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Trial & Error | Video
September 17, 1989
Gerald McRaney as Major John MacGillis
Shanna Reed as Polly Cooper
Matt Mulhern as Lieutenant Gene Holowachuk
Whitney Kershaw as Merilee Gunderson
Beverly Archer as Gunnery Sergeant Alva "Gunny" Bricker
John Cypher as Commanding General Marcus Craig
Created by Richard C. Okie and John G. Stephens, "Major Dad" is a family-friendly sitcom centered on a straitlaced Marine, his wife and stepdaughters, and his fellow Marines. The series ran on CBS for four seasons, from 1989 to 1993.
"Major Dad" begins with sparks flying between conservative Marine Major John "Mac" MacGillis (Gerald McRaney, "Longmire," "House of Cards") and his interviewer, pacifist reporter Polly Cooper. This unlikely pair finds themselves falling hard for each other, and Polly has to introduce Mac to her three daughters, Robin (Nicole Dubuc), Casey (Chelsea Hertford) and Elizabeth (Marisa Ryan). With the girls' blessing, Mac and Polly are married mere weeks later. Suddenly the girls have to adjust to being in a military family, and Polly has to adjust to being a Marine wife.
Meanwhile, the Major has to contend with the ups and downs of his work life. He starts out commanding an infantry training school, aided (and frustrated) by Lieutenant Gene Holowachuk (Matt Mulhern, "Biloxi Blues"), Sergeant Byron James (Marlon Archey) and Merilee Gunderson (Whitney Kershaw). At the end of Season 1, budget cutbacks force Mac to choose between retirement and a new job, and he moves his family to the base at Camp Hollister, where he serves as Staff Secretary.
Now labeled the "Staff Weenie," Mac must contend with a whole new group of wacky colleagues. Lieutenant Holowachuk transferred with him, but now they're under the orders of Commanding General Marcus Craig (John Cypher, "Hill Street Blues") and work closely with sometimes prickly Gunnery Sergeant Alva "Gunny" Bricker (Beverly Archer, "Mama's Family").
Notable guest appearances on the series include Vicki Lawrence ("Mama's Family"), comedian Yakov Smirnoff and Vice President Dan Quayle.
"Major Dad" was created by Richard C. Okie and John G. Stevens and developed by Emmy and Humanitas Prize winner Earl Pomerantz ("The Cosby Show," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Taxi"), and featured the early work of writer-producer Janet Leahy ("Boston Legal," "Gilmore Girls," "Mad Men"). Its theme music was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1992.