If only he had his own catchphrase, Judge P.S. Colbert coulda been a contender.
"Kiss your own damn grits!"
After four years of hash-slinging and scene-stealing on the hit sitcom Alice, Florence Jean Castleberry (Polly Holliday, Gremlins) has retired her apron and put Phoenix, Arizona in her rear view mirror.
The sassy redhead is motoring back to her native Texas, where a lucrative hostessing job awaits. But it's been too long since she last saw the family home in Cowtown, so Flo stops in to visit her mama (Sudie Bond, Johnny Dangerously) and prudish baby sister Fran (Lucy Lee Flippin, Little House On The Prairie). A surprise visit from childhood friend Miriam (Joyce Bulifant) puts our gal in a mood to revisit the old haunts, starting with the old Prairie Dog roadhouse, where, as teenagers, the girls got their first taste of beer and other illicit thrills.
Unfortunately, the establishment hasn't held up as well as Flo's memories, and it's changed hands a few times since she left town, besides. The current owner, a venal banker named Farley Waters (Jim J. Baker) is desperate to sell the rapidly deteriorating money pit, and before you can say, "We now pause for station identification," the deed has transferred to our understandably bewildered title character. After all, she was just passing through, but if things work out, she's gonna stay awhile…
There's a nifty little theme song that says, "the door is always open and the beer is always cold, down at Flo's Yellow Rose," so let's head in and meet the rest of the gang. Hunky bartender Earl (Geoffrey Lewis, Every Which Way But Loose) and chain-smoking city slicker Les Kincaid (Stephen Keep), who tickles the ivories, both came with the place, while auto mechanic Randy Stumphill (Leo Burmester)—a spiritual descendant of Goober Pyle—routinely wanders in from the fillin' station across the street. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the producers did see fit to hiring none other than George Lindsey to play Randy's father in a second season episode.
Flo's father, Jarvis Castleman (Forrest Tucker, F Troop) pays a surprise visit to the family he abandoned thirty-five years prior in the two-part "A Castleberry Thanksgiving,"—which also introduces Flo's three brothers—a very special Flo episode, indeed! (Sudie Bond's work here is stunning). Other notable guest stars include singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton (who, incidentally, sings "Flo's Yellow Rose"), appearing as himself in "You Gotta Have Hoyt." G.W. Bailey (Major Crimes), does double-duty, playing two completely different roles (in back-to-back episodes!), and Flo's former employer, Mel Sharples, (Vic Tayback) drops by to offer some (unwanted) business acumen in "What Are Friends For?"
The color consistency of these full-frame, half-hour segments is all over the map, there are no subtitles (though the Mono sound is pretty darned good), and like most of the manufactured-on-demand releases from Warner Archives, there are no extras. Still, the biggest letdown is that Flo: The Complete Series totals a measly twenty-nine episodes, ironically, because the same geniuses at CBS who couldn't wait to spin off this breakout character from her original series (and let's face it, Alice never fully recovered after her exit) were just as careless about Flo's own show: moving its slot four times within a year, and then canceling it for failing to establish a large audience.
Like most folks, I missed Flo back in the day, and I've long assumed that—based on its quick demise—here was just another spinoff that never should have been (anyone remember The Tortellis? Joey?), but I was pleasantly surprised to discover a fledgling sitcom, peopled by likeable characters, and, ironically, imbued with the same comic charm of the series it spun off from. I honestly don't expect the series to get a better release than this one, so I'd advise devoted Alice fans to invest in this lost TV treasure.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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