The Hogan Family is an American sitcom that aired on Syndication from March 1, 1986, to May 7, 1990, and on Syndication from September 15, 1990, until July 20, 1991.
The show was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions along with Tal Productions, Inc. (from 1986–87), and in association with Lorimar Productions (in 1986), Lorimar-Telepictures (from 1986–88), and Lorimar Television (from 1988–91).
It was originally titled "Valerie" and starred Valerie Harper.
The show's original premise was Harper portraying a mother trying to juggle her career with raising her three sons by her often absent airline pilot husband. She was written out of the series after the second season because of a dispute with the show's producers.
Sandy Duncan took Harper's place and joined the cast as the boys' aunt who moved in and became their surrogate mother.
During the show's third season, the series was known as "Valerie's Family: The Hogans" and finally as "The Hogan Family."
- Valerie Harper as Valerie Hogan (seasons 1–2)
- Sandy Duncan as Sandy Hogan (seasons 3–6)
- Jason Bateman as David Hogan
- Danny Ponce as Willie Hogan
- Jeremy Licht as Mark Hogan
- Josh Taylor as Michael Hogan
- Christine Ebersole as Barbara Goodwin (season 1)
- Judith Kahan as Annie Steck (season 2)
- Edie McClurg as Mrs. Patty Poole (seasons 2–6)
- Willard Scott as Peter Poole (seasons 3–4)
- Tom Hodges as Rich (seasons 2–5, guest appearance in season 6)
- Steve Witting as Burt Weems (seasons 3–6; previously made guest appearances in season 2)
- Angela Lee as Brenda (seasons 5–6)
- Josie Bissett as Cara (seasons 5–6)
- John Hillerman as Lloyd Hogan (season 6)
After a long run at Paramount Television, which concluded with the end of "Happy Days" in 1984, producers Tom Miller and Bob Boyett moved to a new home at Lorimar Productions, a partnership between the two and the studio which commenced on October 1st of that year.
Miller and Boyett had ideas about venturing into hour-long comedy/dramas with Lorimar, at a time where a decline in the popularity of half-hour situation comedies was perceived. However, by the time they began at Lorimar, NBC had struck ratings gold with "The Cosby Show" and sitcoms were in vogue once again.
The duo (who were launching their new Miller-Boyett Productions nameplate sans longtime partner Eddie Milkis) re-shifted their focus to sitcoms.
For their first Lorimar project, Miller-Boyett had Valerie Harper in mind for a starring vehicle. Harper quickly struck a deal with the producers and announced her return to series television, the first time since the conclusion of "Rhoda" in December of 1978.
Developed during the 1984–85 season and picked up by NBC, the series was known from conception as "Close to Home." It had the same format as what made it to the air, that of a modern mother juggling many responsibilities while her husband was often away.
For the latter role in particular, NBC still wanted someone with visual and personal appeal despite the limited scenes and tapped "Days of Our Lives" star Josh Taylor to play Harper's airline pilot husband. His part-time status on the sitcom enabled him to continue his role as Chris Kositchek on "Days".
Additionally, teen star Jason Bateman (who was suddenly available after the cancellation of his NBC series, "It's Your Move") and Danny Ponce, who had been playing Jason Avery on Lorimar's "Knots Landing" for the previous two seasons, were added as two of Harper's kids. Newcomer Jeremy Licht rounded out the brood.
Broadway actress Christine Ebersole was cast as Harper's best friend, who was a strong enough presence that the star could play off of.
The series was to feature a more genuine sense of realism, which Miller and Boyett had in mind for their dramedy concepts. However, this was combined with the smart, character-driven humor that Harper was aiming for, as she and then-boyfriend (later husband) Tony Cacciotti were given ample creative control on her new series.
The pilot for "Close to Home" was shot in the summer of 1985, and aside from a few changes called for during testing, was given the green light by NBC for a backup premiere that fall (to immediately replace a new September half-hour entry that could have failed).
Subsequent episodes were slated to shoot when Jeremy Licht came down with chickenpox, derailing the shooting and ultimately, the premiere. This gave the creative team extra time to tweak the format. When Licht was well again, production resumed with the changes that NBC approved of.
