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.)