Series: Too Close for Comfort
Too Close for Comfort
is a family sitcom
that originally made its debut on the ABC
network on November 11, 1980. The series was adapted from the Thames Television
sitcom Keep It In The Family
(which debuted nine months before Too Close
made its U.S. premiere) from Brian Cooke, who also created the American series with the help of Arne Sultan and Earl Barret, the latter two served as the series' showrunners for the first four seasons. Don L. Taffner (who died in 2011), had successfully helped adapt another Thames sitcom Man About The House
into Three's Company
, and also produced this series.Ted Knight
starred in the series as cartoonist Henry Rush, who illustrated a comic called Cosmic Cow. Henry is a married father with two young adult daughters Jackie
(Deborah Van Valkenburgh) and Sara
(Lydia Cornell), Henry's wife Muriel (Nancy Dussault) is a former singer-turned-professional photographer. The family lives up in the top floor of a San Francisco duplex that the two elder Rushes own; Myron Rafkin, the man who rented the apartment on the bottom floor of the house suddenly dies, only for the family to discover that he's been living a secret life as a transvestite
. Jackie and Sara decide with the apartment now vacant that they should live in it, Henry is hesitant at first but since it is the only place the girls can afford, he eventually lets them move in at the end of the Pilot Episode
Jim J. Bullock (whose first name for unknown reasons was always abbreviated as "Jm." in all episodes he appeared in) was brought in three episodes into the series as Monroe Ficus
, a nutty classmate of Sara's who seems to constantly annoy Henry every time they meet. Season two also introduces April (played by Deena Freeman), Henry's hippie niece who stays with the Rushes during that season. At the start of season three, Muriel gave birth to a third child, a son named Andrew (who oddly though, was seen less often after Joshua Goodwin assumed the role of the youngest Rush in season five).
In 1983, after ABC cancelled the series following its third season because of a ratings dive it suffered that year, Metromedia (a predecessor to Fox
) began producing the series for first-run syndication starting in 1984. The show was then retooled
for the sixth season in 1986 into The Ted Knight Show
, with only Knight, Dussault and Bullock returning, two new cast members added (Pat Carroll as Hope Stinson, majority owner of a newspaper Henry purchased a 49%/51% stake in, of which he was the minority owner and editor; and Lisa Antille as Lisa, Henry and Muriel's new maid) and its setting moved to Marin County, located south of San Francisco. The show continued to be successful under its new format, but did not go on for another season due to Knight's death from cancer that year with its final episode airing on September 27, 1986; all episodes of The Ted Knight Show
were then retroactively retitled
under the show's original Too Close for Comfort
This show provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Monroe's parents are this normally for laughs. Examples include Monroe's parents excessive baking because of the stress he causes them, his father leaving Monroe nothing in his will, should he pass away and Monroe's parents not letting him visit them in Miami, where they moved just to get away from him. In the episode "Up Your Easter Bonnet", Monroe even states that his bizarre and irritating behavior even caused his dad health issues and baldness, that ended when he moved to Miami.
Monroe: "My mother says that my father's starting to feel like his old self again. She says his psoriasis has cleared up, and his nervous twitch went away, and his hair's starting to grow back."
- Adorkable: Monroe.
- After Show: The Ted Knight Show.
- As Himself: Garfield creator Jim Davis appears in an episode in which Henry gets the rights to publish the comic in the Marin Bugler.
- Berserk Button: Monroe is Henry's human berserk button.
- Bigger on the Inside: When the show was set in San Francisco, the opening credits and establishing shots show the Rush house as one of the city's iconic multistory Victorian homes. The houses themselves are actually quite small, though it is shown to be a duplex as those type of homes usually are (which serves as part of the plot for the show, Jackie and Sara move into the downstairs apartment of said house). Yet somehow on the show, the top floor of the home has a living room almost the dimensions of the entire building and an attached kitchen of almost equal size, and two bedrooms (one fairly big one, and another which is unseen), along with a hallway. The apartment Jackie and Sara live appears somewhat comparitively smaller.
- Black Comedy Rape: In the episode "For Every Man, There's Two Women" from season five, Monroe fails to come home one night. When he does return that morning, he tells the family that he was approached and abducted by two women, who take him to their apartment and have their way with him the entire night. When an officer tries to convince Monroe not to press charges in order to avoid the spectacle such a case would make, Henry and Monroe proceed to find and capture the women themselves. When they go to the scene of the crime and see one of the women, Monroe runs off to call the police, leaving Henry behind; she tries to have her way with him, but Henry escapes her advances and the woman is taken into police custody. Also touches on Double Standard Rape: Female on Male, as Henry is the only other character to take Monroe's complaint seriously.
