Monday, August 9, 2010

Mayberry Mondays #13: “Sam and the Teenager” (12/30/68, prod. no. 0106)

As we kick off another jam-packed, exciting installment of Mayberry Mondays, we find the town’s brain trust—village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman)—in peaceful repose outside of Emmett’s humble establishment. From the looks of our two friends, it’s as if they’ve spent the entire morning concentrated in heavy thought about the weighty issues that matter in America’s favorite small town—Goober’s even resorted to closing the gas station for the day, and Emmett is pondering following suit by call it a wrap with the shop. Let’s eavesdrop on their conversation, so that we might learn from these two sidewalk sages:

GOOBER: You wanna do anything?
EMMETT: What’s to do?
GOOBER: Well…the Department of Water and Power is diggin’ a big hole over on Elm Street…you wanna go over there and
watch?

You know—if you were to set a couch on fire, this would have all the makings of a party in Morgantown, WV! But I’ll put away the snark for now, for head councilman and poor dirt farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) has arrived on the scene, and will soon enliven this conversation with some sparkling repartee and ready wit:

GOOBER: Sam…you wanna go over and watch the Department of Water and Power dig a big hole on Elm Street?
SAM: Uh…no thanks, Goob—I gotta go over to the office…
GOOBER: Keepin’ ya busy over there today?
SAM: Well, no…not really…uh…well…I’m going to be interviewed…
EMMETT: Interviewed?
SAM: Yeah…the journalism class over at the high school, their assignment this week is to interview various office holders in town, and I’m one of them…
GOOBER: You mean just like they was writin’ it up for the newspaper?
SAM: Yeah—I guess that’s the idea…anyway, I gotta meet one of the students over there in a couple of minutes, so I’d better run…see ya, fellas…


“Boy—they really teach the kids everything today…yeah, they teach ‘em to be real newspaper people,” observes Emmett. (Which is a nice sentiment—it’s a shame “they” stopped doing that so long ago.) “Yeah…education is a wonderful thing, all right,” marvels Goober. “I don’t know where I would ever have gotten without it.”

As we wait for the raucously loud laughter to subside, the scene shifts to a soda shop where two teenage girls, Nancy Hughes (Darleen Carr) and fellow classmate Brenda (Michele Grumet), are like, hanging out and stuff…because malls have not yet been invented. These two future Gretchen Carlsons are pissing and moaning about journalism class, complaining that it’s, like, too boring and stuff:

BRENDA: You know something? I have to interview the fire chief at four o’clock…
NANCY: That should be
thrilling
BRENDA: Yeah…what’ll I ask him? (Sneering) How many fires he’s put out?
NANCY: Look, that’s still probably easier than what I’ve got…head of the city council…
BRENDA: Well, do you know anything about him?
NANCY: Just that his name is Sam Jones…he’s probably some old fuddy-duddy who’ll talk on and on and say nothing…


You’ve got your civil servants mixed up, Nance—that’s Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) to whom you’re referring…

BRENDA: This journalism is really a drag
NANCY: Yeah, real boring…I’m sorry I took the course…
BRENDA: Me, too!


Boy, these girls aren’t anything like the ones I knew when I took journalism in high school. Those women were far more dedicated…to skipping class to wander around town on the pretense of “selling ads for the paper.” Anyway, Nancy heads on over to Sam’s office for the interview…and when she walks in the door and gets a glimpse of our hero, we get this reaction…

Believe me, this is small potatoes. (Just think what would have happened if he’d been wearing his uniform from F Troop.) Sam takes her arm gingerly and accompanies her over to his desk (bow-chicka-wow-wow…) sorry about that…leftover joke from last week.

SAM: I, uh…I hear you’re a student of journalism…
NANCY: Oh, yes! I mean, to me it’s one of the most exciting careers I could ever think of! To be a journalist…


But a minute ago you said…never mind…Sam and Nancy start to have a riveting discussion on…well, Nancy’s pretty much steered the topic towards herself…

NANCY: I’m going to be a senior next year!
SAM: Well…whaddya know?
NANCY: Of course, not that it’s important what grade a person’s in…you know, whether they’re in high school, college or out in the world…I’ve always felt that it’s a person’s maturity that counts…don’t you think so?
SAM: Oh…sure do…


Oh, cut it out, Samuel—she’s jailbait and you know it. Nancy decides to let Sam fill in the details of his madcap, carefree existence…all the better to just copy things down, like most modern reporters do…

