Better Days

Better Days

(pilot, 1992) situation comedy

Better Days script.
Better Days pilot script. (eBay).

This was a pilot for CBS that never got picked up. Set in Providence, it was about "Eddy Procacini [Peter Dodson], a street-smart hustler who suddenly becomes father to his sister's orphaned 12- and 13-year-old children." Show creator Dan Reo (also the creator of Blossom) grew up in Cranston and based the main character on a Cranston East High School classmate. The principal set was the Miss Providence Diner, an eatery owned by Eddy's father, from which Eddy ran a number of shaky business deals from a bank of pay phones. In a Providence Journal article about the show, Reo admitted the accents wouldn't be authentic because he didn't think a New Jersey actor could imitate a Rhode Island accent. He also mentioned that he had called George's of Galilee to find out how much they charged for clam cakes, because the diner was going to have clam cakes on its menu. "They said, 'We don't give out that information on the phone.' I said, 'What? It's a state secret? How much are your clam cakes?!'"

Actual production took place on a California soundstage, but a second-unit crew came to Cranston in March 1992 for some exterior shots. For Eddy's house they filmed the front of 19 Briarcliffe Road, a house belonging to Cranston Fire Department Captain Bruce Shaw. The Miss Providence was based on the Miss Cranston on Oaklawn Avenue, but the set built to represent the diner didn't match the exterior of the real restaurant, so a historical photo of a defunct Woonsocket diner (possibly O'Connor's) was used for the exterior establishing shot. A diner modeled on Haven Brothers was originally considered, but it was just too small to be a workable sitcom set.

Note: The Miss Cranston Diner was heavily damaged by fire in 2014. The business moved to a nearby strip mall, and the original diner was demolished in 2015.

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