Silver Spoons is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from September 25, 1982 to May 11, 1986 and in first-run syndication from September 15, 1986 to March 4, 1987. The series was produced by Embassy Television for the first four seasons, until Embassy Communications moved the series to syndication.
The show's title refers to family wealth and to the expression that rich children are born with "silver spoons" in their mouths--they are given only the very best and want for nothing.
In the pilot episode, Ricky Stratton (Ricky Schroder) arrives at the mansion of the father he has never met to introduce himself, move in, and get to know him better. Edward Stratton III (Joel Higgins) epitomized the phrase "overgrown child"; he has never taken responsibility for anything in his life, including his toy business, "Eddie Toys." When he finds out in the pilot episode that his business manager embezzled all of his money, he simply tells his attorney to "bring back his bucks," then resumes playing an arcade game. Ricky recognizes that his dad needs to grow up; Edward thinks his son is too uptight and needs to have more fun while he's still young.
Edward's father is played by John Houseman as the thoughtful, well-to-do patriarch and industrialist whose demeanor starkly contrasts with Edward's and seems more similar to Ricky's (at first). Throughout the series, the comic tension arises between Grandfather Stratton's belief that people with money are obligated to make more money and Edward's belief that money should be used to make people happy. Ricky is often caught between the two, wishing only for peace and harmony within the family.
Ricky's mother is Evelyn Bluedhorn (Christine Belford). Edward and Evelyn's romantic relationship led to a week-long marriage. Now Evelyn has remarried and placed Ricky in a military boarding school. When Ricky arrives at the Stratton residence, Edward is stunned to discover that his long-ago brief marriage produced a son. At first he sends Ricky right back to the boarding school; later he dresses up as a swamp monster to bring Ricky from the school and take him back to the mansion to live with him. The mansion is stocked with arcade games and a scale-model freight train runs through it.
Edward exhibits his childishness and playfulness in many ways, such as performing a little dance while the Pac-Man plays its theme song. Stratton's personal assistant, Kate Summers (Erin Gray), is often the voice of reason. Kate's role adds tension to the show and provides incentive for Edward to act more maturely (at least sometimes). Edward and Kate had a will-they-or-won't-they relationship which led to a third-season wedding.
- Ricky Schroder as Ricky Stratton
- Joel Higgins as Edward Stratton III
- Erin Gray as Kate Summers Stratton
- Leonard Lightfoot as Leonard Rollins (1982–1983)
- Franklyn Seales as Dexter Stuffins (1983–1987)
- Jason Bateman as Derek Taylor (1982–1984)
- Corky Pigeon as Freddy Lippincottleman (1983–1986)
- Bobby Fite as J.T. Martin (1983–1984)
- Alfonso Ribeiro as Alfonso Spears (1984–1987)
- Billy Jacoby as Brad (1985–1986)
- John Houseman as Grandfather Edward Stratton II (1982–1987)
- Ray Walston as Uncle Harry Summers (1985)
- Christine Belford as Evelyn Bluedhorn Stratton (1983–1986)
During the early years of the series, Ricky befriends "bad boy" Derek Taylor (Jason Bateman, seasons 1 & 2), "nerdy" Freddy Lippencottleman (Corky Pigeon, seasons 1-4) and smooth-talking "cowboy", J.T. Martin (Bobby Fite, seasons 1 & 2). They get into a lot of trouble and learn many childhood lessons along the way. Jason Bateman's popularity as Derek led the producers of Silver Spoons to give him his own starring vehicle, It's Your Move, in 1984. The cast of Silver Spoons, season 4 cast photoEdward's original attorney was Leonard Rollins (Leonard Lightfoot), who departed after the first season, and was replaced by the aptly named Business Manager, Dexter Stuffins (Franklyn Seales), who was somewhat stuffier and more erudite than Leonard had been. Dexter remained through the rest of the series, and joining him in the fall of 1984 was his hip, breakdancing nephew Alfonso Spears (Alfonso Ribeiro), who became Ricky's new best friend. In season four, once Ricky, Freddy and Alfonso were in high school, their circle was completed by Brad (Billy Jacoby, seasons 4 & 5), a reintroduction of the type of "bad boy" character similar to that of Derek and J.T. during the early years of the show. That same year, as Kate and Edward adjusted to married life, Kate's doddering uncle, Harry Summers (Ray Walston), moved into the Stratton mansion for a time.
Guest stars that appeared on the show include:
- Lyle Alzado
- Christina Applegate
- Pearl Bailey
- Gary Coleman (in a crossover from Diff'rent Strokes as Arnold Jackson)
- David Horowitz
- Whitney Houston
- Bruce Jenner
- Tommy Lasorda
- Joey Lawrence
- Jonna Lee
- Tip O'Neill
- Meeno Peluce
- Matthew Perry
- Sharon Stone
- Mr. T
- Ray Walston
- Steve Antin
While largely a comedy, Silver Spoons commonly addressed certain issues that affect people using the "very special episode" format.
