Maude (TV series)

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Maude
Themaudetitlecard.jpg
Format Sitcom
Created by Norman Lear
Starring
Theme music composer Marilyn Bergman
Alan Bergman
Dave Grusin
Opening theme "And Then There's Maude"
Performed by Donny Hathaway
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 141 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Tandem Productions
Distributor PITS Films (until 1982)
Embassy Telecommunications (1982-1986)
Embassy Communications (1986-1988)
Columbia Pictures Television (1988-1996)
Columbia TriStar Television (1996-2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002-present)
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run September 12, 1972 (1972-09-12) – April 22, 1978 (1978-04-22)
Chronology
Preceded by All in the Family
Followed by Good Times
Hanging In
Related shows The Jeffersons
Archie Bunker's Place
Gloria
704 Hauser

Maude is an American television sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS network from September 12, 1972 until April 22, 1978.

Maude stars Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay, an outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal woman living in suburban Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York with her fourth husband, household appliance store owner Walter Findlay (Bill Macy). Maude embraced the tenets of women's liberation, always voted for Democratic Party candidates, strongly supported legal abortion, and advocated for civil rights and racial and gender equality. However, her overbearing and sometimes domineering personality often got her into trouble when speaking out on these issues.

The program was a spin-off of All in the Family, on which Beatrice Arthur had first played the character of Maude, Edith Bunker's cousin; like All in the Family, Maude was a sitcom with topical storylines created by producer Norman Lear.

Unusual for a U.S. sitcom, several episodes (such as "Maude's Night Out" and "The Convention") featured only the characters of Maude and Walter, in what amounted to half-hour "two-hander" teleplays. Season 4's "The Analyst" was a solo episode for Bea Arthur, who delivered a soul-searching, episode-length monologue to an unseen psychiatrist.

Characters[edit]

Walter and Maude

Maude, first introduced as Edith Bunker's cousin in a December 1971 episode of All in the Family, had been married three times before marrying her fourth and current husband. Her first husband, Barney, had died shortly after their marriage; she had divorced the next two, Albert and Chester. Albert was never portrayed on screen, but the episode "Poor Albert" revolved around his death, while former second husband Chester would appear on the show (played by Martin Balsam). Her current husband, Walter Findlay (played by Bill Macy), owned an appliance store called Findlay's Friendly Appliances; he was said to be a Maytag dealer in the first episode. Maude and Walter met just before the 1968 presidential election. Maude sometimes got in the last word during their many arguments with her hallmark catchphrase, "God'll getcha for that, Walter." Maude's (and subsequently Bea Arthur's) deep, raspy voice was also an occasional comic foil whenever she answered the phone and said "No, this is not Mr. Findlay, this is Mrs. Findlay!"

Maude's divorced daughter, Carol Traynor (from her first marriage to Barney, played by Adrienne Barbeau; in the Maude pilot, an episode of All in the Family, Carol was played by Marcia Rodd), and Carol's son, Phillip (played by Brian Morrison and later by Kraig Metzinger), also lived with the Findlays. Though single, Carol maintained her reputation of dating many men, as evidenced by her weekend "business trips" with various boyfriends. She dated various men throughout early seasons, eventually forming a serious (but brief) relationship with a man named Chris (played by Fred Grandy) in the later seasons. Like her mother, Carol was an outspoken liberal feminist who was not afraid to speak her mind, though they often clashed. After the fourth season, and with ratings dropped, Barbeau's appearances were reduced.

