Gidget (Sally Field, Places in the Heart, Steel Magnolias) is a California girl who loves to surf. She lives in a comfortable home with her doting, concerned father, and she has a long-distance relationship with a Princeton student, Jeff, although she does occasionally see other boys. The episodes range from the expected, such as Gidget learning to drive, to the absurd, such as the last episode in the series, where Gidget freezes a young friend's dead alligator for him.
Based on the original movie that starred Sandra Dee (A Summer Place), this show ran for 32 episodes and is now available on DVD, much to the delight of the show's fans.
Standout episodes from this season include:
"Too Many Cooks": Gidget books too many dates for one dance. Instead of canceling them, she attempts to juggle them throughout the evening, with comic results.
"I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Think": Gidget has a hot new romantic prospect, a great looking guy who loves to surf. She is mortified when she finds out he is her new teacher!
"Gidget's Career": Gidget forms a clean-cut rock band but comes up with some crazy costumes to help them get more attention.
"Gidget is a Proper Noun": Gidget develops a dislike for her English teacher, "Hardy-Har-Har," a former student of her father's, who is disappointed in Gidget's performance in his class.
"Ask Helpful Hannah": Gidget turns advice columnist in this episode and attempts to play matchmaker.
Sally Field is the quintessential teenager, from her ability to convey angst over Gidget's many failed romances, to her sunny optimism and penchant for getting into trouble unexpectedly. As Mr. Lawrence, Don Porter is one of the great TV dads. Actors like William Schallert and Hugh Beaumont may have gotten more attention during this time period in television history, but Porter is just as good as the voice of reason when Gidget finds herself in a quandary and needs his help.
Another terrific feature of this DVD is that it is the complete series. Granted, the show only ran for 32 episodes, making it easier to put it into one comprehensive set, but it is so convenient having it in one release. There are many shows, I fear, that will never see each season released, such as Diff'rent Strokes, Charlie's Angels, and Fantasy Island. It's such a tease to release one or a few seasons of a particular show, only to find later seasons lost. I know it is a financial decision based on later seasons' ability to sell, however to fans of a particular show, it can be a real disappointment.
Without a doubt, the weakest episodes include Gidget's meddling older sister, Anne, and brother-in-law, John. John is a psychology student and abrasive Anne attempts to take a motherly approach toward Gidget, which results in all the fun being spoiled. Whenever they are onscreen, the energy of the storylines completely deflate. Anne is a goody-goody, and John is just plain boring with his ridiculous psychobabble. Apparently the writers caught onto this as well, as Anne and John are featured less frequently as the series wears on. As characters, they are completely expendable, and it is a relief as the first episodes, where they make frequent appearances, give way to later episodes that focus more on Gidget and her friends.
Retro buffs will love the mid-60s décor of Gidget's home, which is featured prominently in scenes between her and her father. Gidget's wardrobe, which has a beachy theme of course, is also adorable.Each episode has a lighthearted, breezy feel, and it is clear this show debuted before sitcoms felt the need to create "Very Special Episodes" in which the main characters send a Very Important Message to the viewers. Gidget knows exactly what it is – a fun show about teenagers, the beach, dating, and friendship. And it works incredibly well.
As it was shown on television, the discs are offered in a full-frame 1.33:1 presentation. The picture and colors are quite good, and the episodes do not show their forty year age thanks to high-definition remastering. Be sure to look closely during the surfing scenes for the fake backgrounds passing by, which is part of the charm of watching an older show before the days of computer-enhanced scenes in movies like Blue Crush.
This release offers a 2.0 Dolby Digital English language track. The sound is unremarkable, and while it does not detract from the viewing experience, it does not add anything to it either..
The accomplished Sally Field was kind enough to grant an interview for this release, "A Look Back at Gidget," which will absolutely be enjoyed by fans of the series. She dissects the character and discusses the filming of the show, which was her first real acting job. Fans are also given a great deal of insight into Field's early life and the events that led up to her acting career. Her original screen test, filmed in black-and-white, is also included. Overall, Field's discussion of the show and its importance in her life, especially her touching recollections of Don Porter, is not to be missed.
Also included as a bonus is the original pilot episode of the series, "Dear Diary…Et Al." If only it didn't feature Anne and John. Be sure to listen to the theme song, which features different singers and slightly different lyrics. Given the fact that many television releases feature few special features, the ones included in this release are welcome and make the overall experience even more special.
Gidget – The Complete Series is a worthy purchase: it is a must-have for fans of the series and a charming look back at mid-1960s television.