|Last update: November 14, 2005|
Sorry, as far as I know Brooklyn Bridge cannot be found on video and DVD.
So where was I when this series initially premiered?
Evidently not in viewing distance, more's the pity. Although I did see at least one episode, "The Gift," when the series was shown on network, otherwise conflicts kept me away. Recalled are the wonderful reviews the show received about its realistic characters, sensitive scripts, and lack of a laugh track, and also the battle to keep it on the air, one eventually lost. (The series captured many kudos in its career: a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Series, the Humanitas Prize, a Christopher Award, and two Viewers for Quality for Television awards for Best Comedy Series. But it wasn't enough to save it.)
Since our cable company carried neither Odyssey nor Bravo, I missed the first few reruns of the series and probably any chance to see it truly uncut. A satellite dish finally provided access to additional channels, including Bravo. During the summer I made time to sit down and really watch this series--and was enchanted.
Most of the delight was caused by "knowing" these people. Oh, I grew up in a 1960s suburb as an Italian Catholic rather than in a 1950s apartment building as a Polish Jew, but only location and religion kept the Bergers and the Silvers apart from the Lanzis and the D'Ambras. We were also a close-knit family, most of whom lived within a few miles of each other, and the majority of the relatives lived in that first cousin to the apartment house, the ubiquitious triple decker.
From the moment Alan entered his grandmother's home, everything about the Bergers' apartment was familiar: the neat old fashioned furniture (down to the antimacassars placed on the upholstery), the china knicknacks, the wallpaper patterns, the kitchen conversations and the family feasts, the food served on a moment's notice--indeed, the sweet smell of family favorites from the moment you walked into that home. Perhaps when I was nine it was in 1965 rather than in 1956 as it was in Nathaniel's world, but the years of difference were negligible: it was a world where you were polite to your elders, holidays were spent with relatives, you knew all the neighbors and went shopping at the neighborhood groceries and variety stores and bakeries. Ice cream could be purchased at the corner "superette" or drugstore; if not that treat, then penny candy from their boxes under the glass display case. On hot summer nights you could sit outside on the porch--
Watching Brooklyn Bridge is like being back there once more.
Theme Song: "Just Over the Brooklyn Bridge"
A world of its own,
The streets where we played--
The friends on every corner
Were the best we ever made.
The backyards and the schoolyards
And the trees that watched us grow;
The days in life when dinner time
Was all you had to know.
Whenever I think of yesterday
I close my eyes and see
That place just over the Brooklyn Bridge,
That'll always be home to me,
That'll always be home to me.
Performed by Art Garfunkel
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Sophie Berger: Marion Ross.
Jules Berger: Louis Zorich.
Alan Silver: Danny Gerard.
Phyllis Berger Silver: Amy Aquino.
George Silver: Peter Friedman.
Nathaniel Silver: Matthew Louis Siegel.
Nicholas Scamperelli: Adam LaVorgna.
Katie Monahan: Jenny Lewis.
Sid Elgart: David Wohl.
Benny Belinsky: Jake Jundef.
Warren Butcher: Aeryk Egan.
Cousin Bernard: Armen Shimerman (first season only).
Aunt Sylvia: Carol Kane (first season only).
Mr. Greer: Brent Jennings (first season only).
Lt. Patrick Monahan: James Naughton.
Rosemary Monahan: Constance McCashin.
Uncle Willy: Alan Blumenfeld.
Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich.
"Grandma" to Alan and Nathaniel, Sophie is the archtypical grandmother, strict one moment and indulgent the next, always willing to offer the boys some words of wisdom along with something to eat. She feels secure in her neat apartment in Brooklyn, and continually urges the family to stay together in the area. Since her daughter Phyllis works, she is the one who supervises her grandsons during the week.
Gentle Grandpa still thinks his wife is the most beautiful woman in the world, and is much more "live and let live" than Sophie. Before he retired, Grandpa was a hatmaker. The Bergers are both Polish, and met when Grandpa befriended Sophie's cousin Myron.
The focal character of the series along with Sophie, Alan is 14 and in ninth grade when the series begins. He loves his home, his family--
Phyllis Berger Silver
Eldest daughter of Sophie and Jules, Phyllis is unusual for a 1950s mother in that she holds a job--she works as office manager at McKinley Insurance, but she's always around to check the boys' homework and help them with some problem. George claims that Alan gets his "smarts" from his mother.
Alan and Nathaniel's dad, who's employed in the box room at the Post Office. Since he often works the evening shift, the boys don't see him a lot during the workweek, so a day off with Dad is always a treat. George grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, on south 6th Street.
"Natey" as Alan and his friends occasionally call him, is nine. He enjoys school, but his favorite pastime--
Kathleen Elizabeth "Katie" Monahan
Katie Monahan, sister of one of the boys Alan plays football with, became the love of his life from the moment he met her. Red haired, intelligent, and understanding, Katie has just one problem as far as Sophie Berger is concerned: she's Catholic! Katie is one of eight of a very typical Fifties Irish Catholic family--she even attends parochial school--and her father is a police lieutenant.
Sylvia Berger [Jacobson]
Sophie and Jules' younger daughter, Aunt Sylvia shocked the family by announcing she is divorcing her straightlaced accountant husband, Joel Jacobson. She becomes a bit of a "free spirit," embracing the beat movement and writing poetry to recite in coffeehouses. Mr. Greer
Mr. Greer is Alan's ninth grade social studies teacher, a bit of a novelty to Katie since he is black. He's strict but fair, and always tries to make the children in his class think rather than just parrot lessons.
Bernard is the family "fixer." Mechanically and electronically inclined, Bernard goes from one relative to the other fixing everything from televisions to toasters. The family jokes that he never sees his apartment, but he says that's fine because he's single.
