Richard Dean Anderson as Adam McFadden (27)
Drake Hogestyn as Brian McFadden (age 25)
Peter Horton as Crane McFadden (21)
Roger Wilson as Daniel McFadden (18)
Tim Topper as Evan McFadden (16)
Bryan Utman as Ford McFadden (15)
River Phoenix as Guthrie McFadden (12)
Terri Treas as Hannah Moss-McFadden
Executive Producer: David Gerber
Theme & original songs by: Jimmy Webb
Choreography by Carl Jablonski
A David Gerber Company, Inc. production in association with
Broadcast on CBS Television
First Telecast: September 19, 1982
Last Telecast: July 2, 1983
This series, loosely based on the 1954 MGM musical starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell, included its own singing and dancing each week. Set in modern day northern California, it was shot entirely on location in the small town of Murphys, California (population 1,183) in Calaveras County. The story centered around the seven McFadden brothers, aged 27 to 12, and their struggle to keep their family ranch.
Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network And Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. 6th ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
There was singing and dancing, hootin' and hollerin' in this lively, updated revival of the hit 1954 MGM movie classic. While the movie was set on the frontier, this series took place in contemporary times, as the parentless family of boys tried to go it alone on a ranch in northern California. Only the eldest brother, 27-year-old Adam, was married, and his new bride, Hannah, faced the unmanageable task of living with this rowdy, unkempt houseful of brothers. Fortunately, Hannah was high-spirited herself, and got their attention the first day by dumping an entire table full of food in their laps. Besides hijinks around the house, stories revolved around struggles to keep the ranch solvent, personal squabbles, and romances. Despite all the singing, dancing, and romancing, none of the other six McFadden brothers found a bride during the one season Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was on the air.
Fall Preview Issue
September 11, 1982
There's a lot of singin', dancin', whoopin', hollerin' an' stompin' in this series (based loosely on the 1954 MGM musical) -- and some kissin', too. That's what happens when you take a spirited filly like Hannah Moss (Terri Treas) and marry her off to Adam McFadden (Richard Dean Anderson), who lives in a big ranch house with six rambunctious brothers: Brian (Drake Hogestyn), 25; Crane (Peter Horton), 21; Daniel (Roger Wilson), 18; Evan (Tim Topper), 16; Ford (Bryan Utman), 15; and Guthrie (River Phoenix), 12. Hannah is in for a shock: the boys are rowdy, their table manners are atrocious and the house is a mess. But the guys have a little surprise coming too: when they continue to ignore Hannah at dinner, she tips the table over, food and all. Crane: "She's got my attention".
Review by Robert MacKenzie
February 26, 1983
Networks are not yanking dubious series off the air with quite the old speed, (having discovered that replacing a bad series with another bad series has its flaws as strategy), so producers have more time to tinker with their shows and make them better - or worse.
As usual when television tries to "update" a nice old movie, the initial episodes of CBS's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were rather a mess. Since we live in a time that has no interest in the past (that's why there are virtually no period stories on television), the setting of the peppy old musical was changed to a present-day ranch in California's motherlode country. And since ranch boys don't send away for mail-order brides any more, the plot had to be thrown out too.
What was left was a musical without a plot and mostly without the music, thought there is a song in each episode. So far there's only one bride - Adam's wife, played by Terri Treas. At this rate, them boys will never be married off.
The old movie depended on the charisma and energy of the male cast. The present brothers are all good-looking boys in that TV-series way -- snub noses, square chins and lots of hair -- but there isn't a really captivating star in the bunch. You get the feeling that any of the brothers could be replaced with a different actor and nobody would notice.
So what to do with it? Executive producer David Gerber, a practiced hand at this sort of thing, tried sending out for charisma -- hiring an interesting older actor for a few episodes (a practice he should continue) and having the stories revolve around the guest. That helped, and the series already had some elements going for it: a wide-open, outdoorsy quality, good theme music and one of the best opening sequences on the air.
One story had Levon Helm as a legendary country singer, down on his luck and boozing hard. Young Daniel (Roger Wilson), motivated by hero worship, brought this creaky alcoholic home to the ranch and tried desperately to dry him out. Disappointment and fear kept the singer on the bottle. When an audition gave him a chance for a comeback, he returned the money he had stolen from Daniel. But there was no promise he had changed his ways. Not bad.
In an early episode, Hoyt Axton appeared as Coop Johnson, a flint-eyed rodeo veteran who ran a class for would-be bull riders, including brother Evan (Tim Tucker). Axton was so good he came back for another story. This time a girl had joined the class, and Coop gave her a tougher time than anyone. Of course it developed that she was his daughter. Axton is a real presence, and when he sits down to pluck and sing, the musical quality of the show goes up considerably.
The brothers I haven't named are played by Richard Dean Anderson, Peter Horton, Drake Hogestyn, Bryan Utman and River Phoenix.
About the male regulars: maybe the reason they seem interchangeable is that most of them slip naturally into a style I call TV-Macho. It's a way of looking, walking and talking that young actors must have or bone up on if they want to work these days. It raises an interesting question: could a young Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda get a TV job?
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Episode Guide