Blossom (TV series)
Blossom is an American sitcom broadcast for five seasons on NBC. It debuted as a pilot preview on July 5, 1990, and premiered as a mid-season replacement on January 3, 1991, and aired until May 22, 1995. Don Reo created the series, which starred Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo, a teenager living with her father and two elder brothers. It was produced by Reo's Impact Zone Productions and Witt/Thomas Productions in association with Touchstone Television.
|Created by||Don Reo|
Jenna von Oÿ
|Theme music composer||Stephen Geyer|
|Opening theme||"My Opinionation" performed by Dr. John (seasons 1-4)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||114 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Don Reo|
Paul Junger Witt
Judith D. Allison (seasons 4–5)
Rob LaZebnik (season 4)
Allan Katz (season 5)
|Running time||22–25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Impact Zone Productions|
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television|
|Original release||July 5, 1990 (pilot preview)|
January 3, 1991 –
May 22, 1995
(as a regular series)
The series focuses on the life of Blossom Russo (Mayim Bialik), an Italian-American teenager. It began with Blossom's mother having left the family to pursue her own life and career, and focused on the family's attempts to adjust. Blossom's father, Nick, an overprotective, somewhat conservative session musician who was frequently between gigs and tours, was played by Ted Wass. Her older brother Tony (Michael Stoyanov) was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who eventually became a paramedic. Joey (Joey Lawrence), the middle brother (called Donnie in the pilot), was a stereotypical "dumb jock", known for the drawn-out delivery of his catchphrase "Whoa!" Blossom frequently received advice in fantasy scenes, from celebrities such as Mr. T, Hugh Hefner, Phylicia Rashad, David Spade, ALF, Will Smith, and God (played by Don Novello). Blossom's mother, Maddy Russo, was played by Melissa Manchester.
Blossom's best friend Six Lemeure (Jenna von Oÿ) also played a significant part in her life. Six, an especially fast talker, was best known for her tendency to ramble.
- Blossom Ruby Russo (played by Mayim Bialik) – The youngest child and only daughter of Nick and Maddy Russo, best friend of Six, and longtime on-again off-again girlfriend of Vinnie. Blossom learns many hard lessons from the lives of herself, her family and Six, including about abuse, alcohol, drugs, divorce, and many more. Blossom is especially close to her family (including maternal grandfather, Buzz) and develops a strong relationship with her father and two brothers (partially due to the abandonment of her mother). In later seasons, after Nick remarries, Blossom resents but eventually grows to respect her stepmother Carol and new step-sister, Kennedy. In one episode, Blossom learns from Nick that she was named after jazz singer Blossom Dearie.
- Joseph "Joey" Russo (played by Joey Lawrence as a teenager, Matthew Lawrence at age 11, Andrew Lawrence at age 2) – A not-so-smart baseball player, ladies' man and middle child. Joey once questions his paternity after believing that there was a mix up at the hospital at the time of his birth (with Blossom and Tony joking that he lacks the Russo "nose"). He can be sweet and smart when he can put in effort. Despite his dopiness, Joey gets accepted to Arizona State University, but decides to play professional baseball after graduating from high school. His catch phrase is "Whoa!"
- Anthony "Tony" Russo (played by Michael Stoyanov) – A recovering drug addict and alcoholic, he has difficulty remembering four years of his life, but still remembers his addictions well enough to warn Joey and Blossom of what happened, marijuana and alcohol having been crutches for his pressures of school life and their parents' separation . He worked at a doughnut shop for a while before becoming a paramedic. He is extremely close to Blossom, who often comes to him for advice. He has a long term relationship with a Playboy bunny, Rhonda, but later marries Shelly in Las Vegas, after a night of debauchery. Despite the suddenness of their wedding, they decide to give the relationship a try and ultimately decide to stay together. Tony and Shelly welcome a son, Nash Metropolitan Russo, into the world in November 1994. In a crossover with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Hilary Banks went on a date with Tony after winning a charity auction. The character was named after the show's executive producer Tony Thomas.
