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Work Com on CBS straddling The Seventies and The Eighties, set in a diner and starring Linda Lavin as Alice. Inspired By the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The series lasted from August, 1976 to July, 1985, running for 202 episodes in nine seasons.
Alice's waitressing job at Mel's Diner was meant to be temporary while she got her singing career moving, but it stretched out to nine seasons. During that time, we met penny-pinching hothead Mel, the diner's owner; Cloudcuckoolander waitress Vera; Alice's son, Tommy, and wise-cracking, slightly over-the-hill, good-time-girl waitress Flo. In the midst of all the schemes and hilarity that ensued at the diner, it was always Alice who remained level-headed and somehow always came up with a solution.
The series became quite popular, particularly because of Flo, who left for her own Spin-Off a few years in. In her place came a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Belle, who was basically a blond version of the character. Although they (re)cast the actress who played Flo in the original movie, Belle didn't last long, and was replaced by JoLene. JoLene had a similar outspoken temperament to her predecessors, but was younger and less obviously promiscuous.
Alice is remembered for making the Catch Phrase "Kiss my grits!" (as uttered by Flo) enormously popular for a short while. The show also gave Linda Lavin many occasions to show off her singing skills, and occasionally let her masquerade as other characters to give her a break from playing the ultra-normal, non-threatening Alice.
- The Cast Showoff - Linda Lavin was cast specifically because of her singing talent.
- The Cameo / As Himself - One memorable episode featured George Burns visiting the restaurant. Vera thought he was God (having starred in the Oh, God! movies.)
- Catch Phrase - The infamous "Kiss my grits!" The writers attempted to give the other characters catch phrases, none of which caught on to anywhere near the same extent.
- Cloudcuckoolander - The "third waitress", Vera, generally caught all the "dumb" lines, but was also weird enough to qualify as this trope.
- Crossover - Boss Hogg and Enos Strate, of The Dukes of Hazzard, turn up in one episode. Boss Hogg is said to be JoLene's cousin.
- Dawson Casting - Inverted. Philip McKeon played his character's age, and memorably grew over a foot between seasons; Tommy went from being at eye level to Alice to towering over her.
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune - "There's a New Girl in Town", sung by Linda Lavin.
- Greasy Spoon
- Failure Is the Only Option: Alice's showbiz career. One episode explored the trope by giving Alice several opportunities to join a traveling show, only for her to develop a severe case of hiccups every time she attempted it. Turned out it was a psychosomatic reaction, because she didn't want to leave her new life behind.
- One-Note Cook - Mel made a mean chili. Everything else was mocked mercilessly.
- Really Gets Around - Flo
- Recurring Character - Several regular customers, including Earl Hicks, telephone lineman Henry Beesmeyer, and police officer Eliot Novak; Mel's mother, Carrie, and his girlfriend, Marie; Alice's mother, Mona.
- Spin-Off - Flo. It didn't last long, and Flo never came back to Alice despite the character's popularity.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute - The two waitresses who replaced Flo: Belle, and then JoLene, Both of them were sassy Southerners, like Flo, but JoLene was clearly not supposed to be as sexually available as the other two.
- Tropacabana: The series spent almost all its airtime in Mel's Diner.