SAM: First of all, I own a farm…it’s, uh…it’s not too big and it’s not too small…it’s just…kind of medium…
NANCY: Oh, how thrilling!
SAM: Well, uh…I don’t know about thrilling, but…I like it…anyway, with the farm and city council here, it keeps me pretty busy…


“Yeah…I don’t know how I manage to squeeze in all that time I spend pissing around over at Emmett’s…”

SAM: …uh, my duties here at the city council include being chairman of the City Improvement Committee…uh…supervising the…
Sam’s voice trails off because there’s a dissolve to what’s happening back at the soda shop…and we probably haven’t missed much, since boring people is not Sam’s stock-in-trade…that’s Howard’s job! Nancy is gushing to Brenda about her meeting with Sam:

BRENDA: Hey, what took you so long?
NANCY: Oh, he’s
divine…he’s simply divine…
BRENDA: Who’s divine?


He was an actor who was in a lot of John Waters’ movies—his real name was Glen Milstead.*

NANCY: Sam Jones…the man I just interviewed…
BRENDA: You’re kidding!
NANCY: No, I mean it…I’m still shaking!
(The two women are then approached by a soda jerk…)
JOE: Say…haven’t you two girls anything to do but sit here and gab?
NANCY: Please, Joe…today could change my whole life!
JOE: You know…this is the fourth time this month your life has been changed


Ah, Joe…you have to excuse his cynicism, but you see a lot of things and hear a lot of hard-luck stories when you stand around all day mixing egg creams and cutting up bananas for splits. It’s an occupation not for the weak at heart.

BRENDA: Well, tell me about him!
NANCY: He’s got blue eyes…not a deep blue, sort of a limpid blue…oh, a dreamy blue…when he looked at me, I just came apart…destroyed…completely destroyed!
BRENDA: Go on! Go on!
NANCY: He’s got brown hair…and when he smiles, the corners of his mouth go up just a little…oh, I could die when he smiles…


Yeah…among civil servants, he’s the ginchiest.** The scene shifts to Boysinger’s Bakery, which, as you know by now, is the establishment that employs Sam’s main squeeze, Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka). Millie is helping out her man with a weighty donut decision—“I tell you what…give me a couple of chocolate…and a couple of glazed…and…well…a couple of whatever you’ve got a lot of…” (I’m guessing there’s a meeting scheduled, and Goober will be in attendance.)

MILIE: Hey…what about that dance tonight? You want to go?
SAM: Oh, Millie…you know me and dancing…


Um…apparently not…Sam didn’t have any problem tripping the light fantastic in the second R.F.D. episode, “The Harvest Ball,” and two weeks ago, “Emmett’s 50th Birthday.” (Scriptwriters…you have to keep an eye on them every second.) The door to Boysinger’s opens, and in walks the lovestruck Nancy, who when greeted by Sam gushes: “Oh…you remember my name…” (Come on, Nance…give him some credit. Remember—it’s Goober who’s the stupid one.)

NANCY: I’ve been looking all over for you…
SAM: Oh? What for?
NANCY: Well, when I got home last night and went over my notes…I found that there were so many things missing…so many things I still don’t know about you…
SAM: Like what? I thought we covered it pretty thoroughly…
NANCY: Well…I think any interview has to include the personal side of a person…you know, intimate things like…your attitudes on life and people…
SAM: Well, I’m going to be pretty busy today, Nancy…


“I’ll just barely make it over to Emmett’s in time to watch Goober suck the filling out of a cream horn…” I know I defended Sam by saying he wasn’t stupid—but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he is a bit on the clueless side. Which is why Millie is there on the right giving him the hairy eyeball…she can see that Nancy has it bad for Sam…or if you’ll excuse the pun, she’s “Jonesing” for him…ahhhh nothing...oh, well.*** “You better watch out, boy,” she advises him. “That girl has a king-sized crush on you.” When Sam dismisses this, pointing out that she’s “a student of journalism,” Millie replies: “Oh…so that’s what they call it now…” (You go, donut girl!)

