Weekend Flop Viewing: ANGIE

Here’s a show that’s fairly well-known and well-remembered for something that only ran a season and a half. If you’ve never seen it, you may still be familiar with the theme song, which became a pop hit at the time (“Different Worlds,” written by Gimbel and Fox and sung by Maureen McGovern), and you’ll certainly be familiar with some of the stars: Donna Pescow (just after Saturday Night Fever), Robert Hays (just before Airplane) and Doris Roberts (in her first role as a full-time regular on a series). But the reason it’s better-known than most flops is that for half a season, when it arrived as a midseason replacement, it was actually a hit, and a pretty solid hit at that.

The concept for the show — a Cinderella story about a waitress (Pescow) who gets engaged to a blueblood (Hays) — is credited to Garry Marshall (though he was not involved with the actual series) and his Mork and Mindy co-creator Dale McRaven. The series itself was developed by the team of Alan Eisenstock and Larry Mintz and the showrunner was Bob Ellison, one of the writers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was a big project for producers Tom Miller, Ed Milkis, and their newest producing partner, Bob Boyett, but it tried to be more upscale and adult-skewing than their usual product, probably because ABC had just started Taxi at the time, and for the first time in years, the network was looking for shows aimed at grown-ups.

When the show started its second (and first full) season, it fell victim to the kind of panicky, pointless re-tooling that also destroyed Mork and Mindy at the same time. So not only were Angie and her Prince Charming married off more quickly than originally intended, but Angie got a new place to work; two characters were dropped; and Ellison was replaced as showrunner. The show was also moved to an uncongenial time slot, reportedly because the network wanted to save the faltering Laverne and Shirley by putting it in Angie‘s more desirable slot. Angie‘s first full season was its last.

It still has a strong reputation among those who watched it in its half-season of success. This is the first episode, and it’s hard to tell from first episodes, but I find the mix of styles to be very awkward: it wants to be a smart comedy like Mary Tyler Moore, but it also wants to be a Miller-Milkis-Boyett type of show with broad punchlines and big swathes of orchestral music at the big moments. But the cast is excellent: Pescow and Hays are good together and both should have had bigger careers than they did, and they’re well-supported by Roberts, Sharon Spelman, and the late Debralee Scott (Welcome Back, Kotter). Incidentally, Hays was the only non-female regular on this show.

Theme song and Part 1:


Part 2 (note that the “I’ll have what he/she’s having” joke was already old by this time, and is way older than When Harry Met Sally):


Part 3 (which for some reason carries over half of the part 2 clip; the new scene starts at 2:34):