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Duet ran from April 1987 until August 1989 on FOX.
This episodic comedy revolved around the intertwined romantic lives of 2 couples. Ben and Laura ( Matthew Laurance, Mary Page Keller), were establishing a new relationship while Richard and Linda ( Chris Lemmon, Allison LaPlaca), were trying to maintain one. When Duet premiered Ben was an unpublished writer of mystery novels ( his first published novel, " Death In The Fast Lane," did become a best seller), and Laura was running a catering business with the help of her flighty younger sister Jane (Jodi Thelan). As their relationship evolved from casual dating to serious dating to living together, Ben and Laura went through periods of uncertainty and misgiving-at one point they even stopped dating-but their love kept bringing them back together. Interspensed through the story of their courtship were Ben's daydream sequences , in black and white, in which he imagined himself as one of his own Sam Spade-like detective creations winning his moll.
Ben's best friend and his wife Linda were stereotypical yuppies, preoccupied with financial success and status.Linda was an executive at World Wide Studios and had a difficult time dealing with Richard's abrupt decision to quit his lucrative job selling patio furniture for his father and become a professional pianist. She was also not nearly as enthusiastic about their impending parenthood as was Richard ( in fact the prospect terrified her), but after their daughter Amanda was born, she became a doting mother. Geneva (Arleen Sorkin), was the Phillips sexy sharp-tongued maid who took great plesure in putting down her employers especially Linda; Cooper (Larry Poindexter), was Linda's boss at World Wide who for some reason was infatuated with Jane; and Reuben was Ben's large dog and prior to the arrival of Laura in his master's life, his closest confidant.
In the fall of 1988, the action had been moved up; Ben and Laura had returned from a 2 year honeymoon trip which explained why the Phillip's baby had become a talking pre-schooler(Amanda was played by Ginger Orsi).After Ben and Laura's return however, little was seen of them as the episodes focused increasingly on the Phillipes, particularly on Linda whose delightfully bitchy character had become popular with viewers. By the end of the season, Linda had found a new job as a realitor and a new series ( Open House) began in the fall.
A Review From The New York Times
TV VIEW; FOX'S FARE: MORE OF THE SAME
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: April 19, 1987
JUST WHEN AMERICAN TELEVISION SEEMS ON the brink of becoming strictly entertaining, 24 hours a day, along comes Fox Broadcasting Company - a satellite-delivered national program supplier for independent stations - promising the mass public nothing less than another ''service that will entertain America.'' Eager to become the nation's fourth commercial network -alongside ABC, CBS and NBC - Fox has already brought the hyperactive vulgarity of Joan Rivers to the late-night schedule and now, over several Sundays, is introducing its first full evening of prime-time programming.
A few years ago, when England established a fourth television channel, an Act of Parliament specified that Channel 4 should not duplicate programming already being provided to the public. The new service was told to be open to experimentation and boldly provocative content. It has since produced everything from documentaries on contemporary art and artists to news reports from the Third World to such TV movies as ''My Beautiful Laundrette'' and ''Mona Lisa,'' later released theatrically in this country. As the Fox Broadcasting Company unfolds its lineup of largely familiar series formats, viewers can only mourn the passing of yet another wasted opportunity to expand boundaries and visions.
Fox's eye is clearly fixed on the same bottom line that governs the rest of commercial broadcasting. The rallying cry is: Make our stations grow! The goal is: Build a low-overhead, national programming ''opportunity''! The result, inevitably, will be more of the same - more sitcoms, more action-adventures. Indeed, Fox is busy reviving the myth that Hollywood is teeming with writers and producers whose monumental talents have been inhibited or ignored by the television establishment. Let these nutty but brilliant guys and gals loose, goes the theory, and a new Age of Diversion will be upon us. It's a seductive image but, when periodically put to the test, not very convincing. And even Fox is quick to note that its new lineup will include contributions from ''Hollywood's most creative talent,'' already veterans of the major networks: Gary David Goldberg (''Family Ties''); Stephen J. Cannell (''The A-Team''); James L. Brooks and Ed. Weinberger (''The Mary Tyler Moore Show'').
Employing special ''sampling'' schedules over the past several Sundays, Fox has already unveiled three of its new series: ''Married . . . With Children,'' ''21 Jump Street'' and ''The Tracey Ullman Show.'' Designed partly as a antidote to ''The Cosby Show'' and all those other series about middle-class families living in upper-class homes, ''Married . . . With Children'' offers a blue-collar sitcom that Fox believes is ''a little closer to what's really going on.'' Reality in this instance features a brash, lovable wife (Katey Sagal), dressed in form-fitting polyester and high heels, exchanging insults with her grumpy, anti-feminist husband (Ed O'Neill), a shoe clerk. She spends most of her time watching television; he snarls. But, we are told, they really adore each other. Tonight at 8, he mistakenly shoots the neighbors' dog. It happens right in the middle of the animal's bowel movement. The show is crammed with that sort of detail.
''21 Jump Street,'' coming out of the Cannell factory, stars boyish Johnny Depp as an undercover cop who, working with a demographic mix of other police decoys, infiltrates high schools to nab drug users and other assorted threats to society. The point, according to the special unit's captain, is to ''yank them out while they're still in school.'' The Depp character, a bit wary, wonders if the result couldn't be called ''Fast Times at Bust-Your-Buddy High.'' In fact, the general idea is based on a controversial Los Angeles antidrug program in effect since 1974. Earlier this year, one of the real undercover agents made headlines for allegedly developing a romantic relationship with a 17-year-old student. But ''21 Jump Street'' is less interested in complications than in standard action, complete with a pop rock album providing the music track for each episode. Fox, it seems, has found a ''Mod Squad'' for our time.
On the more promising side, ''The Tracey Ullman Show'' is venturing back into the once popular, now oddly dormant genre of comedy-variety. Here are skits interspersed with an occasional production number. Ms. Ullman is a British actress, comic and singer who, in repose, bears an unsettling resemblance to Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Zipping through characters ranging from an abandoned wife to a working mother to a snooty socialite madly in love with a male stripper, Ms. Ullman is especially good at American accents. She also has the sturdy support of Julie Kavner, once Valerie Harper's sister on ''Rhoda'' and still a comedy gem.
''Duet,'' a half-hour sitcom, gets a special hourlong premiere tonight at 8:30. Created for Mr. Goldberg's Ubu Productions by Ruth Bennett and Susan Seeger, the show is being touted as a romantic comedy told ''in a cinematic style,'' whatever that may mean. It is strictly boy meets girl and eventually boy will marry girl. Ben is from Brooklyn, now living in Hollywood, writing detective novels and eating junk food. Laura, a California native, runs a food catering service. She has a kooky sister. He has a kooky best friend and a lovable dog. ''Duet'' is likeable, especially with Mary Page Keller and Matthew Laurance as the boy and girl. The show breaks no barriers but is unlikely to set teeth on edge.
Nevertheless, whatever the ratings, whatever the eventual score of hits and misses, Fox Broadcasting is obviously taking a ''more of the same'' approach to programming. The results could conceivably trigger demands to restore some clout to the Federal Communications Commission.
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://timstelevisionshowcase.neocities.org/duet.html
For more on Duet go to http://www.poobala.com/duetandopen.html
For a Website dedicated to Mary Page Keller go to http://web.archive.org/web/20091021000210/geocities.com/Hollywood/Hills/6813/mpk/index.html
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Keywords: Duet cast