Willy Smith (Smolinsky)
The son of Sophie's sister, Uncle Willy is the unfortunately stereotypical "loudmouth" of the family. He constantly tells people they changed their last name, which doesn't make it much of a secret. He's not a bad person at heart, but his urge for an easy buck sometimes overrules his better judgment.
Miriam Berkowitz Smith (Smolinsky)
Uncle Willy's wife, she takes advantage of what money he makes to dress in fancy furs and the latest fashion, and had him change their last name to "Smith" so people wouldn't know they were Jewish. She and Uncle Willy are always sniping at each other.
Lieutenant Patrick Monahan
Katie's father is as strongly Irish Catholic as the Bergers are Jewish. Embarrassed by the belief that all Irish cops are "on the take," Monahan is very straightlaced. Although he loves his children and would do anything for them, he is uncomfortable with the idea of Katie seeing a Jewish boy. The Monahans live on the corner of Cortelyou Road and 16th Street.
Katie's mother is a full-time mother, raising eight children (daughters Katie and Colleen and sons Patrick Junior, Connor, Matthew, Seamus, Andrew, and an unidentified child). She was born in Northern Ireland and came to America when she was nine. Her father was a chemistry professor.
"When Irish Eyes are Smiling" (1 hour) 09/20/1991, written by Gary David Goldberg, directed by Sam Weisman
In the opening episode, we are introduced not only to the Berger and Silver families, but to the love of Alan's life, Katie Monahan. Katie and three of her friends (Mary Margaret, Mary Jane, and Mary Beth) offer to go to a dance with Alan and his friends, but Benny's inane behavior in front of the girls leads Warren to demand to Alan that he be thrown out of their club, the Royals. In the meantime, Grandpa and Grandma take Nathaniel to meet Brooklyn Dodgers player Gil Hodges, who Grandpa claims he played baseball with in Russia.
Episode Observances: Sophie is smoking in the opening scenes of this episode; I believe it's the first and only time we ever see her do so. Alan is a bit more of a smartass in the first episode than in the rest of the series.
What Time is It?: One of the nice things about this series is that creator Gary David Goldberg followed the calendar when creating the episodes. The series begins around the end of September or the beginning of October, which of course was when it premiered, and in many episodes subtle hints only indicate "when" it is. In this episode Mr. Greer mentions the Suez Canal crisis, which began in July 1956.
Trivia: The Bergers and the Silvers live at 6702 21st Avenue, Bensonhurst.
Guest Cast: Gil Hodges: Jeffrey Nordling. Miss McCullough: Heidi Swedberg. Silvio: Richard Panebianco. Mrs. Belinsky: Nancy Fish. Esther Shapiro: Estelle Harris. Molly Kapiloff: Marilyn Keith. Mindy Scheider: Alexana Lambros. Father MacCauley: James Gleason. Mary Beth: Lauren Woodland. Mary Margaret: Marguerite Moreau. Mary Jane: Deborah Slaboda. Bank Guard: Jordan Myers.
"Death in Brooklyn" 09/27/1991, written by Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
Alan's Uncle Ira, whom most of the family has never met, has a heart attack while golfing and dies, and the funeral is to be held on the same day he plans to take Katie to the Dodgers game. When he decides to take a stand and not attend the funeral, he hadn't reckoned on Grandma, or his feelings for his family. In the end, Grandma tells the family why Uncle Ira was so important to her.
What Time is It?: This episode takes place on September 28, 29, and 30, 1956.
Trivia: Katie also has a friend named Mary Catherine. Uncle Ira was the one who sent the money that enabled Sophie to come to America, which was why she forgave him any excesses.
Guest Cast: Johnny: Al Rusco. Mr. O'Brien: Graham Beckel. Uncle Buddy: Murray Rubin. Uncle Myron: Mike Nussbaum. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Gil Hodges: Jeffrey Nordling. Mrs. Belinsky: Nancy Fish. Molly Kapiloff: Marilyn Keith. And Vin Scully as the Voice of the Dodgers.
"Boys of Summer" 10/04/1991, written by John Masius, directed by Bradley Silberling
Alan is asked to be on a television show that showcases young baseball players in a competition at Ebbets Field, winning him the chance to meet several Brooklyn Dodgers players. Depressed after not winning the competition, he goes to visit his father at work while the family worries about his whereabouts.
Episode Observances: The scene with George and Alan after Alan's television appearance is particularly sweet.
Trivia: Phyllis was spelling bee champ at Seth Low Junior High. Cardini's Market sponsors the Royals (Sid turned them down). George was the best punchball player in Williamsburg.
Guest Cast: Happy Felton: Walter Olkewicz. Roger: Clarence Felder. Pee Wee Reese: John Short. Phil: Douglas Roberts. Sadie: Edith Fields. Librarian: Shirley Prestia. Joe: Stu Levin. Barry Conners: Danny Horan. Anthony Gambuzza: Mike Vitar.
"Sylvia's Condition" 10/18/1991, written by Peter Schneider and Bend Cardinale, directed by Sam Weisman
During the family gathering for Succoth, a Jewish thanksgiving ceremony, free-spirited Aunt Sylvia, who follows the "beat" movement, announces that she is getting a divorce from her husband. Sophie is horrified when Sylvia says she is stifling in the marriage and desperately tries to talk her out of her decision.
Episode Observances: First appearance of Aunt Sylvia, as well as Uncle Willy.
Guest Cast: Uncle Willy: Alan Blumenfeld. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Joel Jacobson: Jeff Perry. And Marty Glickman as the Voice of the Giants.
"What I Did for Love" 10/25/1991, written by Theresa Rebeck, directed by Donald Reiker
Katie is so upset that her school science project didn't work out properly that Alan "fixes" the results for her, which only serves to make her more upset; meanwhile, George and Grandpa annoy the women in their lives when they resort to doing a favor for Sid's cousin Morty (the loan shark) to get tickets for a Harry Belafonte concert.
