Sunday Dinner (TV series)
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|Created by||Norman Lear|
|Opening theme||"Love Begins at Home" performed by Kim Carnes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Act III Television
Columbia Pictures Television
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
|Original release||June 2 – July 7, 1991|
Sunday Dinner is an American sitcom which aired on CBS from June 2, 1991 until July 7, 1991. The series was produced by Norman Lear, and marked his return to television producing after an absence of several years. Lear's current wife Lyn Davis Lear served as co-producer on the series, which was the first official Lear show to be made under his latest production marquee Act III Television.
The series starred Robert Loggia as Ben Benedict, a widowed 56-year-old businessman in Long Island who falls in love with a 30-year-old lawyer, Thelma Todd "TT" Fagori (Teri Hatcher). Being true to Lear fashion, the situation of Ben and TT's age difference was an issue in itself, but the show also tackled other environmental and social issues in the way that his earlier shows (All in the Family, Maude, etc.) did, with a dose of spirituality. Ben's kids, who were all around TT's age, resented her involvement with their father, except for beloved son Kenneth (Patrick Breen), a real estate agent on the fast track, who seemed to root them on.
The cast also included Marian Mercer as Ben's sister Martha Benedict, who had been living with Ben's family since the death of his wife. Ben's daughters were airheaded Diana (Kari Lizer), who worked in fashion design, and forthright intellectual Vicky (Martha Gehman), a microbiologist, who was back living at home after her divorce, along with her precocious young daughter, Rachel (Shiri Appleby).
In every episode, some stressful confrontation or incident between TT and the Benedicts would occur. These situations were usually the result of Diana and Vicky's feeble attempts to undermine Ben and TT's romance. They refused to get past the surface image of TT being "just another bimbo" who, despite being in a well-paying profession herself, may have only been after an older man for his money. At every situation's climax, TT would retreat to a private corner and address "The Chief", engaging in a one-sided talk with God about her issues. Lear insisted on making TT a devout Catholic as well as an environmentalist, to further reflect the study of spirituality up against politics and American family values in the series. In fact, the format for Sunday Dinner was based upon Lear's marriage to his third wife Lyn, who was considerably younger than he.
- Robert Loggia as Ben Benedict
- Teri Hatcher as TT Fagori
- Patrick Breen as Kenneth Benedict
- Martha Gehman as Vicky
- Marian Mercer as Martha Benedict
- Kari Lizer as Diana
- Shiri Appleby as Rachel
- Welcome T.T. - June 2, 1991
- Guess Who's Coming to Sunday Dinner - June 9, 1991
- In Sickness and in Health - June 16, 1991
- My Dinner with Jack and Delores - June 23, 1991
- The Write Stuff - June 30, 1991
- Whose House Is It Anyway? - July 7, 1991
CBS was sure that Lear's comeback would be successful, and in the process moved summer reruns of Murder, She Wrote to 9 p.m. in order to air Sunday Dinner on Sunday nights at 8/7c, alongside reruns of Lear's classic All in the Family (at 8:30/7:30c). After two weeks, however, both programs swapped time slots. Neither the press or scheduling helped; the show only lasted six weeks.