One Day at a Time—Season 1

one day at a time season 1 dvd episode guide
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun nostalgia

Stories have lost a lot of the edge, not as memorable as some other sitcoms from the era

one day at a time season 1 title card review episode guide list

This is it…this is life the one you get go on and have a ball!

Ann Romero (Bonnie Franklin) is starting a new life.  Moving from Logansport to Indianapolis with her daughters Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli), Ann tries to get on her feet.  With her divorce attorney David (Richard Masur) helping her and pushing for a relationship, Ann finds the struggles of being a single mother are even bigger when she tries to do the right thing.  With a nosy superintendent named Schneider (Pat Harrington Jr.) busting in the apartment all the time, Ann, Julie, and Barbie are taking it one day at a time.

One Day at a Time—Season 1 is an American sitcom produced by Norman Lear.  The series aired from December 16, 1975 to March 30, 1976 on Tuesdays on CBS with strong ratings and positive reviews.

Growing up, One Day at a Time was “the special show”.  It was a top-tier show, but watching it was exciting because it took place in Indianapolis where we lived.  The show occasionally used stock exteriors and would drop a culture reference to the city or Indiana…and that was like the show was talking about us.  Rewatching One Day at a Time still has some grit, but it doesn’t have the staying power of something like All in the Family or M*A*S*H.

one day at a time season 1 episode 1 anns decision bonnie franklin pat harrington jr schneider

Everyone needs a little Schneider

The series was revolutionary in that it had a single mother…who was actually divorced and not widowed like shows and movies often did.  She had an ex-husband to deal with and was trying to handle kids while getting her life in order.  The show still deals with topical situations like teen sex, drinking, and lots of relationship questions for Ann’s character who is “dating” (or at least leading on) a younger guy in David.

The aspect lacking from One Day at a Time is work.  While Ann and her children don’t have a ton of money, they aren’t poor and rarely is day-to-day bills an issue.  It is implied that Ann’s situation is paid for through alimony from her ex-husband, and she spends most of the season unemployed.  I feel this is an area that the show really could have made a difference with a single woman with no experience on paper trying to afford to live and support children…it feels like a missed opportunity and an unrealistic aspect of the series that tries to create a “real world” situation for the characters.

one day at a time season 1 episode 12 the college man hustle dance bonnie franklin robby benson

There’s always time to do the Hustle!

The cast is good, but I’ll admit that much of the show has them yelling at each other (I can’t imagine what it would be to live next to the family).  Bonnie Franklin was always the cool mom and seems sympathetic even when she is forced to play the parent.  The series is amusing in that much of the first season has Mackenzie Phillips making fun of Valerie Bertinelli for being little and not having boyfriends when she would later become a big teen idol and sex symbol in a few years.  Pat Harrington Jr.’s role as Schneider was a breakout character and highly resembles Seinfeld’s Kramer in the way he inserts himself in their lives…while he was a lot of fun as a kid, he’s kind of tough to tolerate now.

one day at a time season 1 episode 14 dad comes back part 1 mackenzie phillips valerie bertinelli

What mad antics can we get into now?

The series is dated, but it is kind of charming in the dated nature of the show.  It is bucking patriarch system that today still exists but has changed so much (and sometimes so little).  The show is frank and shocking for the time, but it is pretty tame and quaint in comparison to today’s comedies (though it still is a little rougher than something like a Full House or Step by Step).

One Day at a Time is still a fun watch, but if you didn’t grow up with it, there are probably better older sitcoms to watch first.  The series had a bit of a resurgence in 2017 with a Netflix TV series which reimagined the cast as a Cuban-American family in Los Angeles, and like the original show, the series takes a few risks…but I’ll stick with the original which has the bonus of kitschiness and nostalgia going for it as well…plus, you gotta love the theme song.

One Day at a Time—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

one day at a time season 1 episode 1 anns decision mackenzie phillips bonnie franklin

“Ann’s Decision”

1.1       Ann’s Decision Airdate:  12/16/75

Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) tries to adjust to life as a single mother to Barbie (Valerie Bertinelli) and Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) but hits a snag when Julie wants to go on a weekend camping trip with boys.

one day at a time season 1 episode 2 chicago rendezvous bonnie franklin pat harrington jr

“Chicago Rendezvous”

1.2       Chicago Rendezvous Airdate:  12/23/75

Steve Blanchard (Lyman Ward) has been seeing a lot of Ann and has offered to use his job as a pilot to take her to Chicago for the weekend…with Ann questioning if she can be what Steve wants.

