Friday, March 26, 2021

Fri-Yay: Superstore Series Finale; Remembering Jessica Walter of Arrested Development and Richard Gilliland of Designing Women

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

Superstore

by Vincent

Last night, NBC's Superstore came to an end. The show has been one of the best network sitcoms of the past decade, and in my mind, one of the most underrated sitcoms of all-time. It's a hilarious show with an excellent ensemble that tackled working class issues that no other show has even come close to tackling, and it deserves to be mentioned in the same conversation as The Office, Community, 30 Rock, The Good Place or any of the other beloved NBC comedies of modern times. The show is also going out with a great season - even though losing America Ferrera and dealing with the issues of the COVID-19 pandemic don't sound like they would make a great Superstore season, they really have. The way Superstore depicts its employees' dealing with the pandemic has made for some great dark and true-to-life humor, and continued its amazing turn of taking serious issues and making funny, thoughtful TV.

At the time I'm writing this, I haven't watched the show's series finale yet. But in some ways, I'm dreading the show's end, just because Superstore has been such a consistent delight these past six years, and I'm not ready for the show to end just yet. With Superstore leaving, it'll leave a huge hole in the network TV landscape, and I truly hope that the show has a revival on streaming the way The Office and Parks and Recreation did - as many people as possible deserve to watch this truly incredible series. So farewell, Superstore, and thanks for all of the laughs and real moments you've given us.


Jessica Walter

Emmy-winning actress Jessica Walter, who starred as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, has died. She died in her sleep at her home in Manhattan, New York, on March 24. Ms. Walter was 80.

Walter's early television guest appearances included Flipper, The Fugitive, The F.B.I., Name of the Game, Mannix, Mission: Impossible, Alias Smith and Jones, Mannix, Banacek, Barnaby Jones, The Magician, Columbo, Hawaii Five-O and Ironside. She won an Emmy Award in 1975 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her work in the NBC police drama Amy Prentiss. Amy Prentiss was a relatively young investigator who becomes the first female Chief of Detectives for the San Francisco Police Department following the previous chief's death. The series was a spin-off of Ironside.

She had a recurring role as Claudia Bradford in eight episodes the 1984-1985 ABC sitcom Three's a Crowd. Claudia Bradford was Vicky Bradford's (Mary Cadorette) mother and James Bradford's (Robert Mandan) ex-wife. The Three's Company spin-off also starred John Ritter and Alan Campbell.

Walter provided the voice of Fran Sinclair on the 1991-1994 ABC sitcom Dinosaurs. Fran Sinclair was a ten-ton allosaurus who was the mother and homemaker of the Sinclair family. The cast providing voices included Stuart Pankin, Jason Willinger, Sally Struthers, Kevin Clash, Florence Stanley, Sam McMurray and Sherman Hemsley.

Walter starred as Celia Calloway on the 1998-2000 Lifetime sitcom Oh Baby. Celia was the bossy mother of Tracy Calloway (Cynthia Stevenson). The series also starred Joanna Gleason, Matt Champagne, Dina Spybey, Doug Ballard, Jack Coleman, Patrick Kerr and Don McMarcus.

Arrested Development

She starred as the scheming alcoholic socialite matriarch Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. Lucille is the wife of George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) and the mother of Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman). Walter received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Comedy Series for the role in 2005. The series aired on Fox for three seasons from 2003 to 2005 before being revived by Netflix for seasons four (2013) and five (2018-2019). It also stars Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross and Ron Howard (narrator).

Retired at 35

Walter starred as Elaine Robbins on the 2011-2012 TV Land sitcom Retired at 35. It ran for two seasons and 20 episodes. The series follows a successful New Yorker named David (Johnathan McClain), who decides to leave the rat race and his job in the big city and visit his father (George Segal) and mother (Jessica Walter) who live in a retirement community in Florida. The series also starred Josh McDermitt, Ryan Michelle Bathe (Season 1) and Marissa Jaret Winokur (Season 2).

Jennifer Falls

She starred as Maggie Doyle on the 2014 TV Land sitcom Jennifer Falls. The series follows Jennifer Doyle (Jaime Pressly), a single mother who, after losing her high salary job, has to move back in with her mother, Maggie. It also starred Missi Pyle, Ethlan Suplee, Nora Kirkpatrick and Dylan Gelula.

Walter provided the voice of Malory Hunter on the FX/FXX animated series Archer for 11 seasons from 2009 to 2020. Malory Hunter is the mother Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin). The show has been renewed for season 12. Others providing voices include Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Chris Parnell, Adam Reed, Aisha Tyler and Lucky Yates.

Some of her sitcom guest appearances included Love, American Style, Aloha Paradise, Joanie Loves Chachi, The Love Boat, Coach (5 episodes as Susan Miller), You Wish, Just Shoot Me! (as Eve Gallo, the mother of Maya (Laura San Giacomo) and the ex-wife of magazine publisher Jack Gallo (George Segal)), Rules of Engagement, Happy Hour, The Big Bang Theory, The Odd Couple (2016), Difficult People and American Housewife.

She had a supporting role as Phyllis Koster, the wife of David Koster (William Shatner), on the short-lived 1965 CBS police drama For the People. She had a recurring role as Melanie McIntyre, Trapper John's (Pernell Roberts) former wife on the CBS medical drama Trapper John, M.D. from 1979 to 1985. In 1982, she appeared as Anne McPherson on the NBC drama The Round Table. She played Ava Marshall on the short-lived 1983 NBC primetime soap opera Bare Essence. She starred as Connie Lo Verde on the 1988 NBC drama Aaron's Way. She was a regular as Tabitha Wilson on the first half of the first season of 90210 from 2008 to 2009.

