The Norm Show

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The Norm Show
Also known as ''Norm''
Genre Sitcom
Created by Bruce Helford
Norm Macdonald
Starring Norm Macdonald
Laurie Metcalf
Ian Gomez
Artie Lange (seasons 2-3)
Bruce Jarchow (season 1)
Max Wright
Faith Ford (season 3)
Theme music composer W. G. Snuffy Walden
Opening theme "Too Bad" performed by Doug and the Slugs
Composer(s) W. G. Snuffy Walden
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 54
Executive producer(s) Bruce Helford
Deborah Oppenheimer
Bruce Rasmussen
Rob Ulin
Producer(s) Norm Macdonald
Frank Sebastiano
Camera setup Multiple camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Mohawk Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Shout Factory (under license from Warner Bros.) (2010, DVD)
Original network ABC
Original release March 24, 1999 (1999-03-24) – April 6, 2001 (2001-04-06)
External links
[{{#property:P856}} Website]

The Norm Show (also known as Norm) is an American television sitcom that ran from 1999 through 2001 on the ABC television network.


The show focused on the life of Norm Henderson (Norm Macdonald), a former NHL hockey player who is banned for life from the league because of gambling and tax evasion. In order to avoid jail time for these crimes, Norm must perform five years of community service as a full-time social worker. Other characters in the show included fellow social workers Laurie Freeman (Laurie Metcalf), Danny Sanchez (Ian Gomez) and Danny's sometime girlfriend and former prostitute Taylor Clayton (Nikki Cox). Norm's boss on the program for the first several episodes was named Anthony Curtis and was played by Bruce Jarchow. This character was quickly replaced by a new boss, Max Denby, who was played by Max Wright.

The second season of the show saw the addition of Artie Lange, playing Norm's half brother. The second season also brought about the shortening of the show’s official title to simply Norm to avoid a legal conflict with Michael Jantze's comic strip The Norm.[1]

Originally scheduled on Wednesday nights, the series was one of the top rated sitcoms on ABC among adults 18-49 during its first season.[2] The second season saw ratings fluctuate because of timeslot changes. When ABC moved the series to Friday nights (known as the Friday night death slot) for the third season, ratings declined and the series was cancelled.


Norm Henderson

Played by Norm Macdonald. Season 1-3. Norm was once an NHL hockey player and greatly enjoyed it (though he was purportedly not very good). However, constant gambling and tax evasion caught up with him – leading him to being banned from hockey forever. He avoided jail time by agreeing to five years of community service as a social worker. He was not properly trained, however – saying he was only ever shown how to work the coffee maker (which he still didn't understand). Norm often showed complete disregard for his work – speaking frankly about the clients' problems, playing with toys at his desk, openly mocking/defying his bosses, etc. Nonetheless, there were times he attempted to help others and do the right thing. Norm is a compulsive gambler and had to seek counseling. Norm also had a deep fear of death (attributed to his parents telling him nothing good would happen to him after he died), but a children's book about Heaven showed it was nothing to fear. At the end of the series, a technicality releases Norm from his community service, but he ends up voluntarily returning to work.

Laurie Freeman

Played by Laurie Metcalf. Season 1-3. Laurie was previously Norm's social worker. Once he started working at the office, she became his co-worker and best friend. Often (and usually to her exasperation), she had to guide Norm in social work. Laurie is a dedicated social worker and frequently makes noteworthy proposals to help clients. However, she once lost her commitment when she felt like she wasn't making a difference. A visit to her old mentor (who was going to attempt suicide) showed Laurie that she shouldn't let her job consume her, so she sought more of a social life. Laurie has a twin sister, with whom she is argumentative.

Danny Sanchez

Played by Ian Gomez. Season 1-3. Another social worker at the office. Danny is usually portrayed as quite effective at his job. He could usually be Norm's partner-in-crime – aiding in his gambling pool and other schemes. He was also a more sensitive man. His dad in contrast was always more of a man's man that ridiculed his job, so Danny found their get-togethers stressful at times. Danny was heartbroken when his dad died, however, but was surprised to learn that he was gay (at the funeral, no less). Danny had a long-term relationship with Taylor and was set to propose. When she broke up with him, he was devastated. He was horrified to learn that he was related to Hitler.