- Blackmail: The episode "Miss Marin Bugler" (from the final season, when the series was known as The Ted Knight Show) involved a man named Ed Hugo, who threatened to released nude pictures of the winner of a beauty pageant (taken when she was only 17) that was organized by Henry to drum up publicity in the Marin Bugler newspaper. Henry is blackmailed by Hugo – who calls it a "business proposition" – to paying money ( ultimately doing so, acing him out of the opportunity to purchase a sailboat) in exchange for preventing the photos from being released.note
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Sara is the blonde, Jackie is the brunette and Muriel is the redhead.
- Breakout Character: Monroe Ficus.
- Brutal Honesty: From the season two episode "Brotherly Hate", when Henry tells his brother Bill that he ate a piece of cheesecake that he found out was poisoned (which turns out not to have the poisonous ingredient of arsenic after all):
Henry: "What time is it?"
Bill: (checks his watch) "7:30, why?"
Henry: "Because you're poisoned, that's why."
- Oddly, this was Henry trying to break the news to him gently.
- Bumbling Dad: Mostly averted with Henry, who is clearly an intelligent man, but does foolish things on occasion, usually where Monroe is involved.
- Butt Monkey: Monroe.
- Camp Straight: Monroe, mainly due to his voice and some mannerisms; subverted as in Real Life, Jim J. Bullock is openly gay.
- The Cast Showoff: Nancy Dussault (Muriel Rush) is featured singing in at least one episode.
- Catch Phrase: "Monroe, you idiot!"
- Channel Hop: From ABC to first-run syndication.
- Christmas Episode: Season three's "Mr. Christmas", in which Jackie invites a black man who claims to be Santa Claus (and dons a Santa costume to boot) to spend Christmas at the Rush house.
- Citizenship Marriage: Monroe agrees to marry the Rushes' maid Lisa in the episode "No Mas, Monroe" (they don't go through with it).
- Clip Show: Season five's "These Stupid Things Remind Me of You"
- Closer to Earth: Henry, most of the time; Muriel and Jackie, as well. And Hope Stinson, after she is introduced during the Ted Knight Show run. All of them are down to earth, particularly by comparison with Monroe.
- The Couch: In season one, Henry can't seem to keep from falling behind the backless couch in Jackie and Sara's apartment, yet somehow everyone else can sit on it just fine without falling over.
- Couch Gag: The opening credits of every episode until the fourth season featured Henry falling over the couch in Jackie and Sara's apartment (which has no actual back frame, but has pillows acting as the back of the couch). Henry actually did fall behind the couch in a few episodes of the first season (including the pilot).
- Courtroom Episode: "Deadline for Henry" constitutes as this, though only one scene is set in a courtroom. Henry gets called in for jury duty, his boss Mr. Wainwright, wanting to avoid any problems associated with a possible newspaper strike, orders Henry to come up with next week's comic strip. Henry stays up all night writing and drawing, leading him to falling asleep in court the next day and accidentally misinterprets a note given to the jury containing a dirty phrase that the plaintiff claimed the defendant said to her (she couldn't say it out loud, so she wrote it down on paper instead) as a come-on by a female juror sitting next to him.
- The Danza: Lisa in the final season.
- Dawson Casting: Deborah Van Valkenburgh started playing Jackie Rush (a 21-year-old at the start of the series) when she was 27 (she was 28 when the series first premiered).
- Surprisingly averted with Lydia Cornell, who started playing Sara Rush (who was 18 years old at the start of the series) when she was 17 (she was 18 when the series first premiered).
- Deadpan Snarker: Henry, Jackie and Muriel have their occasional moments.
- Death Glare: Henry often gives these to Monroe.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Henry has done this to Monroe a time or two throughout the show. In the episode "Brotherly Hate", Henry does not tell Monroe that the cheesecake he baked had arsenic in it (turns out arsenic wasn't an ingredient in the "Cheesecake Mischak" Monroe made, as he couldn't find any to put it in the cake, though he doesn't realize the recipe from a cookbook of Mr. Rafkin's is used to kill rats). Muriel walks into the door, and stops Monroe from taking a bite. Henry claims he just wanted to see how far Monroe would get to eating it.
