Monday, November 22, 2010

Mayberry Mondays #26: “Sister Cities” (05/12/69, prod. no. 0114)

The episode that introduced me to the quirky, funny sitcom known as Parks and Recreation—currently throwing back well drinks at Club Hiatus while NBC valiantly tries to convince viewers Outsourced is ever going to amount to anything—was “Sister City” (10/25/09), in which Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) invites a delegation from Venezuela (headed up by a dignitary played by Poehler’s old Saturday Night Live compadre, Fred Armisen) whose sole purpose of the visit is to embarrass and humiliate their hosts.   I enjoyed a good many hearty guffaws and chuckles while watching this episode’s proceedings, and it sold me on Parks and Rec as a solid “Must See TV” program.

This week’s Mayberry Mondays entry has a similar title…only in the plural, “Sister Cities.”  It also has the same plot—Mayberry’s establishment finds themselves slightly discomfited by the generosity of some visiting guests (from Mexico, however…not Venezuela).  I’d also like to say that it is laugh-out-loud funny…but I think you know me well enough by now to realize that I’d never lie to you unless I stood to gain honkin’ big financial benefits as a result.  (If that weren’t bad enough, the wretched video quality of this particular episode lends itself to some atrocious screen captures…for which I profusely apologize in advance.)  And with that…a little travelin’ music, Mr. Spear!

As our episode opens, we find several Mayberrians hurriedly running down its main street—and one can only deduce that either something of earth-shattering importance is about to happen…or the drugstore’s just got in that new flavor of ice cream.  The only resident not caught up in the buzz is the town’s resident fix-it savant, Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman)—who is passed by village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) as if he were standing still.   Well, come to think of it…Emmett is standing still—so Goob doubles back to try and figure out why Emmett isn’t swept up in the hoopla:

GOOBER: Hey, Emmett—aren’t you comin’?!!!
EMMETT: What?
GOOBER: It’s the first time we’ve got a letter like that…
EMMETT: Like what?
GOOBER: Come on!  (He grabs Emmett by the arm and pulls him along)


I really don’t know why Goober is so excited—I mean, it’s not like he can read or anything.  This screen shot didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, but I like the notion of a dog pulling the little girl along as if the mutt actually understood that something important is going to take place at City Hall.  (I suspect he probably heard somebody using a can opener.)

Goob and Emmett arrive at the front of Mayberry’s city council office in time to see George Felton (Norman Leavitt), the town’s up-at-the-butt-crack-of-dawn postman, waving an envelope in front of the excited crowd…which happens to include the third member of the town’s brain trust, pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson):

FELTON: Now, nobody touches this until I decide who gets it…now you can all see who it’s from, right there…
HOWARD (reading out loud): United States of American State Department…Washington, D.C…hey!
(Goober lets out with a whistle)
EMMETT: It’s gotta be a mistake…
GOOBER: Well, it’s addressed to the incorporated city of Mayberry, North Carolina…ain’t no other Mayberry in the state, is there, George?

Did it just get cold in here?  ‘Cause I swear I felt a chill up my spine at the thought of another Mayberry...

FELTON: Nope…I checked it…
GOOBER: The question is…what does the United States of America want with us?

“Just some simple medical testing experiments…and for your cooperation, you’ll each receive a shiny new half-dollar!”

HOWARD: I don’t know why we don’t open it and find out…
FELTON (snatching the letter away): Uh!  This letter ain’t gonna be opened until till we decide who the proper party is to open it…
EMMETT: Seems to me Sam Jones ought to be the one—he’s head of town council…
GOOBER: Well, yeah!  He’s the one we let open the letter we got invitin’ us to the Azalea Festival!
FELTON: Okay…all those in favor of lettin’ Sam Jones open this letter—raise your hands!

