Unlike many other shows targeted for a young audience, Party of Five was earnest and well written. The five Salinger children had recently lost their parents in a traffic accident and they now lived in the parents’ San Francisco house. Life had many unpleasant surprises in store for them; the writers provided tearful tales, but it was all impressively structured. Bailey’s (Scott Wolf) alcoholism kept building surreptitiously for a whole season until it erupted. Another season was spent portraying Charlie’s (Matthew Fox) battle with cancer, and it was these touching elements that made the show special without wallowing in cheap sentimentality. There were cheerful moments as well and the actors were quite good. It was easy to believe there was some kind of camaraderie in the cast; many supporting actors made recurring appearances over the years.
1994-2000:U.S. Made for TV. 142 episodes. Color. Created by Christopher Keyser, Amy Lippman. Cast: Matthew Fox (Charlie Salinger), Scott Wolf (Bailey Salinger), Neve Campbell (Julia Salinger), Lacey Chabert (Claudia Salinger), Paula Devicq, Jennifer Love Hewitt (95-99), Scott Grimes, Michael Goorjian, Jeremy London (95-00), Jennifer Aspen (98-00).
Trivia: Followed by a spin-off series, Time of Your Life (1999), starring Hewitt.
Golden Globe: Best Drama Series 96.
Last word: “It was a well-written show that was well executed on any number of levels, but tonally it wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m attracted to darker, edgier things. The show was very soft, and I was asked to play a character who was soft. The premise of that character was, being the oldest sibling who would have to become a father figure, he constantly had to be a floundering buffoon, an emotional wreck. He could never succeed. That was hard for me.” (Fox, Playboy)