My World and Welcome to It

NBC (ended 1970)


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My World and Welcome to It

Show Summary

My World and Welcome to It was a half-hour situation comedy based on the writings of humorist and cartoonist James Thurber, and episodes of the show incorporated stories and cartoons by Thurber. The show used a combination of live action and animation to represent the world of John Monroe, like Thurber a writer and cartoonist, who worked for The Manhattanite, a magazine very much like The New Yorker, for which Thurber wrote and illustrated for many years. All the animation was based on Thurber's drawings, including the show's opening credits.

John Monroe had to contend with his hot-tempered, often obtuse boss, Manhattanite editor Hamilton Greeley, who usually found John's cartoons incomprehensible. (Greeley was loosely based on New Yorker editor Harold Ross.) Fortunately for John, he could share his frustrations with his writer friend, the sardonic Phil Jensen (based on writer Robert Benchley).

At home in Westport, Connecticut, John had to contend with the women in his life, whom he spent much agony trying to understand. His wife Ellen was practical and down-to-earth and was constantly bemused by John's inability to cope with day to day life, while his daughter, 10-year-old Lydia, was precocious and intelligent in ways that constantly confounded John.

In addition to the innovative use of animation combined with live action, the show had several other unusual characteristics. Many of the episodes incorporated Thurber stories like "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox" or "The Unicorn in the Garden." There were many fantasy sequences, the products of John's fertile imagination, which allowed him to escape reality, much like Thurber's most famous character, Walter Mitty. The cartoons that John drew for The Manhattanite were Thurber's cartoons. And John would often turn from the action to talk directly to the camera, just as George Burns had done on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and Garry Shandling would do years later on It's Garry Shandling's Show. In 1970 My World and Welcome to It won the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series, and William Windom won Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of John Monroe. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after only one season. There was a great outcry when NBC cancelled the show, and there was talk of bringing the show back, but the cost of resuming production would have been too high, so that idea was scrapped. My World and Welcome to It Trivia: The title My World and Welcome to It is also the title of a collection of Thurber stories. The character of John Monroe is named for a character in a series of Thurber short stories. A TV pilot for a comedy series based on Thurber's work was made in 1959, written by My World and Welcome to It creator Melville Shavelson and directed by James Sheldon, who also directed episodes of MWAWTI. The proposed series would have been titled The Secret Life of John Monroe and the pilot, which had virtually the same plot line and characters as the "Christabel" episode of MWAWTI, starred Arthur O'Connell as John Monroe, Georganne Johnson as Ellen Monroe, and Susan Gordon as Lydia Monroe. It also included animation done by UPI Studios. The pilot was shown on Alcoa/Goodyear Playhouse on June 8, 1959. The animation for the series was done by DePatie-Freleng, who were also responsible for the Pink Panther cartoons. The reason for the show's cancellation was that after CBS has unexpectedly cancelled The Red Skelton Show, NBC quickly offered Skelton a half-hour comedy series, and in order to fit this new show into their schedule, they had to cancel a show already on their schedule. Sadly, their choice was My World and Welcome to It. NBC's Red Skelton Show lasted all of one season. CBS reran the series in the summer of 1972, a rare case of a program that had originally been shown on one network being rerun on another network. In 1972 creator Shavelson directed and co-wrote (with Danny Arnold) a film loosely based on Thurber called The War Between Men and Women, which was also the title of an episode of My World and Welcome to It and a famous series of Thurber cartoons. The film starred Jack Lemmon and Barbara Harris and featured a performance by MYAWTI's Lisa Gerritsen.moreless

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  • Close to genius

    This was a wonderful show that , like Slattery's People, East Side/ West Side, The Westerner, The Trials of O'Brien, and The Great Adventure, will probably never be released on DVD or even be re-run. The show was both whimsical and sardonic, a pioneering combination of Live action and animation, featuring an unforgettable performance by the great William Windom as its cartoonist hero. I Long since gave up on mainstream TV. The number of truly great shows on the majors networks is small, indeed. This was one of the all- time TRUE greats.moreless
  • Mixing live action and animation, whimsy and fun, this series rounded off the 60s perfectly

    'My World and Welcome to It' was cancelled after one series and 26 episodes, but remains a landmark, albeit an obscure one, for TV sitcom. William Windom played John Monroe, a cartoonist and writer who retreats from a wife, daughter and dog into fantasy to cope with the situations in which he finds himself day to day. So his cartoons and daydreams come to life, he talks in asides to the camera, spars with his knowing daughter Lydia, and generally stumbles through life rather clueless about what's going on. The series is fun without being over the top, and whimsical without being cloying. A bit dated now, nevertheless it is extremely watchable and has several shining performances within its half-hour episodes.moreless
  • A show that fits the catagory "Brilliant but Cancelled".

    This was my first (of many now) favorite new show that was canceled way too early in its life. In a world of predictable half hour comedies this one stood out as quirky and fun. Many of the aspects that made it fresh would now be considered old hat; mixed live action and animated scenes, warmly critical views on other family members and eccentric main character, but at the time it was on these were all new and surprising. A show that dared to take a risk that had heart and humor. If you like the writings and drawings of James Thurber you would have loved this show and maybe someday it will be shown again on a program like “Brilliant but Cancelled”.moreless
  • A show that deserved better than it got

    Despite the fact that it only ran for one year, I believe that "My World and Welcome to It" deserves the title of a classic. Its form was innovative, its humor wry and understated, and its execution flawless. The combination of animation and live action wasn't totally new, but it had never been used in quite the same way this show did. The Thurber drawings might not be the first one might think of animating, but they turned out to be a perfect way to tell these stories. I also liked the use of talking to the camera; of course, it's been seen elsewhere, from the old "Burns and Allen" show to "It's Gary Shandling's Show," but never has it felt more natural and uneffected.

    Something should also be said about William Windom's Emmy-winning performance as John Monroe. Windom was the perfect choice to play a Thurber-like character, a man who was both world-weary and vividly imaginative. It was the role of a lifetime for him, and he ought to have had the opportunity to have played it much longer.

    I will be very happy when and if someone finally releases this show on DVD. I haven't seen it in almost 35 years, and I would love the chance to visit the Monroes once again.moreless
  • Gone Before Its Time

    My World & Welcome To It lasted a just one season on NBC from 1969-70. For that one year, it walked away with an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and a Best Actor in a Comedy Series for star William Windom. The show was based on the drawings of James Thurber and expertly intertwined animated sketches with live action.
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