Conrad Bain as Dr. Arthur Harmon

The Findlays' next-door neighbors were Dr. Arthur Harmon (a stuffy, sardonic Republican whose views clashed with those of Maude; in lieu of Archie Bunker, Arthur was Maude's foil), played by Conrad Bain and his sweet but scatterbrained second wife Vivian, played by Rue McClanahan, who confirmed in an interview with the Archive of American Television that she was approached by Norman Lear during the taping of the All in the Family episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers" (1972), to take on the role as a late replacement for Doris Roberts, who was originally intended for the part.[1] Arthur had been Walter's best friend since the two men served together in World War II; he was the one who brought Walter and Maude together in 1968 and "affectionately" called Maude "Maudie." Vivian had been Maude's best friend since they both attended college together. When the series began, Arthur was a widower and Vivian was a soon-to-be divorcée (her previous last name was Cavender); in a late first-season episode, Vivian and her husband Chuck were getting a divorce after 21 years of marriage. Arthur and Vivian began dating at the beginning of the second season and were married during the middle of it.

The housekeepers[edit]

For the entire run of the show, Maude also had a housekeeper. Shortly after the series began, the Findlays hired Florida Evans, a no-nonsense black woman who often had the last laugh at Maude's expense. Maude would often make a point of conspicuously and awkwardly demonstrating how open-minded and liberal she was (Florida almost quit working for Maude because of this). Despite Florida's status as a maid, Maude emphasized to Florida she felt that they were "equals," and insisted she enter and exit the Findlay house via the front door (even though the back door was more convenient).

Maude and Mrs. Naugatuck

As portrayed by Esther Rolle, the character of Florida proved so popular that, in 1974, she became the star of her own spin-off series, entitled Good Times. In the storyline of Maude, Florida's husband, Henry (later James), received a raise at his job, and she quit to be a full-time housewife and mother. Good Times is based on the childhood of its creator, Mike Evans, who starred as Lionel Jefferson on All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Whereas Maude took place in New York, the setting for Good Times was Chicago.

After Florida's departure in 1974, Mrs. Nell Naugatuck (played by Hermione Baddeley), an elderly (and vulgar) British woman who drank excessively and lied compulsively, took over. Unlike Florida, who commuted, Mrs. Naugatuck was a live-in maid. She met and began dating Bert Beasley (an elderly security guard at a cemetery, played by J. Pat O'Malley) in 1975. They married in 1977 and moved to Ireland to care for Bert's mother. Mrs. Naugatuck's frequent sparring with Maude was, it can be argued, just as comedically popular as Florida's sparring. The difference in the two relationships was that Mrs. Naugatuck often came off as if she despised Maude Findlay, whereas Florida seemed only periodically frustrated by her boss.

Lear said the last name 'Naugatuck' was directly taken from the town of Naugatuck, Connecticut, which he found amusing. Due to the popularity of the program, Baddeley even visited the town in the late 1970s and was given a warm, official ceremony at the town green. "Naugatuck" is in fact an Algonquian Indian word (it means "fork in the large river", and applied to a fishing place on what is now called the Naugatuck River), and as such was an odd choice for the name of a character who was clearly not supposed to be of Native American heritage.

Maude then hired Victoria Butterfield (played by Marlene Warfield), a native of Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands, whom Maude initially accused of stealing her wallet. Victoria remained until the end of the series in 1978. However, Warfield's character was never as popular as her two predecessors, and she was never given a credit as a series regular.

Title sequence[edit]

The opening title sequence begins with an aerial shot of New York City, including the Chrysler Building. It then showcases a drive from the city to Maude's house in Tuckahoe, where Maude answers her door, ostensibly to greet the viewing audience. Although the sequence supposedly shows the trip in the then-present day (1970s), most of the cars in one part of the sequence appear to be from the 1950s (it consists partially of additional footage shot in 1968, during shooting for the opening credits to All in the Family's first unaired pilot; there would have been a number of decade-old cars still on the road at that time).[citation needed]

The first travel shot was taken on the old West Side Elevated Highway, heading downtown (south), which is the opposite direction from Tuckahoe. If a driver on the highway was headed uptown, to the driver's left would be abandoned piers on the Hudson River and New Jersey. Like the shot on the Miller Highway, another in the title sequence takes the viewer over the George Washington Bridge. In reality, this bridge connects New York City with New Jersey to the west, whereas Westchester County, where Maude lives, lies to the north of Manhattan. The most obvious and direct route from Manhattan to Tuckahoe would be to drive through The Bronx.

