Spencer/Under One Roof (NBC 1984-1985, with Chad Lowe, Ross Harris)

Spencer/Under One Roof

Spencer was a sitcom with a very troubled production history. It started simply enough, focusing on the title character. Spencer was a teen dedicated to challenging authority and taking up personal causes (example: freeing all the lab mice in his school’s science lab to keep them from being dissected). His arch-nemesis was Mr. Beanley, a guidance counselor who just didn’t Spencer’s growing pains. Another teacher at school, Miss Spier, taught Spencer’s English class. George and Doris were Spencer’s understanding parents, and Herbie and Wayne were his pals.

Simple enough sitcom premise, right? You’d think so, but then things got complicated. Production was suspended after five episodes when Chad Lowe, Spencer himself, quit the show after getting into a dispute with the producers over billing, creative control, and salary. He was replaced with Ross Harris (still playing a character named Spencer), and the show was retitled Under One Roof. Several changes were made to the plotline: the George character was dropped from the show (it was explained that he ran off with another woman), and Doris’s parents, Ben and Millie, moved into the house. Mr. Beanley was now the principal of the school, and Miss Spier switched from teaching English to teaching Spanish. Ay, caramba!

None of the changes could save the show, which was canceled in May of 1985. Strangely enough, reruns of the early episodes with Lowe were telecast for an additional two months after Under One Roof ended its network run.

production details
USA / NBC / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 1 December 1984 – 5 July 1985

Chad Lowe as Spencer Winger (1984)
Ross Harris as Spencer Winger (1985)
Richard Sanders as Benjamin Beanley
Ronny Cox as George Winger
Mimi Kennedy as Doris Winger
Beverly Archer as Miss Spier
Dean Cameron as Herbie Bailey
Grant Heslov as Wayne
Amy Locane as Andrea Winger
Harold Gould as Ben Sprague (1985)
Frances Sternhagen as Millie Sprague (1985)

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