The series was so successful that NBC used it to launch or boost two other shows: The Facts of Life, which sent Mrs. Garrett to run a girls' school (its pilot, "The Girls' School," is episode 24 on the third disc), and the McLean Stevenson program Hello, Larry, which followed Strokes on the network (the two-part cross-over episodes are featured on disc 3). Though perhaps best known to current audiences for the unfortunate luck suffered by several of its cast members after the show's cancellation in 1986, this first-season set offers a pleasant reminder of the show's charms. The set is rounded out by two featurettes featuring interviews with many of the show's stars and producers (though Coleman is notably absent), and commentaries by story editor Fred Rubin. --Paul Gaita
The first season was my favorite -- the Charlotte Rae episodes, where Mrs. Garrett took care of the home and boys -- and, in many cases, also Kimberly and Mr. Drummond -- before taking off to run girls' school and Peekskill.
This golden first season contained 24 episodes, and here's how they should appear on the greatly-anticipated DVD boxed set release:
1) Movin' In - When Mr. Drummond agrees to a deathbed wish to raise his housekeeper's two sons, he learns that showering the boys with gifts and wealth isn't going to keep them home ... when he hears them plotting to run away.
2) The Social Worker - Arnold's big ears misunderstand a comment he hears Mr. Drummond make to a social worker, and thinks he and Willis are not wanted at home.
3) Mother's Last Visit - A visit from Mr. Drummond's socialite mother stirs up trouble.
4) Prep School - Mr. Drummond learns a valuable lesson when he enrolls Willis and Arnold into a snobbish prep school.
5) The Spanking - Arnold ignores threats of a spanking when he's dropping water balloons off the balcony, but when the time comes Willis insists on spanking him ... until Arnold disappears!
6) Goodbye Dolly - EVERYONE in the house is going to be miserable until Arnold finds his lost doll.
7) The Trial - Mrs. Garrett holds court as judge when a trial decides if Arnold really put his goldfish into the hot tub.
8) Respective, Part 1 - A Christmas-themed show has the family recounting memories they've built since the boys moved in.
9) Respective, Part 2 - A Christmas-themed show has the family recounting memories they've built since the boys moved in.
10) The Fight - When a bully threatens Arnold, Willis trains him even as Mr. Drummond tries to find a more civilized solution.
11) The Club Meeting - Things get out of hand when Willis invites his neighborhood club from Harlem for a visit just to show off his "wealth".
12) The Woman - The kids don't want Mr. Drummond to marry an attractive widow he's been seeing, so cook up a scheme to stop the nuptials.
13) No Time for Arnold - A plot to get the family's attention works too well for a lonely Arnold, who ends up with a doctor's attention, as well.
14) The Relative - The BRILLIANT LaWanda Page (Aunt Esther from "Sanford and Son"!) guest stars as a cousin of the boys who comes for a visit ... and decides to get closer to her kin when she see how they're living.
15) The Tutor - Mr. Drummond hires a tutor for the boys who does everything BUT teach.
16) The New Landlord - The kids comes up with a plan to get the new landlord to let them keep their penthouse apartment.
17) Willis' Privacy - Willis is on a privacy kick ... so much so, he divides his and Arnold's room in half, and spends more time out of the house.
18) Mrs. Garrett's Crisis - A sort of "mid-life crisis" has Mrs. Garrett revising her career ideas ...
19) The Job (aka Willis' Job) - Willis gets a job to buy his own skates - and gets fired his first day.
20) The Trip, Part 1 - Mr. Drummond has bought a radio station in Portland, and realizes doing so may cost him his friend Larry (NOTE: this one-hour episode introduced McLean Stevenson's hit show, "Hello, Larry")
21) The Trip, Part 2 - A continuation of part 1.
22) Getting Involved - Arnold witnesses a hold-up, and the robber spots him doing so.
23) Willis' Birthday - Willis is sure everyone has forgotten his birthday, only to find it's the best birthday yet, when he's surprised with a birthday party in his old Harlem neighborhood.
24) The Girls School (aka Garrett's Girls) - YAY!!! Mrs. Garrett visits Kimberly's school, only to get into it with the principal (NOTE: This was the pilot episode for "The Facts of Life"!).
"Diff'rent Strokes" was a tremendous hit, mainly due to the sheer charisma of its pint-sized star, Gary Coleman. None of the stars - with the exception of Charlotte Rae - would every again equal the career success that peaked with this show ... indeed, Dana Plato and Todd Bridges and Coleman himself would go on to make tabloid fodder over their many arrests, drug abuses, or bursts of temper.
But for those of us who grew up with this show, season one is a real treat - and let's hope season two (and "The Facts of Life") aren't far behind!!
The show aired on 22 nights during the first season, and twice the airing was a double-length hour-long story, bringing the... Read more