Nominated for 16 Emmys and 4 Golden Globes, Coach delighted fans of all ages during its celebrated nine-season run. One of the most underrated sitcoms of its era, the series covers the exploits of fictional Minnesota State Screaming Eagles college football coach Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson), the quintessential male chauvinist pig. But unlike many of his politically-incorrect brethren, Hayden has a heart of gold.
It’s this softer side that appeals to successful anchorwoman and girlfriend Christine Armstrong (Shelley Fabares). In the locker room, Hayden is joined by assistant coaches Luther Van Dam (Jerry Van Dyke) and Dauber Dybinski (Bill Fagerbakke), the perfect compliments to the coach’s often sketchy logic.
Between his estranged daughter Kelly (Clare Carey), her less-than-manly boyfriend Stuart (Kris Kamm), nagging athletic director Howard Burleigh (Kenneth Kimmins), and ladies basketball coach Judy Watkins (Pam Stone), Hayden is always dispensing sarcasm, trading barbs, or being aggravated by someone.
Craig T. Nelson is brilliant in his portrayal of the opinionated and overbearing, yet multidimensional Hayden Fox. His onscreen rapport with co-star Shelley Fabares creates the believable illusion of a true romance.
But Coach boasts a cast replete with star power. The series is given a charming comic angle by the underappreciated and long overdue breakout role of Jerry Van Dyke, brother to Dick Van Dyke, who plays the role of Luther Van Dam, the stuttering and kind-hearted bungling best friend of Hayden.
Jerry had a few guest appearances in the decades before Coach that were absolute show stoppers (both The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show come to mind), but Coach put his talents to use full-time so all the world could see just how funny this man really is.
Overall, Coach is a fun and oftentimes brilliant comedy, and the first few seasons are by far the best. So grab yourself a chair and some official Minnesota State Screaming Eagle merchandise and enjoy watching one of the best comedies of its time…!
The Coach (Season 1) DVD features a number of hilarious episodes including the season premiere “Kelly and the Professor” in which Hayden learns that his daughter Kelly, a student at Minnesota State, recently went out on a date with a professor. The revelation drives Hayden crazy, and he’ll go to any lengths to uncover the identity of the guilty faculty member.
Other notable episodes from season one include “I’m in Love with a Boy Named Stuart” in which Hayden is introduced to Kelly’s new boyfriend, Stuart, his future arch-nemesis, and “I’m Sorry I Told You My Wife Was Dead” in which Hayden compromises his integrity in an effort to coerce a widow into handing over the massive donation her dead husband had promised the Minnesota State football program.
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