My Living Doll

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My Living Doll
Bob Cummings Julie Newmar My Living Doll.JPG
Bob Cummings and Julie Newmar, 1964.
GenreScience fiction sitcom
Created byBill Kelsay
Al Martin
Written byBill Kelsay
Al Martin
Russell Beggs
Bernard Slade
Directed byLawrence Dobkin
Ezra Stone
StarringBob Cummings (Episodes 1-21)
Julie Newmar
Jack Mullaney
Doris Dowling (Episodes 1-21)
Theme music composerGeorge Greeley
Composer(s)George Greeley
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s)Jack Chertok
Leo Guild
Bill Kelsay
Al Martin
Roland Wolpert
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time24 mins.
Production company(s)Jack Chertok Television Productions
CBS Television Network (filmed at the studios of Desilu)
DistributorCBS Films
Viacom
Paramount Television
CBS Paramount Television
CBS Television Distribution (current as of 2007)
Broadcast
Original channelCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original runSeptember 27, 1964 (1964-09-27) – March 17, 1965 (1965-03-17)
 
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My Living Doll
Bob Cummings Julie Newmar My Living Doll.JPG
Bob Cummings and Julie Newmar, 1964.
GenreScience fiction sitcom
Created byBill Kelsay
Al Martin
Written byBill Kelsay
Al Martin
Russell Beggs
Bernard Slade
Directed byLawrence Dobkin
Ezra Stone
StarringBob Cummings (Episodes 1-21)
Julie Newmar
Jack Mullaney
Doris Dowling (Episodes 1-21)
Theme music composerGeorge Greeley
Composer(s)George Greeley
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s)Jack Chertok
Leo Guild
Bill Kelsay
Al Martin
Roland Wolpert
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time24 mins.
Production company(s)Jack Chertok Television Productions
CBS Television Network (filmed at the studios of Desilu)
DistributorCBS Films
Viacom
Paramount Television
CBS Paramount Television
CBS Television Distribution (current as of 2007)
Broadcast
Original channelCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original runSeptember 27, 1964 (1964-09-27) – March 17, 1965 (1965-03-17)

My Living Doll is an American science fiction sitcom that aired for 26 episodes on CBS from September 27, 1964 to March 17, 1965. This series was produced by Jack Chertok and was filmed at Desilu studios by Jack Chertok Television, Inc., in association with the CBS Television Network.

The series was unusual in that it was bought by the network without a formal pilot film (at the request of CBS' president, James T. Aubrey), due to the success of Chertok's previous series, My Favorite Martian.

Series background[edit]

The series starred Bob Cummings as Dr. Bob McDonald, a psychiatrist who is given care of Rhoda Miller, a lifelike android (played by Julie Newmar) in the form of a sexy, Amazonian female, by her creator, a scientist who did not want her to fall into the hands of the military.

Rhoda's real name is AF 709, and she is a prototype robot that Dr. Carl Miller (Henry Beckman) built for the U.S. Air Force. Through a series of mishaps, the robot ends up in the care of Dr. Miller's friend, Air Force psychiatrist Bob McDonald, when Miller is transferred to Pakistan. Bob is initially reluctant but soon becomes intrigued by the experiment of educating this sophisticated but naive robot. Bob's initial goal is to teach Rhoda how to be a "perfect" woman, which he defines as one who "does what she's told" and "doesn't talk back". He also strives to keep her identity secret from the world.

Many episodes deal with Rhoda learning how human society works. She also begins showing (or at least emulating) rudimentary emotions as the series progresses; in the episode "The Kleptomaniac", for example, she displays a childlike, playful attitude. At one point, McDonald notices this and utters, "What a goofy robot!", to which Rhoda replies, beaming, "The goofiest!" At the conclusion of this episode, Rhoda giggles without prompting after pulling a plot-resolving prank on another character. Another episode, "The Pool Shark", has Rhoda displaying apparent enjoyment in playing pool. The series doesn't explore whether these are truly learnt behaviors, or the result of programming, or if (in the fantasy context of the series) Rhoda is truly learning human emotion. The concept of a robot gaining human emotion is a frequently visited topic in science fiction television, with characters such as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the android leads in Holmes & Yo-Yo, Mann & Machine, and Future Cop.

