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We probably need a separate thread devoted to TV shows past and present, but this seems to be a good one to post this.

The Golden Girls is one of those TV "antiques" that everybody references in regards to the LGBT representation in the otherwise strongly "heteronormal" conservative 1985-1992 period. The pilot/premiere show (9/14/85) actually featured a "flamboyant" housekeeper (Charles Levin) who was dropped for the rest of the series, partly due to the decision to feature Sophia as the new move-in resident.

The Big Four that get discussed the most...

Isn't It Romantic? (11/8/86)- an Emmy winner featuring Lois Nettleton as Jean, who falls in love with Rose. As Blanche says, "I've never known any personally but isn't Danny Thomas one?"

Scared Straight (12/10/88)- first of two Clayton (Monte Markham) episodes with sister Blanche trying to deal with him being "out" and about.

Sister Of The Bride (1/21/91)- Clayton decides to marry the man he loves, much to Blanche's shock. Unfortunately Doug (Michael Ayr) doesn't say or do much except comment that Clayton snores in his sleep.

Goodbye, Mr. Gordon (1/11/92)- Rose accidentally puts Blanche and Dorothy on a Miami TV talk show covering the topic of "women who live together and love each other". The two are billed as "lesbians" by the host while another pair of ladies seated with them are presented as "image consultants" a.k.a. "We don't believe in labels". Of course, Blanche's love life is wrecked in the process, although neither she nor Dorothy is particularly homophobic and seem to accept the fact that others think they "are". One of the big jokes in the final moments involves a guy who wants to "convert" Blanche, which we all know is silly and NOT socially progressive by today's standards. Yet you can't help but laugh when she tells Dorothy "I've got to trrrrrry this!"

 

Then there are the episodes with incidental gay characters and gay discussions. The one episode I always enjoyed is Valentine's Day (2/11/89). This is what I would call a classic "flawed masterpiece". It is one of the remembrance episodes full of flashback sequences. A few of these consisted of stock footage as "cheater shows", but most actually had newly shot sequences prepared for that episode as individual sketches as is this one. The Big Flaw involves Sophia remembering Valentine’s Day in 1929 Chicago and, despite an impressive set recreating the period with antique cars in a garage, is surprisingly blah. Yet the other three segments easily rank among the most re-watched GG moments in TV history:

Memory # 2 involves Rose getting Dorothy and Blanche to visit to a nudist hotel-resort. The jokes are only hampered by a visual boo-boo involving the trio walking being giant hearts but only Dorothy remembering to take off her shoes. (Go figure. Yes, they should wear something on their feet, but maybe that is part of the joke... they forgot to bring flip flops and must wear high heels?) The lines are fast and furious with plenty of "Oh, no, she did not say that, did she?"... like the nude porter (obscured by the luggage he is carrying) asking the ladies "Excuse me, where would you like me to put this?” and receiving the unexpected Blanche reaction “Oh, well, buy me a drink and we'll talk.”

Memory # 3 involves a lonely Blanche celebrating at a bar without her recently deceased husband and consoling a lonely man who is in love with somebody and not sure how to express it. Of course, she thinks he is in love with a woman, not a man as it is later revealed. This may have been one of the earliest shows to use the popular catch phrase "love is love".

Memory # 4 needs no introduction...

Since it uses a certain word not permitted on this messageboard, I will just link it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si0JJE1rXWY

 

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7 hours ago, Jlewis said:

We probably need a separate thread devoted to TV shows past and present, but this seems to be a good one to post this.

The Golden Girls is one of those TV "antiques" that everybody references in regards to the LGBT representation in the otherwise strongly "heteronormal" conservative 1985-1992 period. The pilot/premiere show (9/14/85) actually featured a "flamboyant" housekeeper (Charles Levin) who was dropped for the rest of the series, partly due to the decision to feature Sophia as the new move-in resident.

The Big Four that get discussed the most...

Isn't It Romantic? (11/8/86)- an Emmy winner featuring Lois Nettleton as Jean, who falls in love with Rose. As Blanche says, "I've never known any personally but isn't Danny Thomas one?"

Scared Straight (12/10/88)- first of two Clayton (Monte Markham) episodes with sister Blanche trying to deal with him being "out" and about.

Sister Of The Bride (1/21/91)- Clayton decides to marry the man he loves, much to Blanche's shock. Unfortunately Doug (Michael Ayr) doesn't say or do much except comment that Clayton snores in his sleep.

