Friday, May 17, 2013

What Might've Been: The Ugliest Girl in Town (1968)

In the 60's, sitcoms were divided into various sub-genres, and that meant not all of them were destined for success.

You had fantasy-coms, such as Bewitched & I Dream of Jeannie, which merged the traditional domestic comedy with elements of science fiction and fantasy. The Flying Nun, while also a fantasy-com, went in a different direction (magic mixed with religion), and lasted about half as long as Jeannie.

All three were produced under the direction of Harry Ackerman, head of sitcoms for Screen Gems (which today is a separate feature film entity as a sister studio of Columbia), whose track record was gradually diminishing as time wore on, because while Bewitched ran for 8 seasons (1964-72) and Jeannie for 5 (1965-70), there were so few others that got past one season (Flying Nun spent three seasons on ABC, and it should be noted that The Monkees, which lasted two years on NBC, wasn't credited to Ackerman at all).

That brings us to a concept that, as it turns out, was ahead of its time.

The Ugliest Girl In Town spent one season on ABC (1968-9), and only merits attention now because its core concept came back into focus in the 80's. Long before future Oscar winner Tom Hanks began masquerading as a woman (Bosom Buddies, another ABC entry, 1980-2), and before Dustin Hoffman made "Tootsie", there was the story of fashion photographer Timmy Blair (Peter Kastner), who goes undercover, posing as a female model and traveling to London to get close to his girlfriend. Of course, chaos dogs his every move, as Timmie (clever spelling variation) becomes an overnight sensation in spite of him/herself.

Gilmore Box offers the open, narrated by Kastner:

As memory serves, Kastner was hardly heard from again after Ugliest Girl was cancelled. Pity, as he did have some potential.

No rating. Never saw the show.


magicdog said...

I'd heard of this show - though had never seen it.

It's a rather funny premise, and definitely the spiritual ancestor to Bosom Buddies, et al. Peter Kastner was a cutie!

I don't know why Ackerman would have been credited with The Monkees, as "Raybert" (Bob Rafelson & Bert Schnider) was the powerhouse production team behind that show.

hobbyfan said...

As I noted, Ackerman was head of comedy at Screen Gems at the time. Monkees was one of the few shows he wasn't involved with at all. Rafelson & Schneider didn't produce another show after the Monkees ended, though, but did the band's feature film, "Head".