one day at a time season 1 episode 3 jealousy candy carla borelli bonnie franklin


1.3       Jealousy Airdate:  12/30/75

Ann’s ex-husband has a new girlfriend named Candy (Carla Borelli), and everyone (especially Julie) seems to love Candy…except Ann.

one day at a time season 1 episode 4 how to succeed without trying robert mandan bonnie franklin

“How to Succeed Without Trying”

1.4       How to Succeed Without Trying Airdate:  01/06/76

Ann has her first good opportunity at a job suggested by David (Richard Masur).  Unfortunately, Ann’s interview becomes an obvious attempt for her new potential boss Pete Holston (Robert Mandan) to hit on her

one day at a time season 1 episode 5 david loves ann richard masur bonnie franklin

“David Loves Ann”

1.5       David Loves Ann Airdate:  01/13/76

David is tired of the direction that he and Ann are going and makes an ultimatum.  Ann must decide if she wants to marry him, and she has a week to do it.

one day at a time season 1 episode 6 julies best friend richard masur bonnie franklin mackenzie phillips

“Julie’s Best Friend”

1.6       Julie’s Best Friend Airdate:  01/20/76

Julie’s best friend Beverly goes to Indianapolis’s most prestigious private school Armsby Hall.  When David agrees to pay for Julie’s tuition, Ann must step in and be the bad guy.

one day at a time season 1 episode 7 super blues pat harrington jr bonnie franklin schneider

“Super Blues”

1.7       Super Blues Airdate:  01/27/76

Ann and David are having a party at Ann’s place, and Schneider (Pat Harrington Jr.) learns that he’s not part of the party.  When Ann realizes she’s hurt Schneider’s feelings, she sets out to make amends.

one day at a time season 1 episode 8 all the way mackenzie phillips valerie bertinelli

“All the Way”

1.8       All the Way Airdate:  02/10/76

Julie’s new boyfriend Chuck (William Kirby Cullen) wants to have sex, and Julie finds her mother, David, and Barbie all weighing in on her decision.

one day at a time season 1 episode 9 fighting city hall

“Fighting City Hall”

1.9       Fighting City Hall Airdate:  02/17/76

A $4,000 phone bill error has Ann’s telephone line shut down.  As Ann steps up attempts to get the situation rectified, an angry letter to President Ford might land her in hot water when Ford comes to Indianapolis.

one day at a time season 1 episode 10 david plus two richard masur susan bay nimoy

“David Plus Two”

1.10     David Plus Two Airdate:  02/24/76

David is getting tired of Ann’s indecisiveness about their relationship.  When Ann learns that David is seeing the new woman in the apartment building Denny (Susan Bay Nimoy), Ann has decisions to make about their relationship.

one day at a time season 1 episode 11 julies job mackenzie phillips suzanne somers

“Julie’s Job”

1.11     Julie’s Job Airdate:  03/02/76

Julie wants a car and will do anything to get it.  With Schneider’s help, Julie finds herself working at a truck stop diner called Arnie’s that isn’t what Ann hoped for.

one day at a time season 1 episode 12 the college man robby benson bonnie franklin mackenzie phillips

“The College Man”

1.12     The College Man Airdate:  03/09/76

Julie’s been set-up with a college guy, but quickly finds out that Ken (Robby Benson) is more interested in her mother than her…and Ann’s flirting isn’t helping.

one day at a time season 1 episode 13 father david richard masur

“Father David”

1.13     Father David Airdate:  03/16/76

With a wedding planned, Julie and Barbie turn to David for help in chaperoning the basketball team’s party.  When Ann says no to alcohol, Barbie decides to get creative.

one day at a time season 1 episode 14 dad comes back part 1 bonnie franklin joseph campanella

“Dad Comes Back—Part 1”

1.14     Dad Comes Back—Part 1 Airdate:  03/23/76

Ann’s got a new job but finds that her ex-husband Ed (Joseph Campanella) is coming by for the first time.  With news that he’s planning on marrying, Barbie decides she has to act if there is ever any hope of her father and mother getting back together.

one day at a time season 1 episode 15 dad comes back part 2 joseph campanella mackenzie phillips valerie bertinelli

“Dad Comes Back—Part 2”

1.15     Dad Comes Back—Part 2 Airdate:  03/30/76

Ed spending the night seems like a sign for Barbie and Julie that their parents are rekindling their romance, but the truth of the situation could ruin the dream forever.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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