ALL ABOUT THE TORKELSONS

A great show with a lot of heart that was canceled way too soon.
  1. It was set in the fictional town of Pyramid Corners, Oklahoma and centered around the sweet and incredibly articulated Dorothy Jane Torkelson— who's probably best known for her talks with the Man in the Moon— and her sometimes bizarre yet always loving family that included single mom, Millicent, mischievous twelve year old Steven Floyd, tuba-playing ten year old Ruth Ann, brainiac eight year old Chuckie Lee, and happy-go-lucky six year old Mary Sue.
  2. Lynn Montgomery drew inspiration for the project from the people and places of her childhood.
    The family's matriarch, Millicent was based on Montgomery's grandmother while she herself was the inspiration for Dorothy Jane. There was also a real Steve Floyd Torkelson who gave Montgomery her first kiss while the two were put on a bug hunt together.
  3. It didn't actually start out as a television series but rather a screenplay entitled Queen for a Day.
    The premises for both projects were essentially the same except that the screenplay was set in the 1940s while the television series was set in the (then) present 1990s.
  4. Michael Jacobs was the one who took Montgomery's screenplay and developed it into a half hour show while also serving as its executive-producer.
    His credits include Charles in Charge (1984-1990), My Two Dads (1987-1990), Dinosaurs (1991-1994), and a little show people might have heard of called Boy Meets World (1993-2000) and its later spin-off, Girl Meets World (2014- present).
  5. The show premiered on September 21, 1991 at 8:30 on NBC.
  6. The cast during season one:
  7. Olivia Brunette— Dorothy Jane Torkelson
    Her credits at the time included Marti Page in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and appearances on "Webster," Our House," Quantum Leap, "Designing Women," and "Wings". She also voiced the character of Janice Emmons in the Peanuts special "Why, Charlie Brown, Why?"
  8. Connie Ray— Millicent Torkelson
    She studied acting at East Carolina University before earning an MFA from Ohio University in the 80s.
  9. Aaron Michael Metchik— Steven Floyd Torkelson
    The role was played by Benj Thall in the pilot.
  10. Anna Slotky—Ruth Ann Torkelson
    The role was played by Elizabeth Poyer in the pilot.
  11. Lee Norris— Chuckie Lee Torkelson
  12. Rachel Duncan— Mary Sue Torkelson
  13. In the pilot, the family took a boarder, Mr. Weasly Hodges— often called "Boarder Hodges"— who was played by William Schallert.
    Some of his previous credits included appearances on "Bewitched," "The Bionic Woman," "Bonanza," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Donna Reed Show," "Father Knows Best," "Get Smart," and "The Patty Duke Show".
  14. One of the running plot lines throughout the first season was Dorothy Jane's unrequited love for the "he's too old for you" fence neighbor, Riley Roberts (Michael Landes).
  15. Other notable recurring characters throughout the season included:
  16. holds-no-punches mother-in-law, Bootsie Torkelson (Ronnie Claire Edwards)
  17. typical mean girl, Dreama (Alyson Kiperman)
  18. Dorothy Jane's awkward, geeky admirer, Kirby Scroggins (Paige Gosney)
  19. absentee father, Randy Torkelson (Gregg Henry)
  20. ... and call-in radio host, Kitty Drysdale (Mother Love)
  21. The ninth episode of the season— "Return to Sender"— also reunited William Schallert with Patty Duke almost thirty years after he had played her father on "The Patty Duke Show".
    She played the wife of his late son in the episode.
  22. Other famous guest stars included Elmo ("Educating Millicent") and Drew Carey, who made his first ever television appearance in the episode, "Say Uncle".
  23. The first season finale aired in June 16, 1993 after which the show underwent a *major* overhaul that resulted in name, location, and cast changes.
  24. The newly retitled "Almost Home" premiered on February 6, 1993 and saw the Torkelson clan— now consisting of just Millicent, Dorothy Jane, Chuckie Lee, and Mary Sue— relocating to Seattle after Millicent accepts a job as a nanny there.
  25. Her boss, Brian Morgan, was played by Perry King while her two wards Gregory and Molly were played by Jason Marsden and Brittany Murphy.