Episode Observances: Alan is watching Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on television (taking "Catholic notes" so he can talk intelligently to Katie), leading to a funny sequence where everyone, including Grandma and Grandpa, thinks he look like Cousin Morris.
What Time is It?: There are Adlai Stevenson posters in the windows of the apartment building, placing this episode as taking place before the 1956 election.
Guest Cast: Morty's Henchman: Michael Goldfinger.
"War of the Worlds" (1 hour) 11/06/1991, teleplay by Gary David Goldberg, story by Peter Scheider and Ben Cardinale, directed by Sam Weisman
Neither Katie's parents nor Alan's grandparents think they should be dating out of their faith, so the desperate kids arrange a meeting between the two families. Things go from bad to worse during the uncomfortable dinner when obnoxious Uncle Willy and his wife Miriam turn up at the same Chinese restaurant the families have chosen as neutral ground.
Episode Observances: There's a wonderful montage scene of the families getting ready for dinner using "Tonight" from the musical West Side Story, including the confrontational music of the Sharks and the Jets.
What Time is It?: The 1956 election is talked about as being "last week" in this episode.
Trivia: Lt. Monahan reads the New York News and New York Mirror. Sophie's nephew, Eddie Phillips, was a policeman who worked with Lt. Monahan.
Guest Cast: Lt. Monahan: James Naughton. Rosemary Monahan: Constance McCashin. Student: Jaclyn Bernstein. Donald Lee: Timothy Dang. Andrew Monahan: Patrick Gleeson. Seamus Monahan: Adam Hasart. Matthew Monahan: Jeremy Hasart. Mr. Lee: Richard Kwong. Connor Monahan: Jonathan E. Lewis. Patrick Monahan Jr: Jack Lynch. Uncle Willy: Alan Blumenfeld. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich.
"Dinner at Six" 11/13/1991, written by Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
While their elders are away at a wedding in Boston for the weekend, Alan and Nathaniel are trusted to stay on their own. Then Warren, inspired by an article in Life, comes up with an idea for a "dinner party" with Katie and her friends "the Marys," and Nathaniel is excluded. But the tables are turned on the boys when Nathaniel gets sick and the girls pay more attention to him than to them.
Episode Observances: LOL: As a Rhode Islander, I was particularly convulsed by Warren's assertion that Rhode Island is somewhere where dinner parties are held.
What Time is It?: The first snow of the season takes place in this episode.
Guest Cast: Dr. Schulman: Alan Arbus. Mary Margaret: Marguerite Moreau. Mary Jane: Deborah Slaboda. Mary Beth: Lauren Woodland.
"Old Fools" 11/20/1991, written by Peter Schneider and Ben Cardinale, directed by Kristoffer Siegel Tabori
Nathaniel is upset when Jules and Sophie's cousin Myron, once partners in the hatmaking business, have a falling out at the weekly Friday night poker game and stop speaking to each other. In the meantime, Uncle Joel is helping George and Phyllis get through an income tax audit.
Episode Observances: Watch for the lovely little flashback scene of how Grandpa met both Myron and Sophie back in 1909.
What Time is It?: This episode takes place after November 10, 1956, since Uncle Joel is quoting from that date's Saturday Evening Post. Also, Alan is constructing a model of the aircraft carrier Saratoga, "now under construction" at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Guest Cast: Bert Mendel: Jerry Adler. Dr. Schulman: Allan Arbus. Uncle Buddy: Murray Rubin. Uncle Myron: Mike Nussbaum. Uncle Joel: Jeff Perry. Auditor: Adilah Barnes. Young Myron Grossman: Andy Lauer. Young Jules: Maury Efrems. Young Sophie: Amy Ryan.
"Saturday" 11/27/1991, written by Brad Hall and John Masius, directed by Donald Reiker
On a "once in a blue moon" Saturday, George is off work, so Alan and Nathaniel look forward to having some fun with their dad--but the adults decide "Family Chore Day" comes first. Well...that is until Grandpa, George, and the boys end up test driving a beautiful red Buick to Coney Island and Phyllis and Grandma play hookey at the new Danny Kaye movie with a stop for ice cream at Sid's afterward.
Episode Observances: In the closing scene, Nathaniel sees "the blue moon" in person in a very sweet coda to this episode. Some great old footage of Coney Island as well, as well as scenes from the Danny Kaye film The Court Jester.
What Time is It?: Sid's store is decorated for Thanksgiving.
Guest Cast: Usher: James Edson.
"Get a Job" 12/08/1991, written by Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
Sid wants to branch out into catering and hires Alan, Warren and Benny to be waiters at his first wedding, but when Benny makes himself sick sampling the food and the three boys begin participating in the entertainment, Sid finally gets fed up. When Alan's dad and grandfather rush to help out, Alan--
Episode Observances: Introduces Cousin Bernard.
What Time is It?: Evidently Christmas is now approaching as someone near Sid's store has Christmas lights around their doorway.
Guest Cast: Bernard: Armin Shimerman. Perry Hirsch: Alan Bergman. Mr. Kaplan: Barry Vigon. Benjamin Figa: Stewart Figa. Daphne: Lisa Gerber. The Lady: Rosanna Huffman.
"Where Have You Gone, Jackie Robinson?" 12/11/1991, written by Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
The weekly "Cousins Club" meeting may survive the devastating news that Jackie Robinson has been traded to the New York Giants--until Aunt Miriam chooses that time to reveal that Uncle Willy has cheated on her with a model named Cookie LaBarbera.
Episode Observances: Although Jackie Robinson was indeed traded to the Giants, he never played for them; indeed, he retired. In the following year, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, breaking the hearts of Brooklyn fans everywhere. Upcoming storyline: Cousin Bernie announces he has met "a girl," Bernice, a telephone operator.
