Love, American Style was an hour-long television anthology which originally aired between September 1969 and January 1974. For the 1971 and 1972 seasons it was a part of an ABC Friday prime-time lineup that also included Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, and The Odd Couple. Each week, the show featured different stories of romance, usually with a comedic spin. All episodes were unrelated, featuring different characters, stories and locations. The show often featured the same actors playing different characters in many episodes. In addition a large and ornate brass bed was a recurring prop in many episodes. Charles Fox's delicate yet hip music score, featuring flutes, harp, and flugelhorn set to a contemporary pop beat, provided the "love" ambiance which tied the stories together as a multifaceted romantic comedy each week.
Frustrated newlyweds and bickering marrieds, lecherous executives and bodacious secretaries, uptight squares and free-spirited hippies, suspicious wives and nervous husbands, inexperienced teens and swinging seniors. Theyre all part and parcel of Love, American Style, the era-defining anthology series that offered a comedic look at the so-called "new morality." Rebounding after studio-imposed DVD-interruptus, this three-disc set contains the 12 episodes that complete Season One. Each contains two or three playlets. Unlike The Love Boat, all are played for laughs: A honeymooning groom accidentally locks himself in an antique stores chastity belt; A bachelor pretends to have a wife and children to seduce a coworker who only dates married men; A harried man discovers his favorite restaurant has gone topless just as his wife surprises him for lunch. One intriguing story is "Love and the High School Flop-Out," whose story about an awkward teen who has the house to himself while his parents are out of town anticipates Risky Business, complete with friends who suggest he rent out the house for an "orgy." Love plays it completely straight. In one story, a newlywed complains her husband seems to be losing interest in her, prompting her mother to inquire if he is "strange." In another, an interior decorator in love with a mobsters daughter is dismissed by him as a "petunia" until he dispatches the thugs henchmen ("The fact that I have taste and a certain flair for color and design doesnt make me any less of a man," he argues). And in another, two bickering male business partners visit a marriage counselor to sort out their troubles. Of course, what really makes this show such a star-spangled affair is each episodes roster of character actors, TV Land cult faves, and future stars. Burt Reynolds already has his smirk going as a soldier whose wife has written a scandalous bestseller in "Love and the Banned Book." An 18-year-old Kurt Russell portrays a high school student poised to lose his virginity in "Love and the First-Nighters." Love American Style is hip enough to reference Alice B. Toklas, Bonnie & Clyde, Rosemarys Baby and Federico Fellini, but its chauvinistic attitudes now make the once-naughty show seem almost endearingly quaint. Still, to watch "Love and the Nervous Executive," which pairs prissy Paul Lynde with va-voom "Mighty Carson Arts Players" bombshell Carol Wayne, or "Love and the Big Night" with Tony Randall and Julie "Catwoman" Newmar, is to fall in Love all over again. --Donald Liebenson