Sunday, June 22, 2014

What Might've Been: Gidget (1965)

There are things that I just don't get.

Of course, I was a mere toddler when Gidget debuted on ABC in 1965, and lasted 1 season. Aside from the fact that it was set during summertime, and most episodes revolved around the title character (Sally Field) spending most of her time at the beach, most viewers were unwilling to give this show more than a second look for some reason.

Still, because the character had been introduced in books and movies some years earlier, the series developed a fan following, such that, in the late 80's, Columbia brought Gidget back in reruns to test the waters, then introduced the syndicated New Gidget, with Caryn Richman in the title role this time, which I think was around the same time they tried the New Monkees. Richman, if memory serves, lasted two seasons, but hasn't been heard from since, while Sally Field, whom most people still associate with Gidget nearly 50 years later, is still going strong (currently in "Amazing Spider-Man 2"), although she doesn't look as cute as she used to.

Co-star Peter Duel (spelled Deuel in the credits) bounced right back with another Screen Gems entry, Love on a Rooftop, paired this time with Judy Carne, before Alias Smith & Jones cemented his status as a pop culture superstar in waiting before his untimely passing. Don Porter, who played Gidget's dad, would do a lot of guest shots, mostly in dramas. Guest star Dick Wilson is better known for his many years as Charmin pitchman Mr. Whipple. The theme song was done by Johnny Tillotson, and may have been his last shot at the charts.

Here's the episode, "All the Best Diseases Are Taken":

Of course, we all know that Sally Field would fare much better with Flying Nun, which lasted three seasons (1967-70), and had some of the same creative personnel.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

Gidget reran on WWOR back in the 80s and New Gidget turned up in syndication not long after. The original show was OK - about par for the course as far as 60s sitcoms went. You could see Field's perkiness early on, and you knew she'd land on her feet somewhere eventually.

It wasn't until later on before I realized Pete Duel was her brother in law! Talk about a talent gone to waste! He was doing so well when he landed on Alias Smith & Jones! If he had lived he might have gone on to much bigger things too - perhaps in film.

Believe it or not, I thought New Gidget was a better sitcom.

I was introduced to Jonny Tillotson thanks to his singing the theme song! He had a few hits on the country charts as well as the pop charts IIRC.

hobbyfan said...

My parents preferred country, but the stations we listened to were stuck on the usual suspects (Cash, Waylon, Buck Owens, et al), and Tillotson would only get played periodically......