Trivia: Miriam and Willy have a son named Sidney.
Guest Cast: Bernard: Armin Shimerman. Uncle Willy: Alan Blumenfeld. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Uncle Buddy: Murray Rubin. Joe: Stu Levin. Sadie: Edith Fields.
"The Gift" (a.k.a. "Ovaltine and Sympathy") 01/01/1992, written by Seth Freeman and Brad Hall, directed by Seth Freeman
After his beloved fourth-grade teacher Miss McCullough announces at "Open School" that she is getting married and leaving for Japan with her serviceman husband, Nathaniel is not only devastated, but he refuses to adjust to his new teacher--to the point where he is sent to the principal's office. Meanwhile, Benny's conscience bothers him after he forges a note from his mother.
Trivia: Miss McCullough's first name is Molly. Her new husband is stationed in Kyoto, where she will be teaching.
Guest Cast: Miss McCullough: Heidi Swedberg. Mr. Greer: Brent Jennings. Miss Driscoll: Christine Healy. Lt. Mark Billings: Tom Wood. Principal Stan Germaine: James Greene. Mindy Schneider: Alexana Lambros.
"Boys and Girls Together" (a.k.a. "When a Man Loves a Woman" part
1), 01/15/1992, written by Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
Benny is too shy to ask a girl out on a date, so to help him out, Alan asks Karen Frankel, a classmate Benny has always liked, to a couples-only party, and asks Katie to go with Benny, then they will "trade" later on. But Benny develops a crush on Katie and Alan learns that Karen has had a crush on him for years. Meanwhile Sophie and Phyllis help organize a rummage sale which honors the fallen son of a neighbor in aid of a veterans' hospital, while George invests in one of the new Polaroid cameras.
Episode Observances: The episode opens on a nostalgic note with one of the old Coronet school instructional films.
Trivia: Katie has been forbidden to "go steady" and can't go out with the same boy more than twice. Corporal Tommy Mueller was killed during World War II. Sophie, Phyllis, and Harriet all belong to the Ladies' Auxiliary of WFW Post 7940.
Guest Cast: Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Harriet Mueller: Joyce Van Patten. Karen Frankel: Risa Littman. Rosemary Monahan: Constance McCashin. Mr. Cavaretti: Robert Constanzo. Carla Diloretto: Shantel Cropper. Mr. Diloretto: Richard Reicheg. Sandra: Melissa Omansky.
"Boys and Girls Apart" (a.k.a. "When a Man Loves a Woman" part 2)
01/22/1992, written by Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
Benny tells Alan that Katie is now his girlfriend and they can't be friends any longer; meanwhile, Karen Frankel further misunderstands her relationship with Alan, and, during preparations for the rummage sale, Aunt Sylvia and Sid seem to be hitting it off.
Episode Observances: The Coronet "Dating Dos and Don'ts" film (© 1949!) again makes an appearance.
Guest Cast: Aunt Sylvia: Carol Kane. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Harriet Mueller: Joyce Van Patten. Karen Frankel: Risa Littman. Mr. Cavaretti: Robert Constanzo. Rosemary Monahan: Constance McCashin.
"Boys and Girls Together Again", 01/29/1992, written by Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, directed by James Simons
Katie finally explains her feelings to Benny and eventually he and Alan resolve their differences--after he makes peace with Karen and Benny has a heart-to-heart with Grandma. Meanwhile, the rummage sale wildly achieves its goal, and Sid invites Aunt Sylvia back to the store for champagne.
Episode Observances: There's a very touching scene where Mrs. Muller sees the boys playing a war game in the hallway and explains to them what happened to her son, making them see the reality of war. Sid's lecture about being a boy in love is also hilarious.
What Time is It?: There are no "time clues" to this story, but Benny does comment at the end that it could be a great year, indicating that it is probably after New Year's.
Trivia: Sid's store used to be owned by Mr. Zuckerman, whom he used to work for; Zuckerman is still alive, at the Jewish Home for the Aged in Rockaway.
Guest Cast: Aunt Sylvia: Carol Kane. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Harriet Mueller: Joyce Van Patten. Karen Frankel: Risa Littman. Ronnie: Adam Hendrshott. Mrs. Pincus: Hanna Hertelendy.
"On the Road" 02/05/1992, written by Theresa Rebeck, directed by Sam Weisman
Phyllis and George allow Aunt Sylvia to take Alan into Manhattan to Nero's Coffeehouse to hear Jack Kerouac recite poetry, but when they are late coming home, Grandma and Grandpa follow them, whereupon Sylvia and her beat friends and the older folks discover they aren't so different after all.
What Time is It?: Although this episode was originally telecast on CBS in February, it's obvious from the setting that it was intended to run earlier in the season, as jack o'lanterns glow from the windows and in the doorway of the family's apartment house.
Guest Cast: Aunt Sylvia: Carol Kane. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Uncle Willy: Alan Blumenfeld. Madeline: Wendy Gazelle. Bobby: Scott Smith. Scoot: K. Todd Freeman. Rose: Laurel Cronin. Jack Kerouac: Tom Kurlander. Phoebe: Jodie Markell. James: S. Kyle Parker.
"Great Expectations" 03/04/1992, written by Lisa Melamed, directed by Bradley Silberling
The results of the NY Standardized Aptitude Test rattle the boys, especially Benny, whose career profile turns out to be "forest ranger," but Alan is even more shocked when he's accepted at the Bronx High School of Science. Feelings are mixed from other quarters although the plethora of relatives Phyllis phones are delighted--
Episode Observances: The scene where Phyllis calls all the relatives is so natural, a true laugh-aloud moment.
What Time is It?: Although there is no specific clue to date this episode, if one knew when the NY SAT results were usually released, one could have a good idea. As everyone is still wearing coats, presumably it's still winter.
