Classic TV: The 70s : Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

Many fans of MASH, when compiling a list of the worst episodes of that show, would agree that the "Hawkeye" episode belongs on the list. That's the one in which Alan Alda's character finds himself injured in the home of a Korean family, none of whose members speak English. This allows him to have all the lines, and there a lot of them, because nearly the whole episode is an endless monologue by Hawkeye.

This plot contrivance was also used on the sitcom One Day at a Time, in the episode "Ann's Crisis." Ann locks herself in her room on her birthday and speaks to her reflection in the mirror about her unhappiness with getting older.

This weekend, I discovered that this plot device was also used on an episode
of Maude, in the episode "Maude Bares Her Soul," in which Maude gripes to
an almost totally silent psychiatrist for the entire episode. The station's program notes call this episode a "tour de force." I call it an overbearing star's
ego trip, like the others listed.

Was this a gimmick that only took place on '70s sitcoms? Are there other examples of this?

I'm not crying, you fool, I'm laughing!


Re: Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

It happened at least once in the Eighties too. There was a Family Ties episode that had Michael J. Fox alone on a bare soundstage, the premise being that he was having a session with a psychiatrist following his friend's suicide. The whole ep was a monologue by Fox. Probably a bit of a vanity thing, but it might also have been that the producers wanted to showcase the dramatic abilities of a star player. It was never a device that was used frequently, but it did seem to occur mostly in sitcoms from the Seventies.

Re: Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

Fox was a genius at comic timing but his gift at drama always seemed underappreciated. So it was a good choice to showcase his less recognised side. I still remember that episode.

But Alan Alda's ego and delivery was too overbearing.
I didn't care for the "One Day at a Time" vanity either.

“Hawdd yw hi, i fod yn ddewr o tu nôl i mur.”

Re: Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

I noticed that trend too. I think it started with Archie when Edith was sexually assualted. I hated it when a sitcom delved into drama. I just wanted to watch a comedy not being preached to and that's what it felt like.

I call it an overbearing star's ego trip
My thought's excatly

I thought P.E.T.A. meant People Eating Tasty Animals

Re: Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

It depended on the ability of the actor. I don't need a comedy to always be nothing but mindless laughs--some drama is welcome, but not all actors can pull it off. I thought the Alda monologue was good, but Bea Arthur's Maude one was too self-indulgent and 'actorish'--a good comedienne, but way OTT when trying to be 'dramatic'.

Re: Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

I don't know of any other examples but I will always remember that episode of M*A*S*H* for the following reason. My grandmother had never seen an episode of the show so she sat down and watched the Hawkeye monologue story. After it ended she said "Is that all that series is about that man talking all the time to himself. What a ratbag! Talk about overrated! I'm never going to watch that show again." And she never did.

Re: Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

I always thought the episode where they use camera as if it was a patient. Watching from his bed at whats going on. Is by far the worse M*A*S*H*episode.

Re: Was this only a phenomenon of '70s sitcoms?

It was done as recently as in the Family Guy episode "Brian and Stewie' (S8 Ep17) Although there are 2 characters in the story, both are voiced by Seth McFarlane.