It’s the classic formula…a sitcom has built its popularity on cutesy kids, but then those kids grow up and the show’s popularity wanes. Presto…just add another pint-sized cute kid, even if adding the new character makes no sense to the show’s story line.
The Brady Bunch, Who’s the Boss, Growing Pains, Diff’rent Strokes, Cosby Show, Family Ties, etc. have done it. The all-time most annoying character in the history of television is Oliver from the Brady Bunch. In fact, the senselessness of the Oliver addition was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the already contentious off-camera relationship between Robert Reed and Sherwood Schwartz. That’s why we don’t even see Mike Brady on the last episode. Perhaps the next most annoying character in the history of television is the red-haired kid Sam from the last two seasons of Diff’rent Strokes. Any true Diff’rent Strokes fans must recoil in horror whenever Danny Cooksey mimics the classic Arnold Jackson line, “Whatchyoutalkinbout, _____?”
But it seems as if this ploy never works for very long–can anyone name a show where the “pull the new cute little kid out of a hat” trick actually worked for a few years?
On second thought, I think that irritating characters like Oliver and Sam McKinney perhaps have a redeeming quality–kind of in the way that maggots are a useful part of an ecosystem. After all, the Bradys were already kind of in a state of decay by the time Oliver came, with such silly ploys as the Brady Kids singers, the UFO episode, and all the men with goofy perms. And Diff’rent Strokes was starting to decay with the firing and semi-rehiring of Dana Plato, the waning cuteness of Gary Coleman, and Todd Bridges with that awful looking Jerricurl and off camera legal problems…so why not speed up the process of decay? Tossing in an Oliver or Sam is kind of like drinking hemlock to end a terminal illness…it just speeds up the inevitable.
I don’t think this qualifies as a success, but “Married…with Children” added a new kid close to the end and called him something like “Seven.” It was funny in that his name might as well have been “New Kid” but you could smell the beginning of the end there.
On “Seventh Heaven” (ok, there’s not much on Monday nights. So sue me) the twins were born a couple of years ago, I think to round out the seven kids (they previously had five) and recently added a new older teen to the cast to make up for the loss of Mary. Both seem to have worked out well - “Seventh Heaven” is supposed to be the most watched show on WB and the changes didn’t come as a way to ease the ratings dive like several of the shows you mentioned.
Well, I don’t know about add-ins, but that little, puff-eyed, 70’s bowl haircut wearing, obnoxious, pudgy little fart on ‘Brothers’ just makes my jaws ache.
The kid who played the young Bruce Willis in that movie he made about going into the past and meeting himself made me want to bang my head against the nearest wall and I was appalled that ol’ Bruce agreed that such a fat, moon faced, mouthy little bug would play him as a kid!!
I loved the ‘Goonies’, but that kid with the asthma, just annoyed the crap out of me with his pathetic, emotional and often long winded speeches.
But, I tend to dislike any, smart alec, moon faced, pudgy little white kid with 70’s bowl-style hair cuts in sitcoms and movies. Same with girls. I was never a fan of Drew Barrymore as a kid, like in ET, because she had that pasty, doughy spoiled kid face that one sees a lot today on white kids.
Actually, Seven turned out to be so unpopular that he was dropped from “Married…” without comment after only a few episodes. His disappearance was referenced a while later when Peg pulls a milk carton out of the fridge and sees Seven’s face with a “Have you seen me?” caption under it. She looks for a few seconds, shrugs, then returns to whatever she was doing.
I can’t really recall any recent shows doing this, but then I haven’t been watching much TV lately. Is it still a common plot device for 90’s shows?
This is a bit off topic, but I was wondering what ever happened to Mason Gambel–at least I think that was/is his name. He was the little kid with flaming red hair and a nasally voice that appeared on some variety show in the early 70’s–was it Laugh In? I think he also shilled something like mayonaise or hot dogs for a brief period too.
Just one of the entrenched nuggets from one’s past that you can’t seem to shake loose. Maybe if someone brings me up to date on this kid I can get some sleep at night again.
xizor–right you are. Mason Gambel is definitely not who I am thinking of. Okay… so all I’ve got for folks to go on is “little kid with flaming red hair and a nasally voice that appeared on some variety show in the early 70’s”
“My Three Sons” kept adding sons, then girls. After the oldest went off to, well wherever, the actual brother of one of the brothers was added (one of them had the horrid name of Stanley Livingston). Then that annoying little girl was added (Dody something). Then Robbie had triplets.
And I’m not even going to mention the Bub/Uncle Charlie switch.
Could it be Mason Dixon you are thinking of? Perhaps Mason Jarr?
My daughter is 4 but still watches Barney now and then. In that show they actually need to get some smarmy new kids. Some of the ones they use now are ready to shave. Maybe they figure that the little kids will “look up to” or want to be like the older kids, but my daughter does not need to see the episode where Barney helps little Joey with his college entrance exams.
I also remember in the Cosby show, when the youngest one (Rudy?) hit puberty, they had to find a new one to say cute things, so Lisa Bonet married someone with a daughter played by Raven Simone (uggh). Then the other daughter had two kids named Nelson and Winnie. That lasted several more seasons though, didn’t it?
See also: That show with Kirk Cameron and Alan Thicke (two cinematic powerhouses there)
Little House on the Prairie, where they adopted two kids when theirs were grown (does anyone know if that was in the book, or made up for the series?)
Eight is enough - who was that little blond kid?
Also annoying is Terminator II, where they added Edward Furlong into the mix. I liked the play between Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton in the first one. Why did they make her have a kid where it added absolutely nothing to the plot line???
I’m sorry I know this, but the show was “Growing Pains”. There was only one adopted son. The other ‘new member’ was a little girl that had gone from infant at the end of one season to 7-year old girl the next season.
Oh, and the adopted son? His character’s name was “Luke” and was played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Totally made up, Abe Babe, as was 90% of the material on the show. Albert? Made up. The Garveys? Made up. Mr. Edward’s family? Made up. Adam Kendell? Made up. I think my next sig may be something along the lines of “The Little House on the Prairie TV show sucked! Suckety, suck, suck, SUCKED!” Not very pithy, I know, but believe me, heartfelt.
Jess (who, in case you didn’t notice, doesn’t care very much for the TV show Little House on the Prairie and would be willing to take her opinions to the Pit, anyday, anytime.)
You’d think they’d know by now a show is failing when the characters resort to singing or adding a “squirt”. Personally, I find the twins on “Full House” nauseating as they continue to live on! They’ll be 70 yrs old and still doing videos! Ug!
Does anyone recall an annoing redhead kid on Gimme A Break? I just rememeber him singing with Nel Carter. Maybe I’m mixed up with Sam from Different Strokes?
Also, “Arnold” from “Different Strokes” had an appearance on (gag me with) “Silver Spoons”. Which came first? I can’t recall!
As for Family Ties…just shoot me! What an annoying show even before they added a “squirt”!
What about that drip, Andy(?) added to Facts of Life! Would that show ever die? Then, the added “Phyllis” (I forget her real name)…as if the show isn’t begging to be put out of its misery!