Hello, Larry

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Hello, Larry
Genre Sitcom
Created by Dick Bensfield
Perry Grant
Written by Dick Bensfield
Perry Grant
George Tibbles
Directed by Doug Rogers
Starring McLean Stevenson
Donna Wilkes
Krista Errickson
Kim Richards
Joanna Gleason
George Memmoli
Ruth Brown
Meadowlark Lemon
John Femia
Fred Stuthman
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 38 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Dick Bensfield
Perry Grant
George Tibbles
Producer(s) Rita Dillon
Woody Kling
Patricia Fass Palmer
George Tibbles
Running time 30 mins.
Production company(s) T.A.T. Communications Company
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run January 26, 1979 (1979-01-26) – April 29, 1980 (1980-04-29)
Chronology
Related shows Diff'rent Strokes

Hello, Larry is an American sitcom which aired on NBC from January 26, 1979 to April 30, 1980.

Synopsis[edit]

First season[edit]

Larry Alder (McLean Stevenson) is a radio talk show host who left Los Angeles after being divorced and moved to Portland, Oregon, with his two teenage daughters, Diane (played in the first season by Donna Wilkes and in the second season by Krista Errickson) and Ruthie (played by Kim Richards). In the first season, episodes centered on Larry at the radio station and his smart remarks to callers. The supporting cast consisted of producer Morgan (Joanna Gleason) and engineer Earl (George Memmoli).[1]

Second season[edit]

In an effort to make the character (and series) more likeable, the episodes were based almost entirely around the home life of Larry and the girls, with Morgan and Earl being seen less frequently. In addition, various supporting characters were added in the apartment building where Larry and the girls lived; these included a black neighbor, Leona (Ruth Brown), who usually did not approve of Larry's parenting; Tommy, a purportedly worldly wise teenage boy (John Femia), who became a love interest of Ruthie's; former Harlem Globetrotters player Meadowlark Lemon as himself, running a local sporting goods store in the series; and Larry's father (Fred Stuthman), who moved in with the younger Alders. None of these people, nor a two-part episode in which Larry's ex-wife Marian (Shelley Fabares) tried to reconcile with him, were enough to save the show, and it was canceled in the spring of 1980.

The shift to more family-related stories in the second season was represented by a change in the line of the show's opening theme lyrics; the line that went "..the calls are comin' in, you'd better start to grin.." in reference to Larry's radio career gave way to "you're raising them just fine, but keep an open mind.." when the stories became more focused on the Alder household. In both seasons, the lyrical line always ended with "'cause you never know just what they're gonna say."[2]

Production[edit]

The series, created by Dick Bensfield and Perry Grant (veteran writers with a résumé going back to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Andy Griffith Show), consisted of 35 episodes. Bensfield and Grant had also worked on One Day at a Time, a CBS sitcom about a single woman raising two teenaged daughters alone, and many critics noted the similarity of the two series. The show was produced by Woody Kling and directed by Doug Rogers.

Diff'rent Strokes connection[edit]

Hello, Larry is sometimes referred to as a spin-off of Diff'rent Strokes. In actuality, it was conceived as a show in its own right. After struggling to gather ratings, NBC rescheduled it to appear immediately following Diff'rent Strokes and had it written in that Larry and Phillip Drummond were old Army friends (with Drummond's company becoming the new owners of Larry's radio station), thereby allowing several crossover episodes on both programs in the hope of raising Hello, Larry's popularity.

Failure and legacy[edit]

Hello, Larry aired on NBC at a time when that network was at its nadir in the ratings. The show was greeted by viewers who had high expectations based on Stevenson's M*A*S*H association, but quickly gained an extremely bad reputation as a weakly written, unfunny sitcom. The show was not helped by frequent ridicule from Johnny Carson in his The Tonight Show monologues. Indicative of NBC's struggles at the time, Hello, Larry—despite its extremely poor reception—lasted 35 episodes and was renewed for a second season.

Although viewers and critics had high hopes for Hello, Larry, McLean Stevenson, in fact, already had two other unsuccessful sitcoms under his belt since leaving M*A*S*HThe McLean Stevenson Show, which also aired on NBC, in 1976–77, and In the Beginning, which aired in 1978. Stevenson appeared in three more series that later failed with him in a regular role: Match Game in its 1981-82 season, Condo in 1983, and Dirty Dancing in 1988.

TV Guide ranked the series number 12 on their "50 Worst Shows of All Time" list in 2002.[3]

The show has often been used as shorthand for badness. In one example, Arianna Huffington said that "John McCain's return to the Senate will be the chilliest reception for a war hero since McLean Stevenson tried to talk his way back onto M*A*S*H after Hello, Larry tanked."[4]

References[edit]

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