Monday, November 8, 2010

Mayberry Mondays #25: “The Church Bell” (03/24/69, prod. no. 0125)

Before I start this week’s Mayberry Mondays I wanted to clear up a misconception about R.F.D. that is entirely my fault.  I’ve been referring to William Keene’s character as “Reverend No-Name” only because I wasn’t aware that he actually had a name—but I somehow managed to see it on an Andy Griffith Show rerun a while back (oddly enough, it was on the church sign) and it’s “Hobart M. Tucker” (though in two episodes, he’s also referred to as “Reverend Martin”).  I suppose that had I bothered to do a little research on this I would have known this—but does it look like I’m not lazy?  N-E-wayz, since he’s in this week’s installment I shall start referring to him as Reverend Tucker, and once again…apologies for the “No-Name” jokes.

As “The Church Bell” opens, we find city council head and poor-but-honest dirt farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) entering the office of pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson)—accompanied by his faithful idiot son Mike (Buddy Foster).  (I’m tempted to make a crack about him being there to purchase a license for the boy but I’m going to try and be good this week.)

SAM: What are you doing?
HOWARD: I’m fumigating my American Geographic magazines…
SAM: Oh…fungus?
HOWARD: Nah…paper moths…they settled in here from 1954 clear up until 1960…I even found some cocoons in my Jubilee edition…can’t imagine what brought ‘em here in the first place…
SAM: Probably a thirst for knowledge
MIKE (rolling his eyes): Oh, Pa…

“Oh, Ceesco…”

SAM: Howard…Mike and I just got back from Siler City
HOWARD: Oh?
SAM: …and while we were over there we ran into something real interesting…
HOWARD: Yeah?
SAM: …I thought since you’re the church treasurer I’d better check with you before we go any farther with it…

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how Howard manages to hold down as many elected offices and positions as he does and can still waste the better part of an afternoon each day at the shop of fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman, who’s absent from this episode).  If I tried something like that I’d be exhausted.

HOWARD: What’s that, Sam?
SAM: Well, you know we’ve been talking for sometime now about getting a bell for the church…?
HOWARD: Oh, yeah…that’s been a sore spot for years…a belfry without a bell…you know, that’s all show and nothin’ inside…
SAM: Yeah…well, anyway, Mike and I…
HOWARD: Church without a bell…that’s like…like…a ship without a whistle… (Seriously) No irreverency there…
SAM: No…no…well, anyway, Mike and I were just walking down the street and we happened to run into Reverend Bickford…you know, of the First Presbyterian…
HOWARD: Yeah…
SAM: Well, anyway—he said that his church is putting in one of those new electric chimes, see…
HOWARD: Say!  Those things run into money…those guys must have had a pretty good year, huh?
SAM: Well, I don’t know about that, Howard, I…
HOWARD: …of course, I know that that Reverend Bickford—he never does let up on his congregation…as a matter of fact, I heard that he hit them with his “give till it hurts” sermon three times in eight months

What Sam is laboriously trying to explain to Howard is that Bickford’s old bell is on the sales block…and that this would be an opportune time for Mayberry to pick up a used dinger at a discount price.

SAM: They got it sitting out on the church lawn…and I went over to take a look at it…oh boy, it’s a beauty…it really is…it’s big, and it’s all solid brass…right, Mike?
MIKE: Yeah!  And it’s for sale, too…and the ropes go with it…
HOWARD: Well, say—that sounds like what we’ve been looking for… (Cautiously) How much do they want for it?
SAM: Well, now, he didn’t say how much they wanted for it—but a used bell has got to cost less than a new one…
HOWARD: Oh, yeah…right…
SAM: Now what I need to know from you, Howard, is how much the church treasury can afford…

Howard begs off on answering this right away because he tells Sam he’ll have to confer with bakery doyenne Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka), who’s the church’s co-treasurer.  (Once again, I get the feeling that when people in Mayberry are asked to volunteer to do things in that town, there’s a good many people sitting on their hands.)  Then Mike, who has not been properly muzzled by his father, pipes up:

MIKE: Pa…how come there’s never been a bell in the church before?
SAM: Well, as a matter of fact there was once…many years ago…I was about your age…

“…but not nearly as stupid…”

SAM: …they took it out, though…no one seems to remember why

Pay very close attention.  We will return to this later.  Howard suggests that they call a church committee meeting (“We’ll throw this thing down the well and see if anyone dips for it”)…and this photo should shed some light on just why Mayberry is in the sad shape that it’s in:


…you got Howard, Millie, Sam, Reverend Tucker and Aunt Bee’s faux BFF Ella (Renie Riano) on this board.  Same old tired blood.  If I were a Mayberryian, I’d constantly be grousing about how the same people get appointed to these committees…but in the true spirit of American democracy, wouldn’t bother to do much about it.

