What could be predictable in its efforts to be topical, though, yields an abundance of pleasant surprises. That includes stretching out the party planning over the entire 13-episode season, and plenty of heartfelt moments, such as Penelope’s tearful monologue about the strain of being a single mom, which is real and touching.
Those kinds of sequences keep surfacing, feeling organic rather than forced. Elena, for example, chafes at being considered a “diversity candidate,” while other twists punctuate a second half of a season (all the episodes were made available) that gets stronger toward the end.
Credit producers Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce, who oversaw the revival with input from the 94-year-old Lear, with managing to make the more sober aspects reside harmoniously with the comedy. Moreover, at a time when the major networks are pretty starved for hit comedies, to quote the song, this is it — the kind of polished product anyone should be proud to have.
It helps, that while the ’70s version was a popular, long-running show — Valerie Bertinelli grew up on TV — it’s not the sort of series where it feels like sacrilege making it over. Still, even if the resemblance is relatively modest, Netflix’s updated take does a whole lot better than just muddle through.
“One Day at a Time” premieres January 6 on Netflix.