March 15, 1977. On this day in history, I was putting together a VHF receiver I bought from Radio Shack and I hooked it up to Mission Cable to see if I could get more police and aircraft channels as I thought cable would do. No such luck, but instead, when I scanned my dial around, I got the audio portion of HBO or Channel 100, I forgot which pay service it was, but there was a movie on with some salty language on, and for risk of my parents getting mad, I disconnected the cable from the VHF receiver.
So, I hooked it up to a broadcast antenna, and turned it and got some weather and police calls, and as I was scanning to the right end of the dial, up to 180 MHz, I got the audio portion of KABC channel 7 from L.A., which is an ABC affilliate. Yea, I know I'm rambling like Paul Harvey, but what they hey, you asked? At the time I was tuning the dial, I was also watching Happy Days on channel 39, then an ABC affilliate, and I was also getting KABC's audio from my VHF receiver at the same time. In my electronics class, I learned that the police band falls just before the TV band channels 7-13, so that's why I was getting the audio from Channel 7 at the far end of the police band. I couldn't get channel 8 as I ran out of space, so I guess seven was enough!
At 8:30, then came on the premiere of Eight is Enough, and, you guessed it, the battery of the VHF receiver died, so I put in a new one, and as I was watching the show on Channel 39 on TV, I was also noticing that it was closing in on 9pm, the start of one of my all-time favorite shows, "M*A*S*H". I thought "Oh heck, now I'm getting interested in EiE, but I'm also a fan of MASH, stupid networks!" So, did I get another battery for the VHF receiver to listen to EiE while I watched MASH? No. Did I just dump MASH to finish EiE? No. I dodged EiE and went to MASH. Sorry. Go ahead and boo, but to me, this was only the beginning of what was yet to come, more of the "my favorite show" vs. "my favorite show" battles, which is the subject of another page.
So, at 9pm, I switched to MASH for the wedding of Hot Lips and her groom. I thought Loretta Swit was some smart fox back then, but I was also a fan of Alan and Mike and all the MASH gang. Figured that if ABC was smart, they'd rerun the show eventually. Now why, you'd ask, would a sixteen-year-old male have this much trouble choosing a TV show aimed at the over-50 Korean-war crowd vs. a show aimed at the what is now the Dawson's Creek crowd, you ask? I'm not sure why the TV bozos think of programs in that way, but it's a load of bunk. MASH was one of the best-written and best-casted prime time shows in history and that what makes me want to watch a show, that is, if you can make it well, it should succeed.
Then 9:30 rolled around, and another hot blonde Suzanne Somers popped in her TV debut in "Three's Company". Guess what, I was also hooked on "One Day at a Time" featuring another cutie pie Valerie Bertinelli every week as well, so Suzanne struck out with me...initially. I just had only one TV at a time (grin) and had no tape machine to shift the opposite show to another time period where I can give my undivided attention to it in a time much more convieient to me.
So, that was March 15, but that's not the end of the story.
We go to March 22, the second week, but this time, Eight was on at nine, and I just went to bed, too tired from school to even watch the reruns of MASH and ODAAT (as they were going into for the next six months), and I had to get up early (6am, thanks a lot, Patrick Henry!)
We go to March 29th, week 3, two days after we learned that Diana Hyland died, and also soon after one of my drafting teachers also died. Kind of freaky, but I'm just reporting history. Reruns were all over the dial and I was much busier with homework, paying some attention to the ABC reruns of Welcome Back, Kotter, Laverne and Shirley, Barney Miller, and so forth. Watched some of the Eight is Enough, but I fell asleep and woke up during some rerun of Toma or whatever. So why did ABC put EiE on so damn late for me at 9pm? Furthermore, why opposite MASH and Val?
April 5th, I finally got Easter break so I didn't have to get up so damn early and I watched Eight at nine without going to sleep. Sorry, Val and Loretta, but you were in reruns. Something was beginning to make sense about the Bradfords though, but I wasn't sure. Two days later, I saw Three's Company with Suzanne Somers in its fourth and final spring tryout episode (it got picked up for fall due to enornous ratings) and I can see why Suzanne was THAT much of a babe, more than Farrah, but not as sexy as Jaclyn Smith though (the Sandra Bullock of the 70s!) OK, as long as we're talking babes, I was beginning to get some admirations going for some of the girls in Sacramento as well, as ABC was more like the American Babe Company.
April 8th, I got my driver's license. April 11th, my pet bird Tweety died. Kind of grim.
April 12th, Eight was preempted by Channel 39 for some stupid reason (boo to KCST!) and I settled for a rerun of MASH and One Val at a Time. Of course, I could have watched it on KABC 7 on cable, but I forgot.
April 14th, no more Suzanne Somers until fall. Bummer.
April 18th, it was announced that KCST 39 and KGTV 10 (NBC) would swap network affilliates come the end of June. Some ABC shows popped up on 10 and NBC on 39 while they were still airing their other network shows. Fortunately, this confusion was kept to a minimum as 39 aired ABC's prime time shows until the networks officially changed stations.
April 19th, I chose EiE over MASH and One Day for Valerie. I was getting very bored with the four-part story One Day was rerunning about Julie running away, yada, yada, zzzzzz. Also, Elizabeth, Nancy, and Susan were getting stuck in my head as often as Kate, Farrah and Jaclyn were. Yup, teenage male totally under influence of fully-developed young babes! But enough about Baywatch, but that's coming later.
April 26th, my 17th birthday. MASH and One Day were rerun. So were Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. I watched the latter two, then the first run of Eight is Enough.
May 3rd, the eighth and final installment of the Eight Family. Watched that. After that, back to reruns of MASH and One Day on CBS.
August, NBC picks up another blonde babe show, "Bionic Woman" after ABC passes on its renewal. Why? Too many shows on ABC to renew, that's what? Even Tony Randall got dumped to CBS!
Fall of 1977, probably IMHO the best television season in all of history, and also one of the worst scheduling opposites. Why? Again, Valerie Bertineli got ditched in the ratings, not by the Bradfords, which moved to Wednesdays, but by "Soap", by far, funnier than One Day, and Diana Canova was another fabulous babe, as well as being totally demented! As for MASH, problem, I was hooked on Suzanne Somers on Three's Company, opposite it as well as the great ensemble cast with John Ritter and Norman Fell among others, then even MASH got mashed! As for me, I had to buy a tape recorded (audio) and a TV sound receiver, so here's what I did. I tuned in MASH on the TV sound receiver and turned on the tape recorder to record the sound, in another part of my house, I watched "Three's Company" on the TV, then listened to MASH at another time, whenever that was. Likewise, when "Soap" was on TV, I taped "One Day" on the TV sound-tape recorder combo in the closet.
Fortunately, CBS got a clue and moved Val and MASH to Monday nights, out of the way! Finally, I got to see Valerie again! So did the others, and the ratings went back up!
Ok, I'm rambling on again, but it's part of the story.
So now you know how you get to become a fan of a show, put in some fabulous babes! :-) Aside of that, put in some stories that we can relate to as well.
Well, let's cut to the chase. What else was it that made me watch the Eight family week after week?
In a sense, it was how the family dealt with all kinds of situations, juggling several of them every week or so. Everybody seems to have a dream of being something, but with some of them, they never reached that goal, but got somewhere else instead. Have you related to that? How about dealing with step relatives? Battles over who uses the bathroom and phone? Crazy things in high school? Dodging overly-cute little girls? The list goes on and on, but that's very much it.