Who’s The Boss sitcom created by Blake Hunter and Martin Cohan that ran for eight seasons on ABC from September 1984 to April 1995. The series became one of the most-watched sitcoms of the 80s and nominated for more than 40 awards. And including a whopping ten Primetime Emmy and five Golden Globe nominations, winning one of each.
The series helped launch the acting career of it’s lead, Tony Danza. He who played Tony Micelli, a former professional baseball player who moves to Fairfield, Connecticut. And to work as a live-in housekeeper for Angela Bower, played by Judith Light.
Bower was a divorced advertising executive with a son named Jonathan, played by Danny Pintauro. Rounding out the cast was Alyssa Milano as Tony’s daughter Samantha Micelli. And Katherine Helmond who played Mona Robinson, Angela’s sexually progressive mother.
As far as ratings go, Who’s the Boss consistently ranked in the top 10 during it’s Primetime time slot between 1985 and 1989. And has continued to enjoy wide viewership in syndication ever since.
While on paper, everything seemed going well for the sitcom throughout it’s lengthy run. Behind the scenes there were rumors of cast disputes and other workplace difficulties. Tony Danza was apparently extremely difficult to work with, especially once fame started going to his head.
Eventually, like all good things, Who’s the Boss eventually came to an end. Although 8 seasons certainly is one pretty decent run. Fan’s of the series still left wondering why their beloved series got the ax. In this facts-packed video, we’ll be exploring that question while taking a look back at the scene that took Who’s the Boss off the air for good.
Behind The Scenes Difficulties
The pilot episode of the series filmed in November 1983 . It is a full ten months before the sitcom debuted on ABC.
The network was originally planning on putting it on the air mid-season in January of 1984. But due to some rather vague creative differences documented among members of the show’s crew, it’s producers, and the network. It’s premiere delayed until the following season.
After what probably felt like forever for the creative team behind the series, Who’s the Boss debuted on September 20, 1984. During that time period, however, that the show essentially shelved. Tony Danza ran into a bit of legal trouble after arrested for getting in a bar fight in New York after a patron made a particularly rude comment about one of his female companions. Fortunately, this little hiccup didn’t end up negatively effecting his involvement in the series.
After a brief delay allowing for him to clear up his legal problems resulting from that fight, taping resumed. In court, which held in July, Danza faced a choice of jail time or community service. Not wanting to miss any shooting sessions for the new sitcom that he had just signed onto. Danza opted for the community service, which he was still actively participating in by the time the show premiered later that year.
Later during the show’s run, crew members reported that Danza began acting erratically while on set. Stories of his troubling behavior ranged from him getting into heated arguments with the directors to him becoming enraged with the show’s writers over minor script revisions.
It seems like Danza’s primary concerns were over the writing and direction of the show. And his insistence that the program a ‘well oiled machine’ eventually boiled over at the beginning of the 1989-1990 season when he dramatically staged a walk out for a couple of weeks before eventually calming down and coming back to work.
In his absence, the remaining cast and crew members continued to film scenes without him. Once he returned, Tony apologized profusely to everyone and immediately got back to acting. Despite his apology, however, the crew noticed that he didn’t actually seem that remorseful for his actions. Just a few weeks later, he observed making light of the situation by handing out T-Shirts on set with the words ‘I Survived Week Six’. The week in which he had his outburst.
By the fall of 1990, Who’s the Boss’ characters Samantha and Jonathan’s roles had greatly reduced. Samantha had gone off to college and Jonathan was in High School.
The show then added a young new cast member. A five-year-old boy named Jonathan Halyalker who tasked with playing Billy. A kid from the Micelli’s old neighborhood in Brooklyn whose grandmother left him in Tony’s care.
In season 7, Billy moved in with the Bower family. His character served as a comic foil to Tony. But he also always seemed to weasel his way into the storylines of the other characters as well. The audience reaction Billy mixed at best. By the end of the season, he written off the series.
Katherine Helmond would later recall that while Haylyaker was a gifted actor for his age. He had trouble keeping up with the pace of the acting and timing that the more senior members of the cast had already established with each other.
Ratings Eventually Plunged
By the fall of 1991, after airing for seven years on it’s well-established Tuesday night time slot. ABC moved Who’s the Boss to Saturday evenings at 8 pm. A time slot that pitted it against NBC’s The Golden Girls.
In February 1992, ABC moved their long-running series Perfect Strangers and a new animated series Capitol Critters to their evening line-up. This line-up promoted as the network’s new ‘I Love Saturday Night’ programming block. An obvious attempt at capturing the magic that was the hit Friday night TGIF block.
Who’s the Boss then moved to an 8:30 pm timeslot with Capital Critters as it’s lead-in. I Love Saturday Night proved to a short-lived affair, getting axed on February 29, 1992. Who’s the Boss then moved back to it’s 8 pm slot in March.
After the move, it’s ratings went into an all-out free fall. The network then made the decision to pull the plug on the sitcom that spring.
The hour-long series finale aired on the 25th of April, 1992, along with the finales of MacGyver and Growing Pains.
The Scene That Took Who’s The Boss Off The Air
Originally, the writers of the series proposed that Angela and Tony get married at the end of the finale. ABC execs, however, hated this idea – as did Tony Danza, who academically opposed to Tony and Angela getting hitched at the end of the sitcom’s run.
So, making a bit of a compromise, Who’s the Boss’s writers came up with a script for a three-part finale entitled Savor the Veal. In which Tony and Angela end up breaking up. At the end of the final episode, however, Tony show’s up on Angela’s doorstep to apply for the job of housekeeper in a scene that is almost identical in every way to the opening scene of the series’ pilot.
The very last shot is of Angela asking Tony what his qualifications are and then agreeing to let him have his old job back after he replies by embracing her and kissing her passionately.
A Reboot Is In The Works
In 2020, The Hollywood Reporter ran a story announcing that Sony had acquired the rights from Columbia for a Who’s the Boss reboot. Since then, however, there has been very little discussion about the future of the planned series.
That was until January of 2022, when Alyssa Milano gave an interview with Fox 5’s Good Day New York in which she revealed that the beloved 80’s series was indeed still getting the reboot treatment.
Milano further revealed that the upcoming series is going to be more of a sequel series rather than a traditional reboot. She went on to explain that the pandemic had put a hold on production after it was first announced. But she remained hopeful that the program would enter back into production soon.
Danza had previously shot down the idea of doing a reboot series after actress Katherin Helmond who played Angela’s mother Mona, passed away in 2019. But Milano has confirmed that Danza has since changed his mind and has agreed to reprise his role as Tony Micelli.
So far, very little is known about the plot of this new series. Milano says that she and Danza are currently trying to figure out what stage of their lives the show would pick up from.
We live in peculiar times. It seems like everything that’s old is now new again. 80’s television shows like MacGyver, The Wonder Years, and Punky Brewster have all gotten the reboot treatment recently with mixed results. It remains to be seen, however, if the producers of the upcoming Who’s the Boss reboot will able to pull it off. We’re crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.
Anyway, you’ve heard what we have to say. Now we’d love to hear your take on things. What are your thoughts and feelings about the way that Who’s the Boss ended? Do you feel like the show’s writers gave fans a satisfying ending to the series that they had grown to love for eight seasons. Or do you think that it was lacking in some kind of way? Let us know in the comments section down below.
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