It always seems like it was just yesterday to me when I sat on my grandparent’s ugly green carpet night after night watching Alice on our already-archaic tube television set. When the Warner Archive Collection unleashed the first season of the barely recognizable spin-off of Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore last year, it enabled me — as well as millions of other viewers who fondly (or even uncaringly remembered the program) — to revisit our memories of the show, for better or for worse. A few short months later, Warner packaged together Alice: The Complete Second Season for us to enjoy. Or not, as the case may be for some.
This is the series’ sophomoric season — in more ways than one. The jokes are just as corny and predictable as they were in the premiere season, but that is, of course, what viewers of the ’70s liked about it. In fact, with the exception of the fact that the show’s stars had grown a little more comfortable in their portrayals of their own respective characters, little else had changed. Linda Lavin still crooned the silly morning AM radio-friendly theme song, Polly Holliday (as Flo) still took every occasion to utter her famous catchphrase “Kiss my grits” at the drop of her apron (the slut), Beth Howland still embraced playing the clown-like Vera, and the venerable Vic Tayback (as Mel) continued to smoke in the kitchen whilst making chili.
Oh, and that Phillip McKeon kid is in there, too.
As was the instance with the first season, Alice: The Complete Second Season comes to us in a three-disc set. All 24-episodes — ranging from plots about everybody being stuck in the snow on Christmas Eve (yes, it’s the proverbial Christmas episode, kids!) to all of the girls in the diner discovering they are dating the same man — are shown in what appears to be their uncut glory, and guest stars this time include George Burns, Desi Arnaz, Jerry Reed, Ron Masak, and more. Interestingly, two of the episodes in this set (“The Reporter” and “The Bus”) were filmed during Season Two, but wouldn’t air on CBS until the Fourth Season — and, as such, appear here with the later opening credits and theme song that would accompany the series. Think of ‘em as extras, kids, since this WAC title — like so many others — doesn’t offer anything else in the way of special features.
And, just like most other vintage TV shows released on DVD-R via a Manufactured on Demand program, don’t go expecting remastered bliss here. In fact, let me just put it this way: the quality of this shot-on-video-in-the-’70s show is about as good as it can possibly be without any heavy restoration. But then, if you’re watching Alice for its quality, you’re obviously in a very different boat than I am.