That Girl (1966-1971)
Created by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff
Starring Marlo Thomas and Ted Bessell
I rang in the new year watching a That Girl Marathon on Me TV. Like Family Affair and The Mod Squad, That Girl is a show I haven't seen since the sixties. (It was another of the television shows my eight-year-old boyfriend and I played. When we weren't Linc and Julie, we were Donald Hollinger and Ann Marie.) I hadn't expected the show to be as good as I remembered it to be when I started watching it at the age of seven, but actually it's held up a lot better than most sitcoms of that time. In fact, it's really quite good.
Created by the same guys who brought us The Dick Van Dyke Show--no wonder it's so good--That Girl, a precursor to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is a cutting-edge television program about a young actress struggling to make it on her own in New York City. Incidentally, Jerry Paris (The Dick Van Dyke Show's Jerry Helper) directed the pilot and even appeared in it as a television director.
To support her acting career, Ann Marie works at various menial jobs: waitress, Santa's helper, clerk at Macy's and the candy counter in a building lobby--where she meets Donald--and even Donald's temporary secretary at Newsview magazine, all the while dressed fabulously in her mod, colorful clothing. She's beautiful, but she's no bimbo. She's smart, and she takes no crap from the boyfriend. She's also wacky, a little clumsy, struggling to make ends meet, basically leading an imperfect life.
Watching the That-Girl-A-Thon, I was surprised by how much of the show I remembered. Like the episode in which Ann Marie wants to change her name to Ann Brewster, much to the anger of her father, Lou Marie. And the episode in which Ann takes Donald home to meet the parents. Along the way they stop for a picnic, where Donald steps on a bee, has an allergic reaction to horseradish, and loses one of his contacts. But because Ann can't drive a stick, half-blind Donald must drive. With Ann navigating, Donald drives off the road and get stuck in some mud. Trying to push the car out of the mud, Donald gets drenched in the gooey stuff. Meanwhile, back in Brewster, Ann's parents (Lew Parker and Rosemary DeCamp) are worried, and Lou, her father, is convinced that Donald is a bum. When Ann and Donald finally make it to her parents' home, Donald's appearance convinces Lou that he was right: Donald is a bum.
To order That Girl DVDs from Amazon, click on one of these links:
That Girl - Season One
That Girl - Season Two
That Girl: Season Three
That Girl Season Four
That Girl: Season Five