Working Girl aired from April until July 1990 on NBC
Another hit movie that failed as a TV series was Working Girl. The
1988 film starred Melanie Griffith in the title role with Sigourney
Weaver as her insufferable boss, but the TV series had to settle for
lesser known talent.Tess, the spunky independent secretary who
suddenly becomes a junior executive after charming company owner A.J.
Trask ( Tom O'Rourke) was portrayed here by newcomer Sandra Bullock (
Nancy McKeon of Facts of Life was originally supposed to play the
role). Tess' first challenge was to survive working for her
antagonistic , uptight immediate boss , Ms. Newhouse ( Nana visitor),
also known as the company witch. Lana ( Judy Prescott), a secretary,
was Tess' best pal, more interested in doing her nails and rooting for
Tess than in getting ahead herself; Everett ( George Newburn) was a
fellow junior executive who was charming but too eager to please; and
Libby ( Edye Bryde) was Tess' worldly wise , "permanent temporary "
secretary, a moonlighting musician. Back home each night on Staten
Island, Tess had to contend with her doting parents Joe and Fran (
David Schramm, B.J. Ward) and with Sal ( Anthony Tyler Quinn), the
blue-collar neighborhood Romeo who constantly pursued her.
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
April 27, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT
This sitcom version of Mike Nichols’ 1988 film stars Sandra Bullock in the Melanie Griffith role of Tess McGill, a young Staten Island woman working in corporate Manhattan.
Like a lot of TV adaptations of movies, this one changes the emphasis of the source material and alters its cast of characters considerably. There is, for example, no equivalent in this Working Girl to Harrison Ford’s handsome leading man; instead, there’s a handsome leading doofus played by George Newbern — he’s sort of the yuppie, executive version of Tom Poston in Newhart. As in the movie, Tess graduates from secretary to junior executive, and the sitcom begins where the movie ended, as Tess settles into big-business life.
For a show overseen by co-executive producer Tom Patchett (ALF, The Bob Newhart Show), Working Girl is shockingly low in laughs. The rhythms of this comedy are all wrong: Bullock’s Tess wears a fixed grin and loses her Staten Island accent regularly; she seems to vanish from the screen every time Nana Visitor pops up as her boss.
In the movie, Sigourney Weaver played this role as a WASP cartoon, but Visitor reinvents it; she’s smart, sexy, and mean all at once.
Visitor’s viperish vamp stands out in this mediocre sitcom, upstaging not only Bullock but everyone else in sight. This, despite the fact that she must deliver lines like ”You live in Staten Island? I thought that was an amusement park.” Bullock: ”That’s Coney Island.”
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