The Norm Show

The Norm Show
Also known as ''Norm''
Genre Sitcom
Created by Bruce Helford
Norm Macdonald
Theme music composer W. G. Snuffy Walden
Opening theme "Too Bad" performed by Doug and the Slugs
Composer(s) W. G. Snuffy Walden
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 54 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Norm Macdonald
Frank Sebastiano
Camera setup Multiple camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Mohawk Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Shout Factory (under license from Warner Bros.) (2010, DVD)
Original network ABC
Original release March 24, 1999 (1999-03-24) – April 6, 2001 (2001-04-06)

The Norm Show is an American television sitcom that ran from 1999 through 2001 on the ABC television network. Originally titled The Norm Show, the show simply became Norm from September 1999 through the remainder of the show's run.[1]


The show focused on the life of Norm Henderson (Norm Macdonald), a former NHL hockey player who is banned for life from the league because of gambling and tax evasion. In order to avoid jail time for these crimes, Norm must perform five years of community service as a full-time social worker. Other characters in the show included fellow social workers Laurie Freeman (Laurie Metcalf), Danny Sanchez (Ian Gomez) and Danny's sometime girlfriend and former prostitute Taylor Clayton (Nikki Cox). Norm's boss on the program for the first several episodes was named Anthony Curtis and was played by Bruce Jarchow. This character was quickly replaced by a new boss, Max Denby, who was played by Max Wright.

The second season of the show saw the addition of Artie Lange, playing Norm's half brother. The second season also brought about the shortening of the show’s official title to simply Norm to avoid a legal conflict with Michael Jantze's comic strip The Norm.[2]

Originally scheduled on Wednesday nights, the series was one of the top rated sitcoms on ABC among adults 18-49 during its first season.[3] The second season saw ratings fluctuate because of timeslot changes. When ABC moved the series to Friday nights (known as the Friday night death slot) for the third season, ratings declined and the series was cancelled.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110March 24, 1999 (1999-03-24)May 26, 1999 (1999-05-26)
220September 22, 1999 (1999-09-22)March 15, 2000 (2000-03-15)
324October 3, 2000 (2000-10-03)April 6, 2001 (2001-04-06)


Norm Henderson

Played by Norm Macdonald. Season 1–3. Norm was once an NHL hockey player and greatly enjoyed it (though he was purportedly not very good). However, constant gambling and tax evasion caught up with him – leading him to being banned from hockey forever. He avoided jail time by agreeing to five years of community service as a social worker. He was not properly trained, however – saying he was only ever shown how to work the coffee maker (which he still didn't understand). Norm often showed complete disregard for his work – speaking frankly about the clients' problems, playing with toys at his desk, openly mocking/defying his bosses, etc. Nonetheless, there were times he attempted to help others and do the right thing. Norm is a compulsive gambler and had to seek counseling. Norm also had a deep fear of death (attributed to his parents telling him nothing good would happen to him after he died), but a children's book about Heaven showed it was nothing to fear. At the end of the series, a technicality releases Norm from his community service, but he ends up voluntarily returning to work.

Laurie Freeman

Played by Laurie Metcalf. Season 1–3. Laurie was previously Norm's social worker. Once he started working at the office, she became his co-worker and best friend. Often (and usually to her exasperation), she had to guide Norm in social work. Laurie is a dedicated social worker and frequently makes noteworthy proposals to help clients. However, she once lost her commitment when she felt like she wasn't making a difference. A visit to her old mentor (who was going to attempt suicide) showed Laurie that she shouldn't let her job consume her, so she sought more of a social life. Laurie has a twin sister, with whom she is argumentative.

Danny Sanchez

Played by Ian Gomez. Season 1–3. Another social worker at the office. Danny is usually portrayed as quite effective at his job. He could usually be Norm's partner-in-crime – aiding in his gambling pool and other schemes. He was also a more sensitive man. His dad in contrast was always more of a man's man that ridiculed his job, so Danny found their get-togethers stressful at times. Danny was heartbroken when his dad died, however, but was surprised to learn that he was gay (at the funeral, no less). Danny had a long-term relationship with Taylor and was set to propose. When she broke up with him, he was devastated. He was horrified to learn that he was related to Hitler.

Taylor Clayton

Played by Nikki Cox. Recurring in Season 1–3. A prostitute, Taylor was Norm's first client after he became a social worker. The case was not easy, but according to her, she turned her life around after Norm simply told her, "You're a huge whore." She gave up being a prostitute and ended up working in the office. She formed a relationship with Danny, who was intending to propose. However, it turned out that Taylor loved Norm because of what he had done for her. Feeling guilty, she quit her job and left. She briefly returned to engage in an affair with Norm and to consider getting back together with Danny.