Some of her other drama television guest appearances in the 1970s and 1980s included McCloud, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan and Wife, Wonder Woman, Quincy, M.E., Knots Landing, Matt Houston, Hotel, Magnum, P.I. and Murder, She Wrote. Her later guest appearances included Babylon 5, Law & Order, One Life to Live (6 episodes), Jack & Jill, Touched by an Angel, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Saving Grace, Gravity, NCIS and Good Girls.

Her film credits included Play Misty for Me (1971), Grand Prix (1966), The Group (1966), Going Ape! (1981), Spring Fever (1983), The Flamingo Kid (1984) and PCU (1994).

Ms. Walter was a brilliant actress. She was so funny and memorable as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. She made everything she appeared in much better. We thank her for the many laughs and entertainment she brought us during her long career. She will be deeply missed.

Share your memories on our Arrested Development messsage board. View photos in our galleries.

Richard Gilliland

Character actor Richard Gilliland, who appeared as J.D. Shackelford on Designing Women, has died. He died on March 18 following a short illness in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Gilliland was 71.

Operation Petticoat

Gilliland starred as Lt. Nick Holden in the first season (1977-1978) of the ABC sitcom Operation Petticoat. Lt. Nick Holden was a wheeler-dealer supply officer. The first season also starred John Astin, Melinda Naud, Yvonne Wilder, Dorrie Thomson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bond Gideon, Richard Brestoff and Jim Varney.

He starred as Tom Stafford on the short-lived 1989 CBS sitcom Heartland. The series was about an old-fashioned farmer named B. L. McCutcheon (Brian Keith) moves in with his daughter (Katie Layman), son-in-law (Richard Gilliland) and their family. The series also starred Jason Kristofer, Devin Ratray and Daisy Keith.

Just Our Luck

Gilliand starred as Keith Barrow on the short-lived 1983 ABC sitcom Just Our Luck. Keith Barrow was a mild-mannered TV weatherman for KPOX-TV who frees a hip, fun-loving 3,000-year-old genie named Shabu (T.K. Carter) after being imprisoned in his bottle for nearly two centuries. The series also starred Ellen Maxted, Rod McCary, Richard Schaal, Hamilton Camp and Leonard Simon.

Designing Women - Richard Gilliland, Annie Potts and Jean Smart

He had a recurring role as J.D. Shackelford on 14 episodes of the CBS sitcom Designing Women from 1986 to 1991. J.D. Shackelford was Mary Jo Shively's (Annie Potts) boyfriend who worked as a talent scout for the Atlanta Braves. Gilliland married Jean Smart (Charlene Frazier-Stillfield) in 1987. The series also starred Dixie Carter, Delta Burke (1986-1991), Meschach Taylor, Julia Duffy (Season 6), Jan Hooks (Seasons 6-7) and Judith Ivey (Season 7).

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The Love Boat, Mary, Night Court, Valerie, Davis Rules and Becker.

He had a recurring role as Jeffrey Milgrom in seven episodes of thirtysomething from 1989 to 1990. Some of his television drama guest appearances from the 1970 and 1980s included The Streets of San Francisco, Medical Center, Marcus Welby, M.D., The Blue Knight, McMillan and Wife (as Sgt. Steve DiMaggio), Trapper John, M.D., The Waltons, Fantasy Island, Hotel, St. Elsewhere, Hunter, Hearbeat and Jake and the Fatman.

Some of his later guest appearances included Murder, She Wrote, Matlock, Winnetka Road, Touched by an Angel, Dark Skies, Early Edition, The Practice, Party of Five, Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia, Crossing Jordan, 24, Dexter, Desperate Housewives, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Criminal Minds and Imposters.

Mr. Gilliland was a talented and versatile character actor. He was a familiar face on many sitcoms and other television series over the years. He will be greatly missed.

Share your memories on our Designing Women message board. View photos in our galleries.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, April 23

none scheduled

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 19)

Friday, April 23

  • Anna Kendrick (Love Life) - Watch Anna on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Ron Funches (Hoops/Final Space/Powerless/Undateable) - Ron appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Rebel Wilson (Super Fun Night) - Rebel is a guest on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP/Scream Queens) - Keke talks about Hit Job on Couch Surfing at 8am.
  • Tisha Campell (Outmatched/Dr. Ken/My Wife and Kids/Martin) and Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood/Survivor's Remorse/Happily Divorced/Everybody Hates Chris/Martin) - Tamron Hall celebrates the power of friendships with actresses and childhood friends Tisha Campell and Tichina Arnold, who co-starred in the classic sitcom Martin and are now working on a new talk show, so check your local lisitngs.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony talks about Eat Wheaties! on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January-April)

Corporate - Season 2 Fam - The Complete Series Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series Happy Together - The Complete Series Til Death - The Complete Series

01/22 - Corporate - Season 2
01/22 - Corporate - Season 3
02/02 - Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In - The Complete Series (2021 Retail Release)
02/16 - Fam - The Complete Series
02/23 - Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series
03/02 - Blue Mountain State - The Complete Series
03/02 - Happy Together - The Complete Series
03/02 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-4 (DVD) (Blu-ray)
04/20 - 'Til Death - The Complete Series

More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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