- Nicholas "Nick" Russo (played by Ted Wass) – The father of Blossom, Joey and Tony. The main caregiver for his three children after his wife, Maddy, leaves the family. He works as a piano player, playing various gigs with a wide range of bands. He and Carol eventually get married, making him the stepfather to Carol's daughter, Kennedy, and he later becomes the grandfather to Tony's child. Nick also treats Blossom's friend, Six, as his own daughter. Because of Tony's alcoholism and drug addiction, he has become overprotective of Joey and Blossom, and has developed a somewhat conservative attitude to parenting. In the pilot, the father was named Terry Russo (played by Richard Masur), who worked as an accountant.
- Six Dorothy Lemeure (played by Jenna von Oÿ) – Blossom's best friend who has a crush on Joey. Her parents are divorced. In the pilot, she alludes to the fact that she was named Six because of the number of beers her father drank in order to get her mother pregnant. A later explanation is that she was the sixth child in her family, although none of her siblings are ever seen. Six goes through many hard times including becoming an alcoholic, dating a married older man, and a pregnancy scare. She thinks of the Russo family as her own family and talks rapidly when she is happy, angry, or nervous. Producers originally offered the role to Melissa Joan Hart, who declined and took the lead role on Clarissa Explains It All instead. Von Oÿ is credited in the pilot's opening sequence, but for the first season was moved to the closing credits as a "guest star". Between the shooting of the Blossom pilot and its pick-up as a regular series, von Oÿ had earned a part on the CBS sitcom Lenny (also from Witt/Thomas and Don Reo). With the cancellation of Lenny by March 1991, von Oÿ had reclaimed her originally intended status as a regular Blossom cast member and in season two moved back to the opening credits.
- Vincent "Vinnie" Bonitardi (played by David Lascher) – Blossom's on-again, off-again boyfriend. Nick does not always like him, but their relationship improves over time. Vinnie gets along with Blossom's family for the most part and though he projects a tough-guy image, can be quite sweet at times.
- Rhonda Jo Applegate (played by Portia Dawson) – Tony's former on-again, off-again girlfriend. Rhonda is a pin-up model on whom Joey also has a crush.
- Buzz Richman (played by Barnard Hughes) – Father of Maddy and grandfather of Blossom, Joey, and Tony. Buzz is a war veteran and has been married multiple times, but Ruby was his first and Maddy's mother. He loves women, cigars, jokes, and alcohol and moves into the Russo household for a while.
- Carol Russo (played by Finola Hughes) – An Englishwoman with a daughter named Kennedy, she eventually marries Nick, becoming the stepmother to his three children. She and Kennedy's father are divorced, but still have an amicable relationship. In the penultimate episode of the series, Carol realizes that she's pregnant with Nick's child.
- Kennedy Russo (played by Courtney Chase) – A young, precocious English girl about age eight who is Carol's daughter with her Scottish ex-husband, Graham. She has puppy love for Joey for a period and after a while, bonds with Tony and Blossom.
- Madeline "Maddy" Richman Russo (played by Melissa Manchester) – Ex-wife of Nick, and mother of Blossom, Joey and Tony who left (before her first appearance) to have her own life. She moves to Paris to pursue a singing career and returns a few years later in an attempt to re-connect. (In the pilot, the mother was named Barbara Russo, played by Barrie Youngfellow, who had not left the family.)
- Sharon Lemeure (Gail Edwards) – The mother of Six who is divorced and dated Nick at one time. Sharon tries to be a good mother, although Six gets in some trouble at times. She is almost identical to her daughter in several ways, including her habit of talking very fast when nervous, upset, or happy. She and her daughter have been known to mirror each other on several occasions.
- Shelly Lewis Russo (Samaria Graham) – Wife of Tony and mother of Nash. She is an illustrator who planned to marry her boyfriend Roscoe in Las Vegas when she got drunk, married Tony, then fell in love. Shelly gave birth to son Nash in the backseat of a vintage Nash Metropolitan.