It’s anonymous!  I mean, it’s unanimous!  Besides, it’s probably Sam’s subsidy check—the one he gets every month for not spending enough time with his farm.  So in the tradition of participatory democracy, the crowd makes it way toward the office of poor-but-honest dirt farmer Sam “Anyone want to buy an idiot son?” Jones (Ken Berry), who at this point in time is in conference with his housekeeper, Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Francis Bavier):

SAM: Hey…that sounds good…why don’t we stretch the turkey, and have the roast tomorrow night?
AUNT BEE: Fine…it’s mostly dark meat, but I’ll make a white sauce so Mike won’t know the difference

Ferchrissake, you could serve him up a tennis shoe smothered in Velveeta and that cretinous kid wouldn’t blink twice.  The crowd has reached the front door to City Hall by this time, and Goober ushers Felton, Howard and Emmett in before closing the door to the teeming masses gathered outside.  “Sorry, folks—just members of the city council…we’ll give you a bulletin as soon as we know somethin’…”

Now, if you’re up to snuff on your Andy Griffith Show arcana, you’ll remember that Sam defeated Emmett for the city council seat he now holds in the TAGS episode “Sam for Town Council.”  So how did Emmett get on the board, anyway—recess appointment?  And what does it say about a town who would elect someone like Goober—why, you might as well throw out members of Congress and vote in a bunch of Tea Par…oh…forget I even mentioned that…

FELTON: We all took a vote and decided that you was the one who should open this letter, Sam… (He presents Sam with the envelope)
SAM (staring at its contents): Huh…from the government…
HOWARD: Kind of gives you the chills, doesn’t it?
EMMETT: Well, what is it?
GOOBER: Yeah, come on!
HOWARD: Let ‘er rip!

Upon opening the letter, Sam learns that Mayberry has been declared “The Most Unnecessary Town in the USA” and that it will be designated as a nuclear testing site.  No…hang on a sec…that’s the plot of the Li’l Abner stage musical:

SAM (reading): Gentlemen…
GOOBER: Makes you feel good right off, don’t it?
SAM: Uh…we would like to invite the city of Mayberry to join our Sister Cities program…as a step toward better understanding between peoples all over the world; we are asking certain cities in the United States to extend the hand of friendship to foreign cities of similar size and interest!
HOWARD: Oh, yeah—I read about that!
AUNT BEE: Oh, what a wonderful idea!  Sister cities!
SAM (continuing): Uh…we are advised that the city of Puerto Bello, Mexico would be an ideal sister city for Mayberry and if this should meet with your approval we urge that you invite a delegation from Puerto Bello to visit Mayberry at the State Department’s expense…

Having delivered this important news, Mailman Fenton takes his leave and exits out the front doors of City Hall.  Goober must still maintain order, however, because the crowd outside is turning ugly…and that’s not much of a turn.

SAM: Boy…this sounds like a wonderful thing to me!
AUNT BEE: Oh, I agree, Sam—at last we can remove the barrier of the Rio Grande

Wait just a doggone minute, you Meskin lover…that river is the only thing keeping those illegals on their side of the border, preventing them from entering the country and doing those jobs Americans won’t do!

GOOBER (to Sam): What does she mean by that?
SAM: Uh…it’s a river…
GOOBER: What?  Well, I don’t see how no river’s got nothin’…
EMMETT (interrupting): We’ll explain it to you later… (To Sam) I’m with you a 100%, Sam…
HOWARD: Me, too…you know, as a part-time student on international relations I’d say this gives the incorporated city of Mayberry a golden opportunity to become a part of the big picture…

“Goldarnit, Mr. Sprague—you use your tongue purtier than a twenty-dollar whore…”  Honestly—does Howard ever have a moment when he says: “To hell with reading The New Republic…I’m just going to sit on my ass and eat nachos while watching Dancing With the Stars the rest of the evening…”  Sam volunteers to set up the exchange by writing both the State Department and the good people of Puerto Bello, and a suggestion is put forward as to holding a reception for their honored guests:

SAM: Aunt Bee…I can’t think of anybody more qualified than you to head a reception committee…how about it?
AUNT BEE: Well…well, I’ll be very honored... (To the others) I mean, are you all in accord?
(Howard, Emmett and Goober signify agreement)
GOOBER: Hey—we oughta give ‘em some kind of gift when they get here…
AUNT BEE: Yes!  Then we ought to have a meeting and discuss all these things… (To Sam) As soon as you get the reply, hmm?
SAM: Right…right…
GOOBER: Hey Sam—can I be the one to tell the folks what was in the letter?
SAM: Sure, Goob…
GOOBER: Thanks!

