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Party of Five

Party of Five
Created by Christopher Keyser
Amy Lippman
Starring Scott Wolf
Matthew Fox
Neve Campbell
Lacey Chabert
Scott Grimes
Paula Devicq
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Michael Goorjian
Alexondra Lee
Jeremy London
Jennifer Aspen
Opening theme "Closer to Free" by The BoDeans
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 142 (list of episodes)
Running time 60 minutes
(with commercials)
Production company(s) High Productions
Keyser/Lippman Productions
Columbia Pictures Television (1994–1998)
Columbia TriStar Television (1998–2000)
Distributor Columbia TriStar Television (1999–2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
Original channel Fox
Original release September 12, 1994 (1994-09-12) – May 3, 2000 (2000-05-03)
Related shows Time of Your Life

Party of Five is an American teen drama television series that aired on Fox for six seasons, from September 12, 1994, until May 3, 2000.

Critically acclaimed, the show suffered from low ratings and after its first season was slated for cancellation. In 1996, it was the surprise winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama, making it one of the lowest rated shows ever to win the award.

The show launched the careers of cast members Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt, who both starred in their own box-office hit slasher films, Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, respectively, while also appearing on the series. The show was also the launching pad for the careers of Lacey Chabert, who later starred in the hit movie Mean Girls; Matthew Fox, who would later go on to star in the ABC hit Lost; Scott Wolf, who would star in the movie Go and the 2009 remake of V; and Jacob Smith, who later starred in the Cheaper by the Dozen films.

In 1999 the show generated a spin-off entitled Time of Your Life, which followed the character of Sarah (Hewitt) as she moved to New York. It ran for just one season.

In 1995, TV Guide named the series "The Best Show You're Not Watching."[1]


The show, set in San Francisco, centered on the five Salinger siblings (the "party of five" referenced in the show's title), who become orphans after their parents are killed by a drunk driver. 24-year-old Charlie (Matthew Fox) is the eldest, a womanizing, immature manual laborer who struggles with the responsibility of being the new head of the family. 16-year-old Bailey (Scott Wolf) is the once-rebellious teen turned responsible caretaker—and later-turned-substance abuser. 15-year-old Julia (Neve Campbell) is a sensitive teen; 11-year-old Claudia (Lacey Chabert) is a precocious child prodigy; and baby Owen is barely one year old.

The siblings take over the running of their family's restaurant, Salingers. Charlie initially serves as bartender and manager, and later Bailey takes over. The struggles the Salingers face over the years include Charlie's battle with cancer in Season 4, Bailey's battle with alcoholism in Season 3, Julia's dealing with domestic violence in a relationship in Season 5, and the long-term effects of parental loss.[2]

As the series progressed, romantic relationships became plot points and new cast members joined the show, including Jennifer Love Hewitt as Bailey's girlfriend Sarah, Jeremy London as Julia's bad-boy boyfriend and later husband Griffin, and Paula Devicq as Owen's nanny Kirsten, who developed an on-again-off-again relationship with Charlie throughout the series.

Cast and characters

Main cast

  • Scott Wolf as Bailey Salinger; (ages 16–22) the second-born sibling who is forced to grow up fast and deal with life after his parents death.
  • Matthew Fox as Charlie Salinger; (ages 24–30) the first-born sibling who struggles to live his own life in the reluctant role of legal guardian to his brothers and sisters. Immature and insecure, he dropped out of college his senior year to "find himself" and was planning to re-enroll when his parents death put him as legal guardian to his younger siblings.
  • Neve Campbell as Julia Salinger; (ages 15–21), highly intelligent, emotionally sensitive teen who struggles to adjust being an orphan and having more responsibilities to the family.
  • Lacey Chabert as Claudia Salinger; (ages 11–17) a gifted violinist struggling to build a life for herself and also deal with being an orphan.
  • Paula Devicq as Kirsten Bennett Thomas Salinger (seasons 1–2, 5–6, recurring otherwise); graduate student who is hired as Owen Salinger's nanny, and becomes romantically involved with Charlie off-and-on during the whole series.
  • Scott Grimes as Will McCorkle (seasons 1–2, 6, recurring otherwise); Bailey's best friend from high school.
  • Michael Goorjian as Justin Thompson (season 2, recurring otherwise); Julia's friend, and later boyfriend, during the series.
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt as Sarah Reeves Merrin (seasons 2–6); Bailey's sensitive, off-and-on girlfriend from high school who struggles also to "find herself".
  • Alexondra Lee as Callie Martel (season 3); Bailey's roommate during his first year at college.
  • Jeremy London as Griffin Chase Holbrook (seasons 4–6, recurring seasons 2–3); moody and troubled teenager whom Julia becomes involved with. Older brother of Jill Holbrook. The character was originally portrayed by James Marsden in one first-season episode.
  • Jennifer Aspen as Daphne Jablonsky (season 6, recurring seasons 4–5); a part-time "erotic dancer" who becomes involved with Charlie and later has his baby.
  • The role of the youngest, Owen Salinger, was recast three times as the character grew. He was played by Alexander and Zachary Ahnert in the pilot episode, Brandon and Taylor Porter as an infant, Andrew and Stephen Cavarno as a preschooler, and Jacob Smith until the end of the show. His character was aged faster than real time, in a television process known as "SORAS-ing," when he was rapidly aged from infant to preschooler.

