It Takes Two is an American sitcom which ran on ABC from October 14, 1982 until April 28, 1983. It was created by Susan Harris, who had previously created the sitcom Soap and its spin-off Benson, both for ABC, the latter of which was in the midst of its run when this series premiered. The series starred Richard Crenna and Patty Duke Astin as a modern, dual career couple whose personal lives were largely impacted by their professions. Harris, her husband Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas executive produced the series, under the group's Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions company.
Dr. Sam Quinn (Crenna) was a successful surgeon in Chicago, who for many years had the comfort of coming home to his devoted wife Molly (Astin) after long hours at the local hospital. Within time, Sam would be in for a rude awakening when Molly, bored with being a housewife and yearning to make even more out of her life, enrolled in law school. As the series began, Molly was now an assistant D.A., and before either of them knew it, the passion in their marriage, and quality time for each other, had quickly started to slip from their grasp. Sam missed being able to come home to warm dinners and clean laundry, and lovemaking opportunities were few and far between—not to mention fruitless (Molly's long hours caused her to fall asleep right away when the two retired for the night). Fortunately, Sam and Molly were master communicators, and the two tried their best to compromise, in order to bring that spark back into their marriage. When they came to each other for support over highly emotional career-related matters, it was clear that there was still plenty of love to be shared.
The one aspect of their marriage that did change upon Molly's entrance into the legal system was political points of view. Molly had always seemed to agree with Sam's liberal leanings, which he continued to maintain. Eventually, Molly's time in the D.A.'s office had made her more hard-line and conservative, which became the cause of many debates in their household. In the end, it was Sam's knack for witty, no-holds-barred but warm reasoning that kept sensitive Molly from wanting to chuck her career when her cases became too much to bear.
Sam and Molly had two teenaged children, carefree and sometimes smart-alecky daughter Lisa (Helen Hunt), who was in high school, and all-around cool customer Andy (Anthony Edwards), an aspiring rock musician who, at 18, was privileged enough to be moving into his own apartment. However, like many young adults in TV series who were attempting to break away from their parents, Andy would still find a reason to drop by so that Sam and Molly would help with his responsibilities. Completing the household in the Quinn's luxurious high-rise apartment was Molly's salty mother (Billie Bird), only known as "Mama", whose blunt and often spontaneous comments added to the comic relief. Also featured were Sam's jovial colleague at the hospital, Dr. Walter Chaiken (Richard McKenzie), and Judge Caroline Phillips (Della Reese), who presided over many of the cases that Molly was hired for.
The original proposed title for the series was For Better or Worse.
- Sam and Molly
- Death Penalty
- Promises in the Dark
- Hello, I Must Be Going
- Andy and the Older Woman
- A Healthy Romance
- An Affair to Remember
- Mister Molly Quinn
- The Choice
- Looks Bad, Feels Good
- Lying Down on the Job
- Rhythm Blues
- Swan Song
- Inside Lisa Quinn
- Only When You Laugh
- Molly's Best Friend
- Mother and Child Reunion
- The Suit
An early episode was notable for featuring a guest appearance by Kim Stanley, upon the veteran actress' return to on-screen work at the time. Stanley appeared in the episode "Death Penalty" (October 28, 1982) as the distraught mother of Molly's opposing litigant, a 26-year-old man who was being convicted of murdering six women. Molly, who was representing the victims' families, was adamant from the start over wanting the man to receive the death penalty. Her feelings on the matter in itself caused a rift at home between her and Sam, who, as a surgeon, took the stance of being sensitive to preserving life. Soon after, Molly was visited by the criminal's mother, who pleaded with Molly not to push for the death penalty, since she was convinced that her son's actions were due to mental illness. Stanley and Astin playing opposite each other in this episode brought their careers full circle, since both had made their cinematic debut in the 1958 Columbia Pictures film The Goddess. The same episode also featured a guest appearance by Scatman Crothers as a humorous 72-year-old patient of Sam's who faces an eighth consecutive surgery.
The series' theme song was "Where Love Spends the Night", arranged and composed by George Aliceson Tipton (the regular theme and score composer for Witt/Thomas/Harris shows) and performed in a duet by Paul Williams and Crystal Gayle. The title track was a soft, lullaby-type tune accentuated with acoustic guitar and backed by a softer version of the orchestral sound Tipton composed for other Witt/Thomas/Harris series.
Two different cuts of the opening vocal theme were used during It Takes Two's single-season run; the second version had certain lines that were sung by Paul Williams in the first version be sung by Crystal Gayle instead.
After the series was cancelled, Golden West Television, the company that provided production facilities for the shows produced by Witt/Thomas (and Harris), distributed syndicated reruns of It Takes Two (along with its sister series, It's a Living) to local stations during the 1983-84 season. This was the rare instance of a series that was only produced for one season being picked up for off-network, local station reruns.
Patty Duke Astin would resume work with Witt, Thomas and Harris on a new series, Hail to the Chief, which ultimately had a brief run on ABC in the spring of 1985. Astin's lead role on Hail to the Chief was the first occurrence of there being a female American president depicted on television. The series was just as topical as It Takes Two, but tended to be more off-the-wall in its tone, lending comparisons more so to that of Soap and to a degree, Benson.
Billie Bird would subsequently join the cast of sister series Benson, playing Mrs. Rose Cassidy in the show's final two seasons (1984–1986).
The Quinn family's kitchen set on It Takes Two was preserved by the producers after the series' cancellation, and was brought back unchanged, in 1985, as the kitchen set for their then-new NBC sitcom The Golden Girls. This kitchen would remain on The Golden Girls for its entire seven-year run, with only a minor cosmetic change occurring toward the end of its first season (the wallpaper around the living room doorway was changed from the yellow-and-white-striped pattern held over from It Takes Two, in favor of a more modern-looking solid beige wallpaper; shelves were built into to the wall adjacent to the living room doorway). The exterior backdrop seen through the kitchen window was also changed from the view of neighboring Chicago high-rise buildings in It Takes Two to that of palm trees and bushes for The Golden Girls, which was set in Miami.