Alice: Season 1, Episode 2

Alice Gets a Pass (29 Sep. 1976)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Comedy
7.5
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Alice receives a pass from an ex-football player.

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Title: Alice Gets a Pass (29 Sep 1976)

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Beth Howland ...
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Denny Miller ...
Jack Newhouse
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Alice receives a pass from an ex-football player.

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Comedy

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29 September 1976 (USA)  »

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not too preachy or heavy-handed
25 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Back in the mid- and late-70s, TV series often had episodes presenting homosexuality in a sympathetic (or at least non-judgmental) light. Such episodes were often shown not long after the series premiered. (There was an early "Facts of Life" episode in which a girl realizes that her affection for other girls doesn't mean she's a lesbian.)

This episode -- which is actually the first non-pilot episode -- has Alice meeting Jack Newhouse, a ridiculously good-looking ex-football player (Denny Miller). * (At that time, there'd been talk about homosexuality and bisexuality being more-common among football players than the general population.) Naturally, Mel and Flo press Jack and Alice to date.

In private, Jack declines, telling Alice he's gay. Alice's son, however, is delighted to meet a famous football player, and wants to go fishing with Jack. Alice is reluctant, finding it hard to move past the belief that gay men are, per se, child molesters. But she gives in, and nothing happens -- except her son is disappointed, because Jack wasn't a very good angler! (This is retroactively amusing, as Denny Miller would later play the Gorton's fisherman.)

Although this episode is anything but neutral on the issue of whether homosexual behavior is acceptable, it makes its points without too much underlining. "Alice" wasn't a particularly good sitcom, and given the opportunity for Alice, Flo, and Mel to meet strangers stopping at the diner, its unfortunate that it didn't do more episodes like this one, focusing on social issues in a light-hearted fashion.

* Like most sitcoms, Alice didn't pay much attention to continuity. We later learn that Mel never went to college, but here we're told that he roomed with Jack, which seems unlikely for all the obvious reasons. It never occurred to the writers to simply have Jack out on vacation, with Mel or Flo recognizing him. It's simple, believable, and avoids possible future story restrictions.


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