Friday, September 16, 2016

Mr. Belvedere

The series follows posh butler Lynn Belvedere, as he struggles to adapt to the Owens household. The breadwinner, George (Bob Uecker), is a sportswriter (however, in the pilot, he worked in construction). His wife Marsha (Ilene Graff) is attending law school. At the show's start, older son Kevin (Rob Stone) is a senior in high school, daughter Heather (Tracy Wells) is a freshman, and Wesley (Brice Beckham) is in elementary school. Over the course of the series, George becomes a sportscaster (a career shared with Uecker, who balanced his role as the longtime play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers while starring in the series), Marsha graduates from law school and starts a career as a lawyer, Kevin leaves for college and gets his own apartment, and Heather moves up in high school.

Several episodes deal with the relationship between Wesley and Mr. Belvedere, who are always at odds with one another, with Wesley constantly antagonizing Belvedere. It is shown that deep down, however, they really love each other. In season two's "Wesley's Friend" – one of the series' many very special episodes – Danny, one of Wesley's classmates, contracts HIV via Factor VIII (the same type of the disease contracted by Ryan White). Danny is taken out of school due to the ignorance and uncertainty that shared by the parents of many of the other children at Wesley's school. After hearing rumors from his friends about how HIV can be spread, leading them to shun him if he keeps spending time with Danny. Wesley begins to avoid Danny in fear of getting the disease himself. Mr. Belvedere is there for him and the child, and he helps Wesley to shed his fear of the boy and publicly accept him as his friend.

Throughout the series, Mr. Belvedere serves as a mentor of sorts to Wesley as well as to the other children. Being a cultured man with many skills and achievements (having even once worked for Winston Churchill), he also comes to serve as some sort of a "counselor" to the Owens clan, helping them solve their dilemmas and stay out of mischief.

Each episode ends with Mr. Belvedere writing in his journal, recounting the events of the day (which is heard by the audience via his narration) with the Owens family and what he got out of it in terms of a lesson.

A frequent gag on the show involves Heather's air-headed best friend Angela (Michele Matheson), who always (except for in one episode) mispronounces Mr. Belvedere's name (such as calling him "Mr. Bumpersticker", "Mr. Bellpepper", "Mr. Butterfinger" or "Mr. Velveeta"). Another frequent gag involves George and Mr. Belvedere butting heads, with George being annoyed with his "nosy English housekeeper" always interfering. Yet another recurring gag features George always trying to be initiated into a local charity club, the "Happy Guys of Pittsburgh". Wesley's highly acrimonious relationship with the never-seen next door neighbors, the Hufnagels, and the shenanigans he pulls on them was another recurring plot element.

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