Jack and Carly are newlyweds anxious to prove to themselves and to the world that they can make their marriage work. She's running a fledgling catering business and has been married twice before--to Dante, a blue-collar would-be musician with whom she had a son, high-school freshman Will; and also to Sheldon, a rich businessman who is the father of her younger daughter, Sarah, 11. Jack is a schoolteacher who has an about-to-turn 16 year-old-daughter, Nicole, and is divorced from her mother, TV actress Stephanie. The ""blended"" family has been living in their new Manahattan apartment two weeks, and while Jack and Carly are wildly in love, the kids are getting testy. Nicole and Sarah are both chafing about having to share a room, and Will is infatuated with his beautiful stepsister, as evidenced by him ""accidentally"" walking in on her in the bathroom. Now Sheldon enters the picture saying he thinks it would be best if Sarah came to live with him. Carly asks for two weeks to see how things
Carly is planning a 16th birthday party for Nicole, the first birthday for the new family. At school, Jack's ex-wife Stephanie, star of the action-adventure show ""Thena,"" shows up and creates a scene. She's in town for a while and invites herself to Nicole's party. Carly is concerned about her first meeting with Stephanie and is afraid she might be sniffing around her ex-husband again. Whe Stephanie and Carly are alone together for the fisrt time Steph breaks down crying about her split with her current companion Stan and her messed-up life, getting a little more intimate than Carly would like. Stephanie announces to everyone that she will finding a place in New York so she can be close to her daughter. At the birthday party Stan shows up, saying he wants to get back together with Stephanie and marry her. Jack and Carly counsel the couple and let them spend time alone in their bedroom to decide what to do. The sounds coming from the bedroom indicate the reconcilation was successful, bu
Carly meets a New York Times reporter who is doing a story about women balancing career and family, and she is interested in profiling her. But when Carly invites her over for dinner, the reporter gets an eyeful of the more chaotic side of extended family life, plus Jack and Carly get into an argument about keeping secrets from each other.
While looking at some old photos, Carly is inspired to set up a shoot for a family Christmas picture, even though it's only October. Jack's ""traditional"" Santa Claus sweater is at his old dry cleaner Tony's place, which Carly wants him to give up now that he lives so far away. When Jack goes to retrieve the sweater and give Tony the news that he won't be using him anymore, the dry cleaner petulantly refuses to hand over the sweater without a ticket. Sarah, under the influence of Sheldon's wife Marianne, thinks she needs a nose job, which causes a big argument between the adults. Then Will gets a black eye at school defending the honor of his stepsister Nicole. Topping off a day of disasters, Carly's employee Newton delivers unseasonable decorations to the apartment.
The pressures of work are keeping Carly and Jack apart more and more. He surprises her with a picnic at her office but she can't even take fifteen minutes to enjoy it. Jack decides not to go schmooze at the faculty Halloween party and Carly lets Grace handle the big toy manufacturer's party so the couple can spend the evening together. But Carly can't stay away from her big event, so Jack heads for the faculty party. He doesn't stay there long and ends up at Carly's party. While there, he pretends he's not Carly's husband and talks up her virtues to several prospective clients. After the party, these same clients see Jack and Carly making out, and thinking she's cheating on her husband, they cancel plans to give her their business.
Jack and Carly's neighbor old Mr. Sandzimier dies in the apartment next door and the couple have their eye on moving in there, a prospect which excites their kids, too. They meet Sandzimier's distruaght son Donald, and trying to be delicate and tactful, make him an offer for the apartment. Sandzimier breaks out laughing at the figure they give him. Sheldon makes an offer to buy the place so Sarah and the others will have a bigger place to live, and Stephanie enters the bidding, looking to be closer to Nicole. Carly and Jack convince the two not to bid on the apartment, then make their offer again to Sandzimier, who thinks they are vultures.
Carly and Jack are alone in the apartment, except for the odd roach or two. They start to feel amorous and head for bed, but discover they are out of birth control. Jack is ready to run out to the drug store during a thunderstorm, but then it occurs to him that Will might have some ""protection"" somewhere in his room. Guiltily, he searches Will's room and finds a condom. Excitedly he returns to Carly, but when she finds out where the condom came from, she's disturbed that Will didn't speak about the subject with her and the romantic mood evaporates. When Dante brings Will home Carly questions Dante about it and is further upset to find that he's the one who gave Will the condom without consulting her. Also, there is a slight thaw in the relationship between Sarah and Nicole after Sarah's father cancels plans to be with her.
