Young Davey Selden (Frankie Kabott) is crying over the loss of his pet baby alligator Charlie. He wants to keep him in plastic to "keep and look at him forever", but his mother says they can't afford it until his father comes home- in over a week- and wants him to bury it. Gidget (Sally Field) consoles him by saying they can freeze it and agrees to keep it for him. Gidget's father Professor Russ Lawrence (Don Porter) comes home with news of being interviewed by California Weekly about how well he gets along with the younger generation. Harry McCann (Jack Fletcher) of the California Bureau of Animal Protection comes to the Selden household to register the alligator where Davey sends him to Gidget. Gidget mistakes him for the magazine reporter and comically answers questions about the alligator as if talking about her dad. Davey thinks the man is going to take his alligator and swipes it from the freezer. Meanwhile, the magazine editor Brian Mack (character actor Robert Cornthwaite, who played a doctor in numerous films) calls to inform the Lawrences that the reporter, Jeff Tracy (Marvin Kaplan, Henry from "Alice", Irwin from "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World") has a flat tire and will be late. This throws his daughter Anne's (Betty Conner) schedule off, so instead of going to the market, she swipes something from the freezer. Gidget goes to the freezer to find the alligator missing and frantically calls Anne- throwing her into hysterics. Anne's husband John (Peter Duel) sends the meal down the garbage disposal. Gidget worries how this will affect Davey and they scramble to try and find another baby alligator- Sam. At the climax, Gidget finds what the audience has known all along, but they soon have more alligators than they can handle. I'm sure much of the plot was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's tremendous "The Trouble With Harry", but obviously not meeting the master's execution.
Reflecting upon the series, "Gidget" had various appealing aspects, but rarely did they all fire at the same time. Some of the more well-written shows, in my opinion, were devoid of comedy ("Now There's a Face"), and some of the funnier shows devoid of being well-written ("We Got Each Other"). The series' highlights are when they do meet to some degree at the end of its run, as in "Take a Lesson" and "A Hard Night's Night". As such, after mostly dragging along for the season, I feel the series was finally hitting its stride near the end.
Like many one-season series, the characters were generally more likable than the plots they were in. Gidget was an identifiable happy-go-lucky well-meaning teen figure with a knack for getting into trouble. Her father was a stoic character lacking dimension. Still yet, they shared a nice father/daughter relationship that gave emphasis for moral lessons on the show with first-person narration that felt as if inside Gidget's diary of teen drama. Anne, too, had little character development. Her husband John was a much-needed touch of comedy, even if it felt like watching a carbon copy of Darren Stephens from the show's sister production "Bewitched". The show worked best for me when it utilized John's character in sitcom settings, rather than a light teen comedy with Gidget paired exclusively with her best friend Larue.
The series faced strong competition from other notable series and was canceled by ABC in 1966 after 32 episodes. Entering the summer, the network realized the show had reached a strong teen following. Being too late to renew Gidget, they worked quickly to place Field in a role she disliked in "The Flying Nun". Nevertheless, Field's screen presence was established.
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