- In the Season 1 episode "Mr. T and Me", the issue of school bullies was touched upon when Ricky is being picked on by a bully and Edward decides to hire a bodyguard for Ricky (played by Mr. T).
- In the Season 1 episode "The Great Computer Caper", Ricky and friend Arnold Jackson (Gary Coleman, playing his Diff'rent Strokes character in a crossover episode) hack into a military computer and access the plans for a top-secret fighter jet. They soon learn they might be guilty of treason and attempt to run away from home to avoid punishment.
- In the Season 1 episode "The Best Christmas Ever", homelessness was addressed when Ricky discovered a family living in a cave on his father's estate, featuring future Gimme a Break! and Blossom star Joey Lawrence.
- In the Season 1 episode "The "X" Team", Ricky, Freddy and JT were caught watching an X rated film by Kate in the living room while Edward was asleep, when Kate forced Ricky to tell Edward about watching the film Edward revealed that the reason why he had X rated films on the TV is because the channel came with the cable when he bought the TV and he also mentioned to Ricky that he doesn't want him to watch the adult movies since he was too young for them.
- In the Season 2 episode "Spare the Rod", Ricky discovers that his friend Toby (Meeno Peluce) is being beaten by his father. The end of the episode reveals that the father is also a child abuse victim.
- In the Season 3 episode "Trouble with Words", Alfonso is doing poorly in school, and an Olympic athlete, (Bruce Jenner), who is visiting to check out a new line of athletic equipment using his name to be merchandised by Eddie Toys, helps him by discovering that Alfonso has dyslexia, a condition which causes the mind to retain information differently, and letters are seen in a different way, usually backwards.
- In the Season 3 episode "The Secret Life of Ricky Stratton", Ricky develops a romance with a girl he meets on a computer bulletin board, very much foreshadowing the actual internet dating boom a generation later. However, before the first in-person date occurs, both teens suffer from self esteem issues, and each fears the other won't be attracted to them.
- In the Season 3 episode "The Babysitters", Ricky suspects that a girl he's babysitting was kidnapped by her father. Many missing children cases have involved children being kidnapped by one of their parents or relatives.
- In the two-part Season 4 episode "One for the Road", Ricky attends a party and is pressured into drinking by his friend. He later finds out that his friend has a drinking problem and tries to get him help.
- In the Season 4 episode "Daddy Rick", the subject of teen pregnancy is addressed when Ricky is paired with a girl in a mock marriage project at school and finds out his partner is pregnant, both in the mock marriage project and in real life.
Main article: List of Silver Spoons episodes
- 1982-'83: N/A
- 1983-'84: #53
- 1984-'85: #62
- 1985-'86: #70
- 1986-'87: N/A
The show's theme song titled "Together" was written by Rik Howard and Bob Wirth. The original version was accompanied mostly by guitar. Two other versions of the theme were used during the show's run. A synthesized version was used in 1985 when all other Embassy Television series (The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes included) modified their opening credits. The third version of the theme, a rock version, was introduced in 1986 when the show moved to first-run syndication, with vocals by The Archies' alumni Ron Dante.
The Stratton mansionEdit
The brick Tudor period mansion shown in the opening credits is actually a private residence located in Warwickshire, England. The elaborate home, named Compton Wynyates, was built in 1481. Before Silver Spoons, it was used in the 1977 Disney film, Candleshoe, starring Helen Hayes, Jodie Foster and David Niven. The facade of the mansion was featured again in the 1978 film, Death on the Nile, as the new country home of the heiress Linnet Ridgeway. In 1997, Compton Wynyates was featured in the second narrative of Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost.
Reruns of Silver Spoons aired on NBC's daytime schedule from April to September 1985. The series has not been in regular syndication since the mid-1990s, except for a few airings of select episodes on Nick at Nite in 2001 and 2005.
Some of the Sony Pictures Television program library (including Silver Spoons) had been acquired by ION Television in August 2006. However, the show never appeared on the network. The show is also available on Comcast digital cable's On Demand service as of September 19, 2006. Chicago's WWME ("Me TV") currently airs two episodes back to back on Saturday afternoons.
The first season is also available for purchase by episode or season on iTunes. In 2008, popular video on demand sites Hulu and Crackle began airing the syndicated version of the first season of Silver Spoons.
Episodes of Silver Spoons can be found on DejaView in Canada in 2010-2011
- ^ Dore, Shalini (2010-05-20). "Sitcom scribe Martin Cohan dies: Creator of 'Silver Spoons,' 'Who's the Boss?" was 77". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
- ^ tvshowsondvd.com