My World and Welcome to It (TV Series 1969–1970)
|Awards||Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 nominations.|
|Company||Sheldon Leonard Productions|
My World and Welcome to It
My World ... and Welcome to It is an American half-hour television sitcom based on the humor and cartoons of James Thurber. It starred William Windom as John Monroe, a Thurber-like writer and cartoonist who works for a magazine closely resembling The New Yorker called The Manhattanite. Wry, fanciful and curmudgeonly, Monroe observes and comments on life, to the bemusement of his rather sensible wife Ellen (Joan Hotchkis) and intelligent, questioning daughter Lydia (Lisa Gerritsen). Monroe's frequent daydreams and fantasies are usually based on Thurber material. My World — And Welcome To It (note slight variation from television title) is the name of a book of illustrated stories and essays, also by James Thurber.
The series, which ran for one season during the 1969–70 season on NBC, was created by Mel Shavelson, who wrote and directed the pilot episode and was one of its principal writers. Sheldon Leonard was executive producer. The show's producer, Danny Arnold, co-wrote or directed numerous episodes, and appeared as Santa Claus in "Rally Round the Flag".
Most episodes open with Monroe arriving in front of the house from the Thurber cartoon "Home", which in the original cartoon has a woman's face on one side of it. In the show, the house is initially house-shaped. The woman's face is often animated to appear, as Ellen says something to John. The "Home" house, without the face, is used as an establishing shot throughout the episodes. Other Thurber cartoons are similarly animated over the course of the series—sometimes in the opening sequence, sometimes later in the episode. The episode "Cristabel" begins with Monroe lying on top of a cartoon doghouse, a reference to the non-Thurber cartoon character Snoopy. Animation for the series was by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Humorist Henry Morgan had a recurring role as a humor writer for The Manhattanite, which was said to be based on real-life humorist/actor Robert Benchley. Harold J. Stone played the editor, with whom Monroe is often at odds about the cartoon content. A female writer who appeared in one episode was also loosely based on Dorothy Parker. Guest-stars included Lee Meriwether, Paul Ford, Joe Besser, Ray Walston, Craig Stevens, Danny Bonaduce, Talia Shire (as Talia Coppola), Cindy Williams, James Gregory and Noam Pitlik.
Live action adaptations of Thurber's writing are another show staple. For example, "Rally Round the Flag", in which Monroe purchases a very large flag as a gift, is loosely based on a Thurber piece called "There's a Time for Flags". An incident with a policeman in "Cristabel" is an almost verbatim transcription of the Thurber story "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery". Fables for Our Time is another source, as when John Monroe sees a unicorn in the back yard, a reference to "The Unicorn in the Garden". Many of the episode titles are taken from Thurber's Fables for Our Time (e.g., "The Shrike and the Chipmunks") and other writings ("Rules for a Happy Marriage" and many more).
Aside from his obvious resemblance to Thurber himself, John Monroe is based on one of Thurber's characters, who appeared in several short stories including "Mr. Monroe Holds the Fort" and "The Monroes Find a Terminal". Monroe and his family first came to television in a 1959 Alcoa Theatre/Goodyear Theatre production called "Cristabel (The Secret Life of John Monroe)", also written by Mel Shavelson. The dog Cristabel was named after a dog Thurber gave to his daughter.
Despite the liberal use of "drawings, stories, inspirational pieces and things that go bump in the night by James Thurber" (as stated in the opening credits), the show also contains character and story elements that owe little or nothing to Thurber's work. For example, there is no Thurber basis for Monroe and daughter Lydia playing chess throughout "Little Girls Are Sugar & Spice - And Not Always Nice!" Although Thurber material is woven around it, the episode's storyline itself is fairly conventional situation comedy. William Windom, though, was a tournament chess player, so he most likely added that to the storyline as a personal touch.
Despite many positive reviews, moderate Nielsen ratings led NBC to cancel the series after one season. It then went on to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series.
