The "Angie" release roughly coinciding with the DVD release of the complete series set of the '70s quirky procedural "The Magician," which stars Bill Bixby of "My Favorite Martian" and "The Incredible Hulk" as the the titular illusionist/amateur sleuth, provides another reason to be grateful to CBS and Visual. A review of that one will appear soon.
The unlikely romance/"Love Story" (sans tragic death) concept of the 1979-80 two-season "Angie" is that "disgustingly" rich blue-blood pediatrician Brad Benson and blue-collar waitress Angie Falco fall in love and wed within three episodes. The pedigree of this film also includes the '70s Meredith Baxter Birney/David Birney sitcom "Bridget Loves Bernie," which centers around the daughter in a devout Irish Catholic family marrying a Jewish man.
This merging of two "different worlds" drives much of the inaugural "Angie" season. Sharing a Philadelphia setting with the film "The Sixth Sense" adds a fun "I see rich people" aspect to the series.
The trifecta regarding the cute appeal of "Angie" is the likable leads Donna Pescow of "Saturday Night Fever" and Robert Hays of "Airplane," the breakout "Fonzie" character in the form of stereotypical lower middle-class Italian mother Theresa Falco (Doris Roberts of "Remington Steele" and "Everybody Loves Raymond,") and a catchy theme song (courtesy of Maureen McGovern) that explains the premise of the series.
The following YouTube video of the S1 opening credits highlights the three elements described above. Briefly drifting into Blogland, the Nelson household often recreates the "take the money already" scene from the credits.
"Angie" gets a blessed start in a few senses. It premieres in the ABC Thursday night 8:30 slot after (Unreal TV reviewed) fellow Marshall/executive producer Dale McRaven series "Mork and Mindy" and has a strong opening story arc regarding the rapid courtship, engagement, wedding, and adjustment period of the central couple. The remaining S1 "clash of worlds" episodes remain strong.
One of the best S1 outings has Theresa and younger daughter Marie (Debralee Scott of "Mary Hartman. Mary Hartman") move themselves and their distressed furniture into the large and elegant town house of Brad and Angie. This creating an opportunity to thoroughly embarrass Joyce (Sharon Spelman), the ubersnobby socialite sister of Brad greatly contributes to the hilarity.
Some S1 (and S2) episodes support the theory of Roseanne Barr that there are 10 basic sitcom plots. Early outings have Marie falling in love with Brad and being comically inept (of course including a wacky alternate filing system) in her attempt to work as his receptionist.
Playing time slot roulette with "Angie" in S2 prompts otherwise not strongly needed (repeated) retooling of the series. Moving the series to Monday night against "Little House on the Prairie" on NBC and an always strong CBS comedy lineup presents a tough challenge for any show.
"Angie" further has a particularly tough "Rhoda" challenge in that conflict in a marriage generally is more amusing than a happy relationship. In the case of "Angie," the concept of a mixed marriage does not work as well if that union is history. Additionally, the in-laws cannot have too much ill will without it badly affecting their relationship with their blood relative. Joyce even loosens up to the extent of wearing casual clothes and discussing sex with the Falco women.
The initial changes include replacing best friend/fellow waitress Didi with the trio of high school friends "the Marys." Of course, the first outing with that group centers around these girls from the 'hood getting upset with Angie for what they consider snobbish behavior. Further, tween niece Hillary (Tammy Lauren) follows Chuck Cunningham of Marshall classic "Happy Days" into unexplained sitcom oblivion.
S2 also sees the arrival of Benson family butler Phipps and previously oft-mentioned by never seen coffee shop cook Hector.
Other changes include the Bensons moving into a more modest home that is "theirs" and Angie going from the coffee shop to a beauty parlor.
The best S2 outings continue the "Angie" tradition of combining the underlying economic backgrounds of the leads with '70slicious sitcom plots. One episode has the Falcos and the Bensons competing on "Family Feud." The "Angie" writers additionally recycle the unwanted house guest plot by having crude Uncle Cheech (special guest star Danny DeVito) show up unannounced and overstay his welcome at Chez Benson. Further, Theresa quickly develops a gambling addiction and just as rapidly kicks it. Brad telling his mother-in-law that she has an "infection" is pure sitcom schmaltz gold.
The one bonus in the set is the "lost" unaired series finale titled "Angie and the Doctor."
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Angie" is encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.