DVD review: “Caroline in the City” (1995-1999)

“Caroline in the City” (1995-1999) 

Television

Ninety Seven Episodes

Developed by: Fred Barron, Dottie Dartland and Marco Pennette

Featuring: Lea Thompson, Eric Lutes, Malcolm Gets, Amy Pietz and Andy Lauer

Richard: “So, Donna, do you miss Rome?”

Donna: “Oh, no. All that traffic and noise and pollution, and rude people.”

Richard: “Oh, I can see why you moved to New York.”

Released recently on DVD is the late 1990s television series “Caroline in the City” (1995-1999) a comedy that really reflects the type of comedies produced at the time, set in one or two locations with a very white and upwardly mobile cast, that face problems each week with narratives that seem a little bigger than real life and more importance placed on the jokes than the plot or the narrative. Upon looking back after over twenty years the biggest difference between comedies made then to now is the almost complete lack of any non white within the cast, everything is very vanilla which is the biggest element that shows the passage of time.

“Caroline in the City” is based around Caroline Duffy (Lea Thompson), a cartoonist who lives in Manhattan, spends a lot of time with dates and lovers, and meddles in the lives of her friends and neighbors. In the pilot episode, she has broken up with Del Cassidy (Eric Lutes), who quickly finds another date. She hires Richard Karinsky (Malcolm Gets) to be her new colorist, and he pretends to be her new boyfriend during a dinner to prevent her from being embarrassed over Del’s moving on. During the first season, Richard develops feelings for Caroline. Towards the end of season one, Del proposes to Caroline. Richard is distressed by this, and searches for a new job. Although Richard has kept his feelings secret, their friends Annie (Amy Pietz) and Remo (Tom La Grua) figure out that he loves Caroline. The day before the wedding, Richard writes her a love letter where he asks Caroline to meet him at Remo’s if she loves him. He leaves the letter in a pile of wedding thank-you cards. Caroline arrives at Remo’s but does not mention the letter, and continues with the wedding plans. Richard decides to leave Manhattan. When Caroline and Del call off the wedding, Caroline visits Richard’s apartment but he has left.

In the second season, Richard returns to Manhattan after having been in Paris where he had tried to sell paintings. Caroline gives the thank-you cards to a friend; Richard tries to find and destroy the love letter; he tosses it out of the window, only to have Annie find it. He resumes his old job as Caroline’s colorist. Later, Caroline discovers that she has feelings for Richard; however, Richard has reunited with his former girlfriend Julia, whom he met in Manhattan. Caroline leaves a message on his answering machine telling him that she loves him, but Julia discovers it and erases it. Richard and Julia get married which prompts a bitter love triangle among the three. Richard eventually splits with Julia. Caroline and Richard eventually become a couple. However, they split after arguing over whether to have children; Richard learned that Julia had a child. In the final episode, which ends on an unresolved cliffhanger, Annie and Del are now in a new relationship, while Caroline is about to marry another man – her childhood friend Randy – when Richard shows up at the wedding.

“Caroline in the City” is not a bad show at all, in fact sits nicely alongside the other main female lead comedies of the time in “Suddenly Susan” (1996-2000) and “The Naked Truth” (1995-1996) which, again, were not bad, although looking back I think “The Naked Truth” is the best of the three with a lead in Téa Leoni who is undeniably unforgettable in the role and it is a pity it never lasted more than two seasons. What is a strength of “Caroline in the City” is that it is easily watched and consumed, it is effective and not really offensive so it is easy to see why it has been released on DVD, go and find out for yourself.

Episodes

Season One

Pilot: Caroline advertises for a colourist and employs Richard. Her former boyfriend, Del, has moved on and Caroline is under pressure to also get a date. Richard steps in at the last moment to allow Caroline to save face in front of Del.

Caroline and the Mugger: Richard is mugged and Caroline helps him by buying him a new wallet. On the return journey, he and Caroline catch the mugger and he is arrested. The mugger turns out to be a small guy and Richard thinks of himself as a bit of a wimp.

Caroline and the Gay Art Show: Caroline manages to get Richard’s work displayed at an art gallery. They later find out it only shows works by gay artists. When Richard hears that the painting could sell for $20 000, he pretends that he is gay.

