Streaks on the china, never mattered before, who cared? When you drop-kicked your jacket, as you came through the door, no one glared. But sometimes, things get turned around and no one's spared. All the hands look out below, there's a change in the status quo. We're gonna need all the help that we can get. According to our new arrivals, life is more than mere survival. And we might just live the good life yet.
"An American Journal: The Odyssey Continues. I find fate has deposited me with the Owens Family, a somewhat provincial household in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Although the individual members seemed well-intentioned enough, they do seem a bit out of touch with one another. But, with a certain amount of patience and direction, I'm sure I can whip them into shape, even George. They're damn lucky to have me!"
— Mr. Belvedere, the pilot episode
A Dom Com
produced by 20th Century Fox
and airing on ABC
in The Eighties
, about a posh British butler being employed by an otherwise typical American Nuclear Family
. The Belvedere character had been created by novelist Gwen Davenport in 1947, and portrayed by Clifton Webb in three late 1940s/early 1950s films. The series spanned 6 seasons from 1985-1990, (the first season only had 7 episodes, due to premiering as a Midseason Replacement
In the series, butler Lynn Belvedere (Christoper Hewett), struggles to adapt to the Owens household. The breadwinner, George (Bob Uecker), is a sportswriter. His wife Marsha (Ilene Graff) is attending law school. At the show's start, oldest son Kevin (Rob Stone) is a senior in high school, daughter Heather (Tracy Wells) is a freshman, and Wesley (Brice Beckham) is in elementary school. Over the course of the series, George becomes a sportscaster, Marsha graduates from law school and starts a career as a lawyer, Kevin leaves for college and gets his own apartment, Heather moves up in high school and is a senior by the show's final season ... and Wesley is in junior high. In the two-part series finale, Mr. Belvedere marries and moves to Africa.
A number of episodes played on the dynamic between Mr. Belvedere and Wesley. Several times, Wesley was annoyed or irritated about something or another with the butler ... and once even tried to have him deported. But when things truly mattered, the two became very close friends and could rely on each other to help the other out in their time of need.
The show returned to the air on Family Net
in October 2011.
- Absentee Actor: Bob Uecker was not seen in the last three episodes of Season 5 (except for clips during the season finale), as he was recovering from a heart attack suffered on set.
- Likewise, Rob Stone was not seen in the first half of the series finale as he was co-directing the episode, and 20th Century Fox would not pay him for both directing and acting at the same time.
- Accidental Misnaming: Heather's best friend, Angela Gilbert (Michele Matheson), frequently mispronounces Mr. Belvedere's name with such variations as "Mr. Bumpersticker" and "Mr. Bellybutton". She has prounced Belvedere's surname correctly twice: in "Cheerleader" and "The Crush". The second instance Retcons the first as Belvedere acknowledges that this is the first time she has called him "Mr. Belvedere" (though in this instance, it's chalked up to Angela not being herself as she's developed a major crush on Kevin).
- In "Almost Heaven," an angel resembling Angela appears to Belvedere while he's in a coma following an accidentnote to show him what life would be like for the Owens if he wasn't around. He expects her to blunder his name, though the lookalike angel insists that she is not Angela (she not only gets his name rights, but even calls Belvedere by his first name "Lynn", something Angela never did).
- Alliterative Family: The Bilinkis in "Moonlighting." They thought it was hilarious that the Owens' all had names with different letters.
- Animal Wrongs Group: Kevin gets caught up with one in "What I Did for Love" and spray-paints a mink at a fur shop, landing him in jail for the day. Turns out it was all to impress a girl.
- As Himself: Robert Goulet, legendary singer and actor. Occasionally sings duets with Marsha. George finds him to be irritating.
- Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Wesley's best friend, Miles Knobnoster (Casey Ellison), has these.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Wesley is a genius who gets placed in an advanced class but he'd rather skip school and cause mischief.
- California Doubling: The show is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but each episode was taped in front of a live studio audience in Hollywood, California.
- Captain's Log: Mr. Belvedere's diary, which he would write in at the end of each episode.
