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“Providence,” now in its fifth season on NBC, is the cornerstone of NBC’s Friday night line-up since it’s debut in 1999. The series, which became television’s highest-rated new drama of the 1998-99 season when it premiered in January 1999, is a family drama created by John Masius (“Touched by an Angel,” “St. Elsewhere”) and starring Melina Kanakaredes (“15 Minutes”) as an altruistic plastic surgeon who abandons her career specialty and unfulfilling lifestyle to return to her colorful family and hometown in Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Sydney Hansen (Kanakaredes) entered the field of cosmetic surgery with noble ambitions, but several years of performing collagen lip treatments and nose jobs for celebrities and over-privileged teenagers in Los Angeles began to erode her sense of purpose. Sydney’s disenchantment with her career combined with a relationship breakup and a family crisis prompted her to move back to the safe haven of Providence to find fulfillment working in a low-income medical clinic.

Following the death of her mother, Lynda (Concetta Tomei, “Murphy Brown”), Sydney sometimes feels that the collective weight of the close-knit Hansen clan has become her responsibility, in particular her father Jim (Mike Farrell, “M*A*S*H”), who relates better to the cuddly animals in his veterinary practice than he does to his family. Sydney’s younger sister Joanie (Paula Cale, “Local Heroes”) is an unwed mother who divides her time between her infant daughter and running a trendy pet food store. Robbie (Seth Peterson, “Profiler”) is Sydney’s scheming, bad-boy baby brother.

As if Sydney’s reality check needed any more familial interference, her dreams are frequently interrupted by the presence of her overbearing mother, who brusquely imparts wisdom and advice from her vantage point in the hereafter.

“Providence,” which is filmed in Los Angeles and on location in Providence, is produced by NBC Studios. Ann Hamilton (“thirtysomething”), Michael Fresco (“Murder One,” “Northern Exposure”), and Monica Wyatt (“My So-Called Life”) are executive producers.


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