Monday, August 4, 2014
Rant #1,261: The Flying Nun
Being Jewish, I did not encounter many nuns when I was growing up.
I would always see them at baseball games. It seems that nuns are drawn to baseball like bees are drawn to honey.
But I did have a crush on a nun.
Everyone did back in 1967-1970, or at least everyone in my age group back then.
No, it wasn't a real nun, it was a TV nun.
Yes, "The Flying Nun," starring a very young, engaging actress at that time, Sally Field.
The story goes that ABC knew they had something with Field, who took to the camera like butter takes to bread.
She was on "Gidget," a very popular show among pre-teens, but a relative flop in the ratings.
When ABC abruptly canceled "Gidget" after just a single season, they didn't know what to do with Field, but they knew they had something that they wanted to pursue.
Acknowledging that they made a major mistake canceling "Gidget," they looked for another project that would star her, and they looked to the local library in trying to find something to suit her talents.
They came up with "The Flying Nun," based on the book by Tere Rios that was popular with pre-teens.
The book was about a nun who could literally fly when the wind was right. With her headpiece, or cornet, billowing under the wind, this nun could use those winds to fly.
She couldn't always control her flight, but since she was basically a 90 pound woman, the winds would take her about, and she kind of learned how to use them to her advantage.
Preposterous, yes. Doable, absolutely.
Field, who was very slight in stature to begin with, was cast in the role, and the show, although never a huge ratings winner, was once again popular with pre-teens.
It lasted three seasons on ABC, and for a good portion of that time, it was paired with ABC's other other-worldy show, "Bewitched," on the schedule
Although Field was well cast in the role, she supposedly hated being Sister Bertrille.
She was a young woman, and felt that a show like "Gidget" more fully suited her talents. She was able to wear the clothes of the day on "Gidget," but on "The Flying Nun," it was just her nunly robes and her cornet.
She actually had to be persuaded to accept the role in the first place by her family, who told her that she might never work again in Hollywood if she turned down such a role.
She took the role, and the rest is history.
Stocked with an excellent cast, including Marge Redmond, Madeleine Sherwood and Alejandro Rey, the show, if nothing else, showed off the broad comedic and acting talents of Field, and was surely a stepping stone to her leap to film (although she did do a lot of television prior to her early 1970s move to the big screen).
Why do I bring all this up?
On a very lazy Sunday, where my family and I really didn't do very much, I had a chance to sit down and watch two episodes of "The Flying Nun" on Antenna TV, where it reruns back to back with "Gidget."
Yes, I have watched the show off and on on Antenna TV for the past two years or so, but I really watched the show yesterday, and you know what?
I found the show as engaging as ever. It has good themes--which were looked over by the Catholic Church, which had a hand in the development of the series--the storylines are good, the acting is good, and even the dollar-value special effects of Sister Bertrille flying are just right for the series.
And Field, as ever, is fantastic, and I know why America had a major crush on this nun way back when, and still does, in the mosaic of roles she has had since then.
Anyway, I got to thinking ... if any show could use a reboot, it could be this series, either as a TV show or as a major film.
With a larger budget, the beauty of Puerto Rico really could be used to even a better advantage than it was in the original series, where it was used minimally.
Yes, scenes were shot in Puerto Rico--if you take a tour of San Juan, the tour guide will even point out to you where some of the show was shot--but with a bigger budget, maybe the whole show could be shot on location, rather than just bits and pieces like in the original program.
The special effects would be better today, but you know what? The less high-tech special effects of the day were perfect for the show, so it might not add to the rebooted project to improve too much on them.
The original show had an extremely engaging cast, in particular Rey as the disco owner, who owed his upbringing to the very church Sister Bertrille was a novice nun at, and through her, got into all types of adventures, things he didn't want to get involved with.
And then there is Field herself. How do you replace her in such a show?
Here is how I would do it: I would cast her as the Mother Superior--I mean, more than 40 years have progressed since she was a novice nun, so it is a very distinct possibility that if she stayed with the church, she would have progressed to that position by now.
And then have a new nun join the church, who also possesses the ability to fly because of her slight stature. Yes, lightning would strike again in this reboot, but who to cast as the "new" Flying Nun?
I have the actress, and I saw it the moment I caught her in those popular AT and T commercials.
She is Milana Vayntrub who plays the "know it all girl" in those popular TV ads.
She has the build, the look, and even though only seeing her in short samples, the ability to carry off such a role.
As I said earlier, Field hated her role on that show, but as an older actress playing a different role in the reboot, she might be open to such a challenge.
She has never, it has to be said, shirked away from acknowledging her TV past, like some actors do, so maybe it could happen.
I am not a TV producer, but if I were, I might just pursue such a reboot.
If done correctly, it could be a success.
I guess I missed my calling, like they say, I should have been in pictures ... .
Posted by Larry at 2:01 AM