Goodbye, Mr. Gordon (1/11/92)- Rose accidentally puts Blanche and Dorothy on a Miami TV talk show covering the topic of "women who live together and love each other". The two are billed as "lesbians" by the host while another pair of ladies seated with them are presented as "image consultants" a.k.a. "We don't believe in labels". Of course, Blanche's love life is wrecked in the process, although neither she nor Dorothy is particularly homophobic and seem to accept the fact that others think they "are". One of the big jokes in the final moments involves a guy who wants to "convert" Blanche, which we all know is silly and NOT socially progressive by today's standards. Yet you can't help but laugh when she tells Dorothy "I've got to trrrrrry this!"

 

Then there are the episodes with incidental gay characters and gay discussions. The one episode I always enjoyed is Valentine's Day (2/11/89). This is what I would call a classic "flawed masterpiece". It is one of the remembrance episodes full of flashback sequences. A few of these consisted of stock footage as "cheater shows", but most actually had newly shot sequences prepared for that episode as individual sketches as is this one. The Big Flaw involves Sophia remembering Valentine’s Day in 1929 Chicago and, despite an impressive set recreating the period with antique cars in a garage, is surprisingly blah. Yet the other three segments easily rank among the most re-watched GG moments in TV history:

Memory # 2 involves Rose getting Dorothy and Blanche to visit to a nudist hotel-resort. The jokes are only hampered by a visual boo-boo involving the trio walking being giant hearts but only Dorothy remembering to take off her shoes. (Go figure. Yes, they should wear something on their feet, but maybe that is part of the joke... they forgot to bring flip flops and must wear high heels?) The lines are fast and furious with plenty of "Oh, no, she did not say that, did she?"... like the nude porter (obscured by the luggage he is carrying) asking the ladies "Excuse me, where would you like me to put this?” and receiving the unexpected Blanche reaction “Oh, well, buy me a drink and we'll talk.”

Memory # 3 involves a lonely Blanche celebrating at a bar without her recently deceased husband and consoling a lonely man who is in love with somebody and not sure how to express it. Of course, she thinks he is in love with a woman, not a man as it is later revealed. This may have been one of the earliest shows to use the popular catch phrase "love is love".

Memory # 4 needs no introduction...

Since it uses a certain word not permitted on this messageboard, I will just link it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si0JJE1rXWY

 

Loved it, never thought that it would become so "iconic".

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8 hours ago, Jlewis said:

We probably need a separate thread devoted to TV shows past and present, but this seems to be a good one to post this.

The Golden Girls is one of those TV "antiques" that everybody references in regards to the LGBT representation in the otherwise strongly "heteronormal" conservative 1985-1992 period. The pilot/premiere show (9/14/85) actually featured a "flamboyant" housekeeper (Charles Levin) who was dropped for the rest of the series, partly due to the decision to feature Sophia as the new move-in resident.

Season 2's The Actor 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0589829/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_26

Lloyd Bochner guest stars as a well-known actor who takes a role in a play being staged at a community theater. The girls get involved in the production. During the course of the episode he sleeps with Dorothy, Blanche and Rose...and one of the jokes at the end is he had slept with almost everyone in the cast, as well as the male stage manager. So he was apparently bisexual and did not discriminate.

Season 3's Strange Bedfellows

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0589823/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_44

Another episode had guest star John Schuck's character turn out to be a transsexual. He was a politician that deliberately linked Blanche's name with his, to hide his secret past. During an interview with Larry King, Rue McClanahan cited this as one of her favorites. 

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Yes, I remember those two episodes so well. Plus there was the one with the sculptor (episode titled The Artist instead of The Actor) whom they all posed nude for and he had a boyfriend.

Funny thing... we each react differently to different shows. Designing Women was probably as equally well written and well acted, but I couldn't get into it as much as Golden Girls... just as I always favored Bewitched over I Dream Of Jeanie. Perhaps it was because the stars in the latter shows were pretty much equal in standing and their energy was a trifle scattered. They are on Golden Girls too and one must admire how well Betty White has outlasted everybody. Yet I still favored Bea Arthur's Dorothy over her and the others as the "glue" of the show whom everybody performed around. She was like Jack Benny with his radio and TV ensemble. Just as I loved Phil Harris, Don Wilson, Mel Blanc, Mary Livingston and especially Eddie Anderson's Rochester (and Dennis Day playing Betty White's Rose simple-minded and wholesome counterpart), Benny was still the "glue" just as Bea was with this show. Then again, I can watch Bea in just about anything, Maude or the overblown Mame... and she pretty much dominated everybody else, including Gig Young and Cloris Leachman, in Lovers And Other Strangers.

