Frequently Asked Questions list (4/9) for
"Mad About You" and the
Usenet newsgroup alt.tv.mad-about-you
This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for the TV Comedy show
"Mad About You" is, as a collection of information,
Copyright (c) 1994-1997 by Ramaswamy [firstname.lastname@example.org].
All Rights Reserved.
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Sections with updates will be flagged with asterisks (*) in the
Local Table Of Contents below. Almost all sections have
updates in this re-organized document, hence none is flagged.
Local Table of Contents
There sure are!
Paul's dog Murray is a bonafide character on MAY, and is now played
by a collie-mix named Maui.
Murray has been played by 2 different actor dogs. In the premiere
[1.1], the character was played by Smiley, who was thought to be a
little too alert, and so did not adequately fit the bill of being
unaffected by the activity around him. Another actor dog named Maui
therefore got the role [1.2].
In [1.1], Smiley is featured for 10 seconds in the last scene,
lying on the rug next to Selby, as Jamie playfully tries to boot
Selby out of the apartment.
According to Paul, Murray is a 7-year-old "rare Flatbush Pound
Collie-Shepherd" [1.10]. Maui is a 7-year old Collie-mix (found
by famed animal trainer Boone Narr in Castaic, CA, and trained by
Betty Linn) whose job is "to melt into the chair," and "just lie
there, while Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt are yelling around him."
Maui's favorite snack is an occasional ham bone.
Selby (first name: Jay) is Paul's college buddy, refered to and
addressed only by his last name, which by the way is Selby,
Paul and Selby went through a number of escapades (a microwave
clambake, for example [1.8]) since their college days in the 1970's,
and often double-dated [1.11]. Selby was also in character when
winning the Chelsea 10K race [1.3] by showing up first at the finish
line after skipping most of the race. In real life, Rosie Ruiz
pulled a similar stunt at the Boston Marathon on April 21, 1980,
depriving Jackie Garreau of Canada a well-deserved victory.
Selby's character was never really developed, except in [1.4] and
[1.9], and written out of MAY midway through season #1. He picked
up the maid Masha's Stroganoff to eat on the subway and went off
to escort his grandmother to the Museum of Natural History [1.12],
never to be seen or heard of again. A very untidy end. Rumors that
he joined the Peace Corps are unfounded.
Only one actor has played Paul's cousin Ira: John Pankow. As a
childhood buddy, he serves much the same function on the show as
Selby (Paul's college buddy) did.
- Unlike the fate met by Carla Gugino's character (Ashley) on
"Spin City," Selby continues to be featured in syndicated
episodes of season #1. Even in "The Clip Show" [5.4], Selby
can be glimpsed for a few seconds, in what else, but the
10-second date [1.11].
Introduced in [1.15], Ira as a character has been developed beyond
the habitual womanizer/bachelor that Selby portrayed, interacting
well with Jamie, Lisa and Fran in season #2 [2.1, 2.7, 2.9]. In
season #3, he established a steady relationship with Jamie's
friend Susannah Gould [3.12] and took over his uncle Burt's
sporting goods store [3.5]. Ira still runs the store, but now
two seasons later, he is roaming again.
The two 'buddy' characters share another trait: both get slapped by
Paul on the back of the head from time to time. But Ira reacts, both
as a kid [2.7] and as an adult [3.2]: "Hey! Watch the hair!"
Lately, even Jamie has acquired the habit of slapping Ira on the
Burt Buchman has been played by only one actor: Louis Zorich.
In the first 4 seasons he sported a moustache [1.18 onward], but in
season #5 he is clean-shaven. Some viewers have done a double-take
and concluded that a different actor is playing the character in the
new season. The look is new, not the actor.
This represents one of the more significant inconsistencies with
the MAY story-line, as presented in 2 episodes from season #1,
[1.2] and [1.11].
In the former:
Mark told Paul during their chat at the Department store about
how Jamie had first told him about Paul: "this great guy she
had met, named Paul, who dressed like a manic-depressive psych
professor." This was said during a routine gynecological
examination and implies Mark heard of Paul from Jamie, not Fran.
It may also be inferred that Jamie had met and known Paul for
some time before her examination by Mark.
In the latter:
Jamie met Paul (and first knew his name: Paul) in Fran's office
the afternoon of her firm's Christmas party. Fran got to know of
Paul at the same time. Jamie and Paul went directly from the
office to the party, where Fran introduced Mark to Paul, and
Mark was effusive: "... they do look good together! I understand
you two met at a news-stand and you tracked her down all day!
