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Dear John (American TV series)

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Dear John is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from 1988 to 1992. It was originally based on the British sitcom of the same name. It was retitled Dear John USA when it was shown in the UK. During its four-season run, it was bounced to and from various time periods on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. It moved from its post-Cheers slot on Thursdays to a post–Night Court slot on Wednesdays in 1990.

Dear John
Dear John (U.S. TV series).jpg
Based onDear John by John Sullivan
Developed by
  • Bob Ellison
  • Peter Noah
Theme music composerJohn Sullivan
Opening theme"Dear John" by Wendy Talbot
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes85 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Ed Weinberger Productions
Paramount Television
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Original networkNBC
Original releaseOctober 6, 1988 (1988-10-06) –
July 22, 1992 (1992-07-22)
Related showsDear John (1986)



The sitcom is set in New York City. Judd Hirsch stars as John Lacey, a teacher at a preparatory school in Manhattan. After ten years of marriage, one day he returns home and finds a Dear John letter: his wife, Wendy, is leaving him for his best friend. When the court grants Wendy the house and custody of their son, Matthew, John moves into an apartment in the Rego Park neighborhood of Queens.

Six months after the divorce, John joins the One-to-One Club, a support group for people who are divorced and single. It is led by Louise (Jane Carr), an Englishwoman whose conversation frequently returns to the topic of sex. The regular attendees are Kate McCarron (Isabella Hofmann), a beautiful divorcée; Kirk Morris (Jere Burns), a cocky ladies' man; Ralph Drang (Harry Groener), a shy and unconfident man who works as a tollbooth collector; Bonnie Philbert (Billie Bird), a talkative retiree; Tom (Tom Willett), Mrs. Philbert's quiet boyfriend; and a young Southerner named Mary Beth Sutton (Susan Walters).[1]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNielsen ratings[2]
First airedLast airedRankRating
122October 6, 1988 (1988-10-06)May 11, 1989 (1989-05-11)1118.5
224September 28, 1989 (1989-09-28)May 15, 1990 (1990-05-15)1717.2
322September 19, 1990 (1990-09-19)May 1, 1991 (1991-05-01)50N/A
417September 19, 1991 (1991-09-19)July 22, 1992 (1992-07-22)77N/A



John Leonard of New York magazine previewed the pilot episode, in which John Lacey tries to attend a support group "for the recently singled", and stumbles instead into a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. "I found this funny, and maybe even profound", Leonard wrote. NBC launched the show two days before Empty Nest, another sitcom about a middle-aged man who recently lost his wife. "Some talented people run around in them agreeably", said Leonard, commenting on both shows.[3]


In its first season, the sitcom was part of NBC's Thursday night lineup. It attracted the eleventh largest audience of all prime time television programs in the United States for the 1988–89 season. Its viewer share (as recorded in Nielsen ratings) declined in later seasons. NBC moved it time slot several times.

Season Viewers
(by audience share)
18.5 11 [4]
17.1 17 [4]
? 50 [citation needed]
? 77 [citation needed]

Paramount Domestic Television sold the show into syndication after Dear John ended its run in 1992.


In "Stand By Your Man", the thirteenth episode of the first season, Cleavon Little makes a guest appearance as a closeted gay man whose marriage to a woman has just ended. His performance won him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series at the 41st Primetime Emmy Awards in 1989.[5][6] Judd Hirsh won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy in 1989 and was nominated again the following year.


  1. ^ "Family Programs: Dear John". The Program Exchange. Archived from the original on March 21, 2002. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  2. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth Edition). Ballantine Books. p. 1692. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  3. ^ Leonard, John (October 10, 1988). "Television § In brief". New York. p. 82. Retrieved May 7, 2017 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2003). "Appendix 3 Top-Rated Programs by Season". The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present (8th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 1468. ISBN 978-0-345-45542-0.
  5. ^ McBride, Joseph (October 23, 1992). "Cleavon Little". Variety. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2003). "Appendix 2 Emmy Award Winners – 1988–1989 (presented September 17, 1989)". The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present (8th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 1439. ISBN 978-0-345-45542-0.

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