The show's theme song, "And Then There's Maude", was written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman and Dave Grusin, and performed by Donny Hathaway.

Series history and topicality[edit]

The character of Maude Findlay was said to be loosely based on creator Norman Lear's then-wife Frances. She first appeared on two episodes of All in the Family as Edith Bunker's cousin. Maude represented everything Archie Bunker did not: She was a liberal, a feminist, and upper-middle class, whereas Archie was conservative, sexist, and in the working class.

Maude's political beliefs were closer to those of the series creators than Archie Bunker's, but the series often lampooned Maude as a naive "limousine liberal" and did not show her beliefs and attitudes in an entirely complimentary light. Just before the show's premiere in September 1972, TV Guide described the character of Maude as "a caricature of the knee-jerk liberal."

Maude as the Statue of Liberty

While the show was conceived as a comedy, scripts also incorporated much darker humor and drama. Maude took Miltown, a mild tranquilizer, and also Valium; she and her husband Walter began drinking in the evening. Maude had an abortion in November 1972, two months before the Roe v. Wade decision made abortion legal nationwide, and the episodes that dealt with the situation are probably the series' most famous and most controversial. Maude, at age 47, was dismayed to find herself unexpectedly pregnant. Her daughter Carol brought to her attention that abortion had become legal in New York State. After some soul-searching (and discussions with Walter, who agreed that raising a baby at their stage of life was not what they wanted to do), Maude tearfully decided at the end of the two-parter that abortion was probably the best choice for their lives and their marriage. Noticing the controversy around the storyline, CBS decided to rerun the episodes in August 1973, and members of the country's clergy reacted strongly to the decision. At least 30 stations pre-empted the episode.[2] The two-parter was written by Susan Harris, who would work with Bea Arthur again over a decade later on The Golden Girls.

The producers and the writers of the show tackled other controversies. In a story arc that opened the 1973-74 season, Walter came to grips with his alcoholism and subsequently had a nervous breakdown. The beginning of the story arc had Maude, Walter, and Arthur enjoying a night of revelry. However, Maude panicked when she woke up the following morning to find Arthur in her bed. This alarmed her to the point that both of them swore off alcohol entirely. Walter could not do it ("Dean Martin gets a million dollars for his buzz") and became so aggravated during his attempts to stop that he struck Maude. Afterward, he suffered a breakdown as a result of his alcoholism and guilt over the domestic violence incident. The arc, which played out in two parts, was typically controversial for the show but gained praise for highlighting how social drinking can lead to alcoholism.[3][4]

The first season episode "The Grass Story" tackled the then-recent Rockefeller Drug Laws, as Maude and her well-meaning housewife friends try to arrange to get arrested in protest over a grocery boy's tough conviction for marijuana possession. The severity of the marijuana laws was contrasted with the characters' own lax attitudes toward drinking and prescription pill abuse.

In season four, Maude had a session with an analyst, in which she revealed insecurities about her life and marriage and talked through memories from her childhood. The episode was a solo performance by Beatrice Arthur.

During the fifth season, Walter suffered another nervous breakdown, this time even attempting suicide, when he saw his business go bankrupt.

The Nielsen ratings for Maude were high, in particular, during the first seasons of the program (during the heyday of topical sitcoms, which its presence helped to create), when it was regularly one of the top-ten highest-rated American television programs in any given week.

In Great Britain, Maude was not shown nationally, although it was shown in the ITV regions of Westward,[5] Border,[6] Tyne Tees,[6] Anglia,[7] Yorkshire,[8] Granada[9] and Channel.[10] Satellite station Sky One ran the series in the early/mid 1990s.

