The show resurrected the career of failed talk-show host Alan Thicke and catapulted Kirk Cameron to teen-idol status. Other cast members included Joanna Kerns (conflicted working mom Maggie),a hearty and seemingly healthy Tracey Gold (brainy daughter Carol), and Jeremy Miller (precocious younger son Ben). Growing Pains cracked the Top Ten in its first season, and while the cast members are not the most natural comic actors, by the first season's end their bond is palpable and the characters really do seem like family. Thicke's Dr. Jason Seaver is a sitcom anomaly: a work-at-home dad. He has moved his psychiatric practice into the den after Maggie takes a job as a journalist. His belief system is put to the supreme test by his three children, especially 15-year-old Mike (Cameron), whom Maggie calls "a hormone with feet." In the pilot episode, no sooner does Jason agree to give Mike more independence, then Mike is jailed for joyriding in his older friend's car.
Growing Pains does have a tendency to go for the easy laugh by having the kids--especially 9-year-old Ben--spout age-inappropriate jokes ("It was all so clinical," he complains at one point to Maggie after Jason bandages a scrape). But the series did admirably touch on some hot button family issues. In "The Seavers vs. the Cleavers," Annette Funicello guest stars in a rare mean role as a parent who disapproves of Maggie choosing to work "just when her children need her the most" (a nifty little retro joke: "Ward, I'm worried about the Seavers"). In "Superdad!," Maggie is upset that Carol turns to the ever-present Jason and not to her for advice. Refreshingly, not all problems are solved by episode's end. In the same episode, a boy the esteem-challenged Carol has an unrequited crush on does not miraculously materialize to ask her to the dance. In addition to the cast reunion, this set contains an interesting extra: the unaired version of the pilot with a less telegenic (but perhaps more in character) Elizabeth Ward in the role of Carol. For those who grew up with the Seavers, and in need of a retro blast of '80s nostalgia, Growing Pains will still, to quote the theme song, show you that smile again.
Cast & Characters
- Alan Thicke as Dr. Jason Seaver
- Joanna Kerns as Maggie Seaver
- Kirk Cameron as Mike Seaver
- Tracy Gold as Carol Seaver
- Jeremy Miller as Ben Seaver
- Kristen and Kelsey Dohring as Crissy Seaver (1988-1990)
- Ashley Johnson as Crissy Seaver (1990-1992)
- Leonardo DiCaprio - Luke Brower (1992)
- Josh Andrew Koenig as Richard "Boner" Stabone (1985-1989)
Broadcast HistoryFirst Telecast: September 24, 1985
Last Telecast: April 25, 1992
Original Network: ABC
Number of Seasons: 7
Number of Episodes: 166
Original Primetime TV Schedule:
- September 1985- March 1986, ABC, Tuesday 8:30-9:00pm
- May 1986- March 1988, ABC, Tuesday 8:30-9:00pm
- March 1988-August 1990, ABC, Wednesday 8:00-8:30pm
- August 1990- August 1991, ABC, Wednesday 8:00-8:30pm
- August 1991- September 1991, ABC, Friday 9:30-10:00pm
- September 1991- January 1992, ABC, Saturday 8:30-9:00pm
- February 1992- April 1992, ABC, Saturday 9:30-10:00pm
Theme Song Lyrics & Opening Credits
"As Long As We Got Each Other," sung by B.J. Thomas and Jennifer Warnes.
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Growing Pains TriviaThe Seaver family lived on Long Island in New York.
The newspaper that Maggie Seaver worked for was the "Long Island Herald". The name that she used on the articles she authored was her maiden name, "Maggie Malone".
Growing Pains created a "spin-off series" when Graham Lubbock, the lousy teacher who was played by actor "Bill Kirchenbauer" moved to a new series titled, "Just the Ten of Us"! Lubbock moved his family to Eureka, California to become a coach at an all boys Catholic school.
On episode #96 of Growing Pains titled, "Fish Bait", a love interest (Kate MacDonald) for Mike Seaver was added to the series. Kate was played by actress Chelsea Noble who would become Kirk Cameron's real-life wife just 21 months later! It's notable that Kirk and Chelsea are still together today with 17 years of marriage! It is possible for show people to make successful relationships!
Andrew Koenig who played the part of "Boner" on Growing Pains was the son of acter Walter Koenig who played the role of "Ensign Chekov" on the classic 1960s TV series, "Star Trek".
On October 26, 1988 in the Growing Pains episode titled, "Birth of a Seaver", the Seaver kids got a new little sister named, "Chrissy". Amazingly, two years later, in 1990, Chrissy had somehow become seven-years-old!
In addition to being a fine actore, Alan Thicke wrote the theme songs for the series "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts of Life" but not for Growing Pains, his own series!
During the sixth season, Growing Pains ratings were getting pretty bad. In episode #138, "Not With My Carol You Don't", a 16-year-old Leonardo Dicaprio was added to the cast as a homeless teenager that the Seaver's took in off the street. The producers had hoped that Leonardo would bring in more teenage viewers but it the only thing that helped was DiCaprio's career. Shortly after Growing Pains was canceled, he got a major role in the 1993 film, "This Boy's Life" and became the superstar that he remains today!