Matthew Fox IS Dr. Jack Shephard. And I am pretty sure he will continue to BE Dr. Jack Shephard, for better or worse, LONG after Lost airs its season finale. However, when the first season of Lost aired, back in 2004, I found that I couldn’t look at “Jack” without thinking, “Hey, isn’t that the guy from that show I used to watch back when I was a kid? The one with all the hot orphans?”
Dude, you’re just burying your dad NOW? Hasn’t he been dead since 1994?
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Party of Five was an hour-long drama that aired during the mid through late nineties. The show revolved around the five Salinger siblings, who were forced to raise one another, after both of their parents were killed in a tragic drunk driving accident. The clan included, early twenty-something Charlie Salinger (Matthew Fox), teens Julia and Bailey, young violin prodigy Claudia, and baby Owen.
The acting on Party of Five was top notch. It is no wonder that many of these “child stars” went on to have major movie and film careers.
Aside from Mathew Fox, there was . . .
the adorable Scott Wolf, who now stars in ABC’s show V;
Is it just me, or does this guy never age? According to IMDB, he’s in his 40s now, and could probably STILL play a high schooler (well . . . maybe college).
Neve Campbell, who you might remember from the Scream movies;
Lacey Chabert of Mean Girls fame;
Ghost Whisperer Jennifer Love Hewitt; and
Jeremy London, who I always confuse with his twin brother, Jason. He used to be pretty big in the ’90s. Now, I think, he just does a lot of Lifetime movies . . .
As a child, who was still a bit young to understand the true tragedy that had actually befallen the Salingers, I remember thinking about how much fun it would be to live in a house run by teenagers. To eat pizza every night for dinner. To sleep in a tent in the living room, like the Claudia character did (I was about that character’s age, at the time the show aired, so her living arrangements made TOTAL sense to me). To not always have to clean up after myself (but, if you absolutely HAD to do chores, there would inevitably be singing and dancing involved). . .
Plus, I was an only child. So I would have killed for a cool older sister, like Julia, to emulate, or a cool older brother like Bailey to pal around with. And if I couldn’t be Claudia, and have Bailey for a big brother, I would have loved to date him like the shy bookish girl-next-door, Sarah Reeves. I had a HUGE crush on Scott Wolf back then. And even though I was closest in age to the Claudia character, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Sarah reminded me most of myself.
Like most teen dramas, the show dealt with the typical issues that young adults face during their adolescence: friends, dating, academics, puberty, peer pressure, etc. However, it also had added layers of complexity, involving the unique challenges associated with raising a family at a very young age. Additionally, there were a couple of really powerful episodes, during the first season, that addressed the death of the Salinger parents, and how each character coped when forced to come face-to-face with the drunk driver who killed them.
Because you tend to watch television shows very differently in your pre-teens than in your twenties, I took the liberty of Netflixing the first season of Party of Five a few months back. I am pleased to report it has withstood the test of time. If anything, I appreciated the show more, upon second viewing, because I better understood its dramatic subtext and complex character relationships.
Like most shows, Party of Five went off the rails a bit in its final couple of seasons. In my opinion, it became WAY too maudlin. This is not to say that Charlie’s cancer storyline, and Bailey’s battles with alcoholism, weren’t well written. They just weren’t exactly a joy to watch. Plus, there was that oddly funny, but completely out-of-place plotline, involving the youngest child Owen, and his newfound penchant for cross-dressing. I guess the show’s writers inserted the story as a means of comic relief, but I sort of didn’t get it . . .
Lackluster final seasons aside, Party of Five was a major player on my ’90s television viewing roster, which is why I decided to give it a shout out here. And, who knows, maybe clips from the show will pop up in a Lost Dr. Jack Shepard flashback, sometime soon? Boy would Entertainment Weekly’s Doc Jensen have a field day with that!