Goober goes out the door and can be heard yelling at the crowd outside about the good news…and I wish I was able to tell you that they basically ignore him and attack him like the angry, vicious mob they’ve become—but I’m just not that lucky.  Instead, the scene shifts to an office where a Latino gentleman is seated, reading a letter.  The individual is Mayor Juan Nunez, who is presiding over a meeting of the Puerto Bello city council in a scenario not unlike their “sister city” Mayberry.  One thing that’s particularly irritating is that there’s a heavy emphasis on some Spanish-sounding music on the show’s soundtrack because apparently the R.F.D. folks couldn’t trust the audience to figure out that this meeting is taking place in a small Mexican village.

NUNEZ (reading): …and as if you feel as we do about becoming a sister city, we invite you to come to Mayberry to cement a friendship that we know will be a lasting one…sincerely…Sam Jones, head of Mayberry Town Council…  (The other five men murmur and nod their heads in agreement)  My friends…I feel this warm invitation will let us become friends with our brothers across the border…
SANTOS (standing up and at attention): I move we accept this great invitation…we will break down the barrier of the Rio Grande


If this Santos gentleman looks familiar, it’s because for a brief period in 1953 he was the hottest celebrity en los Estados Unidos, parlaying an appearance on Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life into 24-karat stardom.  From that point on, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez embarked on a show business trajectory that included many guest appearances on TV series and roles in films such as The High and the Mighty (1954), The Love Bug (1969) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)…and perhaps his best known showcase, the role of Carlos Robante in Rio Bravo (1959—“Senor Chance!  Senor Chance!”).  Well, with that out of the way, the wise old men of Puerto Bello put it to a vote and all are in agreement that they should make the trip to Mayberry to see rednecks in their natural habitat.

RODRIGUEZ: As our mayor, you should be the one to go…
(The others murmur in agreement)
SANTOS: Ahem…a delegation…means more than one…since I have had more experience with the Americans and their customs; I suggest that I will accompany Mayor Nunez…
SANCHEZ: What experience?
SANTOS: Have you forgotten?

“I have crossed back and forth from the border many times and know most of the Minutemen in Arizona on a first-name basis!”

SANTOS: For three years I was a bellboy in one of the finest hotels in Acapulco!  And I learn all about the Americans!

“First of all—they are lousy tippers…”

NUNEZ (resignedly): All right, Pablo…you go with me…
SANTOS: You will never be sorry…
SANCHEZ: Your Honor…we must take them a beautiful present…
NUNEZ: Some of our handicrafts, maybe…
SANCHEZ: Si…
SANTOS: No no no no!  Must be expensive…I am sure that they will present us with something very beautiful and costly…

Oh, please…they’ll probably have Goober stop by the local Stuckey’s for a pecan log and a “1,001 Outhouse Jokes” book.  You’re just wasting your time.  Nunez argues that what is being exchanged is friendship, not valuable gifts—but the council members are insistent that buying Sam and Company something pretty is essential because they don’t want them to think Puerto Bello is a poor city.  Despite his reservations, Nunez agrees to blow half of Puerto Bello’s treasury on such an expenditure…so you can pretty much guess he’s going to be a one-term jefé after all this is through.  Santos tells his fellow council members that he’ll leave for Mexico City in the morning…because it’s much nicer than the Puerto Bello Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, back in the States, Aunt Bee and the rest of the Mayberry reception committee—which seems to consist of Sam, Howard, Emmett, Goober and Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka), bakery counter girl and Facebook chum (come on, people…let’s see a little civic pride and not rely on the same people all the time, huh?)—are busily mulling over how they’ll receive their guests:

AUNT BEE: Well, as head of the reception committee I have taken some liberties and made some plans…now, the mayor and his aide are going to stay in the hotel in town in Mayberry, and they’re going to have all their meals at our house…and we’re going to do our very best to please them…
HOWARD: Well, no worry on that score, Aunt Bee…
AUNT BEE: Thank you, Howard…

What a kiss-ass.