Caroline and the Bad Back: Caroline injures her back playing racquetball and takes some of Annie’s pain killers that knock her out. She has a deadline for the next cartoon looming so Del and Richard collaborate to finish it.

Caroline and the ATM: Caroline picks at her nose in front of the camera at a malfunctioning ATM and is embarrassed to ask the manager for the money it didn’t dispense. Richard is having a lot of difficulty breaking up with his girlfriend, Shelly.

Caroline and the Folks: Caroline finally agrees to meet Del’s mother whom she’s been avoiding because she thinks that his mother is a difficult person. She arrives at Remo’s Ristaurante, but Del is stuck on the subway and hasn’t yet arrived. Caroline spots a haggish woman and mistakes her for Del’s mom. Intimidated, she hides out in the kitchen until Del arrives. Annie discovers that Richard is spending his birthday alone and she tries to help him celebrate.

Caroline and the Opera: Caroline’s auntie, Mary, arrives for a visit and sets her up with a date. Caroline takes him to the opera when Del doesn’t want to go, which makes Del very jealous. He resorts to extreme actions to win her back.

Caroline and the Balloon: All the gang get together to walk a ‘Caroline in the City’ balloon in the Thanksgiving Day parade. Unfortunately, Shelly’s actions result in the balloon being released and subsequently causing havoc.

Caroline and the Convict: Caroline’s apartment is broken into and her suspicion falls on Annie’s new boyfriend, who has just been released from prison. Annie is upset at Caroline but they have to find out who is correct.

Caroline and the Christmas Break: Caroline and Del are try going for a holiday vacation together but all they do is break up. Caroline wants revenge. Richard tries to break up with Shelly by getting Charlie to take her out. Things don’t go as planned.

Caroline and the Gift: Richard starts a second job painting portraits. Caroline tries to return earrings that Del gave her for Christmas but it leaves her with a dilemma. At a party, Annie makes a date with a man but can’t remember what he looks like.

Caroline and the Married Man: Richard is a finalist to paint a mural. The person who makes the decision is very interested in Caroline and Richard sets them up on a date. However, Richard finds out some further information that puts him in an ethical dilemma.

Caroline and the Twenty-Eight-Pound Walleye: Caroline returns to home her town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin after it decides to dedicate a park to her and there is some sibling rivalry with her brother. Annie gives her role to her understudy so that she can dance in front of her parents.

Caroline and the Watch: Caroline buys an old desk and finds an engraved watch in a locked drawer. She sets out to find the secret of the watch. One of Del’s employees dies and he finds out some unpleasant facts about him.

Caroline and the Bad Date: Caroline picks up a man she met in a clothes store and their date is a disaster. Del and Richard have a date with models and they don’t turn up.

Caroline and the Proposal: Del has proposed to Caroline but she is unsure about whether to accept. Richard looks for a new job and is seduced by the employment counsellor. Caroline finds them together, which changes everything.

Caroline and the Kid: For charity, Caroline offered to paint a Caroline mural and it turns out to be for a self-indulgent 10 year-old boy. Del has trouble coping when one of Caroline’s old boyfriends from Italy pays a visit.

Caroline and the Ex-Wife: Caroline and Del go to Del’s country house only to find his second ex-wife is staying there with her new boyfriend. Annie’s brother is employed to repair Richard’s light switch and it starts a family feud.

Caroline and the Movie: Del’s car is impounded but he has difficulties getting it out of the impound yard. A movie is being shot outside Caroline’s apartment. Annie, Caroline and Richard volunteer to be extras but the results do not turn out well.

Caroline and the Cereal: A cereal company wants to produce ‘Sweet Caroline’ breakfast cereal. However the shape turns out looking like a part of the female human body. Del wants to learn to dance for his wedding with Caroline and asks Annie to teach him.

Caroline and Richard’s Mom: Richard’s mother arrives for a visit with a few stories to tell, causing Richard a lot of embarrassment. She also has a tendency to exaggerate her life. After a lot of prompting, Del decides to have a pedicure and ends up addicted.

