The Nanny ran for six seasons from 1993 to 1999, originally aired on CBS. It is just issuing season 4, which is kind of odd, but what can you do. The first three seasons were released from 2005 to 2009, and it looks like the entire series will soon be available. I’m not sure why they did it in such a staggered manner, but those people who are not satisfied until their collections are complete will finally be able to rest easy. The Nanny was known for celebrity stunt casting, so in Season 4 you can look for the likes of Donald Trump (circa 1996), Celine Dion, Jason Alexander, Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Rosie O’Donnell (at the height of her talk show fame), Donald O’Connor, Robert Vaughn, Joan Collins, Rich Little, Monty Hall, John Astin, Sally Kirkland, Eartha Kitt, Nora Dunn, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart (as a boyfriend), Peter Scolari, Bette Midler, Ed Begley, Jr., Pamela Anderson (at the height of her infamy), Lainie Kazan, the cast of The Young and the Restless, Ivana Millicevic, and in multiple episodes as a therapist, the late Spalding Gray.
In case you are not familiar with show, it is best known for Fran Drescher, her raspy voice and adenoidal honk of a laugh as the the titular nanny. The theme song probably tells the story best. “She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing Queens / Till her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes. / What was she to do? Where was she to go? She was out on her fanny. / So over the bridge from Flushing, to the Sheffields’ door. / She was there to sell makeup, but the father saw more. / She had style, she had flair, she was there. / That’s how she became the Nanny!”
The previous three seasons had developed the sexual tension between Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) and Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), and season 4 begins with the two alone in Paris. They have obviously gone to the next stage, but then Maxwell pulls back and takes back the “I love you”. This take-back becomes the heart of the whole season as they try to navigate their relationship back from the edge. This prompts Fran to date and contemplate quitting. Most series that have this kind of sexual tension always do their best to prolong the suspense before there is a consummation of the relationship, so to speak. The show has a fairly strong sexual tilt with lots of innuendos thrown around at every opportunity. There are lots of regular characters to keep track of including the three kids, Maggie (Nicholle Tom from Masters of Sex), Grace (Madeline Zima from Californication), and Brighton (Benjamin Salisbury). The other colorful characters are Fran’s mom, Sylvia (Renee Taylor) grandmother, Yetta (Ann Morgan Guilbert), the butler, Niles (Daniel Davis) and Maxwell’s frustrated business partner, C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane).
Part of the appeal of the show is its Broadway connections and mix of blue collar and upper crust. It has been compared to The Lucy Show because of it broad comedy characterizations and numerous slapstick moments. The other signature is the outrageous outfits that Fran always wore, which were colorful to say the least, with Loehmann’s department store being mentioned in almost every episode. The show actually received numerous nominations from the Golden Globes and the Emmys over the years.
It should be noted that the season was primarily directed by veteran actress Dorothy Lyman (Mama’s Family), and Dorothy makes an appearance in one of the episodes as the director on the set of The Young and the Restless.
Obviously, the main appeal is nostalgia with a visit back to the good old 1990’s. The New York City skyline is featured frequently, almost always including the World Trade Center. At times, the trip down memory lane can be inadvertently heart-wrenching. Don’t worry, it won’t take long to get caught up in the silly hi-jinks. This is classic TV.