Friday, July 1, 2016

Forgotten TV: 9 to 5 (1982)

One of 1980's biggest movie blockbusters was "9 to 5", a workplace comedy that starred Jane Fonda and country singer Dolly Parton, who also scored a #1 crossover hit with the title song. A year and a half later, Fonda decided to pitch a series version of the film, which landed as a spring replacement at ABC in March 1982. Between that and jumping in on the aerobics mania of the period, Fonda was reinventing herself to erase the political stigma that had dogged her since the 60's.

But it seems network politics got in the way of 9 to 5, and it was cancelled two months into its 3rd season. Bear in mind that Fonda had left before the start of that season, along with co-executive producer Bruce Gilbert. Veteran show-runner James Komack began a brief TV comeback by taking over the series, but his golden touch was still leaden by this point.

Three years later, 9 to 5 returned, this time in syndication, for another 2 seasons (1986-8). Never saw the movie or the show, so there ain't going to be a rating, by the way.

For the series, Fonda brought in Valerie Curtin (cousin of Jane Curtin), Rita Moreno (ex-The Electric Company), and Rachel Dennison (Dolly's sister). When Komack took over, Curtin was axed, replaced by Leah Ayres (later of The Bradys), only for Curtin to return when the series was revived in '86.

The only mistake Fonda might've made the first season was hiring another singer to cover "9 to 5". Phoebe Snow, a 1-hit wonder in the 70's ("Poetry Man"), recorded the theme in the following video. When the 2nd season began, Snow's version was ditched, and the more familiar, original recording by Dolly Parton returned. Not only that, but Jeffrey Tambor (ex-The Ropers) was bounced from the role of tyrannical Mr. Hart (Dabney Coleman in the movie), replaced by Peter Bonerz (ex-The Bob Newhart Show) in one of his last acting roles.

Here's the season 1 video, with Phoebe Snow's cover of the theme song.

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