Taylor Clayton

Played by Nikki Cox. Recurring in Season 1-3. A prostitute, Taylor was Norm's first client after he became a social worker. The case was not easy, but according to her, she turned her life around after Norm simply told her, "You're a huge whore." She gave up being a prostitute and ended up working in the office. She formed a relationship with Danny, who was intending to propose. However, it turned out that Taylor loved Norm because of what he had done for her. Feeling guilty, she quit her job and left. She briefly returned to engage in an affair with Norm and to consider getting back together with Danny.

Molly Carver

Played by Amy Wilson. Season 1. Molly was hired as a new social worker a little while after Norm's sentence began. She believed that her education and street smarts enabled her to be an effective social worker without anyone's help. She disappeared without explanation after the first season.

Anthony Curtis

Played by Bruce Jarchow. Season 1. Norm's first boss. He had a great deal of difficulty managing Norm, which induced a great deal of stress. Mr. Curtis has a daughter, who Norm ended up sleeping with. This caused Mr. Curtis to snap, and he actually attempted to shoot Norm from the roof. He was, however, tackled by the police.

Max Denby

Played by Max Wright. Season 1-3. Norm's second boss. When Mr. Denby took over the office, he wanted to do nothing to risk getting fired and losing his pension. He even offered to allow Norm to do nothing throughout his community service. However, when Mr. Denby caused Laurie to quit, Norm tricked him into hiring her back – ending that deal. From then on, Norm did whatever he could to embarrass or undermine Mr. Denby's authority – much to his annoyance. Mr. Denby was married, but as they clearly hated each other, they divorced. He also has a son and a daughter – neither of whom he has a good relationship with. Details about Mr. Denby's past include serving in the military (where he shot six of his own men) and working for the Nixon administration (though he was not involved in the infamous Watergate break-in).

Artie Henderson

Played by Artie Lange. Season 2-3. Norm's fat half-brother. They have different mothers. Artie at times lived in Norm's shadow while growing up. When he came to visit Norm, he seemed to turn things around and had become a bonafide success. However, he later admitted his business partner had ripped him off, and he lost everything. After moving to New York, Artie took up various jobs (including even subbing for Norm at the office when his back was out). In the third season, Artie became a bartender at the gang's usual hangout. It was also revealed that in the tenth grade he knew The Drew Carey Show's Mimi Bobeck (then known as Miriam and puported to never wear make-up).

Shelley Kilmartin

Played by Faith Ford. Recurring in Season 2, regular in Season 3. In the second season, Shelley was introduced as Norm's probation officer. Norm was immediately attracted to her and pursued her, but she insisted they keep their relationship professional. However, she eventually developed feelings for him and they began a relationship. Just as quickly, though, Shelley took a big job offer out of town and broke up with Norm. She returned a year later and the season saw Norm constantly trying to get back together with her. She continued to resist his advances, but she later admitted that she did love him.

Wiener Dog

Season 1-3. A Dachshund, Wiener Dog lives in Norm's apartment and is a devoted pet. A running gag throughout the series is that Wiener Dog is quite smart for a dog, which Norm does not truly appreciate. (One example sees Norm asking for chips. Wiener Dog brings in some poker chips, but Norm says he wanted potato chips. When Wiener Dog returns with a bag of corn chips, Norm angrily says, "Potato chips!") Nonetheless, Norm has often used Wiener Dog in an attempt to make decisions (such as barking if he should do one thing or not). Also, Norm once tricked Mr. Denby into hiring Wiener Dog at the office.


Played by Patricia Belcher. Recurring in Season 2-3. Norm's frequently angry landlady, though she is usually angry because Norm consistently fails to pay the rent. Her attempts to get Norm to pay have included removing his door and moving in with him. She is also certified to perform marriages.


Played by Kate Walsh. Recurring in Season 2. Norm's other main love interest. Laurie set them up on a blind date and after some hi-jinx, they developed a strong attraction. However, Jenny was wooed back by her ex-boyfriend Kevin Fitzgerald, who – among other things – was going to help her become a vet. Norm managed to prove his love for her, but when he hesitated at the thought of marriage, she went back to Kevin. However, Norm interrupted their wedding ceremony and convinced Jenny to be with him. She disappeared after the second season (save for an out-of-order Season 3 episode) without explanation.

