A Christmas Carroll

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! We started this month by honoring someone who passed in the summer of 2022 — Larry Storch — and I thought we’d close it out by paying tribute to another recently departed star, the iconic Pat Carroll, perhaps best remembered as the voice of Ursula in The Little Mermaid (1989), but another familiar face from many sitcoms, especially The Danny Thomas Show, on which she recurred for three years (more here).

In honor of this talented lady, I’m sharing a sitcom rarity that you likely haven’t seen before, or at least, not in a while… it’s an episode of the short-lived Arnie (1970-1972, CBS), a unique two-season single-camera comedy from the early 1970s that I’ve not yet had the pleasure to discuss in full. It’s on my long to-do list, so I hope to get there eventually. For this post, all you need to know is the basic premise: Herschel Bernardi is the titular Arnie, a blue-collar worker who’s suddenly vaulted to white-collar management, with this class jump informing a lot of the show’s dramatic angst, both in the office and at home. Created by David Swift, the series was part of CBS’ sweeping effort to move away from the broad, high-concept, and often rural fare that was slowly losing viewers, with the goal now being to attract a younger, more urban demographic via material more realistic and socially “relevant.” In fact, it its first season, Arnie was the lead-in for the new The Mary Tyler Moore Show. So, there are a lot of interesting things to be said for this series — and, again, we’ll dive deeper into it someday.

In the meantime, I’m offering an episode of Arnie that guest starred the late, great Pat Carroll. It’s the series’ 13th aired entry — its first season Christmas show, “Let Them Eat Cookies,” which was first broadcast on December 12, 1970. Directed by Gary Nelson and written by Bruce Howard, this installment is about Arnie’s struggle to find an appropriate Christmas gift for his boss. Carroll plays a saleslady in this amusing scene, excerpted below. (For the rest of this episode, visit the link here and type in the password bunny — enjoy!)



Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more of The Nanny!