April 3rd marked the 90th birthday for Doris Day, once the biggest box office star in America. And today - Sunday, April 6th - she'll be celebrated on ME-TV with a four hour block of programming.
Since Sundays are considered by the networks as their showplace night for TV (SO glad I'm off that night!), I waited until today for this look back at the unique property of Ms. Day's eponymous TV series.
'The Doris Day Show' began in 1968 on CBS with that rural flavor the Tiffany network had become known for. Doris Martin was a widow with two small boys, Billy and Toby (My next oldest brother is a Billy!), and a dog she had stolen from the Nash family back East.
They moved to her father's farm just outside of San Francisco and for that first season is was just a gentle and low-key, sweetness and light, slice of life sitcom; really not much more than the presence of Doris Day and character actors Denver Pyle and James Hampton to keep the audience coming back each week. The only exciting thing about it is pure invention on my part - a Toobworld theory that the housekeeper, Aggie Thompson, disappeared from the show after ten episodes because she had been touched by the Wild West Weeping Angel and sent back to Dodge City in the 1890s (where she took over the saloon and was now known as Hannah.)
With the next season, Doris Martin got a job in San Francisco, commuting from the ranch to her secretarial position at Today's World magazine. But at least we know her family was still around, even though we saw her father Buck Webb and his ranch hand Leroy in only a handful of episodes.
By the third season, Doris was tired of the commuting grind, so she and Billy and Toby moved to Frisco. They got an apartment above an Italian restaurant and the show now focused more on her life with her new neighbors as well as with her association with her co-workers at the magazine. And ol' Buck and dim-witted Leroy still showd up occasionally.
But it was in the third season that the show had a seismic shift and the focus point for the audience in the Trueniverse was wrenched from Earth Prime-Time to a different TV dimension entirely.
Doris Martin was no longer a widow; she was a single career girl. And yet her surname remained "Martin" and not "Webb". Her family was never seen again, not even on those rare occasions as in the past when Buck and Leroy showed up.
Ms. Martin still worked at Today's World, but all of her previous co-workers were gone, and she was no longer a secretary. Doris was a full-fledged writer, soon to be elevated to the position of associate editor (getting in that MTM vibe.)
We've seen TV shows shift their P.O.V. to other TV dimensions in the past. In fact, around the same time this was happening, ABC was doing the same thing with 'Alias Smith And Jones' - the main Toobworld plays host to the story of Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes as played by Ben Murphy and Pete Duel. But once Duel died and was replaced by Roger Davis, the series shifted over to another TV dimension. (A more recent example of this phenomenon would be 'The Dead Zone' and now probably 'Arrow' as well.)
After five years and existing in two TV dimensions, Doris Martin left our TV screens forever. But as always with the Toobworld Dynamic, that doesn't mean she had ceased to be. (Can't re-read that line without hearing John Cleese's voice in my head!)
Doris Martin still lives on in Earth Prime-Time; we're just not privileged enough to see her anymore. Unlike Doris Day, Doris Martin has not yet reached the age of 90, and it's likely she could go on living in Toobworld for many years to come. And every Christmas she probably practices her serlinguist skills, whether we actually see her do so or not.
In fact, I would add her to the roster of TV series alumni from San Francisco who could be involved in the never-to-be-seen episodes of 'Psych'. If not as the sweet and feisty old lady I'm sure she's become, then merely mentioned as the mother of grown-up recastaways of Billy and Toby Martin. (It's just not right that Billy should be older than Toby!) At the very least, issues of Today's World magazine should be seen in any number of waiting rooms n the City by the Bay. And Shawn and Gus could have pizza at Pallucci Pizza every so often, no matter who's running it now......
And if you're a fan of 'The Doris Day Show', stop by "The Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear" blog (Link to the Left, you Que-Seranians!) Ivan offers up his own bit of a twist to his reviews of the show's episodes. (Leroy doesn't fare well with Ivan, but he's ahead of the game in comparison to the treatment of "Mike The Idiot Boy" during Ivan's reviews of 'Mayberry RFD'!)
Happy birthday, Ms. Day. And best wishes for many more to come!