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One Day at a Time

Hot L Baltimore







One Day at a Time may be one of the first sit-coms that I remember watching from the first episode. I don't have too many clear memories aside from the sort of iconic bit of Valerie Bertinelli and MacKenzie Philips dressing up as Kiki Dee and Elton John. Obviously I had NO IDEA of any of the back-stage drama that went on with MacKenzie and how it impacted her presence on the show. I know the whole thing was considered sort of daring because Bonnie Franklin's character was overtly a divorcee, which they hadn't been able to do to Mary Tyler Moore a few years earlier, but again, I don't think I was aware of that at the time.

I also remember that it was one of the first shows that tended to reference other shows. I think it was MacKenzie's character who criticized her school by saying she only knew about the Korean war because of M*A*S*H.

I loved Schneider, maybe one of the first "break-out" characters I embraced in a sit-com. I haven't watched any clips, so I don't know how funny he really was, but I know he was almost a "Kramer" of his day. As soon as he showed up the laugh track would start and he'd do all kinds of outrageous bits of business. Maybe he was also an early version of The Todd, considering all the double entendre that he was able to get it, given that it was a Norman Lear show.

What I most vividly remember is being in love with Richard Masur as David Kane, a sort of classic slightly nebbishy, but definitely a mensch nice Jewish boy type of character who was
Ann Romano's boyfriend. Apparently he was nice guy she was totally leaning on for support during her divorce, but not actually sleeping with. I assume if they were making this show now, he'd be her gay best friend, but this was 1975. I shipped them HARD and wanted them to get together and then when they did an exit arc for him and it came down to the fact that he really did resent her and he ended up sleeping with another woman in the apartment, I totally sided with him.

The show (in my memory) did not. I remember Ann and the other woman eating ice-cream together and David being sort of re-cast as a bastard for actually having a sex drive. (Mind you this is my swiss-cheese infested nearly 40 year old recollection. I know I was upset. I know I thought Ann was a bitch, even if I wouldn't have thought to use the words at the time and after he left the show was never the same for me, although I'm pretty sure I watched for a few more years. It's not like I was making the big TV watching decisions for my family at the time.

It's funny to me that I would love a character like David because as a Jewish girl myself it was very rare for me like a nice Jewish boy. I'm pretty stereotypical in that I generally love me a character who is a shagetz bastard. (House, Jack, I'm looking at you.) But damn I loved David.

So when Richard Masur left for a new show called Hot L Baltimore, I HAD to watch it. Hot L WAS seriously controversial at the time. It had openly gay characters a few years before Soap, as well as characters who were out and out hookers. It's also a pretty amazing cast list in retrospect. I don't remember if it was actually all that funny; I think a lot of it may have just been the shock value and Norman Lear pushing boundaries. The two gay characters (George and Gordon) were pretty camp "old queen" stereotypes, but still, they were there in 1975 for at least 13 episodes. Richard Masur was sort of the "one sane man" character, but I didn't love him the way I loved David and I'm not even sure he had a love interest. Maybe UST with one of the hookers?

Reading the IMDB and Wiki entries, I actually surprised they showed all thirteen episodes. In my mind it was gone after only a few episodes, but maybe that represents a programming decision by my parents rather than the network. I remember it being more of a mom show than a dad show; as he might have been embarrassed by some of the raciness. (Yeah, I know, the guy who loved the Sopranos. What can I tell you?)

IMDB tells me that Richard Masur is still working, which makes me happy, although the last thing I remember seeing him in was Six Degrees of Separation. (Loved him in that too.)

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
txvoodoo
May. 17th, 2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
I think I'm a couple of years older than you? To me, David Kane's character had some control-y vibes to him, in a passive-aggressive way. He seemed to want to be seen as liberated, but he resented Ann's independence, so he'd undercut her and make her doubt herself. So I was happy to see him go. Initially though, I too like his nebbishy presentation.

I wanted to be Barbara.
karaokegal
May. 17th, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
I was born in 1964, so I would have been about 10/11 when the show when on the air. I haven't seen any clips or episodes since I stopped watching, so I'm working on pure memory and you maybe right. In a way it says a lot for the show that they did (for the time and genre) characters with that level of complexity, along with pure "clown" characters like Schneider.

I know it was kind of weird when Valerie got together with Eddie Van Halen for me to think of that character being old enough to get married, much less to someone like Eddie.
txvoodoo
May. 17th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
I was about 12/13 - enough into teenhood to be a bit more "ohhhh, I get it!" I guess? And yes, the characters AND the issues they addressed were pretty advanced. More than we are today in many ways. Today's sitcoms are so full of 2nd hand embarrassment to me, much more than funny and thought-provoking.

Oh, I forgot something. I was always jealous that Ann could get by with NOT wearing a bra, which was occasionally mentioned as a way of highlighting her feminism. I was already a D by then, so that was never an option for me. *sigh*

eta - HAH yes, re Eddie. Valerie always had the baby face. But I loved seeing an Italian-American on tv. And she was supposed to be Italian-Irish.

Edited at 2012-05-17 09:33 pm (UTC)
karaokegal
May. 17th, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
Clearly I was not a bazoom conscious then as I was by the time I was watching Ground Force, for instance, cause I really have no memory of Ann's bralessness being an issue, but aside from the David stuff, a lot of the details are pretty much gone. Of the two 70's sit-coms I've discussed so far, I'd say I have more concrete memories of Barney Miller, but a stronger emotional attachment to the specific pairing/character when it comes to the Ann/David thing.

chocolate_frapp
May. 19th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
I used to love Hot l Baltimore! Never a big fan of One Day at a Time, though, Bonnie Franklin always kind of got on my nerves.
karaokegal
May. 21st, 2012 06:41 am (UTC)
I wish I could actually remember the show. The most I recall are some lines from the Charlotte Rae character about her (never-seen) son, Moose. Something about him trying to butter himself?

I remember seeing Bonnie Franklin on the tonight. She was doing a number about a woman throwing her boyfriend (husband?) out and it felt very Bette Midler-ish so I think she was being marketed as a performing in that vein.
chocolate_frapp
May. 21st, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
I remember there being a line about Moose standing in the hallway naked with a piece of chocolate stuck to his butt and he said he was a chocolate chip cookie.
karaokegal
May. 21st, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
YES! I remember the chocolate chip cookie. I do have a fondness for unseen characters. It's a hard running gag to keep up, but when done well it can be awesome. Not sure how long they could have kept Moose going, but for the 13 they got, I imagine they did it fairly well.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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