1 9 8 4 – 1 9 9 2 (USA)
196 x 30 minute episodes
Widower Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) was a former second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals with a young daughter, Samantha (Alyssa Milano).
Fed up with the congestion and bustle of New York City, he sought refuge working as a domestic for Angela Bower (Judith Light), the high-powered but somewhat disorganised President of the Wallace and McQuade advertising Agency, who lived in suburban Connecticut.
Angela, an attractive divorcee with a rambunctious young son named Jonathan (Danny Pintauro), had doubts about the arrangement, but her mother, Mona (Katherine Helmond), quickly observed that “a man can do meaningless, unproductive work as well as a woman.”
Tony proved to be very good at his new job, bringing order to Angela’s chaotic household and providing a needed father figure to Jonathan.
The running theme of the CBS series was Tony and Angela’s evolving relationship, which must have been one of the longest courtships in sitcom history.
For the first few seasons, it was easy banter and no more. Whenever they started to get close, they would call a halt and start seeing others.
Angela, who worried constantly about her career, was abruptly fired in 1986, whereupon she opened her own ad agency, with Mona pitching in.
At about the same time romance entered her life in the person of handsome Geoffrey Wells (Robin Thomas) – which served to bring into focus her growing fondness for Tony.
Also in 1986, Samantha entered high school where, a year later, she found a boyfriend in Jesse (Scott Bloom). Not to be left out Mona was courted, off and on, by mature, dashing Max Muldoon (Leslie Nielsen).
Inspired by Angela’s upscale lifestyle, Tony began taking college courses, and when Sam graduated from high school she enrolled at the same college.
Among her boyfriends were Andy (Doug Ballard) and Eric (seemingly played by a different actor each time he appeared).
Jonathan, meanwhile, entered high school. Things weren’t as uproarious without a little kid in the house so the writers introduced Billy (Jonathan Halyalkar), a five-year-old from Tony’s Brooklyn neighbourhood who was taken in for a season.
Tony maintained his ties with Brooklyn, where his pal Al (William Gallo) and ‘second mom’ Mrs Rossini (Rhoda Gemignani) were his chief contacts. The family dog was Grover.
By 1991, seven years after they met, the uptown lady and Brooklyn mug admitted they were in love. Sam and her boyfriend Hank (Curnal Achilles Aulisio) got married during the last season, and Tony and Angela had several close calls.
In the spring when Tony got a job as a baseball coach for a small college in Iowa, Angela tried living with him there (she missed her job) and then having a long-distance relationship (it didn’t work).
At the end of the last episode, having given up hope and in the market for a new housekeeper, Angela answered the door to find Tony, who had decided their relationship was more important than his coaching career.
They still weren’t married but they were going to give it another try.
ABC created a spin-off of sorts called Living Dolls, starring Michael Learned (The Waltons) as the head of a small modelling agency in New York.
Living with her were four of her beauteous young mannequins – Emily (Halle Berry), Martha (Alison Elliott), Caroline (Deborah Tucker) and Charlie (Leah Remini), who was a tough kid from the streets.
David Moscow starred as Learned’s son. Who’s the Boss? stars Tony Danza and Alyssa Milano appeared from time to time. The short-lived series debuted in September 1989 and lasted only three months.
Curnal Achilles Aulisio