- At the end of the episode "As the Cookie Crumbles", Henry turns Monroe over to an immigration agent who was looking for a busboy/student from Sara and Monroe's college, because of issues regarding his student visa (see From Bad to Worse below). Apparently, Henry is annoyed by Monroe so much that he actually is willing to have him wrongfully deported (of course, Monroe appears again the next episode because Status Quo Is God).
- The Ditz: Monroe.
- Dom Com
- Double Standard: Pointed out and justifiably balked at by Jackie, Sara and April in the episode "Where There's a Will", Henry does a videotaped will (an idea given to him by Monroe after Henry had a nightmare about how the family would end up, if he didn't have a will) and states that in the event that Henry, Muriel or both should die, if his and Muriel's third child is born a boy, he'll get his inheritance at age 21, if it is born a girl, she won't get the inheritance until she's 25!
- Drop-In Character: Monroe, that is until he moved in with the Rushes in season four, then he went back to being this in season six when Henry and Muriel moved to Marin County.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Though he's never seen, given he died just before the timeline of the show started, Nevel Rafkin (the man who rented out the downstairs apartment that Jackie and Sara move into at the end of the Pilot Episode) was living a secret life as a transvestite.
- Dying Dream: Acutally Henry's nightmare sequence in "Where There's a Will", is set after Henry is dead (of course, he appears in the dream, with no one noticing he's there); the dream, which spurs Henry to draw up his own will after previously saying he doesn't want to, involves what might happen to his family without a will.
- '80s Hair
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: In the episode "Rafkin's Bum", a man named Wendell Balaban (a friend/former lover of Mr. Rafkin's, who is unaware until the end of the episode that the now-deceased Rafkin was not a woman, but a transvestite, and appears in bum's clothing, but is later revealed to be a very wealthy man who owns a successful furniture store chain) comes to the Rushes duplex to have Thanksgiving dinner, not knowing until Muriel tells him that Rafkin died the year before and is oblivious until the end of the episode that Rafkin was also a transvestite. Wendell introduces himself to Jackie and then later to Henry, who both mispronounce his name "Vendell" like he does (Muriel does so as well when she meets him), Wendell corrects both Jackie and Henry but transposes the "V"s for "W"s while doing so and vice versa, not to mention that his speech impediment also causes him to phonetically mispronounce the letter "W":
Wendell: "My name is Wendell (pronounces it as "Vendell")."
"No. 'Wendell' (still pronouncing it as "Vendell"
), with a 'wubble-u' ("W")."
Henry: "It's, uh.. It's a pleasure [meeting you], Vendell."
Wendell: "Not 'Vendell', 'Wendell' (still pronouncing it as "Vendell"). With a 'wubble-u' ("W"), not a 'wee' ("V")."
- The Eponymous Show: That is what the series became for its final season, when it was renamed The Ted Knight Show; though in syndication, the Ted Knight Show episodes are changed to the Too Close For Comfort banner.
- Establishing Shot: The show uses a number of these, with most transitions containing an establishing shot or just a scene change being set to a limited soundtrack of scene change music.
- Face Palm: A scene from season two's "The Remaking of Monroe" has a co-worker say he is surprised that Henry is 52 years old (he thought he was two years older). Henry then asks Monroe (who just arrived at Henry and Muriel's apartment a couple of minutes before to ask for money to attend an assertiveness training seminar) how old he looked. Muriel (who is standing behind Monroe) mimes to him a response by holding up four fingers on her left hand and five on her right. You would think the response he would go with based on Muriel's hand signals would be "45", but instead Monroe goes with the response, "nine". What Muriel does is actually more of a head palm, but still...
- Fictional Media: Henry is the author/illustrator for a comic book entitled Cosmic Cow, a superhero comic about an anthropomorphic cow who fights crime in space; there is no direct explanation as to what happened to the comic after Henry buys the Marin Bugler newspaper in season six (The Ted Knight Show era).
- Fiery Redhead: Muriel can be this at times.
- Final Season Casting: For the final season (rechristened The Ted Knight Show), Pat Carroll was cast as Henry's co-owner/publisher of the Marin Bugler newspaper Hope Stinson, Lisa Antille was cast as Henry and Muriel's maid Lisa (similar to a character Antille played in "No Mas, Monroe" a season earlier). Season six only became the final season due to Ted Knight's death.
