Caroline in The City
This NBC Sitcom was a starring vehicle for Lea Thompson, who played cartoonist Caroline Duffy. Wacky friends included grim Richard (colorist with pretensions of being a 'serious' artist), Cloudcuckoolander Charlie, slutty Annie (struggling actress and perpetual cast member of Cats), and dandy ex-boyfriend Del.
Though critics found the show mediocre, it had a loyal fanbase. It got very good ratings in its first season, largely thanks to being placed between Seinfeld and ER on the schedule. In its second season, it shifted to Tuesdays between Frasier and Dateline NBC and managed to hold its own.
Then NBC decided that Caroline was strong enough to carry a night of programming on its own and made the ill-conceived move of moving the show to Monday for its third season. Ratings fell, but the network still seemed to have faith in the show and renewed it for a fourth season, albeit with something of a Retool; the show's main setting was moved from Caroline's apartment to an office, and several new supporting characters were introduced. It proved to be a disaster. None of the new characters stuck around, the quality of the writing dropped sharply (one plot revolved around Charlie accidentally seeing Caroline naked, then spending the entire episode trying to "be even" by streaking in front of her), and ratings nosedived. At the end of the season, NBC finally put the show out of its misery.
Animated versions of Caroline's comic strip served as Book Ends, a gimmick that wasn't exploited nearly enough. Later, the same cartoonist would use the same style for paper towel commercials.
- As Herself: Joanne Worley.
- Author Avatar: An in-universe example, with Caroline's life providing content for her eponymous comic strip.
- Back for the Finale: Charlie, after leaving the show early in the final season, made a return appearance in the final episode.
- Betty and Veronica: Caroline and Julia for Richard.
- Body Swap: In the Something Completely Different episode "Caroline and The Outer Limits.
- Casting Gag: The Dick Van Dyke Show stars Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam guest starred in "Caroline and the Watch" as an old married couple.
- Catch Phrase: A shared one: when hearing something incredible Caroline would say, "Get Out!" and her friend Annie would rejoin, "I'm out!" (or vice versa). One time her employee Richard was having an art show at an all-gay gallery due to being Mistaken for Gay; he tells Caroline he's sold a piece for $5,000, she says, "Get out," and he responds "I'm out!", which causes the crowd at the gallery to applaud.
- Celebrity Paradox: Caroline makes fun of Howard the Duck, a movie Lea Thompson starred in.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Remo, the owner of the restaurant which Caroline and friends frequented, appeared in the majority of episodes during the first two seasons but vanished without explanation midway through Season Three.
- Converting for Love: In "Caroline and the Nice Jewish Boy", Del dates a Jewish woman who apparently only dates Jewish men, so he lies and tells her he's Jewish so he can continue seeing her. He doesn't actually convert, but he does get a circumcision in order to maintain the ruse. Right as he's about to go into surgery, she dumps him for another man who isn't even Jewish, but by then it's too late for Del to back out.
- Crossover Punchline: The episode "Caroline and the Bad Back" ends with Niles and Daphne of Frasier discussing whether the most recent strip is funny.
- Cut Short: The final episode ends with Richard interrupting Caroline's wedding to Randy. We never find out which man she chooses.
- Dead Artists Are Better: Richard resigns himself to the fact that his talent won't be recognized until after he's dead. In "Caroline and the Dearly Departed", when he is reported dead due to a misunderstanding, he becomes quite gleeful at his newfound popularity.
- Deadpan Snarker: Richard, and to some extent, Annie.
- The Ditz: Charlie.
- Down on the Farm: Caroline's hometown is Peshtigo, Wisconsin and there are visits to said hometown, although it's more in a region where timber is the major industry, and there is no way a near-Yooper would have an even and controlled accent like Caroline's.
- Dying Declaration of Love: Subverted. A drugged-up and about to enter surgery Richard confesses to Caroline that he loves her. Caroline is shocked... until Richard says the same thing to the nurse moments later.
- Everyone Can See It: Even Del, Caroline's former fiance, thinks she and Richard are perfect for each other.
- Fake-Out Make-Out: Del and Richard, in order sell a piece of art from an all-gay gallery.
- Five-Man Band:
- Girl Next Door: Caroline is a bland garden variety.
- Goth: Despite being blond-haired and bespectacled, Richard dresses in all black and has the stereotypically morose personality.
- Handsome Lech: Del.
- Hooked Up Afterwards: Annie and Del get together in the last two episodes.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "Caroline and the _____ ".
- Joisey: Annie is from Paramus; her mother is very much a caricature of the Italian Jersey housewife stereotype.
- Just Friends: Caroline and Richard.
- Locked in a Freezer: Inverted - Richard gets locked in the back room of a video rental store with its owner, an elderly Asian man. This is a problem since Richard was on his way to a romantic rendezvous with Caroline.
- Love Letter Lunacy: A major plot point at the end of Season One which continues to influence events in Season Two.
- Love Triangle: Caroline doesn't awaken to Richard's love for her until his ex-wife shows up, with Richard's surprise baby in tow.
- Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: Yet another female-oriented '90s sitcom with this view on relationships. One critic called CITC Sex and the City minus the sex.
- Mistaken for Gay: Richard; ironic because the actor who played him was actually gay.
- In another episode, an insurance agent believes Del and Charlie to be a gay couple; the two end up playing along with it because it will get them a better rate on their insurance.
- Naked People Are Funny: Caroline showing Richard her naked body for the first time... not realizing that Richard is not alone.
- Opposites Attract: Cheery girl-next-door Caroline and morbid, deadpan Richard
- The Other Darrin: A few minor characters changed actors when they appeared a second time, including Caroline's mother and Annie's boyfriend Seth.
- Please Dump Me: Richard's attempts to get annoying clingy girlfriend Shelley to break up with him backfire spectacularly.
- Pyromaniac: One of Del's girlfriends turns out to be one of these. Then he makes the mistake of breaking up with her...
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: When Caroline was reading Richards memorial speech (which he had written himself) at his fake funeral
Caroline:”As the curtain descents, far to early on this brilliant career, we remember the artist, Richard Karinsky. Indicate my body.”(she realises her mistake) “…of work.”(she indicates his paintings)
- Really Gets Around: Annie.
- Revenge of the Nerd: Annie attempts this at a high school reunion and fails.
- Rich Bitch: Julia, Richard's ex.
Julia: When you're Italian, you're always late. Capisce.
Annie: Hey. I'm Italian, and I'm always on time.
Julia: Really? I do not recall where New Jersey lies in the boot of Italy.
Annie: [glares] Let me get a boot, I'll show ya.
- Romantic False Lead: Sofia Milos. Also, all of Caroline's boyfriends besides Richard.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Richard and Del
- Sequential Artist: Caroline.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Caroline's rivalry with the cartoonist of Cathy.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Most of Richard and Annie's interactions.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: the final episode, ends in a cliffhanger.
- Spicy Latina: Richard's Italian ex, Julia. Emphasis on spicy.
- Starving Artist: Richard
- Status Quo Game Show: Richard isn't allowed to keep $100,000 he wins in a contest because Caroline's strip is run in the paper sponsoring it.
- Stylistic Suck: Caroline's comic strip.
- Take That: Baseketball was soundly mocked in the episode where Richard gets trapped in a video store. The owner anticipated it to be a huge hit and bought a mountain of copies.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: In one episode Dell got into a panic once he noticed that his new girlfriend was taller then him. He then desperately tried to keep her from noticing, Hilarity Ensues.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Caroline and Annie, respectively.
- Will They or Won't They?: Caroline and Richard (torturous)