Monday, January 08, 2007

Anything But Tranquilizing

Sony has announced the complete first season of "Maude."

I'll admit that I am not sufficiently hep to Maude. I hated the male characters so much -- pathetic slob Walter, and the "man of means" from Diff'rent Strokes -- that I couldn't watch for long stretches of time. But I do know that this is the season that included the two-part "Maude's Dilemma," aka "Maude Has An Abortion," aka "Still the Only Episode of a Successful Series Where the Main Character Has an Abortion." (As you probably know, on most shows where there's an unplanned pregnancy, they discuss abortion as a possible option but it's never the option they go with.) Susan Harris, who would go on to create Soap and The Golden Girls, made her name by writing this episode.

In other news, the final season of NewsRadio, aka "The One Without Phil Hartman, comes out on DVD on March 20. The murder of Hartman, the increasing hatefulness and mean-spiritedness of nearly all the characters who remained, and the promotion of writer Josh Lieb to showrunner (creator Paul Simms was off doing the first of his many unsold pilots), all added up to a season that was more crazy than funny a lot of the time. But it'll be good to have the whole series, and the season does include some great moments here and there, like Mr. James's plan to build towers that will cast a shadow over the entire city, or Matthew becoming the world's squarest Punk.


Anonymous said...

Don't you mean it was "the episode where everyone supposedly talked about abortion without ever using the word abortion or actually saying that maude will have an abortion or had an abortion since the subject was never mention in any episode ever again?"

If you mean that one, then I had no clue what they were talking about when I watched it at 10 years old and, after years of hearing about this incredible milestone rewatched it as a broadcasting major and was surprised to see how ultimately toothless it was.

That episode?

(Oh, and for the record, a few, not many, but a few characters on daytime soaps actually went on and did have abortions, so Maude isn't the only one).

Jaime J. Weinman said...

I thought they did use the a-word at one point. Seem to recall Maude's daughter saying it. Oh, well. We'll soon find out.

And yes, I should amend that to "the only episode of a successful prime-time series."

Anonymous said...

Norman Lear and some others blamed the abortion episode for killing "Maude" when it went into syndication, but really, none of the Lear shows did as well as people thought they would in syndication, due to the abrasiveness of not only many of the characters but of the studio audience and laugh track, which was boosted at times to fingernails-on-the-blackboard levels. Maude's smugness of personality combined with that was probably a bigger reason for its off-network failure than one episode about abortion.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the only NETWORK TV show that's successful and somebody has an abortion? Because Claire had one on Six Feet Under, without much dithering at all, rather matter-of-factly.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Yeah, I meant network (pay TV shows, not having to worry about advertisers objecting, are freer with this sort of thing). Maybe I'll just go back and add all the qualifiers I can possibly think of. And I'll still have missed one. :)

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Dabney Coleman series "Buffalo Bill" have an abortion episode where Joanna Cassidy's character went through with the abortion ? Now maybe you'd be correct in saying "Buffalo Bill" wasn't a "successful" series, though I thought it had it's moments.