AUNT BEE: …and on the night of their arrival, I’m planning to give a Pan American ball in the town hall…
(The usual squeals of delight and joy from those assembled)
AUNT BEE: And now, Howard…have you got your notes?
HOWARD: Mm-hmm!
AUNT BEE: Good…well, enlighten us…
HOWARD: All righty…now and Aunt Bee and I thought we should know a little more about our sister city Puerto Bello and…uh…fortunately, I came across a little book entitled “Out of the Way Places”…

“It was on the shelf in my library next to an equally fascinating book, ‘The Milkmaid and the Naughty Shepherd Boy’…”

HOWARD (reading out loud): Puerto Bello is 586 feet above sea level…that gives us something in common right off…heh heh heh heh…
GOOBER: Well, that makes ‘em forty-two feet higher than us


Well, not according to the sign above Sam’s head in the picture above—it reads 671.  So one can only assume that since Sheriff Taylor’s departure, Mayberry is shrinking.

HOWARD: Now according to the 1948 figures, their population varies between 1720 and 1740—which gives them roughly about …uh…well, a hundred-and-twenty less than us…

Again, in keeping with that sign (you can’t see the population figure too clearly because Andy’s head is blocking it) Mayberry’s population at the time of that TAGS episode, “Mayberry R.F.D,” was 5,060.  So, 1740 + 120 = 1960…there must have been one hell of an exodus in that burg once Sheriff Andy said sayonara (which might explain the sea level shrinkage, too).  Mayberry’s loss was Siler City’s gain, I guess.

EMMETT: Well, when we talk to ‘em we oughn’t make too much of that
GOOBER: No…let’s not rub it in
HOWARD: Well, that about wraps up everything I could dig up on Puerto Bello …
AUNT BEE: Thank you, Howard—does anyone else have anything to say?
SAM: Yes, I’d like to say something…

Well, so much for getting home in time to watch The Big Valley

SAM: Uh…I don’t think we should ought to feel a sense of competition with Puerto Bello …I mean, their delegation is coming here and our first concern really should be to make them feel at home…and, of course, hopefully develop a friendship that will last forever…
EMMETT: What about the gift we’re gonna give ‘em, Aunt Bee?
AUNT BEE: Well… (Laughs nervously) That was one of the most important decisions I had to make…you know, a meaningful gift, and one which under no circumstances would cause them any embarrassment…
SAM: Embarrassment?  Like what?
AUNT BEE: Well, Sam—we don’t know their per capita income…listen, it’s very possible—in fact, it’s very probable that a little Mexican town like Puerto Bello may not enjoy the prosperity that we do in Mayberry…you know, a lavish gift could case them a great deal of embarrassment
GOOBER (to Emmett): I see what she means… (To Aunt Bee) I see what you mean…
AUNT BEE: Our gifts should cry out friendship…rather than something of a great material value…
SAM: Hmm…what have you got in mind, Aunt Bee?
AUNT BEE: Well…I’ve been working on a needlepoint sampler…and I was going to frame it, and put it right up there (pointing to mantle) and it was to be “God Bless Our Happy Home”…
GOOBER: That’s a nice thought…

An improvement over the sentiment she had originally planned to use—“Protect Our Borders.”

AUNT BEE: Well, thank goodness I’m only as far as “God Bless”—and so I thought instead of “happy home” I’d substitute “Puerto Bello”…
HOWARD: Hey…
EMMETT: “God Bless Puerto Bello”…I vote for that!
GOOBER: Yeah—me, too!
MILLIE (squealing): Oh!  Great!  Wonderful!
SAM: Well, I guess we’re just about set, then…

Oh, yeah…that sampler is going to be a real hit as a diplomatic housewarming gift.  It’s says: “Thank our deity your children don’t have to do needlepoint or similar sweat factory work for a living like they do in real underdeveloped countries…”Let’s all do our job very well,” burbles Aunt Bee.  “And I’m sure we going to make the visit by the Puerto Bello delegates one of the most memorable events in the history of Mayberry.”  (If only you could have made it one of the better episodes of R.F.D.)


So the big day arrives, and of course, to emphasize that the town is being visited by individuals of a Latino heritage there’s a mariachi band playing on the soundtrack (it could be coming from the crowd, though, you never know—maybe Carl Bensons Wildcats has added a few members to its aggregation).  Goober bolts out of the crowd and rushes up to Sam, who is standing with Aunt Bee and Millie on the steps of City Hall:

GOOBER: I just got word that the train’s on time—they’re on their way from the station now… (He dashes off back into the crowd)
SAM: Oh, good…
AUNT BEE: Oh!!
MILLIE: Did you bring the gift, Aunt Bee?
AUNT BEE: Mm-hmm…I just finished it last night…


Oh, yeah—nothing chintzy about that gift.  Check out the guy standing behind Millie; the expression on his face seems to say: “Personally, I would have went with the Elvis on velvet…”  Aunt Bee will present them with this underwhelming token of the town’s esteem, “along with a few well chosen words.”  (I hope they’re something along the lines of “We were really pressed for time and couldn’t find a spare minute to do some shopping.”)

