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My Living Doll

Entry updated 17 January 2022. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1964-1965). CBS TV. Created by Jack Chertok, also executive producer, Bill Kelsay and Al Martin. Produced by Howard Leeds; scripted by Kelsay, Martin and others. Cast includes Bob Cummings (episodes 1-21 only) and Julie Newmar. One season of 26 episodes, 25 minutes per episode. Black and white.

After his success with My Favorite Martian (1963-1966), Chertok came up with another sf comedy series. Centred on psychiatrist Dr Bob McDonald (Cummings), it concerned the female Robot or Android AF 709 (Newmar) originally designed for the US Air Force for use in space but put in his care while its inventor Dr Carl Miller (Henry Beckman) is away. In civilian life AF 709 is known as Rhoda Miller. McDonald decides to train Rhoda as the "perfect woman" – that is, quiet and obedient – but the robot's unpredictability and unfamiliarity with human society and emotion regularly place him in embarrassing situations. Statuesque Newmar was memorable as the robot, carrying an erotic charge that could not be properly utilized within the context of a television comedy. The underlying metaphor (woman equals doll) could be interpreted as either sexist, as Cummings plays it, or subversively proto-Feminist, which some of the ironies suggest.

Leeds went on, two decades later, to produce the thematically similar series Small Wonder (1985-1989) about a robot in the form of a young child. [JB/PN/DRL]


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