Matters Standard issue sitcom about the misadventures of a middle-class
black family living
in suburban Chicago. Blustery, heavyset Carl was a Chicago cop, Harriette, his sharp-tongued wife, and Eddie, Laura, and Judy,
their rambunctious children. Further stoking the laugh meter were Carl's
cantankerous mother and Harriette's recently widowed sister, Rachel, who moved in with her infant son, Richie.
Something of an entrepreneur, Rachel operated a local lunch counter and teen
hangout called "Rachel's Place. The real star of the show emerged halfway
through the first season, however. Steve Urkel,
the ultimate nerd, was a neighborhood kid with a serious crush on mortified
Laura. With his oversized glasses, hiked-up trousers, and high-pitched
voice, he was a walking cartoon and an instant sensation.
later years, Family Matters began to focus almost exclusively on
skinny Urkel and his foil, the ever-frustrated big guy Carl. Slapstick
comedy and Urkel's ever more bizarre inventions made the show a living cartoon.
Judy disappeared from the scene without explanation, and Eddie (who was off to
college) and Rachel were seldom seen after 1993. Eddie's
dim-bulb buddy Waldo, and Laura's friend Maxine were seen from time-to-time, but
perhaps the most surprising addition was Myra, a bright, beautiful
teenager in pursuit of Urkel, who still had eyes only for disdainful for Laura.
Urkel moved in with the Winslows
in 1995, when his parents left the country without him. Yet another kid joined
the household the following year, as the Winslows became foster parents to
frisky "3J," whom Urkel had met as a Big Brother. By now the older "kids" were
growing up, and Urkel, Laura, and Myra joined Eddie as students at a local
community college. However, episodes were frequently based on Urkel's fantastic
inventions, as when he transported the entire family to Paris on the Urk-Pad, or
time-traveled with Carl back to an eighteenth-century pirate ship. He also
learned the secret of cloning, and Urkels began to multiply. There was Myrtle
Urkel, his outrageous cousin from Biloxi; he also dreamed up the debonair Stefan
Urquelle, as a way to get to Laura.
In the last season, on CBS,
Urkel helped get Carl promoted to Captain, while Eddie quit college to enter the
police academy. Two new characters were Commissioner Geiss and Eddie's new
girlfriend, Greta (a rival to Myrtle). In the final episode Urkel and Laura were
engaged, when he learned he had won a contest to become the first student
astronaut, and blasted off on a shuttle mission that went awry. After a series
of disasters (some caused by himself), he did a space walk to remove an
errant satellite that had crashed into the hull, and saved the day. He was
reunited on Earth with his fiancée Laura, and everybody hugged.
Family Matters was a
spin-off from Perfect Strangers, on which Harriette appeared as the
sarcastic elevator operator.