No, it's fantastic!" Mark therefore heard about Paul from Fran.
Later, Mark pumped Paul for information on Fran and Jamie's
behalf: "How much do you make? Own or rent? Previous marriages?
Smoker? Drinker? Ever been with a man?" It is likely Fran told
Mark to question Paul, not Jamie. Fran also had Paul's biography
faxed over from the Director's Guild.
Mark and Fran went on a 3-month trip to Europe in the summer of
1996 [5.1], but only Fran has returned to New York City [5.7].
There has been no explanation of and no mention of Mark's absence
- The latter scenario is more dramatic, written 2 months into the
season, after the characters and their interactions had been
Actor Richard Kind is now a regular on the TV show "Spin City"
(on ABC Television) where he plays Paul Lassiter, the press
spokesman for the Mayor of New York City. If his contract is
exclusive, Richard Kind will not be able to play Mark Devanow
Lou Bonaparte was Paul Buchman's hovering producer, introduced in
[2.4]. He arrived at Buchman Films from CineGroup, the same outfit
that commissioned "New York at Night." [2.5]. Played by Larry
Miller, Lou provided a manic foil to Paul at work for a brief period.
He was last seen in "It's a Wrap" [2.10] and left for parts unknown.
In real life, Larry Miller is a stand-up comic and a close friend
of Paul Reiser. With Jerry Seinfeld and Mark Schiff, the quartet is
known as the "Funniest Men in the World Club," and tries to meet each
New Year's Day for lunch somewhere in the world, once in London.
Mark Schiff has been featured twice on MAY, as a subway passenger
[2.8] and as a parking garage attendant [4.2], while the "Jerry guy"
is talked about by Paul and Kramer [1.8].
As with many other characters on MAY, Mr. Wicker simply disappeared,
after season #3. The pragmatic reason for his departure was actor
Jerry Adler moving on to play a cop on "Hudson Street" (on ABC
Television). That series has since been cancelled, but Mr. Wicker has
not returned. Lately Jerry Adler has risen through the ranks of the
Police department to play a Commissioner on "Spin City."
Precisely one, but Gus and Theresa Stemple have been played by three
different pairs of actors over the 5 seasons. So while Paul's parents
continue to be played by Louis Zorich and Cynthia Harris, we have seen:
No, she did not.
- In season #1, we saw the debut and only appearance of Jamie's
parents, played by Paul Dooley and Nancy Dussault.
- In season #2, they were never on-camera, although Theresa and
Jamie talked on the phone [2.11, 2.20].
- In season #3, John Karlen and Penny Fuller played the roles in
multiple episodes, including the flashback Wedding episode [3.13].
- In season #4, again they put in no appearance, not even at Lisa's
lavish engagement party [4.22], which was very strange.
- In season #5, Carroll O'Connor and Carol Burnett are playing the
Stemples, who for the time being are separated, with Gus hitting
the road for a few months in his RV a la Mark Devanow.
Helen Hunt has explicitly denied this in an interview. Her name was
being confused with another actress named Helene Hunt who played a
Bond Girl in the film "Octopussy" (with Roger Moore as 007).
In fact she has starred in more than one Movie of the Week; consult
her filmography in section 2.4 of this FAQ.
But the Movie of the Week in question is "In the Company of Darkness"
where she plays Officer Gina Pulasky. This was the role Paul Buchman
(actually Reiser) meant during the Monopoly game in the Tag to [1.13]
when he read a Community Chest card and pretended it mentioned a MOTW.
Jamie's (actually Helen Hunt's) hysterical laughter made that ad libbed
scene a true classic.
Lisa's shrink is a woman, Dr. Wallach [3.17] with a practice near
the 72nd Street subway station. The topic is examined at length in
[2.11], which features Dr. Wallach's book 'Manics,' complete with
the author's photograph at the back of the dust-jacket. As Lisa is
the subject of a whole chapter (#26) in the book under a pseudonym
'Edna,' it is reasonable to assume Lisa has been under the care of
the author of 'Manics' for the past three years.
However, in season #1 Lisa's shrink is referred to by Jamie as a man
[1.19], an apparent contradiction. In other references, gender was
not disclosed [1.5, 1.16].
