The Tammy Grimes Show
- TV Series
A short-lived (4 episodes) series about a rich heiress who wants nothing more to do than spend money. But her Uncle Simon's keeping a tight hand on the wallet. Her twin brother Terrence and ... Read allA short-lived (4 episodes) series about a rich heiress who wants nothing more to do than spend money. But her Uncle Simon's keeping a tight hand on the wallet. Her twin brother Terrence and her housekeeper Mrs. Ratchett are also an irritation to Tammy.A short-lived (4 episodes) series about a rich heiress who wants nothing more to do than spend money. But her Uncle Simon's keeping a tight hand on the wallet. Her twin brother Terrence and her housekeeper Mrs. Ratchett are also an irritation to Tammy.
That series (which recast the lead role, and went on without her) was 'Bewitched', a huge hit. Having passed up the chance to play Samantha Stevens, Miss Grimes instead chose to star in a sitcom with no trick photography at all, which she must have considered an improvement over 'Bewitched' because it was called 'The Tammy Grimes Show'.
Although not quite as awful as 'You're in the Picture' (the notorious game show that lasted only one night), 'The Tammy Grimes Show' was the first clanging disaster of American series television, as this was the first comedy or drama to be yanked in mid-season for sheer awfulness. Ten episodes of Tammy Grimes's sitcom were filmed and edited, but only four were ever aired in the USA. I viewed the episodes at a London television office, where an American producer was hoping to sell the UK rights to the series (after it had already been cancelled in America). There were no takers. In the London screening room, we all had a good laugh when we saw the name of Tammy Grimes's production company in this show's credits: Tamworth Productions. Nobody told Miss Grimes that, in England, 'Tamworth' is a breed of swine.
It seemed good on paper. Tammy Grimes played a character named Tammy Ward. (That name is further proof of MacIntyre's Law, which states that a sitcom probably stinks if the main character has the same forename as the actor playing the role.) Tammy is a dizzy spendthrift heiress, anticipating Paris Hilton. As Tammy and her twin brother Timmy (I mean Terence) are orphans, the family's purse-strings are controlled by sour Uncle Simon. Tammy's strait-laced twin Terence and housekeeper Mrs Ratchett abet Uncle Simon in trying to curb Tammy's spending.
The show just wasn't funny. In the pilot episode, Tammy asks her uncle for $50,000 (allegedly for a charity). He refuses. Tammy then gets kidnapped by a gang who hold her to ransom ... and the ransom is precisely $50,000. When Uncle Simon gets the ransom demand, he naturally assumes that the kidnap is a hoax engineered by Tammy. I sat through this rubbish nearly 40 years ago, and I haven't started laughing yet. The head kidnapper was played by Jesse White, normally a deft performer but just floundering badly here. In another episode, Uncle Simon banishes Tammy to a hillbilly village called Cobb Corner, figuring she can't spend any money there. (Are you sure this show isn't about Paris Hilton?) Tammy changes the village's name to Paris, for some reason.
A typical 'joke': in one episode, Tammy tried to persuade Mrs Ratchett to relinquish a loving cup that Tammy needed for some scheme. When Mrs Ratchett refused, Tammy announced: 'I'm going to take my cup, and blow.' With that, she grabbed the trophy and exited, slamming the door. Hold for a beat, then she opened the door just far enough to stick her head through the doorway and *blow* a puff of air at the camera. Funny? No, but the laugh track sure seemed to be having a good time.
Hiram Sherman - in real life a man with some truly contemptible political activities - was annoying and dull as Tammy's practical uncle. There was no reason for Tammy and her practical-minded brother Terence to be twins, especially as there was no physical resemblance between Tammy Grimes and the actor who played her twin: Dick Sargent, now reviled as 'the wrong Darrin'. In a supreme irony, Dick Sargent had been the actor originally cast to play Darrin Stevens on 'Bewitched', but he was unable to take the role due to his contractual commitment to co-star in 'The Tammy Grimes Show' ... which kept him committed just long enough for 'Bewitched' to go into production with the role of Darrin recast with Dick York, who struggled manfully with spinal injuries until Sargent eventually replaced him. Confusing, yes?
'The Tammy Grimes Show' is painfully unfunny and utterly unworthy of revival. However, Tammy Grimes was so sexy in those days that I would gladly sit through these episodes again just to have another squizz at her. And as excellent (and sexy) as Elizabeth Montgomery was as Samantha in 'Bewitched', I think that Tammy Grimes would have done even better than Liz Montgomery in that role.
- F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
- Jul 17, 2004