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Friday, June 22, 2012

'Alice' S1: Fans Not Being Shy Provides Reason to not be Sad

If asked a month ago when I thought that Warner Brothers (WB) would release the first season of the classic CBS '70s sitcom "Alice" on DVD, I would have channeled sassy break-out character Flo and replied "when donkeys fly." 

If asked in a nasty tone, my response would have been Flo's better known catchphrase "kiss mah grits." This is despite my still not being sure more than 35 years after "Alice" premiered if boys have grits.

I am thrilled to be proven wrong regarding the DVD release; one day after watching "Alice" star Linda Lavin on the broadcast of the 2012 Tony Awards and once again hoping that the show would come out on DVD, I learned that the first season had been released as part of WB's stupendous Archive Collection.

I truly appreciate the good folks at WB responding positively to my unbridled, if not youthful, exuberance on learning of the release.

WB also tolerated my enthusiastic praise for my "Funky Phantom" DVDs and other sets from the Archive Collection's release of '70s Hanna-Barbera cartoons that did not achieve Scooby Doo's and other classic characters' success. An upcoming review of "The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan" will discuss that aspect of the Archive Collection. The spoiler alert is that the "Chan" set's cover art would make a great poster.

Returning to "Alice," this a rare case in which a childhood favorite is even better than remembered. For the sake of those of you who do not predate mood rings and earth shoes, "Alice" is like its fellow '70s CBS sitcom the Norman Lear classic "One Day at a Time."

Both series revolve around newly single moms in an era in which that was just starting to become common. Alice Hyatt and Ann Romano both struggled with keeping a roof over their kids' heads and dealing with discrimination and unwanted sexual advances in the workplace.

The similarities in the show also included both women focusing more on their careers than on finding a man; Alice was a waitress in the greasy spoon "Mel's Diner" but dreamed of a singing career, and Ann had a more pink collar career in public relations.

Both shows additionally owe a great deal to their fellow CBS sitcom "All in the Family," which truly was groundbreaking. I cannot imagine "Alice" addressing the issues of prostitution, sex education, and not being as enlightened about homosexuality as you would have liked if "Family" had not already addressed "taboo" topics.

Lighter episodes in "Alice's" first season include one of my all-time favorites in which a restaurant critic visits Mel's Diner.

"Alice" also stands alone as a great typical workplace comedy. The aforementioned Flo is a sassy waitress who earned her own short-lived sitcom "Flo" I am hopeful that the Archive Collection releases that series before hybrid equines sprout wings.

Alice's other co-waitress was nervous quiet Vera, who provided one of the funniest moments of the show in the rarely seen pilot that the first season DVD set includes. This classic moment of spilling straws all over the diner's counter was added to later seasons' opening credits.

Diner owner Mel rounded out the crew. Like "Day's" Schneider, Mel was a gruff self-proclaimed ladies' man with a very good heart.

I encourage anyone with questions or comments regarding "Alice" to email me. Any sent in bad faith will prompt an invitation to kiss mah grits.