Molly Carver

Played by Amy Wilson. Season 1. Molly was hired as a new social worker a little while after Norm's sentence began. She believed that her education and street smarts enabled her to be an effective social worker without anyone's help. She disappeared without explanation after the first season.

Anthony Curtis

Played by Bruce Jarchow. Season 1. Norm's first boss. He had a great deal of difficulty managing Norm, which induced a great deal of stress. Mr. Curtis has a daughter, who Norm ended up sleeping with. This caused Mr. Curtis to snap, and he actually attempted to shoot Norm from the roof. He was, however, tackled by the police.

Max Denby

Played by Max Wright. Season 1–3. Norm's second boss. When Mr. Denby took over the office, he wanted to do nothing to risk getting fired and losing his pension. He even offered to allow Norm to do nothing throughout his community service. However, when Mr. Denby caused Laurie to quit, Norm tricked him into hiring her back – ending that deal. From then on, Norm did whatever he could to embarrass or undermine Mr. Denby's authority – much to his annoyance. Mr. Denby was married, but as they clearly hated each other, they divorced. He also has a son and a daughter – neither of whom he has a good relationship with. Details about Mr. Denby's past include serving in the military (where he shot six of his own men) and working for the Nixon administration (though he was not involved in the infamous Watergate break-in).

Artie Henderson

Played by Artie Lange. Season 2–3. Norm's fat half-brother. They have different mothers. Artie at times lived in Norm's shadow while growing up. When he came to visit Norm, he seemed to turn things around and had become a bonafide success. However, he later admitted his business partner had ripped him off, and he lost everything. After moving to New York, Artie took up various jobs (including even subbing for Norm at the office when his back was out). In the third season, Artie became a bartender at the gang's usual hangout. It was also revealed that in the tenth grade he knew The Drew Carey Show's Mimi Bobeck (then known as Miriam and puported to never wear make-up).

Shelley Kilmartin

Played by Faith Ford. Recurring in Season 2, regular in Season 3. In the second season, Shelley was introduced as Norm's probation officer. Norm was immediately attracted to her and pursued her, but she insisted they keep their relationship professional. However, she eventually developed feelings for him and they began a relationship. Just as quickly, though, Shelley took a big job offer out of town and broke up with Norm. She returned a year later and the season saw Norm constantly trying to get back together with her. She continued to resist his advances, but she later admitted that she did love him.

Wiener Dog

Season 1–3. A Dachshund, Wiener Dog lives in Norm's apartment and is a devoted pet. A running gag throughout the series is that Wiener Dog is quite smart for a dog, which Norm does not truly appreciate. (One example sees Norm asking for chips. Wiener Dog brings in some poker chips, but Norm says he wanted potato chips. When Wiener Dog returns with a bag of corn chips, Norm angrily says, "Potato chips!") Nonetheless, Norm has often used Wiener Dog in an attempt to make decisions (such as barking if he should do one thing or not). Also, Norm once tricked Mr. Denby into hiring Wiener Dog at the office.


Played by Patricia Belcher. Recurring in Season 2–3. Norm's frequently angry landlady, though she is usually angry because Norm consistently fails to pay the rent. Her attempts to get Norm to pay have included removing his door and moving in with him. She is also certified to perform marriages.


Played by Kate Walsh. Recurring in Season 2. Norm's other main love interest. Laurie set them up on a blind date and after some hi-jinx, they developed a strong attraction. However, Jenny was wooed back by her ex-boyfriend Kevin Fitzgerald, who – among other things – was going to help her become a vet. Norm managed to prove his love for her, but when he hesitated at the thought of marriage, she went back to Kevin. However, Norm interrupted their wedding ceremony and convinced Jenny to be with him. She disappeared after the second season (save for an out-of-order Season 3 episode) without explanation.

Guest stars

Artie Lange guest-starred (and later joined the cast) as Norm's half-brother. Jack Warden also guest-starred once as father of Ian Gomez' character, and fakes a grab at Norm's crotch (as he did in Dirty Work).[4]

DVD release

On September 7, 2010, Shout! Factory released The Norm Show: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. The 8-disc set features all 54 episodes of the series as well as a handful of running commentaries (only in seasons 1 and 2) by Norm Macdonald and Bruce Helford.[5]


  1. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2003). "Dangerous Curves (Detective Drama)". The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present (Eighth ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 863–64. ISBN 978-0-345-45542-0.
  2. Smith, Austin (July 27, 1999). "Situation Norm-al: Macdonald Show Forced to Change Name". New York Post. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  3. Rice, Lynette (December 20, 2000). "'Spin' Out". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  4. "Norm Dates Danny's Dad". The Norm Show. Season 1. Episode 3. April 7, 1999. 21:12 minutes in. ABC.
  5. "The Norm Show DVD news: Announcement for The Norm Show - The Complete Series".
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