Supporting cast

The following lists all actors who appeared in five or more episodes during the run of the show.

  • Tom Mason as Joe Mangus (55 episodes, seasons 1–6); a good-natured, older man who grew up with the Salinger's father, Nick Salinger, in an orphanage and helped founded, co-owned and managed the family restaurant Salingers which he took over as full-time owner after Nick Salinger's death. Often acts as a father figure to the Salinger orphans.
  • Mitchell Anderson as Ross Werkman (22 episodes, seasons 1–6); a professional violinist and Claudia's personal violin tutor.
  • Cari Shayne as Nina DiMayo (nine episodes, seasons 1–2); Julia's rebellious and outgoing friend from high school.
  • Jennifer Blanc as Kate Bishop (eight episodes, season 1); Bailey's first girlfriend from high school.
  • Michael Shulman as Artie Baum (seven episodes, season 1); Claudia's friend from elementary school and a fellow child violinist.
  • David Burke as Bill (six episodes, season 1); Owen's part-time nanny.
  • Megan Ward as Jill Holbrook (nine episodes, season 1); Bailey's outgoing and troubled girlfriend. Younger sister of Griffin Holbrook. (Deceased)
  • Wendle Josepher as Lori/Mercy (six episodes, seasons 1, 3–4); a school friend of Julia's
  • Kathleen Noone as Ellie Bennett (six episodes, seasons 2–3, 6); Kirsten's mother.
  • Marla Sokoloff as Jody Lynch (seven episodes, seasons 2–3); Claudia's trouble-making friend.
  • Alyson Reed as Mrs. Reeves (nine episodes, seasons 2–5); Sarah's mother
  • Carroll O'Connor as Jacob (Jake) Gordon (six episodes, seasons 2–3); the Salinger's maternal grandfather (father of their deceased mother, Diana Gordon Salinger.)
  • Brenda Strong as Kathleen Isley (six episodes, season 2); a wealthy TV producer whom Charlie dates. When Charlie broke up with her after realizing that being with her made him feel like a "kept man" she tried to use her wealth to try to close down the family restaurant.
  • Tamara Taylor as Grace Wilcox (16 episodes, season 3); a social worker who becomes Charlie's girlfriend.
  • Ben Browder as Sam Brody (10 episodes, season 3); a construction worker who becomes Julia's boyfriend.
  • Dan Lauria as Coach Russ Petrocelli (six episodes, season 3); Bailey's wrestling coach during his first year at college.
  • Jackie Mari Roberts as Marcia (five episodes, season 3)
  • Andrew Keegan as Reed Isley (eight episodes, season 4); a high school football player whom Claudia pursues.
  • Paige Turco as Annie Mott (18 episodes, season 4); a divorced single mother who becomes Bailey's girlfriend.
  • Allison Bertolino as Natalie Mott (15 episodes, season 4); Annie's young daughter.
  • Jessica Lundy as Nina Rondstadt (five episodes, season 4); a zoologist who becomes Charlie's girlfriend.
  • Tim DeKay as Dr. Paul Thomas (12 episodes, seasons 4–5); Kirsten's husband
  • Brenda Wehle as Dr. Stephanie Rabin (eight episodes, seasons 4–5); Charlie's oncologist during his cancer treatments.
  • Ever Carradine as Rosalie (seven episodes, season 4); a garage co-worker with whom Griffin cheats on Julia.
  • Ross Malinger as Jamie Burke (eight episodes, seasons 4–5); a musician friend of Claudia's.
  • Scott Bairstow as Ned Grayson (20 episodes, seasons 5–6); Julia's boyfriend during her first year at Stanford who later abuses her.
  • Heather McComb as Maggie (11 episodes, season 5); Julia's college roommate.
  • Adam Scott as Josh Macon (seven episodes, season 5); one of Julia's friends at college.
  • Joanna Garcia as Hallie (five episodes, season 5); a schoolmate of Claudia's at her New England boarding school.
  • Lynsey Bartilson as Parker Brookes (five episodes, season 5)
  • Chad Todhunter as Cody (10 episodes, seasons 5–6); Claudia's boyfriend at high school
  • Kyle Secor as Evan Stilman (eight episodes, season 6); Julia's writing editor whom she becomes involved with.
  • Maggie Lawson as Alexa (seven episodes, season 6); a cheerleader friend of Claudia's.
  • Andrew Levitas as Cameron Welcott (six episodes, season 6); Alexa's football player boyfriend who becomes involved with Claudia.
  • Wilson Cruz as Victor (11 episodes, season 6); Daphne's daughter's nanny.
  • Lauren Ambrose as Myra Wringler (five episodes, season 6); a troubled high school student who clashes with Charlie.
  • Rhona Mitra as Holly Marie Begins (12 episodes, season 6); an English pre-med student who becomes Bailey's girlfriend.
  • Charles Esten as Luke (seven episodes, season 6); Daphne's boyfriend.
  • Sean Maher as Adam Matthews (seven episodes, season 6)
  • Thomas Ian Nicholas as Todd Marsh (nine episodes, season 6); another one of Claudia's boyfriends.