Trivia: The Cousins Club has received commendations Assemblyman Semansky, Mayor Wagner, and Governor Harriman, and had their name read into the register of the New York State Congressional Record by State Senator Frederick Grasso for their work in European relief.
Guest Cast: Aunt Sylvia: Carol Kane. Bernard: Armin Shimerman. Uncle Buddy: Murray Rubin. Joe: Stu Levin. Mrs. Belinsky: Nancy Fish. Lucille Scamparelli: Mary-Joan Negro.
"A Tale of Two Boroughs" 03/11/1992, written by Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, directed by Bradley Silberling
Alan's reluctance to go to the Bronx High School of Science worries George enough that he has a talk with Mr. Greer about the pros and cons of Alan's attending, but when Alan finally gathers his courage and tells his mother he doesn't want to go, the confrontation hurts both of them--
Episode Observances: There is a charming "shaving scene" with George and Nathaniel in this episode. Oddly, the subplot about Sylvia, the magazine, and Sophie's objection to her relationship with Sid is completely dropped in the second part. Indeed, after the previous episode we never see Sylvia again.
Trivia: George's mother's name was Ann; his father's one treat was having himself shaved at the barber shop. Mr. Greer is married and has a three-month-old daughter. George plays basketball. Phyllis was accepted to Hunter High School in Manhattan, but had to turn it down.
Guest Cast: Mr. Greer: Brent Jennings.
"Rainy Day" 04/13/1992, written by Brad Hall and John Masius, directed by Michael J. Fox
On the Sunday they were planning to go to the Statue of Liberty--
Episode Observances: Of all the episodes of Brooklyn Bridge, my personal favorite: there's a little bit of everything, comedy, sentimentality, George playing with the children, the many sides of cousin Bernard, the running gag about Nicholas, Sid's solution to the blackout problem, and the underlying story tied together by the Statue of Liberty (as the grandchild of immigrants, a subject close to my heart).
What Time is It?: Judging by the weather, it's probably March!
Trivia: Bernard is Sophie's sister's son (presumably not the same sister as Uncle Willie's mother, especially since Bernie's mother has passed away and Willie's mother, at last mention, was still alive), is forty, and has been working since kindergarten when he sold lemonade stands (not lemonade). Despite her being a telephone operator, Bernice seems to be a bit dyslexic; she took the #36 bus rather than the #63. Bernice's grandmother is also from Poland.
Guest Cast: Bernard: Armin Shimerman. Bernice: Lisa Pelikan.
"On the Line" 04/20/1992, written by Peter Schneider and Ben Cardinale, directed by Kenneth D. Zunder
During a crucial basketball game between Rigo Park and the Jewish Community House junior league, Alan wins two free throws after one of the opposing players makes a foul. One successful basket will tie the hotly contested game, two will win. But as Alan psyches himself up for the task, his imagination runs wild, first in thoughts of what events led up to the game, then in a series of wild flash fantasies in which he fears that if he blows the shot, he will ruin his whole life.
Episode Observances: Alan's excursion into "what if I lose" takes a hilarious turn, almost reminding one of Ralphie's fantasies in the movie A Christmas Story.
Trivia: Alan is reading Steinbeck for school, The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.
Guest Cast: Coach Bloom: David Graf. Referee: George Gerdes. Rigo Park Captain: Jeff Bacic. Louis Neiman, Esq.: H. Richard Greene.
(Note: The second season was broadcast erratically by CBS and many of the stories are not in chronological order as they were in first season. The final show broadcast, for instance, was "No Time Like the Future," which took place in October.)
"Brave New Worlds" 09/13/1992, written by Seth Freeman and Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
The boys' first day at Lafayette High School is momentous in more ways than one (nervous Benny is almost hysterical): gorgeous Melinda Dean, who Warren hears has "done stuff" with some other boys, asks Alan to be her partner for a study project--
Episode Observances: On a nice note of deja vu, the second season premiere begins at the mah-jongg game ala the first episode, although this time the players are Grandma, Phyllis, Aunt Miriam, and a novice Rosemary Monahan. Curiosity: Katie asks Alan if they are going steady, although in a previous episode she told Alan she wasn't allowed to go steady.
What Time is It?: September 1957. (New Yorkers tell me school always starts the Monday after Labor Day, so it should be September 8 and 9.)
Trivia: Katie's school is St. Matthew's. The development Miriam is selling homes in is Meadowbrook Lakes. The family has first-
Guest Cast: Melinda Dean: Aimee Brooks. Aunt Miriam: Natalija Nogulich. Rosemary Monahan: Constance McCashin. Mr. Nagle: Ted Kazanoff.
"Plaza Sweet" 09/19/1992, written by Brad Hall, directed by Donald Reiker
On Grandpa's birthday, Phyllis and George give him and Grandma a gift, a romantic weekend at the Plaza Hotel--an excursion the Bergers consider until Nathaniel contracts chicken pox. Sophie takes over his care with such vigor, overruling all of Phyllis' instructions, that Phyllis feels thrust in the background of her own child's care and her anger precipitates a quarrel between her and her mother. Meanwhile, Benny stakes out an apartment building in hopes of seeing his favorite baseball player, Duke Snider.
What Time is It?: Early fall, since Grandpa mentions he's celebrating his birthday in the fall this year.
Trivia: Since no birth records were kept where he came from, Grandpa does not know when his birthday is. Phyllis won the hotel tickets in a Red Cross raffle. Nathaniel has also had the measles.
Guest Cast: Dr. Schulman: Alan Arbus. Duke Snider: Gordon Drake.
