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The Family Tree
The Family Tree
TV Series
  • Category:
  • Cast:
    Anne Archer,Frank Converse,Martin Hewitt
  • Time:
A divorced woman with three children - one of them deaf - marries a divorced man with a son of his own, and they must find a way for everyone to get along.
Complete series cast summary:
Anne Archer Anne Archer - Annie Benjamin Nichols 6 episodes, 1983
Frank Converse Frank Converse - Kevin Nichols 6 episodes, 1983
Martin Hewitt Martin Hewitt - Sam Benjamin 6 episodes, 1983
James Spader James Spader - Jake Nichols 6 episodes, 1983
Melora Hardin Melora Hardin - Tess Benjamin 6 episodes, 1983
Jonathan Hall Kovacs Jonathan Hall Kovacs - Toby Benjamin 6 episodes, 1983
Joanna Cassidy Joanna Cassidy - Elizabeth Nichols 3 episodes, 1983
Alan Feinstein Alan Feinstein - Dr. David Benjamin 3 episodes, 1983

The Family Tree

Spader and costar Hardin would later reunite in the hit mock-umentary show The Office (2005)

The Family Tree was the last family drama to air on television. That genre's either dead, buried, or in the Witness Protection Program. Take your pick. Think of it as a dramatic version of the 1960s sitcom The Brady Bunch. Annie Benjamin, a divorced mother of three children. Sam, Tess, and Toby. Toby's deaf. Annie meets Kevin Nichols, the father of Jake. In the pilot, they get married and move in together. In one episode, Tess has a crush on her ballet teacher, who, it's later revealed, is gay. It aired on NBC from February to March 1983. Unfortunately, it was never picked up for the following season. This is a show that should be on either The Hallmark Channel, Nick At Night, or DVD. It had potential and it's too bad to see it wasted.
I have a copy of this series in my personal collection, and these are the details I gleaned from my copy. I am not certain if this is the order in which they appeared, so the numbering may be "off." My 4th and 5th episodes are a bit rough, but the credits I have are clear.

Producer: Carroll Newman; Executive Producers: Nigel McKeand & Deanne Barkley; Created by: Carol Evan McKeand

Episode 1.1: wedding episode; written by Carol Evan McKeand; directed by Joan Darling; guest stars: Joanna Cassidy as Elizabeth Nichols, Alan Feinstein as Dr. David Benjamin

Episode 1.2: "Mrs. Robinson"/"The Graduate" episode; (I don't have the writing or directing credits on this one); guest star: Cassie Yates as Elise

Episode 1.3: Tessa's ballet teacher is gay; (don't have writing or directing credits); guest stars: Alan Feinstein as Dr. David Benjamin, Michael Cummings as Max Anthony, Richard Molinare as Richard Trask, Jeffrey Cruce as Nick Ryan

Episode 1.4: home intrusion episode; teleplay by Joel Steiger from story by Ken Neal Lee & Joel Steiger; directed by Edward Parone; guest stars: Tracy Bregman as Katy Allen, Luis Avalos as Detective Maldonado, John Deal as the intruder, Henry Gayle Sanders as Terry Wallace, Robert Telford as the night watchman

Episode 1.5: fathers and daughters episode (Tessa's birthday/problems in Molly's marriage); written by Linda Elstad & Carole Evan McKeand; director unknown; guest stars: Ann Dusenberry as Molly Nichols Tanner, Alan Feinstein as Dr. David Benjamin, Jonathan Perpich as Mike Tanner, Jacqui Evans as Mike's girlfriend

Episode 1.6: alimony stopped episode; teleplay by Emily Shoemaker from a story by Robert Crais; directed by Sidney Hayers; guest star: Joanna Cassidy as Elizabeth Nichols

All in all, I thought this was a very well done series, covering controversial topics for the times. This family was a bit more realistic as a blended family than the Brady Bunch.
As someone else said, this show is about a single mother who meets a single father and their two families join. It was a trial series for the network because it was only intended as a limited series. So, regardless of rumors that circulate the web, this show was never presented as anything more than a limited, summer series. And, of course, this was because the two main stars: Anne Archer and Frank Converse had other commitments so this couldn't have been anything more. Regardless of this fact, the entire series should get a loving treatment on DVD. The young deaf actor, who was the first major deaf character on a TV show, was my favorite. Incorrectly billed by many talk show hosts as the son of Ernie Kovacs, they would soon realize that young, Mr. Kovacs was a few years too young to be Ernie's son. However, they are related, but just not father and son.

Anyway, I cannot really add more to this show than what has been said. It was a great show that featured some major, up and coming actors of their time. Martin Hewitt had just appeared a few years earlier as Brooke Shield's love interest in Endless Love. And James Spader had appeared as a teen in several movies before making the leap to adult actor who now appears on The Blacklist.

So, after all of this, I don't really know if my comments apply as a formal review. I can't describe any of the episodes because it was a very long time ago. But I did enjoy all of them and I wish this series would finally turn up on DVD.