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What happened to "Alice"? You can't find it on DVD, can't find it on
cable, and can't even locate it late at night in local syndicated
reruns. It's hard to guess why the powers-that-be at TV Land or Nick at
Nite haven't realized that this show would be popular as part of their
Anyway, this show set itself apart from many of its era by its semi-unpredictability. Every plot didn't have a happy ending, and there wasn't necessarily a "good" lesson taught to the viewer by the end. For example, in one episode when Flo enrolls in night school to finally earn her high school diploma, she has trouble concentrating on her homework, and is "forced" by Alice to stay home and study. Rather than provide the viewer with the happy and P.C. ending where Flo realizes the value of an education, the episode concludes with her sneaking out the window to go on a date. Presumably, Flo never gets that diploma.
The show did a good job presenting a blue-collar "diner" setting. None of the waitresses were beautiful, and outside of the endless parade of famous guest stars, the clientele shown in Mel's fit well with that of a '70s greasy spoon in a city like Phoenix. Supporting characters such as Henry and Earl -- everymen in all senses of the term -- fit in well with this motif.
Each character brought something to the show. Alice was the sensible single mom with big hopes and dreams. Vera was the childlike ditz. Flo was the outspoken, aging, oversexed country woman. Mel was gruff and selfish, but was kind-hearted beneath the surface. "Kiss my grits" became a household phrase.
Unfortunately, with Flo's departure, the show took a steady turn downhill. Diane Ladd's Belle and Celia Weston's Jolene were nowhere near as colorful as Flo, and as a result, the plots started to slip, as well. A lot of the later episodes were stupid and downright embarrassing. Many of the early elements that made this show great were simply missing in the later years.
Overall, this was a very entertaining show, and it's a shame that it can no longer be found. Hopefully this will change in future years.
All right! All right already! I admit it! I used to watch this show because I had a crush on Linda Lavin as a kid! There, the world knows it now! Satisfied!? Now, I watch the reruns because I think the show provides humour that is light and clean and that doesn't make you think too much. Based on the movie "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," Alice Hyatt (Lavin) plays a broke, recently widowed mother of Tommy (Philip McKeon). Her car broke down in Phoenix en route to Hollywood, leaving her stranded in Phoenix. Working for Mel (Vic Tayback) the penurious tubby tyrannical proprietor of Mel's Diner, she befriends fellow waitresses Vera (Beth Howland), an innocent simpleton, and Flo (Polly Holliday), a high octane nymphomaniac whose homespun Texas manner provides the perfect foil for the street tough, New Jersey-bred "new girl in town." Flo is an even better foil for Mel, and never hesitates to retort him with some valuable advice..."Kiss my grits!" The show definitely had a split personality: funny until 1980 when Flo left, and then it went straight downhill for the next five years. Cameo players such as Andy (Pat Crenshaw), Travis (Tom Mahoney), and Henry (Marvin Kaplan) were valuable to the show, as were George Burns, Telly Savalas, Art Carney, and Martha Raye. Equally memorable were some of the one-liners, including "Can you read lips? [Raspberry!]," "Don't be rational when I'm hysterical," and "If we get out of this alive, I'm going to kill you!" One of my favourite episodes revolved around an ex-gangster wanted by the FBI and the mob, coupled with a whiny truckdriver whose rig full of peaches broke down outside the diner. Not the basis of a James Joyce or a Henry Roth novel, but entertaining nonetheless. At least the early episodes were.
Theme song: "There's A New Girl In Town"-lyrics and music by David
Shire with Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Theme sung by Linda Lavin.
Based on the Oscar winning 1974 film directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Ellen Burstyn and Dianne Ladd under the title,"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore",this was to become the front point of the television series "Alice",which was basically done under the same title,but with a different cast and different setting. For the astounding nine and half years that it ran on CBS from the premiere episode on August 31,1976 to the final episode of the series on July 2,1985 after producing 212 episodes,"Alice" was one of the shows that was part of the network's powerhouse lineup of shows during the decade of the 1970's,which included "One Day At A Time","All In The Family", "The Jeffersons","Kojak",and the medical drama "Trapper John,MD".
