Blossom is an American sitcom broadcast on NBC from January 3, 1991, to May 22, 1995. The series was created by Don Reo and starred Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo, a teenage girl living with her two brothers and their single father. It was produced by Reo's Impact Zone Productions in association with Witt/Thomas Productions and Touchstone Television (and distributed by Buena Vista Television; later Disney/ABC Domestic Television, as Disney owns the rights).
The series began with Blossom's mother having left the family to pursue her own life and career; the show concentrated on the family's attempts to adjust. Blossom's father, Nick, a session musician who was frequently between gigs and tours, was played by Ted Wass. Her oldest brother, Anthony (Michael Stoyanov), is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who eventually became a paramedic. Joey (Joey Lawrence), the other brother, is a fairly stereotypical "dumb jock," known for the drawn-out delivery of his catchphrase, "Whoa!"
In 1988, Don Reo had begun a producing partnership with Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, in which the latter two were bringing his screenplays to television under the established Witt/Thomas Productions nameplate. The genesis of the project that eventually became Blossom occurred soon after Reo's association with Witt and Thomas began, and coincided with another series they were bringing to CBS in 1989, Heartland. The project that would be Blossom had two sources of inspiration. The creation process was born when Reo attended a family party thrown by his long-time friend Dion DiMucci, the lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts. Reo regarded DiMucci as being a "hip, with-it musician father", giving calm, sage, non-judgmental advice to his children and loving them unconditionally. The interraction between DiMucci and his children was reinforced to Reo at the party, and it inspired him to use this family dynamic for a pilot, in which the "cool" father would be a highlight.
However, just prior to attending the DiMucci party, Reo had toyed with the idea of writing a pilot that depicted a wise-beyond-his-years, introspective teenage boy, modeled closely after protagonist Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. He decided to include both the hip father and Holden Caulfield-esque boy in the new pilot, with the boy eventually becoming the lead character. With Witt and Thomas' support of the storyline, Reo pitched the project to NBC in 1989 under the title Richie. The network liked the idea, but an NBC executive suggested that they focus on the daughter instead. Also, NBC felt that the combination of a such an emotionally intuitive child and a super-chic father was too radical to put on the air, so they urged Reo and Witt/Thomas to give Blossom and her siblings nuclear, conservative parents.
The pilot episode of Blossom was taped in the spring of 1990 with NBC broadcasting the pilot as a special on July 5, 1990. Four weeks later, Fox commenced a seven-episode tryout run for Molloy, another sitcom project involving Mayim Bialik, whose episodes had been produced in 1989, prior to Bialik signing on for the NBC pilot. Molloy faced low ratings, and was canceled by Fox after the seven-episode order was completed. Thus, NBC, who had been pleased with the ratings of their Bialik pilot special, ordered Blossom as a midseason replacement for January 1991.
Soon after NBC picked up Blossom as a regular series, Reo successfully convinced programming chief Brandon Tartikoff and his executives to allow the lead character to have the chic, divorced musician father he had originally envisioned for the project. Masur and Youngfellow were therefore dismissed; Witt and Thomas then convinced Ted Wass, who had previously starred on their 1970s sitcom Soap, to portray Blossom's single dad Nick Russo, on Wass' agreement that he could also direct numerous episodes. Mayim Bialik claimed to have had influence in Wass' casting, as she enjoyed auditioning with him the most out of other actors who were trying out when the role was being recast. Earlier, before the pilot was shot, Bialik had single-handedly been responsible for Michael Stoyanov joining the project, after she had seen him as a guest star on sister series Empty Nest. Not only did Bialik enjoy watching Stoyanov, but she also felt they shared a strong physical resemblance (both have prominent Russian facial features), and that they would be believable as brother and sister.
- Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo
- Joey Lawrence as Joey Russo
- Michael Stoyanov as Anthony Russo
- Ted Wass as Nick Russo
- Jenna von Oÿ as Six LeMeure (seasons 2-5, main; season 1, guest star recurring)
- Barnard Hughes as Buzz Richman (season 2, main; seasons 3-4, guest star recurring)
- Blossom had a lot of "very special episodes" and they were promoted as such. Frequently, episodes centered around a social issue were introduced by Mayim Bialik intoning in a somber manner, "Tonight, on a Very Special Blossom ...", followed by teaser scenes dramatically showing the conflict and cutting off before the most dire event reaches its climax.
- The show is also infamously known for its frequent use of dream sequences.
- Ted Wass directed 18 episodes of the series, including the series finale. This was one of his conditions to join the cast.
- Actress Melissa Joan Hart was originally offered the role of Six, but passed on the role to take the lead role on Clarissa Explains It All instead. Curiously, the shows were often compared by the fact both were centered on the life of a teenage girl.
- Though she plays the youngest child of the family, Mayim Bialik is actually four months older than Joey Lawrence. Bialik's birthday is December 12,1975 and Lawrence's birthday is April 20, 1976.
- The continuity of seasons 1 and 2 is a big mess, as almost every episode of those seasons broadcast out of production order.