1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 5 (USA)
18 x 30 minute episodes
Matthew Burton (Jason Bateman) is like Dennis the Menace crossed with Machiavelli, with a 14-year-old J.R. Ewing thrown in. The kid is so slick he makes Teflon look like Velcro.
Matthew lives with his foxy widowed legal secretary mother, Eileen (Caren Kaye) and his 16-year-old sister, Julie (Tricia Cast) at Apartment 407, 46 Wilshire Boulevard in Van Nuys, California.
The two kids attend Van Buren High School where Julie is a cheerleader and captain of the Pom Pom Team. She practices kissing on her stuffed Snoopy toy and, according to Matt, “stuffs her bra with Kleenex”.
‘Hell Hound’ is one of the many terms Julie uses to describe Matt, who enjoys torturing his sister at every opportunity and has a money-making scam for every occasion.
Matt’s money-making scams are the result of good intentions – to supplement his mother’s income (he often sneaks money into her purse and Eileen is always amazed to find extra money – with no idea where it came from).
Matt thinks his mother should marry rich but boring lumber dealer Mort Stumpelrutt (“a woman is just a woman but you can build things with wood”).
Eileen, however, is rather taken with Norman Lamb (David Garrison), a struggling writer and former insurance salesman who has just moved from Chicago into apartment 406 across the hall.
Matthew tries to outfox Norman (pictured above right) but just may have met his match.
Matt’s antics were curtailed halfway through the series when Eileen caught him red-handed in a scam. He was put on probation, and the original series concept was lost.
Norman, who became an English teacher at Van Buren High, and Eileen were now the focal point. The series declined and was no match for Dynasty (which shared the same time slot) and soon went off the air.
Eli (Adam Sadowsky) was Matt’s “cohort in crime” (English was his worst subject: “I couldn’t even spell my first name until I was seven”); Lou Donatelli (Ernie Sabella) was the apartment building super, and Dwight Ellis was the principal of Van Buren (brought on when the format changed)
Principal Dwight Ellis