Raise your hand if you knew that CBS had a family TV show called, "The Fitzpatricks" set in Flint, Michigan back in the 70's.

My hand was definitely not in the air. I stumbled across this video on YouTube this week and immediately tried to find out as much as I could about the show. If you're like me and had no idea that the show existed, don't feel bad. The Fitzpatrick's only ran for one season on CBS back in 1977-78.

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The show was set in Flint in the late 70's, and was based around an Irish-Catholic family named, The Fitzpatricks.

What was the Fitzpatricks about?

I would have expected it to involve the auto industry since it was based in Flint, but the creators went in a different direction. Mike Fitzpatrick is the dad on the show, and he worked in the steel industry. I don't know this for sure, but I am guessing they went with steel instead of auto so they could encompass more of the Midwest instead of just Michigan.

The show was set around the middle class family trying to struggle through tough financial times. Pretty much everyone in the family had at least one job to help make ends meet.

Who starred on The Fitzpatricks?

There weren't a ton of big stars on the show, but it did feature a young Helen Hunt as the neighbor girl that the two Fitzpatrick boys had a crush on. You can see the IMBD cast lineup here but the main characters are listed below.

  • Bert Kramer as Michael Fitzpatrick, a steelworker, and the patriarch of the family.
  • Mariclare Costello as Margaret "Maggie" Fitzpatrick, the matriarch, works part-time at a diner to supplement the family income.
  • Clark Brandon as Sean Fitzpatrick, the oldest son (16)
  • Jimmy McNichol as Jack Fitzpatrick, the second oldest (15)
  • Michele Tobin as Maureen "Mo" Fitzpatrick, the only daughter (14)
  • Sean Marshall as Max Fitzpatrick, the youngest at 10, delivers newspapers.
  • Helen Hunt as Kerry Gerardi, the girl next door, who intensified the rivalry between Jack and Sean.
  • Derek Wells as R.J., Max Fitzpatrick's best friend.

There was also a family dog named Detroit.

Was the show any good?

I've never actually watched an episode so I can't really give a first hand opinion. I do know that The Fitzpatricks was one of the few shows on TV at the time that did not use a laugh track. When I was searching for more information about the show, that is one of the things that people remembered the most. One YouTube comment said that it made the show feel more genuine at the time, but going back and watching it now, the lack of audience noise just feels awkward.

Why didn't The Fitzpatricks become more popular?

According to the shows Wikipedia page, The Fitzpatricks were up against some pretty stiff competition. When the show debuted in 1977, it aired on Tuesday nights from 8pm to 9pm. This meant that the show went up against iconic shows like Happy Days, and Laverne & Shirley. Those two half hour sitcoms running back to back made it so most people would never even see The Fitzpatricks.

What eventually happened to the show?

CBS officials decided that after one season and 13 episodes that it was time to cancel the show. I wish there were more information on why they came to that decision instead of just trying out a different night or timeslot.

I wonder if it would have made a big difference for the future of Flint if The Fitzpatricks would have become as popular as the shows it went up against. I don't think there would have been a monument built in the city or anything, but anything to put a positive light on Flint helps.

Unfortunately there are not many episodes of The Fitzpatricks online, but you can watch the Halloween episode above. Then check out the shows closing credits below.

 

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