"Alice",was basically the forefront of the selection of "Good Blue Collar Comedy Shows"that emerged during that decade. This was a show that got to see the goings on behind and in front of a working establishment(a family diner)with the situations that occurred between each of the characters. It may have been a trashy sitcom to some of its critics,but for one it didn't rely on politics nor for that manner a lot of slapstick neither. But it was the focus of everyday people and everyday situations that kept the show in top of the Nielsens for the nine years that it ran on the air. Not to mention audiences also got the chance to hear Broadway sensation Linda Lavin singing abilities to boot as well as her acting chops. Also during its run,"Alice" garnered 16 nominations including several Golden Globe wins for Linda Lavin,Polly Holliday and not to mention here Vic Tayback. Not bad for a show that was CBS' top rated sitcom during the mid-1970's and well into the mid-1980's when the show was at the peak of perfection.
Here you had a host of characters that were sensational to watch as Alice Hyatt(Linda Lavin)puts up with Mel Sharples(Vic Tayback)and his male chauvinistic ways of thinking better than any woman on television. In other words Mel may have the upper hand,but in each sly and repulsive remarks he gives her,Alice gets him right back! Also,there were others that worked at the diner as well...you have dingy,innocent simpleton,naive and strangely weird(but cute)Vera Gorman(Beth Howland),then you have the Texas firecracker and the true definition of Southern country and Southern pride Florence "Flo" Jean-Castleberry(Polly Holliday)who was dynamite at getting back at Mel's views of thinking and the ONLY one that Mel couldn't keep her mouth shut,since she always had an opinion of what was on her mind at any time and would relate to the others about it. In other words,she was an high-octane nymphomaniac and the perfect foil for the street-tough New Jersey-bred Alice Hyatt. In other perspectives,Flo was an even better foil for Mel,and never hestitates to retort him with some valuable advice.....The phrase,"Kiss My Grits"!,became an national outcry when it was mentioned. However,the show did have a split personality until 1980,when Polly Holliday left the series,and went into her own spin-off of "Alice" titled "Flo",which lasted one season,and after that fiasco,Holliday was never heard from again. It was Polly Holliday who kept the show in the top of the ratings for the first five seasons of the show(1976-1980)and then the unthinkable happen.
After Holliday left the series in 1980,the show started to declined in the ratings and likely so. During the 1980-1981 season,Dianne Ladd(who was in the original 1974 film)appeared as Belle which was basically okay,but the show slipped even into a abyss during the last four seasons of the show. During the 1981-1982 season,a new waitress named Jolene was just as dumb as they come(Celia Weston)who remained on the show until the final episode of the series in 1985. Only actors Linda Lavin,Vic Tayback,Beth Howland,and Phillip McKeon(who played Alice's son Tommy)remained on the show for the remainder of its run. Cameo players such as Andy(Pat Crenshaw),Travis(Tom Mahoney),and Henry (Marvin Kaplan)were valuable assets which went great with the guest celebrities that were on the show too like George Burns,Martha Raye, Telly Savalas,Art Carney,and Ruth Buzzi. The final episode of the series came after a nine and-a-half years on the air on July 2,1985 where they had a montage of some of the best episodes and also all of the celebrity appearances. It also showed Mel leaving his diner after years in the business and selling it to someone else. At the end,Alice buys the diner and restores the business after Mel calls it quits. It is crying shame that the series is never on the air,but it needs to be since it was the best of the best.
I used to watch this show when I was a kid. Since then, I've rarely seen it in re-runs, even though my cable system has over a hundred channels. Anyway, "Alice" was a nice, enjoyable little show that lost a lot of steam after Polly Holiday (Flo) left to pursue her own sitcom. I really think Flo was the most interesting character. The producers of "Alice" replaced her with similar characters, but none were as good.
