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The Chase House from the Pilot Episode of “My So-Called Life”

Jan 5th, 2011 | By | Category: My So-Called Life Filming Locations

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Ever since fellow stalker Andrew tracked down the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles from the “So-Called Angels” episode of fave show My So-Called Life, I have been itching to re-watch the entire series from beginning to end as I have not seen it in years.  So, I immediately went out and purchased the most recently-released boxed set of the show and finally sat down to start watching it last night.  While doing so, I became a bit obsessed with locating the house where the Chase family – Graham (aka Tom Irwin), Patty (aka Bess Armstrong), Angela (aka Claire Danes), and Danielle (aka Lisa Wilhoit) – lived, because, as an astute fellow stalker named Somerset pointed out to me a while back, it was not the same property that was used for the other 18 episodes of the show

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Unfortunately though, there was virtually nothing for me to go on for this particular stalk – no house number, no visible street signs, not even a full view of the exterior of the property.  But then, all of a sudden, like a lightning bolt from the sky, I spotted a clue – a very important clue.  In the scene in which Angela waits for Rickie Vasquez (aka Wilson Cruz) to pick her up to go to Let’s Bolt nightclub, I noticed that the streetlights on Angela’s street were round.  And while I had seen those streetlights (pictured above) before, I had only ever seen them in one place – in one very small section of Pasadena.  The trees that lined Angela’s street also looked very familiar to me and I had an inkling that they might be the very trees that are located along Pasadena’s oft-filmed Madison Avenue. 

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So, I began my search for the Chase home on Madison Avenue and, using Google Street View, found the property almost immediately!  YAY!  And I ran right out to stalk the place first thing yesterday morning.

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And while the full exterior of the house is never actually shown in the pilot episode of My So-Called Life, as you can see in the above screen captures and photographs, the location of the window to the right of the front door and the roof lines of the front porch match up perfectly to what appeared onscreen. 

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The house across the street matches up perfectly, as well.

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As does the house that is located at the end of Angela’s street.

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The tree that is visible in the background of the scene in which Brian Krakow (aka Devon Gummersall) and Angela are shown arguing also looks exactly the same today as it did onscreen.

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And amazingly enough, the tree that Brian sits in at the end of the episode is actually there in real life and still looks EXACTLY the same today as it did in March of 1993 when the pilot was filmed!  SO INCREDIBLY COOL!

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When Angela gets dropped off by the police at the end of the episode, instead of going directly home, she and Brian walk north on Madison Avenue to the corner of Madison and Alpine Street, where Angela spots her father talking to a woman who is not her mother.  That area also looks much the same today as it did during the filming.

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And, according to the DVD commentary by series creator Winnie Holzman, director Scott Winant, and executive producer Marshall Hershkovitz, the interior of the property was also used in the filming of the episode.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see the inside of that house!

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After the Grim Cheaper got off work yesterday evening, I dragged him back out to the house so that he could snap a picture of me reenacting that famous shot of Angela and Brian standing in the middle of the street.  Oh, I cannot tell you how long I have wanted to take that picture!  I was literally skipping to the car on the way there.  Sigh!

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On a side note – the creators of My So-Called Life, whose production company is named “The Bedford Falls Company”, threw in quite a few references to their favorite film It’s A Wonderful Life in the pilot episode of the series –  including the scene in which Angela changes her clothes behind a bush a la Mary Hatch (aka Donna Reed) and a scene in which Brian wears a shirt with the number “3” on it, a la George Bailey (aka James Stewart).  Love it, love it, love it! 

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It’s A Wonderful Life is also playing in the background of the scene in which Angela apologizes to her mother.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Chase house from the pilot episode of My So-Called Life is located at 1025 South Madison Avenue in Pasadena.  The tree Brian sat in at the end of the episode is located in front of the house at 1014 South Madison Avenue.  Angela spots her father talking to the mysterious woman at the southeast corner of South Madison Avenue and Alpine Street.  And, finally, the famous shot of Angela and Brian standing in the middle of the street was filmed in front of 1014 and 1025 South Madison Avenue with the camera looking north on Madison towards Alpine Street.  The Mr. Deeds house is located just three doors down from the MSCL pilot house at 989 South Madison Avenue.  The house that was used as the Chase home in the other 18 episodes of the series is located at 1110 Glendon Way in South Pasadena.

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13 comments

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  1. micheal says:

    that shot was so unique at the time i think they zoomed in to the shot .they brought the trees closer to the actors in post production.or just with the camera while filming be cause the trees are about two houses down from that location.and they brought in the yard lights from further down the street to make it look like some kind of curb/street lights. and added a large over head light imitating moonlight.to make a composit shot it also showed the tensions and misgivings the gulf between the two characters.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Wow! That’s soooo cool!
    I wish I lived nearby to visit and take pics…:(
    Anyway, Thanks so much for sharing your (amazing) findings and pics!
    All the best.

  3. Michael says:

    I just watched the pilot episode of “My So-Called Life” (yeah, yeah, yeah, so late to the party), and the Chase house used, on the inside, looks exactly like the Summers’ home on “Buffy”. Or am I just crazy?

  4. Kendall says:

    I can’t wait to go find this house! Love it! Especially so I can take a picture standing in the street. I wish we would have found out what happens with Brian and Angela after he said, “I meant every word” . Even though I heart Jordan Catalano forever. :)

  5. Andrew says:

    Something interesting, at least to me. The picture of you Lindsay standing in front of the Chase house I noticed a exterior light to your left by the driveway. The light matches the interior light in the house upstairs. Take a look at about 5:15,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-8MmqM-glQ

    Also, where you there Lindsay one two differnt days? There are some sunny pics and some cloudy pics.

    • Lindsay says:

      You’re right! It’s the exact same light!!! And no, I wasn’t there on two different days – I went twice yesterday. Once in the morning and then I went back again in the evening when the GC got off of work so that he could take a picture of me standing in the middle of the street. :)

  6. Ashley says:

    WOW!!! I am stunned, never realized a different house was used in the pilot episode! :O So tell me, did they rebuild the interior of the original house on a soundstage?? So impressed by your matching up of the various houses & trees on the street, great work Lindsay! Also never caught the changing in the bushes reference to IAWL – dur! You rock :)

    • Andrew says:

      Lindsay, you are amazing. I totally forgot the pilot was filmed at a different house. I was looking at the address you sent me on Google maps and watching the pilot at the same time checking the details. Everything is spot on and so are your pics. Then I searched the address to see if anything else came and I was linked to here…..lol!
      I can’t believe you figured the location out, simply amazing. The commentary is great with the boxset, my favorite is Wilson Cruz on “So-called Angels”.

      As for the question about the set, yes one was built for the interior shots after the pilot. It was located at 11500 Tennessee Avenue, Los Angeles. It was literally a warehouse and rumor had they had to stop filming when someone flushed the toliet. The location is a condo building now.

      Your the best Lindsay!

    • Lindsay says:

      I can’t take credit for getting those IAWL references – they were mentioned in the DVD commentary, which I watched yesterday before writing my post. :) And yes, they did build an interior set on a soundstage for the filming of the remaining 18 episodes of the show and that set was loosely based on the interior of the real life home from the pilot episode. So cool, huh? :)

  7. Lavonna says:

    Still haven’t watched this series. We do have the boxed set..Melissa watched and loved it! Love the It’s a Wonderful Life references…


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