About Christmas TV History

Monday, March 11, 2013

One Day At A Time (1976)

Sadly, Bonnie Franklin passed away March 1st, 2013.

Though actress Bonnie Franklin has had a long career (I love spotting her in episodes of the mid-1960s, teen series Gidget), she is probably most closely associated her with her role as single mother Ann Romano on One Day At A Time.   In tribute to the actress' career and popularity with TV viewers, I'd like to share my favorite holiday episode from One Day At A Time, 1976's "Happy New Year."

Remember the theme song lyrics?  "This is it, this is life, the one you get--so go and have a ball...."

This second season episode participates in the holiday tradition popular in TV sitcoms to create a show within a show.  In an attempt to re-create the popular structure and entertainment of a musical variety show, sitcoms sometimes create musical revues in a show-within-a-show format.  Viewers get treated to entertainment of the highest quality with complete songs as well as dance numbers and comedic acts, performed by their favorite sitcom characters.

If you've read my latest book Merry Musical Christmas Volume 1, you know I discuss the tradition of holiday musical revues in sitcoms in great length.  Examples of some of the best of these include the Christmas episodes of Car 54, Where Are You?, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laverne & Shirley, Good Times, The Facts of Life, Benson, and even the drama/comedy series Ally McBeal and the outrageous South Park.  One of the reasons this One Day holiday episode is a favorite of mine is because it too is one of these musical revues.  I just love seeing actors breaking from their usual roles to show off their singing and dancing skills!

Schneider's jokes are so old, the old folks know them all!

In "Happy New Year," Ann and her daughters Barbara and Julie, decide to join their neighbor Ginny in entertaining a few lonely, elderly people on New Year’s Eve.  Organizing a variety show, they ask Schneider to serve as the joke-telling emcee.

(left) Mackenzie Phillips as Julie imitates singer Kiki Dee--while (right) Valerie Bertinelli as Barbara entertains as Elton John.

For the first musical number, Barbara and Julie performing the duet "Don’t Go Breaking My Heart" dressed as Elton John and Kiki Dee.  Barbie makes a perfect Elton John with the purple top hat, rhinestone studded sunglasses, and silver platform boots with rainbows on the toes.  It's very 1970s! I still own my original 7" record of this hit song in my collection.

A clip of this performance was later used in the series opening credits.

Bonnie Franklin shows off her tap dancing skills to the tune of "On the Good Ship Lollipop" from the 1934 movie Bright Eyes with Shirley Temple.

Ann performs a song and dance routine dressed as Shirley Temple!  Anyone else remember that this original Shirley temple song performance in the 1934 movie Bright Eyes takes place in the aisle of a airplane--on Christmas day?  Love that movie!

Love those dimples!

Ginny (Mary Louise Wilson) works the crowd during her performance.

And, cocktail waitress Ginny Wrobliki sings the love song standard "Mr. Wonderful."

Dressed in a tuxedo and top hat, Schneider joins Ginny during her song to dance.

Together everyone sings "Auld Lang Syne."

After the performances, the cast and the audience count down the clock at midnight and ring in the New Year together. 

Unfortunately, this holiday musical revue episode of One Day couldn't be included in Merry Musical Christmas Vol. 1 as it is too rare--it's not yet released on DVD and was not airing on any network in the States at the time of publication.  Hopefully, we'll all see this series come back on TV soon.  What's your favorite Bonnie Franklin TV memory?


  1. Wow, I remember that one, but so very hazily, but the Don't Go Breakin' My Heart brought it all back! I really, really wish someone would release One Day at a Time on DVD. I've been searching for the season 9 Christmas episode forever! So sad when Bonnie Franklin passed. I didn't relate to her when I first saw the series in the 70s and 80s, but rewatching the first few seasons recently, she was amazing. Such a complex and wonderful character...

    1. Yes! I hate incomplete DVD releases. At least make it streaming on Netflix or Amazon or SOMETHING!? I was sad I couldn't even find a video clip on Youtube. ugh.

    2. I hate buying season by season only to have the complete series for less than the price of a season, but even that is preferable to having nothing! Fingers crossed someone will have it soon... Definitely worth revisiting!