- The Cast Showoff: Occasionally on the show, Marsha would sing a song. In real life, Ilene Graff is a well known singer who previously co-starred as Sandy Dumbrowski in the Broadway musical Grease, working alongside future husband Ben Lanzarone, who was the production's musical director and would later write incidental music for Mr. Belvedere from the third season on, as well as guest starring in the season 3 episode, "Debut", in which George quits his job and decides to become a lounge singer as a result of almost getting electrocuted in the bathtub, and the season 4 episode, "Heather's Monk", in which Heather and Angela join the school chorus, and Heather falls in love with a fellow chorus member who's actually planning on becoming a priest and is looking for a night of passion before joining the seminary.
- But in "Marsha's Secret" in season 5, Ilene and two other singing waitresses were lip-synching to someone's else's singing voices.
- Casting Gag: Bob Uecker is a sportscaster for the Milwaukee Brewers in real life.
- Christmas Episode: "Christmas Story" in season 4 and "A Happy Guy's Christmas" in season 6.
- Cliff Hanger: The show had three different two-part episodes. "Deportation" in season 3, "The Trip" in season 4, and the series finale, "Mr. Belvedere's Wedding" in season 6.
- Clip Show: "The Attic". However, this episode was shelved by ABC until Syndication.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: Marsha is occasionally inferred to be this. It's confirmed though in "The Dinner," given her kids' reactions her cooking, causing her to get Belvedere to teach her how to cook. This doesn't work out well, as she doesn't follow Belvedere's recipes to the letter. This leads Wesley and Belvedere to try to convince her guests at a business dinner she's hosting to stop eating her cooking, when Wesley believes Marsha's salmon spread poisoned his frog.
- Date Rape Averted: In "Homecoming," one of the show's Very Special Episodes, Heather is assaulted by her prom date, Keith, a star wide receiver for her school's football team and whom George had been planning to interview for a feature story (as Keith was being recruited by several big-name colleges). The scene ends with him pushing her down (off-screen) as she screams "no." The next day, she's edgy and distracted, and refuses to go to the game but won't tell her parents why. Not until she finally confides in Mr. Belvedere does she have the courage to tell her parents, particularly her father. George confronts Keith and tells him to never come near his family again or else. In the coda, Heather later reveals to her parents that she was able to fight him off before he could complete his attack.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In "Deportation," Wesley calls immigration on Mr. Belvedere, after he informs George and Marsha that Wesley had cheated on a test... this after Wesley fails to take any openings to tell his parents the truth in order to get a puppy they promised him as a reward if he passed, which they took away upon learning the truth. It ends up backfiring, as Belvedere was working at the Owens' house without an active work visanote , and he ends up being detained, stands trial and deported... although Status Quo Is God, so the latter doesn't last long.
- Dom Com: Everything centers around the family/home.
- Drag Queen: Kevin ended up wearing women's clothing unsettlingly often... and usually looked quite stunning.
- Dumb Blonde: Besides mispronouncing his name, Heather's friend Angela often says things that just don't make sense, much to Belvedere's annoyance.
- Episode Code Number: Like many TV shows from 20th Century Fox over the years, a funky episode code system was used, as their way of labeling each episode in production order. "3T##" for season 1, "4G##" for season 2, "5A##" for season 3, "5M##" for season 4, "5V##" for season 5, and "6V##" for season 6. 7 episodes were produced for season 1, with 22 episodes being produced for each subsequent season for a total of 117. At least two episodes that aired during season 5 had season 4 episode codes.
- Every Episode Ending: Mr. Belvedere writing in his diary.
- Subverted, however, in part one of "Deportation," when Wesley writes an entry into the diary instead as a result of Belvedere being in a detention center before his deportation trial.
- Averted in part one of "The Trip," as the closing scene has Wesley, who's in the car with Heather, Angela and Mr. Sparks (an elderly man the girls befriended as volunteers at a nursing home), thinking about their trip to Atlantic City and how Mr. Belvedere would react if he found out what they did.
- Also averted in the fourth season episode, "The Counselor", which dealt with Wesley confronting a camp counselor who had molested him. The episode instead ended with Christopher Hewett and Brice Beckham in an in-show PSA, talking directly to the audience about what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation.
- Fictional Pinball Game/Personal Arcade: In one episode, George gets a Firebomb pinball tablenote to relive his youth. He later grows tired of it and stops playing. Belvedere, on the other hand, takes a better liking to it and becomes addicted to the game, later taking up residence in the local arcade after George sells the machine.
- Gender-Blender Name: Belvedere's first name is "Lynn". In the original movie with Clifton Webb, this leads to the family hiring him as housekeeper from a newspaper ad on the mistaken assumption that he's a woman.
