1 9 9 0 (USA)
6 x 30 minute episodes
This short-lived ABC sitcom could have been subtitled “Woody Allen’s Wonder Years.” Its central character – 17-year-old New York City teenager Marshall Brightman (played by 24-year-old Joshua Rifkind from Beverly Hills) – resembled a young Allen, trying to get through high school and frequently breaking the fourth wall to share his observations with the camera and the viewing audience at home.
Marshall was a semi-popular guy with an overdeveloped mind, who found himself reflecting on everything around him.
He was especially good at getting himself involved with the problems of other classmates, frequently finding himself in outrageous predicaments. But with a little sarcasm and a lot of work, Marshall managed to save himself.
Other regular characters included Marshall’s best friend, Sean Bickoff (Bradley Gregg); class thug, Johnny Parmetko (Gabriel Bologna); Melissa Sandler (Nile Lanning), the girl of Marshall’s dreams (who inexplicably dated Johnny); and the hyperactive and incorrigibly pushy Leslie Barash (Meredith Scott Lynn), a classmate obsessed with someday becoming Mrs Brightman, even though her prospective husband could barely tolerate her.
Jennifer Salt played Marshall’s overbearing mother, Cynthia and Steven Anderson was his softly-spoken dad, Mike, a doctor.
Episodes were heavy on ethnic humour, guilt and persecution complexes, amateur self-analysis and feelings of sexual inadequacy and deprivation.
The show also captured the authentic ambience of New York City uncommonly well: “The smell of urine is really tangy this morning,” Marshall noted upon entering the subway, where he encountered the customary array of whackos, miscreants and creative panhandlers – and totally blacked them out as only a New Yorker can.
After the series – created by Richard Rosenstock – completed a limited run of five episodes during the spring of 1990, a final episode (“Love Letters”) was broadcast on 22 July.
Meredith Scott Lynn
Do the Write Thing | My Cheatin’ Heart | Night of the Chopped Liver | Friday Night Fever | Brightman SATyricon | Love Letters