Weekend Viewing: “Jennifer Slept Here”

There have been a lot of strange fantasy-comedies, but even by those standards, this one is… odd. It’s about a family that moves from New York to California, into a house formerly owned by a Hollywood starlet who was killed in an accident a few years ago. The teenage boy, who’s still P.O.’d about moving away from New York, discovers that the house is haunted by the ghost of the movie star who owned the house, that only he can see or hear her, and that she is, of course, going to get him into wacky situations and teach him about life and love.

The creators of the show, Larry Rosen and Larry Tucker, had previously done a show called Mr. Merlin about a teenage boy who’s friends with an old guy who’s actually Merlin from King Arthur’s Court. I guess they thought they’d have more success doing the same show with a hot woman instead of an old man, but it only lasted a season. (Tucker, by the way, also co-wrote the movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice with Paul Mazursky and created a TV series based on the movie.) What it mostly had going for it was Ann Jillian as Jennifer the ghost; Jillian, who had been on TV since she was a child and had just been in the cult show It’s a Living (which would be revived in first-run syndication) was a delightful performer who deserved a smarter show to be in. The problem with the concept was that she had no one to interact with except the boy — at least on Topper there were two ghosts so they could interact with each other.

Oh, and why do people who have ghosts, holograms, or anything else that nobody can see always talk to them out loud, while other people are around? Seriously, I don’t know how you or I would conduct ourselves if there was a ghost/alien/Dean Stockwell that nobody else could see, but I think we’d have sense enough to not talk to them, thereby provoking the inevitable “who are you talking to?” question.

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