The summer blues cure that the Warner Archive July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 1982-83 third season of the CBS hitcom "Alice" provides is roughly 20-minute morsels of "unreal" entertainment until the fare that passes for 21st-century network sitcoms return in September. The integrity of Archive extends to including a few episodes produced for S7 that air in other seasons.
This workplace comedy set in greasy spoon Mel's Diner aptly serves up tasty "junk food" that still satisfies after so many visits to the same joint. The quality is consistent and enjoyable to the extent that you look forward to returning for another meal the next week.
The titular waitress is Jersey girl Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) on an extend detour from her move to La La Land to seek fame and fortune as a singer. Alice being an actual (rather than a grass) widow is one nod of this '80scom to the sitcoms from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
One big S7 change for Alice is that teen son Tommy (Philip McKeaon) is making her a quasi-empty nester by being a freshman at nearby Arizona State University. The proximity of that school to Phoenix facilitates Tommy keeping up his "Hi Mom," "Hi Mel," etc. routine as he strolls into the diner with his most recent adolescent problem.
The owner of thew eponymous eatery is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable cheapskate Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback). Things do not change much for him in S7. He still faces losing the diner for one reason or another, He additionally continues snatching defeat from the jaws of victory regarding opportunities for an improved lifestyle. These include an executive position with a catering company and a treasure hunt in the diner.
Fan favorite "dinghy" waitress Vera Louise Gorman ("Beth Howland") largely is in the background this season. Her big adventures include getting her own hope for a better life and having her "radical" past come back to haunt her. Of course, she gets through her difficulties with a little help from her friends.
Sassy hillbilly Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston) continues her efforts to fill the shoes of uberfan fave Texan Flo, who leaves earlier in the series for a spinoff. Jolene has her own variation of Flo catchphrase "when donkeys fly" and further channels Flo in directing unprovoked zingers at Mel.
The regular "A Listers" who appear as themselves and other household names who show up in character greatly distinguishes "Alice" from the competition. This begins with the S7 premiere in which Debbie Reynolds plays Golden Age film star Felicia Blake. The "sit" this time is that Mel believes that he is the man to whom Felicia refers in her recent memoir that includes the story of a highly memorable kiss. "Com" fully ensues when Felicia comes to the diner to reunite with the one who got away.
An oddly dazed-looking Joel Grey appears as himself in a special two-part episode about Alice appearing in a local music revue. The "com" this time relates to Mel outdoing "The Producers" in his sabotage of the production., Springtime for Sharples truly is winter for Hyatt and Grey.
We also get former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon to give Tommy a pep talk.
The "B Listers" include Richard Deacon of "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as the owner of aforementioned catering company and future "Star Trek: Voyager" doctor Robert Picardo in an increasingly regular role as a local cop. We further get a cameo by "Night Court" star Richard Moll.
The nicest thing about this set is that it shows that "Alice" has not jumped the shark. No cute young Cousin Oliver joins the cast to offset McKeaon aging, we do not get a stunts wedding, and any upward mobility becomes a reversal of fortune before the final credits commence,