- From Bad to Worse: In season two's "As the Cookie Crumbles", Sara starts her own business selling cookies using her grandmother's recipe with the help of cousin April and Monroe. In order to make a huge order, Monroe comes up with the idea to make the cookies in Henry and Muriel's kitchen upstairs, with the help of an immigrant student named Juan, whose only English is the word "you finished?" (he works as a busboy, incidentally) and makes a mess of the kitchen. Henry and Muriel come home from a convention after talks to syndicate Cosmic Cow fall through, and Henry is shocked to discover the kitchen in disarray, then gives Sara, Monroe, April and Juan a military-style dressing down. Henry finds out that they failed to pay taxes for their $700 in sales, didn't charge a sales tax and never applied for a business license. The Board of Health comes to the house to shut them down and fine them for failing to file a permit, a zoning officer fines them for operating a business without a license, a lawyer for the company that publishes Henry's Cosmic Cow comic calls asking to cease and desist the sale of Cosmic Cow cookies (which were made using cookie cutters Monroe made) with Henry being threatened with a copyright infringement lawsuit; and an immigration agent comes over to take Juan because of issues regarding his student visa (only Henry turns Monroe over to the agent to try and have him deported). With the fines they rack up and the money they owe Henry, the foursome are left with just $50.
- George Jetson Job Security: Subverted in the episode "Cosmic Cow vs. the Oval Office", when Henry is fired by Mr. Wainwright when he refuses to publish an apology for a recent Cosmic Cow comic strip that pokes fun at President Ronald Reagan. He goes to file for unemployment compensation, but doesn't go through with it; he then decides to pursue his passion for painting (which doesn't go well when Monroe accidentally destroys the picture he painted of him as a Roman warrior). Wainwright sends his female limousine driver Regis (whom he sent earlier in the episode to inform him of his firing) to the house to tell him he is rehired after learning that President Reagan liked the piece for its satire.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Jackie and Sara have occasionally had pretty serious fights with one another. The episode "The Prince and the Frog" even has a scene in which Jackie stains the dress Sara was going to wear on a date with a boy who had a crush on Jackie when they were younger (one she didn't even like when they were going out) with a pizza, Sara then proceeds to put said pizza slice into Jackie's purse, then Jackie throws out a record that Sara put on (that played through most of the sequence) out the door.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Henry, usually only when Monroe irritates him half to death, breaks something or tries to clean him off when he accidentally gets something on him, usually swatting Monroe's hand away angrily (in the episode "As the Cookie Crumbles", he even grabs a flour-covered wooden spoon Monroe accidentally got flour on Henry's sport coat from Monroe's hand and breaks it over his knee).
- Happily Adopted: Muriel; she had a good relationship with her adopted parents, though she did admit in "My Unfavorite Martin" that she hates her mom's constant criticism of Henry. That same episode, Iris confesses to Henry that Muriel is adopted. Muriel doesn't find out until "The Adoption Story" from the following season, and starts searching for her real parents; she finally meets her biological mother the season after that in "The Sound of Mother".
- Happily Married: Henry and Muriel.
- Hates Being Touched: If you're Monroe, don't try to clean Henry off when you accidentally dirty him up or he'll swat your hand away.
- Hey, It's That Guy!!: Ted Knight is probably most recognizable as ego-centric news anchor Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
- Hidden Depths: As much as Monroe screws up, he is apparently a skilled redecorator. Henry is pleasantly surprised in the episode "A Matter of Degree", to find that Monroe actually wallpapered the nursery for Henry and Muriel's soon-to-be-born third child perfectly, with no creases on the walls or anything (though we don't actually get to see what it looks like); especially surprising considering Monroe accidentally slapped wallpaper on Monroe and Mr. Balaban (the owner of a local furniture store and friend to the family, who was visiting the house to give the elder Rushes furniture for the nursery) while he was taking the paste-covered wallpaper to the nursery.
- I Ate What??: "Brotherly Hate" from season two involves a reunion set up by April between Henry and his estranged brother Bill; for the occasion, Monroe makes Cheesecake Mischak, a dessert that unbeknownst to everybody until April, Jackie and Muriel learn from Mrs. Rafkin that the recipe contains arsenic and is intended to be used to exterminate rats. Bill eats a slice of the cake and gets taken to the hospital to have his stomach pumped, only to find out later that was for no reason, since Monroe baked the cake without the lethal ingredient.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Several instances.
