Webster—Season 1

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Fun nostalgia

Cheesy '80s series that isn't very original


Webster…Like Diff’rent Strokes…but with less kids

Webster Long (Emmanuel Lewis) has just been orphaned after his parents die in an accident.  Newly married George Papadapolis (Alex Karras) and Katherine Calder-Young Paradapolis (Susan Clark) find themselves with an instant family.  Katherine and George adjust to having a child, and Webster tries to adjust to having a new family.

Webster went through some changes before it hit the air.  The original show was going to be called Another Ballgame and involved the relationship between George and Katherine (Karras and Clark are married in real life).  Emmanuel was added to the cast and most saw it as a way to compete with Diff’rent Strokes on NBC.  The title was then changed to Then Came You, but then the network switch the title Webster.  Karras and Clark weren’t happy about the change and the push toward Emmanuel as the star.  The series became a big hit for ABC (ending most of the fighting) and ran for six seasons.


With crazy wackiness like this, who wouldn’t want to watch a show starring these two?

The series is pretty typical of ’80s series, but a lot like Diff’rent Strokes.  Emmanuel was cute and photogenic and really held the screen.  Emmanuel however was already twelve when the series started despite playing a kid who was supposed to be six or seven.  This leads to some weirdness since everyone picks up Webster and carries him.  It supposedly became an issue on set, and Emmanuel’s parents had to ask the crew to stop doing it.

The series also has that whole “special episode” feeling before Blossom coined the phrase.  There are episodes about racism, bed-wetting, Special Olympics, and threats to George and Katherine’s raising of Webster.  Also in typical ’80s fashion, the season ends in a dramatic cliffhanger…what will happen to Webster?!?  An untouched aspect of the show is Katherine’s secretary Jerry Silver (Henry Polic II) who seems to be gay (and it is implied many times in the first season).  Obviously in a kid’s show that wasn’t going to be talked about, and it especially wasn’t going to be mentioned at this time.


Oh hell, this happens to me every week!

One strange aspect of the first season has Ben Vereen as a guest star as Ben Vereen in episode nine, but then Ben Vereen shows up as Uncle Phillip (and continues to appear as a guest-star) in episode nineteen.  They joke about it, but it is strange.  Other guest-stars (mostly cameos) are kind of who’s-who of ’80s character actors include Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson, Heather O’Rourke (Carol-Anne from Poltergeist), Ami Foster (Margaux of Punky Brewster), Jeff Cohen (Chunk of Goonies), Robert Jayne (from Tremors), Bumper Robinson (of various shows), Mark Holton (Francis of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) and Olympian JoJo Starbuck.

I can enjoy Webster in a nostalgia sense, but it really isn’t very good.  It is fun to revisit, but for a married couple that is actually married, Karras and Clark don’t have much chemistry.  The shows however fly by and it can be watched quickly (mostly with an “I remember this episode” type feel).  I think kids can enjoy it and people that grew up with it will enjoy it, but it is probably too saccharine for many.

Webster—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“Another Ballgame”

1.1       Another Ballgame Airdate:  09/16/83

Webster Long (Emmanuel Lewis) finds himself orphaned and is sent to live with his new guardian George Papadapolis (Alex Karras).  George however has just impulsively married Katherine (Susan Clark) and isn’t expecting a child.  When Webster arrives, George finds he has to explain it to Katherine.  When Webster learns he’s causing problems, he runs away.


“Happy Un-Birthday”

1.2       Happy Un-Birthday Airdate:  09/23/83

George and Katherine learn that it is Webster’s birthday from his bus driver (Ernie Hudson) and decide to pretend that they didn’t realize it was his birthday.  Jerry (Henry Polic II) finds himself babysitting Webster, and when Webster learns that they are planning a party, he has to reveal a secret.


“Consenting Adults”

1.3       Consenting Adults Airdate:  09/30/83

George and Katherine find themselves butting heads over George’s old sports locker, and Katherine learns that George signed Webster up for football without asking her.  When Webster makes the team, George learns that Webster’s skill might not be the reason for being on the team.


“Katherine’s Swan Song”

1.4       Katherine’s Swan Song Airdate:  10/07/83

Katherine worries that she’s not connecting with Webster.  When Webster’s friend Melanie (Heather O’Rourke) runs away to get her mother’s attention, Katherine finds that she might be closer to Webster than she thought


“Saying Goodbye”

1.5       Saying Goodbye Airdate:  10/21/83

Katherine and George go to a gala and learn that Webster doesn’t understand that his parents are dead.


