Monday, December 19, 2022

It's A Living (1980-1989)

They work hard for the money.  But they're having a blast doing it.  I dare you to find me a happier looking bunch of waitresses on their way into work.  Maybe the thin air at the Above The Top restaurant was the cause.  It's A Living, called Making A Living during season two, then later back to It's A Living, followed the front and back of house staff at a swanky restaurant atop The Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.   Cast members changed almost as frequently as the dinner specials.  After two lackluster seasons on ABC, It's A Living was reheated for syndication for another four seasons, joining several 80's sitcoms like Charles In Charge (1984-1990)Punky Brewster (1984-1988) and Webster (1983-1989).  The series was created by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, who also brought us The Facts of Life (1979-1988) and was produced by Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, who later produced a series that had no ratings issues - The Golden Girls (1985-1992).

Location Visited: October 2022

Saturday, December 17, 2022

The Outsiders (1983)


Greaser Darry Curtis is raising his two brothers Ponyboy and Sodapop in 1960s Oklahoma.  Ponyboy and his friend Johnny have a run-in with the rich gang known as The Socials, where Johnny ends up stabbing and killing one of them.  Ponyboy and Johnny run away to Windrixville and take refuge in a church, which one day catches fire.  Johnny is injured while rescuing children.  Ponyboy returns home and a rumble ensues between The Greasers and The Socials.  Johnny succumbs to his injuries but not before telling Ponyboy to "stay gold."  Ponyboy then writes a personal essay entitled "The Outsiders" after finding a letter from Johnny. 

The Outsiders is a film adaptation of S.E. Hinton's 1967 book of the same name and stars every young actor of the 1980s.  The movie is revered by critics and fans, particularly for its portrayal about kids from the wrong side of the tracks.  The lengthy 133 minute cut of the film was reduced to 90 minutes.  Many of the cast went on to star is some of the biggest films of the 80s - Ralph Macchio waxed on and off as The Karate Kid (1984), Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe heated up St. Elmo's Fire (1985), Patrick Swayze made corners a no-go in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Tom Cruise served up libations with pizzaz in Cocktail (1988).  Matt Dillon fared okay with The Flamingo Kid but he utters the best line in the movie. "Let's do it for Johnny!" always gets a chuckle.

The Outsiders was filmed in Tulsa, Sperry and North Owasso, OK

Location: The Movie Theater
Address: 10 S. Lewis Avenue, Tulsa, OK

Location: Johnny Cade's House
Address: 738 N. Rockford Avenue, Tulsa, OK

Location: The Curtis House
Address: 731 N. St. Louis Avenue, Tulsa, OK

In 2019, The Curtis House opened as a museum after three years of restoration.  Unfortunately, my visit was early in the morning and it wasn't open yet.

Location: The Park
Address: 1345 E. Independence Street, Tulsa, OK

Location: The Bus Stop
Address: 1301 S. Boston Avenue, Tulsa, OK

Location: The High School
Address: 3909 E. 5th Place, Tulsa, OK

Will Rogers High School

Locations Visited: October 2022

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Designing Women (1986-1993)

Four women under one roof in The South crack jokes on a weekly basis.  Sound familiar?   But these girls are a little younger, a bit more to the north and not quite as funny.  Outspoken liberal Julia Sugarbaker runs interior design firm Sugarbaker & Associates out of her Atlanta home with her younger sister Suzanne, designer Mary Jo and office manager Charlene.  They are joined by ex-convict turned delivery man Anthony Bouvier and Bernice Clifton.  Perhaps tired of Julia reading people to filth each week, Suzanne and Charlene jump ship and are replaced by obnoxious Sugarbaker cousin Alison and Charlene's lazily-named sister Carlene (seriously?).  Alison gels like a rash and is replaced by wealthy sassy widow BJ Poteet, who saved Sugarbakers from obscurity.

Designing Women debuted to strong ratings but was almost cancelled due to constant timeslot changes.  A viewer campaign saved it and the show flourished for several seasons, thanks in part to being paired with Murphy Brown.  Backstage drama ensued as Delta Burke clashed with producers and creators.  Having one major cast member leave is the kiss of death but two at the same is a full on makeout session of death.  Audiences did not warm up to Delta Burke and Jean Smart's replacements and the show suffered in the ratings until the inevitable cancellation.  I caught a few episodes here and there during its run but I only had room for one show about four women and that, of course, was The Golden Girls (1985-1992).  Though Designing Women adding Alice Ghostley of Grease (1978) fame, added the opportunity for some whacky one-liners.


Location: Sugarbaker & Associates
Address: 1321 Scott Street, Little Rock, AR

Location Visited: October 2022


Sunday, November 6, 2022

Alice (1976-1985)


After her husband is killed in a trucking accident, Alice Hyatt packs up her son Tommy and leaves New Jersey for Los Angeles to pursue a singing career.  After her car breaks down in Phoenix, she takes a job waitressing at Mel's Diner working for the crusty Mel Sharples.  Sassy Flo and scatterbrained Vera also serve up blue plate specials.  Later on, Belle and Jolene filled in for Flo after she left for Texas.  Though she was only meant to stay for a little while, Alice worked at Mel's Diner for nine years until she received a recording contract and Mel sold the diner to real estate developer.   

Alice was based on the 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore starring Ellen Burstyn.  There are several differences between the movie and the series, which ran an impressive nine years and had one of the most popular catchphrases in sitcom history - Kiss my grits!  Florence "Flo" Castleberry became the breakout character and eventually got her own spinoff.  Rumors of a backstage feuds were reported over the years, between Linda Lavin and Polly Holiday, and later with Dianne Ladd.  The series did well in the ratings despite the cast drama and cast changes.  The theme song was sung by Lavin and had numerous changes to the lyrics over the years.

Location: Mel's Diner
Address: 1747 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, AZ

Mel's Diner is still in operation today.  The sign was used in the opening credits of the later seasons.  At the time the location manager found the diner, it was called Chris' but the owner agreed to change it and remains Mel's to this day...

Location Visited: October 2022