SAM: In my opinion, it would be just perfect for our church and…uh…we wanted to see how the rest of you felt about it…
ELLA: Well, for my part—I think definitely we should buy it if we can afford it…you know, it would give such a tremendous lift to the congregation…
SAM: Hmm…Reverend?
REVEREND: Oh, I’m sure it would be a source of great joy and inspiration…
SAM: Well…then the only question is…how much can we afford to spend on it?
HOWARD: Hmm…well, Millie and I have gone over the figures and according to the balance that we have, I think we can afford about a hundred-and-fifty dollars...don’t you agree, Millie?
MILLIE: Mmm…not a penny more…two hundred dollars would be quite a strain on us…
REVEREND: Uh…let me remind you all that Reverend Bickford drives a very hard bargain…I assume you remember when we bought their surplus pews?
MILLIE: Yes…twenty-five dollars…and they weren’t worth a penny more than ten
HOWARD: What do you think we ought to offer them?
MILLIE: Well…I-I-I don’t think we should offer anything until they tell us what they’re asking…
REVEREND: An excellent idea…play it cool…

Yeah, like…cucumbersville, man.  Howard tells all those assembled: “And remember—when we go over there, we’re just looking…we don’t want to appear too anxious to buy.”  Howard, buddy—you’re buying a bell, not a Bonneville.


Because this gentleman resides in Siler City, I suppose we shouldn’t make too much of the fact that he bears a strong resemblance to Mayberry High’s principal, whom we last saw in the episode “Driver Education.”  (This is because he’s played the same actor, veteran character great Bill Bouchey.)  But I bet when the day comes and these two meet face-to-face, it’s going to be a major freak-out.  Mr. Bouchey, for the purposes of this playlet, is essaying the role of Reverend Bickford—a man of the cloth who apparently likes to do a little wheeling and dealing.

BICKFORD: So remember now…when they get here; let’s not appear too anxious to sell it…


The woman on the right is actress Maudie Prickett, whom rerun watchers will no doubt remember as Rosie, housekeeper Hazel Burke’s gal pal on the sitcom Hazel starring Shirley Booth.  This will be Prickett’s only appearance on R.F.D. as Lydia—but she makes four additional appearances on the show as a townsperson named Myrtle in later episodes, beginning with the second season episode “The Mayberry Road.”  So, again—you have that whole Siler City/Mayberry doppelganger thing at play.  To confuse matters even further, Prickett played another Mayberryite on The Andy Griffith Show, Edna Larch.  So what would happen if Myrtle and Edna ran into each other, say, in church?  I’m not sure I even want to contemplate the cosmic Toobworld implications.

The gentleman seated next to Myrt…er, Edn…Lydia may not be as recognizable, but OTR fans are surely familiar with Jess Kirkpatrick, a veteran of such shows as Fibber McGee & Molly, The Great Gildersleeve and Wild Bill Hickok.  Thankfully, this is Jess’ only appearance on the series (his character is named Fred Summers) because with all these Xeroxed people running around North Carolina, it’s all rather confusing, really.

LYDIA: It would be wonderful if we could sell it to them…selling an old church bell isn’t the easiest thing in the world…
FRED: Well…you sure they’re interested?
BICKFORD: Mmm…they’re coming over here to look at it…
FRED: Oh?
BICKFORD: You know…I just have a feeling that they’re a lot more interested than they’re letting on… (He gives both of them a wink)
FRED: Well…let’s play it cool this time…remember those pews we sold them?
BICKFORD: Yes… (Sighing) Twenty-five dollars worth…
FRED: Yeah…
LYDIA: We should have got fifty…oh, those Mayberry people—they’re always trying to get something for nothing

Lydia—the horse trading hasn’t even yet begun…Sam, Howard and Millie are invited into the “lion’s den” and are sampling tea and crumpets when the subject of the bell lurches into view…