- Idiot Ball: Monroe grabs it, holds it, and doesn't let it go.
- Informed Attractiveness: When she is pregnant in season two, Henry makes it clear that Muriel is still attractive to him no matter what.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: "Too Close for Comfort", composed by Johnny Mandel; also a case of Rearrange the Song as four different versions of the theme were used during the course of the series.
- Jerk Ass: Henry is like this to Monroe, the vast majority of the time. How he treats Monroe borderlines on Henry seeing him as a Sitcom Arch-Nemesis.
- Man Child: Monroe to some extent.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted in the episode "A Friend in Need", centering on Monroe's struggles with still being a virgin, leading him to see a psychologist for help. The psychologist suggests Monroe hire a sex surrogate to solve the problem, but Hilarity Ensues when Monroe mistakes Mrs. Rafkin for the surrogate, though he does not go through with it in the end; the surrogate then arrives and mistakes Henry for Monroe.
- Men Can't Keep House: Monroe makes a mess of the Rush kitchen, any time he cooks in there.
- Monochrome Casting: For the first five seasons, all five main cast members are Caucasian; only during the Ted Knight Show run, did the series feature a minority as a major character, Lisa (Lisa Antille), but she is portrayed as the Rushes' maid. In addition, there has only been a small number of minority actors playing guest characters (especially unusual given the fact the show is set in San Francisco, which has a sizeable Asian population).
- Ms. Fanservice: For the character of Sara, Lydia Cornell she would often wear negligees during scenes set at night cut high to a whole lot of leg, and in a few episodes (and even in the season four opening credits), wear some pretty form-fitting shirts. The pilot episode even had one scene in which she was clad only in a towel.
- Never Win The Lottery: The season six/Ted Knight Show episode "Lisa Goes Lottery Loco", centers on Muriel, Lisa and Monroe trying to strike it rich by playing scratch-off lottery tickets, Lisa ends up getting addicted and secretly spends entire paychecks on multiple lottery scratch tickets.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In many episodes, Monroe shows his clumsiness or just general bungling of things, such as making huge messes in the kitchen while cooking, clogging the garbage disposal with sardines that are still in the can or tripping and destroying a painting of a Roman warrior that Henry painted using Monroe as his muse for the artwork with the sword he's holding for the painting.
- Noodle Incident: In the episode "Don't Shoot the Piano Movers", Monroe suggests that they use butter to get a piano unstuck from the back stairs, saying that is how he got his toe out of a bowling ball, leading to this exchange:
Monroe: "Good, 'cause I can't tell you anyway."
Monroe: "It was a secret initiation."
- Not What It Looks Like + Mistaken for Cheating: In the episode "A Friend in Need", Monroe is depressed with the fact that he's still a virgin, so Sara hires a sex surrogate for him. After Monroe confuses Mrs. Rafkin for the surrogate and leaves before they do the deed, the real surrogate comes over and thinks Henry is Monroe; she then tries to have her way with him, only for Muriel to enter Jackie and Sara's apartment at the worst possible time, spots them and walks in the other direction. Henry then runs after his wife to explain the situation.
- "Seventh Month Blues" involves Henry offering to arrange a job interview for an attractive art student named Susan who is a friend of Monroe's, only to surprise him with two kisses. Muriel walks in during the second time, putting him in the doghouse with his wife. The fact that Monroe tells him to that Susan tried to jump out a window after her last break up doesn't make things any better.
- Oblivious Adoption: Muriel (see Happily Adopted above).
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Henry's mother-in-law Iris (played by Audrey Meadows) is constantly ribbing on her son-in-law, she has never really warmed up to him.
- The One Guy: Henry. Subverted in the second season when Jim J. Bullock (Monroe Ficus) was promoted to series regular status.
- Only Sane Man: Muriel.
- Jackie is this as well, most of the time.
- Out of Order: "For Every Man, There's Two Women", "Finders Keepers" and "These Stupid Things Remind Me of You" were all aired during the fifth season, but were produced for the fourth season.
- Overprotective Dad: Henry crosses into this category several times, moreso as the Papa Wolf type.
- Papa Wolf: Henry.
