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Saturday, August 18, 2012

One World

Would you like to know one thing that I love most about doing this blog? It's being able to look at television shows that were once forgotten, and opening up a discussion about them.

In all likelihood, whenever I do a featured spotlight on a television show that is obscure, I'll likely be the only one who remembers it. But my hope is that someone out there will take a look at these shows, and realize “hey, I thought I was the only one who remembered this show”, or “oh my goodness, someone else knows this show”, or “I thought I was the only one who knew this show existed!”

For today's look back on Saturday Morning, we're going back to the TNBC era for this one.

TNBC, or “Teen NBC” was the block of live-action teen sitcoms that aired on Saturday mornings between 1992 and 2001. And, I make no apologies in admitting that I did watch TNBC. With Saturday morning cartoons more or less off the air during TNBC's heyday, what else was there to watch on Saturdays? And besides, if you could get past the fact that the shows were low-budget and that all of the programs were basically the same show in different settings, they were really quite interesting. And, besides, there were a few TNBC stars who ended up making a splash in the world of television and film years after the TNBC franchise shut down including Kelly Packard and Brentley Gore (California Dreams), Bianca Lawson, Natalia Cigluti, Lindsey McKeon, and Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class), and Anthony Anderson (Hang Time).

Not that today's blog subject has anything to do with the previous paragraph, just stating that I feel that the TNBC block of programming was somewhat underrated.

Today, we're going to look back at one of TNBC's final creations. The show first began airing on September 12, 1998, and ran until January 2001. It was also one of the few TNBC sitcoms that showcased an actual family unit, rather than having the stars be a whole bunch of high school students.

(Though, let's be honest here...75% of the main cast were a bunch of high school students.)

The name of the show was “One World”. And, yes, there is a reason why the show is called “One World”. Watch the opening credits below.

Now what if I told you that all eight people on the show were one big happy family? You wouldn't believe me, right?

Here's where the “One World” part comes in. You notice that all six children in the family are all of different races and backgrounds? How people of different cultures could come together to become one big family. It's almost as if it's a show that is dedicating itself to world peace!

But for whatever reason, the formula worked well enough for the program to run three seasons, and the end result was a program that was filled with warmth, as well as providing the strong positive message that everyone belonged somewhere on this crazy planet.

One World” takes place in the city of Miami, Florida. Dave Blake (Michael Toland), a former baseball player and his artist wife, Karen (Elizabeth Morehead) live in a gigantic house with their six children...all adopted!

You see, for whatever reason, neither Dave or Karen had their own biological children at the beginning of the series (though Karen would eventually become pregnant during the show's final season). I don't know what exactly the reason was behind why they chose to adopt rather than conceive naturally, but I'd like to think it was because they started off becoming foster parents, and fell so in love with all of their foster children that they decided to become part of the family permanently.

So, who are the six children in “One World”? Here they are below.

Beginning from left to right are Ben (Bryan Kirkwood), Marci (Alisa Reyes), Cray (Brandon Baker), Sui (Michele Krusiec), Neal (Harvey Silver), and Jane (Arroyn Lloyd).

And, each child had their own distinct personalities and backgrounds. As I talk a little bit about each of these characters, you'll see why they became the way that they did, and who moving in with the Blake family ended up being the best thing that ever happened to them.

Ben, for instance, ended up having the double whammy of being a recovering alcoholic as well as having a gambling problem. Quite heavy subject matter, given that on the program, Ben was portrayed as being just eighteen years of age. Of course, Ben's personal struggles often made him one of the strongest characters in the show. He was the one who convinced Jane to stay with the Blake family when she wasn't sure she fit in, and he took a girlfriend of his to her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to help her deal with her drinking problem. When he wasn't helping his friends and family, he was the frontman for a band that would perform at various Miami clubs, hoping to be discovered as a musical star.

Marci wasn't quite as developed as Ben was, but one thing that I noticed about her was her flair for leadership and business. She ended up becoming the assistant manager for a club known as The Warehouse (a club where Ben's band often plays), and while there, she finds herself having to stand up for herself when the club's owner begins making comments about her race. But that was never too difficult for Marci to do, because Marci's fiery personality meant that she more often than not served as the official mouthpiece for the Blake family...especially if someone had the poor sense to talk back to her or anyone else in the Blake family. Although, her big business mindset is questionable at times, even unethical. I mean, she tried selling food at inflated prices to people before a hurricane hit!

The youngest member of the family is Cray. At just thirteen years old, Cray sometimes felt as though he really had to do some crazy things in order to make himself heard. He even resorted to stealing and trying drugs in order to find some way to fit in. Fortunately for Cray, he had older siblings and two parents who loved him to keep him on the right track. Because Cray is the youngest of the family, a lot of his storylines deal with adolescent like problems such as standing up to a bully, or trying to make himself heard in a house filled with eight people.

Sui Blake was the Blake who had all the right moves on the soccer field, but didn't exactly have the brains to do the same on her schoolwork. This shopping addicted Asian beauty wanted nothing more than to play soccer for the American Olympic team. She practiced day and night, hoping to win a gold medal...but late in the show's first season, Sui gets involved in an accident, and injures herself so badly that her Olympic dreams are shattered. But thanks to her family, she manages to move on with her life, and gets involved in a lot of other storylines including taking on a job as a weathergirl for a public access channel and having to deal with sexual harassment.

Neal Blake...erm, Smith actually (Neal was the only one of the Blake kids who chose to keep his original last name) is widely considered to be the most intelligent and sensible of all the Blake children. He is incredibly bright, and even managed to design a computer game while he was in his late teens. That's not to say that Neal hasn't gotten into some trouble himself. He used to be a part of a gang before being taken in by the Blake family, and he and Jane end up cheating on their PSAT's...but for the most part, Neal is the voice of reason in the Blake family.

And, then there's Jane.

Jane was actually taken in by the Blake family in the very first episode of the series, and she had a bad attitude from the very beginning, basically abusing and torturing the other Blake kids. Neal and Ben tried to get her to fit in, but she wasn't having any of it. It wasn't until a hurricane passed through Miami that Jane revealed why she didn't trust them. She had lost her mother on her sixth birthday, and ever since then she was passed around from foster family to foster family, each one more apathetic and abusive than the one before. With help from Ben, Jane realizes that the Blake family could be trusted, and Jane soon began to fit in more. The road wasn't easy though. Jane still had anger issues, and those were made clear when she fought with Marci and Sui over trivial things, and beat up her date because he happened to have the same name as an abusive relative she knew. Jane was probably the most complex of the Blake kids, but she was also the most developed. And even Jane had some tender moments, such as when she helped spring a terminally ill patient from the hospital she did community service work for so he could experience life outside of his hospital room.

And, there you have it. That's our look back on “One World”.

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