New Article: The Tammy Grimes Show

My article on The Tammy Grimes Show is finished and can be found here. I mentioned it a few times over the past three or four months. Here’s the summary:

ABC cancelled this kooky sitcom after just four episodes in September 1966 before the first Nielsen ratings for the season had even been released. The network supposedly never wanted to air the show in the first place but a sponsor insisted. Tammy Grimes starred as a wacky heiress prone to wild schemes that often involved costumes and impersonations. Richard Sargent co-starred as her calmer twin brother. Critics hated the show but loved Grimes, who felt viewers couldn’t relate to her character.

This wasn’t a particularly difficult article to write but one thing gave me pause. I really didn’t want to rely so heavily on a single source, specifically an article about The Tammy Grimes Show published in the December 31st, 1966 issue of TV Guide. The five-page article includes a wealth of information about the development of the sitcom and its failure. It also features quotes from many of those involved, including Grimes and executive producer William Dozier. There were just too many details in the article not to refer to it extensively. But I also dug up several dozen other newspaper and magazine articles and referenced many of them as well, so I’m comfortable with how the article turned out.

The Tammy Grime Show is notorious for how spectacularly it flopped. ABC pulled it off the air so fast the first Nielsen ratings for the 1966-1967 season were still weeks away from being published. But a flop TV show isn’t necessarily a bad TV show. I was able to view all four aired episodes and honestly didn’t think it was any worse than My Mother The Car or It’s About Time (two shows I’m currently watching and enjoying on Antenna TV). Maybe that means I’m not a good judge of quality when it comes to television.

It’s impossible almost five decades later to watch The Tammy Grimes Show with the same understanding and frame of reference that viewers in 1966 did. I can’t say why it was such a flop. Critics hated it but loved Tammy Grimes. Grimes loved the pilot script but not episodes that came after it. Maybe if it had a different time slot it could have lasted longer. Maybe if Tammy Grimes didn’t have such an unusual voice viewers would have been more interested in watching her. Maybe the concept was just too weak and the main character–a kooky heiress obsessed with money–was too inaccessible. Maybe it was just not meant to be.

If you’re interested in learning more about the show, take a few minutes to read the full article. Sometime next week I hope to discuss the six unaired episodes of the show and the four unproduced episodes.


1 Comment

  • Karen Martin says:

    I hadn’t known about this show before reading your article. After watching the clips you posted I found the Tammy Grimes character annoying. It reminded me of glancing at the tabloid headlines at a store checkout counter — instead of finding the tabloid stories intriguing, I think of how I’m working hard to pay my bills while rich fools apparently have nothing better to do then misbehave.

    I do not find wealthy eccentrics endeavering, and I suspect 1966 television viewers preferred characters they could either relate to, or wish they could trade places with.

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