- Parental Abandonment: Monroe explains in the episode "Up Your Easter Bonnet" that his parents moved to Miami, just to get away from the stress he causes them. It seems to have worked given the fact that Monroe's dad is said to have regained his hair, lost his eye twitch and his psoriasis has cured itself. His father does appear in "High Infidelity" with the pretense he's visiting Monroe during a business trip.
- Prison Episode: The episode "Front Page Monroe" from the show's final season (as The Ted Knight Show) features Monroe going to jail for refusing to disclose the identity of a dock worker who whistleblows on his employer for dumping chemicals into the San Francisco Bay.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Jim J. Bullock as Monroe Ficus, partway through season two.
- Put on a Bus: Jackie gets a job as an intern at a fashion design company in Milan in season five's "Arrivederci, Jackie", though almost doesn't get the job because Henry misinterprets her potential new boss's offer to have her work for him to be a marriage proposal due to his imperfect English (besides the language barrier, the fact that Jackie didn't tell her dad that she was going to be working in Milan didn't help, either). After losing the job for his daughter, Henry eventually fixes things and Jackie gets the job, being sent off by her family with a going away party.
- Sara is also written out in the Re Tool of the show as The Ted Knight Show, with no explanation as to where she is living.
- April is also dropped from the series at the beginning of season three.
- Real-Life Relative: "The Runaway" guest stars Ted Knight's real life daughter Elyse Knight as Sam, a runaway girl from Florida who Monroe lets stay in his apartment to help with the rent. Elyse Knight also appears in the episode "Freddy Loves It, We Love It, You're Cancelled", as another character.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Ray Middleton, who played Henry's father Huey in three episodes of the series, died in April 1984, a month before his final appearance in the season four episode "Son of the Groom". Huey was then written off also as having died in the February 1985 episode "Nearly Departed", which involves Henry realizing that his own funeral won't be memorable because, unlike his father, he only has one close friend.
- Reckless Sidekick: As much as Henry dislikes Monroe, he will sometimes team up with him to get to the bottom of a situation (such as in "For Every Man, There's Two Women", when they team to capture two women who sexually assaulted Monroe when the police were of no help), or to get out of a sticky one (such as in "No Deposit, No Return", when the two try to get rid of some old library books that have outstanding late fines on them).
- Re Tool: The sixth and final season was renamed The Ted Knight Show, its setting moved to Marin County, California (as Henry purchased a 49% stake in the Marin Bugler newspaper) and two new characters added. One thing that stayed the same, Monroe continued to get on Henry's nerves.
- Right Behind Me: Subverted in the episode "Brotherly Hate", he doesn't actually say the phrase but Henry finds out that his brother Bill is behind him when he tells Jackie, Muriel, Monroe and April not to tell Bill that he got his stomach pumped for nothing, after they find out that the Cheesecake Mischak that Monroe made did not contain arsenic as the recipe required, leading to an Oh Crap expression on his face and a sheepish laugh towards Bill.
- Running Gag: Used intermittenly during the first season, Henry would fall off of the girls' ultra-modern chairs or couch that they inherited from former tenant Mr. Rafkin every time he attempts to sit down on them; this is even shown at the end of the opening credits for the first four seasons.
- Henry yelling at Monroe when seriously unnerved by his antics, even getting a collect phone call by him while he is speaking to the President of the United States about a satire about him in Henry's Cosmic Cow comic can tick him off.
- Muriel occasionally calling the police for emergencies involving Jackie and Sara that turn out to be anything but, leading her to yell out the window/door "NEVER MIIIND!"
- Henry's tendency, more commonly during the ABC run, to start stammering at a shocking sight or sentence (such as "Mu... Mu... Mu... Muriel!" in the episode "The Location", when he sees a giraffe outside his window).
- Scenery Gorn: The decor of Jackie and Sara's apartment may be gaudy to some, but they sure liked it when they saw it the first time. It may have grown on some of you too.
- Screwed by the Network: Perhaps an unintentional screwing by ABC. For the 1982-83 season, the Alphabet Network moved the series to Thursday nights, paired alongside sitcom bombs like Joanie Loves Chachi, Star of the Family and It Takes Two; ratings for the show plummeted as a result of the move and the show got canceled by ABC at the end of the season.
- She's Got Legs: Many episodes in which involve a scene at Jackie and Sara's apartment at night will often feature Sara wearing some sort of negligee that is cut high enough to show lots of leg ("The Boy in the Band" from season one is one such example).