Episode guide

Season 1

Episode # Production # Title Directed by Written by Original air date
101 475150 "Norm and the Prototype" Andy Cadiff Bruce Helford & Norm Macdonald March 24, 1999 (1999-03-24)
Norm discovers one of his clients, Taylor (Nikki Cox) is working in a "massage parlor," and won't leave that job.
102 225151 "Norm Dates a Client" Michael Lessac Bruce Rasmussen March 31, 1999 (1999-03-31)
While helping a pathologically shy man (Fred Stoller), Norm meets a woman in a bar (Heather Paige Kent) who turns out to be Laurie's client. Laurie and Danny deal with a stinky client (Ezra Buzzington).
103 225153 "Norm Dates Danny's Dad" Michael Lessac Rob Ulin April 7, 1999 (1999-04-07)
Molly joins the department. Danny's father (Jack Warden) enjoys male companionship, but doesn't believe himself to be gay. Norm takes advantage of his denial, but Danny feels Norm is usurping his place as a son.
104 225154 "While You Weren't Sleeping" Sam Simon Dave Caplan April 14, 1999 (1999-04-14)
Laurie's stress makes it so she can't fall asleep unless Norm holds her, with gets in the way of both her boyfriend (Alastair Duncan) and a woman Norm wants to date (Caprice Benedetti). Danny gets a toupee, and apparently a girlfriend (Rebecca McFarland) comes with it.
105 225152 "My Name Is Norm" Gail Mancuso Cheryl Holliday April 21, 1999 (1999-04-21)
After Norm and a client (Casey Sander) go out drinking, the client checks them into rehab. Mr. Curtis assumes Norm is an alcoholic and lowers his workload. Norm goes along with it till he discovers he's not permitted sex.
106 225155 "The New Boss" Sam Simon Cheryl Holliday April 28, 1999 (1999-04-28)
After Mr. Curtis tries to kill Norm in a shooting spree, Mr. Denby is made his replacement, and reduces Norm's workload to nothing. Norm burns that deal by getting Denby to lighten up on Laurie.
107 225159 "Denby's Kid" Steve Zuckerman Teleplay: Steve Gabriel & Sarah McLaughlin
Story: Steve Zuckerman
May 5, 1999 (1999-05-05)
Mr. Denby's son Jason (Michael Bacall) doesn't want to go to military school, but culinary school. Norm backs him, opposing his dad, until he discovers Jason likes to cook with marijuana. Norm's probation officer Ed (George Mudock) investigates. Laurie and Molly deal with a cat lady (Pat Crawford Brown).
108 225157 "Drive, Norm Said" Pamela Fryman Teleplay: Cheryl Holliday & Frank Sebastiano
Story: Bruce Rasmussen
May 12, 1999 (1999-05-12)
Norm has sex with his evil coworker Kyra (Vicki Lewis), who becomes clingy. He helps Laurie pass a driving test. Danny and Molly find a hairy man (Andy Siegel) a job.
109 225156 "Norm, Crusading Social Worker" Gerry Cohen Teleplay: Dave Caplan & Frank Sebastiano
Story: Rob Ulin
May 19, 1999 (1999-05-19)
Norm is made the "agony of defeat" on Wide World of Sports, and wants to be reinstated to play hockey for a charity game. To impress the review board, he lets an elderly client, Sal (Abe Vigoda), move in with him.
110 225158 "Norm's Coach" Sam Simon Frank Sebastiano May 26, 1999 (1999-05-26)
To get ready for his charity hockey game, Norm calls his old coach, "The Panther" (Michael McShane), who's in far worse shape than Norm is.

Season 2

Episode # Episode title Original airdate
2-1 "Norm vs. Love" September 22, 1999

Norm gets Taylor (Nikki Cox) a job at the office but Max assumes she's still hooking. Norm also meets up with his probation officer Shelley Kilmartin (Faith Ford).

2-2 "Norm Pimps Wiener Dog" September 29, 1999

Norm buys a Hank Aaron baseball card for a kid to impress Shelley but is having problems paying it off when Wiener Dog won't breed with other dogs for $200 each.

2-3 "Artie Comes to Town" October 6, 1999 (A Pokémon scene at the start)

Norm's brother (Artie Lange) visits him.

2-4 "Norm vs. Death" October 13, 1999

Norm reveals his fear of death after Danny's father dies.

