Television Favorites: Step By Step (Warner Home Video, 2006)
Step By Step was one of my favorite TV shows from the early & mid ’90s. Friday nights were THE night to watch TV as far as I was concerned. And why? Because of ABC’s “TGIF” block of comedies. I loved TGIF. I would neither hold nor go to sleepovers on Friday nights because I just had to see what Larry & Balki, Urkel, the Lubbock girls, the Tanners, Mr. Cooper and the Lamberts were getting into on any given week.
Step By Step came from the same production team that gave the world Perfect Strangers, Full House and Family Matters so this slightly dysfunctional twist on The Brady Bunch had tons of potential. All of those shows actually exist in the same universe: Family Matters was a spin-off from Perfect Strangers while Family Matters’ Steve Urkel character would guest-star on episodes of Full House and Step By Step.
Anyway, since there’s apparently no interest from Warner Bros. in releasing complete seasons of Step By Step, they did the next best thing in 2006 by compiling six episodes of the show for their Television Favorites DVD series.
The episodes are:
– “Pilot” (Season 1 – 1991)
– “Rules of the House” (Season 1 – 1991)
– “J.T.’s World” (Season 2 – 1992)
– “Christmas Story” (Season 3 – 1993)
– “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (Season 4 – 1994)
– “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (Season 7 – 1997)
What really brought me to check this DVD out was the Christmas episodes but I think it’s odd to see two of them as a part of this set. I will agree the first three episodes listed deserve to be included but it seems like the last three were chosen randomly. You’d think they’d want to show off an episode that centers on Cody. Like the one where he beats up some dudes in a bar.
It was interesting to look back at the pilot plus another early Season 1 episode, “Rules of the House”. Both brought back fond memories of the show and this time in my childhood.
“J.T.’s World” is what you’d imagine it to be given the year was 1992 — it’s (openly) a Wayne’s World rip-off. Even as a kid I thought it seemed desperate to try to associate with something else that was hot in pop culture at the time. The show would do it again when Beavis & Butt-Head became popular by creating two characters who appeared to be real-life incarnations of the characters. They are even referred to as Beavis & Butt-Head in “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. How this show didn’t get sued by MTV, I don’t know.
That particular episode is okay and I remember that one too but, man, the J.T. character became so lame after the first two or three seasons. That or I just can’t stand Brandon Call (I wonder if he regrets leaving Baywatch for this show). It seems like Call’s acting abilities (which weren’t strong in the first place) deteriorated as the series went on. Oh, and speaking of actors on the show, I didn’t notice her at the time but looking back Staci Keanan was incredibly hot throughout this entire show’s run.
Season 3’s “Christmas Story” I actually enjoyed quite a bit. Even though it was incredibly silly and illogical it fits the mold of being a classic feel-good Christmas sit-com episode. It has Don Knotts in a fun guest-starring roll as Deputy Fife (pronounced “Feef”, he tells us, correcting Frank after being called “Fife”). I’m surprised they didn’t make an in-joke about the Three’s Company connection with Suzanne Somers.
The final episode just flat-out sucks. I’m not sure why they’d want to take an episode from Season 7 (the final & worst of the series) after rightfully avoiding Seasons 5 & 6. The series really started coming unglued with Season 5 when they introduced Lilly (who has aged about 4 or 5 years since being a newborn in Season 4’s finale) and J.T.’s friend Rich, who would later go on to become a regular cast member and start dating Dana. Rich is such an annoying character and the guy that played him, Jason Marsden, is someone else just annoys me so much in anything he does (Full House, Boy Meets World).
This show was never a hit on the level of Perfect Strangers, Family Matters or Full House but it still found seven years of success as a Friday night sitcom. Imagine a network trying to run a sitcom block on that night these days! I think this DVD is worth checking out just for the first 5 episodes (taken from best seasons) with an emphasis on watching the two Christmas episodes.