Thursday, August 1, 2013

What Might've Been: Operation Petticoat (1977)

Some of us complain now about how Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. In the 70's, of course, that wasn't the case.

In 1977, Universal reached into its storied film vaults to adapt one of their movies into a television series. Operation Petticoat was first a feature film starring Tony Curtis & Cary Grant, released in 1959. Nearly 20 years later, the crew of the Sea Tiger rose again for a new generation. Problem was, interference from either network (ABC) or studio suits torpedoed the show after 2 seasons.

Petticoat marked the return of 60's icon John Astin (ex-Addams Family) to television, inheriting the role created by Grant. The cast also included Jamie Lee Curtis (Tony's daughter), Richard Gilliland, and Melinda Naud. ClassicTelevisionFan uploaded the season 1 intro:



For reasons known only to Universal and/or ABC executives, the series cast was overhauled for season 2, with only Naud retained from the previous season. Jim Varney (later better known for his commercials & movies as Ernest P. Worrell), Warren Berlinger, Jo Ann Pflug, & Randolph Mantooth (ex-Emergency!) piped aboard. The wholesale changes resulted in ratings taking a crash dive to cancellation. Here's the open:



I never saw any of the 2nd season episodes, and I wasn't too fond of the series in the first place. Astin tried to shed the image he'd forged as Gomez Addams more than a decade earlier, and while he could get away with camping it up when subbing for Frank Gorshin as The Riddler on Batman, attempting to reinvent himself may have cost him goodwill with studio suits. Mantooth may've been a contract player at Universal, hence his being brought in to replace Astin.

Rating: C.

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