Caroline and the Bridesmaids: Both Caroline and Del are organising their respective attendants for the wedding but it is not going smoothly. Annie, especially, is having trouble coping with her maid of honour responsibilities.

Caroline and the Wedding: Preparations are speeding up with the wedding only days away. Richard writes a love letter to Caroline and puts it in her apartment but she doesn’t receive it. He unsuccessfully tries to retrieve it so he suddenly leaves.

Caroline and the Condom: Caroline has writer’s block so this episode has Richard and Caroline looking back on some of the events in Season 1. This includes the time Caroline was caught shop lifting some condoms.

Season Two

Caroline and the Younger Man: Three months after Caroline had pulled out of her wedding, Richard is in France painting. He is unsuccessful, returns home and starts work in an ice cream parlour. When Salty is injured, Caroline ends up dating the much younger vet.

Caroline and the Letter: Richard finds out that Caroline didn’t read the letter he left her so he conspires to get it back. He finds out that it is at Vicki’s place. When Richard is there getting the letter, Vicki goes into labour and he helps with the birth.

Caroline and the Cat Dancer: Caroline and Joe are getting on and Del is envious. Annie is audited by the IRS. When the auditor finds out she is in Cats he offers to go easy on her if Annie gets him an audition for Cats.

Caroline and the Guy Who Gets There Too Soon: Joe declares his love for Caroline, which stuns her and leaves her unsure about what to do. Richard inherits a car but has to admit that he can’t drive. They all decide to help him get his licence.

Caroline and the Dreamers: Del stands up to his father and ends up being fired. He decides to set up his own company and convinces Caroline to join him. Richard is commissioned to paint a mural in the South Bronx but the locals don’t want it.

Caroline and the Nice Jewish Boy: Del lies about being Jewish in order to date a woman and asks Richard for help when he goes to her place for dinner. Caroline wins a cartooning award but Joe refuses to attend because it is sponsored by a company that makes furs.

Caroline and Victor/Victoria: Annie wants to be Julie Andrew’s understudy in Victor/Victoria and ‘kidnaps’ her in order to get an audition. She then practises being a man to get the part. Richard very reluctantly has to go hospital to get a polyp removed.

Caroline and the Comic: An old friend of Richard’s father, Ben, appears. Ben was a struggling stand-up comedian and they now want him for a benefit. Richard has issues with his father so Caroline intervenes to get them together.

Caroline and the Therapist: When Caroline’s cat starts acting oddly, Joe recommends that it should see a cat therapist. The therapist decides that Richard is the problem as he has issues with animals. Annie goes on a blind date organised by her mother.

Caroline and the Red Sauce: It’s Christmas time and Caroline and Richard have different approaches to it. Annie’s mother moves in with her because she has separated from her husband. Charlie hires a new secretary for Del. However, he hadn’t checked out her past.

Caroline and the Freight King: Del hires an unsuccessful stripper-gram girl as a receptionist and Charlie is jealous. He also tries to convince Richard to draw some Christmas cards. Caroline is accidentally locked in her building’s laundry overnight with a homeless man.

Caroline and the Perfect Record: Caroline’s romance hits a snag when Joe’s ex-girlfriend turns up and wants to move into his spare bedroom. Caroline decides to let him move in with her. Richard is given a large piece of marble to sculpt and stores it at Caroline’s place.

Caroline and the Singer: Annie’s sister, Donna, is a singer and is visiting. She finds Richard’s letter and wants to use it as inspiration for a new song. Caroline has left her black pumps at Joe’s place but she is reluctant to go to his place since the break-up.

Caroline and the Kept Man: Del arranges to exhibit one of Richard’s paintings at his club. A wealthy woman there takes an interest in Richard, but not for his art. She wants him to quit working for Caroline. Caroline volunteers to read to the elderly.

Caroline and the Long Shot: Richard and Caroline go to an NBA basketball match but he only goes to hear the singer of the national anthem. He wins the chance to win a $100 000 basketball three point throw. Unfortunately, Richard has no idea about how to do this.

Caroline and the Dearly Departed: Richard is trying to get his artwork reviewed by a famous artist. To help sell one of his paintings Caroline says that he is dead. When she is successful, Richard decides to tell everyone that he is dead. Then, he has to have a funeral.

