1 9 7 9 – 1 9 8 0 (USA)
13 x 60 minute episodes
Deciding to make good on a dream of her late husband Jake, attractive widow Shirley Miller (Shirley Jones) relocated her four children from New York to a small town in Placer County on the shores of the California/Nevada resort, Lake Tahoe, where she got a job as a substitute teacher.
Once they arrived, things predictably started to fall apart: Their house turned out to be a dilapidated hulk that had been invaded by termites; the movers delivered the wrong furniture; a job fell through, and the whole family had to camp out by the lake.
Shirley’s 17-year-old stepson Bill (Peter Barton) felt he was neither needed nor wanted (and had a perpetual scowl) and 16-year-old daughter Debra (Rosanna Arquette) pined for her boyfriend back east and behaved in a fairly obnoxious fashion.
The other siblings were 10-year-old Hemm (Bret Shryer) and 8-year-old budding genius Michelle (Tracey Gold). Oregano was the family dog.
Helping Shirley were the kindly but worrisome housekeeper, Charlotte McHenry (Ann Doran), and archetypal Old Coot, Dutch (John McIntire), who ran a boat rental business.
Shirley’s handsome ski instructor friend, Lew (Patrick Wayne), was the potential new man in her life.
NBC was certain it had a winner. Unfortunately, CBS’s Incredible Hulk had other ideas and killed the terminally cute sitcom in the ratings.
Ethan ‘Dutch’ McHenry