"Rockette to the Moon" 09/26/1992, written by Patricia Jones and Donald Reiker, directed by Sam Weisman
Katie's father, already displeased that his eldest daughter Colleen is earning a living as a Rockette (his dream was for her to become a nun), refuses to give her permission to marry her boyfriend Charlie, saying that they are both too young and that Charlie has no job. Nevertheless, Colleen and Charlie elope, and Lt. Monahan refuses to speak to her since she is not married in the eyes of God. Also: The Silvers finally get a telephone.
Episode Observances: A nice shot of a 1950s Rockette performance begins this episode. There is a sweet scene where Sophie helps Monahan shop at Cardini's Market and gives him advice. One question: He says his wife and Katie are not speaking to him, so it's quiet around the house. What happened to the other six kids? They don't even appear at dinner!
Trivia: Alan is the captain of the basketball team in high school. The new phone is finally installed in the living room and their new phone number is KLondike 5-7719. Colleen is nineteen, as is Charlie. The Monahans were married when they were younger than Charlie and Colleen. The Silvers and Bergers work out a code--
Guest Cast: Lieutenant Monahan: James Naughton. Rosemary Monahan: Constance McCashin. Charlie Gallagher: Mackenzie Astin. Colleen Monahan: Yvonne Suhor. Nick: Nick de Mauro. The Phone Man: Terry Wills.
"Nun But the Brave" 10/03/1992, written by Bud Wiser, directed by Sandy Smolan
Guilt is in the air in Brooklyn: Katie prays to be spared from her history exam, then is devastated when her teacher, the tough Sister Rafael, dies--guilty to the point where she blames Alan and eventually vows to become a nun. In the meantime, both Grandma and Nathaniel make the Silvers feel guilty about shopping at Fairmart, the supermarket that gives trading stamps, rather than at the neighborhood grocery.
Episode Observances: Katie's religion teacher needs to be taken to task. We were clearly taught that even if you prayed someone would die, God would not grant your wish. Somewhere along the line both Alan and Nathaniel had birthdays: Alan says he's fifteen, and Sophie tells Joe Cardini Nathaniel is ten. <g> Gee, can't imagine what Nicholas' brother was praying for...
Trivia: Nathaniel helps Mr. Cardini at the market "for free." Mr. Cardini keeps his records on a pole in the store: the Bergers are under "H" because Jules made hats, the Silvers under "B" for "bella" (because "my mom is beautiful," as Nathaniel explains). Sid was assigned to Staten Island during World War II. Old Yeller, Pal Joey, and Bridge on the River Kwai are just some of the movies Alan and Katie have been seeing. Mrs. Gelka in 4B has been a customer of Mr. Cardini for 23 years, since the store opened. Mr. Cardini's delivery boy was named Tony.
Guest Cast: Joe Cardini: Robert Prosky. Mary Beth: Lauren Woodland. Father McCauley: James Gleason. Mrs. Caravella: Tamar Cooper.
"In the Still of the Night" 11/07/1992, written by Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
After Glee Club practice, Alan is collared by Jimmy Vinceguera, a Lafayette High School hood who overheard him singing--apparently Bruno Mazzarelli, the lead singer in his rock group, the V-Necks, was arrested, and he wants Alan to act as substitute in a radio contest. But, as Alan practices, he is caught up in the "excitement" of being rebellious, and drawn into the boys' objectionable behavior as well as into their music. In the meantime, Nicholas tells Nathaniel they have to give up playing cowboy if they want to "become" teenagers, but Grandpa nips that in the bud by agreeing to play with them.
Episode Observances: Deja vu again: The actor who plays Jimmy also played one of the delinquents who accost Alan, Benny, and Warren in the first episode. (BTW, "Panebianco" translates as "white bread.") Poor Benny gets no respect, even from the teachers. And poor Alan gets the mother's curse pronounced on him.
Trivia: Jimmy was in PS 205 with Alan and Benny; his dad is an alcoholic. Benny joined the Glee Club to be near Becky Abromowitz. Their third-grade teacher was Mrs. Scanlon. Alan belongs to the school newspaper and sophomore council, as well as the Glee Club. George was a member of a barbershop quartet, the Berries, as a youngster.
Guest Cast: Jimmy: Richard Panebianco. Gino: Danny Ponce. Miss Chapin: Hallie Todd. Mr. Myler: Michael Winters. Tommy T.: Rudi Davis.
"The Last Immigrant" 11/14/1992, written by Peter Schneider and Ben Cardinale, directed by Sam Weisman
The entire family welcomes Sophie's cousin Jacob, the last of her family to arrive in America to start a new life. Everyone pitches in to show him the treats of living in Brooklyn, with Grandma almost hysterically determined that he be happy. But she refuses to let Alan and Nathaniel know that he lost his wife Anna and two sons Josef, age fifteen, and David, age eleven, to the concentration camps. It turns out Grandma has always felt guilty for somehow not making Jacob and his family leave Poland before the Nazis invaded.
Episode Observances: Some really sweet scenes with Joel Grey, especially when he tells Alan about the fate of his family. Interesting how even Sid tries to protect Alan from Jacob's secret. The sunset-watching scene is a throat-tightener.
What Time is It?: Judging by the loss of leaves off the trees, it's late October or early November.
Trivia: Jacob's route out of Poland took him through Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, and Cuba and finally into Florida. Jacob says Phyllis reminds them of their Cousin Rosalie, who was a dancer. The village that Grandma and Jacob grew up in is Rajin. Jacob was incarcerated in Treblinka. Alan is reading Peyton Place. Sid only found out when he was 15 that his Uncle Meyer was really Aunt Marjorie.
Guest Cast: Jacob Prossman: Joel Grey. Mrs. Kaminsky: Rhoda Gemignani.
"In a Family Way" 04/10/1993, written by Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
When the family learns Katie's sister is pregnant and she and her husband are moving to California where he has a good job, they help Katie plan a shower for her, but Lieutenant Monahan is still hurt that Colleen was not married in the Church. But a chat with Cousin Jacob, who has taken a job painting the Monahans' apartment, may convince him of what's really important. In the meantime, Nicholas and Sid teach George and Jules the finer points of betting on the ponies.