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8 minutes ago, Jlewis said:

Yes, I remember those two episodes so well.

Funny thing... we each react differently to different shows. Designing Women was probably as equally well written and well acted, but I couldn't get into it as much as Golden Girls... just as I always favored Bewitched over I Dream Of Jeanie. Perhaps it was because the stars in the latter shows were pretty much equal in standing and their energy was a trifle scattered. They are on Golden Girls too and one must admire how well Betty White has outlasted everybody. Yet I still favored Bea Arthur's Dorothy over her and the others as the "glue" of the show whom everybody performed around. She was like Jack Benny with his radio and TV ensemble. Just as I loved Phil Harris, Don Wilson, Mel Blanc, Mary Livingston and especially Eddie Anderson's Rochester (and Dennis Day playing Betty White's Rose simple-minded and wholesome counterpart), Benny was still the "glue" just as Bea was with this show. Then again, I can watch Bea in just about anything, Maude or the overblown Mame... and she pretty much dominated everybody else, including Gig Young and Cloris Leachman, in Lovers And Other Strangers.

I agree that Bea Arthur was the "glue" that held The Golden Girls together for seven seasons. When she left and the other three did the spinoff The Golden Palace, the whole thing fell apart without her. She guest-starred in a two-parter on GP and the quality automatically went right back up. But then when she left again, it was dismal. She knew how to spin a line and could make mediocre comedy scenarios seem better than they actually were. And her personality was so strong that everyone latched on to her. Without her, they're lost. GP only lasted one season.

Between Maude and The Golden Girls she did a one-season comedy on ABC called Amanda's. It was an American reworking of Fawlty Towers. John Cleese praised Bea's performances in it. But except for one guy who transferred over from the original, she was saddled with some poor costars. And as great as she is, the show didn't catch on. Almost all the episodes of Amanda's are on YouTube. 

If you type "Amanda's Bea Arthur" they will come up. I think the show was retitled when it aired in Britain, called Amanda's by the Sea. The best episode is the one where Vivian Blaine makes a rare TV appearance playing Amanda/Bea's aunt. 

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I watched one of those, an episode titled I Ain't Got Nobody. Yes, she is great in it but she is literally exhausting herself doing all of the work. The co-stars are basically just props whom Bea must avoid bumping into, although Peggy Cass (who appeared in at least one Golden Girls, if not two) is delightfully daffy.

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51 minutes ago, Jlewis said:

I watched one of those, an episode titled I Ain't Got Nobody. Yes, she is great in it but she is literally exhausting herself doing all of the work. The co-stars are basically just props whom Bea must avoid bumping into, although Peggy Cass (who appeared in at least one Golden Girls, if not two) is delightfully daffy.

Yeah, that's a good episode-- she gets to do a lot of physical comedy in that one. 

"Aunt Sonia" is the one with Vivian Blaine. You can tell Bea really enjoyed sharing scenes with her.

After the sixth episode they went on a temporary hiatus and retooled it a bit. Kevin McCarthy was brought in as her brother-in-law. This gave her a romantic interest and took the burden off her, so she didn't have to carry the whole show by herself. McCarthy's a very good actor, and he works quite well with her. But of course she was at her best with guys like Bill Macy and Herb Edelman, where there was a lot more friction.

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Kevin McCarthy also appeared in an episode of GG as well, but not in scenes with Bea unfortunately.

I too like Vivian Blane in that particular episode even though I found it surprisingly unfunny compared to the earlier one I watched. Obviously there is something wrong with my sense of humor, but... on the plus side... I did find plenty of historical interest. It foreshadows future GG episodes in which Dorothy provides emotional support to broke family members, namely ex Stan and sister Gloria. Also it is fun to compare this episode to another classic GG one, Long Day's Journey Into Marinara, in which Bessie the piano playing chicken is thought to have been “cooked”. Since we actually see the performing bird and see how emotionally attached Rose is to her (i.e. this later show being much more animal friendly), we get a happy ending with the wonderful Nancy Walker as Aunt Angela quipping “You think I know how to kill a live chicken? Who do you think I am? Conan the Barbarian?” (I really wish she made more than two episodes because she was perfect in her role.)

