Sometimes the title of a TV show more or less tells you what it’s about. Let’s roll back to 1967 now for ABC’s The Flying Nun, an adaptation of the book, The Fifteenth Pelican. It starred Sally Field (then famous as a surfer girl on Gidget but obviously now more famous for Smokey and the Bandit, Brothers and Sisters, Steel Magnolias, ER and Mrs Doubtfire) as well… can you guess?
Yes, she played a nun who could fly. Hence, The Flying Nun.
The general idea was that
- She had a very big cornette
- She was quite small and light
- The wind would catch the cornette
- And she would take flight
Now, this was a sitcom, so each week, Sister Bertrille would come across someone or something who needed her help and usually by the end of the episode, she’d have fixed the whole situation, typically by taking flight – to much amusement.
Now, in case you think writers can’t milk an idea for all its worth (and then some), The Flying Nun lasted three seasons for a total of 82, 24-minute episodes. Yes, 82 ways in which a nun flying could help the world and bring laughter to an audience. And in case you ever thought directors and propmen/propwomen were a talentless bunch, for most of the first season, Field was pregnant. A pregnant nun who’s light enough to fly. That took some interesting blocking.
Aren’t these TV folk ingenious?
There’s not much else to say about The Flying Nun, though, except that the Roman Catholic church praised it for humanising the work of nuns. Did it also give people false expectations of nuns? That, I cannot say.
Cue the weird old titles for The Flying Nun – in case you were in any doubt about the show’s premise, the titles did all they could to explain it with the subtlety of a V2 rocket. And if that whet’s your appetite, the show’s available on DVD.