Down to Earth
GenreSitcom
Created by
Starring
ComposerTom Wells
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes106
Production
Executive producerArthur Annecharico
Producers
  • Jerry Brown
  • Rick Miner
Running time22 mins.
Production companiesArthur Company
Procter & Gamble
Original release
NetworkWTBS
ReleaseMarch 10, 1984 (1984-03-10) –
1987 (1987)

Down to Earth is an American fantasy sitcom series that ran on Superstation WTBS from March 10, 1984 to 1987. The series was originally produced by The Arthur Company, and later, by Procter & Gamble Productions and was the Superstation's first original series.[1][2]

Premise

The series revolved around Ethel MacDoogan (Carol Mansell), a free-spirited woman who lived the "Roaring 1920s" era. However, in 1925 she suffered a fatal accident, colliding with a trolley. Ethel waits in Heaven for 60 years for a chance to earn her wings, until finally she is sent to earth in the 1980s to help the Preston family.[3]

The Prestons are a typical modern-day American family with modern-day situations: widowed father Richard (Stephen Johnson, then Dick Sargent) is a realtor, though he retired a few months after and began working as a licensing agent for new inventors; older son Duane (David Kaufman) is very class-conscious; teenage daughter Lissy (Kyle Richards) is very opinionated; Jay Jay (Randy Josselyn), the youngest, just wants someone who can fill their late mother's void. It is Jay Jay's prayer for an angel to come into their lives that summons Ethel, and he is the only one who knows her true identity.

Infiltrating the household as housekeeper and maid, Ethel is unsurprisingly clueless about even the simplest conveniences of modern-day 1980s family life. Jay Jay helps cover for her when it comes to adapting to the newfangled inventions of the past 60 years, and she eventually wins over the Prestons by successfully helping them deal with their problems.

Popping in from time to time is the Prestons' ditsy next-door neighbor Candy Carlysle (Marla Rubinoff), who became a regular character in 1985.

In addition to her earthly employer, Ethel is under the constant eye of her heavenly boss and their successors, who watch her every move—and her every mistake. Her first overseer, Mr. Divine (Lester Fletcher), kept a close eye on her. He was moved to another position in Heaven a few months after, and the very concerned but comical Lester Luster (Ronnie Schell) took over, followed by her ex-fiancé/con-man Jake (Michael DeLano), with the outrageous Stanley McCloud (Rip Taylor) taking over in the show's final years.

A few months after the show's beginning, a turning point occurred: Ethel's mission on Earth proved successful and she was ordered back to Heaven. Realizing how much the Prestons meant to her and vice versa, she begged Lester Luster to postpone her return to Heaven. Together, they created a deal that she would help him with any crises on Earth that he brought to her attention and that she would have to return to Heaven if she was unsuccessful.

Production notes

The series made several changes to its cast. Besides the ethereal bosses, it changed the earthly father as well, becoming the second series in which Dick Sargent replaced another actor in the same role.[4]

The show's central characters were jointly created, and the core format was jointly developed, by Sam Harris, who collaborated with Arthur L. Annecharico to do so. Harris also wrote several episodes of the show.

In addition to having run on WTBS, Down to Earth also had subsequent runs on Good Life TV.

Reception

The Ocala Star-Banner called Down to Earth "one of the better sitcoms on the air nowadays".[5]

Cast

Season 3 main cast of Down to Earth
(l–r) Kyle Richards, Dick Sargent, Carol Mansell, David Kaufman, Randy Josselyn and Marla Jeanette Rubinoff.
Actor Character
Carol Mansell Ethel MacDoogan[3]
Stephen Johnson Richard Preston, 1984
Dick Sargent Richard Preston, 1984–87
David Kaufman Duane Preston
Kyle Richards Lissy Preston[6]
Randy Josselyn Jay Jay Preston
Marla Rubinoff Candy Carlysle, 1985–87
Lester Fletcher Mr. Divine, 1984
Ronnie Schell Lester Luster, 1984–85
Michael Delano Jake Fiore, 1985–86
Rip Taylor Stanley McCloud, 1985–87
Annie Golden Starr Gardner, 1986

Episodes

Season 1 (1984)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"Happy Birthday to Me"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergMarch 10, 1984 (1984-03-10)
22"Make Mine Murder"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergMarch 17, 1984 (1984-03-17)
33"Back to Basics"UnknownSam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergMarch 24, 1984 (1984-03-24)
44"Food for Thought"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergApril 4, 1984 (1984-04-04)
55"Everything Old is New Again"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergApril 11, 1984 (1984-04-11)
66"A View from Above"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergApril 18, 1984 (1984-04-18)
77"Duane for President"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergApril 25, 1984 (1984-04-25)
88"Aunt Roz"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergMay 2, 1984 (1984-05-02)
99"For Better, For Worse"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergMay 9, 1984 (1984-05-09)
1010"Romance and Real Estate"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergMay 16, 1984 (1984-05-16)
1111"Rejuvenation of Richard"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergMay 23, 1984 (1984-05-23)
1212"Practical Jokes"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergJune 1, 1984 (1984-06-01)
1313"Selling the House"John TracySam Harris & Bruce H. NewbergJune 8, 1984 (1984-06-08)

