Matthew Perry starred in this 1987-1988 FOX sitcom. The network revamps the show halfway through the season in an attempt to revive interest. It didn’t work.
This early FOX sitcom premiered in September 1987 and was revamped halfway through its first and only season in January 1988. Several characters were dropped, others were added and the premise of the series was drastically changed in an attempt to interest viewers. It switched time slots three times during its run, which didn’t help hold onto what few viewers were tuning in.
When it was announced in early September as part of FOX’s new fall season the show was called Second Chance . Former Hill Street Blues star Kiel Martin would play Charles Russell, a man given a second chance to get his life straight. The sitcom would air Saturdays from 9-9:30PM, replacing Down And Out In Beverly Hills.
I am a big Friends fan and was very interested in your articles about Ferris Bueller and Home Free. Matthew Perry starred in a sitcom called Second Chance which only lasted for one series in the the early 1990’s. I was wondering if an article could be made about this series.
Charles, in the year 2011, dies in a hovercraft accident. When he gets to the pearly gates St. Peter (played by Joseph Maher) can’t decide whether to let him in or not. It seems that while poor Charles hasn’t led a great life, he isn’t exactly a terrible person. St. Peter decides to send him back to 1987 and instructs him to keep a close eye on his younger self. If he can help keep himself on the straight and narrow in the past, he’ll lead a better life in the future and Charles can get into heaven.
So, Charles takes the last name Time and moves into the apartment over his childhood home. Future Friends star Matthew Perry played the younger Charles Russell, nicknamed Chazz. Randee Heller played their mother, Helen, and William Gallo played Chazz’s best friend Francis “Booch” Lottabucci. Another friend, Eugene, was played by Demian Slade.
Copyright © TV Guide, 1988 
Second Chance premiered on Saturday, September 26th, 1987. Critics were all but disgusted by the sitcom. The Los Angeles Times wrote that “just when you think you’ve seen the worst, something even lower and more trivial comes along. This is it, flat-out the dumbest of this season’s new shows, one that didn’t deserve even a first chance” [2. Newsday called it “a mindless, overlong skit” . And The Washington Post referred to it as “a new wretched Fox sitcom” .
One positive review came from the Providence Journal: “The premise of being given a chance to relive one’s life is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well. Second Chance relies a little heavily on standard sitcom silliness, but could redeem itself as a relationship grows between Charles and his younger self” .
Ratings were low. The October 10th episode of Second Chance ranked seventh out of FOX’s nine weekly programs, all lower rated than every single show on ABC, CBS and NBC . The October 17th episode was dead last in the Nielsens . Starting with the October 24th episode Second Chance was pushed back to 9:30PM. It was pre-empted on October 31st and a month later went into repeats. Just nine episodes had been aired.
When the series returned on January 16th, 1988 it had a new title and a new time slot. Boys Will Be Boys aired from 8-8:30PM. Gone were Kiel Martin as adult Charles and Joseph Maher as St. Peter. Added to the cast was Terri Ivens as Debbie Miller, Chazz’s neighbor-turned-girlfriend. According to The Providence Journal, FOX’s audience research people had determined that Matthew Perry had “tremendous potential” and thus Boys Will Be Boys was born .
While episodes of Second Chance had involved Charles trying to steer Chazz away from robbery and alcohol, Boys Will Be Boys dealt more with girls and cars. In a two-part episode Chazz moves into the garage apartment and is soon joined by Booch, who wants to get away from his alcoholic father. A special 30-second public service announcement for the Alateen hotline and the National Council on Alcoholism featuring William Gallo was shown after the second part, broadcast on February 13th .
The series was shifted to 8:30PM beginning on April 9th. Twelve episodes of Boys Will Be Boys were produced. The last new episode aired on May 7th. Repeats would continue until July 2nd. The following week, Family Double Dare took over. Between them, Second Chance and Boys Will Be Boys produced 21 episodes.
2 Seligsohn, Leo. “Second Chance’ at Ghostly Humor.” Newsday. 25 Sep. 1987: 13.
3 Rosenberg, Howard. “A Weekend of 7 Prime-Time Debuts.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Sep. 1987: 1.
4 Shales, Tom. “Dolly, Dillon, Detectives and Doctors.” Washington Post. 26 Sep. 1987: C.01.
5 Martin, John. “Take a ‘Chance’ on Fox; ‘Prison’ May be Rough.” Providence Journal. 10 Oct. 1987: A-12.
6 Carmody, John. “The TV Column.” Washington Post. 15 Oct. 1987: C10.
7 Baker, Kathryn. “Lowest-Rated World Series No Help to ABC.” Associated Press. 20 Oct. 1987: AM Cycle.
8 Martin, John. “Perry is Promising in FOX’s Revamped ‘Boys’.” Providence Journal. 16 Jan. 1988: A-12.
9 “PSA to Air After ‘Boys Will Be Boys’.” Ad Dau. 11 Feb. 1988: 3.
Originally Published June 4th, 2009
Last updated May 17th, 2018