Theme song

"Closer To Free" was performed by The BoDeans.

Early in the series, "Climb on (A Back That's Strong)" by Shawn Colvin from her album Fat City was also used.


The show was created by the team of Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman and produced by Columbia Pictures Television (CPT) and High Productions. CPT would later be folded into Columbia TriStar Domestic Television, which soon afterward became Sony Pictures Television. In March 2009, Sony began streaming the third season of the show on Crackle.

Reception and ratings

The show suffered from poor ratings and was slated to be canceled after its first season. In 1996, it received the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama during its second season. After the win, the show's ratings significantly improved until its fifth season, when ratings yet again fell into a slump. The ratings continued in a nose dive during its sixth and final season. The series finale, however, delivered strong ratings.

Nielsen ratings

Season Episodes Timeslot (ET) Season Premiere Season Finale Rank Rating
(in millions)
1 22

Monday 9:00

September 12, 1994 March 15, 1995 #125[3] 6.2[3] N/A
2 22

Wednesday 9:00

September 27, 1995 March 27, 1996 #96[4] 7.1[4] N/A
3 25

Wednesday 9:00

August 21, 1996 April 2, 1997 #82[5] 7.4[5] N/A
4 24

Wednesday 9:00

September 17, 1997 May 13, 1998 #56[6] N/A 11.5[6]
5 25 Wednesday 9:00 September 16, 1998 May 19, 1999 #70[7] N/A 10.1[7]
6 24 Tuesday 9:00 October 5, 1999 May 3, 2000 #113[8] 6.6[8] 6.135[9]

Home releases

On April 27, 1999, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the season-2 episode "The Wedding," the season-3 episode "Intervention," and the season-4 episode "Richer, Poorer, Sickness, and Health" on VHS.[10][11][12]

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all six seasons of Party of Five on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time between 2004 - 2013.[13][14][15][16][17][18] Seasons 4 - 6 are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, available exclusively through & and only in the US.

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Party of Five.[19] They subsequently re-released season 1 on DVD on June 24, 2014.[20] Season 2 will be re-released on January 6, 2015.[21]

In Region 2, Sony has released the first two seasons on DVD.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 22 May 4, 2004
June 24, 2014 (re-release)
The Complete 2nd Season 22 December 20, 2005
January 6, 2015 (re-release)
The Complete 3rd Season 25 March 25, 2008
The Complete 4th Season 24 March 5, 2013
The Complete 5th Season 25 July 2, 2013
The Complete 6th and Final Season 24 October 1, 2013

Due to licensing issues, the majority of the music from the original broadcasts have been replaced on the DVDs. The new music was handpicked by the original music supervisors from the show.


  1. ^ TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. p. 212. ISBN 0-7624-3007-9. 
  2. ^ "Party Of Five Fares Better Than 'On Our Own'". Chicago Tribune. September 12, 1994. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  3. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1994-1995". Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1995-1996". Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "TV Winners & Losers: Numbers Racket A Final Tally Of The Season's Show (from Nielsen Media Research)". GeoCities. June 4, 1999. Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1999-2000". Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  9. ^ "US - Jahrecharts 1999/2000". May 30, 2002. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Party of Five: The Wedding (VHS) (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Party of Five: The Intervention (VHS) (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Party of Five: Richer, Poorer, Sickness, and Health (VHS) (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Party of Five - The Complete Second Season (1994)". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  14. ^ Lambert, David (February 23, 2004). "Party of Five - Season 1 announced, including WINNING Cover Art!". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  15. ^ Lambert, David (January 4, 2008). "Invitation to a Party at Last! 3rd Season Set Coming in March, 3rd Season Arrives 2¼ Years After The 2nd Season!". Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Mill Creek Entertainment Signs Deals With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment To Expand Their Distribution Partnership
  20. ^ 'Season 1' Set, from Mill Creek, Will Be Back In Stores Soon
  21. ^ MCE Schedules a DVD Re-Release for 'The Complete 2nd Season'


External links