Cast: Richard Mulligan as Dr. Harry Weston | Kristy McNichol as Barbara Weston | Dinah Manoff as Carol Weston | David Leisure as Charley Dietz | Park Overall as Nurse Laverne Todd | Bear as Dreyfuss
Ratings: #7 (15.54 million viewers)
Several excellent episodes are produced during this, the show’s strongest season. A new introduction featuring scenes from various episodes showcases some new looks for the cast. Throughout the season, we see new sides to the characters as they become more developed and each finds their own niche.
The most notable change is in Carol, whose neurotic side moves to the forefront more than ever. She flips out after being dumped yet again and climbs atop a shelf at the library, refusing to come down. Afterward, she picks up a cheese host at the mall and convinces herself she’s in love. In a moment of weakness, she ends up sleeping with Charley. Thinking that maybe their hate is masking love, they attempt a relationship but can’t seem to see eye to eye. When the Westons go on a cruise, she meets Mr. Right and then loses him when Charley steers the ship into the Bermuda Triangle.
Barbara fears that she isn’t cut out to be a mother when she can’t seem to bond with a friend’s young children. She gives Harry the silent treatment when he tries to convince her that her new boyfriend is married. Later, she spots an attractive guy at the mall and tries everything possible to get him to notice her. When it is discovered that she is developing an ulcer, Harry forces Barbara to take a vacation from work to rest, but they soon find out the source of the stress is closer to home than they thought.
The rocky relationship between Carol and Barbara is the source of several laughs this season. Some highlights: Carol convinces Barbara to take an art class and they end up seeing Charley as a nude model; the two compete for the affections of a handsome new neighbor who ends up being a few cards shy of a deck; and they find an old man in the park and decide to become his surrogate granddaughters. In a hilarious episode, the girls try to recreate a piano recital gone bad twenty years earlier and end up in a brawl on the living room floor.
When Charley’s parents won’t visit him in the hospital, he hires actors to play them so no one will think him unwanted. As the girls try to keep the guests entertained at his surprise party, Charley drags Harry across the city in search of a lost love.
The normally solid Laverne shows her vulnerable side this season when she becomes afraid to leave her house after being mugged. Her overbearing aunt visits to help her make a down payment on a house but only if Laverne agrees to take responsibility for a past mishap that wasn’t her fault. We learn of her fear of public speaking when she freezes up during a speech at a hospital awards banquet. When Harry becomes fed up with Laverne’s controlling way of running the office, he confronts her and she quits.
Harry’s love life is the focus of several episodes this season. He goes against everyone’s wishes and pursues a relationship with a pretty 28-year-old. His relationship with a newspaper writer becomes the focus of the lady’s daily column, and their first time together becomes morning headlines. He dates a world-famous brain surgeon and isn’t sure he can handle the fact that she is more successful than him.
In one Emmy-nominated episode, Danny Thomas guest stars as Harry’s aging mentor. Fearful that he is becoming too old to practice medicine, Harry is afraid he must confront his hero. This was to be the last appearance Thomas made. He died the night after the show’s original airing.
Other fun episodes: Harry runs off to Pamplona for the running of the bulls; Carol volunteers at a zoo and finds that the pandas mate only when she is present; Barbara shoots Carol’s boyfriend when he tries climbing through her window; a neighbor accuses Dreyfuss of fathering his dog’s puppies; and Charley is rendered impotent after a medical experiment backfires.
The show earns its highest overall ratings ever this season. It finishes in the number 7 spot in the season ratings chart, even passing up its sister series, The Golden Girls.