7. Odd Man Out
Odd Man Out is a show about teenager Andrew having to navigate being the only male in a house full of girls and women. Andrew was played by Erik Von Detten (best known as the voice of bully Sid in Toy Story), the matriarch of the house was played by Night Court‘s Markie Post, and Andrew’s Aunt was Jessica Capshaw – a decade before her breakthrough as Arizona Robbins in Grey’s Anatomy.
Debuting in 1999, Odd Man Out was one of the last attempts to save TGIF from the ratings freefall that would lead to the whole programming block being given the ax the following year. So even if Odd Man Out had been exceptionally good, it was thrown onto an already-sinking ship and destined for failure.
Von Detten has the distinction of being one of the only people to be part of both TGIF runs, also having a starring role in Complete Savages, which aired during ABC’s short-lived attempt to revive the TGIF branding between 2003 and 2005.
6. You Wish
As mentioned earlier, You Wish joined Teen Angel in an effort to capitalize on the supernatural success of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In this case, the show more directly replicated the magical elements of Sabrina, being about a family who finds themselves living with a genie named… Genie. The show was considered to be to I Dream of Jeannie what Sabrina was to Bewitched, reinventing a magic-based sitcom from the ’60s as a hip teen show for the ’90s.
In addition to Jerry Van Dyke oddly also appearing on this show– and also as the primary characters’ grandpa– the only other “recognizable” actor in the ensemble is Genie performer John Ales, who you might know as Professor Klump’s nerdy colleague in Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor movies.
Ratings for You Wish were so abysmal that only seven of the thirteen produced episodes were initially aired, with ABC opting to show reruns of Sabrina during that time slot instead.
5. Brother’s Keeper
In a premise that seems like it’s ripped out of a Simpsons parody of outlandish sitcom premises, Brother’s Keeper is about a professional football player with a wild streak who is contractually obligated by his team to move in with his mild-mannered brother, himself a struggling single father. And wouldn’t you know it: hilarity ensues when this odd couple is forced to cohabitate!
Another single-season show put out near the end of TGIF’s run, Brother’s Keeper actually had pretty decent ratings. Still, ABC pulled the plug on the show in 1999, likely due to their growing discontent with TGIF as a whole. The show was also a bit of an anomaly as it was a slightly more adult- and family-focused show at a time when TGIF had largely shifted to targeting the young teen demographic.
4. Getting By
In its prime, TGIF was so big that a side character on one show could be made the lead of another show, even co-headlining with someone like Laverne & Shirley vet Cindy Williams. That’s what happened when Family Matters‘ Telma Hopkins walked away from her role as Aunt Rachel in order to star with Williams in a new show called Getting By.
While initially a ratings success, Getting By ended up being the victim of corporate politics between ABC and the show’s producers, Thomas L. Miller and Richard L. Boyett. After ABC wanted to move the show to Saturday night, Miller and Boyett balked and decided to take the show over to NBC instead.
NBC gave the show what it thought was a prime spot, following Saved By the Bell: The College Years on Tuesdays– but that ended up being a ratings disappointment and, as a result, so did Getting By.
Most Americans got their first exposure to the great Scottish actor and comedian Billy Connolly in 1991 when he took over as the teacher in the fifth and final season of school-based sitcom Head of the Class. The final season of one sitcom ended up being something of a stealth pilot for another, and Connolly and his fictionalized counterpart moved over to a new show on TGIF called Billy the following year.
Taking the setting out of the classroom, Billy was a very different type of show that focused on the titular character marrying a woman in order to get his green card, with the comedic tension coming in from both Billy’s relationship with his wife and her children, and in his having to constantly finesse immigration officials who doubted the validity of the marriage.
Billy never really found an audience, despite ABC moving the show around several times during its six-month run in an attempt to see where it might fit in.
Fortunately for Connolly, his film career was about to take off anyway with prominent roles in Indecent Proposal and Pocahontas, so he likely didn’t mourn the loss of this forgettable sitcom for very long.
2. Just the Ten of Us
While three of the initial TGIF shows were existing series that ABC had already been airing on Friday nights prior to the branding, the fourth was the first show to debut as a TGIF show.
Just the Ten of Us— its title and premise a throwback to Eight is Enough— was a spin-off of Growing Pains that focused on a family with eight children. As the show progressed through its three-season run, the focus began to move away from the original “main character”– patriarch Coach Lubbock– and more towards the family’s eldest four daughters.
Soon, the second of the TGIF-born shows, Family Matters, would become one of the programming block’s biggest breakout successes, and Just the Ten of Us was quickly forgotten. The final half-hour of the block, where Just the Ten of Us resided, always proved the hardest slot for TGIF to fill.
Built around being a two-hour comedic lead-in to serious news magazine 20/20, TGIF couldn’t just end after 90 minutes– so the final half-hour chunk ended up becoming a revolving door of shows, both to test out new series and to burn off the remaining episodes of failing ones.
1. Camp Wilder
It’s hard to think of another failed show that featured so many current and future celebrities than Camp Wilder. Among its cast were Jerry O’Connell, Jared Leto, Jay Mohr, Hillary Swank, Seth Green, and a 6-year-old Tina Majorino– all appearing on a show that only lasted for six months and 20 episodes.
What might be even more surprising than how much talent Camp Wilder had was who ended up being the breakout character– and that was Dorfman, played by Jay Mohr. As an actor who seems to have spent much of his career being just on the cusp of a huge mainstream breakout role, it has to be frustrating that he’s been a “next big thing” going all the way back to 1992.
What isn’t surprising is that Jared Leto played the show’s token hunky bad boy, often appearing shirtless for no particular reason. Too young for that, you say? Actually, Leto was already 20-years-old on Camp Wilder, still two years away from playing a high school kid on My So-Called Life.
Is there any show in television history that would make for a more interesting cast reunion than Camp Wilder?
What other forgotten TGIF shows do you remember? Let us know comments!