Thursday, December 10, 2015

"That Girl" Celebrates Christmas on a Very Merry Me-TV Blogathon!

Here we are, a fortnight before Christmas Eve, and the great Very Merry Me-TV Blogathon continues with another holiday episode spotlight.  We hope you've been enjoying all the entries in this celebration of Xmas TV brought to you by the Classic TV Blog Association and the Me-TV network! Be sure to visit both sites by clicking the links above and finding all about the fun both reading about the continuing line-up on the net and watching on TV on your local Me-TV station! Today on The Flaming Nose, Ann Marie -- Marlo Thomas -- is telling her boyfriend Donald -- Ted Bessell -- all about the time she helped a little boy celebrate Christmas.  The show is That Girl and the episode is Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid, first telecast on Dec. 22, 1966.

First of all, we'd like to point you to a great article on Joanna Wilson's wonderful Christmas TV History blog.  Joanna is the author of a several books about Christmas TV and she is the authority on the subject!  She covers Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid and we are going to try not to duplicate her here andwant you to check out her piece for some wonderful info!

The actual moment the flashback begins!

This episode of That Girl is a little different, going via flashbacks as she tells Don about her past where she was a teacher at an exclusive boys' boarding school -- the kids of movie stars and rich families fill the august halls.  As aspiring actress Ann toils in contemporary time as a Santa's Helper elf at a department store, she takes us back to an earlier Ann, just as enthusiastic and charming and with the seeds of her dramatic career taking hold.  We see her organizing the boys who are playing living Christmas trees in a pageant.  (If Ann ever wanted to branch out, she could always direct!).

It's Christmas and all the boys are going home to join their families for the holiday, but one little boy Tommy (played by Chris Shea) is left behind when his movie star mom and show biz father can't make it back from location.

But Ann has other friends among the kids.  One of them -- Roger, played by Gerald Michenaud -- leave his dead bug collection to her which Ann sweetly tries to accept with all possible enthusiasm.

Ann continues to be dismayed about the plight of the kid who's going to have to stay at the school.

But no amount of pleading will get her permission to take him home to her house for the holiday -- school rules, you know.  Instead, Ann ends up phoning her father (Lew Parker) explaining how she can't leave Tommy to be alone and so is going to stay with him.  Lew appreciates his daughter's gesture.  She's a good kid. She wishes him a Merry Christmas and gets to her yuletide babysitting.

After countless games of checkers and innumerable jelly sandwiches, despite Ann's best efforts there's a little bit of ennui settling in.

...which is temporarily relieved when the janitor comes in with some tasks for her to complete while he's gone home for Christmas, too.

Soon after, Ann and Tommy are thrilled to find that Roger, who lives nearby, has come by the school to use the gym equipment. Ann gets an idea -- maybe Tommy could to Roger's house for Christmas???  The answer is yes and Ann sends him off after more playtime.

Now who's the lonely girl at Christmas???

But soon Tommy is back, explaining that though Roger's family is Jewish they made a Christmas for him and give him a neat toy truck.  Everybody's happy and Ann's flashback concludes as she hurries back to help Santa with a squalling baby!

In addition to the always appealing That Girl stars Marlo Thomas, Ted Bessell and Lew Parker, Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid has several interesting guest stars, including kid actors Chris Shea and Gerald Michenaud.  Shea, who sadly passed away in 2010, had a prosperous career as a child actor (his two brothers were also actors); check out his credits here.  Gerald Michenaud acted as a child for a dozen years, took a break and came back as Jean-Michel Michenaud behind the camera as a successful TV producer; check out his extensive credits here.

Veteran screen actress turned perennial TV guest star June Vincent appeared as Tommy's mother at the beginning of the episode. She was a very popular face on network TV for many years -- check out her career credits here.

Actor John Fiedler guest-starred as the boarding school headmaster.  Fiedler was a frequent face all over TV for many years and also in many voice-over roles especially as Piglet in Disney's Winnie the Pooh animated works.  His incredible list of credits must be seen; check them out here.

Actor Don Keefer who played the janitor was another TV veteran with an astounding list of credits -- check them out here -- and maybe best known as the man little Anthony made into a jack-in-the-box on the unforgettable Twilight Zone episode It's a Good Life.

Famed and lauded TV writer James Brooks penned Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid here as well as a Christmas episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show which he titled Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid II though boarding schools nor little Tommy are parts of that story! Brooks is a TV legend and his credits should be perused here.

Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid director John Erman is a veteran TV and movie director -- primarily TV -- with amazing credits helming many of television's most popular and acclaimed series and miniseries.  Check out his credits here.

Again, don't forget to read all the entries in the Blogathon and watch Me-TV for the episodes!

Happy Holidays!  We'll be back in two weeks with the other That Girl Christmas episode!


David Hofstede said...

It's a good show, but there was a second Christmas episode in which Donald and Ann are mistaken for burglars stealing presents out of a neighbor's apartment and wind up in jail. Looking forward to watching it again this year.

Thanks for another great holiday marathon piece! It's been fun reading them.

Lisa said...

Hi David! The 2nd That Girl episode is coming up from us on the 24th! I'm also definitely looking forward to watching it again, and all the other episodes!

One thing about That Girl -- it's GORGEOUS to watch, either on TV or on HULU where amazingly it's still in the free section but w/ ads, of course. It's positively groovy-looking!

Thanks for commenting!!

- Lisa TFN

Rick29 said...

This is the THAT GIRL Christmas episode that I remember best. It's a charming one that gave Marlo Thomas a chance to shine (other than being cute and funny...which I mean as a compliment because it's not easy being funny). You know, the "It's a Good Life" episode of TWILIGHT ZONE still gives me the creeps!

Joanna said...

Hey--thanks so much for the shout-out. Your essay clearly holds its own. Yes--I agree, these episodes look gorgeous! This TV story seems to reiterate that sacrifice is often more meaningful when it's enacted at Christmas time. Thanks for the reminder about what a great episode this is.