As the initial season of episodes progressed shooting, NBC and Harper gave into a common temptation of star power, and retitled the series "Valerie" which it debuted as on March 1, 1986.
"Valerie" was the first series Miller and Boyett produced without the aid of Eddie Milkis. It was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions and Tal Productions, Inc. in association with Lorimar Television (as Lorimar Productions for season 1 and Lorimar-Telepictures for season 2).
Seasons 1 as "Valerie"Edit
The show's first season revolved around Valerie Hogan, a woman who lived in Oak Park, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) and struggled with everyday problems raising her three sons during her airline pilot husband Michael's long absences due to his demanding work schedule.
Valerie contended with the regular uproar caused by girl-crazy & sometimes narcissistic 16-year-old son David and 12-year-old fraternal twin sons, irresponsible and jockish Willie & brainy Mark, whose spotless academic and behavioral record at school came to be pierced by occasional bursts of rebellion.
Valerie worked as the buyer for an auction house and was matched in wit and charm by her best friend, Barbara Goodwin.
The family dog, Murray, died in a season-one story line; although the plot of the episode ("Dog Day Afternoon") mentions that Murray was 17 years old and was already in mediocre health. His death was caused by injuries that he sustained from a fall from a storm-downed tree in the Hogan's backyard.
In season two, Valerie Harper and her producer/husband Tony Cacciotti had increasing creative control over the show, and the candy-coated tinges of storytelling were completely replaced by realistic humor.
Barbara was written out of the show, and the close friend/cohort role became occupied by neighbor Annie Steck, the mother of a teenage daughter named Rebecca.
Another neighbor, busybody Patty Poole began appearing on the show occasionally, as did David's friend Rich. A jock with a big-man-on-campus attitude, Rich was especially known for calling David "Hogie" (or "Hoagie").
Valerie had switched careers, now working as a freelance graphic artist, so she could be more available to her sons.
Like most American sitcoms in the '80s, the series sometimes dealt with moral conflicts, but not in a heavy-handed fashion.
In the episode "Bad Timing", which first aired February 7, 1987, David and a former girlfriend debate whether to have sex. The episode featured the first use of the word condom on a prime time television program and parental advisory warnings were issued in ads for the episode. NBC also placed an advisory warning before the episode aired stating that parents may want to watch the episode with their children.
Due to the episode's subject matter, some of NBC's affiliates either aired the show outside of prime time or refused to air it at all. The episode was later released to home video, especially for teachers and health educators to use as a tool to promote safe sex.
Season Two: The Departure of Valerie HarperEdit
After a modest start in the ratings that was countered by critical success, "Valerie" had begun to show growth in the Nielsens by the end of the 1986–87 season. Its most significant ratings jump occurred after its moving to Mondays at 8:30/7:30c in March 1987, following "ALF".
NBC renewed the show for a third season in May. In light of the show's success, Valerie Harper and Cacciotti approached their producers and NBC about per-episode salary increases and a larger cut of future syndication revenue.
When all of the couple's requests were refused, Harper and Cacciotti walked out on Valerie. Harper had prior history in this situation, as she staged a walking out in 1975 following the first season of her hit series Rhoda, which successfully resulted in a pay increase.
The couple continued to negotiate with Miller-Boyett Productions, Lorimar-Telepictures and NBC during the next few months as the behind-the-scenes struggle became well publicized.
NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff (who was not happy with the feud) publicly stated that he would replace Harper with another actress if the fighting didn't stop. Tartikoff suggested Sandy Duncan as a replacement to Miller and Boyett (who both sided with the network chief in this possible casting decision).
Sandy Duncan had recently signed a contract with NBC for a starring vehicle, and Tartikoff felt that this would be the best opportunity for her to make use of it.
The announcement was unprecedented at the time; there was never a show that had a lead actor or actress fired from a show named after him or her, with the series continuing with a different star.
Harper and Cacciotti felt that Tartikoff was trying to spite them with this attempt of a threat and criticized his notion that marquee stars of a television series were dispensable.