- Agnes (played by Eileen Brennan) – Blossom's neighbor/confidant who was seen during the show's first season.
- Mrs. Peterson (played by Phyllis Diller) – An elderly paramedic that is paired up with Tony. She has a habit of smoking which annoys Tony.
- Carl Lewis (played by Ivory Ocean) – The father of Shelly Lewis.
Mr. T, Hugh Hefner, Phylicia Rashad, David Spade, ALF, Will Smith, Melissa Manchester, Scott Wolf, Brittany Murphy, Dick Martin, Arsenio Hall, Chase Hampton, Christine Taylor, Parker Stevenson, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, David Arquette, Dinah Manoff, Jimmie Walker, David Faustino, Karyn Parsons, Mr. T, Estelle Getty, Sonny Bono, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Tobey Maguire, Alex Trebek, Terry Bradshaw, Little Richard, Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Leeves, Phylicia Rashad, David Schwimmer, Tori Spelling, Tisha Campbell, Debra Jo Rupp, Christopher Daniel Barnes.
In 1988, series creator Don Reo had begun a producing partnership with Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, in which the latter two were bringing his screenplays to television under the established Witt/Thomas Productions nameplate. The genesis of the project that eventually became Blossom occurred soon after Reo's association with Witt and Thomas began, and coincided with another series they were bringing to CBS in 1989, Heartland. The project that would be Blossom had two sources of inspiration. The creation process was born when Reo attended a family party thrown by his long-time friend Dion DiMucci, the lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts. Reo regarded DiMucci as being a "hip, with-it musician father", giving calm, sage, non-judgmental advice to his children and loving them unconditionally. During the party, DiMucci demonstrated and reinforced the interaction with his children, and inspired Reo to him to his family dynamic for a pilot in which the "cool" father would be a highlight.
However, just prior to attending the DiMucci party, Reo had toyed with the idea of writing a pilot that depicted a wise-beyond-his-years, introspective teenage boy, modeled closely after protagonist Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. He decided to include both the hip father and Holden Caulfield-esque boy in the new pilot, with the boy eventually becoming the lead character. With Witt and Thomas' support of the storyline, Reo pitched the project to NBC in 1989 under the title Richie. Reo had the utmost faith in NBC agreeing to the format as it was, and believed that the unique characters would transform family sitcoms if it became a series. NBC liked the screenplay, but ordered changes to the format. Network executives told Reo and Witt/Thomas that they wanted to see the lead character go from being the Holden Caulfield-like Richie to that of his older sister, Blossom, and that the girl should have Richie's character traits instead. At the same time, NBC felt that the combination of such an emotionally intuitive child and a super-chic father was too radical to put on the air, so they urged Reo and Witt/Thomas to give Blossom and her siblings nuclear, conservative parents.
In the Blossom series finale, the titular character records a new entry into her video diary, in which she discusses the changes happening in her life post-high school. As she also examines how much she has grown since her first video diary entry at the beginning of the series, Blossom describes herself as "a teenage Holden Caulfield". Reo wrote the finale with series producer Judith D. Allison, and thus decided to make an allusion to the inspiration of the lead character.
At the time Mayim Bialik signed on for the pilot, she had recently worked on another sitcom project for Fox, entitled Molloy. Both NBC, which had bought the Blossom pilot, and Fox were planning to broadcast both Bialik projects in 1990, with either of the two set to continue as a regular series beyond its preview/tryout run, depending on which was more successful. The pilot episode of Blossom was taped in the spring of 1990, and was the first of the projects to air, with NBC broadcasting the pilot as a special on July 5, 1990. Four weeks later, Fox commenced a seven-episode tryout run for Molloy, whose episodes had been produced in 1989, prior to Bialik signing on for the NBC pilot. Molloy faced low ratings, and Fox canceled the series after the seven-episode order completed. NBC executives, who had been pleased with the ratings of the Bialik pilot special, ordered Blossom as a midseason replacement for January 1991.
