|Maude and friends celebrate the "Spirit of '76"|
It's 1976 and Americans are swept up in Bicentennial Spirit. Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur) of Tuckahoe, NY is no exception. She has booked Tuckahoe's armory and plans to stage a musical variety show that will celebrate the contributions women have made throughout US history.
The cast will feature only women, no men. She enlists her daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau), best friend Vivian (Rue McClanahan) and housekeeper Mrs. Naugatuck (Hermione Baddeley) and others to perform. They are rehearsing a patriotic medley featuring "I Am Woman" with extra lyrics that mention many women of historical importance.
Maude's husband Walter (Bill Macy) and friend Arthur (Conrad Bain) don't understand why Maude would want to pay tribute to American women this way. Walter's appliance store is one of several local businesses sponsoring the show and he hopes to make a big profit from his "Buy-Centennial Sell-A-Bration". He believes men will stay home from an all-female show, thereby killing his sales figures.
|"You know, that President Ford is a smart cookie. Just when the economy hits rock bottom, he dreams up this gimmick of a Bicentennial!" - Arthur Harmon|
Colonel Reikert (Richard Deacon), who operates the armory, isn't happy either.
He needs to sell tickets to make money as well and threatens to eject Maude and cancel her musical. Maude is defiant and continues to rehearse her women-centric song & dance numbers.
If that isn't enough trouble, Vivian is determined to perform some solo songs in the show. Maude finds all her songs to be less than desirable.
|Vivian (dressed as Carrie Nation) REALLY wants a solo number in the show|
|Walter destroys his store's display booth|
In the new atmosphere of cooperation, Maude relents and allows the show to go on with the additional number from the men.
|Maude as George Washington on a horse!|
J.A. Morris's Review:
First off, let me say that Maude was a great series. I watched it when it was airing new episodes back in the 1970s, but I appreciate it more as an adult. The issues that were discussed on the show are still relevant, and it's also hilarious. Maude currently airs on Antenna TV, check to see if it's part of your cable package. We hope to review Christmas episodes of the series in the near future.
The Bicentennial was a major event of my childhood. Red, white and blue products were everywhere, George Washington, Ben Franklin and 'Yankee Doodle' were in seemingly every commercial and it bordered on the obscene. 4th of July parades were bigger than ever. And who can forget Bicentennial Minutes?
"A Tuckahoe Bicentennial" captures this moment nicely. In the era of 2nd Wave Feminism, who can blame Maude for wanting to celebrate the overlooked contributions of women since 1776? And Walter's attempt to cash in on the once-in-a-lifetime event mirrors what most local businesses were up to at the time.
|Arthur Harmon (Conrad Bain) and Walter Findlay (Bill Macy) contemplate the financial possibilities of the Bicentennial|
|Maude channels Barbra Streisand.|
Fans of classic television shows will appreciate the presence of Richard Deacon as Col. Reikert. Deacon is best remembered from his roles on Leave It To Beaver and The Dick Van Dyke Show. He serves as a good foil for Maude in this episode.
There aren't many episodes or specials dedicated to Independence Day. "A Tuckahoe Bicentennial" is a great episode of an influential series, and I can see myself watching it every year around July 4th from now on.
J.A. Morris' rating:
I was too young to remember much of the Bicentennial festivities, but I suspect that this episode from the fourth season of Maude captures the ambiance of the time very well. This is a very fun and funny episode of the show.
|Maude as George Washington|
|Maude sings "You're Gonna Hear From Me"|
|Mrs. Naugatuck (dressed as Betsy Ross) takes some direction from Maude|
|"There is nothing like a dame, nothing in the world ....!"|
"A Tuckahoe Bicentennial" is well worth seeing if you get the chance. It's available on the Maude:The Complete Series dvd boxset and Antenna TV currently airs reruns of Maude.