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"Final Frontier" performed by Andrew Gold/The Sonora's Tucson Band (Seasons 1–7); Alternate version sung by Anita Baker used occasionally in Seasons 5-7 Season 8 (revival) sung by Lyle Lovett and Kecia Lewis
The series focuses mainly on newlyweds Paul Buchman, a documentary filmmaker, and Jamie Stemple Buchman, a public relations specialist, as they deal with everything from humorous daily minutiae to major struggles. Near the end of the show's run, they have a baby daughter, whom they name Mabel. They live in Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan. The 2019 limited series focuses on Paul and Jamie as empty nesters as Mabel starts college at NYU, 5 blocks away.
Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser were paid $1 million per episode for the last season (with their contracts calling for them to be paid equally). However, ratings fell sharply that year as the series was shuffled away from its Tuesday slot to prop up a fledgling Monday night line-up of comedies on NBC.
The show's theme song, "Final Frontier", was composed by Reiser and Don Was. It was originally performed by Andrew Gold, but a version performed by Anita Baker made its debut in Season 5, Episode 13, though it was not so credited until Season 5, Episode 18. Baker's rendering was used in 18 episodes of the last three seasons, and appears on the show's soundtrack album. Gold's version is also available on the collection Thank You for Being a Friend: The Best of Andrew Gold.
Exterior views of buildings were filmed in Manhattan. Paul and Jamie's New York City Apartment was located at 5th Avenue and 12th Street. The Old Town Bar and Restaurant on 45 E. 18th Street was used for the fictional Riff's Restaurant in the series.
In April 2018, it was announced that Sony Pictures Television would revive the show with the two lead actors reprising their roles, though Reiser expressed doubt about it in July 2018. In September 2018, Reiser stated that the revival was still on the table, but that "the studio needs to figure out if they know how to do it."
On March 6, 2019, the series was revived for an eighth season by Spectrum Originals, described as a 12-episode limited series, with Reiser and Hunt confirmed to reprise their roles. On September 5, 2019, it was announced that the first six episodes of the revival would premiere on November 20, 2019, and another six episodes would be released on December 18, 2019. The series is available in a traditional manner in Canada, with its episodes airing on the CTV Comedy Channel.
Many of the main and recurring cast members reprised their roles for the revival. The most notable former main cast member not to reprise her role was Leila Kenzle, who played Jamie's best friend, Fran Devanow. Kenzle retired from acting in 2003 and became a psychotherapist. Fran's husband, Mark, does return in the revival, but the character is now remarried.
Cast and characters
Original run (1992–1999)
Paul Reiser as Paul Buchman, a filmmaker. After attending the New York University Film School, he struggled for recognition before finally succeeding in filmmaking in New York City. He and his family reside near Union Square, on lower Fifth Avenue.
Helen Hunt as Jamie Buchman (née Stemple, born February 19, 1963), the younger daughter of Gus and Theresa Stemple. Although in several episodes, Jamie's birthdate is portrayed as November 11 and also February 11. On moving to New York, she took a job at Farrer-Gantz Public Relations, eventually rising to the position of Regional Vice President. After leaving Farrer-Gantz to continue her education, Jamie started her own public relations firm, which was eventually consolidated into City Hall's press department, under Director of Communications Lance Brockwell. When Brockwell set his sights on the Mayor's mansion, he selected Jamie as his campaign manager. After seven boyfriends at Yale University, she met Paul Buchman at a New York newsstand shortly before Christmas in 1989 by stealing his copy of The New York Times with an implausible excuse. The two married in April 1992. Her difficult relationship with her mother-in-law is an ongoing source of jokes on the show. The character also appeared in one episode of Friends (The One With The Two Parts Part One).
Maui as Murray, the Buchmans' dog. He was a puppy when Paul found him, and Paul met Jamie while walking him. He sometimes chases what the couple assume is an invisible mouse, and often ends up crashing into the bedroom wall. In a later episode, Jamie discovers that there is indeed a real mouse that Murray has been chasing. In the two-part series finale, The Final Frontier, adult Mabel says that Murray died when she was six, but she was not told until she was twelve. Twice voted the most popular dog by the readers of TV Guide, Murray is loyal and endearing while being very laid back and a bit thick-skulled. Maui was originally found in a Castaic, California, animal shelter by noted Hollywood animal trainer Boone Narr. Maui weighed 58 pounds and was primarily trained by Betty Linn. His first assignments came in TV commercials and as the backup for the top dog in the feature film Bingo.