BICKFORD: You know, we’ve sort of been on the fence about our bell…it’s been a part of our church for so many years… (He takes a cup of tea from Lydia) Thank you…so, Sam—when you called me and asked me if we’d be willing to sell, I…well, it came as quite a shock…
MILLIE: Of course, it’s not as if we’re out looking for one…after all, Mayberry’s been without a bell for many years…
HOWARD: Visitors often comment on…well, how quiet Mayberry is on Sunday mornings…
(Sam and Millie murmur in agreement)
FRED: Well, uh…how much were you folks thinking of paying?  In case you’re interested, that is…
SAM: Well, uh…we hadn’t actually settled on a particular price…what are you folks thinking of asking?
BICKFORD: Well, Sam…we…we just have no idea…really…
SAM: Uh…
HOWARD: Uh, Reverend—you know, traditionally it’s the role of the seller to put a price on the object…
(Bickford clears his throat)
LYDIA: Well…what do you think, Reverend?
BICKFORD (after a pause): Well…uh…since we are dealing with our brethren in Mayberry…I think we should make the price as low as possible…

Hang onto your wallets, folks…

BICKFORD: …a mere two hundred dollars…
MILLIE (shouting excitedly): Two hundred dollars?!!  Oh…g-g-goodness, no…no…why. I’m sorry…our congregation would never forgive us if we spent that kind of money on a…well, a bell
HOWARD: After all, Reverend—it is a luxury item
SAM: Yeah, well…wait a minute…now…what if we said…oh…a hundred and fifty…
(Bickford, Lydia and Fred look at one another)
HOWARD: Well, yes!  Yes…personally, I think that would be a very generous offer…
SAM: Sure…
MILLIE: All right…
BICKFORD: No…I’m awfully sorry…no, two hundred dollars would be the least we could possibly accept…

So the Mexican standoff begins, but you have to hand it to Millie—she gets in a lick by remarking:: “I’m afraid you’re going to have to find someone else to sell it to…I’m sure there are a lot of people out looking for an old, used church bell.”  The Mayberry delegation smile and say phony goodbyes and after they leave, Bickford tells Lydia and Fred that he’s positive Mayberry will reconsider the offer.  Meanwhile, on the way out to the car, a vacillating Sam is told by Millie that “they’re bluffing” and urges him to stand firm.  There’s a dissolve to Bickford’s office…

FRED: Well, if they were going to change their minds you think they would have called by now…they’re certainly back in Mayberry
LYDIA: Don’t be so impatient…remember what happened with the pews…
BICKFORD: Don’t worry…when they realize we’re not going to call and lower our price they will reconsider…
LYDIA: Just give them time…they’ll call

Cut to the town council office, with Sam staring at the telephone.

SAM: Oh, they’ve had plenty of time to think it over…if you ask me; I think they’re going to hold out…
MILLIE: Well, we have just as much right as they do to hold out…
SAM: Well…they can wait for another buyer…
HOWARD: Well, they’re going to have a long wait…a long, long wait and they know it…

Nearly as long as this episode is starting to seem.

HOWARD: …they’re not going to pass up a cash deal for a difference of fifty dollars…they’ll call…you’ll see…

Cut back to Bickford and Company.

FRED: You just tell me where we’re going to find another buyer for a second-hand bell
BICKFORD: Well, just where are they going to find another second-hand bell?

You guys should be on your knees right now; thanking your God that eBay hasn’t been invented yet.

FRED: Well, I’ve got a feeling that girl from Mayberry is going to hold out…she’s a pretty rough customer

And back to the council office…

SAM: Howard, they don’t have to sell…they don’t need the money…
HOWARD: All right…I’m not going to be a voice crying in the wilderness…if you want squander two hundred dollars, you go right ahead…
SAM: Yeah…
MILLIE: We don’t have any choice, Howard…
SAM: No…no, I gotta…

Sam picks up the telephone to make the call but the phone begins to ring while it’s in his hands.  Sure as you’re born, the right Reverend Bickford has blinked, and agrees to sell the church bell for one hundred-and-fifty clams.  High-fives and victory laps all around.

There is a dissolve to the belfry of the Mayberry church, where Sam is finishing installing the bell as Millie, Howard and Mike the Idiot Boy look on. 

