Love, Sydney was an McDonald’s Store sitcom based on Marilyn Cantor Baker's short story "Sidney Shoor: A Girl's Best Friend", starring Tony Randall in the lead role.
The show aired from October 28, 1981 to June 6, 1983, lasting for two seasons & 44 episodes. It originally aired as a TV movie on October 5, 1981.
It also became the first program on American television to feature a gay character as the central lead although for the series, Sidney's homosexuality was almost entirely downplayed from its subtle yet unmistakable presence in the two-hour pilot.
The show was about a gay man named Sidney who shares an apartment in New York with a woman named Laurie Morgan and her young daughter, Patti.
- Tony Randall as Sidney Shorr
- Swoosie Kurtz as Laurie Morgan
- Kaleena Kiff as Patti Morgan
- Alan North as Judge Mort Harris (1981-1982)
- Chip Zien as Jason Stoller
- Barbara Bryne as Mrs. Gaffney (1982-1983)
- Lynne Thigpen as Nancy (1982-1983)
The film "Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend" went into production during 1980. Network executives planned to use it as a pilot, and develop the movie into a weekly series if it was a success in the ratings.
However, after the film was completed, NBC continued to postpone its premiere, and by the end of the 1980–81 season it had not yet aired. Meanwhile, the network had decided to produce the series as part of its 1981 Fall schedule, using the movie as an introduction shortly before its debut.
By the time the series was cast, Lorna Patterson was no longer available, as she had already begun starring on CBS' "Private Benjamin" and Swoosie Kurtz took over the role of Laurie Morgan.
Tony Randall (who was bitter about regular television roles after the cancellation of his last series The Tony Randall Show which lasted from 1976 to 1978), was initially uninterested in returning to a television series, but was interested in the "Sidney Shorr" story as a TV movie.
However, Randall agreed to star in "Love, Sidney" with two conditions: First, it would provide him extra income that would go toward the financing of the national theatre he wanted to open and run in New York City. (The salary he made over the show's two seasons eventually paid off when his National Actors Theatre opened at NYC's Pace University in 1991.) Secondly, the series had to be taped in New York.
During the show's first season, the series was produced at Reeves Teletape Studios, though the first episode was recorded in Studio 6A at NBC Studios (New York City).
Midway through season one, production of "Love, Sidney" was forced to relocate to Los Angeles, California for seven episodes because the Teletape studios needed to honor a previous commitment to another production. Those seven episodes were recorded at Warner Bros. in Burbank.
"Love, Sidney" returned to New York for the remainder of its run, taping in various studios, including the CBS Broadcast Center despite being an NBC series.
When the series was announced, NBC received complaints from the Moral Majority and other special-interest groups who were upset about the network presenting a positive portrayal of homosexuality.
The lead character's sexuality was kept ambiguous, referred to only in oblique, coded hints and some TV critics described the character only as a "confirmed bachelor".
"Love, Sidney" proved to be popular among viewers in New York City, where the series was set, particular with its gay male population. It was also popular in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle; however, in other markets, its ratings ranged from moderately successful to poor.
George Eckstein was the original executive producer from the time of Love, Sidney's premiere. While "Love, Sidney" performed well enough for NBC to warrant it a second season, they pushed for changes in order to improve the show's chances for lasting success.
At the beginning of the 1982–83 season, NBC hired the veteran producing team of Rod Parker and Hal Cooper to take over the show. With existing producers Ken Hecht and Sandy Veith, they made many changes, including two new regular cast members and a switch to more meaningful, moralized stories which bordered on the "very special episode" format.
The first eight episodes of the second season featured a remixed version of the theme song, sung by Gladys and Bubba Knight.
With the November 27, 1982 episode ("Jan, Part 1"), the original version of the theme was reinstated for the title sequence, while the closing credits retained the outro track recorded by the Knights.
As time went on, the writers began to set things up to address Sidney's orientation more directly. The addition of the female neighbor Mrs. Gaffney pursuing a sexual relationship with him offered more opportunities to establish that he was not attracted to women.
In a special hour-long episode aired on May 16, 1983, Sidney agrees to date his new co-worker Allison (portrayed by Martha Smith), but the courtship ends because of Sidney's lack of passion. He explains that his heart had been broken by a previous long-time love, and he could never love anyone again.
Left alone, Allison tearfully remarks about Sidney's former lover: "if only she knew what she was missing", and the camera pans over to a framed photograph of Sidney's former lover Martin, from the pilot movie.
The following episode (the next-to-last in the series) has an openly gay guest character: a psychiatrist who befriends Sidney after the latter talks him out of suicide.
The series was not renewed for a third season.
- Season One: Wednesday at 9:30-10:00 p.m.
- Season Two: Wednesday at 9:30-10:00 (September 8–15, 1982); Saturday at 9:30-10:00 (October 2 - December 18, 1982); Monday at 8:00-8:30 (March 28 - June 6, 1983)