Thursday, December 29, 2011

Classic TV: That Girl (1966)

Look what's coming to Me-TV starting Monday:

The premise was as simple as could be. Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas) is a struggling actress living in New York and hoping for her big break, like so many others. Her long-suffering boyfriend, Don Hollinger (Ted Bessell, ex-Gomer Pyle, USMC) is a magazine writer who has to double as Ann's conscience when she gets in over her head. Which happens pretty often.

Despite the success of That Girl, Marlo Thomas never landed another series. Instead, she opted to move behind the scenes, and her last TV gig of note was Free To Be.....You & Me, a 1-shot special, which, like That Girl, aired on ABC, and featured an eclectic lineup of stars, including Alan Alda (M*A*S*H), football player-turned-actor Roosevelt Grier (ex-Daniel Boone), and Michael Jackson, in one of his first appearances without his brothers. Free To Be last aired on TV Land a number of years back, and hasn't seen the light of day since. Then again, neither had That Girl, until Me-TV acquired the series for its primetime lineup.

As for Ted Bessell, he had one other series, the ill-fated Me & The Chimp (1971), and after a TV-movie or two, he wasn't heard from much again. It's worth noting, too, that the ensemble cast also included Bernie Kopell, who otherwise was appearing frequently on Get Smart, and welcomed the opportunity to play a more likeable character. Of course, Kopell cemented his icon status on The Love Boat a decade later, but that's another story for another time.

Rating: A-.


magicdog said...

I used to watch this show as a kid and loved the opening credits! I used to want to be Ann Marie walking about Manhattan in cool clothes. The only thing I could do was mess my hair like she did at the end!

I think part of the problem with Marlo's subsequent acting career was her voice. It was grating after a while. She sounded like she had a sore throat all the time!

I remember "That Girl" was also a cartoon at some point; a one shot for ABC called "That Girl in Wonderland".

I remember Ted Bessel doing more behind the scenes work as well later in his career. I thought it unfair he didn't do more on camera work after "That Girl" ended.

hobbyfan said...

"That Girl in Wonderland" was an ABC Saturday Superstar Movie that aired long after the series had ended. I wish I'd find clips of that to put in the Saturday Morning Archives.....