2-5 "Norm and Shelley In Love" October 20, 1999

Norm & Shelley kiss which seems sweet until she finds out he's gambling again. This prompts her to punish Norm & never see him again, until she realizes her true feelings for him.

2-6 "Laurie Runs for Office" October 27, 1999

Laurie decides to run for public office & all looks good....until Norm's secret mud slinging campaign backfires.

2-7 "Norm and Shelly Break-Up" November 3, 1999

Norm says "I Love You" to Shelley but she is wondering if she wants to stay in New York.

2-8 "Gambling Man" November 10, 1999

Norm is gambling again (which breaches his probation) after winning his friends sons` college tuition back. Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, Diedrich Bader & Tom Arnold are in this episode.

2-9 "Norm vs. Norm" November 17, 1999

Norm gets bailed out of jail but Artie doesn't. Norm finds out a bet he made is just enough to bail Artie out. Taylor has passed her 2 month probation & is worried whether not Denby will keep her at the office.

2-10 "Norm vs. Denby" November 24, 1999

Norm and Mr. Denby compete for the same woman. Laurie confronts a ghost from her past.

2-11 "Norm vs. The Boxer" December 1, 1999

After witnessing a 15-year-old has a hidden talent, Norm encourages him to fight in a boxing tournament in order to pay off his $10,000 debt to his bookie. Richard Pryor is in this episode.

2-12 "Norm vs. Christmas" December 15, 1999

Norm & Artie find out that Laurie hates Christmas, so they decide to cheer her up but with some consequences.

2-13 "Norm vs. The Evil Twin" January 5, 2000

Laurie's twin sister "Jamie" visits (portrayed by Laurie MetCalf). While Jamie brags about her suburb lifestyle, Laurie (in panic) says Norm is her boyfriend.

2-14 "Norm vs. The Oldest Profession" January 19, 2000

Norm "steals" a job from a client which turns out to be a male escort service.

2-15 "Norm vs. Jenny" January 26, 2000

Norm meets the woman of his dreams.

2-16 "Norm vs. Fitz" February 9, 2000

Norm (after finding out Jenny is engaged to another) still hangs out with Jenny, but STILL is trying to win her over.

2-17 "Norm vs. The Wedding" February 16, 2000

Norm sleeps with Jenny after she dumps Fitz. She then leaves Norm because he won't marry her. Now she must choose between Norm & Fitz.

2-18 "Norm vs. Fear" March 1, 2000

After Norm injures his back he admits his fear of doctors. Denby threatens to have Norm thrown in jail if he misses any more time. Norm vows to see a doctor on the condition that Danny, Laurie & Artie conquer their personal demons.

2-19 "Retribution" March 8, 2000

Norm sells his likeness for 20 big ones (yes, you heard...$20), only to find out that "Fitz" is trying to ruin his life after he "stole" Jenny from him at the altar.

2-20 "Laurie Loses It" March 15, 2000

In the 2nd season finale, after Laurie loses another award for social work, she vows to work harder but feels terrible. Danny detects Taylor is cheating.

Season 3

Episode # Episode title Original airdate
3-1 "Norm vs. The Sacrifice" October 3, 2000

Norm is given an ultimatum by Denby. Either he'll behave at work or he'll make everyone's life difficult in the office. Laurie is dating a new guy.

3-2 "I've Got a Crush on You" October 6, 2000

Norm tries to find out who has a thing for him when he finds printer papers of someone expressing feelings for him. Danny is trying to find the perfect proposal for Taylor & Shelly returns.

3-3 "Taylor Leaves" October 13, 2000

Laurie now knows it's Taylor who has feelings for Norm even though she's with Danny.

3-4 "The Norm Law" October 20, 2000

An investigation is launched after Norm "helps" with a juvenile girls group which later becomes a riot.

3-5 "Norm vs. Halloween" October 27, 2000

Norm takes kids out for trick or treating & Danny starts dating a new lady (whom he dresses up like his ex)

3-6 "Norm and the Hopeless Cause" November 3, 2000

Norm meets Laurie's friend Rebecca (Courtney Thorne-Smith) who is a lesbian & finds himself attracted to her.

3-7 "Norm vs. Youth (Part 1)" November 3, 2000

Laurie dates a younger guy & now is being made fun of by the others. Norm dates a younger girl.