In the pilot, Blossom Russo lived with both her parents, in a more conservative, nuclear household. Her father was played by Richard Masur, and was named Terry Russo; Barrie Youngfellow (fresh off It's a Living, another Witt/Thomas production) played Blossom's mother, named Barbara Russo. All other cast members were present in the pilot, all with their familiar character names, except for Joey Lawrence's character whose name was Donny Russo. Tony was going through his first drug/alcohol rehab period (in which Terry remarked that "he had a serious problem--he missed all of 1989"), and had his own separate scene with Blossom in the kitchen, late at night, as he gave her sage anecdotes about their lives. Neither of Blossom's parents had musical careers in the pilot, with Terry working as an accountant and Barbara working as a finance consultant. (Coincidentally, Youngfellow's It's a Living co-star Gail Edwards would later be a recurring guest star during the series' run, as Six's mother, Sharon LeMeure).
The original subject of divorce, was carried out differently after the pilot, involved Blossom suspecting that her parents were having marriage troubles. Blossom confides in Six about the fights and discussions she overheard them having, which is followed by Terry and Barbara's announcement over dinner that they were going to meet with an attorney friend. Blossom's fears continue to grow until her parents reveal that they were only having their wills drawn up. Notable guest stars in the pilot included Debra Sandlund as Terry's secretary and Justin Whalin as William Zimmerman, a boy at school who wishes to go steady with Blossom.
The original theme music in the pilot was Bobby Brown's 1988 hit single "My Prerogative", which was featured over the first season opening credits format of Blossom dancing in her bedroom, as she taped herself on home video. Between production of the pilot and regular series, the producers hired Dr. John (who had sung a cover of the standard "Accentuate the Positive" as the theme for Bialik's other series, Molloy) to perform the replacement theme, "My Opinionation". The title sequence was re-shot so that Bialik's dancing was more in sync with "My Opinionation". In syndicated reruns of the Blossom pilot, "My Opinionation" is used for the opening sequence, with Bialik's dancing (originally to "My Prerogative") noticeably out-of-sync with the song.
Soon after NBC picked up Blossom as a regular series, Reo successfully convinced programming chief Brandon Tartikoff and his executives to allow the lead character to have the chic, divorced musician father he had originally envisioned for the project. Masur and Youngfellow were dismissed and Witt and Thomas then convinced Ted Wass, who had previously starred on their 1970s sitcom Soap, to portray Blossom's single dad Nick Russo, on Wass' condition that he could also direct numerous episodes. Mayim Bialik claimed to have had influence in Wass' casting, as she enjoyed auditioning with him the most out of other actors who were trying out when the role was being recast. Earlier, before the pilot was shot, Bialik had single-handedly been responsible for Michael Stoyanov joining the project, after she had seen him as a guest star on sister series Empty Nest. Not only did Bialik enjoy watching Stoyanov, but she also felt they shared a strong physical resemblance, and that they would be believable as brother and sister.
Five seasons of Blossom were produced, with a total of 114 episodes.
Bill Bixby became a frequent director on the series in its third season, a role he continued for several episodes into the fourth, despite his ongoing battle with prostate cancer. On November 15, 1993, shortly after learning that his illness was terminal, Bixby collapsed on the Blossom set and was hospitalized. He died six days later.
The theme song was "My Opinionation" by Mike Post and Steve Geyer and performed by recording artist Dr. John. The opening sequence featured Blossom filming herself in her bedroom on home video dancing, performing aerobics, making silly faces, pretending to talk on the phone, etc.
Season two switched exclusively to a sequence of dance moves by the title character, this time on film and in front of a pastel blue/pink background. Blossom's outfit changed in each dancing scene, and a variety of dance moves were performed, from belly dancing to voguing. The second season added Barnard Hughes to the show and opening credits, under the "With" heading, preceding Ted Wass.