In late July of 1987, it appeared that a suitable new payment agreement was reached by all parties involved.
Valerie Harper returned to shoot the third-season premiere in early August. However, shortly after the episode was completed, news had come that Harper & Cacciotti were holding out again. As a result, the cast shot scenes around Harper for the next few episodes.
After the couple failed to be on the set for three consecutive episodes, Lorimar decided they had enough, and fired Harper.
The Valerie Hogan character was written out of the show by having died in a car accident. NBC explained that the series would take on difficult conflicts facing the family during the grieving process.
To make good on their promise, Miller-Boyett and Tartikoff brought in Sandy Duncan as the series' new lead. The third-season premiere was hastily rewritten and shot to feature the shocking change in the storyline.
Valerie Harper took both NBC and Lorimar to court for breach of contract. Both in the press and in court, Miller and Boyett made claims that she became difficult to work with, citing combativeness towards much of the staff and breakdowns of sorts, suggesting that salary demands were just surface issues with the actress.
The producers insisted that Harper approached them on one occasion and exclaimed that the series was "being taken away" from her, since the show was putting slightly more emphasis on Jason Bateman's character of David Hogan at that time.
(The producers admittedly wanted to capitalize on the heartthrob status Bateman had been receiving for the last few years, via his roles on Silver Spoons and It's Your Move).
Miller and Boyett also claimed that Harper and Cacciotti were displeased over the possibility that writing would shift to the more slapstick stories that had been a secondary component of their sitcoms at Paramount.
Harper and Cacciotti denied these episodes of behavior and accused Miller and Boyett of lying, resulting in a counter libel suit against Harper.
Even though the NBC case was dismissed, Harper and Cacciotti won their trial against Lorimar on September 16, 1988, and were awarded a grand total of $1.82 million in damages which they both later donated to various charities.
Valerie's Family: The HogansEdit
When the 1987–88 season premiere aired, the show was retitled as "Valerie's Family: The Hogans" or simply "Valerie's Family." The timeline of the show's third season began six months after the death of Valerie's character in an car accident.
At the time, NBC's decision to continue the series without Valerie Harper was controversial, but the series survived the departure of its main star and the show continued its run on the network for three more seasons.
Taking Valerie Harper's place in the household was Sandy Duncan as Michael's sister, Sandy, who had moved in with her brother to help the family in their time of loss. She took a job as a guidance counselor at the high school the boys attended following her recent divorce.
In the wake of his wife's death, Michael was now home more often. Mrs. Poole moved up to being a regular character, and her husband, Peter, was played by Willard Scott on an infrequent basis. Another of David's buddies, Burt Weems, joined this season. (Weems had previously made guest shots during the last few Valerie episodes).
The season's third episode, "Burned Out" (which aired on October 5, 1987) helped better explain the family's grief following the death of Valerie's character.
During that episode, a lamp stored in the attic develops a short circuit, sparking a fire that badly damages the house. Many keepsakes and mementos of the family's were destroyed in the attic and second floor, including a charred framed photo of Valerie.
David found the photo in his room while the fire damage was being inspected, and immediately broke down in tears. Sandy came into the room to comfort him and as the scene changes, it is presumed that the two of them shared their grief for Valerie.
Meanwhile, the Hogans stayed with the Pooles while their home is repaired. The episode had a commercial tie-in with McDonald's (which financed the expenses accrued in damaging the set for the fire). As a sponsor that evening, McDonald's commercials aired promoting fire safety.
The Hogan FamilyEdit
At the end of the third season as Valerie Harper's lawsuit hearings continued, the network dropped her name from the title completely; this was partially to avoid further legal actions involved in continuing to use the original star's name, and also to move on from the public attention being drawn to her dismissal.
In June 1988, during summer reruns of the third season, the show was retitled as "The Hogan Family."
In the fall of 1988, David went off to Northwestern University and his escapades with Rich & Burt became a major focus (Hodges and Witting now appeared in the opening credits).
At one point during freshman year, David began to feel the strain of Mike's household curfew rules, which he felt should not have applied to him any longer since he was now over 18 years old and in college. With the family's blessing, moved into Rich and Burt's tiny apartment near campus.
