The John Larroquette Show
|The John Larroquette Show|
Series intertitle from the first season.
|Created by||Don Reo|
John F. O'Donohue
|Opening theme||"Skrewy St. Louis Blues" by David Cassidy (1993–1995)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||84|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Junger Witt
|Running time||30 min.|
|Original run||September 2, 1993 – October 30, 1996|
The John Larroquette Show is an American television sitcom that ran on NBC from September 2, 1993 until October 30, 1996. Created by Don Reo, the show was a vehicle for John Larroquette following his run as Dan Fielding on Night Court. The series takes place in a seedy bus terminal in St. Louis, Missouri and originally focused on the somewhat broken people who worked the night shift, and in particular, the lead character's battle with alcoholism. The series was produced by Reo's Impact Zone Productions and Witt/Thomas Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.
John Hemingway, recovering alcoholic, has been appointed to the role of night shift manager of the St. Louis bus depot. He must deal not only with the intricacies of keeping the station running smoothly, but also the employees and other personalities that frequent the station, all whilst dealing with his own demons.
Much of the first season dealt with John's attempts to stay sober, with episodes representing each of the AA program's Twelve Steps. John constantly struggled to maintain control of the station, with regular conflicts with his secretary, Mahalia, the janitor, Heavy Gene, and most strongly with sandwich bar attendant, Dexter, who had been turned down for the position to which John was appointed. Adding sexual tension to John's life was high class escort Carly, who was a friend of Dexter.
- John Larroquette ... John Hemingway
- Liz Torres .............. Mahalia Sanchez
- Gigi Rice ............... Carly Watkins
- Daryl "Chill" Mitchell ... Dexter Walker
- Chi McBride ............ Heavy Gene
- Lenny Clarke ........... Officer Adam Hampton
- Elizabeth Berridge ... Officer Eve Eggers
- Alison LaPlaca ....... Catherine Merrick (1994–1996)
- John F. O'Donohue ... Max Dumas (1993–1994)
- Bill Morey ............... Oscar (1994–1996)
- Jazzmun ................ Pat (occasional, 1993–1995)
Recurring Characters and Guest Stars
- David Crosby .... Chester
- Omri Katz .... Tony Hemingway, John's son. Katz would be replaced in an unaired fourth season episode with Ryan Reynolds.
- Mayim Bialik .... Rachel, John's daughter
- Ted McGinley .... Karl Reese, Carly's boyfriend and future ex-husband
Over the course of its run, the show featured several recurring characters, as well as spots by celebrities.
Bobcat Goldthwait guested for one episode, playing an assistant to John who was constantly a mess but became suddenly efficient and 'normal,' as soon as he became drunk.
Richard S. "Kinky" Friedman appeared as himself in a jail cell.
Gigi Rice's husband, Ted McGinley, appeared in 4 episodes, playing her character's love interest.
Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty reprised their Golden Girls characters for one episode.
Lightening the Darkness
Despite receiving early favorable critical reviews, the first season finished 96th overall, in part due to its time slot opposing Roseanne (which was fourth overall during the same season), however by Larroquette's own admission, the show's first season wasn't prime-time material due to its dark nature - at least not for network television.
The show faced cancellation, until Larroquette requested the chance to retool the series, which NBC granted. Unfortunately, although the series continued in this new, more Prime Time friendly format for 2 more years, the results took the show away from what it had originally promised to its existing followers - a dark and edgy comedy that tackled real life issues..
Much of the dark humor was removed, for a more "toned-down" feel. The sets were brighter. The cast were transferred from the night shift to days. John's dingy bed-sit was traded for a nice apartment. Even Oscar, the old bum who lived in one of the bus station phone booths, was cleaned up and became a shoeshine boy, and the prostitute character Carly (Gigi Rice) went "straight" - buying the bar and becoming a model citizen. The producers also decided to give John a nice clean romantic interest in the form of nurse Catherine Merrick, played by Alison LaPlaca.
These changes alienated the existing fan-base who had loved the dark and edgy nature of the first season, and to this day it is those early episodes that fans clamour to be able to revisit.
The Frasier Crossover
With ratings declining, an inevitable crossover was on the cards. In a vain attempt to boost the third season opener, John unknowingly ended up talking to Dr Frasier Crane about his problems.
The crossover failed in every way possible. Ratings did not improve, the storyline was unconvincing, and there was no actual interaction between Hemmingway and Frasier, that may have actually provided the spark necessary to engage the audience.
The John Larroquette Show was cancelled abruptly only one month into its fourth season. John and Carly got married in the third season finale while Catherine was seemingly pregnant with John's child. It was revealed that Catherine was experiencing a phantom pregnancy and left the show. The show's last episode aired on October 30, 1996 showing John and Officer Eggers on a date at a Halloween party. Six episodes remained unaired until being shown on the USA Network years later.
The series was to be called "Crossroads", however NBC wished to make the most of John Larroquette's popularity from his previous role on Nightcourt, and insisted on naming the show after him, much to his chagrin.
The show was videotaped, but processed by NBC to make it look like it was recorded on film. Network promos even showed "unprocessed" clips. When it was rerun on the USA Network, the processing was gone and the show had the look of a videotaped sitcom.
The series' theme song, "The Skrewy St. Louis Blues", is a bluesy tune performed by David Cassidy on acoustic guitar with a scat vocal. A version of the performance lasting approximately one minute was used in the opening and closing sequences of the show during its first season. A much shorter edit of the song (lasting less than ten seconds) was heard only during the opening logo during the later seasons. An upbeat, jazzy instrumental tune was occasionally used for the closing theme in seasons three and four.
Steve Cochran, a popular radio host on 560 WIND from Chicago, uses the Cassidy song as the theme music for his own radio program.
TV Guide once referred to the series as "sitcom noir". The series was nominated for numerous awards during its run, and won several.
To date TJLS has not been released for home consumption via video, DVD, nor digital download. John Larroquette himself commented on a possible DVD release via his twitter account, which has since been deleted. The show is now rarely broadcast, with one of the last occasions circa 2005 being on a regional US network in the wee hours of the morning.
Despite many fans writing in and requesting the release of the series, NBC have remained tight lipped, with no comment ever being offered as to when it will, or indeed why it has not been released.
As such, the only source fans have to enjoy the show are illegal bootleg copies of very sub-standard multiple generation off-air recordings, often with a high price tag via online venders.
- Ensign, Tom (1993-09-02). "Dark Humor Brightens 'Larroquette'". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Burlingame, John (date= 1993-09-02). "'Night Court' Wit Heads Own Show". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Heimer, Mary (1993-09-02). "Everyone's a Critic". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "The Bus Stops Here As 'Larroquette' Starts New Season". Times-Union. 1994-09-19. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "John Larroquette: This is a Dark Ride". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- Richard Ouzounian (2011-04-01). "John Larroquette: This is a Dark Ride - thestar.com". thestar.com. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
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