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The Marshall Chronicles

Joshua Rifkind, on the cover of a local Boston TV Guide, from 1990.

Joshua Rifkind, on the cover of a local Boston TV Guide, from 1990.

Hey, you know how you fondly remember some short-lived sitcoms, even though you haven’t seen them since they originally aired? For me, The Marshall Chronicles is one of those shows.

ABC piggybacked The Marshall Chronicles on Doogie Howser, M.D. in the spring of 1990. Doogie of course was a big hit at the time, and theoretically a strong lead-in.

Unfortunately, Marshall couldn’t find its audience for whatever reason, and was killed after six episodes.  (The original episode titles and air dates are on epguides.com.)

The show well summarized on SitcomsOnline.com:

This half-hour sitcom could have been subtitled “Woody Allen Goes To High School.” Its central character was a New York City teenager who resembled a young Allen, trying to get through high school and sharing his observations with the camera. Marshall (played by 24 year old Joshua Rifkind), was a 17 year-old, curly haired Manhattan teen whose main goal was to outflank his rival Johnny (Gabriel Bologna) for the affections of sweet Melissa (Nile Lanning), the girl in the fuzzy pink sweater.

And an excerpt from John J. O’Connors’ New York Times April 11th, 1990 review:

“Played with easygoing but wary charm by Joshua Rifkind, Marshall is a tall, skinny, achingly self-conscious young man who spends most of his time trying to do the decent thing in a world that seemingly couldn’t care less. Although his parents appear to be well-heeled professionals – mumbling Dad is a doctor, fretting Mom an editor of children’s books – Marshall attends a public school that seems to be abundantly stocked with menacing hoods who are not especially fond of pantywaist smarties wearing glasses…

…in short, Marshall is like half my classmates at City College some thirty years ago. What’s not to like?”

Digital "manhole cover" from The Marshall Chronicle's opening.

Digital "manhole cover" from The Marshall Chronicle's opening.

Well, I probably caught three or four episodes (of the six!), but The Marshall Chronicles made enough of an impression on me, for me to blog about it twenty years later.

Would love to dig up episodes on YouTube, but they’ve been basically impossible to find…I’ll try to find them elsewhere. Occasionally the show’s memorable opening sequence does surface on YouTube, but gets wiped quickly; that’s because it was set to Randy Newman’s catchy, “Falling In Love,” and I’ve noticed he’s one of the more aggressive musicians in having his stuff removed. (But you can listen to an abbreviated version of the song right here, edited down to fit Marshall‘s title credits!) Oh, and FYI, the song was originally composed for the 1989 Tom Selleck / Paulina Porizkova flick, Her Alibi.

Marshall, wish you had stayed around. But you did have a lasting impact in a way, in that some show originally named The Seinfeld Chronicles truncated its name to simply Seinfeld, to avoid any confusion!

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