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Doris Day 23
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Format: Sitcom; Western
Created by: James Fritzell
Starring: Doris Day
Country of origin: United States
No. of seasons: 5
No. of episodes: 128
Running time: 60 minutes
Original channel: CBS Television
Original run: September 24, 1968 – February 19, 1973
The show is a 128-episode American television sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS network from September 1968 until September 1973. In addition to showcasing Doris Day, the show is remembered for its many abrupt format changes over the course of its five-year run. It is also remembered for Day's claim, in her autobiography Doris Day: Her Own Story (1975), that her husband Martin Melcher had signed her to do the TV series without her knowledge, a fact she only discovered when Melcher died of heart disease on April 20, 1968. The TV show premiered on September 28, 1968.
Day had been a popular film actress in the 1950s and early 1960s. In this gentle sitcom, she was cast as Doris Martin, a widow and mother of two young sons who, when the series premiered, had just moved back to a rural ranch outside of San Francisco after having lived in big cities for most of her adult life.
Other characters during this initial phase of the program included Doris's father Buck (played by Denver Pyle) and their hired hand on the ranch, Leroy (played by James Hampton).
In the 1969-70 TV season, the Doris Martin character began to commute from the ranch to San Francisco, where she worked as a secretary for a magazine. New workplace characters were added. McLean Stevenson (who would later leave the series to star in M*A*S*H) played her boss, and her friend and coworker, Myrna Gibbons, was played by Rose Marie in a role similar to her more famous Sally Rogers role on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Pyle and Hampton were still seen during this season.
At the start of the 1970-71 season, Doris and her sons moved from the ranch to San Francisco, where they lived above an Italian restaurant. Doris began writing articles for the magazine at which she worked, Today's World. Most of the characters from the previous season remained, with the exceptions of Pyle and Hampton's characters.
The fourth season, 1971-72, saw the most radical change in the series. Perhaps inspired by the success of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Day's character suddenly became a swinging single career woman. The entire cast, other than Day herself, was gone; even Doris Martin's two sons were no longer in the cast (or even referred to). Doris Martin now had a new editor, Cy Bennett (played by character actor John Dehner) , and she was no longer a secretary, but rather a full-time staff writer. Actress Jackie Joseph joined the cast as well, as Doris' friend, Jackie Parker. (The character was now depicted as though she has always been a reporter, and no reference was ever made to her ever having been a secretary.) The series continued with this format until it was canceled in 1973.
The Doris Day Show was considered a rather lightweight comedy, and was never a huge ratings success (although it was popular enough to survive on primetime TV for five seasons). Even though it premiered at a time when rural comedies such as Green Acres were still the norm, it continued into the era when topical, relevant sitcoms such as All in the Family prevailed. In fact, The Doris Day Show was once, in 1971, referred to in an episode of All in the Family. As the bigoted white character Archie Bunker awkwardly attempts to make small talk with his new African American neighbor Louise Jefferson, he asks her: "Er, how did you like the Julia show last night?" Louise Jefferson replies, "Fine. How did you like Doris Day?"
One implication of this exchange was that the sunny sitcom Julia, starring Diahann Carroll as a middle-class African American nurse, a show considered rather groundbreaking at the time by many white Americans, was in fact no more relevant for black Americans than the lightweight Doris Day Show was relevant for whites.
The show itself was a big hit in the ratings for the first four seasons, though it dropped fairly dramatically in the final season:
1968 - #30
1969 - #10
1970 - #20
1971 - #24
1972 - #32
1973 - #45
MPI Home Video has released all 5 seasons of The Doris Day Show on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. Each DVD release contains extensive special features.
DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 28 June 28, 2005
Season 2 26 October 25, 2005
Season 3 26 May 30, 2006
Season 4 24 February 27, 2007
Season 5 24 November 20, 2007
(Feb. 12, 2013, Tuesday, 2:04pm)