TV on DVD Review: "Step By Step"
Warner Brothers is doing a cool thing for fans of its shows with its “Television Favorites” line. These single disc DVDs allow fans to get episodes of their favorite shows, while allowing Warner Brothers to test the waters for future set releases. “Welcome Back, Kotter,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Alice” and “Maverick” have all gotten a “Television Favorites” release.
The newest “Television Favorite” is “Step By Step,” which was part of ABC’s “TGIF” lineup in the 90s. “Step” starred Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Somers as the parents of a blended family, a la “The Brady Bunch.” It was a return to TV fame for Somers and for Duffy, it was something new after all of those years playing Bobby Ewing on “Dallas.” Their chemistry was fantastic and Duffy proved to be perfect for a family sitcom. Staci Keanan, fresh from her run on “My Two Dads” and Brandon Call of “Baywatch” and “Santa Barbara” were the oldest kids. Several supporting characters roamed in and out of the show during its seven (!) seasons including Carol’s mom and sister, Dana’s boyfriend and my personal favorite, Frank’s nephew Cody (Sasha Mitchell, who had been so terrible on “Dallas”).
These episodes are a good cross section of what the series was, but it’s obvious most of them were picked for their guest stars. “J.T.’s World” (Season 2) features a guest turn by Elizabeth Berkley during her “Saved By the Bell” heyday. “Christmas Story” (Season 3) gives a hilarious guest appearance by Don Knotts, as—what else?—a bumbling deputy. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (Season 4) features a pre-“Everybody Loves Raymond” Doris Roberts as a hateful aunt. The DVD also includes the pilot episode, “Rules of the House” from season one and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” from season seven.
Some shows don’t stand the test of time, but this one does. It followed that same familiar formula of other Miller-Boyett Productions like “Full House” (The theme song is even performed by the same person.), but when you’ve got a good thing, why ruin it? In fact, it was when they started to ruin it, that the show lost its magic. By the time you get to the last episode on the DVD, everything’s changed. One of the kids is missing, Carol and Frank have a new little girl and Dana has a boyfriend who is apparently living in the house. To be honest, I had no idea the show was on for seven years; but I think once Sasha Mitchell was fired (due to some personal problems), I lost interest.
If you remember loving “Step By Step,” then I highly recommend you pick up this DVD. Then let’s hope that enough people buy it to make Warner Brothers release a season set.
After all, it’s better “the second time around.”