The John Larroquette Show
|The John Larroquette Show|
Series intertitle from the first season.
|Created by||Don Reo|
|Opening theme||"Skrewy St. Louis Blues" by David Cassidy (1993–1995)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||84|
|Running time||30 min.|
|Original release||September 2, 1993 – October 30, 1996|
The John Larroquette Show is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from September 2, 1993, until October 30, 1996. Created by Don Reo, the show was a star vehicle for John Larroquette following his run as Dan Fielding on Night Court. The series takes place in a seedy bus terminal in St. Louis, Missouri, and originally focused on the somewhat broken people who worked the night shift, and in particular, the lead character's battle with alcoholism. The series was produced by Reo's Impact Zone Productions and Witt/Thomas Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.
John Hemingway, recovering alcoholic, has been appointed to the role of night shift manager of the St. Louis bus depot. He must deal not only with the intricacies of keeping the station running smoothly, but also the employees and other personalities that frequent the station, all while dealing with his own demons. This was highlighted in the first episode, with a running gag of every character offering to buy him a drink upon his meeting them.
Much of the first season dealt with John's attempts to stay sober, with episodes representing each of the AA program's Twelve Steps. John constantly struggled to maintain control of the station, with regular conflicts with his secretary, Mahalia, the janitor, Heavy Gene, and most strongly with sandwich bar attendant, Dexter, who had been turned down for the position to which John was appointed. Adding sexual tension to John's life was high class escort Carly, who was a friend of Dexter.
- John Larroquette as John Hemingway
- Liz Torres as Mahalia Sanchez, John's secretary
- Gigi Rice as Carly Watkins, a high class escort and friend of Dexter's
- Daryl "Chill" Mitchell as Dexter Walker, the depot's sandwich bar attendant and John's rival
- Chi McBride as Heavy Gene, a janitor at the depot
- Lenny Clarke as Officer Adam Hampton
- Elizabeth Berridge as Officer Eve Eggers
- Alison LaPlaca as Catherine Merrick (1994–1996)
- John F. O'Donohue as Max Dumas (1993–1994)
- Bill Morey as Oscar (1994–1996)
- Jazzmun as Pat (occasional, 1993–1995)
- David Crosby as Chester, John's AA sponsor.
- Omri Katz as Tony Hemingway, John's son. Katz would be replaced in an unaired fourth season episode with Ryan Reynolds.
- Mayim Bialik as Rachel, John's daughter
- Ted McGinley as Karl Reese, Carly's boyfriend and future ex-husband
- Charles Robinson as Norm on the episode titled: "John's Lucky Day."
Over the course of its run, the show also featured cameos from a number of celebrities. Bobcat Goldthwait guested for one episode, playing an assistant to John who was constantly a mess but became suddenly efficient and 'normal' as soon as he became drunk. Boyz II Men appeared in a 1994 episode which saw their tour bus break down at John's station. In one episode Richard S. "Kinky" Friedman appeared as himself in a jail cell. Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty reprised their Golden Girls characters for one episode.
Despite receiving early favorable critical reviews, the first season finished 96th overall, in part due to its time slot opposing Roseanne (which was fourth overall during the same season). By Larroquette's own admission, though, the show's first season wasn't prime-time material due to its dark nature – at least not for network television.
The show faced cancellation, until Larroquette requested the chance to retool the series, which NBC granted. Much of the dark humor was removed, for a more "toned-down" feel. The sets were brighter, and the cast were transferred from the night shift to day. John's dingy bed-sit was traded for a nice apartment. Oscar, the old bum who lived in one of the bus station phone booths, was cleaned up and became a shoeshine, and the prostitute character Carly (Gigi Rice) went "straight" – buying the bar and becoming a model citizen. The producers also gave John a wholesome romantic interest in the form of nurse Catherine Merrick, played by Alison LaPlaca. The series continued in this more prime-time-friendly format for two more years.
- Ep 1: 14.3 rating [series high]
- Ep 2: 12.5 rating
- Ep 3: 10 rating
- Ep 4: 9.6 rating
- Ep 6: 13.3 million viewers; 9.3 rating
- Ep 10: 10.9 rating
- Ep 17: 12.3 rating
- Ep 24: 8.9 rating
- Ep 1: 16.4 million viewers; 11.4 rating
- Ep 2: 11.2 rating
- Ep 3: 12.5 rating
- Ep 4: 10.9 rating
- Ep 21: 11.5 rating
- Ep 24: 9.8 rating
- Ep 1: 7.4 rating
- Ep 4: 5.8 rating [series low]
- Ep 10: 13.1 rating
- Ep 11: 12.4 rating
- Ep 21: 11.2 rating
- Ep 24: 10.3 rating
- Ep 1: 8.3 rating
- Ep 2: 6.6 rating
- Ep 6: 7 rating
Decline & Cancellation
In an attempt to boost the third season opener, but without increasing the budget, it featured a faux guest appearance by Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane, whom John calls for advice (not knowing he is on Frasier's live radio program). Ratings did not improve, however. John and Carly got married in the third season finale while Catherine was seemingly pregnant with John's child. It was revealed that Catherine was experiencing a phantom pregnancy and left the show. The John Larroquette Show was cancelled abruptly one month into its fourth season, the last episode airing on October 30, 1996 showing John and Officer Eggers on a date at a Halloween party. Six episodes remained unaired until being shown on the USA Network years later.
The series was originally to be called Crossroads; however, NBC wished to make the most of John Larroquette's popularity from his previous role on Night Court, and insisted on naming the show after him.
The show was videotaped, but processed by NBC to make it look like it was recorded on film.
The series' theme song, "The Skrewy St. Louis Blues", is a bluesy tune performed by David Cassidy on acoustic guitar with a scat vocal. A version of the performance lasting approximately one minute was used in the opening and closing sequences of the show during its first season. A much shorter edit of the song (lasting less than ten seconds) was heard only during the opening logo during the later seasons. An upbeat, jazzy instrumental tune was occasionally used for the closing theme in seasons three and four.
Steve Cochran, a radio host on 720 WGN from Chicago, uses the Cassidy song as the theme music for his own radio program.
TV Guide once referred to the series as "sitcom noir". The series was nominated for numerous awards during its run, and won several.
To date the series has not been released on home video or DVD, and can only be viewed via poor quality off-air bootlegs. Shortly before closing his Twitter account, John Larroquette hinted at a release, but it did not occur.
- Diana Werts (26 January 1996). "Segregation Lives On In Sitcomland". Columbia Daily Spectator.
- Ensign, Tom (September 2, 1993). "Dark Humor Brightens 'Larroquette'". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- Burlingame, John (1993-09-02). "'Night Court' Wit Heads Own Show". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- Heimer, Mary (September 2, 1993). "Everyone's a Critic". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- "The Bus Stops Here As 'Larroquette' Starts New Season". Times-Union. September 19, 1994. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- "John Larroquette: This is a Dark Ride". The Star. Toronto. March 31, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- Richard Ouzounian (April 1, 2011). "John Larroquette: This is a Dark Ride - thestar.com". thestar.com. Toronto. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- "John Larroquette - Random Roles". The AV Club. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "FILMLOOK "MUSCLES" ONTO WB NETWORK". Filmlook Inc. Newsletter. Archived from the original on October 17, 1997. Retrieved April 3, 2015.