2 May 2009 | aimless-46
Another Collector's Tin release by Disney; this time a limited series of 39,500 were issued. Each contains an individually numbered certificate of authenticity, a 7" x 4.5" black and white publicity still of the title character, a booklet about the serial, and two disks.
The disks contain all 20 episodes of the serial and two entire episodes of the Mickey Mouse Club. These are from early 1958 so they are only 30 minutes long as the show's running time had been cut in half for its 3rd and final season.
There are also some bonus items on the disks: introductions by Leonard Maltin and some interviews with and tributes to "Annette".
Baby boomers don't need any introduction to the title character but others may be puzzled by the popularity of this actress who was not much of an actress and this singer who was not much of a singer. I was never particularly dazzled by Annette but I always liked her; she had an effortless charm that just won you over. Even if you crushed on Cheryl (guilty) and Doreen you still liked Annette. And very few girls ever felt any jealousy toward her. Much the same could be said in reverse about Tim Considine so featuring them together (here and in "Spin and Marty") pretty much guaranteed you would appeal to the widest teen and pre-teen demographic.
The series was a somewhat toned down adaptation of Janette (The Pokey Little Puppy) Lowrey's 1950 book "Margaret" and was originally to be titled "Annette and Darlene". But poor Darlene Gillespie fell into disfavor and was replaced as the Jet Maypen character by Judy Nugent. Nugent was not a Disney property so there was no need for the studio to promote her career, otherwise it would have been called "Annette and Judy".
The plot features the traditional conflict between city and country. Annette and Jet are up against rich girl queen bee Laura Rogan (Roberta Shore successfully playing against type and obviously having a lot of fun with the role). You've seen this same dynamic recently in "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen". Disney's move from Annette to Lindsey Lohen might signal the decline of Western Civilization.
David Stollery and Tim Considine team up again as the main male characters. Stollery sings a duet with Annette and one featurette explains how they doubled her voice (probably his as well) by having her sing the song twice.
There are sizeable parts for Doreen Tracey, Shelley Fabares, Sharon Baird, and Rudy Lee. And a bit part for Cheryl Holdridge; even third season newcomer Bonnie Fields (the prettiest Mouseketeer who was sadly underutilized by the show itself) gets some screen time. Richard Deacon and Mary Wickes play off each other for comedy relief; basically reprising their trademark character roles.
The song that launched Annette's recording career, "How Will I Know My Love?" is featured twice and Shore sings a couple much better numbers, "Readin', Writin' and Rhythm" and "Don't Jump to Conclusions". Shore's stuff has an early Judy Garland quality.
The teen dancing sequences were painfully corny even to a small town 1950's 2nd grader. On the other hand Bonnie does dance a little and this prompted me to seek out a video of her original 1957 MMC guest appearance (as a tap dancing act) which someone has uploaded to U-Tube (check it out).
I still have the Dell comic book so I had not forgotten the general story, but I found series itself better than I remembered it. They do a nice job of laying some romantic misdirection so that the resolution offers a mild surprise. Then you can look back and see that clues were provided all along but most viewers missed them.
Despite having some awful dialogue to deal with; Stollery, Nugent, and Shore are talented enough to sell their characters. Annette and Tim just play their likable selves and as always that works just fine.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.