Riff's is the neighborhood restaurant introduced in [1.4], from where
Selby (with Lynne Stoddard) invited Paul to "come down, meet us for
a drink, pick up the check and get lost." Since then, and certainly
even before [2.16], Paul and Jamie have shared many a salad and
chicken or fish there, as have Lisa, Fran, Mark and Ira, not to
mention Lisa's beau Michael [1.19] and Fran's dates Lou [2.5] and
Nick ("he's 25!") [2.22]. Even Jamie's boss Jack Farrer comes to
Riff's with his wife, a circumstance that changed Jamie's life [2.4].
And Garth Brooks can identify a song to go with a Riffsburger [2.23].
Presumably fate drags Paul and Ira to Riff's in the flashback episode
dealing with Paul and Jamie's meeting at the news-stand [3.22].
Service at Riff's was provided by anonymous waiters and waitresses
[1.4, 2.5] until season #2. Then Ursula arrived on the scene and
stole many more [2.4, 2.7, for starters]. But that is another story.
Some of the places shown in exterior scenes in MAY are authentic
New York City locales. Some others aren't, or at least take liberty
with the way things are located.
Among the more prominent landmarks are:
When Paul yells at the cabbie during "The Ride Home" from
Fran's place Uptown [3.7]: "Why are you taking Lexington?" there
are good reasons beyond the frustration of the moment. The deal
with Lexington Avenue is that it is not very good for cab rides:
- Paul's old apartment building at 129 West 81st Street [1.11] is
indeed an apartment building, but Jamie's old apartment building
across the street at 142 West 81st is in fact a church.
- The Buchman's Sporting Goods store at 867 Broadway is in reality
the Paragon Sporting Goods store, a fairly large establishment
[Tel: (212) 255-8036] that probably does not have an annual
Midnight Sale [3.5].
- Riff's interior is a set on Soundstage #11 at Culver City, but
the exterior is of the Old Town and Bar Restaurant at
45 West 18th Street, between Park Avenue South and Broadway.
[Tel: (212) 529-6732].
On the other hand, Paul and Jamie's excellent adventure on the
New York City subway system on her 30th birthday [2.8], and the
long all-night walkabout Paul engages in before the reconciliation
are examples of the flip side [4.22]. Even more intriguing was the
trip they took to get to the theatre [3.10]. The itinerary went
- It is narrow as Avenues go,
- It passes right by Grand Central (at 42nd Street) and there is
always a lot of traffic there,
- It has the nerve to actually cease to exist at 21st Street,
so that it doesn't crash through Gramercy Park, and
- It has some remarkably ill-timed lights.
Yes, they took that cab all the way up to the Theatre District just
to get to a movie house that's half a block away!
- They leave from their house on 12th street and Fifth avenue.
- They stop at a Smiler's at 637 Ninth Avenue, between 45th and 44th
streets; why this particular Smiler's, you ask? Look at your tapes:
spot the "Cafe" neon sign that's to the left? That's part of a sign
that says "Film Center Cafe" - they serve delicious chicken piccata
- Since Ninth avenue goes south, they then somehow managed to get
- They end up at the Cinema Village, located at Twelfth Street between
Fifth Avenue and University Place.
The following is the best that can be managed:
December 22, 1989
December 28, 1989
- Paul and Jamie meet at a news-stand a Sunday evening [1.11].
They meet again in Fran's (NOT Jamie's) office the very next
day, in the afternoon.
February 14, 1991
- The first time Paul ends up at Jamie's apartment at
142 West 81st Street [2.2].
- Jamie gets her promotion to Regional VP (Fran's job).
Fran quits her job to spend time with Mark and Ryan.
Paul and Jamie move into their new apartment at
12th Street & Fifth Avenue [2.16].
Paul Buchman's birthday was almost revealed in [1.5], but he quickly
sidestepped Gus's inquiry (to buy him a meat locker for his birthday).
But we can establish that he was born on April 19, 1957, with:
- Paul and Jamie get married, 5 months prior to the series
premiere [1.1]. The month is confirmed in the Wedding episode
[3.13]. The date is still in question; see section 3.3.
Jamie's birthday was once shown to be November 11, 1963.
- His confession to Yoko Ono supplying the first part [4.5]
- His comment about the 10 to 39 spurt on the growth door [5.5],
and with MAY tracking the years most of the time, we can
conclude that the year is 1957.
Fran's birthday is October 28, 1960.
