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Rhoda is an Americanmarker television sitcom starring Valerie Harper and was a spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show which ran for five seasons between 1974-1978. Harper played the lead role of Rhoda Morgenstern, who was the spunky, weight conscious, flamboyantly-fashioned best friend of Mary Richards who left Minneapolis and returned home to New York Citymarker. The series was a ratings success (even beating its parent show) and was also the winner of two Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards.

Rhoda was filmed in front of a live audience at CBS Studio Center, Stage 14marker in Studio City, Californiamarker.

Synopsis

The series opens with a slimmed-down Rhoda Morgenstern traveling to New York Citymarker from Minneapolismarker to visit her family. While in New York, she meets Joe Gerard (David Groh), a handsome divorcé who runs a wrecking company and has a young son. Rhoda decides to stay in New York, initially moving in with her younger sister, Brenda (Julie Kavner) at 332 E. 84th Street. Brenda, an overweight bank-teller, had self-esteem problems, similar to Rhoda herself at the outset of The Mary Tyler Moore Show four years earlier.

Brenda's small apartment can't hold the both of them, so Rhoda tries moving in with her parents Ida (Nancy Walker) and Martin (Harold Gould) at their apartment in The Bronxmarker. Ida and Martin are the archetypical Jewish parents. Ida is overbearing, overprotective, benevolently manipulative, and desperate to make sure Rhoda finds a good husband. Martin is her dutiful, more mild-mannered dad. At first, Ida goes to great lengths to baby her daughter. But when it becomes apparent that Rhoda is sliding into a rut by staying in the room where she grew up, Ida forces her to move out for her own good.

Meanwhile, Rhoda's relationship with Joe blossoms. Joe invites Rhoda to move in with him, and Rhoda accepts the offer. However, she quickly realizes she wants to be married, and after some hesitation, Joe agrees and a wedding is planned.

Rhoda's Wedding

Eight weeks into the series, on Monday, October 28, 1974, Rhoda and Joe are married in a special hour-long episode. Heavily publicized, the episode became one of the highest-rated events in 1970s television, even defeating the competing ABC ratings juggernaut, Monday Night Football. At the time of its airing the episode had the distinction of being the second most-watched television program in American history, surpassed only by the birth of Little Ricky on the 1950s comedy I Love Lucy. The episode was watched by more than 50 million Americans. Almost all the main characters from The Mary Tyler Moore Show show up, including Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), Lou Grant (Edward Asner), Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), Georgette Franklin (Georgia Engel), and Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman).

In the Mary Tyler Moore show episode "The New Sue Ann," airing Saturday, Oct. 26, 1974, two days before Rhoda's Wedding, the characters frequently discuss Rhoda's upcoming event and buy wedding gifts. At the end of the episode Murray and Lou are leaving the TV station to drop off Mary at the airport. During Rhoda's Wedding it is revealed that on a lark they had all decided to fly to New York to surprise Rhoda. During the episode, Phyllis promises to pick up Rhoda and drive her to her parents' apartment in the Bronx for the ceremony. The self-absorbed and forgetful Phyllis neglects to keep her promise, forcing Rhoda, unable to find another ride or a taxi, to take the subway in her wedding dress, run through the streets of the Bronx, and cross the Grand Concourse to dash into her parents' apartment building in one of the series' most memorable moments. Ida is furious with Phyllis, and threatens to kill her; Rhoda herself is just as furious with Phyllis, as is most everyone at the ceremony. The only one who forgives her is Georgette, who however warns Phyllis to get her tail out of the room when Rhoda arrives. The episode also features special closing credits, showing Rhoda running through the city streets in her wedding dress, and an altered theme song including passages from The Wedding March.

Developments

Seasons 1 & 2 (1974-1976)

For the remainder of the first and second seasons, the show focused around Rhoda and Joe's new married life. The two moved into a penthouse suite in the same building as Brenda. Rhoda also advanced in her career as a window dresser by opening up a small window dressing business called "Windows by Rhoda" with her old high school friend Myrna Morgenstein (Barbara Sharma). Rhoda used her maiden surname "Morgenstern" in her professional dealings as a window dresser and her married surname "Gerard" in her personal life.

During this period, the show was a massive ratings hit on Monday nights, staying near the top of the ratings in both seasons, even faring better than its parent, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In early seasons, the closing credits of the series featured Rhoda on a New York street trying to imitate Mary Tyler Moore's trademark hat toss, but the cap slips from Rhoda's hand before she can throw it.

Season 3 (1976-1977)

During the first two seasons, television audiences seemed to be satisfied with the direction the show was taking. However, the producers found it difficult to write scripts featuring a happily married Rhoda, often writing shows around Brenda's problems instead, including her on-again, off-again relationship with accordion player Nick Lobo (Richard Masur). Eventually, they came to the conclusion that Rhoda's appeal came from her status as an insecure single woman.

