Sunday, July 26, 2015

Forgotten TV: Arnie (1970)

What would happen if an ordinary rank & file employee were suddenly thrust into a management position?

That was the premise behind Arnie, which spent 2 seasons on CBS (1970-2), but got the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. In other words, it got no respect from the network or viewers.

Arnie was perceived as a comeback vehicle for Herschel Bernardi (ex-Peter Gunn), but the truth is Bernardi had been doing voice work in cartoons (i.e. Mighty Heroes) in the 60's, and was the voice of Charlie the Tuna in a zillion Starkist Tuna ads. Bernardi was cast as Arnie Nuvo, an average factory worker who gets a shocking promotion into management. Because he's still in a union, Arnie can use his position to negotiate contracts and avoid work stoppages.

Roger Bowen, who had been in the film version of "M*A*S*H" earlier in 1970, was cast as Nuvo's boss, Hamilton Majors, Jr., who was wealthy but also eccentric. Speaking of eccentric, in season 2, CBS moved the show to Mondays, coupled with My Three Sons, and 20th Century Fox brought Charles Nelson Reilly over from the just-cancelled Ghost & Mrs. Muir to play a parody of Graham Kerr's Galloping Gourmet. Unfortunately, that tactic didn't work. Arnie moved back to Saturdays to play out the string.

Gilmore Box provides the open:

Arnie came from the mind of David Swift, who, years earlier, adapted Ted Key's comic strip, Hazel, for television. It would also be Swift's last effort for TV.

Rating: B.

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