Judge Cynthia Boris is waiting for Season Five, where Doris will presumably morph into a tough-talking street vigilante with exquisite taste in handbags.
Que, Sera, Sera, Sera, Sera, Sera…
She was once dubbed America's Favorite Virgin. Wholesome and innocent, Doris Day was probably the most unconventional sex symbol of the 50's and 60's. Her bright smile and girl-next-door good looks made her a romantic comedy favorite starring in such films as Pillow Talk and The Thrill of it All. Also an accomplished singer, Doris is most closely associated with the light and bouncy song "Que, Sera Sera" which, ironically was introduced in the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much. By 1968, she had completed thirty-nine films and nearly two-dozen albums. She was about to head into a whole new phase of her career—whether she wanted to or not.
Facts of the Case
Doris Martin is a feature writer for San Francisco-based Today's World magazine. She has a demanding boss (John Dehner, Slaughterhouse-Five), a flighty best friend (Jackie Joseph, Gremlins), and a long line of male suitors including Bob Crane (Hogan's Heroes) and semi-regular Peter Lawford (Ocean's Eleven).
With a seemingly limitless closet of couture clothing and a personal hairdresser at her beck and call, Doris goes after the tough stories like exposing medical billing fraud (which leads to romance), getting the dirt on a famous talk show host (which leads to romance), tracking down a world famous painter (which leads to romance)…of course there's also the time she was taken hostage by Middle Eastern rebels (seriously, it's episode 11) and became a potential victim of the Santa Clause serial killer (episode 14). Yes, it's a romantic comedy—but there are four thieves, one government spy, a notorious mobster, and puppies. It's Doris Day, for heaven's sake, ya gotta have puppies.
And if everything I just wrote leaves you scratching your head and saying, "that's not The Doris Day Show I remember," join the club. I'm right there with you. Read on for the explanation.
I asked to review The Doris Day Show because I remembered enjoying the series when I was a kid. Doris and her two children leave city life to live on a farm with Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle) from the Dukes of Hazzard. And there was a dog. A huge fluffy sheep dog named Lord Nelson. Imagine my surprise when I popped in the Fourth Season DVD and found Doris working for a magazine in the city with no kids, no Uncle Jesse, and no dog! What happened?
Apparently The Mary Tyler Moore Show happened and sweet, single moms living in the country just didn't cut it anymore. I will give them credit for not making the change over night. The Second Season of the series had Doris commuting to the city for her job as a secretary for a magazine publisher (needed to make ends meet). In the Third Season her sons joined her in an apartment in the city and Doris began writing for a magazine but then the entire cast boarded a plane bound for the Bermuda Triangle and disappeared before the start of Season Four.
This was not a good thing.
Though Doris certainly is charismatic on screen, I just don't get the point of this season. On one hand, it's as if they're making her out to be a hard news journalist. But the light-hearted comedy elements just don't fit. Struggling writer? Not in clothes like that. And what's with every guy she meets falling in love with her? No insult to the charming Ms. Day, but come on, it's stretching the already thin thread of credibility every time she demurely turns down an offer from yet another rich, handsome, prince charming.
A quick note on the video transfer—though the colors (and there are many) are bright, the overall quality is uneven with scratches and a grainy texture noticeable on several of the episodes.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
On the upside, it's Doris Day. She's got a terrific smile, an easy, friendly way about her and a voice that's deep and sultry even when she's reading a phone book. The cast around her can't be beat. You'll see character actors Kaye Ballard and Billy DeWolfe, Alan Hale, Charles Nelson Reilly, Werner Klemperer and Bernie Kopell and bona fide movie stars such as Van Johnson, Rory Calhoun, and Peter Lawford.
If you're a fan of Doris (and her animals rights cause) you'll really enjoy her episode of Betty's White's The Pet Set Show featured on the DVD along with one of Doris' animal shelter PSAs. Other nifty bonus features include interviews with Jackie Joseph and Kaye Ballard, a peek at Season Five, neat old commercial bumpers and—hold on to your hats—the extended version of Doris's fashion show which is used extensively in the opening credits.
Given the show's obvious fascination with haute couture, I have to wonder why they didn't put Doris at a fashion magazine instead of a hard news magazine. That might have been the key to success in this fourth season.
The court concludes that Mary Richards can take the world on with her smile, but Doris Martin needs a tiny bit more than just sparkling teeth to make this sitcom work.
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Scales of Justice
• Doris Day on The Pet Show with Betty White
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