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Too Close for Comfort is an Americanmarker television sitcom which ran on the ABC network and in first-run syndication from 1980 to 1986. It was modeled after the Britishmarker series Keep it in the Family. Its name was changed to The Ted Knight Show during the latter part of its run.

Synopsis and First Season

Ted Knight and Nancy Dussault star as Henry and Muriel Rush, owners of a two-family house in San Franciscomarker. The two story red house, seen at the opening and closing of each episode was shot at 171-173 Buena Vista Avenue in San Franciscomarker.

Henry is a conservative cartoonist who authors a comic strip called Cosmic Cow. During scenes in which Henry draws in his bedroom, Knight used his earlier acquired ventroliquism talents for comical conversations with a hand-puppet version of "Cosmic Cow." Muriel is a laid back freelance photographer, having been a band singer in her earlier days. They have two grown daughters, brunette Jackie (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) who works for a bank, and the younger Sara (Lydia Cornell), a blond bombshell and college student.

At the start of the premier episode, Jackie and Sara are living with their parents in an awkward, cramped arrangement. Their long time downstairs tenant, Rafkin, dies suddenly. The family discovers Rafkin was a transvestite, and the many strange women Henry had been opening the door for all those years were actually Rafkin himself. Jackie and Sara convince their parents to allow them to move into Rafkin's gaudily decorated apartment. In a running gag, Henry falls off of the art deco chairs or couch every time he attempts to sit down. Despite the daughters' push for independence and moving into the downstairs apartment, Henry proves to be a very protective father and meddles in their affairs constantly.

Due to an actors strike led by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, new programming for the fall 1980 season was pushed back several months. As a result, Too Close for Comfort did not debut until November 11, 1980, and its initial season consisted of only 19 episodes. The show garnered high ratings, benefiting from its placement in ABC's powerhouse Tuesday night lineup following hits like Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Three's Company.

During the first season, Sara's addle-headed friend Monroe Ficus, played by actor Jim J. Bullock, is added to the cast. Although the character was originally intended to be used for only a single-episode, the incompetent Monroe quickly became Henry's principal (if unintended) foil

Developments in Seasons Two and Three

Ted Knight's character Henry became famous for wearing sweatshirts of various American colleges and universities. It was revealed in one episode that he wore the different sweatshirts because he himself had never gone to college. Eventually fans would send in sweatshirts from universities around the country hoping they would be used during filming.

The cast of Too Close for Comfort during the show's second season
During its second season, the series' principal stories are focused around Muriel's pregnancy. Additionally, Henry's niece April (Deena Freeman) comes from Delawaremarker to live with the Rush family. The season concludes with Muriel giving birth to a son, Andrew.

For the third season, April departs and the character of Muriel's mother, Iris Martin (Audrey Meadows) is added in order to help take care of Andrew. Iris was a perfect sparring partner for Henry.

In the fall of 1982, ABC moved the series to Thursday nights, which proved to be a disaster for the show. Paired with failures such as Joanie Loves Chachi, Star of the Family and It Takes Two, Too Close for Comfort's ratings plummeted. At the conclusion of the season, Too Close for Comfort was canceled by ABC. The last first-run episode broadcast by ABC on May 5, 1983 was a pilot for a proposed spin-off series called Family Business. The series was to have focused on the misadventures of Lucille Garabaldi (Lainie Kazan) and her two sons (played by George Deloy and Jimmy Baio) as they tried to run a construction business.

ABC aired reruns of the show at 11:00 a.m. (ET) from June 27 to September 16, 1983.

First-run syndication

During the early 1980s, Metromedia was attempting to build a fourth major television network around original programming, which would eventually become the Fox Broadcasting Company. When Too Close For Comfort was canceled by ABC, Metromedia elected to pick up the series and began producing all-new episodes to run in syndication on its various stations throughout the country.

Starting in April 1984, a total of 14 new episodes were broadcast for the show's fourth season, featuring the same cast as seen on the ABC episodes. Monroe and Iris were still around to bother Henry, and Jackie and Sara were still downstairs. Monroe eventually moves in to a remodelled attic, with the entrance from the Rushes' kitchen.

The show's ratings had improved in syndication, and Metromedia would order an additional 30 episodes, airing through November 1985. With a total of 107 episodes of Too Close for Comfort having been produced, the show became a popular staple for syndicated reruns throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In Episode 96 of season 5, entitled "For Every Man, There's Two Women," the character of Monroe is kidnapped by two very large women and raped. Monroe reveals his ordeal to Henry, who convinces Monroe to report it to the police. The controversial episode was rarely rerun in syndication, creating a false internet rumor that the episode does not actually exist.

The Ted Knight Show

In late 1985, the producers decided to make many changes. Henry quits his job as a cartoonist and becomes editor and 49% owner of the Marin Bugler, a newspaper in Marin Countymarker north of San Francisco. Hope Stinson (Pat Carroll), owned the other 51%, creating friction between the two. Muriel takes a job with the paper as a photographer. Henry and Muriel move from their duplex in San Francisco to a house in Marin County. Monroe makes the transition with them, ensuring Henry's perpetual distress. Jackie and Sara were written out of the show. Lisa (Lisa Antille) was added to the cast as the Rushes' maid and eventual romantic interest for Monroe. The show's title was also changed to The Ted Knight Show at this time (not to be confused with the short-lived 1978 CBS show of the same name).

First-run episodes were broadcast starting in April 1986. A total of 22 episodes of The Ted Knight Show were produced prior to the summer of 1986. Although the show was scheduled to resume production for a second season, series star Ted Knight had been battling colon cancer since 1985, and died on August 26, 1986, aged 62, and the series was not continued. First-run episodes continued to air through September 1986. With only a single season complete, The Ted Knight Show was infrequently rebroadcast, and then usually packaged as additional Too Close For Comfort episodes, but with a different opening sequence.

DVD releases

The first two seasons of Too Close for Comfort were released on DVD in Region 1 by Rhino Entertainment. Rhino did not obtain the original versions of the episodes for the releases and instead used the versions edited for syndication, which are missing several minutes of footage, including the final scene of each episode before the closing credits. There are no known plans for additional releases.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 19 November 2, 2004
The Complete Second Season 22 June 7, 2005


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