1 9 8 1 (USA)
1 x 90 minute episode
6 x 60 minute episodes
This hour-long ABC dramatic series revolved around the Novaks, a struggling middle-class family who decide to move back into inner-city Chicago from suburban Arlington Heights.
The family comprise Danny Novak (Stephen Macht), a former all-America football player at the University of Illinois who now worked at the Marshall Field sporting goods store; his intelligent wife Donna (Karen Carlson); their selfish, pouty sons Casey (Tim Waldrip) and Todd (Michael Hershewe), their five-year-old daughter Jenny (Andrea Smith), and Donna’s widowed father Sam (John McIntire).
An unexpected, unplanned baby is also on the way.
The only property that meets their space requirements and budget is a creaky, boarded-up house – optimistically described as a “fixer-upper” – in a deteriorating neighbourhood in downtown Chicago where nearly everyone is black or Hispanic (location shooting used a house in Wicker Park, which is now home to some of Chicago’s most expensive real estate).
Other regular characters included realtor Abe Berlowitz (Hans Conried) and neighbour Paula Navarro (Helen Rubio).
While American Dream often tripped over its own bleeding-heart effusiveness, the storyline was solid, and the end result was honest, thoughtful family drama.
Timothy Owen Waldrip