Spinoff Stories: One Day at a Time (Article V)

Written Hopeful The Revival Gets a Revival by Bridger Cunningham (former TVRG Writer)

Social relevance ran rampant across CBS in the 70's, and Norman Lear crafted another piece ode to feminism in One Day at a Time, centered on a recent divorcee raising two daughters as a modern woman.  Where ODAAT is an anomaly is as its fad genre of social relevance took a nosedive in its 2nd season, and the series delivered strong until its last season.  CBS toyed with a last-ditch effort to center a spinoff on leading character Schneider in 1984, ultimately passing on the premise as sitcoms went out of trend in mid-1984 (and came back in the fall with The Cosby Show's arrival).  Years later, the series awoke from the grave via a reboot.

The Original Hit Machine
One Day at a Time (1975-84) 

One Day at a Time spent 9 lavish years dressed across the CBS lineup and somehow remained a top-20 player for its first 8 seasons despite 11 disgraceful moves.  The core cast revolved with timeslot changes with several members coming and going.  Despite the frequent changes, viewers enjoyed following the escapades of the Cooper/Romano ladies and their dynamic circle.  ODAAT held a rich plethora of recurring characters as well, creating ample opportunities to spawn new sitcoms during its run.  Interestingly, the network never pursued this phenomena until the very end. 

The First Spinoff
Another Man's Shoes (1984) 

The cast of the tiring series decided to part after a lengthy, heralded run.  Bonnie Franklin and Valerie  Bertenelli walked away, but CBS gave Pat Harrington an opportunity to continue his antics as Dwayne Schneider.  Most of the cast bid adieu in episode 208, with episode 209 opening a backdoor pilot centering on Schneider assuming guardianship of his late brother's two children in Florida (one of which was Cory Feldman).  The episode received tepid reviews, so CBS never bothered to pursue it further. 

The Second Spinoff
One Day at a Time (2017-Present) 

Over three decades after ODAAT left CBS, Netflix announced intentions of rebooting Norman Lear's original series, at his tender age of 94.  Initial responses drew criticism due to lack of originality.  However, the debuting product reversed that cynicism as the modern version was rebooted around modern divorcee Nurse/Iraqi War Vet Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado) raising two teens and living in a tiny Los Angeles apartment with her mother.  Just as the original pioneered in the 70's and 80's, the reboot grabbed social issues by the horn with depression, immigration, mental illness, sexuality and veteran issues coming front and center. 

Does the 2017 version qualify as a reboot or spinoff?  While the premise is indeed a retool of the original, it features the hands of Lear, leaving it open to discussion.

Netflix cancelled the latest incarnation in 2019 after 3 seasons and 39 episodes as it did a mass purge of original scripted material.  However, Netflix's strict and inflexible contract did provide the opportunity for ODAAT to be resurrected on Pop, a cable channel owned by distributor Sony.  Will the platform/network move succeed?  Time will tell as it debuts on March 24, 2020.


 The only tie-in t the original was a loving cameo from Mackenzie Phillips, now managing her addiction issues and enjoying a guest-spot after an abrupt 1983 exit.  Phillips' Pam is also sober and often on hand to discuss mental health and sobriety issues.

Why The Backdoor Failed
(and the Reboot Ruled)

Although a series finale is an ideal time to launch a spinoff to enjoy beloved characters, One Day at a Time was tired and falling apart by its 9th season.  Schneider made an excellent comic foil on the original series and could have carried a show, but tastes had changed by 1984.  The reboot distinguished itself by tackling Iraqi War Veteran issues head-on, speaking to a relevant time all whilst displaying a dynamic cast.  Like the original, the issues are outward, yet never preach and demand its audience follow the views of the characters.  One Day at a Time's reboot caught the right trend wave in 2017, as reboots were the rage.  Even as the nostalgia wave cooled, the characters developed enough interest to sustain as trends changed.

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