Welcome back to A Very Merry MeTV Christmas Blogation here on The Flaming Nose, coming to you from the Classic TV Blog Association in conjunction with the MeTV network! We hope you're enjoying the entire blog collection plus the line-up of Christmas TV episodes airing on MeTV!
Christmas comes but once a year in real life and many of the great TV sitcoms have managed to celebrate several times over the course of their runs. We're talking today about Marlo Thomas as That Girl, looking at the second yuletide episode of the series, this one from the show's 2nd season (its 15th episode). 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, You're Under Arrest premiered on December 21, 1967, at 9pm, after Bewitched and before Peyton Place.
That Girl is pure charm and charisma, personified by Marlo Thomas' enthusiastic performance as actress Ann Marie. This is no series where the currency is insults and everybody gets the stink eye and tosses shade like party confetti. That Girl's charms are wide-eyed potential and a zest for life, tempered with a keen sense of the absurd and the energy of classic farce. In other words, it's terrific fun and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, You're Under Arrest doesn't disappoint.
The episode was written by sitcom veteran Ruth Brooks Flippen who had started her career during the 1950s in motion pictures and transitioned into TV on her reputation as a writer on several of the Gidget movies. Her work on popular TV series like Gidget, Bewitched and That Girl -- read her full credits here -- showed that she was particularly adept at capturing and showcasing the strengths of the women who starred in those series and others she wrote for.
Veteran TV director James Sheldon helmed the episode. Sheldon, a prolific and versatile director who started his small screen career on Mr. Peepers in the very early 1950s, worked extensively on most top network series for the subsequent three and a half decades, moving easily between comedy and heavy dramatic projects. Visit his credits here.
The cast of That Girl was uniformly excellent and guest stars equally so. In addition to series regulars Thomas, Ted Bessell as Ann's steady boyfriend Don, Lew Parker as Ann's always perturbed father Lew Marie and in this episode TV veteran Bernie Kopell and Carol Ann Daniels as Ann's next door neighbors Jerry and Ruth Bauman, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, You're Under Arrest also features some wonderful guest actors.
Familiar movie and TV actor Jay C. Flippen has several great scenes as the gruff but bemused Sergeant Fitzgerald of the 59th Precinct. A myriad of roles over a forty-year long career -- see his credits here -- kept Flippen busy even after he had a leg amputation in the mid-1960s, something you can't tell in That Girl as he's behind a big police desk the whole time. Also of great interest: Jay C. Flippen was married to episode writer Ruth Brooks Flippen! They had been husband and wife since 1947 and stayed so until Jay's death in early 1971.
Herbie Faye plays the fast-talking affable sidewalk vendor who sells Ann the scalped tickets which had a face value of $9.90 -- how times have changed for Broadway prices! I was going to call him a con man but he really wasn't; the tickets were legitimate, after all. Faye was a veteran movie and TV actor with a long list of credits and a permanent place in Pop Culture history as one of the original cast of The Phil Silvers Show.
Popular character actor Ed Peck played one of the arresting policemen; he showed up in myriad movies and TV shows over his prolific 30 year acting career -- credits here. Actor Paul Bryar who played the other arresting officer started out as an uncredited extra in movies and moved into steady work as a reliable presence with nearly 400 career credits -- see the impressive list here. William Bramley who played the fingerprint detective came with impeccable credentials: he was Officer Krupke in the movie West Side Story as well as many other roles during his long prosperous career -- see his entire resume here. The presence of this caliber of seasoned acting talent gave That Girl an impeccable polish which helps it hold up today as such a watchable show.
Rather than tell the whole story of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, You're Under Arrest we'll share some screengrabs from the episode. You can watch the episode -- along with the rest of the series -- on Hulu right now: click here to access. What might amaze you is how beautiful the show looks; it's irresistibly compelling to the eyes and embodies the positive vibe which infuses the series. And funny? It's got that, too.
Don't miss the other entries in The A Very Merry MeTV Christmas Blogathon brought to you by the Classic TV Blog Association!
Happy Holidays from The Flaming Nose TV Blog!