- Lampshaded at the end of "Triangle," when he comments that he's perfectly happy with his name, when noting in his journal about Heather deciding not to change her name to Bianca after all. Then...:
Mr. Belvedere: Lynn?! Maybe I'm more of a Steve... or a Biff... no, Spike!
- Although, originally, Lynn was a man's name. A current example is Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. Yes, that Nolan Ryan.
- Grand Finale: Despite this show never getting the proper respect it deserved from ABC, at least they let them do a proper series finale for its 6th season.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: The Hufnagels, a family living next door to the Owenses.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Wesley does this to Belvedere in "Brain Busters". As revenge for Belvedere answering all of the questions during an appearance on the (fictional) game show of the same title and not giving him the chance to answer any, Wesley, with a very creepy gleam in his eye, discovers the perfect opportunity to get back at Belvedere after finding out that the show's revamped lightning round inflicts "super-goopy" punishments on the adult contestants if their kid partners get an answer wrong. He throws the round out of spite, leaving Belvedere an egged-oatmealed-chocolatey-pied-whipped-creamed mess (with a cherry on top for extra humiliation). Belvedere gets back at Wesley at the end of the episode, drenching him with a bucket of chocolate hanging on Belvedere's bedroom door.
- Innocent Innuendo: In the AIDS episode, in attempting to reassure Wesley that hanging out with his friend won't kill him, George says that you can't get AIDS by fooling around — then falls silent as he realizes exactly what he just said.
- May-December Romance: George and Marsha.
- Midseason Replacement: Premiered in the middle of the 1984-1985 television season.
- Never Learned to Read: Featured in one episode with one of Wesley's classmates.
- Papa Wolf:
- George and Mr. Belvedere in "The Counselor" episode from Season 4, when Wesley reveals that he had been in a scary situation with the counselor. The scene cuts just as the counselor gasps in disbelief that he's been found out and with George and Belvedere starting to advance toward him.
- Again, George in the "Homecoming" episode from season 6, where Heather nearly gets raped. Mr. Belvedere too. He doesn't physically attack the guy, but his reaction when Heather tells him what happened make it clear that he wants to.
- Primal Scene: In "Love Fest," while trying to evade Kevin and get some alone time, Heather and Carl (who have started dating) convince Wesley to make Kevin think that they have gone to his apartment. Awaiting him in the bedroom was not his sister and best friend, but George and Marsha. Though the audience only hears the two of them scream and see Kevin's priceless reaction afterward to seeing his parents making love in his bedroom ("I was not supposed to see that!").
- "Rashomon"-Style: "Fall Guy". One day, after returning home, Marsha becomes furious when she finds her beloved "Home Sweet Home" pillow ruined. She automatically blames Wesley, who was the only kid in the house last night. Soon, evidence begins to emerge of what really happened, and as it turns out, Wesley took the fall for something he didn't do.note However, the episode ends with all three kids being grounded anyways.note The episode is actually a twist on the typical Rashomon, as the wild stories are actually assumptions made by Marsha, George and Mr. Belvedere of what happened (though Wesley came up with a fake story out of corroboration).
- Recycled Soundtrack: The show's theme song, "According to Our New Arrivals." According to That Other Wiki, it was originally composed in 1984 for a rejected NBC pilot named Help, which was later resurrected as Marblehead Manor in syndication from 1987-1988. The show starred Paxton Whitehead as Albert Dudley, the third generation butler for the titular mansion, who was always having the wool pulled over his eyes. The other regulars were chauffeur Jerry Stockton (Phil Morris), handyman Dwayne Stockton (Rodney Scott Hudson), the cook, Lupe (Dyana Ortelli), Lupe's son, Elvis (Humberto Ortiz), the gardener, Rick (Michael Richards), and the mansion's owners, Randolf Stonehill (Bob Fraser, who also co-created the series with writing partner Rob Dames), and his wife, Hillary (Linda Thorson).
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: How Belvedere ended up returning to the U.S. (legally, mind you) at the end of "Deportation," even though he was deported from the country months earlier (shown via a Time Skip at the end of Part 2). Marsha even mentions that it would normally take years for someone who was deported to make it back into the country legally.
- Servile Snarker: Mr. Belvedere himself, much of the time.