Consequently, at the start of the third season, Rhoda and Joe separated. After a particularly heated argument, Joe revealed to a bewildered Rhoda that he didn't want to be married, and that he only had gotten married again because Rhoda had pressured him into it. The response from viewers was overwhelmingly negative, with the producers receiving many letters protesting the plot development, and actor David Groh receiving hate mail. This sentiment would translate into a steep ratings decline during the course of the season, even though the program still ranked #32 for the 1976-77 season.

The characters of Rhoda's parents Ida and Martin were absent for this season, traveling across the country in an RV.

With Rhoda and Joe now separated, they soon moved out of their suite. Joe moved elsewhere, and Rhoda traded apartments in the building with downstairs neighbor Gary Levy (Ron Silver), a jean-store owner who soon struck up a platonic friendship with Rhoda. Stories initially centered around Rhoda and Joe's attempts to work through their differences. As the season progressed, however, Joe was seen less frequently and Rhoda began dating other people; they never reconciled. Johnny Venture (Michael DeLano), a lounge singer, was a frequent suitor that Rhoda only barely tolerated.

Season 4 (1977-1978)

For the fourth season, Rhoda's divorce was finalized and she resumed use of her maiden surname "Morgenstern" full time. The show then centered on her role as a thirty-something divorcée dating from time to time. Ida and Martin returned to the show after a year's absence, ostensibly having returned from a lengthy cross-country trip. (Actually, actress Nancy Walker had left the show to star in her own series, but two attempts at a new series that season both failed). Brenda finally found a boyfriend in professional roller-skater and toll-booth worker Benny Goodwin (Ray Buktenica), whose principal claim to fame was the similarity of his name to the famous musician Benny Goodman, although she also occasionally dated Gary Levy (Ron Silver).

Meanwhile, Rhoda's career was also undergoing a transition: seeking a career change, she found a job at the Doyle Costume Company, working for the gruff Jack Doyle (Kenneth McMillan), a man not altogether unlike Lou Grant.

Season 5 (September-December 1978)

The show and Rhoda's hairstyle (she now sported a perm) underwent additional changes in the fifth and final season. Ida and Martin went through a separation of their own with Martin going off to Floridamarker to find himself. After several episodes, Martin returned home but Ida wanted to be wooed back, leading to dating and other romantic rituals between the two. Also in the final season, Brenda and Benny became engaged to be married and the wedding was to occur later in the season. The Gary Levy character disappeared completely; it was explained briefly near the season's start that he had moved to Chicago. A new co-worker, Tina Molinari (Nancy Lane), joined Rhoda and Jack at the costume shop. She was distinguished by her highly affected, Valley Girl-like speech patterns. The character had appeared in several Season 4 episodes as an employee at Gary's jeans store.

The show, which had seen precipitously declining ratings, was abruptly cancelled by CBS in December 1978, with four episodes remaining unaired until they were finally seen in syndication.

Cast



Other recurring characters/Guest stars

Recurring characters

  • Carlton, the Doorman in Rhoda's building, was played by Lorenzo Music. He was often heard on the intercom, but almost never seen, only his arm occasionally appearing from doors. He is seen from the back in one episode in which he hitches a cab ride with Rhoda and her friends.
  • Rhoda's girlfriends over the years included: Alice Barth (Candice Azzara); Myrna Morgenstein (Barbara Sharma), whom Rhoda had sat behind in high school when in alphabetical order in home room; Susan Alborn (Beverly Sanders), another friend from high school; and Sally Gallagher (Anne Meara), a divorced airline stewardess who befriended Rhoda and accompanied her in the singles scene.
  • Brenda's boyfriend in early episodes was accordionist Nick Lobo (Richard Masur).
  • Shortly following her separation from Joe, Rhoda began an on-again, off-again romance with egocentric Las Vegas entertainer Johnny Venture (Michael DeLano).
  • Joe's friend Charlie Burke (whom Rhoda found annoying) was played by Valerie Harper's then-husband, actor Richard Schaal (who also appeared in several Mary Tyler Moore episodes and as a regular in the first season of Phyllis as other characters).


Guest stars

The following are well-known actors who were featured in guest-starring roles on Rhoda: Vivian Vance, John Ritter, Norman Fell, Doris Roberts, Joan Van Ark, Tim Matheson, Linda Lavin, Judd Hirsch, Ruth Gordon, Howard Hessman, Anne Jackson, Robert Alda, David Ogden Stiers, Jerry Stiller, Jack Gilford, Rene Auberjonois.

Ratings

The following is a list of the ratings for Rhoda during its five year run:

  • 1974-75: #6
  • 1975-76: #8
  • 1976-77: #32
  • 1977-78: #25
  • September–December 1978: #67


Broadcast history (CBS)

  • September 1974 - September 1975---Mondays----9:30-10:00 p.m.
  • September 1975 - January 1977-----Mondays----8:00-8:30 p.m.
  • January 1977 - September 1978-----Sundays----8:00-8:30 p.m.
  • September 1978 - December 1978----Saturdays--8:00-8:30 p.m.