3-8 "Norm vs. Youth (Part 2)" November 24, 2000

Norm dates an older woman who has a surprise pertaining to Laurie's younger boyfriend.

3-9 "Norm vs. Tennis" December 1, 2000

Norm plays tennis with Shelley and he starts to let her win when he finds out that winning turns her on. Artie seeks Laurie's help when he wants to lose weight.

3-10 "Norm vs. The Kid" December 8, 2000

Shelley, Laurie, Danny and Mr. Denby take in orphans while they can find a family who's willing to adopt all of them. They find a family that's willing to take them all but one because he has a criminal record.

3-11 "Norm vs. Schoolin'" December 15, 2000

Norm and Mr. Denby have to go to social workers' school. Danny and Shelley pretend to be the married couple who were Billy's previous foster parents so he can be adopted.

3-12 "Norm vs. Freud" January 5, 2001

Norm agrees to go to group therapy and discovers that the reason he has problems with Mr. Denby is because he has issues with his father. Danny and Artie invest in a weight loss gadget but then discover the horrible side effects.

3-13 "Norm vs. Dad" January 12, 2001

Norm deals with some father issues. This episode guest starred Tom Smothers as Norm's dad with whom he had an antagonistic dysfunctional relationship.

3-14 "Denby Quits" January 26, 2001

Denby gets tired of dealing with Norm and quits and Laurie finds she hates being his replacement.

3-15 "Norm Lets Go" February 2, 2001

Norm accepts that he and Shelly will never get back together, and decides to move on. Danny and Shelly go on a date. Meanwhile, Laurie teaches Denby how to dance so he won't make a fool of himself at an upcoming banquet.

3-16 "Norm vs. Danny and Shelly" February 9, 2001

After sleeping with Norm, Taylor tells him that she's still in love with Danny but she doesn't want Norm to tell him. Mr. Denby complains to Laurie about the conditions in the men's room.

3-17 "Norm and Wiener Dog vs. Fatherhood" February 16, 2001

Mr. Denby takes Norm to court for possession of the puppies that his dog Fifi had with Wiener Dog. Norm is thrown out when he can't pay the rent.

3-18 "Norm vs. Homelessness" February 23, 2001

Mr. Denby and Danny go on a business trip and try to pick up women but have no luck. Norm uses Mr. Denby's apartment for a date and gets him evicted when the landlady finds out he has a dog so he has to move in with Laurie as well.

3-19 "Norm Is Fat" March 2, 2001

When Shelley returns she sees that Norm is fat, so he recounts the story that led to his vast weight gain.

3-20 "Norm vs. Deception" March 9, 2001

Norm and Laurie fake a relationship and it helps Laurie get a man while Norm discovers that Shelley is still in love with him. Mr. Denby is afraid to catch Danny's cold.

3-21 "Norm vs. Cuba" March 16, 2001

Laurie & Norm care for a Cuban kid who is left alone.

3-22 "Norm's Free" March 23, 2001

Norm is freed from his community service early and a monkey attacks Danny.

3-23 "Norm Comes Back" March 30, 2001

Norm is hired as Mr. Sweeney's assistant. A psychic tells Shelley that she and Norm will be married.

3-24 "Norm vs. Shelley's Old Flame" April 6, 2001

After being shocked Norm gains the ability to hear other men's thoughts and he uses it to his advantage when he finds out that an old boyfriend of Shelley's is trying to steal her away from him.

DVD release

On September 7, 2010, Shout! Factory released The Norm Show: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. The 8-disc set features all 54 episodes of the series as well as a handful of running commentaries (only in seasons 1 and 2) by Norm Macdonald and Bruce Helford.[3]

Guest stars

Artie Lange guest-starred (and later joined the cast) as Norm's half-brother. Jack Warden also guest-starred once as father of Ian Gomez' character, and fakes a grab at Norm's crotch (as he did in Dirty Work).[4]


  1. Smith, Austin (July 27, 1999). "Situation Norm-al: Macdonald Show Forced to Change Name". New York Post. Retrieved December 17, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Rice, Lynette (2000-12-20). "'Spin' Out". Retrieved 2009-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The Norm Show DVD news: Announcement for The Norm Show - The Complete Series -".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Norm Dates Danny's Dad". The Norm Show. Season 1. Episode 3. April 7, 1999. 21:12 minutes in. ABC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links