Audiences are introduced to Alice, who has been working in the diner for only a few weeks. She is widowed and has a son whom she has to raise herself. Also introduced are several interesting co-workers: the stingy Mel, ditzy Vera, and feisty Flo.
Instead of focusing on character development, this season is devoted to keeping the balance between the characters that was acheived early on in the first season. The diner changes this season. When previously the decor focused on Cowboys, the decor now focuses on the "dump" theme that provides much humor throughout the series.
The show continues along the same lines this season. It is the last full season to include Flo.
Now more popular than ever, the show's producers offered Polly Holliday, in the middle of the fourth season, a spin-off series, "Flo," that would require her to leave "Alice." Holliday leaves mid-season (though her spin-off only airs for a little over a year), and Diane Ladd is picked to play the part of Belle Dupree, one of Mel's early waitresses. Ladd played the role of Flo in the movie on which "Alice" was based.
The character of Belle has caught on well (even earning Ladd an Emmy nomination and Golden Globe). Diane Ladd is as successful as Polly Holliday, though many fans feel that the show was never the same until later this season, when Ladd left. Many viewers felt that Belle was too much like Flo. Later this season, for an unknown reason, Ladd leaves the series and is replaced by Celia Weston, who plays Jolene Hunnicutt.
Jolene becomes one of the most remembered characters in "Alice." She doesn't try to be like Flo, but brings her own style into the series. Her role is not a sexpot as the roles of Flo and Belle were; rather it is a down-home style that is as irreplaceable as Flo's. The show is still in the top 10.
Not many changes for this season. This is the last season for the show to win any awards. The seventh season is also the last year the show was ranked in the top 10. "Alice" was in the top 10 for seven straight years out of it's nine-year run.
This season, Vera is focused on more than Alice. The reason is that there is a new director on the series: Linda Lavin. She began experimenting with directing late in season four and this season devotes herself to directing several episodes. For this reason, Alice and Tommy frequently take vacations. Vera gets married to a police officer, Elliot Novack, early in the season.
The series ends this season. Elliot becomes a regular cast member. Alice is featured even less this season. The ninth season only produces 16 episodes, while the other seasons produced at least 20. Many fans feel that the series dropped in quality during the last two seasons, but most feel that the show was still entertaining. Many fans enjoyed story lines involving Vera. Despite the major changes in style that occur in the last two seaons, the quality is still good. The show is still quite popular, and probably could have lasted another year. It was a cast decision to end the series this season.