Gidget (TV series)

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Gidget
Gid Title.JPG
Original title screen
Genre Sitcom
Format Color
Created by Frederick Kohner (novel)
Starring Sally Field
Don Porter
Betty Conner
Pete Duel
Lynette Winter
Theme music composer Howard Greenfield
Jack Keller
Opening theme "(Wait 'Til You See) My Gidget", performed by Johnny Tillotson
Composer(s) Dave Grusin
Stu Phillips
Charles Albertine
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 32 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Harry Ackerman
Producer(s) Bob Claver (pilot episode)
William Sackheim
Running time 25 minutes (per episode)
Production company(s) Screen Gems
Distributor Sony Pictures Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 15, 1965 (1965-09-015) – April 21, 1966 (1966-04-21)
Chronology
Followed by Gidget Grows Up (1969)
Related shows The New Gidget

Gidget is an American sitcom about a surfing, boy-crazy teenager called "Gidget" and her widowed father Russ Lawrence, a UCLA professor. Sally Field stars as Gidget with Don Porter as father Russell Lawrence. The series was first broadcast on ABC from September 15, 1965 to April 21, 1966.

Gidget was among the first regularly scheduled color programs on ABC, but did poorly in the Nielsen ratings and was cancelled at the end of its first season.

Background[edit]

The television series was based upon concepts and characters created by Frederick Kohner in his 1957 novel Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas,[1] which Kohner based upon the adventures of his teenage daughter Kathy. The novel was adapted into a 1959 movie starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson. The 1965 weekly, half-hour television series is seen by some as a sequel to the 1959 film, despite numerous discontinuities in plot, time frame and other details. It can also be seen as an independent incarnation, related to but distinct from either the novels or the films. Kohner served as a script consultant on the show.

The series reintroduced Gidget's friend Larue and married sister Anne Cooper, both of whom appear in Kohner's original novel, but are absent from the motion picture series. Gidget's brother-in-law, who appears in the novels as the intelligent but condescending child psychiatrist Larry Cooper is reinvented in the television series as John Cooper, an obtuse but lovable psychology student.

Plot[edit]

Gidget is about the father-daughter relationship between Frances "Gidget" Lawrence and her widowed father Russell Lawrence. Episodes follow Gidget's adventures in school, at home, and at nearby beaches. Russell Lawrence guides his daughter through her fifteenth year, while married sister Anne and husband John offer often unsolicited child-rearing tips. Gidget's friend Larue sometimes takes part in her escapades. More often than not, Gidget receives moral instruction from her father and gains wisdom from her experiences.

Each episode is narrated by Gidget; on occasion, she breaks the Fourth wall and directly addresses her audience, usually reflecting on what she has learned from the evening's story, sometimes ending with "Toodles!" (an expression Field improvised during production).[2]

Characters[edit]

Don Porter with Sally Field and Betty Conner, 1965.
  • Frances Elizabeth "Gidget" Lawrence (Sally Field) - The prototypical southern California beach bunny.
  • Russell Lawrence (Don Porter) - Gidget's widowed father and English professor at UCLA.
  • Anne Cooper (Betty Conner) - Gidget's older, married, sister.
  • John Cooper (Pete Duel) - Anne's husband, a psychology student.
  • Larue Wilson (Lynette Winter) - Gidget's best friend
  • Jeff "Moondoggie" Matthews (Stephen Mines) - Gidget's boyfriend who is away at Princeton University.
  • Siddo (Michael Nader) - Gidget's schoolmate.
  • Randy (Rickie Sorensen) - Gidget's schoolmate.

While Jeff was Gidget's true love (she regularly wore his high school ring around her neck), she regularly dated — or more accurately, pursued — other boys while he was away at college.

  • Kahuna (Martin Milner) - "The Great Kahuna"
  • Jack Collins (James Davidson) - "A Hearse, a Hearse, My Kingdom for a Hearse"
  • Roger Haimes (James M. Crawford) - "Image Scrimmage"
  • Mark (Robert Random) - "Chivalry Isn't Dead", "Gidget's Foreign Policy"
  • Bret (Randy Kirby) - "The War Between Men, Women and Gidget"
  • Tom Brighton (Daniel J. Travanti) - "Now There's a Face"
  • Corky Cook (Peter Brooks), Tate Cook (Larry Merrill) - "Too Many Cooks"
  • Baxter Stevenson (Tom Gilleran) - "I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Think"
  • Durf the Drag (Richard Dreyfuss) - "Ego-a-Go-Go"
  • Scott (Carl Reindel), Richie Ryan (David Macklin) - "Love and the Single Gidget"
  • Toby (Robert Beach) - "I Have This Friend Who..."

