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Getting By

Getting By is an ABC network sitcom starring Cindy Williams (from "Laverne & Shirley") and Telma Hopkins (from "Family Matters").

It was created by William Bickley & Michael Warren, and developed by Thomas L. Miller & Robert L. Boyett.

The show first aired on ABC from March 5, 1993 to May 21, 1993 where it was originally part of ABC's "TGIF" lineup, but due to politics between ABC and Miller-Boyett Productions, it was switched to NBC for its second an final season where it aired from September 21, 1993 to June 18, 1994.

It was the final Miller-Boyett series to begin its run under parent studio Lorimar Television; it was later folded into Warner Bros. Television for the show's second season, following Warner Bros.' absorption of Lorimar.

Plot

"Getting By" was about two best friends and single mothers (one white and one black) who decide to split the mortgage on a new home in suburban Oak Park, Illinois and live there with both their families.

Cast

  • Cindy Williams as Cathy Hale
  • Telma Hopkins as Dolores Dixon
  • Merlin Santana as Marcus Dixon
  • Deon Richmond as Darren Dixon
  • Nicki Vannice as Nikki Hale
  • Ashleigh Blair Sterling as Julie Hale

Production

Show creators William Bickley and Michael Warren served as executive producers, along with show developers Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett.

The inaugural spring 1993 season also featured the co-producing team of Ken Cinnamon and Karen Wengrod, and Phil Doran as a producer.

For the second season, there was considerable turnover behind the scenes, and "Getting By" inherited several producers and other staffers from the recently ended sister series, "Perfect Strangers".

Among these transfers were Alan Plotkin as a non-writing producer, the team of Barry O'Brien and Cheryl Alu as co-executive producers, co-producer Michael J. Morris, and Scott Spencer Gorden, who had been executive story consultant during Perfect Strangers' final two seasons, and whom continued in the same role on the show.

Joel Zwick (a regular director on Miller/Boyett shows) garnered a rare producing credit in the second season as well.

Eunetta T. Boone and P. Karen Raper (who were known for their work as script editors and consultants on predominantly black series such as FOX's "Roc" and NBC's "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air") also were added to the series in its second year.

This followed in the tradition of sister series, "Family Matters" (which had begun to showcase more producers and writers who were known or went on to become known) for their work on shows with a black perspective.

The series was principally produced by Miller-Boyett Productions, with associates Bickley-Warren Productions, and was backed by Lorimar Television in season one and Warner Bros. Television in season two.

Show Development

With three of their successful ABC comedies built on the concept of blended families ("Full House", "Family Matters" and "Step By Step"), Miller and Boyett were looking to develop a new sitcom for the network in 1992 which would continue this theme.

Bickley and Warren (who had created "Family Matters" and "Step By Step") had begun penning a new series concept shortly after the early success of "Step By Step"; what the producers came up with was the story of a white family that adopted a black son, which looked to be an original 1990s variation of "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Webster."

The project was titled "A New Day" and had Miller and Boyett's former "Laverne & Shirley" star Cindy Williams cast as the mother. Plans were moving forward on the series for a fall 1992 debut, until a change in direction occurred.

Telma Hopkins (who had been co-starring for the past three years as Rachel Crawford on Family Matters") made the decision to leave the series after its third season for her own show. Miller/Boyett were willing to provide Hopkins with her own show, in which the actress would play an entirely new character.

In the process of coming up with a concept for Hopkins' series, producers in the end experimented with the idea of adding her into "A New Day" with Williams to see how the casting would work. Williams and Hopkins clicked as equal leads and from there, the producers decided to revamp the project.

The show's premiere was moved up by several months as Miller/Boyett and company tinkered with the format, resulting in the final product known as "Getting By." In October of 1992, the series was announced on ABC's schedule with its new title and format as a midseason replacement.

Merlin Santana and Deon Richmond portrayed preteen rivals for the affections of Keshia Knight Pulliam's character Rudy Huxtable on NBC's "The Cosby Show." Their interaction on that series was so impressive that they were cast as brothers on the show.

Richmond and Santana also made two guest appearances on "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" in 1995 and 1996, as well as the 2003 movie "The Blues" which turned out to be Santana's last film appearance before his death.

Switching to NBC

"Getting By scored well in the ratings on ABC's TGIF lineup in the spring of 1993, airing at 9/8c (replacing "Dinosaurs", which had moved to Sundays).

The success was owed in part to its lead-in, Step by Step, the star power of Cindy Williams and Telma Hopkins, and Merlin Santana as its breakout star. It was also scheduled before a new sitcom airing in the 9:30 TGIF block "Where I Live" which (like "Getting By") was marked by a largely black cast.

In early May 1993, a few weeks before network upfronts, ABC confirmed that "Getting By" would be renewed, but it would move to Saturday nights in September along with "Where I Live."

Miller/Boyett and Bickley-Warren were dissatisfied with ABC's plan, as they were certain their show's ratings would severely drop on Saturday nights (ABC had previously damaged the ratings of Miller/Boyett's show, "Perfect Strangers" when they moved it to Saturdays for a time in 1992).

ABC was not willing to keep the show on TGIF, since they were adding "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" and the new Michael Jacobs series, "Boy Meets World" to the Friday lineup. In retaliation, Miller and Boyett pulled "Getting By" from ABC, promptly getting NBC to pick it up for the fall.

When the show's second season premiered on NBC in September, "Getting By" aired Tuesday nights following the new series, "Saved by the Bell: The College Years."

However, disappointing ratings for the College Years (a sequel to NBC's original series, "Saved by the Bell") had an effect on "Getting By", whose ratings were now falling from its first season ranking on ABC.

By mid-season, NBC ended up defeating the purpose of the producers having moved the show from ABC in the first place.

"Getting By" relocated to Saturday nights at 8/7c that January, but after only a month of Saturday airings, NBC put the series on hiatus in late February and did not return until May, where it continued airing in the same Saturday slot.

But concurrent with NBC's fall 1994 network upfronts, the series' return came with the news that "Getting By" had been cancelled. Four new episodes left over from earlier in the season aired, until the last original episode, "My Brilliant Career", airing on June 18, 1994.

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