Awards

Emmy Awards:

  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series - Valerie Harper, 1975
  • Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julie Kavner, 1978


Golden Globe Awards:

  • Best TV Show, Musical/Comedy - 1975
  • Best TV Actress, Musical/Comedy - Valerie Harper, 1975


Collectively, Rhoda garnered a total of 17 Emmy nominations and 7 Golden Globe nominations.

Mary Tyler Moore Show tie-ins

  • During the first season, the closing credits showed Rhoda crossing Broadway and Seventh Avenue in Times Square and attempting to emulate her friend Mary Richards by tossing her hat in the air, only to drop it. She then picks up the hat, pulls it down onto her head, and walks away slightly embarrassed.


  • Mary Richards was featured on five episodes of Rhoda:
  1. Mary accompanied Rhoda to the airport for her flight to New York in the pilot episode "Joe" (September 9, 1974). Mary's appearance in the pilot (which essentially bookends the episode) was cut from syndicated versions of the show, and from the Season One DVD release;
  2. Rhoda phoned Mary to announce she and Joe were getting married in the episode "Pop Goes the Question" (October 14, 1974);
  3. Mary (along with Lou Grant, Murray Slaughter, Georgette Franklin and Phyllis Lindstrom) appeared in the hour-long episode surrounding Rhoda's wedding (October 28, 1974).
  4. Mary surprised Rhoda and Joe with a visit in the episode "Along Comes Mary" (March 10, 1975).
  5. Rhoda phoned Mary with the bad news that she and Joe were getting a divorce in "The Ultimatum" (January 30, 1977).


  • Rhoda and Joe appeared together on The Mary Tyler Moore Show episode, "Mary Richards Falls in Love" (November 22, 1975).


  • Rhoda appeared in the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "The Last Show" (March 19, 1977).


  • A recently-divorced Rhoda Morgenstern-Rousseau (with her adult daughter, Meredith) is reunited with her old friend, recently-widowed Mary Richards-Cronin (with her adult daughter, Rose) after many years of estrangement in the made-for-TV movie Mary and Rhoda (February 7, 2000).


Cast reunions

Although they have never reunited on a TV special or movie, some of the cast members of Rhoda have gotten together over the years on the following daytime talk-shows:





Home video

DVD Releases

On April 21, 2009, Shout! Factory released the first season of Rhoda on DVD in Region 1 which coincided with the show's 35th anniversary. Season 2 will be released on March 30, 2010.[32781]

The release also includes a "Remembering Rhoda" featurette, as well as the original one-hour version of "Rhoda's Wedding", as opposed to the two-part edited version that aired in syndication. Unfortunately, 15 of the season's 24 episodes are the edited-for-syndication versions taken from poor quality masters, while the other 9 episodes (including the Wedding episode) are the unedited network versions. [32782]. A review on DVDTalk also states some of the edited episodes being time compressed. [32783] (earlier syndication packages for the show that were distributed by Jim Victory had the episodes running faster than normal in an attempt to accommodate for more commercials, as opposed to cutting scenes out, which was what later syndication packages did).

Because the pilot episode in the DVD set is the syndicated version, Mary Tyler Moore's appearance at the beginning of the episode is cut. However, the full version of the pilot, in much better quality (complete with Mary's scene) can be viewed at The Paley Center for Media in New York and Los Angeles. Footage from the missing scene is even included in the end credits to the pilot.

DVD Name Ep# Release Date
Rhoda - Season One 24 April 21, 2009
Rhoda - Season Two 24 March 30, 2010


VHS releases

A 2-VHS set, Rhoda: Volumes 1 & 2 containing two episodes on each cassette, was released by MTM Home Video in July 1992.

VHS Name Ep# Release Date Titles
Rhoda - Volume 1 2 July 1992
  • Joe
  • You Can Go Home Again
Rhoda - Volume 2 2 July 1992
  • I'll Be Loving You, Sometimes
  • Parents' Day
The Very Best of Rhoda, a 4-VHS boxed-set containing the best episodes from each season, was released by MTM Home Video on March 24, 1998.

VHS Name Ep# Release Date Titles
Season 1 (1974-75) 2 March 24, 1998
  • Rhoda's Wedding (Part 1)
  • Rhoda's Wedding (Part 2)
Season 2 (1975-76) 2 March 24, 1998
  • Friends and Mothers
  • A Night with the Girls
Season 3 (1976-77) 2 March 24, 1998
  • The Separation
  • An Elephant Never Forgets
Seasons 4 & 5 (1977-79) 3 March 24, 1998
  • One is a Number
  • Happy Anniversary
  • Martin Doesn't Live Here Anymore


Syndication

Season one of the show is currently available for free online viewing on Hulu.com. All episodes from that season are there, except for "The Honeymoon", due to legal issues. While the versions of the episodes are, for the most part, the same as the versions on the DVD, there are a few minor differences:

"You Can Go Home Again", which was released unedited on the DVD, is edited on Hulu.

The following 4 episodes, all of which were released edited on the DVD, are unedited on Hulu: "The Lady in Red", "The Shower", "I'm a Little Late, Folks", and "Anything Wrong?".

External links




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