    Most episodes revolved around Millicent and Brian clashing over parenting differences, Dorothy Jane's and Molly's polar opposite personalities, Gregory trying to take advantage of Ćhuckie Lee and Mary Sue, and a developing relationship between Millicent and Brian.
  26. Guest stars during this season included:
  27. a pre-"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "How I Met Your Mother" Alyson Hannigan as Gregory's girl friend turned girlfriend, Sam
  28. Joey Lawrence as Dorothy Jane and Molly's boss at Chicken in a Hat ("Girls and Boy")
  29. a young Ben Affleck as a basketball player who falls for Dorothy Jane ("Is That All There Is?")
  30. Jared Leto as a football player that Molly used to distract Dorothy Jane from the fact that she was throwing an unauthorized party ("The Fox and the Hound")
  31. ...and Donal Logue as musician Tommy Tom in "Hot Ticket".
  32. But despite its best efforts, the show ended its thirteen episode second season on June 6, 1993 and subsequently canceled.
  33. Disney would go on to purchase the syndication rights to the show and air it under "The Torkelsons" name as part of the weekday lineup from January 1994 to late 1999.
    But even though they aired it under "The Torkelsons" name, they kept the "Almost Home" titles intact.
  34. So what happened to the cast after the show ended? Well...
  35. Connie Ray went on to play Bobbi-Claire in Hope Floats, Marion in How to Deal (2003), and Karen Kepler on "Grey's Anatomy" among many other film and television appearances.
    She also had a bit part in Space Jam.
  36. Aaron Michael Metchik (Steven Floyd Torkelson) would later play Alan Gray in The Babysitter's Club and voice Ithicles in Disney's "Hercules".
  37. Anna Slotky (Ruth Ann Torkelson) played Brooke McCallister in John Hughes' Home Alone movies and Denise on "Sister, Sister" before retiring from acting to pursue a law degree.
  38. Lee Norris (Chuckie Lee Torkelson) went on to portray Minkus in another Michael Jacobs' show, Boy Meets World, and Mouth on One Tree Hill while Rachel Duncan (Mary Sue Torkelson) made appearances in Disney's "Smart House" and What Women Want before seemingly retiring.
  39. Jason Marsden would go on to provide the voices of Thackery Binx in Hocus Pocus and Max Goof in A Goofy Movie and An Extremely Goofy Movie as well as playing Rich Halke on Step by Step while Brittany Murphy would go on to a film career that included playing Tai in Clueless and Alex Latourno in 8 Mile before sadly passing away in 2009.
  40. As for Olivia Burnette, she went on to roles in films like The Quick and the Dead (1995) and Eye for an Eye (1996) before deciding to take a step back from acting in order to attend NYU.
    Unfortunately while at NYU, she got entangled with a stoke broker who swindled her out of her life earnings. After a stint working at Pottery Born—which she says was humiliating because people recognized her from "The Torkelsons" and just assumed she blew her money on drugs— she moved back to California where she took acting roles on shows like JAG & in forgettable movies like Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror before taking another (unintentional) acting break to devote time to her family
  41. Within the last few years, though, she's decided to start slowly stepping back in front of the camera again and most notably played the role of the Homeless Woman in "Sons of Anarchy".
  42. RANDOM PIECES OF TRIVIA:
  43. The first season's theme song "A New Day's Promises" was sung by country duo The Judds ("Mama He's Crazy," "Why Not Me," "Love Can Build a Bridge") while the second season's theme "Almost Home" was sung by Joey Scarbury ("Believe It or Not" from "Greatest American Hero") and Jennifer Warnes ("(I've Had The) Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing).
  44. It only took the California born and raised Olivia Burnette twenty minutes to get the Oklahoma accent.
    According to Lynn Montgomery, she sent a tape of the pilot to her family in Oklahoma and asked them who sounded the most authentic and they all chose Burnette.
  45. The scene at the appliance store in the pilot drew inspiration from true events.
    A local paper was running an ad that said the store would take any old washer and dryer a customer brought in so Montgomery's grandmother took in her old wash board and clothes line.
  46. Added bonus: the entire series (minus episode five) can be found on YouTube.
    Episode 1, part 1: http://youtu.be/_U56JVk_I0w