HOWARD: Well, it’s got plenty of room to swing…
SAM: Oh…yeah…yeah…fits like it was made for it, huh?
MILLIE: Oh, I can’t wait to hear it!
HOWARD: Maybe we ought to try it before Sunday, don’t you think?  You want to do the honors, Sam?
SAM: Yeah…I’d be happy to… (Millie squeals with delight) Here goes…

Sam grabs the ropes and begins to pull as the bell rings out and the sound can be heard throughout Mayberry.  The loud clanging of the bell drowns out the conversation between the three adults, but you can just hear Millie ask Mike if he’d like to give it a try and so he grabs onto the rope, being pulled upward by his father, who’s yanking on the other side.  Unfortunately, the kid isn’t injured by this…though I really had my fingers crossed.


There is then a cut to the exterior of this imposing mansion…and the second I spotted this, I thought: “I have seen this place before.”  So I grabbed a disc from The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Final Season and cued it up to “Barney Hosts a Summit Meeting,” the episode where Barney Fife (Don Knotts) returns to Mayberry and enlists Andy’s help in trying to convince a rich old fart to lend his house to a delegation of visiting U.S. and Russian dignitaries.


As you can plainly see, it’s the same damn house.  So…what precisely is the deal here?  I suppose it’s possible that there could be two houses in the tonier section of town that look the same—when my family and I still lived in Teays Valley, WV our house was an exact copy of our next-door neighbors’, apparently the work of an architect who didn’t have much imagination.  (It really creeped me out, too.)  My next thought was that the current occupant of the Mayberry manse—this fellow (Howard Wendell) here, who looks like he lost an Edmund Gwenn look-a-like contest…


…bought the house from the former owner…though I’d like to think he foreclosed on the guy and kicked him to the curb (the previous guy also had quite a bit of loot, so it was like watching a wrestling match between rich people), because as we will learn, the Gwenn guy is wealthy Lucius Fremont who, upon hearing the ringing of the bell, summons his housekeeper:


Mrs. Doris Ziffel (Barbara Pepper).  (She goes by “Emma”—I guess she’s leading some sort of double life and doesn’t want Mr. Z or the folks from Hooterville to know.)

FREMONT: Do I hear a bell?
EMMA (stopping momentarily to listen): Yes, sir…
FREMONT: A church bell?
EMMA: Yes, sir…a church bell…
FREMONT: They got no right…when I gave that land for the church to the town of Mayberry, there was an agreement in the deed…there was to be no bell in that church ever…call my lawyer!

“…and have him get those kids off my lawn!”  Back from a commercial break, we find a saddened Sam entering the city council office, where Howard, Millie and Ella are gathered, apparently having some sort of power luncheon.  Our hero has some bad news:

SAM: Bert Colby called me over to his office a little while ago… (To Howard) You know Bert, he’s Lucius Fremont’s lawyer…
MILLIE: Lucius Fremont?  The man who lives in the big white house?

Okay, so I guess he did kick the previous owner out into the street.  Dude is cold-blooded, Jack…

SAM: I don’t know if any of you knew about this…I didn’t know about it…years ago, Lucius Fremont owned the land under the church…
HOWARD: I didn’t know about it…

Well, there’s at least one secret that’s well-kept in Mayberry…

SAM: Well, he did…it was on a lease deal…and then one day he donated the land to the church…but he did it with one stipulation…now, believe this or not—he stipulated that the bell had to be removed and never be replaced during his lifetime…
ELLA/MILLIE: What?
HOWARD: No bell?
SAM: Yeah!  It’s right there in the deed…Bert showed it to me…
MILLIE: But why?  I don’t understand…
SAM: Well, I don’t know…Mr. Fremont won’t tell anybody—he won’t even tell his lawyer…he says it’s a personal matter and it’s nobody’s business
MILLIE: But that’s so unreasonable!  Why would a man not want a bell in the church?

Millie, darlin’…there are some people who sleep in on Sunday mornings.

ELLA: It just doesn’t make any sense!
HOWARD: Well, he’s never even been to church, in my memory…

What part of “sleeping in on Sundays” do you people not get?

MILLIE: Sam…does that mean we’ll have to take the bell out of the church?
SAM: Well, that’s what the lawyer says…
HOWARD: Over my dead body!

