Monday, May 23, 2011
The Greatest TV Comedies - That Girl (1966 - 1971)
The adventures of fun loving and adorable Ann Marie (played by Marlo Thomas in her most recognized role) in Manhattan was one of my favorite shows that I watched during the 80's when WTBS was showing reruns at that time. The premise was simple as small town Ann Marie (great name by the way) leaves home and heads to New York to become an actress. Of course things are never easy and for 5 years Ann was put in about every comical situation you could think of. Marlo Thomas, daughter of Danny Thomas was awesome as Ann. Her performance is one of the best ever by anyone for television. The character of Ann could have easily become annoying and unfunny after awhile but Thomas kept her genuine and real. I'm sure there were tons of women and young girls that could relate to the problems and situations that Ann faced on a weekly basis. It also helped that writing was sharp and funny. It should be as it was created by Sam Denoff and Bill Persky, who wrote many episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show. And let's not forget that Marlo was a trendsetter as Ann was a young and single gal trying to make it on her own way before Mary Tyler Moore came along with her self titled series. Moore's show didn't air until 1970.
Ann would soon hook up with boyfriend Donald Hollinger (wonderfully played by Ted Bessell, a great light comedian, who jelled perfectly with Thomas). Donald would be the straight man to the wacky Ann, but he got in several laughs of his own as well. Also great was Lew Parker as Ann's exasperated dad and Rosemary Camp as Ann's mom. The running gag was that Ann's dad couldn't stand Donald and he was always suspecting the worse of Donald. The whole cast was just entertaining to watch and the show itself was always good for laugh aloud moments. Thomas proved to be a very gifted comedienne who wasn't adverse to getting down with physical comedy. She was a natural at it. And her being easy on the eyes didn't hurt matters either. I definitely recall having a crush on her while growing up. She was always wearing the newest and hippest clothes and lived in a huge one bedroom apartment. Don't ask how she afforded those things as she was always struggling to keep her job. But that was the best thing about this show. It never got serious or quibbled over such things like that. It's sole purpose was to make audiences laugh and forget about all the unrest going on in the turbulent 60's.
Featuring a cool opening sequence which focused solely on Ann gazing through a train window of the New York skyline, wearing if I remember correctly white gloves and a sailor hat. Then gazing at the billboards of Broadway, seeing herself as a queen in a store window display or flying a kite in Central Park. Take that Holly Golightly. That Girl would have a very successful 5 year run on ABC for a total of 136 episodes. It's said that ABC wanted Ann to marry Donald, but Marlo balked, saying it would be a betrayal of the single women who had watched the show all along to imply that the only happy ending was marriage. The show went off the air with Ann and Donald engaged and stuck in an elevator while on the way to a women's liberation meeting. That's Ann Marie all the way, playing by her own rules to the very end. The show is currently available on DVD which would be a great addition to anyone's classic film and TV library. Amazon is selling each season set for about $30 bucks. Anyway That Girl is a cherished memory of mine and it is one of the all time greatest TV comedies.
Ann: That's what I love about the theater! You know what I
mean, Donald? One day you're nobody, and the next,
Ethel Merman is stuffing your cabbage!