Mr. Belvedere (1985-1990)
For some reason, the notion of a proper British butler working for a gauche American family has been irresistible to TV sitcom producers, from Family Affair to The Nanny to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But nowhere was the culture clash more apparent than in Mr. Belvedere, where Christopher Hewett’s refined servant found himself working for the Owens clan in suburban Pittsburgh. (It’s hard to imagine a greater contrast than the one between the urbane Hewett and professional yahoo Bob Uecker, as Owens patriarch George.) Actually, Belvedere found himself clashing most often with little Wesley (Brice Beckham), youngest of the three Owens kids. Belvedere had a lot of valuable life lessons to teach young Wesley, as was apparent in several Very Special Episodes.
But Belvedere seemed to learn as much from the family as they did from him. In the Clifton Webb movies of the 1940s and ’50s, where the Belvedere character was first popularized, he was an amateur sociologist and novelist who tolerated his bratty charges for the insights and gossip they provided; in the sitcom, Belvedere kept a journal where he wrote of the wisdom he’s gained from the children’s exploits. The device was not unlike Mork’s weekly reports back to Orson on Ork of what he’d learned from these strange, primitive Earthlings. Indeed, like Mork, Belvedere always seemed a fish out of water, never fully embraced by the Owenses. No wonder the season finale saw him getting married and moving to Africa.