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Marlo Thomas as "That Girl": Think Women's Lib Lite
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You have to give Marlo Thomas, daughter of television legend Danny Thomas ("Make Room for Daddy"), for starting a definite trend in situation comedies with "That Girl," which aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971; a lot of us remember the show from when ABC showed reruns during the day from 1969 to 1972). In the wake of "That Girl" came other comedies about Independent Women such as "The Doris Day Show," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and "Rhoda." Marlo Thomas played Ann Marie, a perky young actress who left the home of her father (Lew Parker) and mother (Rosemary DeCamp) in Brewster, New York, to make it on her own in New York City. Since all she could find where roles in television commercials and small parts in plays here and there, she had to support herself with a lot of odd jobs around town. This provided ample opportunity for new venues for comic encounters between new characters and "That Girl." Along for the ride was Donald Hollinger (Ted Bessell), a junior executive at "Newsview" magazine who spent all five seasons trying to get "That Girl" down the aisle.This first DVD gives us nine choice episodes from the show's entire run: (1) The pilot episode "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There" (September 8, 1966) begins our saga as Ann is working as a candy clerk and meets Donald. When he sees her again she is doing a perfume commercial where she gets kidnapped by two robbers. Donald thinks this is real and comes to her rescue with predictable results.(2) "Anatomy of a Blunder" (Episode 5, October 6, 1966), has Ann bringing Donald home to meet her parents but making the mistake of stopping for a nice little picnic along the way.(3) "Counter Proposal" (Episode 113, Season premier for Season 5, September 25, 1970) completes the informal "Donald Trilogy" that opens this disc with the moment when Donald finally asks Ann to marry him. That is the good news; the bad news is that his co-worker Bob Howard (Ronnie Schell) talks Donald into buying an engagement ring second hand from Mr. Franklin (Avery Schreiber). Note: This is the first episode to feature lyrics for the "That Girl" theme song. (4) "Call of the Wild" (Episode 50, January 25, 1968) has Ann insulted when she is hired to be the Creamy Soap Girl because the producer (Jesse White) sees her as having the sort of face that will not make housewives jealous. Consequently, Ann is convinced she has no sex appeal, and that is not something for "That Girl" to take without a fight.(5) "Nobody Here But Us Chickens" (Episode 90, October 9, 1969) continues the bad commercial gigs as Ann is hired by Major Culpepper (Slim Pickens) to be the Dancing Chicken for his friend chicken chain. When the Major tries to hit on her in his car, Ann hits the road (guess how she is dressed). (6) "The Snow Must Go On" (Episode 93, October 30, 1969) finds Ann and Donald stuck with her parents at Kennedy Airport during a blizzard. Of course Ann has a Broadway audition to go to and nothing short of complete and total disaster will stop her.(7) "This Little Piggy Had a Ball" (Episode 28, March 23, 1967),
has Ann enduring one the peculiar tribulations of sit com stars, getting something stuck in something at the wrong time. Just cross Lucy's bowling ball with Laura Petrie's toe, and you get the idea. Rob Reiner plays Carl and Teri Garr is Estelle in this episode. (8) "Pass the Potatoes, Ethel Merman" (Episode 31, season premier for 2nd season, September 7,1 967) has the legendary Broadway star herself picking Ann for a walk on role in "Gypsy." You know this sounded like a good idea at the time. Merman would return later that season and become "The Other Woman" for Ann's father. (9) "Those Friars" (Episode 127, January 8, 1971) features not only Danny Thomas but also "Mr. Television" himself, Milton Berle as guest stars. Strangely enough, the two television legends play themselves. It seems that Ann's uncle, an old vaudevillian has died, and the two pop out to try and buy the old trunk left to her in Uncle Harry's will.I am not particularly enamored of the "That Girl" television series and its ability to end each and every teaser with the title phrase, but whoever selected these nine episodes did a pretty good job. There is no special "wedding" episode of the series because Donald only got as far as a stage party (plus Thomas did not want to send the wrong message to young women by making that the end of the series), but these episodes are certainly representative of what this show was about. You also have an impressive set of guest stars and it was a nice touch saving daddy for the last one. Yes, your favorite might not be included in these nine episodes--mine was "I Ain't Got Nobody," when Ann's face was put on someone else's body in the centerfold of "Playpen" magazine--but there is not a bad episode in this bunch."