No, no, Howie…over his dead body.  The stipulation is that the bell never be replaced during his lifetime.  All you have to do is croak the old fart.  It shouldn’t be too hard…he could have an accident on those steps…

HOWARD: We paid a hundred-and-fifty dollars for that bell!  Cash!
MILLIE: Right!
SAM: I’m not going to give in on it—I think we’re at least entitled to an explanation…
HOWARD: We sure are… (Ella and Millie murmur in agreement)
SAM: Are any of you on speaking terms with him?

The sensible strategy at this juncture would be, of course, to send Ella up to the house so she can work her feminine wiles on old man Fremont.  Howard volunteers the information that Lucius comes in to the county clerk’s office every now and then to pay his taxes (a rich man paying taxes?  What is this world coming to?) and renew his licenses…so it’s decided he should be the pige…er, pats…I mean, person to have a heart-to-heart with the stubborn old goat.  “Howard, we’re counting on you,” Ella tells him for moral support…so you can pretty much guess that the town is boned from this point on.

HOWARD: As a great hero of mine once said: “Full speed ahead and darn the torpedoes”… (Sheepishly, to Ella and Millie) I cleaned that up a bit for you ladies…

As I predicted, Howard’s attempts to talk to Fremont yield no results…he’s not even able to get an audience with the wealthy old coot, because Emma gives him a wedgie—so Sam and Millie decide to take the bull by the horns and confront the obstacle standing in their way:

SAM: I’m going to go up to Mr. Fremont’s big white house and lay it on the line…he doesn’t have to agree with us, but by golly he’s going to listen to us…
HOWARD: Yeah, but Sam—the problem is getting past Emma…
SAM: Well… (Millie grabs her purse and walks over to where Sam is just getting ready to go out the door) Now where are you going?
MILLIE: I’m going with you
SAM: Now, Millie—I can handle Mr. Fremont just fine…
MILLIE: Well, you might be able to handle Mr. Fremont…but you wouldn’t stand a chance with that Emma…
SAM: Well, why do you say that?
MILLIE: Because you’re a gentleman and I’m not

Quick show of hands—who’s relieved that Millie is not a gentleman?  Twelve…twenty-two…that’s what I thought.  So we do a scene change to the Fremont home, and unfortunately the confrontation between Sam, Millie and Emma occurs offstage because I was really looking forward to the slapfest between the two women.  (Don’t look at me like that…you want to see it, too, admit it.)  Sam and Millie successfully breach the perimeter and storm into Fremont’s receiving room for the confrontation:

FREMONT: Emma…who are these people?
EMMA: Oh, Mr. Fremont…I tried to keep them out, but…
SAM (interrupting): I am Sam Jones…this is Millie Swanson…we’re from the church in Mayberry and we’ve come to talk to you about our bell…
MILLIE (to Emma, who is nervously wringing her hands): Don’t do that, ‘cause you’ll get knobby knuckles… (To Fremont) Mr. Fremont, I’m sorry we forced our way in…
FREMONT: I could have you arrested for this…
SAM: We are honest, law-abiding people who want a bell in our church…that’s all…a bell in our church…and you won’t let us have it, and I think we have every right to be here asking why you won’t let us have it…
FREMONT: That will be all, Emma…
EMMA: Oh…yes, sir… (She leaves the room)
SAM: Mr. Fremont, it just isn’t right for you to ask us to take that bell out of there without even giving us a chance to talk to you about it…
FREMONT (turning to go back to his desk): There’s nothing in that deed that says I have to explain anything to anybody!
MILLIE: Mr. Fremont, why are you being so unreasonable?
FREMONT: Call it anything you like…

Sam continues to press his case: “Look…has it ever occurred to you that there are other people in this town who deserve some consideration, too?  Do you know how much this bell means to us?  Do you know how long we’ve waited for it and how much we’re looking forward to Sunday when we can hear our very own church bell?”

“That’s very touching,” snarls Fremont.  “If they’re so fond of church bells let them drive over to Siler City.”

Millie suggests a tactical retreat to Sam, but he asks her to wait outside in the car—and I have to say, I was sort of impressed with how Sam handles this situation because I’ve long suspected he’s a bit of a cream puff.  Sure, he doesn’t give old man Fremont the beatdown he so richly deserves, but he whips out a lecture that Jack Webb himself would be proud of.