Other regular cast members included:

Cummings' departure[edit]

Bob Cummings was written out of the series after twenty-one episodes, reportedly at his own request, because of the low ratings of the series. The show was initially scheduled opposite NBC's Bonanza on Sunday nights but was shifted to Wednesdays in December. It was also reported at the time that Cummings and Newmar were not getting along during production;[1] however, this is denied by Newmar and show producer Howard Leeds in The Living Doll Story, a featurette included in the 2012 DVD release. Writers reassigned Cummings' character to Pakistan, and, in episode #22, Peter learns Rhoda's secret and takes over the position of watching over her.[2]

Reception[edit]

Although My Living Doll was somewhat popular during its short run, it did not rank in the top 30, as it was scheduled against highly-rated shows such as Bonanza, The Virginian, and The Patty Duke Show. As a result, it didn't deliver the ratings that network executives had hoped for and was cancelled. The cancellation, however, freed Newmar to appear as Catwoman in the 1966 Batman TV series.

Opening credits[edit]

Two versions of the opening credits were created. The first version had Rhoda wearing short lingerie similar to a teddy; according to an interview with Newmar included on the DVD release, this version was rejected as being too risque, so a new version with Rhoda wearing a full-length outfit (though still suggestive of lingerie) was filmed. This latter version is the one used on the versions of the episodes that were broadcast and released to DVD; however, the unofficial circulation of several episodes used the teddy version of the credits.

Episodes[edit]

