The first series was originally set to premiere in October 1988, but pushed to January 1989 in the mid-season lineup, due to the 1988 Writers' Strike.
NBC canceled the series after the first season. ABC picked up the show as a mid-season replacement and then aired another full season before it was canceled for good in 1991.
The decision to cancel "Father Dowling" came at the eleventh hour. ABC elected to revamp "Gabriel's Fire," a private eye drama starring James Earl Jones, as "Pros and Cons;" that series took the spot on the schedule from "Father Dowling."
Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson were both in the Henry Fonda/Lucille Ball movie Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) when Tracy was around five years old.