1 9 7 5 – 1 9 7 6 (USA)
14 x 30 minute episodes
Widowed sheet-metal worker Joe Vitale (Richard Castellano) is raising his teenage boys Mark (Barry Miller) and Nick (Jimmy Baio) in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Proudly Italian-American, he hangs out with his numbskulled pal Gus (Jerry Stiller), his earthy neighbour, waitress Estelle (Bobbi Jordan) and his know-it-all sister Josephine (Florence Stanley).
In just a few episodes, the show managed to cover quite a few topics which were new to television:
Mark doubted the existence of God; Nick’s school biology book contained some unusually explicit pictures in its sex education section; Mark was dating a girl whose mother had “a reputation”; Nick wanted to study ballet which caused Josephine to doubt his masculinity; a long-haired friend of Mark’s gave the Vitales a gift house plant which had an uncanny resemblance to marijuana; Nick made continued attempts to hide his bedwetting problem, and so on.
The edgy material seemed to repel rather than attract viewers and Joe and Sons was gone from the CBS primetime lineup early in 1976.
In the pilot, the show took place in Erie, Pennsylvania, but the setting was changed for the rest of the series.
Richard S. Castellano