Anne Ramsay as Lisa Stemple, Jamie's older sister. Lisa has unfathomable psychological issues. Jamie is referred to as "Stella" in a book written by Lisa's therapist: "It was Stella's overprotectiveness that suffocated her ability to relate to others, and tethered her to a lifetime of insecurity and neurosis." After an envious rage, she blames Jamie for all of her problems in an interview with her shrink that becomes a chapter of a book called "Manics." With no place else to go, she does her laundry at Paul's and Jamie's apartment while scavenging through her sister's clothes and food. Every visit from her parents triggers her eating disorder. In between bouts of weirdness, she still cares deeply for Paul and Jamie and is often trusted to house sit for them, usually with unfortunate results.
Leila Kenzle as Fran Devanow, Jamie's best friend. She is the regional vice president at Farrer-Gantz Public Relations who hired Jamie as her assistant. Near 1989, Fran quits Farrer-Gantz to spend time with her obnoxious five-year-old son, Ryan, and husband, Mark. Jamie is then promoted to Fran's position. Fran and Mark's relationship lasts 10 years, and their separation shocks Jamie and Paul. After divorcing Mark, Fran returns to her old position at Farrer-Gantz, since Jamie had quit. Eventually, Fran also quits and goes into business with Jamie. In time, Fran and Mark reconcile. The character also appeared in sitcom Friends (The One With The Two Parts Part One).
John Pankow as Ira Buchman, Paul's cousin. He first appears in the episode "The Wedding Affair." Ira is from the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. He worked for Paul's father, Burt, at Buchman's Sporting Goods. Paul and Ira have a close friendship, but their hidden rivalry came out when Ira took ownership of Buchman's Sporting Goods upon Burt's retirement. Ira made Paul a silent partner in the store due to the mistaken belief that Paul resents his inheriting the store. Ira is a compulsive gambler and often takes Paul with him on Atlantic City junkets without Jamie's knowledge. When he remembers to, Ira attends Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Even so, he frequently appears as loving and supportive towards Paul and Jamie.
Cynthia Harris as Sylvia Buchman, Paul's mother. Sylvia almost always gives Jamie a hard time, but occasionally does show kindness towards her daughter-in-law.
Louis Zorich as Burt Buchman, Paul's father. Burt runs a sporting goods store – until he passes it on to Ira upon retirement. His signature line in the show occurs whenever he visits Paul and Jamie's apartment, exclaiming at the door, "It's me, Burt! Burt Buchman—your father!"
Alyssa and Justin Baric (twins) as Mabel Buchman, Paul and Jamie's daughter. She was finally named when Jamie's overbearing mother proclaimed that "Mothers Always Bring Extra Love", an homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob and Laura explain Ritchie's middle name. Alyssa and Justin Baric played Mabel from the beginning of season six when Mabel was brought home from the hospital ("Coming Home"). They continued to play the role of Mabel for numerous episodes. Carter and Madison Gale play the role at a later time. In the season six episode "Letters to Mabel," an 18-year-old Mabel is played by Meredith Bishop. In the series finale, a teen Mabel is played by Cara DeLizia, and an adult Mabel is played by Janeane Garofalo.
Richard Kind as Dr. Mark Devanow, Fran's melodramatic ex-husband, with whom she is on good terms. A former obstetrician, Mark left Fran and their young son because he felt smothered and wanted to see the world. After returning to New York, he converts to Buddhism and works for a grocery store, although ultimately he returns to his old profession. In due course, he wins Fran back.
Jerry Adler as Mr. Wicker, the apartment building superintendent (10 episodes)
Hank Azaria as Nat Ostertag, Jamie and Paul's dog walker (15 episodes)
Mo Gaffney as Dr. Sheila Kleinman, Jamie and Paul's therapist (13 episodes)
Jeff Garlin as Marvin, Ira's employee and semi-pro wrestler (13 episodes)
Judy Geeson as Maggie Conway, British neighbor across the hall (32 episodes)
Tommy Hinkley as Jay Selby, Paul's college friend (13 episodes, season 1 only). The disappearance of Selby is never explained, a fact referred to in season 5, episode 21 ("Guardianhood")
Lisa Kudrow as Ursula Buffay, absent-minded waitress at Riff's (24 episodes). The character also appeared in the sitcom, Friends (1994-2004), in which Phoebe, a co-lead character played by Kudrow, was written as Ursula's twin sister.
Cyndi Lauper as Marianne Lugasso, Ira's on and off girlfriend/ex-wife (5 episodes)
Mad About You has had numerous connections to other NBC sitcoms set in New York City, as well as various other programs.