- The 30th birthday show [2.8] aired November 11, and it is
possible that this influenced the date shown on the TRW report
on the screen of her workstation [3.22]. It is worth noting
that the date is not mentioned in the script of any episode.
- She also claims a February 12 birthday [4.11], a contradiction
and a less plausible date.
Mark is almost 40 years old in season #1 [1.22], which points to
1953 or 1954 as the probable year of his birth.
- The day and month is explicitly stated by her [2.9].
- The year can be worked out from [2.22], since she's 33.
Nothing is known about Ira's birthday, except that he is a few years
older than Paul. He was married in 1973 [2.9], and one can speculate
that he got married as a teenager out of high school; if so, he may
have been born in 1955.
There have been a few cross-overs to "Seinfeld:"
This case of being part of the same universe and yet be fictional
in it is similar to what happened elsewhere, when the "Cheers" bar
was visited by some doctors from "St. Elsewhere", while another,
Dr. Morrison (played by David Morse) once walked by the famous bar
facade advertising "Where CHEERS is filmed!"
- Cosmo Kramer (played by Michael Richards) has been subletting
Paul's old apartment 5-B at 129 West 81st Street [1.8], not
earlier than 1991 [2.16].
- Jerry Seinfeld states his address as 129 West 81st Street
(E-100: "The Beard"), the same address Paul uses [1.11].
- George Costanza and his fiancee Susan are shown
watching Mad About You on their TV, with the theme song
Also, at least in concept:
There are also cross-overs to "Friends:"
- Paul's concern about his testicles [1.14] parallels George
Costanza's pre-occupation with shrinkage (E-84, "The Hamptons"),
- Kenny and Shana's ugly baby picture on the fridge [2.24]
parallels E-84 as well.
The appearance of Alan Brady from "The Dick van Dyke Show"
is a matter in another dimension altogether, since Paul Buchman deals
with Alan Brady but also mentions Dick van Dyke on many occasions,
not Rob Petrie (who was Alan Brady's employee). This becomes another
case of being part of the same universe and yet fictional in it.
- Ursula has a twin sister named Phoebe, also played by
Lisa Kudrow, a character on "Friends," and the twins meet in a
scene from the "The One with Two Parts" episode of "Friends."
Also a character on "Friends," Joey Tribbiani (played by Matt
LeBlanc) dates Ursula briefly.
- Both Jamie and Fran have stopped by at Central Perk,
and mistaken Phoebe Buffay for Ursula.
As frequently asked a question as is posted to the newsgroup
alt.tv.mad-about-you from newcomers, especially with older
episodes now being seen in syndication. A typical response can be a
laconic "can't name *one*!"
But when the 100th MAY episode came to be, the cast of MAY was polled
by Sony TriStar and "Our Fifteen Minutes" [3.11] was a consensus
favorite of the entire cast. The following are the other selections
of some of the stars:
An anglicised variation of the favorite episode question, with as
many answers as can be. As for quotes, one can sample Mark Plumb's
collection at Tom Witelski's Web site, or look out for a post from
Rick "here is another MAY quote" Haan at alt.tv.mad-about-you.
In fact there is a credible explanation for both: [3.23] and [5.4].
- Paul Reiser: [1.11], [2.12], [4.5], [4.11]
- Helen Hunt: [1.15], [3.15], [3.22], [4.21, 4.22]
- Anne Ramsay: [1.11], [2.19], [3.17], [3.15]
- Leila Kenzle: [2.21], [1.15], [1.2]
- John Pankow: [1.15], [1.20], [4.21], [2.14]
- Maui: [3.14], [3.8], [3.2], [4.6], [2.2]
- The first clip show (called "The Test") was produced at the
end of season #3 as the 25th half-hour, presumably to match the 25
produced for season #2. The season had run long and it made for a
quick block-and-shoot episode. But it was not telecast that summer.
Instead "The Test" aired after the first 2 episodes of season #4.
At that time it was thought to be related to the birth of Paul
Reiser's son, but that is not the case.
- The second clip show (tantalizingly called "The Clip Show") was
produced as the 100th episode (indeed the production number is #506,
and there were 94 half-hours produced in the first 4 seasons), as is
the tradition for a 100th episode, but NBC had other ideas. The 98th
produced episode (#504) with Carol Burnett and Carroll O'Connor was
held over and aired as the 100th episode, and Chuck Workman's tour
de force... well, it remains the unheralded 100th.