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Valerie / The Hogan Family (NBC-CBS 1986-1991, Valerie Harper)



Poor Valerie/Valerie’s Family/The Hogan Family had no end of production difficulties: the original star left the show, its name was changed twice, and it was also switched from one network to another after it established its audience. Just the same, this star-and-title-switching sitcom managed to beat the odds and run for a respectable five years.

The show began its life as Valerie, a mid-season replacement show built around lead actress Valerie Harper (The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Rhoda). It was a standard domestic-themed sitcom, with Valerie trying to balance a career with her home life. At home, she had commercial pilot husband Michael and three sons to contend with: teenager David and fraternal twins Willie and Mark. David was the aspiring Romeo, Willie just wanted to have fun, and Mark was the intellectual. Mrs. Poole filled the requisite role of ‘nosy neighbor,’ dispensing cheery advice in nearly every episode. The show did well in its short run and was added to NBC’s regular schedule.

And then the snags began. In the fall of 1987, Harper left the show after a contract dispute with the producers. Valerie was written out of the show (killed off, actually, which shows how far relations had deteriorated), and the program was renamed Valerie’s Family. Her replacement was Sandy (played by Sandy Duncan), a high school guidance counselor who was Mike’s sister. She moved in with Mike and the kids as a sort of replacement mother, and the focus of the stories shifted to the kids, especially to rising heartthrob Jason Bateman’s David. Other new cast members were added as well: Rich and Burt were added as sidekicks for David, and Today Show weatherman Willard Scott did the occasional cameo as Mr. Poole. The show was renamed once more in June 1988, this time taking the “Valerie” completely out to form The Hogan Family.

The storylines were usually romantic in nature, focusing on the dating lives of all the Hogan family members, including widower Mike. Later developments had David attending college and the twins getting jobs at a fast food restaurant called Bossy Burger. However, the show would occasionally break with its lighthearted tone to address a serious issue. For instance, one episode depicted David and Burt discovering that Rich had AIDS, and other episodes tackled concerns like drunk driving.

The Hogan Family ended its run on NBC in June of 1990, but was revived on CBS that September and ran through the end of the year. It was telecast once more during July of 1991 before being laid to rest. If you’re counting, that makes six seasons, which ain’t too shabby for a show with as turbulent a ride as this one.

production details
USA / NBC – CBS – Tal Prod. – Lorimar TV – Miller Boyett Prod./ 110×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 1 March 1986 – 20 July 1991

Executive Producers: Thomas L. Miller, Robert L. Boyett, Tony Cacciotti

Valerie Harper as Valerie Hogan (1986-87)
Sandy Duncan as Sandy Hogan (1987-91)
Jason Bateman as David Hogan
Luis Daniel Ponce as Willie Hogan
Jeremy Licht as Mark Hogan
Josh Taylor as Michael Hogan
Christine Ebersole as Barbara Goodwin (1986)
Judith Kahan as Annie Steck (1986-87)
Edie McClurg as Mrs. Patty Poole
Willard Scott as Mr. Peter Poole
Tom Hodges as Rich (1986-87)
Steve Witting as Burt (1987-91)
Josie Bissett as Cara (1990-91)
Angela Lee as Brenda (1990-91)
John Hillerman as Lloyd Hogan (1990-91)