Episode Observances: I guess it's the same cousin Ruthie who was...whisper...adopted... <g>
What Time is It?: Judging by the state of the leaves and the trees, and the coats, late October or early November.
Trivia: Charlie is now employed as regional manager by the National Transistor Company. Tony Scamperelli made a promise never to bet on horses again (but just at Belmont <g>). The winning horse is "Sophie's Boy."
Guest Cast: Jacob: Joel Grey. Lieutenant Monahan: James Naughton. Rosemary Monahan: Constance McCashin. Charlie Gallagher: Mackenzie Astin. Colleen Gallagher: Yvonne Suhor. Cousin Ruthie: Rae Allen. Mrs. Caravella: Tamar Cooper. Mrs. Kesselbaum: Hanna Hertelendy. Track Announcer: Trevor Denman.
"Good as Gold" 04/17/1993, teleplay by Gary David Goldberg and Brad Hall, story by Joyce Maynard, directed by Sam Weisman
George takes a second job selling encyclopedias with Uncle Willy to make ends meet after the family refrigerator starts failing. After an abortive start, he soon becomes salesman of the month--
What Time is It?: It is still September; everyone is still in shirtsleeves.
Trivia: George's father, Jake, worked on a steam press for a living.
Guest Cast: Uncle Willy: Alan Blumenfeld. Mr. Kramer: Colm Meaney. Mrs. Kramer: Laura Innes.
"The Wild Pitch" 04/24/1993, written by Patricia Jones and Donald Reiker, directed by Craig Zisk
As she leaves Sid's store after arranging to hold Nathaniel's birthday party there, Sophie breaks his front window while tossing a ball to Benny; while she is more than willing to pay for the damage, she wishes to go with the lowest bidder ($85 from Simpson's) instead of a repair made by Sid's uncles ($179). When Sid disagrees, an alarming escalation of hostilities occurs, starting with a rabbinical arbitration and deteriorating to legal action that culminates with Sid refusing to serve the boys and cancelling Nathaniel's party.
Episode Observances: This episode should have come before "Nun But the Brave" as Nathaniel is already ten in that episode according to Sophie.
What Time is It?: Sid intimates it might snow soon, and the boys are wearing coats and scarves.
Trivia: Sid's uncles are Elgart Brothers Fine Glaziers. Sid apparently hasn't been to temple since his Bar Mitzvah; he was brought up in Brownsville. He has two different size feet, one eight, the other eight and a half; he must always buy two pairs of shoes. Nathaniel's favorite airplane is the B-24H Liberator.
Guest Cast: Rabbi Meltzer: Steven Gilborn. Cousin Herbie: Keith Gordon.
"The Date" 07/16/1993, written by Joseph Purdy, directed by Brad Hall
While Alan and his friends prepare for their first high school dance, Nathaniel asks questions about dating and George and Phyllis make arrangements to go to Ben Maksik's Town and Country Club. The night of the dance Sid plans to take out a girl named Flora in a gorgeous brand-new 1957 Edsel borrowed from his sister's husband, but unfortunately neither Flora or Benny's date, Becky Abromowitz, show up, leaving the two to discuss life and love while waiting at the store. Meanwhile, Grandma and Grandma make a "date" to play cards with Nathaniel.
Episode Observances: Correspondent Ken Miller tells me the Edsel couldn't have been a 1957 because Ford made the Edsel only in 1958, 1959, and 1960.
What Time is It?: It is very late fall or early winter and definitely takes place after "Nun But the Brave" (the Silvers already have a phone).
Trivia: Sid has at least one sister. Jules' cousin Joseph loved a woman for 25 years and never told her. Mrs. Shapiro is on the Silvers' party line. Becky actually goes out with Roger, a junior, having "forgotten" to call Benny. Belinda Nightlinger, who stood up Sid twice a week for years, finally married his cousin Morty.
Guest Cast: Flora: Elizabeth Dennehy. Amy Brewer: Jill LaVorgna. Monte Glickman: Hiram Kasten. The Waiter: Tony Campisi.
"Keeping up with the Joneses" 07/23/1993, written by Brad Hall, directed by Sam Weisman
Phyllis invites an old school friend and her husband to a dinner party at the Silvers', but as the night progresses she and George are left uncomfortable by their constant bickering, while Grandma disapproves because the rest of the family wasn't invited to join them. In the meantime, Nathaniel mourns the loss of The Buccaneers, a favorite Saturday night program that's been replaced by Perry Mason.
What Time is It?: Takes place after "The Hollywood Country Club" (Phyllis says she has a new job) and also definitely after September 14, 1957, which was the last telecast of The Buccaneers. Everyone is wearing coats and hats, so it's probably late November or early December, but the reference to The Buccaneers and the new series Perry Mason premiering throws off the timeline a little.
Trivia: Ed Jones owns a television station, WCVD, in Cleveland. Susan sees a psychiatrist, Dr. Minnerman. Ed and Susan have met Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason. William and Daniel Jones, 17 and 14, respectively, go to boarding school in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Phyllis and Susan also went to Lafayette High School.
(The Buccaneers, starring Robert Shaw as Captain Dan Tempest and set in the West Indies during the early 1700s, ran from September 22, 1956, to September 14, 1957.)
Guest Cast: Ed Jones: John Bedford Lloyd. Susan Lowenberg Jones: Kate Burton.
"The Hollywood Country Club" 07/30/1993, written by Peter Schneider, directed by Kenneth D. Zunder
George is upset when his sister Alice arrives for a visit to discuss selling his parents' bungalow at Mountaindale in the Catskills, remembering the good times the family has always had there and fearing they are losing part of their heritage; in the meantime, Phyllis is offered a promotion--but at the expense of Emma Brooks, the office manager who's been her mentor.
