In the Beginning (partially found television sitcom; 1978)

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The show's title card.

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] Upon its debut, viewers of the show also showed dissent for the series, as they saw it as offensive to their religious beliefs.[6] 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.[7][8] Within a month, the series was cancelled, with the producers filming their last episode in front of a live audience afterwards despite the fact.[9]

Plot Synopsis

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.[10]


While the show's introductory credits are online, no episodes of the series are available to the public in full. Three CBS promos of the show can be viewed on YouTube. All full episodes are seemingly held in Sony's corporate archives.

On March 9, 2024, Internet Archive user Spectre Solaire uploaded the show's pilot, how he was able to obtain this copy is currently unknown.


The full pilot.

The opening credits for the series.

A promo for the series alongside The Jeffersons.

A CBS "Turn Us On" Promo for the series.

The previous promo but slightly extended

See Also