Caroline and the Getaway: After blowing off Caroline a few times, Annie decides to go with her on a girls’ weekend to the snow. However, as neither can ski, they have to find something else to do, which means men. Richard dates a woman he met at a bookstore.

Caroline and the Monkeys: For the first time, Caroline decides to go to a restaurant to dine alone and it doesn’t go well. Then she goes solo to a movie. Del tries to date Annie’s friend, who is a convicted pyromaniac. Charlie sees monkeys all over the city.

Caroline and the Buyer: Annie’s mother is driving her crazy. Caroline finds out that some stores are no longer stocking her cards. Del works out a plan and takes the store owner out for a dinner with Caroline, but he misinterprets what she is offering.

Caroline and the New Neighbour: Caroline helps an elderly neighbour but the lady starts taking advantage of her. Things come to a head when she asks Caroline and Annie to help her take her naked dead husband to a funeral home.

Caroline and the Critics: Caroline is obsessive about being liked by everyone and becomes upset when an obscure newspaper stops running her cartoon. She takes Richard on a road trip to the newspaper. Annie plots revenge on a critic who panned her performance.

Caroline and the Ombudsman: Caroline is having trouble getting the building superintendent to fix her shower so she hires an ‘ombudsman’ to intervene. Annie saves the life of a man in the audience of Cats and tries to use him to advance her career.

Caroline and the Bad Trip: Caroline is to appear on The Tonight Show to publicise her new book. She accidentally takes some drugs before going on. Talk of who Richard’s father is means Charlie goes looking for his. Del tries to give Richard some dating tips.

Caroline and Richard & Julia: Julia, Richard’s old girlfriend, has returned with the news that she is getting married. He tries to impress her by asking Caroline to act as his wife. Then it becomes a game of oneupmanship between Julia and Richard.

Caroline and the Wayward Husband: Sofia breaks off her engagement, stays over and forces Caroline and Richard to sleep in the same bed. However, Sofia has an ulterior motive. Caroline expresses her true feelings. Annie’s role in a soap opera doesn’t quite go as expected.

Season Three

Caroline and the Reception: After her message of love to Richard, Caroline becomes anxious when he doesn’t return her call. Then Richard stuns everybody when he announces that he has married Julia. Annie causes Del to become worried about his new girlfriend.

Caroline and the Kink: Annie is unable to get her job back in Cats and struggles to cope with all the free time. Julia and Richard split up when he objects to the clothes she dresses him in. Richard and Charlie’s work partnership is going slowly.

Caroline and the Novelist: Caroline meets a novelist at her book signing and goes out on a date with him. However, she then tries to read his book first. To make some money, Julia gets a job at Remo’s. She is unused to working and it doesn’t go well.

Caroline and the Free Cable: It’s Richard’s birthday and he’s upset when Julia throws a surprise birthday party for him. It becomes worse when she invites many people from his past. Unknowingly, Caroline has been stealing cable TV for three years.

Caroline and the Blind Date: Annie is going to her 10 year high school reunion intent on revenge. When her date falls through she goes with Del, complete with an elaborate story. Julia sets up Caroline on a blind date but she doesn’t want to go, until she sees him.

Caroline and the Egg: Richard’s predecessor has come for a visit. She is trying to become pregnant and wants Caroline to donate an egg to her. Annie uses the occasion to mess with Richard. Del becomes nostalgic when he sees his old Porsche on the street.

Caroline and the Desperate Cat: Annie’s old music teacher is coming to town expecting to see her in Cats. She decides to crawl to her former boss to get her job back. Charlie and Richard volunteer to go on a drug trial for the money, but there are some side effects.

Caroline and the Cold Sesame Noodles: Del comes up with a novel way to improve sales of Caroline in the City cards. Annie is romantically pursued by her piano accompanist. Richard buys a belated wedding ring for Julia but he suspects that a delivery boy stole it.

Caroline and the Bitter Beast: When cleaning up his apartment, it comes out that Richard is a music composer. He was taught by Marvin Hamlisch and it appears that Marvin stole one of Richard’s tunes. Caroline meets an old boyfriend, but then there is the dog.

