Friday, March 8, 2013

The Blog Can't Stop Crying Long Enough to Come Up With a Clever Title for this Post.

Things aren't like they used to be.

Take television, for example.

Mismatched couples kiss, fall in love, end up in bed together, or whatever, often before the first or second or fifth season is over.

                                                              Castle and Beckett.

                                                                 House and Cuddy.
                                                                    Nick and Jess.
                                                                Shawn and Juliet.
                                                                Leonard and Penny.
And, viewers are okay with that.

They keep tuning in.

Back in my day, if a man and a woman costarred in a television show, their characters would spend, sometimes, years pretending to barely tolerate each other, bickering and fighting, always leaving the viewer wondering, "Will they? Or, won't they?" Slowly building sexual tension for dramatic or comedic purposes.

Sam and Diane.

Sam and Rebecca.

Monica and Ross.

                                                               David and Maddie.

(If you are too young to recognize any of the names on this second list...

...Welcome, my very young blogglitts!)

And, in those days, once the couple did (kiss, proclaim their love, marry or "unleash the beast with two backs" [a classic David Addisonism],) it was like an overdose of television heroin.

One night of blissful, off the charts ratings Nirvana...

... followed by an ugly, tragic ratings death.

(Okay, the Sam and Rebecca thing actually pulled "Cheers" from the brink of the potential TV suicide that could have been brought on by the Sam and Diane thing.)

Once the sexual tension was alleviated, the very thing that viewers kept hoping for, those same fickle viewers instantly lost interest.

The PC isn't sure what changed.

Maybe the world is just different, today.

Maybe television writers have gotten better at making post kiss, post coitus episodes more interesting.

Surely, in the case of House and Cuddy, we fans just knew that things were only going to get weirder and more uncomfortable from that point. And, we were not disappointed.

Which brings The Blog to the most famous, most disastrous, and possibly, the first, example of how "They did!" could go, oh so horribly, wrong.

                                                   Rhoda Morgenstern and Joe Gerard.


The next couple of paragraphs are for the benefit of the readers who know who Nick and Jess are, but have never heard of David and Maddie.

You are welcome to read along. But, The Blog will be talking about things that you already know.

Once upon a time, there was a TV show called "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

The MTM show was one of the best sitcoms of the 1970s. Even today, weird '70s fashion aside, the show still holds up and is still funny.

Mary Tyler Moore played Mary Richards.

Valerie Harper was her best friend Rhoda Morgenstern.

And in those days, if Mary Richards was America's sweetheart (and she was,) Rhoda Morgenstern was America's wacky best friend.

While Mary was the '70s embodiment of (relatively) self-confident feminism, Rhoda was the defiantly hippyish connection to the pre-feminist '60s, Jewish guilt ridden, shlubby (by Hollywood standards, but cute enough that any one of us normal people would have given any left extremity to date her) perpetually dateless, doomed to cat lady spinsterdom...

...Crap! I have no idea how to end this sentence...

Anyway, Rhoda was to the '70s what Lena Dunham is to the second decade of the 21st Century. (Which takes us back to how much things have changed.)

And, in 1974, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show's" loss was Rhoda fan's gain.

"Rhoda" became the first of several "MTM Show" spin-offs.

Rhoda left MTM's Minneapolis and moved to New York. And for several seasons, her show was as nearly as big a hit as MTM's.

And, not only did Rhoda gain her semi-independence, (living with her sister, played by Julie "Marge Simpson" Kavner, and under the thumb of her mother, played by Nancy "The Quicker Picker-upper" Walker,) she also, finally, landed a serious boyfriend, David Groh's Joe Gerard.

For three seasons, Rhoda and Joe played the "will they, or won't they?" game.

And then it happened.

A few weeks into the fourth season, Rhoda and Joe, finally, got married.

And, man! It was huge!

America's best friend married her true love, and we were all invited to the wedding.

The Blog vividly remembers the front page of The Cleveland Plain Dealer on the day after the wedding.

Front page, above the fold, bold print.

A space usually reserved for headlines like...

