Just the Ten of Us

Just the Ten of Us Information

Just the Ten of Us is an American sitcom starring stand-up comedian Bill Kirchenbauer as Coach Graham Lubbock, a teacher and the head of a large Catholic family with eight children living in Eureka, California. The series is a spin-off of Growing Pains, in which Kirchenbauer portrayed the same character on a recurring basis. As the series progressed, Coach Lubbock's four eldest daughters, the teenagers Marie (Heather Langenkamp), Cindy (Jamie Luner), Wendy (Brooke Theiss), and Connie (JoAnn Willette), became the primary focus of the show.

Just the Ten of Us aired on ABC starting with a trial run on April 26, 1988 and ending on May 17, 1990. After the first four episodes in an abbreviated first season were aired, the show was renewed for two more seasons, eventually ending after 47 episodes on May 4, 1990. The show was most notably a part of what would become that network's TGIF programming block.


The series focuses on Graham Lubbock (Bill Kirchenbauer), a Catholic gym teacher who used to teach at the high school that Growing Pains characters Mike and Carol Seaver (Kirk Cameron and Tracey Gold) had attended; and the father of eight children.

In the pilot episode (which aired on Growing Pains in the spring of 1988), Graham's job is in jeopardy due to district budget cutbacks. Mike leads a protest after he learns that Lubbock is trying to support a large family (including yet another baby-on-the-way). Word of this spreads, and Graham's fate is sealed; he loses his job. However, he is soon offered a job at St. Augustine's Academy, an all-boys private Catholic school in Eureka, California. Graham promptly moves his family to California.

Six of Graham's children were girls, four of them teenagers. They were:

  • Marie (Heather Langenkamp) - the oldest, most responsible, and most pious.
  • Cindy (Jamie Luner) - Wendy's older twin sister, and the most ditzy.
  • Wendy (Brooke Theiss) - Cindy's younger twin sister, and the most flirtatious.
  • Connie (JoAnn Willette) - the Bohemian, and also occasionally agnostic.
His younger daughters were eight-year-old Sherry (Heidi Zeigler) and infant Melissa. By special arrangement, the older girls were allowed to attend St. Augustine's, much to the chagrin of the school's administration (and, of course, much delight of the male students). Graham and Elizabeth's sons were 11-year-old Graham, Jr. (Matt Shakman), familiarly known as "J.R.", and toddler Harvey (Jason and Jeremy Korstjens).

The first season consisted of four episodes for a trial run in the spring of 1988. ABC was pleased with their success and ordered a second season. In the second season, Cindy and Wendy seemed to switch personalities, with Cindy becoming more ditzy, and Wendy becoming the schemer. Also, the show focused more and more on the four older girls and frequently revolved around the family's efforts to save money, dating, and other typical family sitcom issues. In later episodes, the four teenage girls formed a singing group called "The Lubbock Babes" (partly to help bring in much-needed extra income). The girls had many boyfriends and love interests that Graham took great pride in testing---and in most cases, fending off---but the most permanent fixture among them was Marie's goofy boyfriend, Gavin Doosler (Evan Arnold).

Those on the St. Augustine's staff included Father Frank Hargis (Frank Bonner), the affable headmaster; Coach Duane Johnson (Dennis Haysbert), Graham's earnest young assistant during the first two seasons; and in the third season, featured teachers Father Bud (Lou Richards) and elderly, madcap Sister Ethel (Maxine Elliott).


  • Bill Kirchenbauer as Coach Graham T. Lubbock
  • Deborah Harmon as Elizabeth Lubbock
  • Heather Langenkamp as Marie Lubbock
  • Jamie Luner as Cynthia "Cindy" Lubbock
  • Brooke Theiss as Wendy Lubbock
  • JoAnn Willette as Constance Sarah "Connie" Lubbock
  • Matt Shakman as Graham "J.R." Lubbock, Jr.
  • Heidi Zeigler as Sherry Lubbock
  • Jason and Jeremy Korstjens as Harvey Lubbock
  • Frank Bonner as Father Frank Hargis, Headmaster of St. Augustine's Academy
  • Dennis Haysbert as Duane Johnson, Coach Lubbock's assistant (1988-1989)
  • Evan Arnold as Gavin Doosler
  • Lou Richards as Father Bud (1989-1990)
  • Maxine Elliott as Sister Ethel (1989-1990)


After Kirchenbauer's portrayal of Coach Lubbock became popular on Growing Pains by the spring of 1987, ABC executives saw that the opportunity was ripe to commission a spin-off with his character. Kirchenbauer quickly accepted ABC's offer to star in his own series, and Dan Guntzelman, Mike Sullivan and Steve Marshall also agreed that a series further exploring the life of Coach Lubbock would have appeal.