Carly, Jack and the kids are going to her parents' beach house for Thanksgiving in a rented moving truck, since they neglected to make a reservation for a rental car. When they get there they find Carly's mother Kate along with her father Ben--both of whom divorced and married other people years ago. They tell them that they still love their current spouses, but the two of them got back together at Carly's wedding. They all try to have a ""traditional"" Thanksgiving dinner, but Carly is so mad at her folks that she takes Jack and storms off in the truck--temporarily forgetting that they brought the children with them.
Jack is concerned about Will's poor study habits and thinks Carly is too easy on him and doesn't push him to reach his potential. Although she resists the idea, she finally agrees and tells Will that if he doesn't make a ""B"" on Jack's test, he won't be able to go on a school trip to Washington, D.C. Feeling the pressure, Will cheats on the test. Jack and Carly are ecstatic when Will gets an ""A"", but when they let Will know that now they will expect that kind of grade from him more often, he admits that he cheated. This creates a dilemma for Carly and Jack, because keeping Will from going to Washington also means they won't be able to go on their ""second honeymoon"" ski trip to Vermont.
Stephanie arrives to stay with Sarah while Carly and Jack go to the theatre. Carly overhears Nicole tell her girlfriend about her secret plans to go out with a boy that night. Carly asks why she didn't tell them about this. Nicole answers that the guy is twenty and her father would never let her do it. She tries to play on Carly's desire to be liked by her and pleads with her not to tell her father. At first Carly doesn't, but soon she does tells Jack, who is predictably furious. He rushes down to the lobby and brings Nicole back upstairs. Nicole is mad at Jack for being so stubborn and at Carly for what she sees as a breach of trust. Alone with Nicole, Carly reminds her that she never took her into her confidence in the first place and that she never said she'd lie to Jack. Carly agrees, though, that Jack is too obstinent about letting his daughter date older boys. Stephanie weighs in with her opinion too, and she agrees with Carly and Nicole. Jack throws up his hands and agrees to le
It's Christmastime, and Carly is depressed because all the kids are leaving to spend the holidays with their other parents. Jack just wants to get everyone ready and out of the apartment building. His reason: on his way in his car splattered their hapless neighbor Mr. Sandzimeier with water and caused him to fall down while carrying his groceries. Of course Jack can't escape a confrontation with him. Later, with the kids gone, Carly wants to do something meaningful for Christmas, like take Sandzimeier for a carriage ride. When they knock on his apartment door, though, they find that they've woken him up from a much-needed sleep now that he is getting ill from Jack's drenching. Carly and Jack return from their carriage ride to find a large puppy in the elevator. Carly insists they take it in for the night, against Jack's better judgment. They leave the dog in the living room for the night, where it proceeds to tear up the Christmas tree, decorations, presents and an odd pillow or two. W
Dante arrives at the apartment with Heather and announces that they are getting married. Will is delighted and is asked to be his father's best man. Carly is happy, too. She finally feels like she won't be responsible for Dante anymore and best of all she won't have to pay him any alimony. To celebrate, she goes on a spending spree. At Sarah's slumber party that night, Jack plays a nature program on the new laserdisc player for the girls. They are all disappointed, but soon are watching wide-eyed at the grisly displays on the disc. Dante shows up at the door looking for a place to spend the night--Heather just kicked him out and the wedding is off. Dante refuses to talk about what is behind the split but Carly demands to know. He tells them that he said he didn't think he would ever love anyone again the way he loved Carly when they were first married. Carly and Jack insist he go talk to her and explain himself. Dante is reluctant, but the three of them take a taxi to the strip club wh
Jack is dubious, but he lets Nicole guest star on her mother's show as Thora, daughter of Thena, and he's assured it's only a one-time thing since her character is decapitated. After the broadcast, Stephanie's agent calls with an offer for Nicole to model in an ad campaign for blue jeans. Jack will not even think of allowing her to do it, so Nicole gets her mother to sign the consent form. Three months later Carly and Jack are in a cab when they pass by a bus with an advertisement on its side featuring Nicole. Jack returns home in a furor at both Nicole and Stephanie. He grounds Nicole, which Stephanie disagrees with. Nicole gives her father the silent treatment. An agent calls with an offer of a two-week photo shoot in Cancun, which Jack immeditely shoots down. Nicole threatens to go live with her mother. Jack and Carly go to Steph to try and persuade her not to let Nicole go on the shoot. Stephanie agrees somewhat reluctantly. When the trio tells Nicole, she says she still wants to g
Stephanie shows up, unannounced as usual, and asks for the return of a painting that Jack has from their married days. While he and Carly are searching for it in the storeroom, they find something Jack had forgotten about--a receipt for a 1979 sperm bank deposit, which can't be destroyed without Stephanie's permission. They bring the painting by her apartment and tell her about the deposit, but Steph says she will have to think about it first before signing a consent form. Later, as a guest on ""Adam Smith's Money World,"" Stephanie drops a bombshell, saying she'll be having her ex-husband's baby. It takes some convincing from Jack and Carly, but after reminding Steph how miserable she was during her previous pregnancy, she relents. But now Steph's housekeeper Polly decides she wants to become a mother. Also, Nicole tests the patience and courage of Jack and Grace as she learns to drive.