Episode Observances: A bittersweet episode about losing childhood memories.
What Time is It?: Coats and hats and scarves are being worn; late November or early December.
Trivia: George's brother and other sisters are Richard, Rose, and Nancy. Phyllis is hoping to be promoted to the Bayridge office. Emma has been with McKinley Insurance Company for 23 years, manager for seven; she takes a job with the competition, Garfield Insurance, and asks Phyllis to come with her. She's also dating a Mr. Nussbaum. The founders of the Hollywood Country Club were immigrants from Germany. Mitch and Myra Mitchell are a surgeon and a book publisher/attorney, respectively. Nathaniel took his first steps on the porch of the bungalow.
Guest Cast: Aunt Alice: Julie Cobb. McKinley: Richard Venture. Emma Brooks: Allyn Ann McLerie. Uncle Willy: Alan Blumenfeld. Dr. Mitch Mitchell: Thomas Ryan. Myra Mitchell: Nancy Mette.
"No Time Like the Future" 08/06/1993, teleplay by Peter Schneider, story by Peter Schneider and Ben Cardinale, directed by Jimmy Simons
The boys are listening to the World Series when the news comes through that the Russians have launched Sputnik. As the time comes for Sputnik to pass over the United States, everyone's growing fear that the Russian satellite may somehow attack them leads to revelations and confessions.
Episode Observances: Some really great old news footage in this episode, and clips of CBS News' first regular evening newscaster, Douglas Edwards. Interestingly enough, in the clip of a physics class shooting off rockets, the teacher is a Catholic sister. LOL, Grandma is cleaning house before "the end of the world"--how typical! Query: Anyone ever take a look at the Post Office logo on George's jacket? It looks as if it's the modern eagle logo rather than the old one with the Pony Express rider.
What Time is It?: October 4, 1957. (One might assume had Brooklyn Bridge not been pre-empted for most of the month of October, this might have been broadcast after "Nun But the Brave.")
Trivia: Nicholas' Uncle Antonio works in a gun shop on Long Island; he used to sell ammo to Al Capone. (He tells Nicholas he can't have a gun until he's "a little older": 53.) The girls' nicknames for Sister Bernadette of the Immaculate Martyrdom of the Saints and Sister Maria Maxima Miracula Immaculata, field hockey coach and science teacher, are, respectively, "Sister Coach" and "Sister Science" (and no wonder). Nicholas' big brother is stationed with the Army in Germany. Katie kisses Alan for the first time.
Confessions: Warren thinks of both Alan and Benny as the best friends he ever had, and he thinks Katie is "pretty and nice"; Benny confesses the same thing about Katie, how he cheated on an exam in fourth grade, and how he smoked half a cigarette once; Nicholas tells Nathaniel he's always been a good pal; Katie kissed nineteen-year-old Joey DeForest at a party.
Guest Cast: Mary Beth: Lauren Woodland. Sputnik Play-by-Play: Jerry Dunphy. World Series Play-by-Play: Ken Levine.
Mystery of the Missing Episode--Solved (Twice!)
The Original Mystery:
On the Episodes Guide page, where I found the original telecast dates, it is indicated that one episode of Brooklyn Bridge, "Lost Weekend," which was intended for broadcast on October 25, 1991, was never shown.
While some episodes do have unaired episodes--ones that people overseas or in Canada often see when we in the U.S. don't--I wondered if the episode was one that was actually broadcast, but under another title.
The Original Theory:
My reasoning: "Lost Weekend" was apparently scheduled for air right before Halloween. The episode "On the Road," which was broadcast in February, looks as if it should have been shown before Halloween, as there are jack o'lanterns in front of the apartment house as Sylvia and Alan leave. We know that several of the episodes, like "Boys and Girls Together" and "The Gift," had alternate titles. So is it possible that "Lost Weekend" was in reality a working title for "On the Road"? "Lost" applies to many aspects of this episode, as the people at the coffeehouse considered themselves "lost" from society, Sophie considers Sylvia "lost" from her old life, and then Alan and Sylvia are feared "lost" in Manhattan.
The Mystery Solved!:
From Russ Lewellen, here's one scoop on "Lost Weekend," in his own words:
"According to someone I know who worked on the show (but who wants to remain unidentified), the episode "Lost Weekend" was taped, but did not air and was shelved for reasons known only the the producers. Later some changes were made to the show and it was released under a new title, "In A Family Way," and was indeed aired on April 10 1993 as episode 2.7 #28."
I thought Russ had cleared up the mystery, but then I received another e-mail from Bob Reiser (in his own words):
"The son of one of the congregants at my synagogue is the agent for Sam Weisman, the director and producer of many of the episodes of the show. The son sent this congregant a copy of all of the episodes of the show, each of which was of top production quality and labelled by name and episode number. These were obviously put together by someone who was involved in the production of the show. The name on the video case of episode number 7 was 'Lost Weekend,' but on the program itself the title of the episode is 'Dinner at Six.' Apparently, at one time those responsible for the show referred to it by the title 'Lost Weekend,' but the "official" on-the-air name was 'Dinner at Six.' The alternate title makes perfect sense when you think about the content of the episode - Allan and Natie home alone for the weekend and getting into mischief with Allan's friends."
I suppose we'll never know exactly unless we hear from Gary David Goldberg!
Epguides Listing for Brooklyn Bridge
TV Guide Listing
Kerri Berney's commentary about the series
Chuck's Connection Brooklyn Bridge page
Three Brooklyn Bridge-related articles from The Wall Street Journal
Article on nostalgic television series, which includes Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge mailing list
Vote for Brooklyn Bridge to be released on DVD
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