In the flapper era, Clara Bow was the It
girl. In the liberated 1960s, Marlo Thomas was all That
. Her groundbreaking character, Ann Marie, opened the door for a new generation of independent women on TV who just might make it after all. Ann was not a wife, mother, daughter, girlfriend, ditzy neighbor, sidekick, or fantasy object (neither genie nor witch). She was something new and contemporary, an aspiring actress who leaves home to pursue her career in New York City. "You did a wonderful job helping me grow up, but now I'm up," she sweetly tells her overprotective parents (an Emmy-worthy Lew Parker and Rosemary DeCamp) in "Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye." That Girl
was not a total break from TV convention. In this inaugural season, she has a kinda kooky neighbor and Rhoda-antecedent, Judy (Bonnie Scott). And she has a boyfriend, magazine writer Donald Hollinger (Ted Bessell), whom she meets cute in the first aired episode, "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There." Ann and Donald are one of TV's great comedy teams. They have a delightful Barefoot in the Park
-like chemistry, with Ann the vivacious, more free-spirited one, and Donald the more practical one. One of their best episodes is "Anatomy of a Blunder," in which Donald suffers every disaster and indignity en route to meet Ann's father for the first time. Thomas was honored with a Golden Globe award for this season, and the series established her as "talented, unusual, a bright new face" (to quote the want ad Ann is desperate to answer in "You Have to Know Someone to Be an Unknown").
One of the other kicks of reuniting with That Girl is the stellar roster of veteran character actors and future stars. Dabney Coleman, Bernie Kopell (Get Smart, The Love Boat), and Ronnie Schell (Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) are regulars this season. Guest stars include Sally Kellerman and George Carlin in "Break a Leg," Rob Reiner and "Terry" Garr in "This Little Piggy Had a Ball" (the inevitable bowling-ball-stuck-on-the-toe episode), and a pre-All in the Family Carroll O'Connor as an amorous opera singer in "A Tenor's Loving Care." That Girl is so-'60s, but as with The Dick Van Dyke Show, on which series creators Sam Denoff and Bill Persky previously worked, the literate, character-driven comedy holds up remarkably well. --Donald Liebenson
That Girl ran five seasons on ABC (following Bewitched) from 1966-1971 at a time when the three broadcast networks captured 95% of the viewing audience. Marlo Thomas character, Ann, was groundbreaking as an independent female forging her own way and forever changed the manner in which women were portrayed on TV, influencing the development of many of the other successful female-lead shows that followed, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Kate & Allie and more.
Wildly popular, That Girl received four Emmy® nominations, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Thomas for Best TV Star Actress. The That Girl cast included Ted Bessel (Hollinger), Ruth Buzzi, George Carlin, Dabney Coleman, Rosemary DeCamp and Lew Parker (Lou Marie) and featured such notable guest stars as Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Carl Reiner and Danny Thomas (Marlo's father).
This 5-DVD box set features all 30 half-hour episodes from the historic first season plus:
Original That Girl pilot episode
"The Making Of That Girl Featurette" with Marlo Thomas
That Girl Promos
That Girl In New York with Marlo Thomas and Bill Persky
Audio commentaries with Marlo Thomas and Bill Persky