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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Feminism > Drama > Teens > One Day At A Time – The Complete First Season

One Day At A Time – The Complete First Season


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: B+



Returning to a more commercial series after Hot L Baltimore and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Norman Lear was back to doing the type of still-challenging but relatively conventional sitcoms that still managed to be very funny and break plenty of ground.  Like Sanford & Son, it would not be a spin-off from All In The Family and like both, One Day At A Time would be another huge, long-running hit as created by Whitney Blake and Allan Manings.


It dealt with a divorcée, but took the stigma of the situation more seriously as Bonnie Franklin’s Ann Romano and how the woman always gets blamed for the situation while getting left behind the most from it.  While Marlo Thomas’ Anne Marie did not feel the need to commit and Mary Tyler Moore’s Mary Richards was more interested if unlucky and Linda Lavin’s Alice Hyatt was a widow, Ann Romano had two active children in Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) and Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) at their most active and is rebuilding her life somehow at the same time.


The veteran character actor Pat Harrington, Jr. was the comic relief as building Superintendent Snyder, who could not stay out of anyone’s business and tried to romance every woman in the building, including an ever-unimpressed Ann.  Richard Mazur was very good in this first season as her first love interest David Kane as was William Kirby Cullen as Barbara’s friend Chuck, but it was Ann’s situation that was so groundbreaking.  The first 15 episodes of this great 1975 – 1976 season include:


1)     Ann's Decision

2)     Chicago Rendezvous

3)     Jealousy

4)     How To Succeed Without Trying

5)     David Loves Ann

6)     Julie's Best Friend

7)     Super Blues

8)     All The Way

9)     Fighting City Hall

10)  David Plus Two

11)  Julie's Job (guest stars Stanley Adams and Suzanne Somers)

12)  The College Man (guest stars Robbie Benson)

13)  Father David

14)  Dad Comes Back (2 parts/guest stars Joseph Campanella)



They are all here and all still funny.  Franklin was particularly good and never gets the credit she deserves, partly a backlash from the regressive 1980s.  Phillips and Bertinelli were very good and energetic, capturing the new kind of teen at the time and did it very actively.  They were Ann’s children and their energy and spirit reflected their love for each other as well as with the energy of Feminism and the counterculture as backing.  The trick was guiding the daughters away from too much promiscuity.


With all that history and being a show of its time, it is incredible how well the show endures, holds up, seems as fresh as ever and with so many TV sitcoms since degrading women, making them seem like total airheads or sending an anti-woman message of disturbing conformity, sexploitation and shallow materialism, the ladies here seem so much more realistic than that of even many dramas.


But I have to add that the dialogue and jokes are some of the wittiest and hilarious in all of TV history along with the crazy situations.  Harrington complemented the situation instead of bringing it down by being a caricature and was the kind of guy who made the counterculture possible.  The great chemistry of the cast was further boosted by him and that is among the many reasons this is an all-time TV classic.


The 1.33 X 1 image is from analog NTSC materials and they look pretty good, though this original opening was shot in 16mm film.  This was common practice for most TV sitcoms, who would then switch to montages of videotaped footage from the episodes.  They changed the graphics running over the opening and closing credits to make them clearer in the middle of this season, yet there would be another change later on.  Note how nicely this is shot, with good color for videotape, good lighting and better sets than it is remembered for.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also nice and clean for its time, sounding better here than I have ever heard.  That extends to the title song by Jeff Barry & Nancy Barry, which is an all-time classic.  With so many bad TV shows now not having theme songs at all, could there be a correlation between good TV shows and theme songs?  Fortunately, there is an extra and it is a terrific reunion show from a few years ago with Franklin. Phillips, Bertinelli and Harrington, Jr. that reflects on the whole series and has some great laughs as well.


After all these years, they still got it!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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