In the third season, the dancing concept was expanded upon in the opening sequence. Core cast members Lawrence, Stoyanov, von Oÿ and Wass joined Bialik as she danced. They each appeared one at a time as their credit was shown around Blossom's dancing. With Barnard Hughes relegated to recurring status on the show, his name no longer appeared in the opening credits, but Portia Dawson and David Lascher's names were added (despite their not being physically present in the sequence). This version of the intro lasted through the end of season four. Also beginning in season three, most segments of the show opened and closed with the first frame of a scene being frozen in a multi-colored watercolor effect. The watercolor stills lasted through the end of the series.
The fifth and final season dropped a full-fledged intro, instead displaying the Blossom logo over the watercolor effect that opened and closed segments, while a short piano remix of the first few notes of "My Opinionation" played to open the show. The opening credits ran over the prologue of the episode. During the 1994-95 season, NBC began running its credits in the squeeze-screen format.
Because Blossom aired immediately after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on NBC for a period, NBC cross-promoted the shows on two occasions. Will Smith appeared in I'm With The Band as himself under his rap stage name, The Fresh Prince, and later that season, Karyn Parsons made an appearance on the show in Wake Up Little Suzy as her Fresh Prince character, Hilary Banks. Estelle Getty appeared in one episode as Sophia Petrillo, her character from The Golden Girls and Empty Nest.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||14||July 5, 1990||April 29, 1991|
|2||24||September 16, 1991||May 4, 1992|
|3||26||August 10, 1992||May 17, 1993|
|4||28||September 19, 1993||May 23, 1994|
|5||22||September 26, 1994||May 22, 1995|
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Rank||Avg. viewers|
|1||Monday 8:30 p.m.||13||January 3, 1991||TBD||April 29, 1991||TBD||1990–91||44||11.284|
|2||24||September 16, 1991||TBD||May 4, 1992||TBD||1991–92||34||12.075|
|3||26||August 10, 1992||TBD||May 17, 1993||TBD||1992–93||27||12.569|
|4||28||September 19, 1993||TBD||May 23, 1994||TBD||1993–94||32||12.520|
|5||22||September 26, 1994||TBD||May 22, 1995||TBD||1994–95||55||9.922|
On January 27, 2009, Shout! Factory (under license from rights-holders ABC and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) released Seasons 1 & 2 of Blossom on DVD in Region 1. The 6-disc boxset includes all-new interviews with cast members, the original pilot episode, featurettes and audio commentaries.
|DVD name||Ep #||Release date|
|Blossom: Seasons 1 & 2||38||January 27, 2009|
Episode downloads and online streamingEdit
For a period of time all five seasons of Blossom were available to stream on Hulu. In January 2019, the series was removed from the streaming service.
In popular cultureEdit
- In the Simpsons episode "Summer of 4 Ft. 2", the Simpson family goes on vacation to a small beach resort town. While there, Lisa decides to change her image and buys a new set of clothes that she believes will make her look "cool". She then begins hanging around with a new set of trendy children. Milhouse, who accompanied the Simpson family on their trip, sees Lisa with her new friends and remarks to Bart, "Hey, Bart. Lisa's skateboarding with some cool kids. And she looks like Blossom!"
- In season 9, episode 13 of Married... with Children, Al Bundy beats up a thug threatening a senator after said senator rules that Psycho Dad will stay off the air. When the senator offers to grant Al Bundy any favor, rather than asking for Psycho Dad to return to air, Al instead comments "Cancel Blossom. Maybe that's where the guy (referring to the thug) got the idea for the hat."
- Saturday Night Live parodied Blossom in an episode hosted by Sara Gilbert that aired on January 15, 1994. The sketched centered around Blossom telling her father that she plans on having sex with her boyfriend for the 4th time. Cast member Melanie Hutsell portrayed Blossom, Gilbert played Six, Mike Myers played Joey, and Kevin Nealon played Nick.
- In the episode hosted by Drake that aired on January 18, 2014, a "Before They Were Stars" sketch featured Rihanna (played by Sasheer Zamata) playing the Barbados version of Blossom Russo. The sketch also lampoons the opening credits of Blossom.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Virgin", Russell Dalrymple was mentioned to be dealing with "a problem on the set of Blossom".