SAM: No, I’m…I’m not going to give up on this that easy, Mr. Fremont…I-I-I would be the first one to respect your feelings and your wishes if I could make any sense out of them at all…but I can’t make any sense out of it—how can I make any sense out of a man sitting here denying a whole community a bell for their church?
FREMONT: Look, Mr. Jones…I’m within my legal rights and it’s nobody’s business…
SAM: Mr. Fremont…
FREMONT: Now, if you don’t mind I’d just like to be left alone…
SAM (after a pause): All right…if that’s the way you prefer to be…alone…I promise you we won’t disturb your loneliness again… (He turns to leave)
FREMONT (muttering): Why can’t a man do what he wants to do without everybody making a fuss over it?
SAM (coming back to the desk): Why?  I’ll tell you why…because you don’t live on an island here—that’s why…you are part of this community, Mr. Fremont…like it or not, you are part of this community…you can’t always live as an individual—every once in a while, a man’s gotta stop thinking about what’s best for himself and start thinking what’s best for everybody…and I think it’s high time you did that, mister…high time!


Fremont, also surprised that Sam possesses a pair of stones, invites him to sit down.  “I don’t know why I should tell you all of this…but I will…”  The camera moves in for a close-up of Sam as Fremont begins his tale, noting that most of the people who were present at that time are probably no longer around to gossip about why he’s such a prick (or have snuffed it).  The scene then shifts back to the council office, where Sam is relating his chat to Millie, Howard and Ella.

SAM: I tell you—by the time he finished telling me that story I felt real sorry for him…it was sad…
HOWARD: Well, I can’t picture anything being sad where Lucius Fremont is concerned…
SAM: No, it is…it is…you see, it all happened many years ago, of course…he was going to be married…
ELLA: You mean someone was going to marry him?
SAM: Yeah…as a matter of fact, he was going to be married in the church…
MILLIE: Our church…
SAM: Yeah, our church…and they had this big wedding all planned, see…the day came, and the church was packed with people…and Mr. Fremont was there, of course…
MILLIE: Oh, and the bell rang out joyously for the occasion…
SAM: Yeah…the bell was ringing…and they were all there waiting for the bride to arrive…she never showed up…she changed her mind, I guess, and Mr. Fremont said he found out later that she had run off and married another feller…
MILLIE: Oh, it’s so sad…
SAM: Yeah…so it wasn’t long after that that Mr. Fremont had the bell removed so it wouldn’t be a constant reminder of that day…
HOWARD: Hmm…well, I guess that explains it…
ELLA: He’s been a bitter man ever since…

All the more reason to put him out of his misery.  You know, if Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) were in this episode, she’d be hatching a scheme right now to dispatch old man Fremont to a watery grave somewhere at the bottom of Myers’ Lake.

MILLIE: Strange…how little we know what makes people what they are…
SAM: Mmm…
HOWARD: I guess he didn’t say anything more about the bell, huh?
SAM (looking at Millie): Oh…uh…you know…well…we forgot to mention that, didn’t we…?

Ella and Howard give the pair a dirty look, as if to say “Yeah, we know what you did in the car on the way up and back…disgusting.”  The scene dissolves to church services, as all of the principals in today’s show are shown singing in their house of worship…


I particularly liked that hat Millie’s wearing—it’s kind of kicky.  You’ll notice, of course, that there appears to be a few people missing—Emmett, whom I mentioned earlier, but also village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey).  I can understand why Emmett and Goober are MIA (Emmett’s probably having a roll in the hay with Mrs. Emmett) but why isn’t Aunt Bee in church?  She lives for that kind of thing.


There’s a cut to the back of the church as Lucius Fremont enters—and as he makes his way down the aisle, he’s given the kind of looks from the parishioners that my family and I used to get after having not shown up for church for eons.  (You lapsed Catholics out there know to what I’m referring.)  Fremont is welcomed into Sam’s pew with a hearty handclasp, and then it’s time for Reverend Tucker to do that voodoo that he do so well.

REVEREND: And now, dear friends…comes the moment…towards which we’ve all been looking forward…the dedication of our bell…


Work that hat, girlfriend!

