Bonnie Franklin, Valerie Bertinelli, Mackenzie Phillips, Pat Harrington, Jr. The struggles of a 1970s single mother raising two teenage daughters gets its first TV slot with this instant hit sitcom. Includes 15 episodes on 2 DVDs. 1975-76/color/6 hrs/NR/fullscreen.
A sizable ratings hit in its debut season of 1975-76, One Day At A Time
followed the formula established by producer Norman Lear in his other memorable television series (like All in the Family
): It broke ground by discussing real-life social situations within the context of a friendly and funny sitcom. Bonnie Franklin was top-billed as Ann Romano, newly divorced after a 17-year marriage and raising two teenage daughters (newcomer Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips, then best known for her turn in American Graffiti
). In addition to the everyday struggles for financial stability and open communication with her children, Ann wrestles to achieve her own independence--which includes standing on equal terms in a relationship with her upstairs neighbor, David (Richard Masur). Making matters slightly more complicated is her apartment super, Duane Schneider (Pat Harrington in an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning performance), whose incessant snooping and blowhard talk are a source of considerable irritation to Ann.
One Day at a Time navigated the challenge of presenting comedy and realistic drama in the same program thanks to its talented cast and creative team, who addressed the social issues in a thoughtful manner without seeming preachy, and delivered genuine laughs that never stooped to slapstick or "hot button" issues (though the show's laugh track is particularly grating). All 15 episodes of the premiere season (which debuted as a mid-season replacement and rose to twelfth place in the ratings for the entire network year) are included in this double-disc set; longtime fans will be pleased to note that not only are the episodes uncut, but the One Day at a Time Reunion Special, which aired in 2005, is included as an extra (it's mentioned nowhere on the box cover art). All of the principal players contribute their memories of the show's successful run, including some honest discussion of Phillips' much-publicized drug problems. -- Paul Gaita