Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Fridays, I will be reviewing One World, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2001. The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!
City Guys wasn’t the only “edgy” show that Peter Engel produced for TNBC. There was also …. ONE WORLD!
One World told the story of a Miami-based multicultural foster family. Dave Blake (Michael Toland) was former baseball player turned high school coach. His wife, Karen (Elizabeth Morehead), was an art teacher. They owned a nice big house and they adopted troubled teens as a hobby.
Among the members of their family:
Ben Blake (Bryan Kirkwood) was a recovering alcoholic who played in a band and dated a lot of girls.
Jane (Arroyn Lloyd) was the latest addition to the family. She wore a leather jacket, liked zombie movies, and had an extensive criminal record.
Neal Smith (Harvey Silver) was the former gang member turned honors student.
Marci Blake (Alicia Reyes) was obsessed with making money.
Sui Blake (Michelle Krusiec) was obsessed with boys and fashion.
Cray Blake (Brandon Baker) was the youngest of the family.
Together, they were living in One World!
Episode 1.1 “Hurricane Jane”
(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on September 12th, 1998)
The very first episode of One World opens with Sui bragging to her stepparents that she set a new record while running. “Were the cops chasing you again?” Stepdad asks, while the audience laughs. Hence, from the very first joke, it’s established that the Blakes aren’t very good foster parents. Indeed, it’s interesting how many future episodes will revolve around the Blake children getting arrested for doing something and then freaking out about the inevitable visit from a social worker. As Mrs. Blake puts it in this episode, “We didn’t want normal kids. We wanted the worst kids we could find!”
(That said, none of the kids really seem to be that bad, despite all of their talk about how they were once homeless criminals. This is a Peter Engel production, after all.)
New arrival Jane joins the household and immediately pegs them as being “The Brady Bunch. Jane announces that she’s not staying and tells her stepsiblings to drop dead. “Once you get to know me, you won’t want me around!” Jane declares, “No one ever has and no one ever will!” Jane is even more upset to learn that The Warehouse (“the most happening under-21 club in Miami,” as her stepbrother, Ben, puts it) doesn’t serve alcohol. Fortunately, a hurricane blows into town and Jane is forced to stick around and bond with her new family. In other words, the hurricane was God’s way of forcing Jane to stay with her new family and pursue her obvious crush on Ben.
The hurricane also allows Marci a chance to make some money off of other people’s suffering. She hoards supplies so that she can sell them after the disaster. That’s actually not a bad business plan but you really do have to wonder if the Blakes realize that they’re raising a family of sociopaths. That said, Marci does have a sudden change of hearts and ends up giving away everything that she’s hoarded.
As far as first episodes are concerned, this one wasn’t so bad. I liked Jane’s bad attitude and her anger, which brought a different energy to this episode from what you would typically expect from a Peter Engel production. And I related to Sui and her appreciation of the better things in life. That said, I don’t know if I would have willingly gone out in a hurricane to look for anyone who wasn’t a cat.
Episode 1.2 “What’s In A Name?”
(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on September 19th, 1998)
“The next kid we get is going to be kosher!” Dave Blake announces when he discovers that all of the bacon has been eaten before he gets a chance to have anyone.
Wow, Dave, way to only think about yourself!
In the second episode of One World, the Blakes formally adopt Neal but Neal has to decide whether to to change his last name from Smith to Blake. Neal decides that he’s happy to be a part of the Blake family but he still wants to hold onto his past by retaining his “Smith” name. This episode would have perhaps been more effective if Neal didn’t have the most common last name in the world.
In the show’s B-plot, Sui was dating a player on Dave’s baseball team. At first, Dave didn’t want Sui dating one of his players but then the player had a good game. “Now, I’m trying to figure out how you can date all of my players!” Dave says. Uhmm, okay, Dave. That’s not a creepy thing for a foster parent to say at all.
Will the Blakes be able to create he perfect family? Will Jane ever feel at home with the Brady Bunch? We shall find out next week …. maybe.