Not only did this show boast great writing and characters, but it also
included a great list of guests as well. Desi Arnaz, Eve Arden, Art
and Martha Raye were just some of the names to take a shot at Alice.
All the cast members played their characters to the hilt, especially Polly Holiday as Florence Jean Castleberry. Sadly, her series "Flo" did not do as well.
A great series well worth watching.
This was one of those shows that I watched when I was very young and
television was one of my close personal friends.
I have fond memories of this show and actually give it credit for roughing some of the edges on the blade of wit and humor that keeps me armed to this date.
While I look back on the show with very fond memories, lots of laughter, and a certain childhood happiness, I have since found other shows and other things in life that indicate to me that this wasn't really the best show in the world.
I can't see myself watching it anymore, but I want to give it credit for the good times and it's ability to make me happy when I was younger. I agree with another poster who noted that this show was fairly innocent in it's comments and thus would appeal to me if a younger crowd was looking for humor without some of the nasty stuff evident in much of today's media. Give this show a shot if you find a chance.
This is a show which started very strong created upon the concept of
the book & the movie Alice Doesn't Live here Any More. It originally
aired on CBS starting in the middle of the 1970's. The cast & the
material were both very strong.
Linda Lavin was an ideal Alice, divorcée with a young son played by Philip Mekeon. She worked at Mel's (Vic Tayback's) diner out somewhere on the highway near Arizona. She worked with Vera & Flo (Polly Holiday). Vera was a classic case of a neurotic trying to make sense of why she was there without too much in the upstairs department except enough sense to stay out of trouble.
Flo early on, made this show a success. She was the wise woman with no virtue who could rarely say no to any man who came on to her who she found at all appealing. She did say no to Mel often because his character & hers were in constant conflict at work & their war, though friendly was sharp as it is Mel who usually would poke fun at Flo & then flow would retort with the famous "kiss my grits, Mel."
The first few seasons, the show scripts were sharp & would focus on issues between the characters. The last year or two, the scripts got terrible & when they brought in major guest stars like Art Carney, even the guests has trouble with the poor material. Alice's son disappeared the last season or so which took an edge away from the scripts too.
Another thing is that "there's a new girl in town" theme really wore out it's welcome the last season. Flo's novelty had worn out by then too.
This is why the series ended as the ratings lagged as the series weakened the last season.
I have avoided seeing Ellen Burstyn who won an Academy Award in the movie version because I grew up watching Alice on television whether in reruns or on network television. It was a lively show and it had a terrific cast. Linda Lavin will always be Alice to me regardless of her wonderful acting career. Linda Lavin has stretched as a character actress whether in small, supporting, featured, or leading roles. Linda Lavin is a comic gem. Doug McKeon who plays her son, Tommy, is the brother to Nancy McKeon better known for her role as Jo on "The Facts of Life." Whatever happened to Doug anyway? Well, Vic Tayback is brilliant as Mel Sharples and the casting of American legendary entertainer, Martha Raye, as his mother is something I have never forgotten. The show re-introduced Martha Raye as a sharp-tongued wise mother to Mel. The show I remember aired on CBS Sunday nights with the likes of "The Jeffersons," and "All in the Family." After 9 years on the air, it came to an end. I loved Polly Holliday as Flo with one of the most memorable catchphrases "You can kiss my grits." I never had a grit. The show was memorable also for lovable Vera, likable Jolene, and Diane Ladd's role. Although it worked best with Vera, Flo and Alice, Flo's show never took off and she should have returned to the show. Since I haven't seen an episode in about a year, I am vague because I have missed the show not being on the air anymore whether on TV Land or anywhere else. It made you want to move to Phoenix which is probably one of the reasons that Phoenix is over a million in population. You have to thank the show for bringing Martha Raye, we all knew her as Mel's mom but in reality, Martha's life was truly extraordinary. I learned that she went to entertain the American troops wherever and whenever they were at war. We can't thank Martha enough even now. She was given America's highest honors for her services as a civilian during wartime. But the show also provided lots of laughs and entertainment during it's long run, we don't see shows like Alice anymore and we probably never will.