#Title (Alternate)Production CodeOriginal AirdateSummary
1Boy Meets Girl?6255-01September 27, 1964When Space Agency psychiatrist Bob McDonald finds a top secret prototype female robot, her creator, Dr. Miller, asks Bob to take over her care and training when Miller is reassigned to Pakistan.
2Rhoda's First Date6255-02October 4, 1964Bob purchases some new clothes for Rhoda. While Bob's out, she accepts neighbour Peter's request to go out for dinner. At the restaurant, her OFF button accidentally gets pushed. Believing that she had fainted, she is taken to the hospital.
3Uninvited Guest6255-03October 11, 1964Having Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" read to her by a young girl has had a peculiar effect on poor Rhoda. She's afflicted with spells of vertigo, as well as difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality. The situation is complicated by an unexpected visit from Bob's boss, who isn't supposed to know about Rhoda.
4Lesson in LoveOctober 18, 1964Bob's sister Irene programs Rhoda to act as if she is in love, and Rhoda takes the information to her transistorized heart, causing much confusion.
5Rhoda's Debut6255-05October 25, 1964Bob is escorting a general's daughter to a V.I.P. reception and gives strict orders that Rhoda is not to leave the apartment, but, of course, that doesn't happen.
6Something Borrowed, Something BlewNovember 1, 1964Bob is chairman of a psychiatric clinic's fund-raising drive, and he and Rhoda call on the donor with the greatest potential: millionaire playboy Walter J. Armbruster; the playboy takes a great liking to her and decides he wishes to marry her.
7The Love Machine6255-07November 8, 1964It would take a computer to find the right girl for Peter, and Bob has just the tool, Rhoda. He furnishes Rhoda with information on 250 girls working at the space lab, trying to find a match for Peter.
8The Beauty Contest6255-10November 15, 1964Irene sneaks Rhoda into a beauty contest for which Bob is a judge.
9Leave 'Em LaughingNovember 22, 1964Bob's friend, Herbert, would rather be a comic than a pharmacist, but he's not a very good comedian, so Bob has been asked to persuade the young man to stick to filling prescriptions.
10My Robot, The Warden6255-09November 29, 1964Bob's working extremely hard on a magazine article, and he instructs Rhoda to make certain that he finishes on time.
11The Rhoda Gamble (Just Lucky, I Guess)December 6, 1964Trying to cure a compulsive gambler, Bob gets Rhoda to use her mathematical skill to predict the fall of the dice.
12The Language BarrierDecember 13, 1964Dr. McDonald's scheduled meeting with a colleague from the Far East is not going well. Rhoda goofed and instructed the interpreter not to show up.
13Little White LieDecember 16, 1964When Bob gets the opportunity to have lunch with an attractive lady therapist, he asks Rhoda to cancel his luncheon with the chief of police.
14I'll Leave It to YouDecember 23, 1964Meek millionaire Jonas Clay intends on leaving his fortune to a charity, and not his domineering sister & her son, but Clay needs Bob to certify that he's of sound mind and fit to control his own money.
15Mechanical PerfectionDecember 30, 1964After comparing herself to the flawless Rhoda, depressed and discouraged Irene feels very inadequate.
16Pool Shark6255-16January 6, 1965Peter owes a small fortune to a pool shark, but he very cleverly signed Bob's name to the IOU. They send in Rhoda to play the pool shark, and, with her abilities, she beats the shark and repays the debt.
17Color Me Trouble6255-18January 13, 1965Rhoda copies a Picasso so accurately that an art dealer believes it to be the real thing right down to the signature. Bob tries in vain to convince the dealer that the painting is a forgery.
18The Kleptomaniac6255-19January 20, 1965Rhoda, unaware that department stores are places where people purchase things, helps herself to gems from a jewellery counter, as a gift for Bob's sister.
19Sky Divers6255-16January 27, 1965Peter follows Bob's advice about facing up to his fears by taking a giant step: Peter tells everyone that he's an accomplished sky diver. The only problem is that Peter has lied!
20The Robotic AstronautFebruary 3, 1965Bob takes Rhoda along when he goes out of town to interview a group of women applying for the astronaut program, and Rhoda applies.
21The Witness*6255-21February 10, 1965Bob gets off to an inauspicious start as chairman of a road-safety committee when his car is crashed into by his neighbor's car, and then Rhoda testifies in court about the entire incident.
22Boy Gets Robot6255-24February 17, 1965Bob has been called to Pakistan to assist Dr. Miller, and Rhoda's government supervisor, Dr. Foster, agrees to put her in the care of Bob's neighbor Peter, who is alarmed to find that the girl of his dreams is really a computer wonder.
23Dancing Doll6255-25February 24, 1965Peter and Rhoda perform in a ballet, after their escorting ballerina Angela Carruthers to a TV interview goes very wrong.
24The Mannequin6255-26March 3, 1965When a fashion photographer finds Rhoda's almost perfect ability to take commands in robotic perfection, this causes Peter no end of trouble as his date, who he was meeting at the fashion house, had the original assignment.
25Murder, He Says6255-27March 10, 1965Rhoda's day at the beach over-charges her solar batteries. Peter must place her in the apartment's closet wrapped in a carpet to prevent any more exposure. As a result, the apartment's handy man thinks Peter is hiding a body and calls in the cops.
26Brother Harry6255-28March 17, 1965Mrs Moffit's brother, a failed nightclub comedian, causes problems when he moves into Peter's apartment. He tries to teach Rhoda the finer points of stand up comedy and timing & also the right time to laugh.

*Cummings' final appearance

DVD release[edit]

On March 20, 2012, MPI Home Video released My Living Doll- The Official Collection, Volume 1 on DVD in Region 1. The 2-disc set features 11 episodes of the series.[3] The episodes featured on the DVD collection were created from 16mm prints of the show held by collectors as the original 35mm negatives were destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

According to The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, My Living Doll is the source of the science fiction phrase "Does not compute" in popular culture.

My Living Doll producer Howard Leeds would go on to create Small Wonder, an eighties sitcom that featured a young girl robot named Vicki. He also employed composer George Greeley who composed the music for My Living Doll.

Leeds, when in the employ of Reg Grundy Productions Australia producing Chopper Squad, proposed and produced a new My Living Doll presentation pilot using an all Australian cast.

The assignation AF 709 may be the inspiration for the "7 of 9" character in the series Star Trek Voyager.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Daily Variety, January 11, 1964
  2. ^ "Television Obscurities - My Living Doll". tvobscurities.com. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  3. ^ Lambert, David. "My Living Doll - Julie Newmar in 'The Official Collection, Vol. 1' Announced: Finalized Date, Box Art, More!". 2011-12-27. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  4. ^ King, Susan (2012-04-04). "The 'Perfect' '60s Woman". latimes.com. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 

External links[edit]