|Created by||Don Reo|
Jenna von Oÿ
|Theme music composer||Stephen Geyer|
|Opening theme||"My Opinionation" performed by Dr. John (seasons 1-4)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||114|
Paul Junger Witt
Judith D. Allison (seasons 4-5)
Rob LaZebnik (season 4)
Allan Katz (season 5)
|Running time||22-25 minutes|
|Production||Impact Zone Productions|
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television|
|Original release||July 5, 1990 (pilot preview)|
January 3, 1991 -
May 22, 1995
(as a regular series)
Blossom is an American sitcom television series which broadcast for five seasons on NBC. It debuted as a pilot preview on July 5, 1990, and premiered as a mid-season replacement on January 3, 1991, and aired until May 22, 1995. Don Reo created the series, which starred Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo, a teenager living with her father and two elder brothers. It was produced by Reo's Impact Zone Productions and Witt/Thomas Productions in association with Touchstone Television.
The series focuses on the life of Blossom Russo (Mayim Bialik), an Italian-American teenager. It began with Blossom's mother having left the family to pursue her own life and career, and focused on the family's attempts to adjust. Blossom's father, Nick, an overprotective, somewhat conservative session musician who was frequently between gigs and tours, was played by Ted Wass. Her older brother Tony (Michael Stoyanov) was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who eventually became a paramedic. Joey (Joey Lawrence), the middle child (called Donnie in the pilot), was a stereotypical "dumb jock", known for the drawn-out delivery of his catchphrase "Whoa!" Blossom frequently received advice in fantasy scenes, from celebrities such as Mr. T, Hugh Hefner, Phylicia Rashad, David Spade, ALF, Will Smith, and God (played by Don Novello). Blossom's mother, Maddy Russo, was played by Melissa Manchester.
Blossom's best friend Six Lemeure (Jenna von Oÿ) also played a significant part in her life. Six, an especially fast talker, was best known for her tendency to ramble.
Throughout the series, there were a number of cameos and guest appearances from musicians, comedians, actors, actresses, TV personalities, etc. who were famous or became famous later on in their careers.
In 1988, series creator Don Reo had begun a producing partnership with Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, in which the latter two were bringing his screenplays to television under the established Witt/Thomas Productions nameplate. The genesis of the project that eventually became Blossom occurred soon after Reo's association with Witt and Thomas began, and coincided with another series they were bringing to CBS in 1989, Heartland. The project that would be Blossom had two sources of inspiration. The creation process was born when Reo attended a family party thrown by his long-time friend Dion DiMucci, the lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts. Reo regarded DiMucci as being a "hip, with-it musician father", giving calm, sage, non-judgmental advice to his children and loving them unconditionally. During the party, DiMucci demonstrated and reinforced the interaction with his children, and inspired Reo to him to his family dynamic for a pilot in which the "cool" father would be a highlight.
However, just prior to attending the DiMucci party, Reo had toyed with the idea of writing a pilot that depicted a wise-beyond-his-years, introspective teenage boy, modeled closely after protagonist Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. He decided to include both the hip father and Holden Caulfield-esque boy in the new pilot, with the boy eventually becoming the lead character. With Witt and Thomas' support of the storyline, Reo pitched the project to NBC in 1989 under the title Richie. Reo had the utmost faith in NBC agreeing to the format as it was, and believed that the unique characters would transform family sitcoms if it became a series. NBC liked the screenplay, but ordered changes to the format. Network executives told Reo and Witt/Thomas that they wanted to see the lead character go from being the Holden Caulfield-like Richie to that of his older sister, Blossom, and that the girl should have Richie's character traits instead. At the same time, NBC felt that the combination of such an emotionally intuitive child and a super-chic father was too radical to put on the air, so they urged Reo and Witt/Thomas to give Blossom and her siblings nuclear, conservative parents.
In the Blossom series finale, the titular character records a new entry into her video diary, in which she discusses the changes happening in her life post-high school. As she also examines how much she has grown since her first video diary entry at the beginning of the series, Blossom describes herself as "a teenage Holden Caulfield". Reo wrote the finale with series producer Judith D. Allison, and thus decided to make an allusion to the inspiration of the lead character.
At the time Mayim Bialik signed on for the pilot, she had recently worked on another sitcom project for Fox, entitled Molloy. Both NBC, which had bought the Blossom pilot, and Fox were planning to broadcast both Bialik projects in 1990, with either of the two set to continue as a regular series beyond its preview/tryout run, depending on which was more successful. The pilot episode of Blossom was taped in the spring of 1990, and was the first of the projects to air, with NBC broadcasting the pilot as a special on July 5, 1990. Four weeks later, Fox commenced a seven-episode tryout run for Molloy, whose episodes had been produced in 1989, prior to Bialik signing on for the NBC pilot. Molloy faced low ratings, and Fox canceled the series after the seven-episode order completed. NBC executives, who had been pleased with the ratings of the Bialik pilot special, ordered Blossom as a midseason replacement for January 1991.
In the pilot, Blossom Russo lived with both her parents, in a more conservative, nuclear household. Her father was played by Richard Masur, and was named Terry Russo; Barrie Youngfellow (fresh off It's a Living, another Witt/Thomas production) played Blossom's mother, named Barbara Russo. All other cast members were presentt in the pilot, all with their familiar character names, except for Joey Lawrence's character whose name was Donny Russo. Tony was going through his first drug/alcohol rehab period (in which Terry remarked that "he had a serious problem--he missed all of 1989"), and had his own separate scene with Blossom in the kitchen, late at night, as he gave her sage anecdotes about their lives. Neither of Blossom's parents had musical careers in the pilot, with Terry working as an accountant and Barbara working as a finance consultant. (Coincidentally, Youngfellow's It's a Living co-star Gail Edwards would later be a recurring guest star during the series' run, as Six's mother, Sharon LeMeure).
