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Series / The Courtship of Eddie's Father

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The Corbetts and Mrs. Livingston.

"People, let me tell you 'bout my best friend
He's a warm-hearted person
Who'll love me 'til the end
People, let me tell you 'bout my best friend
He's a one-boy cuddly toy
My up, my down, my pride and joy..."
— "Best Friend", sung by Harry Nilsson

The Courtship of Eddie's Father is an American sitcom that originally ran on ABC from 1969 to 1972. It centers on Tom Corbett (Bill Bixby), a widowed magazine editor doing his best to raise his son Eddie (Brandon Cruz) as a single parent. Supporting Tom in this endeavor are Mrs. Livington (Miyoshi Umeki), his Japanese housekeeper; Norman Tinker (James Komack), his best friend and the magazine's photographer; and Tina Rickles (Kristina Holland), his scatterbrained secretary. The main arc of the series focused on Tom's attempts to find a second wife, and by extension a new mother for Eddie.

Adapted from the 1963 film of the same name directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Glenn Ford as Tom and Ronny Howard as Eddie. The film was itself based on a 1961 novel by Mark Toby.

People, let me tell you 'bout the tropes here:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Mrs. Livingston and Tina both have episodes about them quitting their jobs, and both are back by the ends of their respective episodes.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Tom was an ad executive for a radio station in the film.
  • Anachronic Order: "Pain," the sixth episode of the first season, deals with Eddie's first day of school—despite the fact that his already attending school features into the plots of both the second and third episodes. However, this is an isolated example—the show was by and large very good about continuity.
  • Beef Bandage: Eddie puts a steak over his black eye on two separate occasions in "Bully for You".
  • Book Ends: Each episode begins and ends with footage of Tom and Eddie engaged in some outdoor activity like taking a walk together, while they carry on a heart-to-heart conversation via voiceover.
  • Diet Episode: In "A Five Pound Monkey on His Stomach," Norman spends a weekend on a crash diet to lose some weight prior to being photographed. He moves in with Tom and Eddie for the duration because he knows they'll keep him accountable.
  • Ditzy Secretary: Tina's not totally incompetent, but she definitely has her moments.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Tom has a different secretary in "Mrs. Livingston, I Presume?"
  • Girl of the Week: Most of Tom's love interests only last one episode.
  • Harakiri: In "An F for Mrs. Livingston," Eddie gets it into his head that Mrs. Livingston is going to do this after she fails an exam in her English class.
  • Honorary Uncle: Eddie calls Norman "Uncle Norman."
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Tom tells Eddie that Helen wouldn't mind them trying to find a second wife/mother because she would want them to be as happy as possible.
  • Kids Play Matchmaker: This is a frequent storyline; even when it isn't the week's main plot, references to offscreen incidents of it appear in most episodes.
  • Missing Mom: Helen Corbett died at some point prior to the start of the series; Eddie only retains a few memories of her.
  • Parental Substitute: The fact that Eddie views Mrs. Livingston as this becomes a plot point in "The Mod Couple." After Eddie tells her that he doesn't need to look for a mother because he has her, she quits because she doesn't want to make it difficult for Tom's eventual second wife to transition into that role.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Eddie's classmate Joey, in "Bully for You".
  • Teacher/Parent Romance:
    • In "Teacher's Pet," Eddie's classmates bully him because Tom is dating their teacher.
    • Eddie tries to invoke this in "Mother of the Year," mainly because he's concerned about his teacher having a baby out of wedlock.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "Best Friend", written and performed by none other than Harry Nilsson.
    • Also a Repurposed Pop Song, as it was adapted from an earlier, unrecorded (except as a demo) Nilsson track called "Girlfriend".