5 thoughts on “Christina Applegate’s Sitcom, Jesse, Was Totally Revamped to Try to Save It

  1. Facts of Life went through 2 or 3 major revamps, stating with season 2 when half the cast disappeared.

  2. If you want a show with a drastic amount of cast and premise changes, I’ll go with a less well known example: 1995’s revamp of “FLIPPER” (sometimes called “FLIPPER: THE NEW ADVENTURES”). It ran for 4 seasons (2 in standard broadcast syndication, 2 on the PAX Network) and is mostly known for being Jessica Alba’s star vehicle. But what isn’t as readily known is how drastically the show changed course over 4 seasons and two networks, and how 50-75% of the cast would change and leave every season.

    The first season is intended to be a sequel to the original 1964 series, with a now adult Keith “Bud” Ricks (Brian Wimmer) as an aquatic researcher in the Florida Keys. One episode even sees a grown up version of his brother, Sandy, from the original show. A Naval researcher, Dr. Pam Blondell (Colleen Flynn), and her snotty teenage son, Mike (Payton Haas), move in, with Alba playing a local, Maya Graham, from a broken home with an affinity for dolphins. Naturally, they meet one (played by two dolphins I think) and inspired by Dr. Ricks’ childhood tales, dub him Flipper. It is an adventure show with plots involving some crime solving and general pollution shenanigans.

    By season 2, everyone but Alba’s Maya is gone; she gives some generic exposition in the premiere that they “moved away” and that is it. Now Alba is the unofficial star, without any of her old supporting cast. Dr. Jennifer Daulton (Elizabeth Morehead) takes over as the researcher with her estranged dad, Edward “Cap” Daulton (Gus Mercurio) hovering around alongside supporting cast interns for Maya to interact with, Dean Gregson (Scott Michaelson) and Holly Myers (Anja Coleby). Also added to the cast are Deputies Tom Hampton (Whip Hubley) and Quinn Garnett (Wren T. Brown), from the Air Sea Rescue station that handles all crimes or emergencies. The show starts to become more action oriented, since official deputies are part of the regular cast now. A romantic subplot is alluded to between Dr. Daulton and Tom Hampton. Any connection to the original show beyond a dolphin named Flipper is gone. The season ends alluding to magic being real and Maya having a psychic bond with Flipper (seriously).

    Here comes season 3, and then EVERYONE is gone aside for Tom Hampton (Whip Hubley), Holly Myers (Anja Coleby), and Edward “Cap” Daulton (Gus Mercurio). Cap’s entire reason to be on the cast was to rebuild ties with his daughter, but now her character is gone but he’s still around. Holly, especially, is given almost nothing to do ever again but functional dialogue (i.e. exposition or giving someone else lines to bounce off). A new Naval character, Lt. Alex Parker (Tiffany Lamb), starts the season by marrying Tom Hampton right off and this acting as a resolution for last season’s romantic subplot, albeit with a new leading lady. Deputy Mark Delaney (Darrin Klimek) replaces Quinn/Brown as Tom’s partner. Alex was a widow with two kids, Chris (Craig Marriott) and Jackie (Laura Donaldson). While rescues and crime plots happen, the show shifts into being more of a domestic drama as Tom is trying to get used to married life and connect with his new step-kids. And they all have interactions with a super-smart dolphin of course.

    No one leaves by season 4, but they add Skye Patch as Courtney Gordon, Tom’s niece. And they decide to hand Maya’s “psychic dolphin powers” to Jackie with Tom acting as if they’re new and strange. At least two episodes out of 4 seasons are clip shows revolving around hurricanes. And the series ends on an uncharacteristic downer implying that Flipper dies.

    It is a weird, weird run of a show. Even most “daytime syndicated” shows of the era like XENA or HERCULES usually had more stable casts. I caught all this when the show reran on LIGHT TV years ago, and it was pretty odd.

  3. The Doris Day Show from the end of the 1960s rebooted her from a Mom with two kids into a single woman with no explanation IIRC.

  4. Sadly, Applegate’s best sitcom Samantha Who was cancelled by some ding dong at NBC. It starred Applegate, Jean Smart as her mother, and Melissa McCarthy as her best friend. A trifecta of excellent comediennes. The excellent Tim Russ, Tuvoc from ST Voyager, was her laconic/sarcastic doorman. Her dad was Kevin Dunn, and her ex-best friend was Jennifer Esposito. It was great. Give it a watch.

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