Frequently Asked Questions list (4/9) for "Mad About You" and the Usenet newsgroup alt.tv.mad-about-you


Archive-name: tv/mad-about-you/faq/part4
Posting-frequency: quarterly
Last-modified: 97-01-30
Version: 5.1


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 [ramax@ultranet.com].
All Rights Reserved.

This document may be freely distributed in electronic form for personal use only, provided it is distributed in its entirety and with all original author and copyright information intact. Distribution by any other means must be by permission of the copyright holder. This material is for non-commercial use only and any sale for profit is expressly forbidden. It may not be included in any commercial documents, archives or CD-ROMs, nor uploaded to any BBS or online service without the permission of the copyright holder. The removal of this copyright notice is prohibited.


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.


Please send in corrections/comments to: [ramax@ultranet.com]



Main Table of Contents

Local Table of Contents

4.0 Surely there are a few questions about the other characters?


4.0 Surely there are a few questions about the other characters?

There sure are!

4.1 What is Murray's real name?

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.

4.2 What breed is Murray?

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.

4.3 Who is Selby and where is he now?

Selby (first name: Jay) is Paul's college buddy, refered to and addressed only by his last name, which by the way is Selby, not Shelby.

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.

4.4 Who played Ira before John Pankow?

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.

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 head [3.22].

4.5 Who is the new actor playing Burt now?

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.

4.6 When did Mark Devanow first hear of Paul?

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.

4.7 Where is Mark Devanow now?

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 since.

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 any more.

4.8 Who is Lou and where is he now?

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].

4.9 Where has Bill Wicker gone?

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."

4.10 Just how many sets of parents does Jamie have?

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:

4.11 Did Helen Hunt ever play a Bond Girl?

No, she did not.

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).

4.12 What Movie-of-the-Week did Helen Hunt star in?

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.

4.13 Is Lisa's shrink a man or a woman?

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].

4.14 Does everybody come to Riff's??

Just about.

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.

4.15 What New York City locations are used on MAY?

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:

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 something like:

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!

4.16 What is the time-line of the series?

The following is the best that can be managed:

December 22, 1989

December 28, 1989

February 14, 1991

April, 1992

4.17 What is so-and-so's birthday?

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: Jamie's birthday was once shown to be November 11, 1963.

Fran's birthday is October 28, 1960.

Mark is almost 40 years old in season #1 [1.22], which points to 1953 or 1954 as the probable year of his birth.

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.

4.18 Are there crossovers to other TV shows?

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!"

Also, at least in concept:

There are also cross-overs to "Friends:"

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.

4.19 What is your favorite episode of MAY?

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:

4.20 What is your favourite character/scene/quote from MAY?

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.

4.21 How come there have been two clip-shows already?

In fact there is a credible explanation for both: [3.23] and [5.4].


Please send in corrections/comments to: [ramax@ultranet.com]