Cancellation[edit]

In the fifth season, Maude unexpectedly plunged from #4 out of the top thirty in the ratings. In 1978, late in the sixth season, CBS revamped the series. In the last three episodes of that year, the fictional governor of New York appointed Maude as Congresswoman from Tuckahoe, as a Democrat during the 1978 U.S. midterm elections (she helped campaign for a congresswoman who unexpectedly died in her house). With this change, Maude and husband Walter would move to Washington, D.C., and the rest of the regular cast written out of the series. In the story, the Harmons moved to Idaho, where Arthur accepted a job offer, while Carol also got a new job offer and she and Phillip moved to Denver.

Those plans changed after the three episodes in the new format at the end of that season, when Bea Arthur decided she no longer wanted to continue the role of Maude. Thus, the Maude series ended. Lear still liked the idea of a member of a minority group in Congress, and it evolved into the pilot Mr. Dugan, about a black congressman. Mr. Dugan was judged below standard, and, in 1979, the same premise was reworked as the short-lived CBS sitcom Hanging In starring Bill Macy and several cast members from Mr. Dugan.

Nielsen ratings[edit]

NOTE: The highest average rating for the series is in bold text.

Season Rank Rating
1972–1973 #4 24.7
1973–1974 #6 23.5
1974–1975 #9 24.9
1975–1976 #4 25.0
1976–1977 Not in the Top 30
1977–1978

Broadcast history[edit]

NOTE: The most frequent time slot for the series is in bold text.

  • Tuesday at 8:00-8:30 PM on CBS: September 12, 1972—March 5, 1974
  • Monday at 9:00-9:30 PM on CBS: September 9, 1974—March 31, 1975; September 20, 1976—April 4, 1977; December 5, 1977—January 2, 1978
  • Monday at 9:30-10:00 PM on CBS: September 8, 1975—March 15, 1976; September 12—November 14, 1977
  • Saturday at 9:30-10:00 PM on CBS: January 28—April 22, 1978

DVD release[edit]

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the first season of Maude on DVD in Region 1 on March 20, 2007. It is currently unknown as to whether the remaining five seasons will be released.

Syndication[edit]

Maude aired on TV Land in 1999 for a brief time. Maude was later seen on Nick at Nite in the United States in 2001. Reruns of Maude are occasionally shown on Canwest's digital specialty channel, DejaView in Canada. In 2010, Maude began reruns in Chicago, on WWME-CA's Me-TV. In 2011, Maude began airing on Antenna TV, a new digital broadcast network, which has since run the entire six season cycle of the show.

Adaptations[edit]

Maude was adapted in France as Maguy. Maguy aired on Sundays at 19.30 from September 1985 to December 1994 on France 2 for 333 episodes.

Maude had previously been adapted in 1980 by ITV in the United Kingdom as Nobody's Perfect.[11] Starring Elaine Stritch and Richard Griffiths, the show ran for two series with a total of 14 episodes. Of the 14 episodes Stritch herself adapted 13 original Maude scripts and Griffiths adapted one.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rue McClanahan Interview - Part 2 of 5". Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  2. ^ Sharbutt, Jay (1973-08-22). "'Maude' Abortion Furor in Repeat". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  3. ^ Sharbutt, Jay (1973-09-10). "'Maude' debut on drinking". Park City Daily News. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  4. ^ Sharbutt, Jay (1973-09-11). "'Maude' two-parter is funny, but serious look at alcoholism". The Herald. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  5. ^ "Daily Mirror TV Listings 10-01-1975". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  6. ^ a b "Daily Mirror TV Listings 04-03-1975". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  7. ^ "Daily Mirror TV Listings 07-31-1975". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  8. ^ "Daily Mirror TV Listings 10-10-1975". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  9. ^ "Daily Mirror TV Listings 02-09-1976". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  10. ^ "Daily Mirror TV Listings 03-12-1975". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  11. ^ Winship, Frederick M. (1981-01-15). "Elaine Stritch Defends London Theater". TimesDaily. Retrieved 2013-03-10. 
  12. ^ "Nobody's Perfect". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2013-03-10. 

External links[edit]