Sunday, February 19, 2017

Classic TV: Rhoda (1974)

For the first four seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Valerie Harper had proven to be a more than capable second banana, if you will, as Mary Richards' BFF, Rhoda Morganstern, a transplant from the Bronx who'd moved to Minneapolis. Rhoda proved popular enough, too, that CBS green-lighted a spinoff, which lasted almost as long as the parent show did.

Rhoda was set up in the middle of CBS' Monday night lineup when it bowed in September 1974. Rhoda had returned almost completely to her New York roots, moving to Manhattan instead of back to the Bronx, and at first, had settled in with her sister, Brenda (Julie Kavner). This meant that Rhoda actually had at least two sisters. Viewers were introduced to Debbie (Louise "Liberty" Williams) in a 1-shot in season 4 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but Debbie was never heard from again, perhaps forgotten by David Davis & Lorenzo Music, who'd developed Rhoda into a series. Anyway, it didn't take long to establish that Rhoda would have its own unique, distinct identity. That is to say, Rhoda wasn't going to be a swinging single for too long.

In the very first episode, we meet Joe Gerard (David Groh), Rhoda's future husband.......

After a few appearances on Mary Tyler Moore while concurrently working on McMillian & Wife, Nancy Walker returned to the role of Ida, Rhoda & Brenda's mother. Upstate NY native Harold Gould (from Schenectady) played the father, but left the show after 2 seasons to co-star in ABC's short-lived Feather & Father Gang. Groh left after season 3, as apparently, Rhoda & Joe would be divorced.

Rhoda, in turn, spawned a 1-shot spinoff, as Lorenzo Music's voice-only character of Carlton was given an animated special. The doorman, however, didn't graduate to his own series. Music, though, parlayed the gig into a long running role as comic strip feline Garfield, and spent 2 seasons on The Real Ghostbusters, inheriting Bill Murray's role as Peter before leaving in favor of Dave Coulier. Speaking of cartoons, that's what's keeping Julie Kavner busy these days, as she's closing in on 30 years of The Simpsons.      

Rating: B.                                                                                                  

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