Nice first effort.
trebe | 09/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""That Girl" was a groundbreaking TV program. The source of this program's appeal is of course Marlo Thomas, in the role that defined her acting career. Thomas as the perky Ann Marie, and Ted Bessell as the handsome, logical Donald Hollinger made perhaps the perfect sixties TV couple, rivaled in popularity perhaps only by Don Adams and Barbara Feldon of "Get Smart". Show-stealer Lew Parker is also outstanding as Ann's crusty dad, a restaurant owner with a machine gun style of delivering dialog, who thinks that every guy who dates his daughter is just a "bum". These episodes are, to use an overused term, "classic TV", and should not be missed by any true aficionado of 60's television. Hopefully this is the first of many releases for this wonderful program, which still seems fresh after 35 years.This first collection of episodes is an attempt at capturing an overview of the series. While this effort is for the most part successful, it could have been arranged better. Anchor Bay should be applauded for including nine episodes of "That Girl" on this first release. Total runtime is a whopping 225 minutes. Compare that to Star Trek's standard two episodes per DVD. Instead of being arranged in chronological order, the episodes are subdivided into three thematic groups, which may not have been the best idea.The series first aired in 1966, and ended in 1971. During that time, the characters, particularly Ann and Donald undergo significant changes in appearance and wardrobe. There is no mistaking the Ann of 1966 with the Ann of 1971. By not following chronological order, we see the characters changing appearance significantly between some episodes, disrupting continuity. Also, two consecutive episodes feature instances of Ann's employer making a pass at her. Once again, a little more thought could have gone into how the episodes were arranged. These are minor quibbles, but as a result, the overall flow of the episodes is somewhat uneven, and doesn't feel quite right. For any future releases, I suggest that the episodes be arranged closer to chronological order.The fact that there are no bonus materials is also a major disappointment, especially as this is the first collection of episodes to be released. The printed booklet is a good start, but this series deserves much more. A series retrospective would have been nice. An interview with Ms. Thomas, the only member of the principal cast who is still with us, would have been appropriate. Anchor Bay should be aiming to build the audience for the forthcoming releases. Overall video quality is very good, although focus does suffer at times.Despite these criticisms, "That Girl" is not to be missed. Take a trip back to a world far removed from today. The signature hairstyle, the music, the bowling ball stuck on the toe, and Ann dancing in a chicken suit, are all waiting for you. Experience the charm of "That Girl".Can't wait for Volume 2."
A most enjoyable nostalgic trip back in TV history!
trebe | 07/13/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was indeed a pleasure to re-visit one of the most under-appreciated situation comedies of the late 1960s. Marlo Thomas has spent much of her latter career trying to distance herself from her character in "That Girl," the lovable, adorable Ann Marie. Why? She gave us one of the finest comedic performances in television history -- on par with Lucille Ball's best work in "I Love Lucy." In fact, "That Girl" had many similarities to "I Love Lucy." A whacky, but intelligent girl gets in all kinds of funny mishaps. This set features one such mishap when Ann gets her toe caught in a bowling bowl. Also, has there ever been a more unique "teaser" at the beginning of a television show than ways to get someone to point at Ann and say "That Girl?" It was worth watching the show just for the funny teasers. Also underrated was Ted Bessell as patient love interest Don Hollinger. He was the perfect straight man and played off Thomas' natural comedic flair perfectly. When he died suddenly several years ago, Thomas said of Bessell: "I will love him until the day I die." There was real chemistry between these two on the screen. And let's not forget the great contribution of Lew Parker as Ann Marie's dad. He's wonderful in the several episodes in which he appears on this set. "That Girl" was a true original. Well-acted, produced, directed and written. You won't be wasting your money on this set."
Karen J. Riley | Linden, NJ USA | 05/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here is a listing of the episodes of "That Girl" included on this disc:1. Don't Just Do Something, Stand There 2. Anatomy of a Blunder 3. Counter Proposal 4. Call of the Wild 5. Nobody Here But Us Chickens 6. The Snow Must Go On 7. This Little Piggy Had a Ball (Rob Reiner and Teri Garr have a cameo) 8. Pass the Potatoes, Ethel Merman (guest starring -- you guessed it -- Ethel Merman) 9. Those Friars (Milton Berle and Danny Thomas guest star)As for my opinion on the disc itself, I think it's a nice, well-rounded grouping of some of That Girl's best moments. Watching this disc, I like the show even more now than I already did. It was interesting seeing how Donald met Ann Marie, and the very funny episode where Donald is supposed to meet Ann's parents for the first time, but a run of bad luck seems intent on ruining any good first impression he might make on them. The episode where Donald finally proposes to Ann is included on here as well. Another thing I found interesting was seeing how much fashions changed during the show's run."
Season sets coming in 2006!!!
Ron Green | North Hollywood, CA United States | 12/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm happy to report that "That Girl" will be released on dvd in season sets by Shout starting in 2006. This is the same company that did a wonderful job on the"Here's Lucy" dvd set which had a ton of extras. Hope they do the same with "That Girl.""