The original subject of divorce, was carried out differently after the pilot, involved Blossom suspecting that her parents were having marriage troubles. Blossom confides in Six about the fights and discussions she overheard them having, which is followed by Terry and Barbara's announcement over dinner that they were going to meet with an attorney friend. Blossom's fears continue to grow until her parents reveal that they were only having their wills drawn up. Notable guest stars in the pilot included Debra Sandlund as Terry's secretary and Justin Whalin as William Zimmerman, a boy at school who wishes to go steady with Blossom.
The original theme music in the pilot was Bobby Brown's 1988 hit single "My Prerogative", which was featured over the first season opening credits format of Blossom dancing in her bedroom, as she taped herself on home video. Between production of the pilot and regular series, the producers hired Dr. John (who had sung a cover of the standard "Accentuate the Positive" as the theme for Bialik's other series, Molloy) to perform the replacement theme, "My Opinionation". The title sequence was re-shot so that Bialik's dancing was more in sync with "My Opinionation". In syndicated reruns of the Blossom pilot, "My Opinionation" is used for the opening sequence, with Bialik's dancing (originally to "My Prerogative") noticeably out-of-sync with the song.
Soon after NBC picked up Blossom as a regular series, Reo successfully convinced programming chief Brandon Tartikoff and his executives to allow the lead character to have the chic, divorced musician father he had originally envisioned for the project. Masur and Youngfellow were dismissed and Witt and Thomas then convinced Ted Wass, who had previously starred on their 1970s sitcom Soap, to portray Blossom's single dad Nick Russo, on Wass' condition that he could also direct numerous episodes. Mayim Bialik claimed to have had influence in Wass' casting, as she enjoyed auditioning with him the most out of other actors who were trying out when the role was being recast. Earlier, before the pilot was shot, Bialik had single-handedly been responsible for Michael Stoyanov joining the project, after she had seen him as a guest star on sister series Empty Nest. Not only did Bialik enjoy watching Stoyanov, but she also felt they shared a strong physical resemblance, and that they would be believable as brother and sister.
Five seasons of Blossom were produced, with a total of 114 episodes.
Bill Bixby became a frequent director on the series in its third season, a role he continued for several episodes into the fourth, despite his ongoing battle with prostate cancer. On November 15, 1993, shortly after learning that his illness was terminal, Bixby collapsed on the Blossom set and was hospitalized. He died six days later.
The theme song was "My Opinionation" by Mike Post and Steve Geyer and performed by recording artist Dr. John. The opening sequence featured Blossom filming herself in her bedroom on home video dancing, performing aerobics, making silly faces, pretending to talk on the phone, etc.
Season two switched exclusively to a sequence of dance moves by the title character, this time on film and in front of a pastel blue/pink background. Blossom's outfit changed in each dancing scene, and a variety of dance moves were performed, from belly dancing to voguing. The second season added Barnard Hughes to the show and opening credits, under the "With" heading, preceding Ted Wass.
In the third season, the dancing concept was expanded upon in the opening sequence. Core cast members Lawrence, Stoyanov, von Oÿ and Wass joined Bialik as she danced. They each appeared one at a time as their credit was shown around Blossom's dancing. With Barnard Hughes relegated to recurring status on the show, his name no longer appeared in the opening credits, but Portia Dawson and David Lascher's names were added (despite their not being physically presentt in the sequence). This version of the intro lasted through the end of season four. Also beginning in season three, most segments of the show opened and closed with the first frame of a scene being frozen in a multi-colored watercolor effect. The watercolor stills lasted through the end of the series.
The fifth and final season dropped a full-fledged intro, instead displaying the Blossom logo over the watercolor effect that opened and closed segments, while a short piano remix of the first few notes of "My Opinionation" played to open the show. The opening credits ran over the prologue of the episode. During the 1994-95 season, NBC began running its credits in the squeeze-screen format.
Because Blossom aired immediately after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on NBC for a period, NBC cross-promoted the shows on two occasions. Will Smith appeared in "I'm With The Band" as himself under his rap stage name, The Fresh Prince, and later that season, Karyn Parsons made an appearance on the show in "Wake Up Little Suzy" as her Fresh Prince character, Hilary Banks. Estelle Getty appeared in one episode as Sophia Petrillo, her character from The Golden Girls and Empty Nest.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||14||July 5, 1990||April 29, 1991|
|2||24||September 16, 1991||May 4, 1992|
|3||26||August 10, 1992||May 17, 1993|
|4||28||September 19, 1993||May 23, 1994|
|5||22||September 26, 1994||May 22, 1995|
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Rank||Avg. viewers|
|1||Monday 8:30 p.m.||13||January 3, 1991||TBD||April 29, 1991||TBD||1990-91||44||11.284|
|2||24||September 16, 1991||TBD||May 4, 1992||TBD||1991-92||34||12.075|
|3||26||August 10, 1992||TBD||May 17, 1993||TBD||1992-93||27||12.569|
|4||28||September 19, 1993||TBD||May 23, 1994||TBD||1993-94||32||12.520|
|5||22||September 26, 1994||TBD||May 22, 1995||TBD||1994-95||55||9.922|
On January 27, 2009, Shout! Factory (under license from rights-holders ABC and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) released Seasons 1 & 2 of Blossom on DVD in Region 1. The 6-disc boxset includes all-new interviews with cast members, the original pilot episode, featurettes and audio commentaries.
|DVD name||Ep #||Release date|
|Blossom: Seasons 1 & 2||38||January 27, 2009|
For a period of time all five seasons of Blossom were available to stream on Hulu. In January 2019, the series was removed from the streaming service.