Part of the exclusive Screen Gems stable at ABC, THE FLYING NUN completed a triptych of female fantasy shows that had been developed at the network. "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie" were still big ratings winners when THE FLYING NUN joined the line-up in 1967.
Based on the writings of Tere Rios, the show told the story of a young Bostonian novice nun called Elsie Ethrington (Sally Field), aka Sister Bertrille, who travels to the Puerto Rican island of San Juan for her first posting at the Convent San Tanco. Sister Bertrille discovers on the windswept island that she has the uncanny ability to fly, thanks to her light physique and the aerodynamic qualities of her cornette. Sister Bertrille attempts to keep her airborne activities under control but the sparky novice always has a nose for trouble, as San Juan's most eligible playboy Carlos Ramirez (Alejandro Rey), the Reverend Mother Plaseato (Madeleine Sherwood), Sister Jacqueline (Marge Redmond) and Sister Sixto (Shelley Morrison) will all soon discover!
Following the premature folding of the ABC-Screen Gems "Gidget" sitcom (also now available in it's entirety on DVD), producers quickly cast Sally Field as the charming Sister Bertrille, cementing her place as one of the most promising young actresses of her generation. Her performance as San Tanco's effervescent and airborne nun earned Field legions of fans. THE FLYING NUN would run for 3 seasons earning great acclaim for Field, the cast and writers who managed to keep a dignified and reverent tone to the series while still remaining true to the sitcom mode which the show was presented in. During most of it's original run on ABC, THE FLYING NUN was featured in a line-up with "Bewitched" and "That Girl".
The first season sets up the characters and scenarios which would blossom and grow in the seasons ahead. The hour-length pilot episode also spawned a hit single, a folk style song Bertrille and the orphan children sing called "Felecidad". Other choice episodes include "Ah Love, Could You and I Conspire?" where Sister Bertrille and the nuns attempt to hide a ditzy moll called Bobbye Starr (Maureen Arthur) from the clutches of her gangster boyfriend; "The Fatal Hibiscus" where Sister Bertrille's future at San Tanco comes under question from the Reverend Mother; and "With Love from Irving" where Sister Bertrille attracts the unwanted affections from a lovelorn pelican. In "The Patron of Santa Thomasina", Sister Bertrille and Sister Jacqueline must use their powers of charm to soothe the angry feud between two neighbouring villages; and the moving "Tonio's Mother" where Sister Bertrille heals the rift between a young boy and his prospective new stepmother.
COMPLETE EPISODE LISTING:
"The Flying Nun" (Pilot) - Sister Bertrille arrives on the island of San Juan and quickly sets about changing the convent's structured lifestyle.
"The Convert" - Disobeying orders, Sister Bertrille flies for the good of the convent.
"Old Cars for New" - Sister Bertrille and Carlos turn the tables on a used car-dealer.
"A Bell for San Tanco" - Sister Bertrille and Carlos salvage a sunken bell for the convent.
"The Fatal Hibiscus" - The nuns learn that Sister Bertrille is leaving and they think she is dying.
"Flight of the Dodo Bird" - Despite training in psychology, a young priest can't cope with the problems of San Tanco.
"Polly Wants a Crack in the Head" - Sister Bertrille tries to find a home for Junior, a salty-tongued parrot.
"Ah Love, Could You and I Conspire?" - A gangster's girlfriend takes refuge in the convent.
"Days of Nuns and Roses" - The Sisters try to raise money by bottling sea grape juice.
"With Love from Irving" - A lovesick pelican causes difficulty between Mother Superior and Sister Bertrille.
"It's an Ill Wind" - Flying important papers to Mother Superior, Sister Bertrille interrupts a mobsters' meeting.
"Young Man with a Cornette" - A little orphan feels he can fly if he wears Sister Bertrille's cornette.
"The Patron of Santa Thomasina" - Sister Bertrille, caught between rival villages, is mistaken for a saint.
"If You Want to Fly, Keep Your Cornette Dry" - Sister Bertrille and her first-graders get lost in a storm while on a picnic.
"The Dig-In" - Sister Bertrille is trapped in a mine with an escaped prisoner.
"Wailing in a Winter Wonderland" - An aged nun longs for a white Christmas and Sister Bertrille is determined to grant her wish.
"With a Friend Like Him" - Sister Bertrille helps accident-prone Brother Paul fix up the convent library.
"Tonio's Mother" - A little boy believes Sister Bertrille is his mother returning from heaven.
"A Fish Story" - Flying aloft, Sister Bertrille becomes a fish-spotter for an old fisherman.
"Hot Spell" - To save his casino from gangsters, Carlos turns it over to the convent.
"My Sister, the Sister" - Carlos falls for Sister Bertrille's sister.
"The Sister and the Old Salt" - Sister Bertrille saves an old landlubber when he sets out on a 1000-mile voyage.
"Cyrano de Bertrille" - Sister Bertrille makes a case for adult education, with an elderly grocer as her first pupil.
"The Reconversion of Sister Shapiro" - A little Jewish girl decides to become a nun just like Sister Bertrille...
"Where There's a Will" - The convent inherits a prizefighter who hates to fight.
"The Puce Alert" - Facing court-martial for high living during Marine Reserve manoueveres, Carlos is saved by Sister Bertrille.
"May the Wind Be Always At Your Back" - A homely teenager gets a crush on Carlos.
"Love Me, Love My Dog" - The convent children adopt a dog...an accomplished pickpocket.
"You Can't Get There from Here" - Sister Bertrille is beached on an island with Carlos and the girl who threw him off his yacht.
I'm so glad that Sony Pictures has issued the first season on DVD, and hope that the other two seasons will follow soon.