- The Show Died With Him: Ted Knight died from colon cancer in August 1986, effectively ending the show's run without a proper series finale.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Jackie and Sara.
- Spell My Name with an S: The show always credited Jim J. Bullock without the "i" in his first name, he was for some reason credited as "Jm M. Bullock" in his initial season one appearances; for the rest of the series, he was credited as "Jm J. Bullock".
- Spin-Off: The series had two proposed spin-offs, both aired as backdoor pilots at the end of season three both of which fall under the trope Poorly Disguised Pilot:
- The backdoor pilot for the proposed Don't Rock the Boat had Henry and Muriel travel to the Oxnard marina to visit Henry's old Navy buddy Arthur, who owns a boat repair business with his two adult sons, and is getting married for the first time since his wife died 17 years earlier. Henry convinces Arthur to cancel the wedding when he discovers Arthur's bride-to-be is only 26 years old (which his sons also object to), but he has a hard time breaking the news to her.
- Family Business was also a Back Door Pilot for a proposed spin-off that was to have revolved around two Italian brothers (one, an aspiring violinist; the other, an aspiring professional athlete), who end up taking over their late father's remodeling business at the request of their mother. ABC did not pick up the series for the 1983-84 television season, especially given it cancelled Too Close for Comfort after the episode aired (only for the latter to be picked up for first-run syndication the following year).
- Standardized Sitcom Housing: Subverted in the fact the Rush house is a duplex, with the kitchen and bedroom connected to the living room on both floors. Played straight with the house Henry and Muriel live in when they move to Marin County, when the series became The Ted Knight Show.
- Start My Own: A few instances:
- Sara, April and Monroe start a cookie business in "As the Cookie Crumbles", which starts off successful, until they get in trouble for operating a business without a license and failing to get permits, among other things.
- In "Who Was That Baby I Saw You With?", Muriel starts a baby photography business in her and Henry's apartment to earn money for a new couch for Jackie and Sara's apartment. She hires Monroe to schedule photoshoot appointments, which causes problems, especially when Andrew is mistaken for another baby and is accidentally taken by a customer.
- Studio Audience + Laugh Track: Given Too Close is a multi-camera sitcom, the use both of these things is expected.
- Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Even if Henry doesn't say it to Monroe, we know he's thinking it whenever Monroe says something absurd.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Hope Stinson (seen during the Ted Knight Show run), she can sometimes rub Henry the wrong way and sometimes rejects Henry's ideas for the newspaper, but she does shows her soft side from time to time.
- Supreme Chef: Averted with Monroe, given his tendency to wreck the Rushes kitchen anytime he cooks in there.
- Syndication Title: After Ted Knight's death from colon cancer in 1986, DLT Entertainment syndicated the final season of the show, retitled as The Ted Knight Show, as Too Close for Comfort (in line with the first five seasons, which feature three of the same characters/actors); reruns aired on Antenna TV starting in 2011, kept the Too Close for Comfort title for the Ted Knight Show episodes (odd considering the network aired fellow DLT series Three's a Crowd and The Ropers, both of which had their titles altered in their original syndication runs to fall in line with parent series Three's Company, with the original program titles and opening themes restored).
- Tear Jerker: At the end of "For Every Man, There's Two Women" in one of the most unintentionally sad moments in sitcom history, Monroe thanks Henry, and tells him that it's nice to know that if this ever happens again, he will be there to help guide and protect him. Henry immediately tells him that next time this happens (read: Monroe gets raped or something else bad), he's completely on his own.
- Thanksgiving Episode: Two Thanksgiving Episodes aired during the ABC run: Season two's "Rafkin's Bum" and season three's "A Thanksgiving Tale".
- Title Sequence Replacement: Syndicated reruns of the ABC run of the series replace the opening titles with those from the season that ran chronologically after the season the episode actually aired. Several season one episodes used a truncated version of the season two credits (minus Jim J. Bullock) with the version of the theme used from seasons 2-4; and several episodes from season two use a truncated version of the season three opening titles. This can be confusing if one sees back-to-back syndicated episodes from the same season using two different versions of the opening titles.
- When the show was rebranded as The Ted Knight Show, the scenes featuring panoramic shots of San Francisco were replaced with scenes of Marin County (where the show was set during the sixth and final season). Incidentally in syndication, the portion of that title sequence featuring an establishing shot of Henry and Muriel's new house replaces the Ted Knight Show logo with that of the title logo used when the show was named Too Close for Comfort (given the retroactive retitling of the Ted Knight Show episodes under the Too Close banner for syndicated reruns after Knight's death in 1986).
