Alice: Pilot (1976)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Sitcom [TV], Workplace Comedy  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Getting a head start on the 1976-1977 TV season, the movie-based sitcom Alice made its debut with a special airing of its pilot episode on August 31, 1976. After the death of her truck driver husband, Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) decides to resume her career as a piano-bar singer. First, however, she needs some ready money for herself and her young son Tommy (played in the pilot by Alfred Lutter, who originated the role in the 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and thereafter by Phillip McKeon). And that is how Alice finds herself waitressing at a Phoenix, Arizona greasy spoon called Mel & Ruby's Diner, owned by the irascible Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback) (Trivia alert: "Ruby" was the name of Mel's late wife; she would seldom be referenced in future episodes, wherein the restaurant's name is streamlined to "Mel's Diner")