Caroline and the Councilman: Annie’s cousin comes to town and wants to drop out of school to become an actress. Annie wants stop her. Del wants Caroline to endorse a councilman with her cartoon character but she is reluctant to enter the political arena.

Caroline and the Used Car Salesman: It’s Christmas and Caroline’s family is coming to her. To earn money, Richard gets a second job as a car salesman without telling Julia. He’s unsuccessful at it and all he does is make everybody think that he is having an affair.

Caroline and the Decanter: It’s Christmas holidays and Richard and Julia are off to Hawaii on a belated honeymoon only to be snowed in. Caroline visits the Cassidy’s for Christmas dinner but it doesn’t go well. Charlie’s father comes to visit him.

Caroline and the Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name: It’s the start of the new year and Annie blurts out about the feelings Caroline had for Richard. Del and Charlie go a greeting card convention to sell Caroline in the City cards. They have to come up with something special.

Caroline and the Quiz Show: The parents of Annie’s new boyfriend, Seth, run a radio quiz show. They convince Caroline to go on as a contestant. However, she has second thoughts. Annie’s having trouble coming to terms with how close Seth’s family is.

Caroline and the Reluctant Father: One of Del’s old girlfriends turns up and tells him that he has ten year-old daughter. However, he has a lot of difficulty knowing what to do. Annie wants Richard to appraise her brother’s art so he makes the most of it.

Caroline and the Outer Limits: It’s a busy time and Richard and Caroline are working overtime. Julia is upset at Richard’s absence and tells Caroline she should walk “a mile in my shoes”. In a scene reminiscent of The Outer Limits, Caroline and Julia exchange places.

Caroline and the Toothbrush: Trevor has left a toothbrush at Caroline’s and she is worried about the implications – long term commitment. Annie is happy as her mother is finally leaving. Del and Charlie come up with a publicity stunt using a groundhog and a cape.

Caroline and the Cabbie: Del decides to sell celebrity hair when Annie gets a hairdressing appointment at a celebrity hairdressers. Caroline reports a rude cabbie but Richard fails to turn up as a witness when he becomes addicted to a computer bulletin board.

Caroline and the Visit from Mom: Caroline’s mother comes to visit and Annie can’t believe how well Caroline and her mother get on together. However, this only on the surface. Richard goes on a gambling tour hoping to cash in the $100 bus voucher, and to read a book.

Caroline and the Little White Lies: Del and Charlie pose as a gay couple so as to get cheaper health insurance. Things get difficult when they are invited to a gay party and Del meets a beautiful woman. Richard wants to get on a jury but is having trouble getting selected.

Caroline and the Killer Dad: Annie new boyfriend was a priest and has never been with a woman. Del changes Caroline’s cartoon without telling her but nobody thinks his change is funny. Julia’s father is in town and wants to meet Richard supposedly to make up.

Caroline and the Sandwich: New York’s Stage Deli decides to change the Jo Anne Worley Club to the Caroline in the City Club. Jo Anne starts a very popular campaign to get it changed back. This upsets Caroline as she now feels everybody hates her.

Caroline and the Marriage Counselor: Part 1 & 2: Julia wants Richard to quit working for Caroline but he has trouble doing so. Julia suggests that they go to a counsellor. After hearing their story, the counsellor insists that Richard quit and he then applies for Richard’s job.

Caroline and the Secret Bullfighter: Part 1 & 2: Richard and Julia are heading to Europe for the holidays and throw a going away party. The party is a bore but it becomes interesting when Caroline and Annie discover Julia having an affair with an unidentified man.

Season Four

Caroline and the Guys in the Bathroom: Richard and Caroline finally realise that they love each other. However, before they manage to go to bed together there are doubts and interruptions. Then there is the news that Eagle Greeting Cards has been taken over.

Caroline and the Office: Caroline refuses to work in the new office Del has organised. Julia’s father takes all Richard’s possessions but he refuses Caroline’s help. He is broke and homeless, and ends up staying in Caroline’s office.

Caroline and the Rotten Plum: It’s Caroline’s and Richard’s first day in the office and there is a period of adjustment as they get used to all the other workers. Annie has trouble getting the romantic eye of her physical trainer.

