Season 5 Special: A Family Album

Summary and review by Rachel

This one hour special produced and presented by Fox is a bit of a pay-off for the longtime Party of Five viewer. It doesn't particularly lend itself to a blow by blow summary, so I will provide a review that hits the high points.

The beginning of the show started with some neat shots of the show over the years. Whenever I see things like this I am always amazed with how much Lacey has changed. She has truly grown-up in front of our eyes, something that was touched on later in the program.

Scott Wolf was the first cast. Amy Lippman and Chris Keyser shared their memory of how they immediately knew he was Bailey. The script moved Scott and he very much wanted to be part of the program.

Lacey and Matthew were cast off video from New York. Video of Lacey's audition show her doing scenes from the Pilot exactly how we later saw them in the program. Susan Edelman, the casting director said that the essence of Lacey was what drew them to her.

They had a hard time with Charlie. Matthew really needed the job. His tape was terrible, the lighting was off and he looked rather green. They almost fast-forwarded through his tape. Chris didn't think he was attractive enough. Amy shared a joke that on the back of his head shot was a note that he could operate farm equipment. They flew him out to read with Scott.

At Matthew's audition he and Scott were walking down the hall afterward. Trying to find some kind of common ground Matthew pointed out the humorous connection between their last names, Wolf and Fox. Scott just said, "Yeah." It was their first heart to heart.

Casting Julia they were looking for a 15 year old. The network kept asking them to find someone a little more mature, more sexy. Neve came in and that was it.

When they had all been cast, they invited them to Fox and told them. The actors hugged and screamed. It was very exciting. They huddled up and looked at each other, they could tell right there that it would be something very special.

Babies and Dogs:
Scott tells how the babies and dogs have always been a problem. In the first scene shot ever Neve was holding the baby (the scene in the pilot where Charlie moves back in) and no matter what she did the baby would not stop crying. Scott even offered to help, but she struggled through.

They have a line that they use on the show, "Just look at the dog." Shooting the pilot they had to get the shot and move along. Scott tells how the scenes were moving so quickly, the crew was actually running from position to position. At the end of his shot the director asked him to look at the dog. Being actor boy, Scott asked for some frame of reference. The entire crew shouted at him, "Just look at the dog." It's become their slogan for don't ask questions.

When it began the show had very low ratings. They were constantly afraid that it would be canceled. Matthew was frustrated and couldn't understand why people weren't watching. Scott said he just kept working, hoping each day that they wouldn't be told it wasn't the day they said they couldn't do it anymore. Then Thanksgiving episode aired. It was one of Paula Devicq favorites. Lacey remembers it as the first big dramatic episode they did.

Ken Topolsky said that he feels the issues that face the Salingers are timeless. That's why they appeal to so many people. When it looked like the show might get canceled there were numerous "save our show" mail campaigns. The audience was small, but it was very loyal.

Love Hewitt said she didn't think she was what they originally had in mind for Sarah. She's goofy and nerdy so Sarah became that too. Scott thinks they have chemistry and that is why Sarah and Bailey have gone through so much, but they are still together. Scott had been on a show Love was on, "Kids, Inc." She thought he was very cute. She didn't think he would remember her when she joined the show, but he did. She was only supposed to be on the first nine episodes, but once they saw what an incredible talent she was they decided she should stay.

The Wedding:
Scott thinks Matthew did some of his best work in this episode. Matthew thinks Charlie learned a lot about himself during his relationship with Kirsten. Paula found it to be a great experience to go through as an actress. The truest part and the hardest to feel was when she knew she couldn't marry him because she didn't believe him anymore. Paula still wants Charlie and Kirsten together. She wants them to find their way back to each other.

A behind the scenes moment reveals Jennifer Aspen (Daphne) and Jeremy London (Griffin) making fun of one another. When Jeremy teases her about getting naked she admonishes him that this is being aired and her boyfriend will watch it. Jennifer says it's fun to play a free spirit like Daphne.

Scott found the alcoholism story to be his most gratifying so far. The story was built over a year. Love's favorite scene is the one in the kitchen where he turns on each family member.

Chris and Amy talked about the cancer story line. They wanted to tell a story about what happens when the person who's responsible becomes the one who needs help. Charlie has always felt like fate was against him. Anytime the phone rang in the middle of the night it would be bad news. Now he feels like he has a second chance.

Lacey and Claudia have grown up in front of the world. Lacey talked about what it was like to have her first kiss on television. She had no idea what to do. She was very nervous and even though it was fake, some part of her thought it was real.

Scott commented that this show presented a chance to talk directly to the fans. Love thanked the fans for embracing Sarah. Lacey said they are a real reason the show is still on. Matthew said that people who talk to him on the street are always so positive. Love would give them all a big hug if there was time.


First of all, it was extremely strange to have this program without Neve Campbell's participation. I have no idea why she wasn't a part of it, but it definitely felt strange.

It's interesting to see what the cast members think about the show. I'm always fascinated to learn that they are as interested in the motivations of the characters as I am. I feel like a tend to over analyze it all a bit much, but I got a sense that Paula Devicq is right there analyzing with me!

I would have liked to have seen more of Jennifer Aspen and Jeremy London, especially Jeremy. He's been a part of the show for almost the whole run and he had as much to offer as Paula. I also would have liked some discussion of this year's story.

I especially enjoyed hearing from the executive producers. I'm fascinated with the process that Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman used to put this show together. It's one of the best things I've seen on television and I'm amazed that it springs forth from them each week. I also liked seeing and hearing from Ken Topolsky. Although he didn't create the characters, I feel he is every bit as much responsible for the end product we see.

Not as good as a new episode, way better than a rerun of "World's Funniest" during a rain delay.

© Rachel Vagts, October 18, 1998

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