The three o them had a hard time coexisting, so before long David voluntarily moved back home and came to a compromise with Mike who agreed to relax some of the rules with him acknowledging that he was no longer a child, but a young adult.
Willie and Mark entered high school that year, where they encountered a more fueled sibling rivalry due to their different identities.
Sandy's ex-husband Richard made a few guest appearances (as portrayed by Steve Vinovich). Mike's former Air Force colonel and flight trainer, Skip Franklin was another guest star, continuing his repeat appearances in this stage of the series, having originated the role on the third episode of "Valerie" in 1986.
During Duncan's tenure with the show, no mention was ever made of Mike and Sandy's other sister, Caroline (who was played in the show's pilot by Francine Tacker).
In her only guest appearance on the show, Caroline was portrayed as being glamorous and just as successful as her airline pilot brother, although it was not explained as to what she did, or if she had a family of her own.
As season five opened, the Hogans and Pooles (along with Burt and Rich) took an excursion to Paris. There, David met and fell in love with a woman who (unbeknownst to him) was a princess.
When the two of them are seen around the city, government agents believe that the princess has been kidnapped, and target David, causing him and everyone else to be on the lam from them.
While the rest of the family returned to Oak Park, Rich stayed abroad to explore more of Europe, and was no longer with the cast.
Later that season, in early 1990, Mark began dating a girl named Cara, while Willie began to date Brenda. That March, after a showdown with Principal Edwards, which led to a nasty mailed resignation letter that she started to regret, Sandy found herself promoted to vice principal.
Network switch to CBSEdit
In 1990, after spending three of the last four years on Monday nights at 8:30/7:30 (having been on Sundays before that), NBC opted not to respond to an agreement made with Lorimar insisting that the network had to exercise renewal options on the series before April 1st.
Despite the series still sporting decent ratings, NBC stated that it chose not to renew The Hogan Family "because of the strength of our current development."
Lorimar Television subsequently signed a deal with CBS that moved "The Hogan Family" to the latter network beginning that fall. CBS placed the series on Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c, with a new Miller/Boyett sitcom "The Family Man" as its lead-in.
At the start of the show's sixth and final season, John Hillerman joined the cast as Sandy and Michael's father, Lloyd.
The season premiere has Mike, Sandy and the boys visit Lloyd in California, upon hearing that he & his wife have just been divorced.
Lloyd clearly has trouble with the events, and at one point in the hour-long episode goes missing, with the family fearing that he might have been killed boating during a storm. The senior Hogan materializes safe, and in the end, he follows the family to Oak Park.
During the same season, Cara and Brenda become full-time regulars, as Mark and Willie (respectively) become steady with them.
Also during that fall, the twins lose their job at Bossy Burger after Willie pressures Mark to skip work with him in order to see a concert (Sandy and Mrs. Poole filled in for them that evening, impromptu).
Eventually, in the episode, "A Sneaking Suspicion" (which aired July 10, 1991), Mark and Willie end up getting new jobs at a shoe store in the local mall.
Early in the season, Sandy Duncan was reunited with Valorie Armstrong, her former costar on Funny Face. Armstrong made a guest appearance as Mrs. Gordon in the episode "The Baby Stops Here" (September 29, 1990).
In December of 1990, CBS dropped "The Hogan Family" from its weekly schedule due to dismal ratings. The series did not return until eight months later in July 1991 when it finally aired the remaining episodes left for the season.
In the interim, CBS announced they had not renewed the show for a seventh season, and would burn off the leftover episodes twice a week in July.
Four unaired episodes had been produced before it was put on hiatus. During the hiatus, production was shut down and the show was not given the chance to end with a proper finale.
When the show's leftover episodes aired, they were scheduled on Wednesday nights for two consecutive weeks, July 10 and 17, 1991 before the last two episodes of the series aired in an hour-long block on Saturday, July 20, 1991.
The 1990 Christmas show (which had not made it to air the previous December) was the final original episode of the show produced, and the last network broadcast of the show, that aired at 8:30/7:30 on Saturday, July 20th.