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Rhoda (CBS, 1974-1978)

Rhoda was an American sitcom, spin-off from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. On MTMS, Valerie Harper played Rhoda Morgenstern, a New York native. After four years, Rhoda left Minneapolis to return to New York and get her own show. The cast was rounded out with Julie Kavner (Rhoda’s younger sister Brenda), David Groh (Rhoda’s love interest Joe), Nancy Walker (Rhoda’s mother Ida) and Harold Gould (Rhoda’s father Martin).

Rhoda’s pilot episode aired September 9, 1974 at 9:30 pm. It became the first — and only — TV series ever to achieve a #1 Nielson rating for its premiere pilot episode. (It beat out Monday Night Football!) Only eight episodes into the series Rhoda wed Joe in a special hour-long episode. It became the highest-rated TV episode of the 70s (until the miniseries Roots aired in 1977). More than 52 million American (over half the viewing audience!) tuned in. (Several MTMS characters appeared on Rhoda for the wedding.)

Rhoda aired for five seasons, from September 9, 1974 to December 9, 1978 and a total of 110 episodes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t five “rosy” seasons. In season 3, Rhoda and Joe separated. Plotlines stunned and angered fans so much that CBS was inundated with protest letters, and actor Groh received hate mail for quite a while. Audiences started to turn away; falling to #32 after being #7. Rhoda’s parents also disappeared that season — explained away as travelling across the country in an RV — as Walker and Gould left to pursue other projects. In season four, Rhoda is now divorced and her parents return. Ratings went up to #25. For their final season, Ida and Martin separate and Brenda gets married. Rhoda was moved to Saturday night and it was the final blow to the series. After sliding down to #43, CBS pulled the plug midway through the season, leaving four episodes unaired. (During its first-run syndication, these episodes were finally aired.)

Rhoda won 2 Emmys and 2 Golden Globe awards.