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Kristy McNichol - the actress, on FAMILY


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Most Carpenters fans are familiar with the appearances of Kristy McNichol on some Carpenters TV specials, and most have been somewhat critical of Kristy's musical talents. In this post, I'd like to perhaps introduce some of you to Kristy's early TV series that aired during the latter half of the Carpenters career.

In the spring of 1976, ABC-TV in the US picked up a limited run series to air up until the summer. It was only six episodes long and produced by Aaron Spelling, but this was intended to be a "quality" drama, not the usual fluffy stuff that Spelling was known for. It was called FAMILY and starred Sada Thompson as the mother, James Broderick as the father, Gary Frank as the son, Elayne Heilveil as the older daughter, and Kristy McNichol as the youngest daughter.

The series was critically acclaimed and ABC greenlighted the series for a go that fall of 1976. Though there was a change of theme song, and the older daughter was replaced by Meredith Baxter-Birney, the series took off and was a ratings winner for the next few seasons. As a "quality" drama from the 70s, the series moves along at a much slower pace than today's TV series, with a much more leisurely look at the workings of a 70s family - their trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

I recall watching the series every week. It was even "water-cooler" discussion fodder at work on the day after air. Kristy McNichol is often the catalyst for stories as she is just going through the ordeals of puberty and growing up. The series was routinely nominated for Emmy awards during its run.

I mention all of this for those who have access to US streaming services. All 86 episodes of FAMILY are currently available to stream free with commercials on the TUBI streaming service. If I have one caveat, it's that the show has been converted to 16:9 widescreen rather than its originally-aired 4:3 ratio, but in looking at it, I find it's pleasingly done.

Highly recommended.
One of my favorite shows at the time. I loved Kristy “Buddy,” on the show, and Meredith. For most of us, we got to see Sada and James, both great actors, for the first time too. I was really bummed when it went off the air. Great thread Harry. Thanks!
My favorite TV show of all time. I’ve watched several episodes recently on YouTube. It was a quality show that often dealt with timely issues. I had a crush on Meredith Baxter-Birney.
Still waiting for "Empty Nest" (1988 - 1995) to come out as a DVD box set (The Complete TV Series)!! Why it has been taking so long because of music rights?? The theme song "Life Goes On" was done by Billy Vera (from the "Family Ties" episode "At This Moment").
I liked Family and around 1978 I think was when Quinn Cummings was later added to the cast as " Annie" ( Adopted into the family) I remember I had a long 2 year big crush on her and she was the same age as myself and after the show left the air Nothing was heard or seen about her ever again but it's amazing how I still remember these things
I totally forgot about FAMILY. At that point, I did not have a TV, and by the time I did, I was watching... Charlie's Angels. 😂
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