1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 4 (USA)
Despite its impressive cast of well-known actors, its amiable and comfortably familiar small-town setting, and its well-written scripts, Evening Shade failed to attract the attention of viewers, and the CBS show was cancelled after just one year.
Burt Reynolds played the show’s central character, Wood Newton – a former star athlete at Evening Shade High School in Arkansas, who went to college on an athletics scholarship, became a professional footballer, retired and then returned to Evening Shade to coach the Evening Shade Mules football team at his old high school.
In spite of Wood’s background, however, the Mules had failed to win a game in two years.
Family members included Marilu Henner as Wood’s wife, Ava – to whom he had been married for 16 years – and their four children, Taylor (a quarterback on the high school team), Molly, Will and the baby, Emily.
Other regular characters on the show were Wood’s friends Dr Harlan Eldridge (played by veteran character actor Charles Durning); Ponder Blue (the philosophical owner of Ponder Blue’s Barbecue Villa who also narrated the series); Evan Evans (Ava’s father and publisher of the local Evening Shade Argus); Frieda Evans (Ava’s pushy aunt), Merlene Eldridge (Dr Eldridge’s lusty young wife); and Herman Stiles, a wimpy-looking maths teacher whom Wood took under his wing and served as the assistant football coach.
Ava’s father, Evan, eventually married the town’s dimwitted stripper, Fontana Beausoleil – who later discovered she was the daughter of Merlene Eldridge and had been given up for adoption.
The Mules finally won a game in 1993, breaking their 57-game losing streak, and Wood ran for and was elected mayor of Evening Shade.
Ava Evans Newton
Jay R Ferguson
Melissa Martin (1)
Candace Hutson (2)
Dr Harlan Eldridge