Review: Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection (1972)

One piece of the Gidget franchise has eluded me for a few years: the Hanna-Barbera produced cartoon “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection.”

That’s right. Not only did the Gidget character find herself on the silver screen, TV shows and movies, and in books, Gidget was also featured in cartoon-form.

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Airing on the ABC Saturday Super Star Movie on Nov. 18, 1972, “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection” was one of “galaxy of famous personalities and characters from the realms of literature, sports, television, and motion pictures,” according to a Sept. 9, 1972 article.

Some of these included anything from baseball star Willie Mays, the Blondie comic strips, Tabitha from “Bewitched,” the Banana Splits, Lassie, Marlo Thomas as “That Girl,” and of course, Gidget.

The show aired on Saturday mornings and was geared towards children.

In Gidget’s animated story, after causing trouble in a marina, Gidget and her friends Rink and Jud sign up as a ship crew for a boat race to Mexico … or so they think. Really, the race is a ruse as the three adults onboard are smuggling gold.

Produced by Hanna-Barbera, is similar to other 1970s era Hanna-Barbera cartoon, as far as animation, voice talent, humor and storytelling go.

Gidget looks like she could be related to Daphne from Scooby Doo, and the sleuthing and antics may remind you a bit of Scooby Doo mysteries.

That said, it’s a silly, breezy and not unpleasant way to spend 45 minutes.

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The characters of Barbara and Ralph Hightower, voiced by Virginia Gregg and Mike Road.

The voice talent is fun. The snooty smugglers, Barbara and Ralph Hightower will remind you a bit of Mr. and Mrs. Howell from “Gilligan’s Island.” The two are voiced by Virginia Gregg and Mike Road. I swear Road is doing a Ronald Colman impression.

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The cartoon version of Gidget.

Kathy Gori voices Frances “Gidget” Lawrence in her first acting or voice acting gig. While in the movies and TV show, Gidget can be meddling, in the cartoon she’s meddling and also clumsy. The crew gets in all sorts of trouble, because of her “seventh sense” ideas. If I had to compare this Gidget characterization to any of the other franchises, I would compare it to Cindy Carroll in “Gidget Goes to Rome.” Also of note: Gidget doesn’t do any surfing in “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection.” But she’s still in the water, snorkeling and boating.

Gidget has new friends for the adventure, Jud and Rink, who were not previously characters in the movies. Sorry, no Moondoggie this time. Rink is voiced by Denny Evans and and Jud is voiced by David Lander of “Laverne and Shirley” fame.

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Rink, Gidget and Jud, voiced by Kathy Gori, Denny Evans, David L. Lander.

Bob Hastings and Don Messick also provided voice work on this cartoon.

The creation and air date is interesting for this Gidget installment. It aired 10 months after the Gidget TV movie, “Gidget Gets Married” (1972), where Gidget and Moondoggie get hitched. After Gidget made waves in the 1960s, this was the last hoorah of the franchise until the 1980s TV movie and television series reboot aired in 1985.

In 2017, I completed the Gidget series reviews with the exception of this one. I wasn’t able to find it anywhere, not online or being sold. Searching high and low, it wasn’t until a reader brought it to my attention that someone uploaded it online! (Thank you, Mike!) I will refrain from linking to it (I don’t want it to be taken down!), but a quick online search will help you find it.

Overall, “Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection” isn’t the best installment of the franchise, but would be a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

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Review: Gidget’s Summer Reunion (1985) TV Movie

From 1959 to 1986, there were nine versions of “Gidget” on TV and film, live action and animated.

I’ve refrained from calling versions made from 1959 to 1972 “the worst” of the Gidget series, because they aren’t.

“Gidget Goes Hawaiian” isn’t great but it has some bright spots and is colorful. “Gidget Goes to Rome” is a little too syrupy sweet, and “Gidget Gets Married” was just goofy.

gidgetBut the worst came in 1985 with the two hour made-for-TV movie “Gidget’s Summer Reunion.”

Gidget (Caryn Richman) and Moondoggie/Jeff (Dean Butler) are married, living in a house they can’t afford and working paycheck to paycheck. Gidget runs a travel agency and Jeff works as a contractor and has a sexy blond boss, Anne (Mary Frann). Their 15-year-old niece Kim (Allison Barron) comes to stay the summer and is ready to learn how to surf and gets tangled with a college-aged surfing jerk (Vincent Van Patten) who only has one thing on his mind.

Gidget is so busy at work that her marriage is falling apart and Anne is reaching out her claws for Jeff. Just as Gidget attempts to patch up her married and is planning a surprise birthday party for Jeff with the old surfing gang, she has to take over on a tour of Hawaii when her tour guide gets sick.

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Review: Gidget Grows Up (1969) TV movie

The world was changing in the late-1960s.

The anti-authority, anti-capitalism, anti-war and free-love movements brought a shift in popular culture.

The surf culture that erupted after Fredrick Kohner’s book “Gidget” hit the shelves was starting to fade with dissatisfaction of establishment. This caused a shift in pop culture, and films and music focused more on social movements and issues rather than wanting to hold hands or surf the USA. There no longer was a place for Technicolor fluff films focusing on beach parties, surfing and wahinis in wild bikinis.

So how does Frances “Gidget” Lawrence, the surfing “girl midget” who first appeared in 1957, fit in a changing world?

She goes to work at the United Nations.

Gidget (Karen Valentine) and her friends Diana (Susan Batson) and Minnie (Helen Funai) become United Nations guides. (Comet Over Hollywood screencap)

Gidget (Karen Valentine) and her friends Diana (Susan Batson) and Minnie (Helen Funai) become United Nations guides. (Comet Over Hollywood screencap)

After three feature “Gidget” films and a 1965 television show that lasted one season, the 1969 television film “Gidget Grows Up” places Gidget in New York City. She’s ready to change the world at the United Nations (UN), which she describes as “one of humanity’s noblest achievements.”

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