Jack and Carly lie in bed, fondly recalling how they first met, though they disagree on many details. The story flashes back to a teacher-parent conference about Will. Both of them are smitten with each other from the beginning, but Carly is wary of another relationship with a man following her two failed mariages. With Grace's encouragement, Carly finds an excuse to call Jack. When Jack tells her he'd been thinking about her and proposes they go out for coffee, Carly backs off, but she soon finds a reason to drop by the school. Again she draws away from Jack. Finally they make a date to go out. As they prepare to leave the building, Carly makes sure Jack understands that she wants to take things very slowly--then they fly into an embrace and kiss passionately.
After a recap of the Thanksgiving episode, the scene is three months later. Carly's father Ben and his second wife Beverly are visiting, about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They plan to renew their vows and be remarried by the same judge. Carly has lunch with her mom Kate, who tells her that Beverly invited her to the party. Ben confesses to Jack that he still has amorous thoughts about his first wife. Carly and Jack are afraid lest their parents meet again and rekindle their adulterous relationship of a few months before. Nicole, Will and Sarah buy a silver ring as an anniversary present, then drop it down the elevator shaft.
Parents and offspring alike are praying for a ""snow day"" which would close school and allow them to do want they really want--climb into bed together and watch ""Leeza!"" As the show is going off, Sarah notes that ""Leeza"" is looking for ""blended families"" to feature on an upcoming episode. She secretly submits her family's name to the show as potential guests. When a letter comes back accepting them, Jack and Carly give a firm ""no,"" but their minds change when Leeza Gibbons herself comes to the apartment to persuade them. Jack, Carly and the kids plus Sheldon and Dante gather for the broadcast, but now Sarah is having second thoughts after comments by a classmate starts her wondering just what kind of a chance her new family has of staying together. Sarah excuses herself to go to the bathroom just before airtime, and after the show starts, she's nowhere to be found.
Dante is feeling like Will is avoiding him and favoring Jack over him as a parent. After Will cancels a few get-togethers with his father, the issue comes to a head when Dante comes over and finds Jack teaching Will how to shave. Carly attempts to moderate the situation and set some boundaries and guidelines for the two men. Also, Carly takes Nicole and Sarah along to work on a Saturday, but Nicole isn't good for much after she gets a load of Grace's Italian nephew Lorenzo, much to Sarah's disgust.
Jack and Carly's friend Joel is depressed about his breakup with his wife Amanda and wants to talk about it with the couple, though at first Jack thinks it's an April Fool's joke. In private Jack and Carly agree that Amanda was to blame but also agree they should not badmouth her. Joel's daughter Cindy, a friend of Nicole's, is upset also, and Will comforts her at school. Jack invites Joel and Cindy over to dinner. Cindy is grateful for the kind attention Will has given her, and to his amazement, she kisses him. (Nicole is amazed too when Sarah tells her about it.) Joel asks Jack and Carly point blank what they think of Amanda. Uncomfortable at first, they soon start in on a character assassination of her. Now the couple has gotten involved exactly the way they didn't want to, as Joel decides he should divorce his wife.
Carly is planning Sarah's 12th birthday party, and they both want to make sure the girl's oft-absent father Sheldon attends. After he's been pinned down on a date and invitations are mailed, Sheldon asks if the date can be changed to accommodate some important business. Carly goes to all the trouble of notifying guests of a new date when Sheldon asks to change it again. Carly and Jack wonder if Sarah can take the disappointment of her father missing her party, but she has an unshakable, if seemingly unfounded, belief that he'll be there.