HOWARD: Boy, I never thought I’d see the day come when Mayberry was part of the international scene…

“Hey, maybe later on we can drive them down to Dillon, SC to see South of the Border.”  (You know, I rag on Howard a lot when I do these write-ups but honest to my grandma—if he weren’t around I’d never laugh out loud.)  Goober races up to the steps again to announce the delegation’s arrival and a limousine pulls up…an automobile that prompts Sam to ask Goober where it came from.  “The mortuary in Mount Pilot lent us their lead car,” responds his Goobness.  Sam welcomes Mayor Nunez warmly, as Santos embraces our hero and intones seriously: “Sisters…till death do we part.”  And with that, Sam and the mayor make their way to the front of the throng.

SAM: I’d like you to meet a few of Mayberry’s leading citizens…Miss Beatrice Taylor…Senor Juan Nunez…
MAYOR: A very great pleasure…
AUNT BEE (extending her hand): May we bridge the Rio Grande with the hand of friendship…
(Nunez shakes Bee’s hand as Howard gets Sam’s attention)
SAM: Oh…Mr. Howard Sprague…
HOWARD (shaking hands): Buenos dias…
NUNEZ (laughing): Oh, thank you…
SAM: Mr. Goober Pyle…
GOOBER (doing his clicking shtick): Uh…and this is Miss Millie Swanson…
MILLIE (shyly): How do you do…
GOOBER: She works at the bakery

Nunez is probably thinking: “In my country, we have a word for Senor Pyle: idiota.”  (The funniest thing about the above exchange is that Emmett doesn’t even rate a mention—I guess he’s of a different caste in Mayberry society.)  Sam addresses the crowd with the usual “warm welcome” dog-and-pony show, which Mayor Nunez receives graciously.  As he starts to speak, Santos comes running up to City Hall with a scroll and a box of some sort, and comically tries to hand it off to his mayor.

NUNEZ: First…I would like to make a presentation of this scroll…the people of Puerto Bello, Mexico…wish to extend the hand of friendship to their sister city…Mayberry, North Carolina…United States of America…

“U.S.A…U.S.A.!!!”

NUNEZ: May this friendship last forever…and a day…
(The crowd applauds in approval as Nunez hands Sam the scroll)
SAM: Thank you…thank you very much, sir…we…we will always treasure it…and now, ladies and gentlemen…
NUNEZ (interrupting): Um…if you please… (Santos hands him the box) I would also like to present you with this gift…from the people of Puerto Bello…to further show you…how much…this friendship…means to us…

Nunez hands Sam the box, who thanks him and opens it up to find this modest trinket inside…


Yes, you can let everyone know that the search for the Holy Grail has now ended for King Arthur and his silly English knig-hts.  Somewhat taken aback, Sam holds the cup up for the crowd to ooh and ahh, and they don’t disappoint him.

HOWARD (to Emmett, with a whistle): What a gift!
EMMETT: Yeah…hey, that’s gonna make Aunt Bee’s needlework look a little silly
GOOBER (to an identified female member in the crowd): That thing musta cost a fortune
MILLIE (to Aunt Bee): Oh, Puerto Bello must be a very rich city…
AUNT BEE (holding out the framed needlework): Why, we can’t give them this…it’s just too embarrassing… (She fobs it off on Millie, who hides it behind her back)
SAM: Senor Nunez…words just can’t express our gratitude…and now…Miss Beatrice Taylor would like to present our gift to you…
AUNT BEE: Uh…Senor Nunez, it was our intention to make the presentation of our gift at this time—but due to unforeseen circumstances there’ll be a delay…we do beg your indulgence
SAM: But, Aunt Bee…I thought…
AUNT BEE (interrupting) …and now, we will escort you to your hotel where you will be in residence during your stay in Mayberry…

And with that awkward moment over and done, Aunt Bee takes Mayor Nunez’s arm and leads him off in the direction of the Hotel Mayberry…leaving the others to wonder how long it will take for something from Neiman-Marcus to ship.