Here you have three waitresses that work in a small diner owned by Mel Sharpe. This spinoff of "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" is pretty funny most of the time... Meet Vera: Cute, naive, and "dingy." Then you have Flo: She is the true definition of country! & then there's Alice...Alice sweet Alice puts up with Mel's chauvinistic ways better than any other woman on TV. But I have to remember that this show was at a time when it was a "little" bit more accepted. With her son Tommy in their one bedroom apt, Alice, Vera, & Flo along with Mel made up a "Honeymooner's" type of fun. Later on, Flo (being the standout character) was given the greenlight on her on spinoff "Flo" & was replaced with Belle. Belle's firecracker attitude was a nice move for the show & the ratings never dropped severely (most shows do when someone leaves.) After a two year stay at the dinner, Belle turned in her apron & Jolene was hired. Nine years at Mel's came to end in 1985. Being that Vic Tayback passed away, I'm not sure we will see a reunion somewhere down the line...but it would be nice to hear Kiss My Grits from Flo just one more time! Z. 1-10 (8)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I absolutely loved this show! Although I did not see it's debut in
1976,I did start watching it around the end of that 1st season. Since
it was teamed up with other CBS '70s favorites,how could one miss it? I
had no knowledge of the related movie,"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
but it didn't matter,I just knew it was funny!
There were two 70s TV mom's that reflected my mother's situation at that time,Alice Hyatt and Ann Romano of "One Day At A Time". Like Hyatt my mother moved our family out west but it wasn't due to losing a husband,it was a divorce like Ann Romano's. So,I could relate to what Tommy,Alice's son,was going through being raised by one parent.
Alice was a wanna-be singer and never said no to a chance to belt one out. Similar to other sitcom leads back then,she was always the one that everyone asked advice from. (Others were Benson & Alex Reiger of TAXI).
Flo was of course,the first female on TV (aside from possibly Rose Marie on Dick Van Dyke) to be totally open about the fact that she fools around and is middle aged and single. Vera was the almost unbelievably naive' woman in her early 30s,who seems to not have to good a grip on reality sometimes. Like when she thinks George burns is actually God,like he played in the movie "Oh,God".
Vic Tayback does a great comic turn as Mel (he played him in the film) and showed that he could be funny. A big change from all the "haevies" he played in movies and TV cop shows. The whole cast was great! My favorite show was,"Good Buddy Flo",where Flo has Alice teach her to drive a rig to impress her trucker boyfriend. Only to end up driving right smack through the front door of Mel's Diner! I saw this in a rerun about 4 years ago on the now defunct "Nashville Network".
After Flo left yes,the show lost a very funny character. Then came Belle (played by Diane Ladd who had played Flo in the movie),she lasted a season and was replaced by yet another Southern accented waitress Jolene.
In the last few seasons it was moved all over the schedule (soemtimes Wednesdays!)but I still kept watching until it's end in March 1985, when Mel sold the Diner and Alice in her early to mid-40s,finally gets that big break as a singer she's been waiting all her life (and 9 years as a waitress) for.
Vera & Husbnad Elliot (a policeman) were expecting a baby and told Mel it would be named after him. Jolene's future was uncertain but she and the other waitresses received $5,000 farewell bonuses from Mel.
They all left the diner in the final scene with Mel,turning off the lights,putting the closed sign in the window one last time and locking the door.
10 stars for this show,a classic,which is now (2008) being rerun on ION-TV.
P.S.:I live in Phoenix and 1130 Bush Highway where the diner is supposed to be is actually stretch of road on an Indian Reservation!
There was a Mel's Diner near downtown Phoenix but it's long gone!
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