Caroline and the Drycleaner: Caroline is wary about attending a focus group on Caroline in the City cards and with good reason. Annie is fired from Cats and is then dropped by her agent. Annie’s dry cleaner keeps asking her out and she finally accepts.

Caroline and the First Date: It’s Halloween and Del is put in charge of the firm’s Halloween party, only to find out that it is a sure-fire way to be sacked. Caroline and Richard go on their first date together but they have different ideas about what they should do.

Caroline and the Paper Chase: Del wants to produce an animation on female sexuality. When Caroline finds Richard’s divorce papers, her curiosity about their content causes problems when they are misplaced. Then she finds out that Richard is still married.

Caroline and the Big Night: Caroline is particularly excited as she and Richard are going away for their first weekend together. It starts off badly when they get the wrong room because it has two single beds and no bathroom. Caroline tries to change their rooms.

Caroline and the Diva: Now that Caroline and Richard are together, Annie feels on the outer. It ends up with all three going to a concert together, which doesn’t end well. Del has to tread a diplomatic line when asked to do something that he doesn’t want to.

Caroline and the Booby Trap: Annie is tired of missing out of acting roles and decides that she needs to have her breasts enlarge. When Richard says he would like Caroline to have bigger breasts, she decides to investigate breast enlargement as well.

Caroline and the Bar Mitzvah: Richard’s aunt visits him and wants him to do his Bar Mitzvah. To make him interested, she offers him $5000 to do it. Caroline is unhappy he is taking the money. Del is worried about his image so he keeps buying suits that are too small.

Caroline and the Fright Before Christmas: It’s Christmas and people are becoming jaded. When Caroline decides not to celebrate Christmas, the others set out to change her mind, only to find out that she is one step ahead of them. But it doesn’t quite go as expected.

Caroline and the Big Bad Bed: Annie and Del have a pact to go to the gym to help each other find a paramour. A workmate needs a place to stay so Richard offers to let him use his apartment. When he tidies the place up, Richard is happy and Caroline becomes unhappy.

Caroline and the Horny Kid: Caroline mentors a young teenager for a week. Things become complicated when he gets a crush on her. Del also has a teenage assistant but uses him to pick up his mother. Richard becomes determined to sell one of his paintings.

Caroline and the Firing Squad: Richard gets Annie a job as a model for a cartoonist but the work doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Charlie is bored with his special assignment at work and he becomes concerned about having a purpose for his life.

Caroline and the 2000th Strip: There is big party to celebrate Caroline’s 2000th cartoon strip. However, Caroline has a mental block and is unable to draw anything. Her friends give her plenty of bad suggestions, so she contemplates retirement and trying something else.

Caroline and the Ancestral Home: Caroline and Richard going home for her parents fortieth wedding anniversary. Caroline is then very upset when she hears the news that her parents are selling their home, so she is determined to buy it.

Caroline and the Sudsy Guy: Caroline has to make a quick return home. Her parents have moved house but her grandmother is staying put and doesn’t want to move out. This leaves Richard in charge of a sick Annie and a depressed Del, and having to make a speech.

Caroline and the Return of the Sudsy Guy: An old friend of Caroline from Peshtigo drops in, but does Caroline have feelings for him? After the death of an artist, Richard is given the opportunity to replace him at an exhibition, as long as he makes his paintings more depressing.

Caroline and the Ultimatum: With feelings for Randy, Caroline is confused about her relationship with Richard and wonders where it is heading. Richard is involved in a robbery at the video store and is locked in a storeroom, where he reflects on his relationship.

Caroline and El Niño: Caroline accepts Richards marriage proposal. However, they have very different ideas about how the wedding will go. Richard drops a bombshell when he reveals that he has a son from his brief marriage to Julia. They decide to go to Italy.

Caroline and the Big Move: Richard needs to be closer to his son and wants to go to Italy. However, the issue of having children splits up Caroline and Richard. Then Randy turns up in New York. Meanwhile, the romance between Annie and Del heats up.

Caroline and Joanie and the Stick: Caroline and Richard are just about to leave for Boston when an old classmate of hers drops in unexpectedly. Caroline feels guilty because she used to bully her. Annie becomes attached to a macaw that she is looking after.

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