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Saved by Pop TV, 'One Day at a Time' First Sitcom to Forego Live Audience
March 24, 2020  | By Mike Hughes
 


For the One Day at a Time actors, there have been some sharp adjustments.

The first was the notion of having a studio audience. “I was terrified,” Justina Machado recalled.

And the second is NOT having one. On March 10, “One Day” became the first situation comedy to forego a studio audience because of coronavirus concerns.

By then, the show was taping its fourth season, and actors were comfortable. “I could not even imagine this show without an audience,” Machado had told the Television Critics Association in January.

That’s been one or many changes for One Day. It was canceled by Netflix and then rescued by cable’s Pop TV network, where it starts its season Tuesday, March 24, at 9:30 p.m., ET.

Viewers will notice a few more changes: Scenes will be a tad shorter; so will the total running time. And the theme song by Gloria Estefan will be gone. “We don’t have that 50 seconds (to spare),” producer Gloria Calderón Kellett said. “We need it for the show.”

The no-studio-audience difference, however, won’t show up until later in the season.

Virtually all Norman Lear productions – going back to All in the Family, a half-century ago – have had a studio audience that lets viewers hear real laughter. It also allows writers and actors to make adjustments and can make life difficult.

“It terrified me at first, because of my age and the memorization that has to take place,” said Rita Moreno, (top, 2nd from left) now 88, who plays Machado’s mother. “(And) the writing changes from day to day…and sometimes even during your performance in front of the live audience.”

She’s in a show that ranges from Marcel Ruiz, 16, and Isabella Gomez, 22 (as her grandchildren) to Lear, still a producer at 97.

In the original One Day (1975-84), Lear said, “We never did anything, that I recall, that related to the Latina community. And now this is 100 percent a Latin family.”

It also has a Latina showrunner. (Kellett, whose parents were Cuban immigrants, runs the show with Mike Royce.) Like many Lear productions, it takes periodic dives into topical issues; unlike most of them, it has a key character (the teen daughter) that is gay.

There are also a couple of non-Latinos. All of the relationships are explained in the early minutes of the season-opener when a census-taker (Ray Romano) arrives.

After that, viewers will have to catch One Day at a Time a week at a time. This isn’t like Netflix when the entire season arrived in one whoosh (and where the old shows are still running).

Kellett recalled those days semi-fondly: “At 6 a.m., the following morning after launch, people would be like, ‘we binged the season. When is the next season?’

“We’re like, ‘What? It took so long to make that.’” 

 
 
 
 
 
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