When Sam tells Millie that he’ll pick her up at seven-thirty, Nancy immediately surmises that there’s something going on between him and Mill…and it’s not a shared love for Napoleons. So she decides to “size up” her competition by utilizing that hard-hitting interview style she’s learning in class…

NANCY: You’re Mrs…?
MILLIE: Miss…Miss Swanson…
NANCY: Are you a friend of Mr. Jones?
MILLIE: Yes, I guess you could say that…
NANCY: How nice for him…
MILLIE: Thank you…
NANCY: I realize that important men like Mr. Jones need the companionship of older people now and again…
MILLIE: Yes…we old-timers serve our purpose…


I can’t tell you how disappointed I was that a catfight didn’t result from this exchange, with Millie and Nancy wrestling around in confectionary sugar or the like. (Of course, this episode was edited for syndication so maybe they snipped that part out.) Nancy finally asks the question for which she’s been wanting the answer—“Are you and Mr. Jones engaged?” Satisfied that Sam has no immediate plans to make an honest woman out of Millie, she scampers off in Sam’s direction as Millie cheerfully bids her adieu. “Drop in any time…bitch…” (Okay, that last word may have been an ad-lib on my part.)

The scene shifts to Emmett’s, and as Sam enters, he immediately falls to his knees…which makes me think my theory about that continuous crap game going on in that place isn’t so far-fetched after all. No, I’m only kidding…Sam is hiding, trying to avoid his new groupie…

EMMETT (chuckling): That little Hughes girl, huh?
SAM: Yeah…
EMMETT: Yeah, I guess she thinks you’re the cat’s pajamas


One night I shot a cat in my pajamas. How the cat got into my pajamas I’ll never know.****

GOOBER: Joe over at the malt shop told us…he said she thinks you’re divine… (As he leads Sam over to where Emmett is puttering around) Why, I don’t think he’s divine—do you, Emmett?
EMMETT: Oh, I don’t know about being divine…but he’s always been adorable
SAM (laughing to humor his friends): Okay, fellas, okay…
GOOBER: And did you know he got dreamy blue eyes?
SAM: Look, you can kid all you want about this thing but it’s really getting to be a problem…
EMMETT: Well, maybe it’ll blow over soon…these kids get starry-eyed over something but I don’t think it ever lasts too long…
SAM: It’s been going on for over a week…
GOOBER: When you smile, don’t turn up the corners of your lips…I heard about that, too…


Let’s face it, Sam—when the village idiot is mocking you, your respect level has completely tanked in that town…and your odds of getting it back are slim and none. Sam sneaks back to the city council office only to find Nancy lying in wait for him. “Hello, Mr. Jones…” she says seductively, and we again hear that music from last week… (bow-chicka-wow-wow)

Okay, I’m just kidding—there’s a scene shift to Boysinger’s, and we find Sam telling Millie that he’s going to put a stop to this once and for all by informing Nancy he’s gay as a French tangerine. No, wait—hold on a sec…Millie’s got a better idea—she’s going to solicit some advice from Mayberry’s resident swinging bachelor-at-large, Howard “My Mama Done Moved Out, So Lock Up Your Daughters, Mayberry” Sprague. (This I am not making up.)

HOWARD: Oh, I agree with you, Millie—a girl like that, well, she’s liable to be psychologically vulnerable
SAM: What about me?
HOWARD: Well, you’re an adult…but a shattered ego in an adolescent can be a serious matter…
MILLIE: You sound awful smart about this, Howard…
HOWARD: Well, I had a course in psychology at college…as a matter of fact, at one time I was thinking about becoming a psychologist…but Mother thought it would be too demanding and…of course, at that time I had a Mother complex…


Funniest. Line. Ever.

MILLIE: I think Howard is right, Sam…you know, I remember in high school I had a crush on my history teacher…he didn’t even know I was alive, though…I nearly threw myself into the swimming pool!
SAM: You mean it could really be that serious if I just came right out and told her off?
HOWARD: Oh, definitely…she could develop a man-hate syndrome…you’re dealing with dynamite, boy…


This is serious, Sammy. If you continue to toy with this girl’s affections, there’s a darn good chance you’ll turn her into a bitter and frustrated dyke. Howard tells Sam that he’ll need to pore over some of his old textbooks to learn a few more big words, and so the next morning he, Millie and Sam meet in Sam’s office to discuss the “Nancy problem.” This is right up Howard’s alley, since he has a wealth of vocabulary to disguise the fact he has no idea what the hell he’s talking about. To illustrate, he compares Nancy’s crush on Sam to Pavlov’s dogs: “Now the way to counteract this,” Howard bloviates, “is to condition her to respond to a different stimuli.”