My personal feelings about this episode may offer insight into why this show failed and both Maude and GG succeeded. Bea is wonderfully sarcastic in all three shows, but you need more performers in her orbit whom she has a stronger emotional bond with. Maybe we see a stronger connection to her son and daughter-in-law in other episodes than these two I watched? Otherwise, she comes off as... just sarcastic with nothing to bounce off of. She generally does not play the most affectionate of characters and needs those around her to draw affection out of her.

In Maude, she was blessed with both an exasperated but still supportive husband and a neighbor she genuinely likes and cares about despite constantly batting with him over political issues (he being the conservative Republican with all of these “phobias” and his wife played by... who else but Rue McClanahan?). John Wayne was so eager to be on her show as a guest star because Bea was at her most lovable when in conflict over ideological differences. In the latter show, she may have been the “glue”, but Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty clearly were equally important to that show's success.

We have already discussed the many gay and gay-supportive writers involved with GG behind the scenes. I must mention another key episode 72 Hours in which Rose thinks she may be HIV positive due to earlier hospital blood work. She becomes judgmental of Blanche because she has the busier sex life and is more “deserving” in her eyes. Blanche's comeback was clearly written by somebody who lost somebody close to him/her to the disease or may have been diagnosed: “AIDS is not a bad person's disease, Rose. It is not God punishing people for their sins!” (Estelle Getty, in particular, lost many close performers she worked with on stage.)

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1 hour ago, Jlewis said:

Kevin McCarthy also appeared in an episode of GG as well, but not in scenes with Bea unfortunately.

I too like Vivian Blane in that particular episode even though I found it surprisingly unfunny compared to the earlier one I watched. Obviously there is something wrong with my sense of humor, but... on the plus side... I did find plenty of historical interest. It foreshadows future GG episodes in which Dorothy provides emotional support to broke family members, namely ex Stan and sister Gloria. Also it is fun to compare this episode to another classic GG one, Long Day's Journey Into Marinara, in which Bessie the piano playing chicken is thought to have been “cooked”. Since we actually see the performing bird and see how emotionally attached Rose is to her (i.e. this later show being much more animal friendly), we get a happy ending with the wonderful Nancy Walker as Aunt Angela quipping “You think I know how to kill a live chicken? Who do you think I am? Conan the Barbarian?” (I really wish she made more than two episodes because she was perfect in her role.)

My personal feelings about this episode may offer insight into why this show failed and both Maude and GG succeeded. Bea is wonderfully sarcastic in all three shows, but you need more performers in her orbit whom she has a stronger emotional bond with. Maybe we see a stronger connection to her son and daughter-in-law in other episodes than these two I watched? Otherwise, she comes off as... just sarcastic with nothing to bounce off of. She generally does not play the most affectionate of characters and needs those around her to draw affection out of her.

In Maude, she was blessed with both an exasperated but still supportive husband and a neighbor she genuinely likes and cares about despite constantly batting with him over political issues (he being the conservative Republican with all of these “phobias” and his wife played by... who else but Rue McClanahan?). John Wayne was so eager to be on her show as a guest star because Bea was at her most lovable when in conflict over ideological differences. In the latter show, she may have been the “glue”, but Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty clearly were equally important to that show's success.

We have already discussed the many gay and gay-supportive writers involved with GG behind the scenes. I must mention another key episode 72 Hours in which Rose thinks she may be HIV positive due to earlier hospital blood work. She becomes judgmental of Blanche because she has the busier sex life and is more “deserving” in her eyes. Blanche's comeback was clearly written by somebody who lost somebody close to him/her to the disease or may have been diagnosed: “AIDS is not a bad person's disease, Rose. It is not God punishing people for their sins!” (Estelle Getty, in particular, lost many close performers she worked with on stage.)

You may want to watch more episodes of Amanda's since many of them are quite enjoyable. Personally I think the reason it failed is the opposite of what you mentioned. When they retooled it and brought Kevin McCarthy on, they softened her a bit. Also I think the presence of the son and daughter-in-law dragged it down. This was the era when ABC execs expected their sitcoms to have a warm and fuzzy, family feeling. They did the same thing to Lucille Ball's failed sitcom Life with Lucy a short time later. Nobody wanted Lucy as a cuddly grandma.

The original Fawlty Towers was not warm and fuzzy at all. Cleese's character was a bit bombastic, and that's how Bea was supposed to play Amanda, the feminized Americanized version of the character. ABC should have known going into it what the premise was about, that it was not standard sitcom fare. But they watered it down. Bea's performance is strong in each episode, but the supporting characters (with the exception of the hispanic employee who transferred over from the original) are all rather weak and feel out of place. They even toned down her abuse of the hispanic employee, not for political correctness reasons, but again so the show would have a warmer tone and it didn't work. She was supposed to alienate staff and guests, that was the source of the comedy.

