Eight is Enough ran from 1977 to 1981 on the ABC Network. It was one of the most popular family shows of the ‘70s, and for good reason. The show may have been a little corny at times, but that was a big part of its popularity. Eight is Enough: The Complete Second Season has just been released on DVD, and I was surprised at just how well the series holds up all these years later.
The big change from the first season to the second season was the loss of Diana Hyland as mother Joan Braden. She only appeared in the first four episodes of the series, then left after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She died just 12 days after the airing of the first episode. Obviously nobody could see this coming, and it must have been difficult for the series to find its feet without her. Hyland was written out of the remaining nine episodes of the first season, and as the second season opens, father Tom Braden (Dick Van Patten) is presented as a widower.
The title Eight is Enough refers to the Braden family’s eight children. They are, in order of age, David (Grant Goodeve), Mary (Lani O’Grady), Joanie (Laurie Walters), Susan (Susan Richardson), Nancy (Dianne Kay), Elizabeth (Connie Needham), Tommy (Willie Ames), and Nicholas (Adam Rich). The series was modeled on the book Eight is Enough, written by the syndicated newspaper columnist Tom Braden. In the program, Tom Braden writes for the fictitious Sacramento Register, and the family lives in Sacramento, CA.
As the second season opens, Tommy breaks his leg playing football, and is tutored by Abby Abbot (Betty Buckley). Tom and Abby begin dating, and quickly fall in love. During the two-part “Children of the Groom” episodes, they get married, but face a number of obstacles on their way to the altar. The marriage comes about midway into the season, and from there on out, Abby is officially part of the family.