"Neil Armstrong Walks on the Moon!" or "Nixon Resigns!"

"Rhoda Marries!"

The headline shouted.

Yes. Rhoda's marriage, the wedding of a fictional television character, was headline news.

Because that is how much America loved Rhoda.

The wedding episode earned ratings that would not be topped until the series finale of M*A*S*H.

And then, something weird happened.

People stopped watching "Rhoda."

The goal had, evidently, been reached.

Rhoda finally married. End of story.

There was just no reason to watch, anymore.

The viewers were satisfied.

Then, in what The Blog has to assume was a hurricane of blind panic on the part of "Rhoda's" writers and producers,

The Rhoda/Joe marriage became stormy and dysfunctional.

Leading to a quick divorce.

Which did nothing to play into the fan's "happily ever after" expectations.

At this point, everything that the die-hard "Rhoda" fans wanted from the show was gone.

And what remained of the series was ratings suicide.


What does any of this have to do with anything?

Well, it doesn't, really.

The above paragraphs are really The Blog's way of avoiding the topic that he actually set out to talk about, tonight.

It all ties in, relevancy-wise.

Sort of.

But, it is really a matter of procrastination.

If you have not turned on the TV news in the last 48 hours, or listened to the radio, or seen the newest cover story of People Magazine...

You may not know...

Valerie Harper, best known as Rhoda Morgenstern... dying.

An incredibly rare cancer has infested the fluid that surrounds her brain.

It is inoperable and incurable.

The best estimate from her oncologist is that she has about three months to live.

And, not 24 hours after The Blog learned of this...

... He met Valerie, for the first (and probably last) time.

Valerie is 73-years-old (!?!) and still, stunningly, beautiful.

And, while all of us tried, futilely, to hold back our tears, Valerie is living for the moment. And, using her last days to spread hope and positivity to the world and the fans who love her.

The Blog got to chat with her for a bit.

The PC passed on a message from a friend who was a fan.

That message was, "Thank you."

Valerie took my hands in hers, and asked, "What is your friend's name?"

"Mickey," I answered.

"Well," she replied, "Tell Mickey 'Thank YOU!' from me."

I mentioned that we had a mutual friend, David Groh.

(Rhoda's misbegotten husband.)

David passed away a couple of years ago from pancreatic cancer.

We reminisced, for a bit,  about what a great guy and consummate professional he was.

And, about how he kept is illness a secret. And, how stunned we were to learn of his death.

And then...

Valerie hugged me.

And I lost it.

Your Uncle PC, a mature, 53-year-old adult...

... began sobbing like a baby.

I excused myself to the men's room, to try to pull my shit together.

There, I discovered one of our producers, another full grown man, splashing water on his face, while choking back the tears.

Valerie said something amazing on our show.

She said, "Don't go to the funeral one day before the funeral begins."

God knows we are trying.

But, we are grieving the immanent loss of our America's Best Friend.

The PC uses his blog to complain about the things that he hates about the world. And, in the near future, he is bound to continue to do so.

But, he hopes that he can take one thing away from his short time with Valerie.

The Blog has no right to complain about his life.

Things could be worse.

And those things can be confronted with positivity and a sense of humor.

So, Thank you, Valerie Harper, for touching my life with your humor and with your amazingly positive outlook.

I hope that the doctors are way, way wrong and that you will out live us all.

It could happen!

The Blog doesn't usually do this...

But, here is a shameless plug...

This coming Monday, March 11th, tune in, or set your Tivo™ for "The Doctors."

A full hour with Valerie Harper.

The most amazingly moving show we have ever done.

You won't be sorry!


  1. I had to read this one in the bathroom so I wouldn't upset the kids with my tears.

  2. PC,

    Very nice memorial. Was so sad to hear her news.

    FYI, though, the PD front page you referred to? Doesn't exist. Here's what the paper looked like that day:

    There was no mention in the paper of the wedding at all.

    1. Thank you, The Plain Dealer, for taking the time to comment. I really do appreciate it! See my latest post for a follow up.