One Day At A Time The Complete First Season DVD belongs in the it's about time category. Bonnie Franklin plays divorced single mom Ann Romano whose two daughters, Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, often test her wits. The first season of this Norman Lear sitcom features 15 episodes on 2 DVDs and though the opening credits scene looks really dark and unrestored the episodes themselves look fresh and most are still funny and relevant.
Fans of One Day At A Time will immediately go to DVD 2 of The Complete First Season as it features an unlisted and unmentioned forty minute One Day At A Time reunion with Bonnie Franklin, Valerie Bertinelli, MacKenzie Phillips, and Pat Harrington Jr. It features lots of clips and comments by the actors filmed in Bonnie Franklin's home. This is quite interesting and a lot of fun though a little weird as Franklin cannot seem to distance herself from the character she was playing. The cast also reveals the lyric is "Up on your feet". Why this reunion is not listed is beyond me especially since the box mentions guest appearances by such great thespians as Suzanne Somers and Robby Benson. You might also want to wait until you have seen all 15 episodes of season one as the reunion reveals some of the episodes' endings.
If there is one thing One Day At A Time was famous for is that all the characters used their "outside voice" most of the time. Rare is the episode where there is not a shouting match. This, however, works in this sitcom and is part of, believe it or not, its charm. It is also something David, Richard Masur, points out as proof Ann Romano is not a public danger when the secret serviced drops by her apartment after she has supposedly sent a threatening letter to President Ford in episode 9, Fighting City Hall. The Ford jokes may not work with a younger audience but this is a really good show that manages to go beyond the usual stuff sitcoms do with such a premise.
Back in the seventies Norman Lear was known for pushing the envelope when it came to sitcoms and at the time the idea of a divorcee raising two daughters was edgy for its time. Even edgier was the fact these Ann Romano was a real woman and her daughters were real girls and not just the usual made for TV sanitized versions. This situation comedy doesn't waste time getting to the old will she or won't she episode where Julie (Phillips) has to decide if she will "go all the way". What makes it work is how originally everything is dealt with as all the characters have their say on whether or not the big event should take place. I especially like the scene where David goes in the Romano's very girly bathroom to have a birds and bees talk with Julie's boyfriend. Another edgy episode for its time is when Ann is sexually proposed by a potential employer. There is also the show where she catches her platonic beau with another woman; its conclusion was daring for that time.
One Day At A Time does and did have its critics. True, it is sometimes very hard to figure out if it is a blonde version of Mary Tyler Moore playing the Ann Romano character. The whole idea of a sex-crazed super (Pat Harrington Jr.) having the key to the home of woman and her two teenage daughters and coming and going as freely as he wants in the entire building no less does show how unreal a sitcom can be or how much society has changed since the seventies.
Still, One Day At A Time, The Complete First Season is a lot of fun. Fans of this seventies sitcom will be happy to know the episodes are complete so there is no shortened syndicated version here.
Other seventy situation comedy DVD set reviews:
Our review I Dream of Jeannie The Complete Series
Our review Maude The Complete First Season
Our review Mash Season 8
Our review The Mary Tyler Moore Show Best of Season One
Our review Welcome Back Kotter Season One
Our review Bewitched Season Two
Our review Good Times Season Four
Our review Gilligan's Island Season Three
Our review Sandord and Son Season 6
Our review Barney Miller Season Two