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STUDIO: $Shout! Factory
RUNNING TIME: 900 minutes
- Still Rockin In Brooklyn Heights: The Patty Duke Show cast reunion movie
- Brand-New PSAs Starring The Lanes
It’s proof there were cloning experiments going on in Pleasantville…
Patty Duke, Patty Duke, William Schallert, Jean Byron, Paul O’Keefe, Eddie Applegate.
This is a show about two identical cousins: Cathy, the worldly, reserved upstanding young lady; and Patty, the Brooklyn native who’s never been outside of the city limits and who likes to get a little crazy and in a little bit of trouble. Hijinks ensue.
“I bet that bitch, Funicello thinks she’s too good for something like this, huh, Frankie?”
I remember first catching The Patty Duke Show during a revival on Nick at Nite in the early ’90s and liking it. The theme song is one of those deals that sticks in your head the second you hear it and sets up shop for a while. The show is of that ’50s and ’60s wholesome type, with its wholesome lead in dual roles and fresh off of her 1962 Oscar win for portraying Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. Duke is eminently likable in her roles of the identical cousins. On a side note, I did some research on the topic (OK, maybe one Q&A article on Google). There is the theoretical possibility of such a thing, but even from identical twin brothers marrying identical twin sisters, there are apparently too many variables for it to happen. Anyway, the show is primarily about Patty and the situations in which she finds herself, with Cathy usually providing a supporting storyline.
Admittedly, sometimes the special effects were a bit more obvious than other times.
The whole identical cousins scenario was really only sparsely used during the run of the show, which was a good thing because the switcheroo gag would undoubtedly have sunk the show if they had relied upon it week after week. Typically the show was just straight up 1960s sitcom shenanigans where Patty, who was a hip and gregarious Brooklyn Heights teenager, would get into mini-quagmires or misunderstandings and have the issue resolved by the end of the show. These include trying to get heartthrob, Frankie Avalon, to remain at her place as long as she possibly can when his car breaks down (“A Foggy Day in Brooklyn Heights”). “Operation: Tonsils” finds Patty mistaking a doctor’s admiration for a boat he’s going to buy for romantic interest. And “Patty’s Private Pygmalion” finds Patty dealing with creating a new rival when she takes a shy girl and molds her into one of the most popular girls in school.
“You want to get Thing and do what to me?…You’re so dirty, John…”
Again, Duke is great in both roles. There is a noticeable difference in how she carries herself as both Cathy and Patty, but it never seems forced at all. She gets solid support, mostly from Schallert, who is certainly no George Parker. Jean Byron is also nice as her understanding and patient mother. One might wonder, however, if Mrs. Lane ever had an episode by herself in a bathtub…. The special effects, which included frequent split screens and body doubles, were also fairly seamless. The occasional traveling matte was also employed to pull off Duke in two places at once.
The Patty Duke Show was created by Sidney Sheldon (I Dream of Jeannie, Hart To Hart) and William Asher (Bewitched), with most episodes written by Sheldon. The show just has a nice and easy feel to it without being overly quaint and dated. Its tone is somewhere right around Pleasantville halfway through its progression to color, right when the kids are starting to get the whole rock and roll thing and before the nastiness really starts. I found it very enjoyable to watch, and the show takes you back to a simpler time, right before the whole country went Vietnam, Hippie, Black Power, etc. There’s just that last little bit of ’50s / Camelot / Rat Pack / hipster mentality still going for it. I find the show still very innocent and, well, pleasant to watch, which is rare for me as I steadily march into cynicism and decrepitude.
“WTF? I just saw Cathy in the hall. She was in color and had something called an iPod…”
The episodes, all in black and white, have transferred nicely, although they’re TV standard. This show was done thirty years before some sitcoms that were still shot on tape and just shames them in look. Sound is also perfectly acceptable, although there are no subtitles at all. The packaging is the nice plastic slipcover type, so there should be minimal scratching of the discs. There are two special features: the inclusion of the 1999 movie, Still Rockin’ In Brooklyn Heights: the Patty Duke Reunion Movie and also some recent PSAs for which the surviving cast members (Byron passed away in 2006) reunited regarding Social Security.