REVEREND: …with gratitude…for the kind understanding…of our friend and brother…Mr. Lucius Fremont…let us now listen…to the church bell of Mayberry…

As the bell begins to toll, the faces of the congregation tell the story—we’ve got a bell and in your face, Weaversville!  But Fremont sits there in stony silence, and for a second there I thought he had succumbed to a stroke…


SAM (to Fremont): Now…that was beautiful, wasn’t it?  (Fremont remains silent, and Sam pokes him to get a reaction) Uh…Mr. Fremont?  Mr. Fremont?  I said, that was beautiful, wasn’t it?
(Fremont reaches up and pulls a pair of ear plugs out of his ears)
FREMONT: What did you say, Mr. Jones?
SAM: Nothing…nothing…

Okay, one more picture of Millie with the hat and then let’s wrap this up…


SAM: Uh…you said you wanted me to stop by?
HOWARD: Yeah…yeah, but it wasn’t anything urgent…it was just kind of something I thought we should put in the planning stage real soon…
SAM: Sure…what’s that?
HOWARD: Well…you’ve probably noticed that ever since we got the bell there’s been a marked increase in church attendance…
SAM: Oh, yeah…yeah, at least fifteen, twenty more people have been showing up…
HOWARD: Right…it’s getting to be kind of a tight squeeze, so I figured we better plan on buying some new pews
SAM: Oh, yeah…well, I figured we would…
HOWARD: Well, just how many and where we’re going to put them is something I think everybody on the committee ought to start thinking about…
SAM: Mmm…I agree, Howard…well, I’ll…uh…I’ll pass the word along, huh?
HOWARD: Okay…good…
SAM: See ya…
HOWARD: Amazing, isn’t it—the spiritual effect a beautiful bell can have on a community, huh?
SAM: Yeah…oh, well, if you’re talking about those new people who’ve just started coming to church, Howard, the spiritual effect of the bell had nothing to do with it…
HOWARD: It didn’t?
SAM: No…no, I checked around and you see, these few backsliders were people who used to sleep in until, oh, ten or eleven o’clock on Sunday morning…now the bell wakes them up at nine o’clock and they figure as long as they’re up they might as well come in and go to church with the rest of us…

Yeah, that’s the kind of Borgian message you want to leave your viewers with—assimilate or be destroyed.  (Sort of a…Mayberry R.F.D.: The Next Generation.)

Well, we’ve already established that instead of donating her valuable time to church and community this week Aunt Bee decided to sleep in…so Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Mayberry R.F.D. Bee-o-meter™ stalls at eleven appearances so far for the series.  My original plan was to present a second R.F.D. synopsis to make up for my not getting one up last week but as Robert Burns reminds us, the best laid plans yadda yadda yadda (I blame TCM for this—I spent most of the time that I had set aside for this watching the restored version of Metropolis last night).  So I’ll be back next Monday with the final episode from Mayberry R.F.D.’s first season, “Sister Cities”…and as to whether or not Aunt Bee punches a time clock for that one…well, you’ll just have to make it a point to join me.


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3 comments:

Toby O'B said...

If Aunt Bea was going to off anybody, I'm sure she could do it with her kerosene cucumbers!

Glad to see you thinking in a Toobworldly fashion, Ivan, with that "splainin" about Mrs. Ziffel's double life. I always just assumed Mr. Ziffel killed her, used her as fertilizer on the crops, and then replaced her with a new wife with the same first name. But that she left him would be more believable. Thanks!

As for all those other look-alikes, the standard Toobworld theory of "relateeveety" is that their daddies were all tom-catters.....

One reason I'm glad for this review is that I was working up a connection between 'Mayberry RFD' and 'Green Acres' (involving Sam and Mike, not Mrs. Ziffel), but that statement from Sam about being a young boy when the bell disappeared. Looks like I'll have to do a bit more research on ol' Sam.....

As always, a great and funny look at the show.

Stacia said...

pick up a used dinger at a discount price

You know, Ivan, you shouldn't leave such enormous straight lines lying around like that. Why, children and small innocent animals might get into them!

VP81955 said...

That mansion looks an awful lot like the front of the one-time second Thomas Ince lot on Washington Boulevard in Culver City, later the home of Pathe and Selznick International films. (Ince designed it to resemble Mount Vernon, although since much of "Gone With The Wind" was filmed on that lot, people regularly mistake it for Tara.)