Peck's Bad Girl (TV Series 1959– ) Poster

(1959– )

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Ahead of its time, a deconstructed sitcom
margot31 May 2006
For a program that disappeared nearly as fast as it was mounted, Peck's Bad Girl has remarkable staying power in the memories of those who caught some of its few episodes. It is best described as a deconstructionist parody of family-life sitcoms of the 1950s (Bachelor Father, Father Knows Best, etc.). The script would set up a routine situation (Torey adopting a stray cat, parents taking separate vacation), and quickly blow it up to absurd proportions.

At points in the narrative, Torey Peck (Patty McCormick, she of the blond fringe and pigtails, a few years on from the Coppertone billboard and 'The Bad Seed') would stand against a blackout background and give droll Hitchcockian commentary on the proceedings.

None of this was totally original conceptually; the Burns and Allen show also featured absurdist plots with running commentary by a principal (George would watch the latest scene on the TV in his den and then tell you what he thought); Dwayne Hickman in Dobie Gillis also gave frequent commentary, away from the action and in front of Rodin's Thinker; the cartoon show Rocky and His Friends consisted of nothing but endless parodies and knowing winks. What distinguished Peck's Bad Girl was that it didn't shout 'sitcom' at you. Its presentation was closer to that of a soap opera. Someone tuning into it for the first time might not immediately realize it was a comedy. All good excuses for the show not surviving. It also occurs to me that the notion of a child narrator of 11 or 12--and a highly stylized female child at that--may have been off-putting to a lot of people.
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