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Family Matters

The Title Card for Family Matters

Family Matters is an American sitcom about a middle-class black American family living in Chicago. The series was a spin-off of Perfect Strangers and revolves around the Winslow family.

Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White), who quickly became its breakout characterand eventually a main character. Family Matters aired from September 22, 1989 to September 19, 1997 on ABC, and on CBS from September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998.

With 215 episodes, Family Matters is the second-longest-running U.S. sitcom with a predominantly Black-American cast, surpassed only by The Jeffersons, also a spinoff (of All in the Family) which lasted longer than its parent series.

History Edit

Family Matters originally focused on the character of Carl Winslow and his family: wife Harriette, son Eddie Winslow , intelligent daughter Laura Winslow , youngest child Judy Winslow (until Season 4), and (later) let his sister-in-law Rachel Crawford and her son, Richie Crawford live in his house.

In the series opener, the family had also opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother,Estelle Winslow (usually known as "Mother Winslow"), as well as Harriette's sister, Rachel Crawford, and her son, Richie Crawford, after the death of Rachel's husband prior to the start of the series.

The Winslows' nerdy next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel, was introduced midway through the first season and quickly became the focus of the show. The popular sitcom was part of ABC's TGIF from 1989 until 1997, before it became part of the CBS Block Party lineup from 1997 until 1998. Family Matters was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions andMiller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television (1989–1993), and laterWarner Bros. Television (1993–1998).

As the show progressed, episodes began to center more and more on Urkel (and occasionally his alter-ego, Stefan), and other original characters also played by Jaleel White.

Network Change Edit

In early 1997, CBS bought Family Matters and Step by Step for $40 million from ABC. ABC then promised to pay Miller-Boyett Productions $1.5 million per episode for a ninth and tenth season of Family Matters. However, tensions had risen between Miller-Boyett Productions and ABC's parent company, Disney. Miller-Boyett thought that they would not be big players on ABC after recently being bought up by Disney. So in turn Miller-Boyett Productions signed in the $40 million offer from CBS for both Family Matters and Step By Step to be renewed for a 22-episode season on CBS. CBS put Family Matters, along with Step By Step as a part of their new Friday line-up they called the "CBS Block Party". They put up the "CBS Block Party" against ABC's TGIF lineup, where the two series previously originated. CBS cancelled Family Matters and Step By Step after one season, along with the rest of the "Block Party" lineup.

Cancellation Edit

The cast was told to get ready to film a tenth and final season after the ninth one was completed. However, it was later discovered that CBS had the sets for the show demolished. Had the show continued for one more season, several events would have occurred:

  • Steve and Laura's wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii
  • The return of Cornelius Eugene Urkel and Myrtle Mae Urkel
  • 3J deciding to return to his biological mom
  • Stefan merging back into Steve's personality, making him a more mature person
  • Eddie and Waldo marrying their respective girlfriends
  • The birth of Stephanie Laurine Urkel

Cast Edit

Main article: List of Family Matters characters

Main Edit

(recurring, season 5–9), Myrtle Mae Urkel (guest character, seasons 2 and 7-9), Original Gangster Dawg (O.G.D.) (guest character: season 9)

Special recurring cast Edit

Recurring Edit

Seasons Edit

Main article: List of Family Matters episodes

Production notes Edit

Family Matters was created by William Bickley and Michael Warren (who also wrote for, and were producers of parent series Perfect Strangers) and developed by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett (who also served as producers on Perfect Strangers), all four also served as executive producers of the series. The series was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television who co-produced the show until 1993, when Warner Bros. Television absorbed Lorimar (a sister company under the co-ownership of Time Warner). Starting with season three, the series was also produced by Bickley-Warren Productions. The series was filmed in front of a live studio audience; the Lorimar-produced episodes were shot at Lorimar Studios (later Sony Pictures Studios) in Culver City, California, while the Warner Bros.-produced episodes were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in nearby Burbank.

Themed song and opening credits Edit

The show's original theme was Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"; it was scrapped after the fifth episode of season one ("Straight A's"), though it was heard only in the pilot episode in syndicated reruns. The second theme, "As Days Go By," written by Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay and Scott Roeme and performed by Frederick, was the theme for the majority of the series until 1995; it was last used in the season seven episode "Fa La La La Laagghh," the only episode during the final three seasons to feature it (this was heard in season one episodes in ABC Family and syndicated airings). A longer version of "As Days Go By" was used during the first three seasons, though in syndicated reruns the short version is heard (in ABC Family airings, the long theme was used for all of the episodes during the first three seasons).

DVD Released Edit

Warner Home Video has released the first four seasons of Family Matters on DVD in Region 1 while the remaining five seasons were released by the Warner Archive Collection. On February 4, 2014, Warner Home Video released season 4 on DVD, but consumers complained when it was found that the season 4 set contained syndication edits rather than the original broadcast masters. Warner Bros. responded to the complaints, offered a replacement program to receive corrected discs and reissuing the set with corrected broadcast copies on April 4. All episodes are the original broadcast form, except for the episode "Number One With a Bullet", disc 1, episode 6. The entire series is also available for digital download on Amazon.com and the iTunes Store, all but season 6 remastered in both SD and HD.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 22 June 8, 2010
The Complete 2nd Season 25 February 14, 2012
The Complete 3rd Season 25 February 12, 2013
The Complete 4th Season 24 February 4, 2014
The Complete 5th Season 24 February 16, 2016
The Complete 6th Season 25 April 12, 2016
The Complete 7th Season 24 July 26, 2016
The Complete 8th Season 24 September 20, 2016
The Complete 9th Season 22 November 8, 2016

Syndication Edit

In September 1993, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution began distributing Family Matters for broadcast in off-network syndication; most television stations stopped carrying the show by around 2002, though some stations in larger markets such as WTOG in Tampa, Florida continued to air Family Matters until as recently as 2005. In 1995, reruns of the series began airing on TBS Superstation, where it ran until 2003. From 1997 to 2003, reruns of the series aired on WGN America. In 2003, ABC Family picked up the series and aired it for five years until February 29, 2008. From 2004 to 2006, UPN aired the show for 2 years. BET aired reruns briefly in December 2009 and began airing the series on a regular basis on March 1, 2013. MTV2 also began airing reruns on September 7, 2013. The show aired on Nick at Nite from June 29, 2008 to December 31, 2012. ABC Family and Nick at Nite airings cut the tag scenes at the end of all episodes, despite the fact that many episodes during the series have tag scenes during the closing credits. In 2015, the series now airs on a Viacom owned cable network Centric. In Canada, the series also aired on CTV and CBC for reruns.

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