Friends (owned by Warner Bros. Television): Lisa Kudrow played the recurring role of Ursula, a flaky waitress at Riff's Bar, a local restaurant that Paul and Jamie frequented. Kudrow went on to star in the NBC sitcom Friends, playing the also somewhat flaky character of Phoebe Buffay, and for a time both series shared the same Thursday night line-up. While not originally intended, the characters of Ursula and Phoebe were later found to be identical twin sisters. In a Friends episode ("The One With The Two Parts", 1st Season), as part of a night of NBC sitcom crossovers, Jamie and Fran walk into Central Perk and mistake Phoebe for Ursula. Hunt and Kenzle were not identified on screen as Jamie and Fran. In the season three episode "Pandora's Box", Jamie causes a citywide power blackout in New York City, and the effects of the blackout are seen in the Friends episode, "The One with the Blackout", and there was also a blackout in the episode "Birthday in the Big House" of the short-lived NBC sitcom Madman of the People. All three episodes originally aired during the evening of November 3, 1994, alongside a Seinfeld episode which did not incorporate the blackout premise.
Seinfeld: In one episode ("The Apartment", 1st Season), Paul, pressured by Jamie, decides to sign over the lease of his old "bachelor pad" to the current tenant who is subleasing. When the tenant is revealed to be Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) of Seinfeld, Paul asks Kramer "What ever happened to that Jerry guy who used to live there?" Seinfeld, however, twice contradicted this connection, once even featuring a running joke about George's distaste for his fiancée Susan's fondness for watching Mad About You. In the Mad About You season seven episode "Season Opener", Paul, under the effects of Viagra, ran into Jerry Seinfeld in the street, who tells Paul to go away. At this point in Seinfeld's chronology, Jerry Seinfeld was supposed to be in prison.
The Dick Van Dyke Show: Carl Reiner reprised the role of Alan Brady from the 1960s sitcom. The episode made several references to the older show, such as Jamie at one point crying and whining "Oh, Paul!" – a take on Mary Tyler Moore's character Laura Petrie's frequent refrain "Oh, Rob!" – Ten episodes earlier, Paul almost trips over a box and says, "Get me, I'm Dick Van Dyke."
Style & Substance: In the 2019 revival ("Real Estate for Beginners", 8th Season), Jean Smart appeared as Chelsea Stevens-Kobolakis, a controlling, abrasive, short-tempered character that she had previously portrayed in showrunner Peter Tolan's short-lived 1998 series. Paul and Jamie attend a weekend team-building workshop that Chelsea hosts, mistakenly thinking that it's the marriage counseling seminar which is being held in a nearby room.
In 1997, Atlantic Records released a Mad About You soundtrack. The soundtrack from and inspired by the sitcom, is composed of fun and sentimental songs and clips from the show. The tracks are organized chronologically marking the milestones of the couple's relationship. The album is bookended by the two versions of Paul Reiser's song "Final Frontier"—the first track is the classic version used in the show's opening, and the last track is Anita Baker's jazzy, full-length rendition, with Reiser on keyboard. The 21 tracks are as follows:
"Final Frontier (TV Theme)" – Andrew Gold/The Sonora's Tucson Band
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released the first three seasons of Mad About You on DVD in Region 1 and 4. The first two seasons were also made available in Region 2. No subsequent seasons were released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
In February 2010, Shout! Factory acquired the distribution rights to the remaining seasons of Mad About You on DVD. They subsequently released seasons 4 and 5 on DVD.
On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Mad About You. They subsequently re-released the first and second seasons on DVD on August 5, 2014.
Mill Creek released the complete series on a 14-DVD set on May 3, 2016.
As of August 1, 2019, the entire series has been available to Spectrum subscribers as part of the run-up to the premiere of the revival series.
On December 8, 2020, the revival season, alongside the original series, was added to Amazon Prime Video.
The Complete 1st Season
October 22, 2002
The Complete 2nd Season
April 22, 2003
The Complete 3rd Season
February 6, 2007
The Complete 4th Season
June 29, 2010
The Complete 5th Season
November 2, 2010
The Complete 6th Season
June 29, 2010
The Complete 7th Season
June 29, 2010
The Complete Series
May 3, 2016
Mad About You Collection
February 8, 2005
Blooper Reel: The Seven Warning Signs of Madness
Audio commentaries: Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt on "The Final Frontier" and "The Pilot"
Featurette: Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt Are Mad About the Theme
Featurette: Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt Are Mad About the Guest Stars
Paul and Helen introduce and discuss each episode
A Chilean adaptation under the title Loco por ti (translated as Crazy About You) aired on TVN during 2004.
An Argentine adaptation under the title Loco por vos (translated as Crazy About You) stylized as Loco x vos aired on Telefe from September 5 until December 29, 2016. The second season was originally going to air in 2017 but was scrapped later on.
A British adaptation under the title Loved by You aired for two seasons on ITV from 11 March 1997 until 27 August 1998.
^Barbuto, Dana (2019-09-29). "Scituate's Peter Tolan goes 'Mad'". MSN. Retrieved 2020-01-29. Tolan is the showrunner, executive producer and writer for the series, premiering Nov. 20 on Spectrum Originals.