Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TV in 1972: “Maude”

America’s television networks seemed to invest a great deal of time and money in spin-off series during the late 20th century. Most of those programs failed quickly, and with ample reason, including The Brady Bunch Hour (1977), Mrs. Columbo (1979), Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983), Dirty Sally (1974), and Richie Brockelman, Private Eye (1978). But a few--such as Lou Grant (1977-1982), Rhoda (1974-1978), Frasier (1993–2004), and Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)--were good ideas from the first, and proved the durability of their source material.

The Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin situation comedy All in the Family, starring Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, was one of the most fertile small-screen creations. Among its direct and indirect offspring were The Jeffersons (1975-1985), Gloria (1982-1983), 704 Hauser (1994), and of course Maude (1972-1978). Wikipedia describes that last show’s concept this way:
Maude stars Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay, an outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal woman living in suburban Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York, with her fourth husband, household appliance store owner Walter Findlay (Bill Macy). Maude embraced the tenets of women’s liberation, always voted for Democratic Party candidates, strongly supported legal abortion, and advocated for civil rights and racial and gender equality. However, her overbearing and sometimes domineering personality often got her into trouble when speaking out on these issues.
I was not a Maude fan, but I certainly recognize its value as a series that, like All in the Family, exposed America’s weaknesses and fears and prejudices through comedy. Episodes focused on topics such as alcoholism, late-life pregnancy, and suicide.

Right-click on the image below for an enlargement.

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