Coach Graham Lubbock (played by former stand-up comic Bill Kirchenbauer) spent a few years as a supporting character on the popular sitcom Growing Pains, but in a dramatic two-part episode entitled “How The West Was Won,” he was fired from his coaching job at Mike’s school. At the end of that two-parter, Coach Lubbock announced his intention to move his family from New York to California to take a new job (the only one he could find) as the coach at St. Augustine’s Academy. This provided the perfect lead-in for a spin-off series built around Lubbock and his family, entitled Just the Ten of Us.
At the start of the series, Coach Lubbock took his wife Elizabeth and their seven children (five daughters, two sons) to their new home in Eureka, California. The five girls consisted of straight-arrow eldest child Marie, ditzy Cindy, flirtatious Wendy, bookish Connie, and the youngest daughter, Sherry. The two sons were aspiring con artist J.R. and toddler Harvey. At the time, Elizabeth was pregnant with their eighth child, who would eventually be born into the world as Melissa.
Upon arrival, Coach Lubbock discovered the school was a boys-only institution. He also found out that he had only gotten the job because one of his former students, Duane, ran the phys ed department for the school and pulled some strings for him after being called by Elizabeth. This hurt the big guy’s pride, but realizing he was among friends and would get support from his family, he decided to give it a shot. The school even made a special arrangement so his daughters could attend the school.
Not surprisingly, the addition of a gaggle of girls to the all-boys school made a bit of a stir, and boy-crazy Cindy and Wendy were in a flirty kind of heaven. Graham and Elizabeth tried their best to do right by their large family, but eight was more than enough to cause perpetual headaches. Helping keep an eye out for the Lubbock kids at school were Father Hargis and Sister Ethel, who kept an especially watchful eye on the teen temptresses. Those proper eyebrows were raised even more when the four eldest daughters formed their own singing group, the Lubbock Babes.
But not everything on Just the Ten of Us was so prankish or anti-authoritarian. This was a spin-off of that wholesome Growing Pains show, remember, and it kept up that happy family image. In one episode, the show even took care to show that Elizabeth really liked being a full-time mother of eight, no matter how much some of the liberated 80’s working women of the community looked down their noses at her.
It was that kind of “family is good” thinking that made Just the Ten of Us a popular show among that same Growing Pains audience. The spin-off series lasted two seasons on ABC’s prime time schedule, forming part of ABC’s proto-TGIF Friday night lineup.
USA / ABC / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 26 April 1988 – 26 July 1990
Theme Vocal: “Doin’ It the Best I Can” by Bill Medley.
Bill Kirchenbauer as Graham Lubbock
Deborah Harmon as Elizabeth Lubbock
Heather Langenkamp as Marie Lubbock
Jamie Luner as Cindy Lubbock
Brooke Theiss as Wendy Lubbock
JoAnn Willett as Connie Lubbock
Heidi Zeigler as Sherry Lubbock
Matt Shakman as J.R. Lubbock
Frank Bonner as Father Robert Hargis
Sid Haig as Janitor Bob
Lou Richards as Father Bud
Maxine Elliott Hicks as Sister Ethel