Monday, January 7, 2008

Short Lived Brilliance: My World And Welcome To It



From Wikipedia:

My World and Welcome to It was a US-made half-hour sitcom based on the humor and cartoons of James Thurber (1894-1961). It starred William Windom as John Monroe, a Thurber-like writer and cartoonist who works for a magazine that closely resembles The New Yorker, called The Manhattanite. Wry, fanciful and curmudgeonly, Monroe observes and comments on life, to the bemusement of his rather sensible wife Ellen (Joan Hotchkis) and intelligent, questioning daughter Lydia (Lisa Gerritsen). Monroe's frequent daydreams and fantasies are usually based on Thurber material. My World — And Welcome To It (note slight variation from television title) is the name of a book of illustrated stories and essays, also by James Thurber.

The television series ran just one season, 1969-1970. It was created by Melville Shavelson, who wrote and directed the pilot episode and was one of the show's principal writers. Sheldon Leonard was executive producer. Another of the show's producers, Danny Arnold, co-wrote or directed numerous episodes, and even appeared as Santa Claus in "Rally Round the Flag."

Most episodes open with Monroe arriving in front of the house from the Thurber cartoon "Home," which in the original cartoon has a woman's face on one side of it. In the show the house is initially house-shaped. The woman's face is often animated to appear, as Ellen says something to John. The "Home" house, without the face, is used as an establishing shot throughout the episodes. Other Thurber cartoons are similarly animated over the course of the series, sometimes in the opening sequence, sometimes later in the episode. The episode "Cristabel" begins with Monroe lying on top of a cartoon doghouse, a reference to the non-Thurber cartoon character Snoopy. The animation for the series was by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

Live action adaptations of Thurber's writing are another show staple. For example, "Rally Round the Flag," in which Monroe purchases a very large flag as a gift, is loosely based on a Thurber piece called "There's a Time for Flags." An incident with a policeman in "Christabel" is an almost verbatim transcription of the Thurber story "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery". Fables for Our Time is another source, as when John Monroe sees a unicorn in the back yard, a reference to "The Unicorn in the Garden." Many of the episode titles are taken from Thurber's Fables for Our Time (e.g., "The Shrike and the Chipmunks") and other writings ("Rules for a Happy Marriage" and many more).

Aside from his obvious resemblance to Thurber himself, John Monroe is based on one of Thurber's characters, who appeared in several short stories including "Mr. Monroe Holds the Fort" and "The Monroes Find a Terminal." Monroe and his family first came to television in a 1959 Alcoa Theatre/Goodyear Theatre production called "Cristabel (The Secret Life of John Monroe)", also written by Melville Shavelson. The dog Cristabel was named after a dog Thurber gave to his daughter.


- this show is also a testament to the wonderfulness of my beloved Jill as she gave me a holiday present of the entire series. She could make even notorious curmudgeons like John Monroe, James Thurber, and I smile sweetly.

1 comment:

mare said...

Hi there. I believe we are actually looking for the original pilot from 1959 but where did Jill get the series, if she doesn't mind sharing.