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  • Aside from being a stepping stone to stardom for a then-unknown James Cromwell, the show was witty, progressive and more than a little racy. Revolving around the lives of the "broken-down" living in the equally rickety Hot L (Hotel) Baltimore, the sitcom proved to be too adult/heady for 1975 America, and was cancelled after one season.
  • Bombarded with inflation, Watergate, OPEC, and the entire precarious Nixon administration, the American people were not ready for a sophisticated comedy which was flippant about one night stands!!!.. Though the seventies were paving the way for Pandora's box to be opened wide... The television audience was just getting accustomed to the anything but perfect American family, not for the seedier side of life....Way ahead of their time....Too bad it was canceled right away!!...The pejorative side of human nature presented itself as having such a terribly ubiquitous reputation in this comedy series!!! "Hot L Baltimore" could be intrepidly candid about their comical ramifications!! All in all, the world of sub-poverty, blatant sexual indiscretions, and educated derelicts, evoked a compendium of comedy by circumstances... Incredibly dire circumstances that is!! "Hot L Baltimore" was a very well developed sitcom! It was one of the better ones actually!! When reality gets offensive, the television audience rejects it!! This does not mean that "Hot L Baltimore" was not funny!! The end result of abysmal failure is caused by human error, therefore, there is really nothing else to do but laugh!! This was the summon substance of the television show "Hot L Baltimore". Suffice to say, it was very funny, as well as very entertaining!!!
  • I don't know...I thought that it was a great TV show, and would like to see all 13 episodes again. The cast was magnificent, particularly James Cromwell. I had only seen him during those days as 'Stretch Cunningham' in several episodes of "All in the Family." There was also a very stout actress in the show whose role was as an appealing character, and a phlegmatic black fellow name of Al Freeman, Jr., also starred in it with Richard Masur and others. Criticism that this program was left-leaning in terms of its politics is well-taken and probably true. Interestingly enough, Cromwell went to high school and played football on the same team in Pelham, NY with Michael "Mickey" Schwerner, one of the three civil rights workers from the north who were killed in Mississippi. Cromwell's father (by adoption), the director John Cromwell, was on the Hollywood blacklist from 1951-58.
  • TheGrip14 December 2002
    In 1975, this show was highly touted as being the next big TV hit. It was marketed along with another new show to the network, "Barney Miller," but Hot L got more buzz. The action transpired like a play, which is probably why it wasn't successful. The writing was good and the cast was notable and did very well with the material. Unfortunately, it never cut it with audiences.
  • The best accidents ever made in the history of man .like billions of yrs later it's still fresh. Never misses a beat and hasn't lost A THING a true coffee table book ( if we're a book) a true treasure for all times
  • 'The Hot L Baltimore' was originally a play by Lanford Wilson, set in a seedy residential hotel that had seen better days (the missing 'E' in the sign symbolised the hotel's deterioration) to the point where the hotel was now renting rooms to prostitutes. The play was considered racy and daring at the time, but now seems quite tame. The most notable aspect of Wilson's two-act play was that it took place in real time; the stage set (the hotel's lobby) included a prominent clock that kept track of time during the action, with the interval between the acts equalling a gap in the play's action.

    In 1975, it's unlikely that anyone but Norman Lear would have dared turn this play into a sitcom. Unfortunately, he removed everything that made Wilson's play interesting, replacing it with the usual Norman Lear liberal posturing and self-congratulation. It didn't help that several of the regular roles were cast with perennial members of Norman Lear's stock company (James Cromwell, Richard Masur, Gloria LeRoy), making this sitcom look and sound a lot like every other Norman Lear sitcom.

    The opening credits featured an excellent jazzy ragtime theme by Marvin Hamlisch, climaxing with a shot of the hotel's neon sign 'Hotel Baltimore' as the first E blew out, explaining the title.

    April and Suzy were the prostitutes in residence; the former had an annoying tendency to refer to herself as 'this WORKING girl', in a manner implying that women in her profession are the *only* women who really work for a living. April was played by Conchata Ferrell, repeating the stage role that Wilson had tailored especially for her talents. Suzy was a Latina and an illegal alien; one episode centred on her desperate attempts to find a U.S. citizen willing to marry her so she could avoid deportation. Bill was the desk clerk-manager, played by the underrated James Cromwell. (I'm pleased that, in recent years, Cromwell has finally received the acclaim he deserves.) Mr Ainsley (Richard Masur in an atypically unsympathetic role) was the agent of the absentee landlord, always threatening to clean up the place and get a better class of guests. The other residents were elderly waitress Millie; Jackie, an enthusiastic young counterwoman at Woolworth's; angry old man Morse; and hot-head radical Bingham. George and Gordon were the two gay men who shared a room. Lear's scripts were careful to avoid the 'cissy' stereotypes but made these two characters prissy rather than swishy. In one episode, Gordon had a tantrum because George had forgotten their 'anniversary'. As usual, Norman Lear wants to have it both ways, getting humour at the expense of these gay men while congratulating himself over avoiding the most obvious pansy jokes.

    As is often the case in sitcoms, this one included a perennially offstage character who is constantly mentioned but never seen: in this case it was Moose Bellotti, a very dysfunctional young man who never left his hotel room, and who was constantly nannied by his mother ... played by Charlotte Rae in her full nasal screech mode. Charlotte Rae is the single most annoying performer in the entire history of US television, narrowly beating out Alice Ghostley.

    But, in this sitcom, consistently the most annoying character was Charles Bingham. I'm a great admirer of the talented actor Al Freeman Jnr, but his character in this series was all left-wing posturing and pretentiousness. In one episode, Bingham announced with great fanfare that he had written and printed a list of all the contributions made to society by the CIA. He then proceeded to hand out a blank sheet of paper. Ha bloody ha. We're meant to admire Bingham for his left-wing opinions, but I can't respect someone who devotes his energies to empty gestures like this while professing his desire to change the world. Freeman did give a splendid performance in one episode with guest star Ron O'Neal as Bingham's friend, an incurable confidence trickster.

    The best episode of this brief series spotlighted the relationship between Bill and April, when he impulsively decided to take her on a date. ('I got a date with a lady!' he proclaims, handing a corsage to the prostitute.) The two of them have a very enjoyable (and G-rated) evening, harmonising on 'Down by the Old Mill Stream'. Yet afterwards, Bill couldn't bring himself to date her again. Was it because of April's profession? Or perhaps because of her notable girth? Cromwell gave a very sensitive performance, conveying that he genuinely cared for April as a person but that he was repelled by the idea of an ongoing relationship with her.

    Ultimately, 'Hot L Baltimore' is unworthy of revival. Its good points were too few. The left-wing posturing of Bingham (echoed by Bill and several other characters) made this show too strident.