1 9 7 7 – 1 9 7 8 (USA)
14 x 30 minute episodes
Another CBS spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, although here the lead character had a new name.
In that earlier series, Betty White had played Sue Ann Nivens, host of the Happy Homemaker show at WJM, the TV station where Mary worked.
Manipulative and catty, Nivens was determined to climb the ladder of success any which way she could.
Here, in her own series, White played Joyce Whitman, a witty and sharp-tongued film actress who, although not admitting so, has perhaps realised that she’s a mite beyond her prime and so bows to the inevitable and consents to work on television.
That she is cast in a typical mid-1970s downmarket all-action cop show, Undercover Woman, is only the start of her problems, however, for behind the scenes lies the real trouble (and humour): the director turns out to be her sarcastic ex-husband John Elliot (John Hillerman), who she calls “pickle puss”.
Her sexy and dimwitted co-star Tracy Garrett (Caren Kaye) is ruthlessly ambitious and prepared to sleep her way to star billing.
Fletcher Huff (Barney Phillips) is the nervous insecure actor who plays the police chief; Hugo Muncy (Charles Cyphers) is her brawny (male) stunt double, and Doug Porterfield (Alex Henteloff) is the CBS network executive assigned to the series – a feeble, interfering busybody whose official title is Vice President in charge of prime time dramatic development, but whose previous job was in the mailroom.
Also appearing in The Betty White Show was another face familiar from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, that of Georgia Engel, who had been Ted Baxter’s girlfriend, Georgette.
There she had been a bit of a dumbbell (and so perfectly suited to Ted); here she was similarly cast, as Joyce Whitman’s best pal and roommate Mitzi Maloney – who she met at the Unemployment Office.
Barney Phillips Huff
Undercover Police Woman | John’s Mother | Mitzi’s Cousin | Make Yourself at Home – Steal Something | Doug Gets Fired | Mitzi’s Jealousy | Joyce, the Matchmaker | Joyce’s Wedding | Play Misty for John | Fletcher’s Decision | The Stunt Woman | We’re Not Divorced (Part 1) | We’re Not Divorced (Part 2) | Good Night, Sweet Fletch