26 December 2001 | pebrogan
WHAT WILL BE WILL BE DELIGHTFUL!
Doris Day, the number one female box-office attraction of all-time, smoothly segued into television in September of 1968. Although she had not planned to do a series, her late husband Marty Melcher had committed her to a deal with the eye network and as Day always said, "...a deal is a deal..." Despite stellar ratings the first week, the series faltered somewhat during the following weeks as viewers became frustrated at seeing Doris, who had achieved tremendous cinema success as a working, strong-minded woman, relegated to living on a farm. She was a delight as a widow with two young sons, a father, farm hand and housekeeper, but the scripts gave her little to do but smile. She took control of the show during the second season, had her character, Doris Martin get a job at a magazine in San Francisco, and ratings shot through the roof. The second through fifth seasons were certainly notable for many reasons. "The Doris Day Show" averaged 35-35 million viewers each Monday evening. It was largely due to Day's tremendous likeability and effortless skill as an actress and comic. The situations, while often uproariously funny, were never so slapstick that they bordered on caricature. She wisely surrounded herself with a wonderful supporting cast and guest stars that complimented her inherent skills. Maclean Stevenson, Rose Marie, Kaye Ballard, Bernie Kopell, Billy DeWolfe and others, were all given ample opportunity to shine, Day never feeling she wanted all the focus to be on her. There were wonderful guest stars and a look-see at the series will give you a chance to watch a young Jodie Foster and a venerable Estelle Winwood, well into her 80's at the time she appeared on the series several times. Henry Fonda, Day's "Midnight Lace" co-star John Gavin, Lew Ayres, Tony Bennett, Peter Lawford, and Patrick O'Neal are just a handful of those who graced the tube with the freckle-faced dynamo. Continuing her big-screen role as an independent woman who wouldn't take flack from anyone, instead building a successful career in what was often a man's world, prior to the so-called cutting edge "Mary Tyler Moore Show", Day was a woman of strength and determination although never submerging her femininity and becoming hard or cold. Occassionally Doris Day even let lose with a song or two, harmonizing with Bennett to "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", chirping with Larry Storch to "Harvest Moon" or singing a perfectly beautiful "Silver Bells" during a Christmas episode. Always garbed beautifully, Day had a great time sending up her own image as in an episode where her character, Doris Martin, won a Doris Day look-alike contest. While the show underwent some changes of cast and locale each season, her character continued her job at Today's World, and always maintained her integrity and sense of humor. In the Spring of 1973, following a successful five year run of almost 130 episodes, Day decided not to renew her contract for another season feeling that she had done what she could with the role. Offers continued to pour in for various series but Day felt the series stood on its own merits. A look at the show today shows that she was savvy in walking away when she did. It remains funny, charming, very watchable, and Day remains a surefire treat, the glue that keeps everything nicely together.