In the Beginning (partially found television sitcom; 1978)
McLean Stevenson and Priscilla Lopez as Father Cleary and Sister Agnes respectively.
Status: Partially Found
In the Beginning, originally set to air as Just the Beginning is a Norman Lear sitcom that aired on CBS from September to October of 1978. The series was an attempt to make a sitcom on the theme of religion, as Lear had previously produced other series that touched on other slightly taboo subjects such as bigotry, sex ,and politics with All In the Family, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and All's Fair respectively. The show starred McLean Stevenson, known for his role in M*A*S*H and The Doris Day Show, and was one of the actor's many attempts of returning to television acclaim after his departure from the former series. The series was the first in twenty years to be set in Maryland, with another eight-year span afterward before the debut of The Ellen Burstyn Show in 1986.
The topic of religion in television was known as being a hard theme to work with for shows, with very little series seeing mild success. While the show's pilot reportedly received praise from a Catholic audience at both Notre Dame and Loyola Universities, others stated that it was so bad, they nearly walked out of the press screenings. Upon its debut, viewers of the show also showed dissent for the series, as they saw it as offensive to their religious beliefs. Others saw the show as unfunny, or simply as a redone version of Lear's earlier political sitcom All's Fair, but with added religious topics and a more fallible conservative. Within a month, the series was cancelled, with the producers filming their last episode in front of a live audience afterwards despite the fact.
Father Daniel Cleary (McLean Stevenson) is a priest who serves in a suburban parish, who is reassigned to preach at an inner-city parish in Baltimore. There he meets Sister Agnes (Priscilla Lopez) whom of which he finds he conflicts with due to her more progressive means of performing religious work. Similar to Lear's All's Fair, the two are also seemingly at odds politically, as Father Cleary is more traditional and conservative compared to Sister Agnes' liberal views and more "hip" means of connecting to the community. While they are at odds with one another, Father Cleary also plots to get himself reassigned to another parish, where his attempts seemingly always fail.
While the show's introductory credits are online, no episodes of the series are available to the public in full. Two CBS promos of the show can be viewed on YouTube. All full episodes are seemingly held in Sony's corporate archives.
- A newspaper article from May of 1978 referring to the series as Just the Beginning. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- An article stating that Norman Lear was set to tackle the topic of religion with his new series, also describing the pilot screenings at Notre Dame and Loyola. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- A university paper describing McLean Stevenson's television career after M*A*S*H and how the series came in the midst of a television dry season in Maryland. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- An article about the show mentioning previous attempts at religious television that didn't quite work out. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- An article panning the show where they stated the pilot was a low spot in the CBS television schedule. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- A public forum in which a member of the public states their negative opinion on the series. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- An article criticizing the humour of the show. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- An archived Washinton Post article where the writer states that the series was too similar to All's Fair. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- A newspaper article describing the final episode's filming. Retrieved 26 Sept '19
- A university paper showcasing the plot of the series, as well as stating that the show is held in Sony's corporate archives. Retrieved 26 Sept '19