HOWARD: Now approaching the matter scientifically, we’ve got to determine just exactly what there is about Sam that attracts her…
SAM: Well, don’t ask me…I don’t know…
HOWARD: Well, you ought to be able to answer that question, Millie…
MILLIE: Well…he’s cute
SAM: Oh, no…no, come on…I went through this yesterday
MILLIE: …well, he has an air of authority…
HOWARD: Right…
MILLIE: …and he’s got very nice muscles
HOWARD: Strong and dependable, huh?
MILLIE: Hmm…with sexy eyes…
HOWARD: Anything else?
SAM: Yeah, I’m divine, too…you left that out…
HOWARD: Oh…well, we’ve established a pattern—he’s the physical type, masculine…wouldn’t you say so?
MILLIE: Oh, I certainly would… (She runs a finger across Sam’s chest) Grrrrowf!!!
SAM: Boy, you’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?


The way it works is a variation on the Socratic method. Howard dated Millie. Sam is dating Millie. So by all logic, Sam and Howard should soon begin dating. (Sorry about burning that image on your retinas, by the way.)

The consensus reached between the three individuals involved is that they need to find another boy for Nancy—but before Howard can come up with any more five-dollar words Emmett and Goober burst into the office: “Say, Sam…we thought we ought to tell you she’s on the prowl again,” Emmett points out helpfully. Sam closes the blinds in the front window of the office to throw her off his manly musk scent:

GOOBER: She come by the fix-it shop lookin’ for ya…we told her you was out of town…
SAM: Oh…oh…thanks, fellas…thanks…
EMMETT (resignedly): She don’t give up…
MILLIE: Well, Howard may have the problem solved…he’s working on a psychological approach…
GOOBER: Hey! Howard…do you know about psychology?
HOWARD: Well, I’ve had some experience, yes…
GOOBER: Could you hypnotize me and make me float in the air?


I’ll go you one better—hypnotize him into thinking he’s a genius…sort of a Flowers For Algernon deal. Sam suddenly gets an idea—he asks Emmett about his nephew Pete, whom the fix-it man describes as a “big strapping fella…plays football.” (Translation: major homo.)

SAM: Yeah, how is he with girls?
EMMETT: Whaddya mean, how is he with girls? He’s my nephew, ain’t he?
SAM: He’s our man…now look, Emmett—the plan is to get Pete tied up with this girl Nancy, see…now suppose we set up a…a barbecue…say, up at Myers Lake on Saturday? Could you bring him along with you?


That way Ricky will have to let me be in his show! “Will you have steaks?” asks Emmett. “Sure!” affirms Sam. “He’ll come,” Emmett replies with a smile. (I’ll let you insert your own joke here.)

Well, the day of the barbecue arrives…and it’s a beautiful day to roast dead animal flesh. Emmett and nephew Pete (Darryl Young) pull up in the Fix-It Mobile, and while Emmett is making with the meet-and-greet with Sam, Millie, Nancy and Howard he tells all assembled that Pete went back to the car to get some pastries Emmett bought for the picnic. (Did he get them at Boysinger’s, I wonder?) Unfortunately, Pete is sort of a Goober-in-training and he trips over a tree stump, sending the precious pastries scattering all over Myers Forest. Pete is introduced to everyone, and they save Nancy for last…but the nubile Miss Hughes reacts to Pete as if he had a case of smallpox. (I’m guessing she has gaydar.)

The picnickers decide it’s time to put on the steaks, and when Sam asks Pete how he likes his meat he replies: “Blood rare, if you don’t mind”—or as we’ve been known to remark here at Rancho Yesteryear, “Walk the cow through a warm room.”

SAM: Yeah…kind of figured that’s how you’d like it…say, while we’re getting things ready, why don’t you and Nancy sort of take a little stroll…huh? Uh…I know you have quite a lot of things to talk about…school…gymnasiums
PETE: That’s fine with me…
NANCY: Uh…I’d rather stay around here…


Cue the sad trombone. This is turning out to be an idea that’s staggering in its brilliance…

EMMETT: He’s quite a boy, isn’t he?
SAM (without enthusiasm): Yeah…
EMMETT: You know, I see a lot of myself in him…
HOWARD: Well, Nancy didn’t exactly swoon over him…
EMMETT: Well, it’s just that Pete’s got a lot of that animal nature in him…you know, she’s gotta look out for a thing like that…
SAM (putting the steaks on the fire) Now, let me see…he wanted his blood rare… (To Howard) I wonder if he uses a knife and fork?