- Shout-Out: In the episode titled "The Spelling Bee", in which Wesley has a crush on a girl he's competing with in a spelling bee, Kevin gives him romantic advice. The advice he tells Wesley is that Wesley should put on his Sesame Street album. In real life, Ilene Graff's brother, Todd Graff, was one of the original children who sang the theme song to Sesame Street when it first premiered in 1969, in addition to playing Short Circus member Jesse on fellow CTW production The Electric Company. In addition, script supervisor Shelley Herman also worked on Sesame Street as assistant to the producer from 1973-1975, as did production executive Robert Braithwaite, who was Sesame Street's production supervisor from 1975-1976, in addition to being an associate producer for fellow CTW production 3-2-1 Contact. Also, stage manager Melinda Casey also worked on 3-2-1 Contact as associate director for the program's celebrity segments. To top it all off, Luisa Leschin, who guest starred in the episode "Kevin Nightengale", which revolved around Kevin choosing nursing as a college major, playing a pregnant woman who needed her baby delivered fast, was an ensemble regular on fellow CTW production Square One TV. In addition, editor Ed Brennan also worked on Square One TV as editor for the program's Mathnet segments.
- Also, in the episode, "Fall Guy", when Wesley asks if everyone else is going out for the night, Mr. Belvedere sarcastically replies that they're just going to stay home and watch Punky Brewster. In real life, both shows' theme songs were composed by Judy Hart Angelo and Gary Portnoy. In addition, Casey Ellison, who played Miles, also simultaneously had a recurring role on Punky Brewster as Allen Anderson, one of Punky's friends. To top it all off, Allyn Ann McLerie, who guest starred as Isabel Carsola, Wesley's teacher, in the 2nd season episode, "The Teacher", which dealt with her character dating Mr. Belvedere, is married to George Gaynes, whom also co-starred in Punky Brewster as Henry Warnimont, Punky's adoptive father.
- Stereo Fibbing: Happens in "Truckin’" when the Owens children try to cover for Belvedere and George, who are away transporting a truck with 200 pigs to West Virginia:
Marsha: I can't wait to tell your father [that she won a court case she was representing]. Where is he?
Kevin: Oh, he's, uh... with Mr. Belvedere.
Marsha: Oh, what are they doing?
Kevin: Uh, the— they're hunting for— for a place to shop for fish.
Marsha: Oh, that's strange. When will they be back?
- Take That: Against fellow ABC program Sledgehammer. Ironically, both programs are now sister properties due to 20th Century Fox's owner, Rupert Murdoch, buying out Sledgehammer's production company, New World Television. Even more ironically, Ilene Graff previously co-starred in Supertrain alongside Harrison Page, who co-starred in Sledgehammer as Captain Trunk, the title character's superior.
- There Is a God!: Uttered by Belvedere, who got stuck while working on a furnace in Kevin's apartment building when Kevin (who is supposed to be the building's new super, something he volunteered to do in order to pay lower rent) pawns the job off on him to go on a date, in "Ghostwriter," after Kevin gets his arm stuck in a vending machine in the same room while getting Belvedere something to eat and the machine refuses to give back his change.
- Those Two Guys: The Happy Guys of Pittsburgh, a couple recurring characters who turned out to be devil-worshipping shoe thieves
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: George Owens, played by Bob Uecker, who frequently jokes about his homely appearance in real life, paired with gorgeous Marsha. She is beautiful and appears to be a generation his junior.
- Very Special Episode: This show particularly the 1988 episode "The Counselor," where Wesley is touched inappropriately by a summer camp counselor; and the 1989 episode "Homecoming," where Heather is nearly raped by her date, a popular jock – is one of the Trope Codifiers.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Belvedere has this relationship with both George AND Wesley. However, while his relationship with George mellowed from this over time (as George began to respect how much Belvedere is a help to his kids), his relationship with Wesley remained this way for the rest of the series, leading to occasional moments of Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other at times.
- You Look Familiar:
- In between his appearances as Miles, Casey Ellison appeared in the season 2 episode, "The Prize", in which Wesley sells cookies door to door to when a trip to Walt Disney World, only to give the ticket away, playing Ben, a sick kid in the hospital who's the recipient of Wesley's ticket.
- Prior to being cast as Skip Hollings, one of George's co-workers at the TV station, Norman Bartold appeared as a hotel desk clerk in the season 3 episode, "Reunion", in which George goes to a high school reunion with Mr. Belvedere, and meets up with an old friend he once had a crush on.