The producers shot a half-hour test pilot for ABC in the fall of 1987 entitled Yo, Coach. It was set at Thomas E. Dewey High, the same high school that Mike and Carol Seaver attended on Growing Pains, and further explored the Coach's life both at Dewey and at home. This original, rough concept saw the Coach with a wife, played by Pamela Brull, but with no evident children. Kenneth Tigar also co-starred as the principal of Dewey High. The centerpiece of the early premise was Graham's relationship with his students, and how he helped them move through life's various obstacles. ABC praised the pilot when it was screened, and scheduled the Growing Pains spin-off for the following spring.

Major changes, like those that usually occur in the pilot phase, inevitably took place. ABC saw Kirchenbauer's new series as one with lots of family appeal, and insisted that Graham Lubbock be given children of his own. The role of Graham's wife was also recast with Deborah Harmon, and the show's setting ended up being moved from Dewey High and Long Island altogether. Gunztelman, Sullivan and Marshall eventually decided to add a rather large family to the cast, and this set up a story for a Growing Pains crossover episode that was sure to touch prospective viewers of the new series emotionally. Casting was completed for the new series in early 1988, and to indicate the large brood that Graham Lubbock presided over, the title was by now settled as Just the Ten of Us. The principal cast was introduced in the two-part Growing Pains crossover episode "How the West Was Won" (aired on April 20th and 26th, 1988), in which Graham learns that his job at Dewey High will be cut. As a part of their investigation, Mike Seaver and his friends discover Graham, his wife Elizabeth, and their seven children living in a severely cramped downtown apartment. The second part of this Growing Pains episode, in which the Lubbocks make their move to California, aired as the lead in to the premiere episode of Just the Ten of Us on April 26, 1988.


ABC Network politics, not ratings issues, canceled Just the Ten of Us in the spring of 1990. The family-friendly Friday night sitcom lineup, which had been dubbed TGIF the previous fall, was witnessing growing success in the 1989-90 season with three shows from Miller-Boyett Productions: Full House, Family Matters, and Perfect Strangers. Wanting to complete the TGIF lineup with a program that visually and creatively meshed closely with the three, ABC green-lighted a new pilot from Miller/Boyett and their associates, Robert Griffard and Howard Adler, for placement at 9:30/8:30 in the fall of 1990. Thus, Warner Bros. Television and producers Guntzelman, Sullivan and Marshall were depending on ABC to move Just the Ten of Us to a night and time that would maintain the show's decent ratings.

They soon found themselves entering a battle over their show's fate. Examining their entire primetime lineup, network executives were finding it difficult to relocate the program. When ABC failed to see the series fitting anywhere else on its schedule, rumors quickly circulated that they would even drop the program altogether, if it meant milking more success with Miller/Boyett in its place. Guntzelman/Sullivan/Marshall had a solid case against such talk: Just the Ten of Us consistently won its time slot, provided an excellent lead-in to news magazine 20/20, and had a great fan base that carried over from Growing Pains viewership. When the 1990 network upfronts were announced in May, Going Places, the new Miller/Boyett sitcom with an adult "edge" that would serve as the 20/20 lead-in, appeared in the Friday 9:30 slot for September. Just the Ten of Us was nowhere on the ABC schedule, thus giving truth to the rumor. In confirming the show's cancellation, ABC stated that while the series had seen steady growth in its three seasons on the air, it still had yet to achieve commercial and large ratings success. The network felt that the series's Nielsen ranking alone at the end of season three was respectable enough for renewal, but that another show from Miller/Boyett would have been a greater audience draw than Just the Ten of Us, given the higher ratings and ad revenue yielded for M/B shows at the time. The fact that Going Places had the same visual production values as its other three TGIF siblings (since all were produced at Lorimar Television, which Ten's parent company Warner Bros. would acquire in 1993), was also emphasized by ABC at the time of the decision.

Just the Ten of Us left ABC during summer reruns in late July 1990. Although ABC saw even greater success with its TGIF lineup in the 1990-91 season, the new series, Going Places, only lasted a single season before being dropped.


See List of Just the Ten of Us episodes for more information


USA Network picked up the entire series in reruns shortly after it was canceled, and aired the show on a daily basis until 1996.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1989 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Won Top TV Series John Bettis
1990 Primetime Emmy Award Won Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Comedy Series George Spiro Dibie
(For episode "Highway To Heaven")
Young Artist Award Nominated Best Young Actor/Actress Ensemble in a Television Comedy, Drama Series or Special Heather Langenkamp, Jamie Luner, Matt Shakman, Brooke Theiss, JoAnn Willette and Heidi Zeigler
Best Family Television Series
Best Young Actress Supporting Role in a Television Series Heidi Zeigler

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