“The Green-Eyed Monster”

1.6       The Green-Eyed Monster Airdate:  10/28/83

Webster’s old babysitter Molly (Kimberly Beck-Hilton) comes to town to try to learn sportscasting from George.  When Katherine finds Molly is attractive, Katherine gets jealous.


“Second Time Around”

1.7       Second Time Around Airdate:  11/04/83

Webster is worried that George and Ma’am are fighting too much and sets up a surprise wedding for the two of them…if they show up.



1.8       Travis Airdate:  11/11/83

Katherine’s sociologist friend Ellen (Freddye Chapman) questions Katherine and George are right to raise Webster since he’s black.  Katherine questions if Ellen could be right and makes Webster self-conscious.


“That’s Entertainment”

1.9       That’s Entertainment Airdate:  11/18/83

When Webster is cut from a talent show, George gets their friend Ben Vereen to put him on his charity show.  When Webster reveals he got cut because he froze up, he wonders if he can perform with Ben.


“Educating Katherine”

1.10     Educating Katherine Airdate:  11/25/83

Budget cuts leads to the canceling of art, music, and sports.  Webster convinces Katherine to take over teaching art and George to teach dodgeball.  When the kids are bored by Katherine’s art lessons, Webster decides he has to steal the test answers to make Ma’am look good.


Teddy Bear Scare”

1.11     Teddy Bear Scare Airdate:  12/02/83

Webster loses his teddy bear Teddy and worries he won’t be able to go to a sleepover without him.


“A Question of Honor”

1.12     A Question of Honor Airdate:  12/16/83

Webster makes friends with nine-year olds and tries to impress them.  When Dwight (Jeff Cohen…Chunk from Goonies) and his new friends steal from Maurice (Richard Karron), George and Katherine worry Webster is going down the wrong path.


“Don’t Jump George”

1.13     Don’t Jump George Airdate:  12/23/83

Katherine investigates a popular game show and forces George and Webster to go on the show.  When the host Frimple (Robert Ridgely) is vindicated and George looks humiliated, George and Katherine are forced to go back on the show to prove George is smart.


“George the Patient In Spite of Himself”

1.14     George the Patient in Spite of Himself Airdate:  01/06/84

Webster comes down with tonsillitis but doesn’t want the operation because George talks about being strong.  When Webster runs away the hospital, George has to face the fact he’s scared of the hospital too.


“Maybe Baby”

1.15     Maybe Baby Airdate:  01/13/84

When Webster asks for a baby brother or sister, George and Katherine question if they should have more children while Webster tries to figure out how to make one.



1.16     Missing Airdate:  01/20/84

George and Katherine mix-up their schedule and forget to pick Webster at school.  When Webster goes home with Harry (Billy Sands) from the Trocadero, Katherine and George panic when they can’t find him.


“Secrets of the Night”

1.17     Secrets of the Night Airdate:  01/27/84

Webster’s having a bed-wetting problem and tries to hide it from Katherine and George.  When George and Katherine find out, Webster feels betrayed.


“Special Friends”

1.18     Special Friends Airdate:  02/03/84

JoJo Starbuck invites George to help announce the Special Olympics, and Webster befriends a participant named Darryl (Paul Stout).  When Webster’s friend threaten to stop being his friend if he’s friends with Darryl, Webster tries to find a way to get rid of Darryl.


“Uncle Phillip”

1.19     Uncle Phillip Airdate:  02/24/84

Webster’s Uncle Phillip (now played by Ben Vereen who appeared earlier in the series as himself) has come back to be involved in Webster’s life and George isn’t happy about it.  George knows Phillip is hiding a secret and doesn’t want Webster to hang around him.


“More Than a Memory”

1.20     More than a Memory Airdate:  03/02/84

Jerry decides to quit working for Katherine and open a gym at Webster’s suggestion.  As Katherine panics while working alone, Webster tries to get Jerry back.



1.21     Dreamland Airdate:  03/09/84

Webster suffers a reoccurring nightmare when he writes a composition that his teacher intends to read in class.


“Webster Long:  Part 1”

1.22     Webster Long:  Part 1 Airdate:  05/04/84

Webster has been with George and Ma’am for a year, and George and Katherine decide to adopt Webster.  When Uncle Phillip comes to the party, he reveals he intends to adopt Webster.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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