1 9 9 1 – 1 9 9 8 (USA)
160 x 30 minute episodes
When faced with Suzanne Somers and Patrick Duffy in a Brady Bunch retread from the over-extended creators of Full House and Family Matters, you could be forgiven for expecting toxic waste. That the show was even bearable was something of a miracle.
Construction worker Frank Lambert (Duffy) was a divorced father of three kids: JT (John Thomas), Alicia (aka “Al”), and Brendan. Widowed beautician Carol Foster (Somers) also had three children: Dana, Karen, and Mark.
Carol was a neat freak who tried to run the house on a schedule and alphabetised soup cans. In her youth, she sang with a band, and in 1971, she won first runner-up in the Miss Small Curd Cottage Cheese Beauty Pageant (“I lost to a girl with bigger curds”).
When Frank and Carol spontaneously got married while on vacation in Jamaica, they and their children had to learn to live together and love each other.
JT (Brandon Call) attended Port Washington High and was a member of the track team. He was a walking disaster with no flair for the construction business, although he worked on occasion as Carol’s shampoo boy in her salon.
Frank’s tomboy daughter Alicia (Christine Lakin) attended Miss Daisy’s Ducky Room Preschool and, later, Port Washington High. She was a catcher for the Beavers Little League team, had a pet pig named ‘Bullet’ and played drums in an all-girl rock band called Chicks with Attitudes.
Brendan (Josh Byrne) was the shy one of the family. He hung out with Mark at the Burger Barn and loved double-stuffed Oreos and spaghetti and meatballs.
Carol’s eldest daughter, Dana (Staci Keanan), was a straight-A student, very pretty, always impeccably dressed and sensitive to the fact that she had small breasts (as Alicia put it, “You’re smart, and it’s a good thing because you have no boobs”). She attended Lincoln Elementary School (an honors student), Port Washington High (writer for the newspaper, the Wildcatter) and East Wisconsin University (nicknamed Cheese Whiz U.).
14-year-old Karen (Angela Watson) knew she was beautiful (“I’m what the guys call a babe”). She read Chic and Cosmopolitan and was a teen model at Peterson’s Department Store. She couldn’t resist a sale at the mall, and if she was even five minutes late, she felt there were people buying things she should have.
Mark attended Canyon Elementary then Port Washington High and was the brains of the family. He had a working model of the human intestine in his bedroom and a sexy female-voiced computer named ‘Charlene’.
In the 1995 season finale, Carol gave birth to a girl named Lily Foster-Lambert. When the series returned for a new season, Brendan was dropped from the cast like he was never there, and Lily magically advanced to the age of five.
Like any show by Miller-Boyett, Step By Step was assembly line efficient. It was never a critical favourite but scored well with the Friday night viewing audience.
The show was cancelled by ABC after the 6th season. CBS picked it up for its 7th and final season along with Family Matters, which had also been cancelled by ABC in an effort to create their own Friday night block of family programming.
Suzanne Somers died on Sunday 15 October 2023, a day before her 77th birthday. She had survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years.
Carol Foster Lambert
John Thomas ‘JT’ Lambert
Alicia ‘Al’ Lambert
Emily Mae Young