- In a season one episode of Friends titled "The One Where Underdog Gets Away", Joey Tribbiani becomes a poster model for the New York City Free Clinic. He arrives at Monica Geller's apartment Thanksgiving morning announcing, "Set another place for Thanksgiving. My entire family thinks I have VD." Chandler Bing responds, "Tonight on a very special "Blossom."
- In an episode of 'Til Death, Doug is going to therapy where he believes he is in a sitcom. The therapist, who is Mayim Bialik, refers to herself as a Blossom star. Jenna von Oÿ and Michael Stoyanov were also featured in an episode.
- In the episode "Filibuster" of season 6 of Parks and Recreation, Ann Perkins is dressed as Blossom for Ben's '90s themed birthday party.
- In episode 13 of the first season of The Big Bang Theory, when Leonard and Raj are trying to find a fourth team member for a physics competition, Raj refers to Mayim Bialik as "the girl who played TV's Blossom. She got a PhD in neuroscience or something". Bialik later joined the show playing Amy Farrah Fowler. There is also a reference in a later episode – Sheldon and Amy are producing a "couples list" for Halloween, and one of the couples on it is "Blossom and Joey".
- In a fourth season 30 Rock episode, "Klaus and Greta", Tracy forgets which floor he is going to in an elevator. When Liz reminds him that it's 6, he says "Six, I knew it was a character from Blossom, but I couldn't find the Joey Russo button."
- In the fourth season of Bob's Burgers, in episode 13 (Mazel Tina), Tammy has a video introduction to her Bat Mitzvah that is a spoof of the intro to Blossom.
- In "A Race of Superhumans and a Letter to Alf", season 2 episode 11 of Young Sheldon, Missy Cooper mentions Joey Lawrence and Blossom when she's trying to pick a boyfriend for her Cabbage Patch doll. Ironically, Missy's brother Sheldon goes on to marry Amy Farrah Fowler (played by Bialik) in The Big Bang Theory.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (October 17, 2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Presen (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 155. ISBN 0-345-49773-2.
- Bernstein, Sharon (April 1, 1991). "'Blossom': Teen's Slant on Problem of Addiction". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Herman, Valli (September 25, 1991). "Tv-watching Teens Turn To 'Blossom' For Fashion Inspiration". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing.
- Patterson, Jean. "Young 'Blossom' Fans Soon Can Purchase Her Fashions". Orlando Sentinel. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- "BBC - Comedy Guide - Blossom". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on November 9, 2004. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
- Johnson, Ted (May 22, 1995). "'Blossom' Goes Off to College as Series Concludes Tonight". Los Angeles Times.
- Weinstein, Steve (February 15, 1993). "Against All the Odds, 'Blossom' Is Blooming". Los Angeles Times.
- Gonzalez, Sandra (July 12, 2011). "Melissa Joan Hart 'Explains It All' to EW, including how 'Melissa & Joey' is racier than you think". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Mendoza, N.F. (March 13, 1994). "Samaria Graham: Is she what 'Blossom' needs to stay fresh?". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Hentges, Sarah (January 26, 2009). "Blossom: Seasons 1 & 2". PopMatters. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Paskin, Willa (July 28, 2014). "Full Bloom". Slate. Graham Holdings Company.
- Oliver, Myrna (November 23, 1993). "Bill Bixby, Star of TV's 'Incredible Hulk,' Dies". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Beierle, Aaron (January 19, 2009). "Blossom Seasons 1 & 2". DVDTalk. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- "Comprehensive Guide to Blossom's "Very Special" Episodes" (Press release). E!. November 18, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- Sava, Oliver (October 25, 2012). "The Big Bang Theory: "The Holographic Excitation"". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
- "Young Sheldon – S02E11 – A Race of Superhumans and a Letter to Alf". Panela de Series (in Portuguese). January 9, 2019. Retrieved May 10, 2019.