- Trans Atlantic Equivalent: Adapted from the Thames Television series Keep It in the Family by Brian Cooke, who also created the American series; both shows debuted nine months apart, no less.
- Two Last Names: Monroe Ficus.
- Two-Timer Date: In "What's Wrong with Mr. Right?", A woman arrives and falsely accuses Sara for dating her husband. Turns out Jackie is the one dating the man (whom we never see), though she doesn't see anything wrong with it since he is separated from his wife. The man later calls his wife when she visits Jackie, to ask her to work things out, effectively ending his relationship with Jackie.
- Un-Cancelled: Metromedia Producers Corporation, a television syndication division of Metromedia (which was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in 1986 to use its stations to form the original O&O group for the Fox network), decided to pick up the series for a fourth season and began producing first-run episodes for broadcast syndication in 1984 (Don Taffner's DLT Entertainment continues to hold the syndication rights); the show lasted three additional seasons as a syndie series.
- The Unfavorite: Monroe is often depicted as this with his parents (and Henry).
- Unfortunate Name: Actually unfortunate last name in the episode "Cosmic Cow vs. the Oval Office", as the woman in the unemployment office (where Henry goes to file for unemployment insurance after he is fired from his job) is named Mrs. Sexauer.
- Vacation Episode: Season two's "The Last Weekend" centers on a ski trip that Henry takes Jackie and Sara on, in order to spend time with his daughters. The girls meet two brothers, and hang out with them instead on one night of the trip, Henry then discovers that Monroe packed a suitcase containing Muriel's things in the car, and he spends time instead bonding with the mother of the two boys that Jackie and Sara ran off with who is in the same situation he is.
- Very Special Episode: "High and Inside"; Henry sets Sara on a date with a baseball player, then later discovers the man is a recovering cocaine addict, who later falls off the wagon; Sara finds a vial of cocaine that fell out of her date's pocket and breaks up with him.
- Video Wills: In "Where There's a Will", after a nightmare where Henry imagines his family is destitute after his death because he didn't make out a will, Henry takes Monroe's suggestion to do a videotaped will. Muriel, Jackie, Sara and April arrive just as he is about to tape it and watch the reading live. Henry ultimately starts to regret making a will when during the reading Jackie, Sara and April continually interrupt him, either balking at his statements in the will or discussing how to spend their inheritance should Henry die; Hilarity Ensues when their actions lead him to snap at them for their greediness.
Henry: "I, Henry Rush, being of sound mind and body, refuse to die!"
- After that though, he suffers chest pains ( that turn out to be the result of gas) and is sent to the hospital.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Henry may insult and ridicule Monroe voraciously, but he does involve him in plans such as trying to capture two females who rape Monroe or trying to dispose of books that have outstanding fines in the San Francisco Bay.
- Vocal Evolution: In his initial appearances, Monroe speaks in a somewhat "nerdy" voice; but later episodes of the first season, Jim J. Bullock stopped giving the character the "nerdy" type of voice and played the character using in Jim's normal voice, which unintentionally gave Monroe a more effeminate-type voice at times.
- Weak Willed: Monroe has moments like this, such as thinking an idea is great one minute and then giving up on it the minute someone says it is a bad idea. Henry will often do this to him, just by giving him a stare.
- Written-In Absence: Lydia Cornell (Sara Rush) is absent from the episode "Brotherly Hate", with her abscence explained as going on a ski trip with friends to Lake Tahoe.
- Jim J. Bullock (Monroe Ficus)'s absence from the episode "High and Inside" is explained that he was going surfing, only he somehow managed to wind up in Mexico.
- The Woobie: Monroe, given how his parents and Henry treat him.
- You Look Familiar: Lisa Antille played two different characters, both of whom had a heavy Latin accent and worked as the Rushes' maid: in the season five episode "No Mas, Monroe", Antille plays Evon, a woman from a war-torn Central American country whose work visa is about to expire that Monroe falls in love with, ends up dating, and decides to marry in order for her to stay in the U.S. (they don't get married, and Lisa only accepted his proposal to marry in order to stay in America, and wasn't in love with Monroe). When the series became The Ted Knight Show, Antille played Lisa, who had a mutually flirty relationship with Monroe.