Well, when the steaks are done (or in Pete’s case, not done) everybody sits down for chow…there’s a race between Nancy and Millie to see which one of them will sit by Sam, and I like how Nance practically body checks the Millster in this screen cap:

So Millie has to settle for sitting beside “Big Pete,” as she refers to him—who’s polishing off a third piece of pie and showing zero interest in Nancy whatsoever. Sam tries to escape the young girl’s clutches by offering to go fetch some more water…but she wants to go with him and give him an assist. Fortunately for Sam, he’s allowed a temporary reprieve by foisting the amorous journalism student onto Pete, who suggests they go out in search of a trashcan for their lunch litter…and that’s when Sam and Howard have a big of a chinwag…

SAM: When does this psychology business start to work?
HOWARD: Well, as you can see, this Pete takes a little getting used to…but don’t…don’t be discouraged now…this is merely the exposure period…we’ve already planted the seed


Is anyone else as uncomfortable as I am right now?

SAM: How long do you figure it will take?
HOWARD: Well…I’m going to try and help things along a little with some direct therapy…
SAM: Huh?
HOWARD: Yeah…when Nancy comes back I’m going to have a nice, long talk with her…


Howard Sprague…looooove doctor! So Howard goes off in the woods somewhere with Nancy, and no one seems the slightest bit disturbed by this even though that one girl he took to the Harvest Ball that he later shuttled off to same spot was never seen nor heard from again. Howard, as is his pedantic wont, uses a lot of big words in his conversation with her and…well, let’s just cut to the quick…when Howard finishes his spiel, Nancy now has a new fixation. (Dibs on calling Howard’s mother!) There’s just something about a county clerk that makes the dames react to them like catnip.

We learn from the coda that Howard was able to emerge from his entanglement with Nancy and avoid a statutory rape charge by telling her the truth: he’s a mama’s boy with no immediate plans for commitment. (So much for “that shattered ego in an adolescent” horsesh*t.) Emmett is still flummoxed that his nephew isn’t the chick magnet he thought he was…

EMMETT: I can’t understand why my nephew got left at the post…he’s got my blood in him…why, when I was his age I was a killer with the girls…
SAM: All he’s interested in is football…
HOWARD: And maybe you weren’t the lady killer you thought you were…
EMMETT: I don’t understand it…I just don’t understand it…


As if on cue, Nancy enters the shop…and she’s wearing Pete’s letterman sweater. She asks Emmett to let his nephew know that she’ll meet him at the ice cream store instead of the fix-it shop. When Nancy leaves, Emmett turns to Sam and Howard with a sh*t-eating grin and asks: “So I wasn’t the killer I thought I was…I tell ya, fellas…that old flame never dies…” The fact that Emmett’s wife Martha (Mary Lansing) is having an affair with Cyrus Tankersley (George Cisar), however, goes unexplained. (Okay, I made that last part up.)

For the third week in a row, Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Francis Bavier) is a no-show, which means the tally from Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s Mayberry R.F.D. Bee-o-Meter™ remains stalled at five appearances for the season. But fear not—I took a sneak peek at next week’s episode, “New Couple in Town,” and I’m happy to report that it is resplendid with Aunt Bee goodness. In watching “Teenager,” I was amazed that I didn’t recognize actress Darleen Carr in the role of Nancy and that it wasn’t until I looked at the cast list at the IMDb that I realized it’s the same Darleen Carr who had recurring roles on The Smith Family, The Streets of San Francisco and Miss Winslow and Son—a short-lived CBS sitcom in 1979 that tried to recapture the flavor of its Britcom counterpart, Miss Jones and Son…but was so watered down it never really had a chance. But here at TDOY, we fondly remember Ms. Carr (who's now Mrs. Jameson Parker)…and in fact, revel in her rerun goodness every Saturday morning on Encore Westerns…as Mary Lou Springer from James Garner’s short-lived 1981-82 revival of Maverick, Bret Maverick

The irony here is that the Mary Lou character ran a newspaper on Bret Maverick. TV is an amazing thing.



*Stolen from World O'Crap.
**Stolen from Bats Left, Throws Right.
***The only original joke in the essay.
****I know it seems like I stole this from Groucho Marx...but in his version, it's an elephant.


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1 comment:

Stacia said...

at that time I had a Mother complex…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAomg

And hey, that IS Darlene Carr! Loved her in "The Beguiled" and "Bret Maverick."