Less than six months after the release of Season Two, Warner Archive has released the third season of Alice. By the time the 1977-78 season began, the adventures of Alice (Linda Lavin), Flo (Polly Holliday), Vera (Beth Howland), Mel, (Vic Tayback) and Tommy (Philip McKeon) were an established hit for CBS. While the series could never be considered highbrow material, Alice occasionally tackled difficult issues, while the undeniable chemistry between the cast made each episode an enjoyable experience.
The third season consists of twenty-three episodes, and as with other years, some episodes are stronger than others. Polly Holiday’s Flo had been the series breakout star, with her gum-snapping, wisecracking Southern drawl, the third season is where Alice really found its footing, with generally solid scripts that found jokes and time to shine for everyone in the cast.
While Mel and the girls haven’t changed much, the season opener, “Take Him, He’s Yours,” makes it clear that the than nearly fourteen-year old Philip McKeon and his character were doing some serious growing (by the series’ final season, he towered over Linda Lavin). The episode has Alice taking Mel up on his claim that he can he can raise her son better than her. Mel was always looking to make a fast buck, and it comes back to bite him in “Car Wars,” when he gets a better offer after agreeing to let Alice, Flo and Vera buy his car. In “Citizen Mel,” witness Mel is worried the criminal is after him, when he gets word he’s been let out of jail. Vera has a new boyfriend in “Vera’s Popcorn Romance,” but everyone is trying to figure out why she doesn’t want anybody to meet him. “Block Those Kicks,” finds Mel and the girls all trying to break bad habits. The usually confident Flo is a bundle of nerves as she goes back to class to get her high school diploma in, “Whatever Happened to the Class of ’78?” The diner is robbed with Alice in charge, Mel fast asleep, in “Better Never Than Late,” and Alice invites Mel to dinner in “Mel’s in a Family Way,” but Mel is convinced that there is more to it.
A young Corey Feldman and Philip McKeon’s sister Nancy (TV’s The Facts of Life) guest star on “Who Ordered the Hot Turkey? where Mel buys stolen turkeys. Alice’s second job might just leave her with no job at all, in “The Happy Hoofers.” Vera has some special powers in “A Slight Case of ESP,” but things get a little eerie when she predicts Mel’s death. In the Principal of the Thing,” Alice begins dating Tommy’s very handsome principal. It’s New Year’s Eve in “What’re You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” and Flo is in a funk because she doesn’t have a date. Alice has extra tickets to a celebrity ball in “Sweet Charity.” In “The Fourth Time Around,” Flo may be marching down the aisle again…this time, with Mel’s brother! Tommy is in love, and Alice would just like to get him off the phone for just a minute, in “Tommy’s First Love.”
Mel’s mother is back in Phoenix for the winter in “Mel Grows Up. It turns out Vera’s boyfriend is engaged, but not to her, in “Vera’s Broken Heart.” Alice might have a shot at the big break she been looking for in “Alice’s Decision,” but how can she go on the road with Tommy? Mel sells the diner in the two-part episode “The Last Stow It,” and the waitresses are the first to go… so can he get the diner back? Alice and Vera compete for the same part in a play in “If the Shoe Fits.” “My Fair Vera” finds the diner’s resident ditz with the opportunity to appear in a supermarket commercial. The season finale, “Flo Finds Her Father,” Alice tries to reunite Flo with her father after thirty years.
Along with Corey Feldman and Nancy McKeon, season three guest stars include: Jim Varney, Joyce Bulifant, James Cromwell, Gary Collins, Hans Conried (the voice of Captain Hook in Walt Disney’s Peter Pan), Fred McCarren (The Boogens) and Forrest Tucker (F Troop).
Presented in 1.33:1, this transfer isn’t terrible by any means, but fairly typical of shows shot on video. Colors aren’t exactly vibrant, but they don’t look washed out. I noticed a few scratches here and there, but generally fans should be pretty pleased with these episodes considering their age.
Presented in Dolby Digital, the audio is fine, with the laugh track kept well below the dialogue. No subtitles or closed captioning are available.
There are no special features.
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