Q & A: My Friend Tony; Goodtime Girls; Tightrope!

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

Don’t know if you can help but I’ve been trying to find out the name of the tv show that used to come on real late night tv about a professor with an Italian student with a real heavy Italian accent and they used to fight crime or something to that effect. It didn’t last very long but I used to watch it and wonder what the name was….. I think James whitmore was in it and the actor’s name was Enzo and I don’t remember the last name. Do you have any idea what the name was?

The show was called My Friend Tony and starred James Whitmore and Enzo Cerusico as Professor Woodruff and Tony Novello, a crime-fighting duo. A backdoor pilot for the series was aired on March 4th, 1968 as part of The Danny Thomas Hour. Produced by Sheldon Leonard, My Friend Tony was a mid-season replacement on NBC. It premiered Sunday, January 5th, 1969 at 10PM (replacing The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show) and was cancelled in February [1]. It aired through June and may have later been shown in late night on NBC or local stations.

I remember a show from either 1979 or 1980 when I was senior in high school. Three women working during World War II. None of my friends remember it – do you?? I think it was called working girls but I am not sure.

Goodtime Girls was an ABC sitcom about which four women — played by Annie Potts, Georgia Engel, Lorna Patterson and Francine Tacker — living together in an apartment in Washington, D.C. during World War II. It was a mid-season replacement that premiered on Tuesday, January 22nd, 1980. Richard F. Shepard of The New York Times called it “professionally done with zest and attractive people” while The Los Angeles Times wrote “it’s all pretty standard sitcomese but the characters — particularly Miss Potts — make it interesting” [2, 3]. It was pulled by ABC in February after only a few weeks on the air only to return in April on a different night. It was soon pulled again. The last few episodes were burned off in August.

I would like info on a detective show from the 1950’s called “Tightrope”. As I recall it had to do with an undercover police detective.
G. Ronan

Tightrope! starred Mike Connors (in his first leading role) as an unnamed undercover detective who would infiltrate a new criminal organization every week. He used the alias Nick Stone on occasion. The show premiered September 8th, 1959 on CBS. Critics were not fond of the it, with John P. Shanley of The New York Times calling its premise “a flimsy cloak for a series of familiar and annoying stereotypes” [4]. Cecil Smith of The Los Angeles Times admitted that Tightrope! wasn’t badly done but was nothing more than “a reasonable facsimile of at least a dozen other shows” although he called “the easy charm of Mike Connors” the show’s “one saving grace” [5].

Here’s a description of the show from a March 1960 article in The Chicago Daily Tribune about Mike Connors:

When Tightrope first started it had two gimmicks, Mike says. The first was that the undercover man would escape at the end of each episode with the line: “In the excitement one man got away…” The second was that he wore his gun in a holster in the small of his back. The endings are varied occasionally now, but the revolver still nestles close to his spinal column, a fashion that has been adapted for all plainclothesmen on one California police department [6].

A total of 37 episodes were produced, with the last first-run episode airing on May 31st, 1960. Tightrope! went into syndication in September 1960 after ending its network run.

Works Cited:

1 Gent, George. “N.B.C. Replacing 7 Shows in Fall.” New York Times. 18 Feb. 1969: 82.
2Shepard, Richard F. “TV: Mother Runs Away In ‘Once Upon a Family.” New York Times. 22 Jan. 1980: C20.
3 “The Tube Tonight.” Los Angeles Times. 22 Jan. 1980: H8.
4 Shanley, John P. “TV: ‘Tightrope!” Is Slack.” New York Times. 9 Sep. 1959: 82.
5 Smith, Cecil. “Tightrope Sags, Season Stumbles.” Los Angeles Times. 10 Sep. 1959: A14.
6 Anderson, Robert. “The Illusion of Violence.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 12 Mar. 1960: C25.

One Reply to “Q & A: My Friend Tony; Goodtime Girls; Tightrope!”

  1. Garry Marshall was responsible for “GOODTIME GIRLS” (or, as it was known around the set during production, “The War Whores”). ABC once again expected him to deliver another “HAPPY DAYS” or “LAVERNE & SHIRLEY”, and fast, because their 1979-’80 schedule was imploding. I saw a few episodes- the cast was great [Annie Potts, Lorna Patterson, Georgia Engel and Francine Tacker were indeed the leads, along with Adrian Zmed and Peter Scolari as supporting cast members], but the series never “jelled”. Besides, who, in 1980, was interested in seeing four women trying to cope with life and duty in 1942 Washington? As we all know, Lorna Patterson went on to brief fame as “PRIVATE BENJAMIN”, Peter Scolari eventually teamed up with Tom Hanks on “BOSOM BUDDIES”, Annie Potts became one of the four leads on “DESIGNING WOMEN”, and Georgia Engel finally reappeared occasionally on “COACH” and “EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND”. And Francine Tacker- who knows where SHE is these days?

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