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Shout Factory presents
That Girl: Season One (1966/1967)

"Oh Donald!"
- Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: June 02, 2006

Stars: Marlo Thomas, Ted Bessell
Other Stars: Lew Parker, Rosemary DeCamp, Bonnie Scott, Dabney Coleman, Bernie Kopell, Cliff Norton, Carl Ballantine, Robert Emhardt, Sam Melville, Pat O'Hara, Michael Conrad, DoDo Denny, Jackie Joseph, Sally Kellerman, Ronnie Schell, Cliff Norton, Mabel Albertson, Steve Franken, Geoff Edwards, George Cisar, Howard Morton, Rob Reiner, Reta Shaw, Sterling Holloway, Chris Shea, Paul Lynde J. Pat O'Malley, Arlene Golonka, Richard Dreyfuss, Carroll O'Conner, Luana Anders, Jerry Van Dyke, Art Lewis, Teri Garr, Sidney Gould, Alejandro Rey, Harold Gould, Penny Santon
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 12h:38m:05s
Release Date: May 16, 2006
UPC: 826663100143
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-A-B+ B-

DVD Review

Prior to the fall of 1966 when That Girl took to the airwaves, the image of an independent working woman, eschewing the tradition of married life in favor of a career, was yet to be seen on television. Marlo Thomas, daughter of television legend, Danny Thomas, had tested for a part in a pilot for ABC, and although the series wasn't picked up, the head of the network saw her potential and began looking for a vehicle for the young woman. After receiving a number of ideas which featured traditional gender roles, Thomas suggested that the series she should do be about a modern independent woman, and she managed to secure Sam Denoff and Bill Persky from the Dyck van Dyke Show (that her father executive produced) to come up with a treatment. The result was That Girl, with Thomas as Ann Marie, an aspiring actress who leaves her family home in small town Brewster for the Big Apple in search of stardom. Behind the scenes Thomas also became only the second female executive working in the business (the other being Lucille Ball) when she assumed the role of producer.

The show appealed to a new generation, and while groundbreaking for its day for changing the way women were portrayed on TV, That Girl was also popular for Ann's fashion sense and her wardrobe, while dated today, was fresh and lively. The series maintains a wholesome innocence and doesn't abandon tradition altogether. Despite her independence, Ann is still reliant on the men in her life, whether Donald or her overprotective father, and although she's now a big city girl, she has very conservative values. Her relationship with Donald is strictly platonic to the point of ridiculous—an overnight stay at a hotel (Rain, Snow and Rice) becomes a scandal, and Ann's father even arrives on the scene to make sure there is no hanky panky going on, although dad is also eager to marry his daughter off so she can be a normal girl.

Becoming a famous actress in the big city isn't an overnight event, so the series features Ann doing many more mundane or ordinary jobs in the interim, along with a number of embarrassing acting jobs. The opening episode (Don't Just Do Something, Stand There) introduces boyfriend to be, Donald Hollinger (Ted Bassell), although the pair get off on the wrong foot—first in a battle over ownership of a roll-top desk, then when Donald decides to play hero and snatches Ann from the clutches of her acting partners on a commercial shoot. The second episode, Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye, takes a step back and covers Ann's departure from home against her parents' wishes. This season also covers Donald's first encounter with Ann's folks after a disasterous picnic outing (Anatomy of a Blunder—easily the season standout), and Ann's first meeting with Donald's parents (Soap Gets in Your Eyes), which itself is an ordeal due to Mrs. Hollinger's dislike of a character Ann is playing on a daytime soap.

The characters all work well together, and the chemistry between Thomas and Bessell is really what makes the show work—the two of them play off each other naturally. Likewise, there is a sense of authenticity between Thomas and her TV parents, Lew Parker and Rosemary DeCamp as Lou and Helen Marie. The cast is rounded out by Ann's neighbors, Judy and Leon Bessemer (Bonnie Scott, Dabney Coleman), and Don's partner, Jerry Bauman (Bernie Kopell). Guest stars include many up and coming faces, from Richard Dreyfuss to Rob Reiner.

Right from the start, the show featured its trademark opening sequence, which invariably leads to Ann being singled out as "That Girl". The humor is abundant, but not usually overdone, and focuses mainly on typical misuderstandings or situations that get out of hand. The writing is pretty consistent, so picking favorites isn't easy, but among the thirty episodes presented you'll find Ann trying to combine babysitting with acting workshop in Never Change a Diaper on Opening Night, which also introduces Billy De Wolfe as acting coach Jules Benedict. Encouraged by her agent, Ann decides to adopt a stage name, but her father sees it as an insult in What's in a Name? Ann's attempt at earning a living as a door to door shoe saleperson gets off on the wrong foot in These Boots Weren't Made For Walking, and speaking of feet, Ann puts her foot in it in This Little Piggy Had a Ball.

Jealousy rears its head when Ann learns Donald is seeing another actress in All About Ann, and a birthday dinner invitation from her father has Ann expecting a surprise party in Paper Hats and Everything. Of the more sentimental installments, Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid finds Ann as a teacher sharing Christmas with a boy neglected by his parents. The final episode sees Donald researching a dating show (The Mating Game) where Ann becomes a contestant, but choses someone other than Donald as her dream date.

That Girl would run five seasons in total, and its place in TV history aside, still remains a light, entertaining sitcom today.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is excellent for the most part. Colors are well saturated, contrast is quote good, and clarity and detail are fine. There is a bit of fringing in places, and a few select shots are not quite up to par, but overall fans should be thrilled with this release.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio quality is quite good, but does suffer from some edginess at times, likely source related and therefore unavoidable. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. For a show of this vintage there is nothing that stands out as unexpected.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 120 cues and remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Best of The Electric Company, The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends, All American Girl, America's Funniest Home Videos
2 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by Marlo Thomas, Bill Persky
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Original pilot episode
Extras Review: First up on the extras agenda is the show's original pilot episode (25m:21s). This episode features a different set of actors playing Ann's parents (Harold Gould and Penny Santon), and Don is both Ann's boyfriend and her agent—whose part Cherokee ancestry explains his name, Don Blue Sky. The story is the same as What's In a Name? and several scenes here would go on to be used in the series proper.

Audio commentaries featuring Marlo Thomas and creator Bill Persky are included on four episodes: Goodbye, Hello, Good Bye, Anatomy of a Blunder, What's In a Name? and What Are Your Intentions? Dialogue is somewhat sporadic depending on the episode, as it is obvious that both participants are caught up watching the show rather than carrying on a discussion about it.

Also on the first discs are two featurettes. That Show... That Woman... The Creation of That Girl (24m:27s) is a newly recorded documentary on the show with Marlo Thomas discussing how she got involved and the genesis of the series.

Although shot in California, That Girl was set in the Big Apple, and That Girl in New York (9m:25s) features numerous outtakes of the location footage captured in the city, narrated by Thomas and Persky.

That Girl Promos (2m:02s) are a pair of original ABC promos for the series.

Trailers for The Best of The Electric Company, The Dick Cavett Show: Comic Legends, All American Girl and America's Funniest Home Videos can be found on disc one.

Included in the foldout packaging is a booklet featuring an essay on the series by Stephen Cole, along with synopses for each episode.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

That Girl is a fun and innocent, yet groundbreaking show that should appeal to the whole family. Shout! Factory is to be commended for their treatment of the first season, combining a high quality presentation with a collection of extras fans are bound to enjoy.

 


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