CBS reran My World and Welcome to It in the summer of 1972. The first CBS rerun was pre-empted locally by WBBM-TV Chicago for the syndicated special, The City That Waits To Die.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||"Man Against the World"||Melville Shavelson||Melville Shavelson||September 15, 1969|
|John Monroe's wildly imaginative story of Grant and Lee brings a home visit from his daughter's teacher.|
|2||"The Disenchanted"||Danny Arnold||Ruth Brooks Flippen||September 22, 1969|
|Lydia runs away after her father refuses to have her seat changed at school.|
|3||"Little Girls Are Sugar & Spice - And Not Always Nice!"||Lee Philips||Rick Mittleman||September 29, 1969|
|Facing defeat in a chess match with Lydia, John envisions three ways out, each of which would make newspaper headlines.|
|4||"Christabel"||TBA||TBA||October 6, 1969|
|John's magazine article gets him in trouble with his family, his editor and police.|
|5||"The Night the House Caught Fire"||Melville Shavelson||Melville Shavelson||October 13, 1969|
|John retreats into the past to recall the time his sniffles brought out the town's fire department.|
|6||"The Ghost and Mr. Monroe"||Danny Arnold||Carl Kleinschmitt||October 20, 1969|
|Payless after quitting his job in a huff, fantasy-prone John finds himself begging stock market tips from financial wizard (J.P. Morgan).|
|7||"Nobody Ever Kills Dragons Anymore"||John Rich||Phil Sharp||October 27, 1969|
|Eleven pickle forks become objects of international intrigue as John escapes into a world of fantasy.|
|8||"Seal in the Bedroom"||Lee Philips||Paul Wayne||November 3, 1969|
|John's imagination goes wild when his mother arrives for a visit after his cartoon is rejected by his editor.|
|9||"The Saga of Dimity Ann"||TBA||TBA||November 10, 1969|
|John secretly abandons the family cat after it nips him on the neck and finger.|
|10||"A Friend of the Earth"||Hal Cooper||Paul Wayne||November 17, 1969|
|John is miffed when his wife and daughter prefer the town character's witticism to his brand of humor.|
|11||"Maid in Connecticut"||TBA||TBA||November 24, 1969|
|During his wife's vacation, John's life is complicated by a new maid, who has a deathly fear of new appliances.|
|12||"Native Wit"||Hal Cooper||Marion Hargrove||December 1, 1969|
|John and his friend Phil Jensen, match wits with the village wit in an attempt to send him packing.|
|13||"The Shrike and the Chipmunks"||Sheldon Leonard||Marion Hargrove||December 8, 1969|
|John is forced to collaborate with one of the most famous authors of children's books.|
|14||"Rally Round the Flag"||TBA||TBA||December 15, 1969|
|John gives his daughter an unusual Christmas gift and incurs the wrath of the neighborhood.|
|15||"The War Between Men and Women"||TBA||TBA||December 22, 1969|
|A spilled martini triggers an outbreak of hostilities among friends at the Monroes' party.|
|16||"The Mating Dance"||TBA||TBA||December 29, 1969|
|When a bully uses brute force to take Lydia to a party by beating up her scheduled escort, John leaps to the defense of the weaker fellow.|
|17||"Darn that Dream"||TBA||TBA||January 5, 1970|
|John recalls childhood fantasies in his attempt to explain to Lydia that nightmares run in the family.|
|18||"The Human Being and the Dinosaur"||TBA||TBA||January 12, 1970|
|John attempts to explain to Lydia why inferior viewpoints must sometimes be tolerated.|
|19||"Dear Is a Four-Letter Word"||TBA||TBA||January 19, 1970|
|Ellen insists that a communications gap exists between her husband and their daughter and asks John to seek advice from the school principal.|
|20||"The Middle Years"||TBA||TBA||January 26, 1970|
|Left alone at home when his wife and daughter head for the mountains, John daydreams about an attractive neighbor.|
|21||"Rules for a Happy Marriage"||TBA||TBA||February 2, 1970|
|John becomes engrossed in a conversation about the shortcomings of wives and forgets to keep his lunch date with Ellen.|
|22||"The Wooing of Mr. Monroe"||TBA||TBA||February 9, 1970|
|John's collaboration on a book with a woman at her apartment is turned into a romantic situation by his wife.|
|23||"The Mea Culpit Bit"||TBA||TBA||February 16, 1970|
|Several people try to take the blame for the broken arm suffered by Lydia when her father chased her out of his study.|
|24||"The Fourth Estate"||TBA||TBA||February 23, 1970|
|John is shaken when a sixth grade school newspaper editor rejects two of his cartoons.|
|25||"Monroe the Mysogynist"||TBA||TBA||March 2, 1970|
|Both Ellen and his editor Hamilton Greeley, accuses John of being a woman-hater.|
|26||"Child's Play"||TBA||TBA||March 9, 1970|
|John's disgust at a friend's patronization of his son turns into guilt feelings when he forgets a picnic date with his daughter.|
My World and Welcome to It won two Emmy Awards in 1970:
- Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series (William Windom)
- Outstanding Comedy Series
Also nominated for:
- Outstanding Achievement in any area of Creative Arts ("Rally 'Round the Flag Boys" - special photographic effects).
|Cover artist||James Thurber|
|Publisher||Harcourt, Brace and Company|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Fables For Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated|
|Followed by||Many Moons|
The similarly titled book by James Thurber, My World — And Welcome to It, was published in 1942 by Harcourt, Brace and Company. The current edition is ISBN 0-89190-269-4. Part One of this collection contains 22 assorted Thurber short stories and humorous essays, many of them illustrated with his cartoons. Part Two consists of an eight-part comic memoir about France, written in 1937 and 1938, about twenty years after Thurber first arrived there near the conclusion of World War I. None of these stories, however, feature any of Thurber's "Monroe Family" characters.
The tone of these pieces ranges from lighthearted wordplay and dialect ("What Do You Mean It Was Brillig?") to literary satire ("The Macbeth Murder Mystery") to psychological horror ("The Whip-Poor-Will" and "A Friend to Alexander"). The most famous story is "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which bears little resemblance to the 1947 film of the same name.