Jack is a little uncomfortable when he finds out that the bed he's sleeping in was previously used by Carly's ex-husbands also, so they go out shopping for a new one. While doing this, they run into Brooke and David, old friends of Carly's who she ""lost"" in the divorce from Sheldon. But now they seem to want to make amends and become friends with Carly once again and her new husband, too. Jack and Carly are happy enough to have new friends at first, but at dinner they get a suggestion that the couple isn't perfect after David is unnecessarily rude to a waitress. Sheldon stops by the table and says he feels betrayed by his old friends, and says David and Brooke must choose between Jack and Carly or himself and Marianne. The couple picks the Farrells. Soon Jack wonders whether Carly really likes the pair or if she just enjoys sticking it to Sheldon. Carly soon admits she doesn't actually like David and Brooke. They don't like their bed either, and when they go to return it, they get a ch
Nicole's boyfriend Sean asks her to go on a canoeing vacation with him and his family. Nicole knows it will be a hard sell to make to her father and she pleads with Carly to convince Jack to say yes. At school Nicole tells her friend Cindy about Sean's invitation. Cindy warns her that ""canoeing"" is just a code word for sex. Back at home Carly has talked Jack into giving his permission for the trip, but now Nicole is apprehensive about going. While Carly and Jack wonder why she is not happier about the trip, Nicole seeks counsel from an unlikely source--Dante.
Jack and Carly are planning a weekend getaway at a mountain cabin but can only find Stephanie and Sheldon to take care of the kids. They can't relax at the cabin and cut the weekend short. Also, Lucy Lawless on hot on the trail of fellow TV warrior-goddess Stephanie after the latter made some disparaging remarks about her and her show.
Jack and Carly have planned a romantic vacation in Mexico for just the two of them. The ex-spouses will be looking after the kids while they're gone, but Carly has second thoughts about leaving them out of their plans. As they rush to get ready for their departure, the couple, the children and the exes all are involved in a series of mishaps which makes it seem like fate is conspiring against them.
The family all pitch in to help Jack make and bottle his special barbecue sauce for a food fair. The inexperienced bottlers wake up that night to the sound of barbecue sauce explosions coming from the kitchen. Sheldon offers financial aid but Jack is reluctant to take it. Paul, a young man helping the family with the production, asks Carly if she thinks he should ask Nicole out. Carly says yes, not wanting to admit that Nicole might not consider him for a date because he's overweight, an assessment Jack agrees with.
Jack and Carly are getting tired of exes Stephanie and Sheldon hanging around the apartment so much, so Jack manipulates Stephanie into taking out Sheldon. While out on an errand, Will sees the two in a restaurant sharing a kiss. This news upsets everyone in the family, so Jack tries to undo the relationship, this time with much less success.
At the supermarket Jack and Dante tease Will about his attraction to the 20-year-old checkout clerk Tina, but both men encourage him to ask her out. Meanwhile at home Nicole is asking Carly if it would be all right for her to go out with Preston, Sarah's 22-year-old trumpet instructor. Carly says Jack would never allow it. When the men return telling the story of Will's crush on Tina, Nicole angrily demands to know why it's OK for Will to date an older person, but not her. Carly, disdainful of Jack's double standard, sides with Nicole. Trapped by his hypocrisy, Jack declares that if Will gets a date with Tina, Nicole can go out with Preston. Jack thinks he's safe with this solution, but Tina promptly accepts Will's invitation to go out.
Carly has a big job catering a party for the mayor and she's so busy that she doesn't notice Sarah is acting preoccupied herself before leaving for school. When Sarah arrives home, she is still acting a bit odd. Jack asks what's wrong and she tells him she got her first period that day. Jack, who had just been bragging to Will about having it all together while Carly is out of the house, is thrown for a loop and bumbles around trying to find the right thing to say and do. Stephanie shows up at the apartment and leads Sarah in some strange New Age-type ritual to commemorate the event. Jack calls Carly to tell her the news. Carly feels that she should go home to Sarah, despite the importance of her job.
Jack is having a blast coaching Our Lady of Innocence girls' basketball and Sarah is his star player. Sheldon is worried that his daughter thinks more of Jack than of himself, and he's also concerned about her playing for a church team. Sheldon literally shops for a team for Sarah; and after a hefty contribution, Temple Beth Ariel now has an athletic program. Not wanting to disappoint her father or stepfather, Sarah secretly plays for both teams, exhausting herself in the process. When this is discovered, Sheldon lets her play for Jack and also joins the coaching staff after making another sizable contribution.
Jack is worried because his marraige to Carly is entering the ""red zone,"" the fourteen-month mark around which her other two marriages began to fall apart. At this inopportune time Gail, a woman who Jack once had a short, scary relationship with, shows up. Gail announces she's getting married and wants back a watch of hers that Jack kept when he fled from her. Jack tries to get the watch back from Will, to whom he gave it as a gift, but Will gave it to his father Dante. Trying to hide it all from Carly, Jack folows the torturous route the watch has taken from a pawn shop to Stephanie to Sheldon to Sarah. When he finally gets his hands on it, both Carly and Gail see it, too.
