1 9 9 3 – 1 9 9 6 (USA)
Situation comedy shows are usually light and cheerful affairs, but The John Larroquette Show was quite the opposite. It was a somewhat dark and sombre show, although often very funny.
Set in a seedy bus terminal called The Crossroads, set in the seamier part of town in St Louis, Missouri, the show starred John Larroquette who had appeared previously in the hit sitcom, Night Court.
Larroquette played John Hemingway, a well-educated, often-married and divorced man, who had lost his family and his job because of his alcoholism and who accepted a job as an all-night manager at the bus terminal.
Hemingway’s loud, sarcastic, wise and very funny Latina assistant, Mahalia Sanchez (Liz Torres), knew more about running the terminal than he did.
Also working there were Dexter Wilson (Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell) – a young black man with a chip on his shoulder, who ran the terminal’s snack bar and resented all white people – and Gene (Chi McBride), a large, angry man who worked as the janitor at the terminal but hated having to clean it (the appalling condition of the unseen men’s room was a running gag).
Frequent visitors at the terminal were Carly Watkins (Gigi Rice), a hooker with a heart of gold who used the bus station as her headquarters, Oscar (Bill Morey) the homeless bum who used the terminal as his bedroom, Catherine Merrick (Alison LaPlaca), who bought the bar located in the terminal and used it as a place to launch and showcase her torch-singing career (and who became a love interest for Hemingway), and police officers Hampton and Eggers, played by the tall and lumbering Lenny Clarke and the small and feisty Elizabeth Berridge.
Major changes took place in the third season in an attempt to lighten the show up a bit. NBC decided that Hemingway would become the daytime manager at the terminal, believing this would give the show a brighter look and feel.
Oscar the bum took a job running the newsstand, Carly met a millionaire and quit being a prostitute, and Hemingway was reunited with his two kids, Rachael (Mayim Bialik) and Tony (Omri Katz), neither of whom knew of each other’s existence. Donna Mills also turned up as Carol, one of Hemingway’s ex-wives.
The NBC show was cancelled a few weeks into the 1996-97 season. That it had been scheduled opposite the hugely popular Roseanne and then opposite the highly successful Home Improvement did not help.
Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell
Oscar the bum