Season 2 (1984–85)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
141"Heaven Can Wait"Doug RogersBruce H. NewbergSeptember 15, 1984 (1984-09-15)
152"The Kazinsky Krunch"Doug RogersRobert Bruce & Marty WeissSeptember 29, 1984 (1984-09-29)
163"Gone with the Wind"John TracyRoger GarrettOctober 15, 1984 (1984-10-15)
174"The Buck Stops Here"Doug RogersStephanie Anderson & Jon S. DennyOctober 29, 1984 (1984-10-29)
185"The Ball's in Your Court"UnknownRobert Bruce & Marty WeissNovember 10, 1984 (1984-11-10)
196"In Praise of Older Women"Doug RogersBarry RubinowitzNovember 17, 1984 (1984-11-17)
207"Jay Jay's Dream"Alan BergmannWilliam Bickley & Michael WarrenNovember 24, 1984 (1984-11-24)
218"Uncle Roscoe's Watch"Alan BergmannSam GreenbaumDecember 16, 1984 (1984-12-16)
229"Luster Gets Stuck"Alan BergmannGeorge Hampton & Mike MooreDecember 30, 1984 (1984-12-30)
2310"Ethel's Memory Loss"Gary ShimokawaGeorge Hampton & Mike MooreJanuary 2, 1985 (1985-01-02)
2411"The Bully"Mel FerberRichard FreimanJanuary 9, 1985 (1985-01-09)
2512"The Quiz Show"Lee Shallat-ChemelRoger GarrettJanuary 16, 1985 (1985-01-16)
2613"A Valentine for Valentino"Bob ClaverCharlotte DobbsJanuary 23, 1985 (1985-01-23)

Season 3 (1985)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
271"The Russian Defector"UnknownUnknownFebruary 1, 1985 (1985-02-01)
282"Eskimo Shoes"UnknownUnknownFebruary 8, 1985 (1985-02-08)
293"Art or Bust"Alan BergmannBruce H. NewbergFebruary 15, 1985 (1985-02-15)
304"Epidemic"Mel FerberBruce H. Newberg & Bruce KaneFebruary 22, 1985 (1985-02-22)
315"Obsolete Ethel"Mel FerberGeorge Hampton & Mike MooreFebruary 29, 1985 (1985-02-29)
326"Name, Rank and Social Security Number"UnknownUnknownMarch 3, 1985 (1985-03-03)
337"Duane's Car"Mel FerberStory by : Charlotte Dobbs
Teleplay by : Warren Murray
March 10, 1985 (1985-03-10)
348"House Arrest"Mel FerberBill TaubMarch 17, 1985 (1985-03-17)
359"Lost and Found"Doug RogersDavid Ketchum & Tony DiMarcoApril 1, 1985 (1985-04-01)
3610"The Radio Show"Don BarnhartRobert Bruce & Marty WeissApril 8, 1985 (1985-04-08)
3711"Future Shock"UnknownUnknownApril 15, 1985 (1985-04-15)
3812"Remember When"UnknownGeorge Hampton & Mike MooreApril 22, 1985 (1985-04-22)
3913"The Lissy Caper"UnknownUnknownApril 29, 1985 (1985-04-29)
4014"Luster/Jake Special"UnknownUnknownMay 6, 1985 (1985-05-06)
4115"Romeo and Juliet"Russ PetrantoStephanie Anderson & Jon S. DennyMay 13, 1985 (1985-05-13)
4216"A Star is Born"Don BarnhartJim RogersMay 20, 1985 (1985-05-20)
4317"Trading Places"UnknownUnknownMay 27, 1985 (1985-05-27)

Season 4

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
441"Real Candy"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
452"A Touch of Ethel"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
463"Play It Again, Ethel"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
474"Taking Stock"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
485"Frozen Rope"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
496"Hypnotic Ethel"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
507"Angelbusters"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
518"Chucky Chipmunk"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
529"The Dentist Show"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
5310"Knight in Heavenly Armor"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
5411"Money, Money"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
5512"The Dummy Show"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
5613"He Ain't Bozo, He's My Brother"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
5714"Duane's Dilemma"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
5815"Lusterado"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
5916"The Burro"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
6017"The Bag Lady"Lee LochheadHarry Cauley1985 (1985)
6118"Easy Rider"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
6219"Rear Window"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
6320"Scenes from a Marriage"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
6421"Perfect Match"Howard StormRichard Miner & Joel Parks1985 (1985)
6522"Goodness Flakes"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
6623"Lissy's Mother"TBDTBD1985 (1985)
6724"Christmas Story"Don BarnhartKarl Epstein & Marvin Braverman1985 (1985)

Season 5 (1986)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
681"The Inferior Decorator"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
692"Duane Takes a Wife"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
703"Stewed Ethel"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
714"The Russians Are...Here"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
725"The Big Freeze"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
736"Sixteen Candles"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
747"Billie Jean is Not My Sitter"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
758"Angel Flu"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
769"Wish I May, Wish I Might"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
7710"One Flew Over the Prestons' Nest"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
7811"Amelia Earhart's Diary"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
7912"Bird of Paradise"TBDTBD1986 (1986)
8013"Comet Night Fever"TBDTBD1986 (1986)

Season 6 (1986)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
811TBATBDTBD1986 (1986)

Season 7 (1987)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
951TBATBDTBD1987 (1987)

Crew

References

  1. ^ "Author Co. makes cable comedies". The Madison Courier. Associated Press. June 4, 1985.
  2. ^ Carman, John (September 2, 1985). "Latest comedy has 'Rocky Road' to hoe on WTBS". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  3. ^ a b Rothenberg, Fred (March 9, 1984). "Ted Turner's first sitcom makes its debut Saturday". The Beaver County Times. Beaver, PA. Associated Press. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  4. ^ "Cable capers". The Ledger. Lakeland, FL. November 30, 1984. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  5. ^ "Impersonator Prefers Mondale". Ocala Star-Banner. May 26, 1984. p. 51.
  6. ^ "TBS promotional campaign". Archived from the original on 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2009-12-29.