A booby trap set by Jack and Dante catches newspaper-stealing neighbor Mrs. Ross redhanded (or blue-faced, actually) and she promptly sues Jack. Meanwhile, Sheldon has cancelled plans with Sarah one too many times, and she's ready to do something about it. While Jack is seeing one lawyer, she goes to another to try to get Sheldon to disown her and make Jack her legal guardian. Sheldon is furious and thinks Jack is behind it. He comes to the apartment and tries to reconcile with Sarah, asking her to come along to Paris with him and Stephanie, but Sarah refuses. Jack tries to calm Sheldon down and talks to him about what it takes to be a good father. The talk only spooks Sheldon into thinking he'll never make a good dad and he now wants to sign the papers. Carly talks Sarah into travelling to Paris, but Stephanie and Sheldon have already left. Rushing to the airport, Carly boards the plane to talks to Sheldon, who then leaves the plane with her. Meanwhile Sarah has boarded and the plane
Will has a new girlfriend, Jennifer, and he's nervous about her well-to-do parents meeting his own, especially his father Dante. The Hadleys come over for dinner at Jack and Carly's one night and all goes well until they depart. That's when Carly discovers a decorative egg that Lorraine Hadley was admiring is suddenly missing. This sends Jack, Carly and a reluctant Will on reconnaissance missions to locate and retrieve the egg.
Jack and Carly have been married a year, but anniversary plans aren't quite working out the way they want them to. They're having a hard time being alone between kids and ex-spouses. Will hasn't bought them a present, and at the instigation of his friend Davis, he attempts to shoplift a gift and gets caught. When they finally are alone, Dante brings his son Will over to Jack and Carly's with the news. He grounds Will--at their apartment.
Stephanie is a wreck--she's being written out of her TV series ""Thena"" and is to be replaced by a younger warrior goddess, Zora. To make it worse, her character will be killed off on a special live broadcast. Carly wants to offer sympathy and support, against Jack's advice. The two of them see Stephanie and try to cheer her up by telling her she'll have more time for Nicole and Sheldon. Steph takes the advice to heart, smothering those two with attention that is driving them nuts. Nicole comes home with the news that Stephanie wants her to live with her. Before the show begins, Jack and Carly visit Stephanie backstage to wish her luck. She pries out the news from the couple that Nicole doesn't want to move and that Sheldon is distancing himself from her, which doesn't exactly help her already fragile state of mind. The broadcast begins and it quickly turns into a fiasco, as Stephanie begins to ad lib and refuses to let Thena die. Finally Zora convinces her that she must go through with
An angry Jack is on the train from Philadelphia with Nicole. The story is told in flashbacks. Carly plans for the family to help out at a homeless shelter, but Nicole wants to go to a party. Nicole convinces Carly to let her go if she'll find a substitute for the night--who turns out to be Jack. The next night, Nicole is supposed to help again at the shelter, but she has a chance to go see the Rollling Stones. She takes advantage of Carly's desire to be liked as a stepmother, borrows $150 from her and gets permission to go to the concert, telling Carly the show is ""downtown somewhere"" and conveniently neglecting to mention the downtown is Philadelphia's. Jack is angry at his daughter and goes to retrieve her. He thinks the best punishment for Nicole will be facing up to Carly.
Sheldon puts Jack and Carly in an uncomfortable position when he asks them to provide an alibi for him to keep Stephanie from knowing he was with his wife Marianne, who he's in the process of divorcing! It's a poor alibi, and the three of them end up going rock climbing with Stephanie in order to preserve it. When Steph finds out the truth there is a big blow-up between her and Sheldon and they quit speaking. Jack and Carly have their exes to dinner to try to get them to at least be civil for their children's sake. Stephanie and Sheldon are at first reluctant, but soon get turned on again by each other and leave.
Carly's free-spirited, globe-trotting New-Agey friend Rachel Travers is in town. The kids are excited and Jack looks forward to meeting her, but Carly is afraid she might be a mite too free-spirited for Jack. However, Jack insists that Rachel stay with them while she's in town. Jack is a little uncomfortable with Rachel's hugging, vegetarianism and dung-cured Pakistani rugs, but when she counsels Nicole to take some time off before entering college, he can't abide it any longer. Rachel and Jack argue and she storms out of the apartment, leaving Nicole and Carly both upset with Jack.