'A Year in the Life' was about 3 generations of an ordinary, middle-class American family living in Seattle. Critics had hailed the series as "a profound revolution in network television". Originally shown between 1986 and 1988, 'A Year in the Life' examined "the everyday dramas surrounding life, death, marriage, divorce, birth, work, school and personal relationships." 

Richard Kiley called 'A Day in the Life' "a fine series because the scripts are so painstakingly good. It's not a frantic show. It's good without being desperate. The critics say we are the best show on the air. That's frustrating because the ratings aren't as high as we would like to see them." Up against 'Magnum, p.i.', 'A Year in the Life' ended the 1987-1988 season ranked 60th among the 98 shows on prime time networks at the time. On reflection, Richard acknowledged, "In my innocence, I thought the series would live up to the (1986) mini-series. But to expect those standards every week without falling off the wagon is ridiculous. Still, it's amazing the quality has remained as high as it has." 

Co-creator and producer Joshua Brand conceded to Steve Weinstein of the 'Los Angeles Times' in March 1988, "It's questionable whether there is a large audience for this kind of show. If you look at our (ratings), we are by no means a hit show. And we all have a great deal of uneasiness and uncertainty about our future. The only thing it's tempered by is the fact that we know the network likes the show; they believe in the show. But on the basis of the numbers alone, we would not be picked up for next season."

John Falsey added, "It's extremely frustrating because I feel that the show we're writing is an accessible show. We write about very relatable people and the problems and triumphs that they have. Why it hasn't caught on, I just don't know." Of a possible return in the 1988-1989 season, Warren Littlefield of NBC lamented, "At this point (in March 1988) it's up in the air. I root for it to be back because I think it's good work, superior work. My heart is with it. But ultimately you have to sit down and ask, 'Do you believe you have a place on the schedule where it can succeed?'" 

Although the grassroots organization, Viewers for Quality Television, established in 1984 with some 5000 members, campaigned tirelessly to save 'A Year in the Life', it was to little avail. In September 1988, Brandon Tartikoff told the 'Los Angeles Times', "I certainly understand their right to be upset because I canceled 'A Year in the Life', but you only find yourself in that position if you put the show on in the first place. 

"It was my idea to do the mini-series, it was my idea to launch the series and me who renewed it (at mid-season) when it had a 19 share. I can guarantee you that if a year from now I'm thinking about taking off shows like 'Dear John', 'Baby Boom' (starring Kate Jackson) and 'Tattingers' (co-created by Bruce Paltrow), they'll be the first to squawk – yet those programs are part of the wave of programming that knocked 'A Year in the Life' and 'Molly Dodd' off the air." 

Joshua Brand lamented, "It's really hard to get people to feel on television. You can entertain them, but they've all seen so many hours of television, they know what to feel, they know what marks to hit. The audience is so sophisticated that our big main trick is, 'How do you get someone to feel?'" John Falsey believed, "I think when we succeed, it comes out of real situations. There's nothing worse than trying to manipulate feelings, where the scene is crying for you to feel, to let this touch you. We won't go that way. If you understand the situation well enough and it's real enough, then the emotion just comes up and overwhelms you." 

Richard Kiley made the comment, "The difference between acting for the camera and in the theater is you think of the entire show from the first curtain to the last on stage. You orchestrate the performance. In movies and TV, you are concerned with the moment or the day's work. My first love is the theater because it offers the danger of being live and immediate. For the moment (in 1987), I am entranced by 'A Year in the Life'. I feel sure those who watch it once will tune in every week." 

Also in 1987, Richard told Jane Ardmore of 'King Features Syndicate', "I believe in marriage, I really do. I have some acquaintances in this business who have been married 7, 8 times. These are bright people and I can't understand how anybody can be so stupid as to get married 8 times and really think that by marrying again, you are going to change. 

"If you have married that often, the problem is yours. Two marriages I can see. Especially when people have married young and grow into rather different people. But to go endless marrying…? In the old days (during the Depression and after World War II) when people married young, the lifestyle was so simple. In an agricultural community, children worked with their father and with their mother – no great problems. 

"But today (in 1987), with the most incredible changes in our lives, the responsibilities for women to advance themselves intellectually, 19, 20 and 21 is much too young to get married. You don't know who you are! I think marriage means a kind of maturity. It means that we'd like to have the world know that we believe in each other and that we're going to try to make something happen. 

"Marriage isn't necessary any more, people can live together without the stigma that was attached to such a liaison when we were kids (during the Depression). So marriage when it happens is meaningful. It's a choice. You have that choice. The point of living is not just endless, instant gratification. I mean, if you don’t feel you have developed and learned something, what the hell is this journey for? An exercise in futility? If you can say, 'Yes, by God, I'm smarter because of this relationship than I was 5 years ago' then, OK, you're on the right track. But if all the problems keep reasserting themselves with different faces, then you're in trouble and had better reassess your life."

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