90 Bristol Court
90 Bristol Court is the umbrella title of a short-lived NBC experiment comprising three situation comedies set in a Southern California apartment complex located at the title address. The 90-minute block aired Monday nights and consisted of Karen (7:30-8:00pm), Harris Against the World (8:00-8:30pm), and Tom, Dick, and Mary (8:30-9:00pm).
The address, Ninety Bristol Court, cleverly utilized the initials of its network, N.B.C. in the title, a feat that no other network could ever accomplish.
While they were promoted as a single programming block, the three components were individual series with separate casts, writing and production staffs, with the core production companies, Kayro-Vue and Universal Television (who also produced The Munsters for CBS that season) being the only common component. Besides the umbrella title/address, the only on-air continuity from one series to the next was provided by Guy Raymond, who portrayed handyman Cliff Murdoch, often seen greeting the residents as they approached their apartments.
Premiering October 5, 1964, 90 Bristol Court faced formidable competition opposite the venerable To Tell the Truth, I've Got a Secret, and Andy Griffith Show on CBS and a fledgling Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on ABC. NBC’s programming experiment came to an end on January 4, 1965 as Harris Against the World and Tom, Dick, and Mary, victims of low Nielsen ratings, aired their final episodes. Karen lasted the 1964-1965 television season but was not renewed for a sophomore year; its last episode was a rerun broadcast on August 30, 1965.
Karen, the first of the three sitcoms set at 90 Bristol Court, presented the exploits of 16-year-old Karen Scott (played by Debbie Watson) and her tomboyish little sister Mimi (Gina Gillespie). The two girls’ activities continually confounded and frustrated their parents (Steve and Barbara, portrayed by Richard Denning and Mary LaRoche).
The theme song was performed by the Beach Boys. Upon the demise of 90 Bristol Court, Cliff Murdoch, the handyman who appeared in all three series set at the complex, disappeared from the remaining episodes of Karen.
Harris Against the World
The second series starred Jack Klugman as Alan Harris, a resident of the apartment complex who worked at a large Hollywood studio. Patricia Barry portrayed Alan’s wife Kate, and Claire Wilcox and David Macklin played their children Deedee and Billy Harris.
The series showed Alan’s frustrations with his bosses, work, finances, family, and people in general as he deals with the various setbacks in his life (not the least being Kate’s spendthrift ways and her regularly “finding” Alan part-time jobs to pay for them).
Tom, Dick and Mary
The third series centered on newlyweds Tom and Mary Gentry (Don Galloway and Joyce Bulifant). Tom was an intern, Mary was a medical secretary, and their combined income was not enough to afford their new apartment. Tom’s best friend Dick Moran (Steve Franken), also an intern, moved in to share the expenses, but often became an irritant to the newlyweds as he "played the field" in the world of romance.
- Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (2003) ISBN 0-345-45542-8
- TV Guide Guide to TV 2006 (2006) ISBN 0-7607-7572-9