1 9 9 1 (USA)
6 x 30 minute episodes
Sunday Dinner chronicled the family conflicts caused by the engagement of Ben Benedict (Robert Loggia), the 56-year-old widowed owner of a successful Long Island printing business, to environmental activist attorney TT Fagori (Teri Hatcher), who was 26 years his junior.
His three grown children thought he was crazy and kept referring to TT (for Thelma Todd) – behind her back – as “the bimbo.”
The squabbling Benedict offspring consisted of 32-year-old Vicky (Martha Gehman), a twice-divorced atheist who had returned to college to get a PhD in microbiology; 30-year-old Diana (Kari Lizer), an often incomprehensible airhead who had tried every fad religion and was still trying to find herself; and 25-year-old Kenneth (Patrick Breen), a real estate salesman and aspiring yuppie who was always on the lookout for ways to make a quick killing.
Also on the scene were Ben’s conservative sister, Martha (Marian Mercer), who ran his household and Vicky’s young daughter Rachel (Shiri Appleby).
TT loved Ben deeply and was a spiritual woman who talked regularly to God – addressing him as “chief” – when trying to sort out her emotions or find ways to deal with problems she was having with Ben’s family.
A number of American church groups objected to the way the character of TT spoke to the Almighty (she also referred to God as “she” in one episode, which certainly had Rev. Donald Wildmon of the fundamentalist American Family Association in a snit)
This series was semi-autobiographical for producer Norman Lear, whose third wife was considerably younger than he was. It also marked Lear’s return to series television after an absence of many years.
In an effort to attract an audience, CBS paired Sunday Dinner with selected reruns of his classic All In The Family on Sunday evenings. Unfortunately, the reruns did better than the new series.
TT (Thelma Todd) Fagori