Episodes[edit]

Production details[edit]

Gidget was filmed at the Columbia/Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank, California, with the exterior and kitchen set borrowed from the Hazel series, which was filming its final season at the time. The house situated next door to the Lawrence residence is the principal residence on Bewitched series, which was in production simultaneously.

The show launched the career of 18-year-old Sally Field, who defeated 75 other teenage girls for the title role.[2] Field exaggerated her surfing experience to the show's casting directors during her audition (she had none); she later took lessons from Phil Sauers just to be able to pretend to surf for the cameras. Sauers served as the series' "Surfing Technical Consultant" and provided the surfboards used during filming of the series.

Don Porter had portrayed Gidget's father, Russell Lawrence, two years prior in the film Gidget Goes to Rome and was asked to reprise the role for the series.

While the Gidget of the novel and the original film are both blondes, the Gidget of the television series is a brunette.

The lyrics of the theme song ""(Wait 'Til You See) My Gidget" were written by Howard Greenfield, with music by Jack Keller. The song was performed in the pilot by The Four Freshmen, and in the series by Johnny Tillotson.

Reception[edit]

Gidget faced stiff competition during its initial run. The show originally aired on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., opposite The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS) and The Virginian (NBC), two established shows with strong ratings. The series was moved to Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. starting with Episode 18 ("Like Voodoo") where it performed poorly opposite CBS's Gilligan's Island,[3] despite airing after the Top 5-rated Batman.

ABC cancelled Gidget in April 1966 — just as the show began to find a large teen audience. Summer reruns launched the show into the Top 10 as viewers looked for programs they had not seen during their original fall/winter broadcasts. ABC had a belated hit on their hands, but refused to renew the show because they would have to admit they were premature in its cancellation. In addition, industry practice at the time rarely allowed for cancelled shows to be resurrected.[3]

Rather than squander their newly found audience which ABC was hurting for at the time, the network scrambled to find a new starring vehicle for Field. The result was The Flying Nun (1967–70), where Field reluctantly portrayed Sister Bertrille for three seasons.[4] Field later commented that she has great affection for her young persona and was proud of her work on Gidget but was embarrassed with The Flying Nun.[2]

Legacy[edit]

May 28-June 3, 1966 issue of TV Guide featuring Sally Field; the series had been cancelled by this time, but ratings had significantly improved

Gidget remained in regular syndication for several years, one of the few single-season programs to attain this status. Two made-for-television sequels followed shortly after its demise: Gidget Grows Up and Gidget Gets Married.

The series gained a new wave of popularity starting in 1983 when reruns began airing on a regular basis (along with The Flying Nun). Another television movie was produced (Gidget's Summer Reunion) starring Caryn Richman in the title role. The movie was successful enough to warrant a syndicated reboot as The New Gidget, with Richman reprising her role. None of the original cast members appeared on the new series, though original series producer Harry Ackerman was present.

Gidget has amassed a devoted cult following since its premature cancellation, and remains popular with audiences.

Episodes of Gidget are available for purchased on iTunes, as well as streamed for free through minisodes in the U.S. on Hulu and Crackle.

Antenna TV began airing the show in summer 2011 on weekends, paired with The Flying Nun. The entire series was broadcast during an Independence Day marathon in 2012 and 2013.

Merchandise[edit]

Milton Bradley Company manufactured a "Gidget Fortune Teller" game which used Field's image on the box, the playing board and several game cards.[5]

DVD releases[edit]

On March 21, 2006, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released Gidget: The Complete Series featuring all 32 episodes of the series, on DVD in Region 1. The release included the original pilot episode and a short interview with Field. This release has been discontinued and is out of print.

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Gidget.[6] On March 27, 2014, it was announced that they will re-release the complete series on DVD on May 20, 2014.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gidget by Frederick Kohner [1] (2001) Berkley Publishing Group.
  2. ^ a b c Sally Field (2006). Gidget: The Complete Series (DVD). Hollywood, California: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 
  3. ^ a b sitcomsonline.com - Gidget: The Complete Series
  4. ^ tv.com/shows/gidget
  5. ^ Board Games of the 50's, 60's, and 70's: With Prices by David Dilley (October 1994) L-W Promotions ISBN 0-89538-068-4
  6. ^ Mill Creek Entertainment Signs Deals With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment To Expand Their Distribution Partnership
  7. ^ Hold the Phone! Sally Field Covers the Box for Mill Creek's Re-Release

External links[edit]