Network: ABC, CBS
Episodes: 215 (half-hour)
TV show dates: September 22, 1989 — July 17, 1998
Series status: Cancelled/ended
Performers include: Reginald VelJohnson, Jo Marie Payton, Kellie Shanygne Williams, Darius McCrary, Jaleel White, Rosetta LeNoire, Telma Hopkins, Bryton McClure, Shawn Harrison, Jaimee Foxworth, Cherie Johnson, Judyann Elder, and Michelle Thomas, and Orlando Brown.
TV show description:
Policeman Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) and his wife Harriette (Jo Marie Payton, later Judyann Elder), the chief of security for the Chicago Chronicle, raise their family in a suburb of the windy city. Their children are Eddie (Darius McCrary), Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams), and little Judy (Jaimee Foxworth).
Also living with the Winslows are Harriet’s widowed sister, Rachel Crawford (Telma Hopkins), her young son Richie (Bryton McClure), and Carl’s feisty mother, Estelle Winslow (Rosetta LeNoire). Their annoying next door neighbor is nerdy Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) who has a major crush on Laura. The Winslows find themselves in typical sitcom dilemmas, often due to the antics and inventions of Steve.
The sitcom is a spin-off of Perfect Strangers which featured Harriette (Payton) for two seasons.
Episodes 214 and 215 — Lost in Space, parts one and two
Steve wins a science contest and NASA decides to test his artificial gravity field invention on the shuttle launch. They offer him the chance to become the first student astronaut. He and Laura agree to postpone their wedding. After six months of training, Steve goes into space. Things go wrong and it looks like he’ll be lost in space forever but Steve cleverly comes up with a way to save himself.
Meanwhile, Eddie graduates from the police academy. Harriet is worried that her son will be in danger and gets him reassigned to meter duty. He and Carl are upset and want to get him transferred back. Before that can happen, he apprehends an armed robber after being shot in the abdomen. Fortunately, the bulletproof vest from his dad saved him. Harriet acquiesces after Eddie promises to be careful.
Steve returns home and is greeted by the happy Winslow family. Before Laura will give him a big welcome home kiss, she makes him promise to never go into space again. He says, “Only when we kiss, Laura Lee, only when we kiss.” They share a big kiss.
First aired: July 17, 1998.
What happened next?
There hasn’t been any news of plans to revive the show.
Behind the Scenes
Family Matters was cancelled by ABC after eight seasons. CBS picked it up, along with Step By Step, and ran them for another year before cancelling them both.
There were several notable cast changes and departures during the run of the Family Matters TV show.
Jaimee Foxworth left the series after four seasons. She was let go to trim the show’s budget and the disappearance was never explained. Producers hoped that the audience wouldn’t notice.
Telma Hopkins also left the show after season four, to do her own show for ABC called Getting By. It was cancelled by ABC during its first season, picked up by NBC and then cancelled again, during season two. Hopkins remained close to the cast (their sets were nearby) and made guest appearances on Family Matters in seasons six and nine.
Despite the fact that his TV mom had left the series, McClure remained in the cast as a regular until season eight (Richie was played by twins Joseph and Julius Wright during season one). His role was reduced to guest star for season nine and was last seen mid-season.
LeNoire was phased out in the last seasons, likely because of her age and budget costs.
Payton decided to move on midway through the eighth season. The producers have said they didn’t want to do a divorce or death storyline so she was replaced by Judyann Elder for the remainder of the series.