Rhoda: Season One-35th Anniversary Edition

Rhoda: Season One-35th Anniversary Edition
On the brief "Remembering Rhoda" supplement included with the four-DVD first season box set of the show, series creator James L. Brooks points out that Rhoda was rushed into production for bureaucratic reasons rather than any particular need to pursue the story of Rhoda Morgenstern outside the world of Mary Tyler Moore. Valerie Harper, the actress portraying Mary Tyler Moore's sassy, independent, best buddy Rhoda, was in hot demand at the time, leaving producers to jump on the spin-off bandwagon for fear of losing her. The result was an above-average sit-com with progressive feminist roots and some highly amusing non-sequiturs. It follows Rhoda on a trip home to New York to visit her younger sister Brenda (Julie Kavner) and her controlling mother Ida (Nancy Walker), which is happily interrupted by a romantic connection with a demolitions expert named Joe (David Groh). Resultantly, Rhoda decides to stay in New York and explore her newfound affections, sans employment. While the straightforward manner in which the nascent couple communicate is refreshing, as they tend to say exactly what they mean and rarely delve into unnecessary histrionics, the decision to marry them within eight episodes was probably jumping the gun. Some effort is made later in the season to individualize Rhoda and reaffirm her sense of empowerment through entrepreneurship but the show edges further and further into a corner the longer it goes on, which explains the divorce at the end of season two. Anyone looking to purchase this box set should know that there was no effort to restore the series. There are tape flaws, changes in picture texture, sound quality issues and scratches aplenty. Whether or not this means anything to viewers will depend greatly on how much they want to revisit the confident Rhoda, her insecure sister and her passive-aggressive mother. (Shout! Factory)