House Calls (TV series)

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House Calls
House Calls (TV series).jpg
Wayne Rogers & Lynn Redgrave
GenreSitcom
Directed by Hy Averback
John Clark
Starring Wayne Rogers
Lynn Redgrave (1979–81)
Sharon Gless (1982)
David Wayne
Ray Buktenica
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes57 (list of episodes)
Production
Producers Sheldon Keller (197980)
Jerry Davis (198082)
Running time2224 minutes
Production companiesAlex Winitsky-Arlene Sellers Productions
Universal Television
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Release
Original network CBS
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseDecember 17, 1979 (1979-12-17) 
September 13, 1982 (1982-09-13)

House Calls is an American sitcom that lasted three seasons and 57 episodes, from December 17, 1979 to September 13, 1982, on CBS television, produced by Universal Television and based upon the 1978 feature film of the same name.

Contents

Scenario

British-born Ann Atkinson (Lynn Redgrave), as hospital administrator, had three unruly doctors to cope with, and the comedy arose from their interactions. Dr. Charley Michaels (Wayne Rogers) became the main problem for her, because of the romantic angle. She always pulled herself up short just before falling hopelessly in love with him. Dr. Solomon (Ray Buktenica) was junior to Dr. Michaels and was his pal, and he would counterbalance Dr. Michaels's headstrong ways, almost a double act. But elderly Dr. Weatherby (David Wayne) was senior to them all, close to retirement and with a mean streak, which meant that the others were often taking a rise out of the old fellow. The best he could do was to irritate Solomon by constantly getting his name wrong while going his own way.

Other characters who were part of the series were Head Nurse Bradley (Aneta Corsaut), a sympathetic and level-headed influence, Mrs. Phipps (Deedy Peters), a somewhat over-the-hill but enthusiastic candystriper, always forcing her good intentions upon unwilling patients, and Conrad Peckler (Mark L. Taylor), who was brought in as the arch villain of the piece to bring order to the hospital, hated by all.

During the last 13 episodes, after Ann had suddenly returned to England, her replacement was Jane Jeffries (Sharon Gless), who had a similar love/hate relationship with Dr. Michaels.

Controversy and cancellation

Lynn Redgrave was fired from the series, following the birth of her new child. She insisted on bringing her daughter to work, in part, because she wanted to be able to breast-feed the baby on schedule, but this was interpreted by the studio as holding out for more money, while being disruptive to shooting requirements. Redgrave sued Universal for breaking her existing contract, but never was rehired, and the suit was dismissed several years later.

The breast-feeding controversy was spoofed on Second City Television in a sketch titled Wet Nurse with Andrea Martin playing Redgrave as a nurse with gigantic breasts solving several crises at a hospital.

Universal replaced Redgrave with Sharon Gless, who was then under a 10-year contract with Universal, but previously excellent ratings suffered from the abrupt and clumsily-handled transition (Ann announced her departure in a letter read out loud by Charlie), and the series was ultimately cancelled by early 1982, despite still finishing the season in the Top 25.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
1 13December 17, 1979 (1979-12-17)March 17, 1980 (1980-03-17)1422.1
(Tied with Real People )
2 20November 17, 1980 (1980-11-17)April 13, 1981 (1981-04-13)822.4
(Tied with Three's Company )
3 24November 2, 1981 (1981-11-02)September 13, 1982 (1982-09-13)2319.2

Awards and nominations

Redgrave was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1981, and she and Wayne Rogers were also nominated for Golden Globes.

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