She said in an interview that Norman Lear told her why he thought the show tanked. He claimed the audience was too used to her doing comedy about social issues. On Amanda's it was more pratfalls and witty comebacks. No real social issues. He said that if she was playing a character who took a stand against things, then it would be something the audience would have accepted, since it's what they were used to seeing her do as Maude. He's probably right. On The Golden Girls she was once again dealing with topical, social issues.

Recently I had a chance to watch episodes of Fawlty Towers on Britbox. I was surprised how perfectly similar the set was on Amanda's. Though they changed the gender of the central character and watered down the supporting characters, introduced the love interest and Americanized the plots, the set is exactly the same. You would think it was filmed on the original set Cleese used. Also, Cleese's program featured a bar that was to the left of the office. Probably the bar would have been featured on Amanda's if the show had been renewed for a second season. On Fawlty Towers the bar was used in a way the restaurant wasn't used, to show guests having drinks and being amorous.

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12 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Bea's performance is strong in each episode, but the supporting characters (with the exception of the hispanic employee who transferred over from the original) are all rather weak and feel out of place.

That is essentially my opinion in a nutshell. I don't think she needs to be warm and fuzzy at all. She just needs others around her to balance out the show a bit more. I have seen some Fawlty Towers and it is an acquired taste for some of us that takes longer to develop, but I understand its cult appeal.

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8 minutes ago, Jlewis said:

That is essentially my opinion in a nutshell. I don't think she needs to be warm and fuzzy at all. She just needs others around her to balance out the show a bit more. I have seen some Faulty Towers and it is an acquired taste for some of us that takes longer to develop, but I understand its cult appeal.

Another issue Amanda's had, which hasn't been written about, is that it needed to differentiate itself from Newhart (1982-1990) which had a similar set-up. Newhart's brand of comedy was obviously drier and more deadpan than Bea Arthur's. But both these shows had a memorable central character running an inn somewhere in New England, where oddball guests and other supporting characters turned up. 

Newhart succeeded because not every episode was based at the inn. Some episodes had lengthy scenes in the cafe run by Larry and his brothers. Other episodes went out into the town, went to the TV studio that Peter Scolari's character Michael managed, or went off to where Stephanie's parents the Vanderkellens lived. Amanda's is entirely situated inside the inn. Cleese's version got around the claustrophic feel by doing exteriors filmed on location where people drove up or left the inn. But the ABC sitcom version didn't do that, it was entirely studio bound.

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I think this show just needed more time to develop and stronger, as you suggested, supporting characters to off shoot Bea's VERY strong performance. Maybe if Vivian Blane was incorporated in more episodes? There is no guarantee strategy with any show. We all know that the very best that TV has to offer is not necessarily the most successful.

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10 minutes ago, Jlewis said:

I think this show just needed more time to develop and stronger, as you suggested, supporting characters to off shoot Bea's VERY strong performance. Maybe if Vivian Blane was incorporated in more episodes? There is no guarantee strategy with any show. We all know that the very best that TV has to offer is not necessarily the most successful.

The aunt character, in a recurring capacity, would have helped. Also the daughter-in-law needed to be developed. Amanda needed some good female characters to confide in about the problems of running a hotel. Also, I think if they used some of Lear's idea, having her take on social issues...like maybe using the inn to hold meetings where she fought city hall, or helped workers go on strike (it would have been funny if she was helping some guests go on strike, which inspired her own workers to go on strike against her!).

Basically she needed to stir things up in a way that connected her with the town where her business was located. They still could have kept Kevin McCarthy as the romantic interest, but with more friction between them-- where he tried to tell her how to run the business and she wasn't having that. But like Walter on Maude, he'd come through in a pinch and bail her out of trouble or get her to see things more clearly.

I agree that the show needed more time to figure out what it was supposed to be, at least in the American sense. Cleese's show knew what it was. But his version did have to be modified for U.S. audiences, and making it into a warm and fuzzy sitcom was not the answer.

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1 hour ago, jaragon said:

Happy Birthday Liza!

 

" Liza, Liza skies are grey

But if you smile on me, all the clouds will roll away."

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49 minutes ago, rayban said:

Domnic Thiem -

c_USTA1034510_20180831_Day5_BJPB8157A.jp

You follow Kenneth Walsh excellent blog Kenneth in the 212- he has a passion for tennis and the good looking player like Thiem

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