After the General Foods break, we find Sam, Emmett and Howard basking in the magnificence that is the jeweled cup, which sits on the table inside Sam’s office.

HOWARD: Most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen…
EMMETT: Imagine what that thing costs
HOWARD: Oh, it must be up around a thousand…it’s sterling, and look at the jewels on it…
(Aunt Bee enters through the front office door)
AUNT BEE: They’re all settled…
SAM: Oh, Aunt Bee…
AUNT BEE: …all settled at the hotel, and they’re going to rest a few hours after the long trip…
EMMETT: And then they’re comin’ over to your house for lunch…
AUNT BEE: Yes…
SAM: Aunt Bee…we can talk now…why didn’t you give them the gift?
AUNT BEE: Sam, how could I?  After they made a presentation of that handsome gift?  They’re obviously a very wealthy community…we’ve got to give them something comparable
SAM: Aunt Bee, we’re supposed to be exchanging friendship…now if they can afford that kind of gift…well…fine, it was a magnificent gesture…but our treasury just can’t handle that kind of thing…
EMMETT: But we’ve got to, Sam—you think we want our sister city to think we’re poor relations?
SAM: We’re not poor…
HOWARD: No, we’re not poor…we’re what you might call…comfortable

I’ll have to remember that one.  “The way this economy keeps going, it won’t be long before I’m in the comfortable house.”

HOWARD: But…well, we want a rich community like Puerto Bello to have a good impression of us…now, we obviously can’t find a gift for them before they leave—but if we can come up with a good idea for one, we can announce it tonight and then tell them we’ll send it on to them later…
AUNT BEE: That’s an excellent idea…
EMMETT: You know, I was thinkin’ of a big golden key to the city…
HOWARD: Yeah…or…or…or maybe a silver service, you know, for when they have state dinners…
AUNT BEE: Now, you see, Sam?  There are two good suggestions…so as head of the city council, we’ll just leave it all to you…

Sam is still resistant to the idea, labeling it “very foolish”—but Howard argues that “It’s the will of the people.”  (And my suggestion to Sam would be not to try and pay for this gift with a sales tax increase, because with the mood of the people being what it is today the next thing you know Ernest T. Bass will be at the head of Mayberry’s government.)  The scene dissolves to the outside of Rancho Jones, where Sam and Millie are welcoming Mayor Nunez and Santos to his humble home where lunch will be served.  Sam admonishes them: “Won’t be too fancy now—after all, we’re on a farm.”  (I’m just glad I was drinking anything of a carbonated nature when that came out of his mouth.)

AUNT BEE (as they come in the front door): Welcome senores!
NUNEZ: Muchas gracias, senorita… (He bows and shakes her hand)
AUNT BEE: Oh…lunch is all ready…I hope you don’t mind eating informally…it’s just a simple farm luncheon…

Wait for it…


As their visitors are told to locate their place cards for this “simple get-together,” Sam’s facial expression is a real hoot. 


SAM: Aunt Bee…what is this?
AUNT BEE: Find your place card, Sam…
SAM: Where did you get all this?
AUNT BEE: It’s not important…
NUNEZ (standing in front of a chair, with Santos to his left): We have found our places…
AUNT BEE: Oh!  Well…shall we be seated?  (Santos pulls out her chair and motions for her to sit down) Oh, how thoughtful…
SANTOS: It is my pleasure to do such a thing for such a beautiful and charming senorita…

Kee-rist, get a load of this gigolo—“How much for the little girl?  How much for the women?”

AUNT BEE: Oh, gracias…that’s quite a compliment when I know what charming senoritas you have across the Rio Grande
SANTOS: Muchas gracias, muchas gracias…
(There is a slight pause)
SAM: Well, I think we’re all ready to eat…Aunt Bee…
AUNT BEE (coming out of a reverie): Hmm?  Oh, yes…of course…

If you thought the fancy-set-table sight gag was hooty, check this out—Aunt Bee rings a little silver bell…


…and out comes a familiar-looking houseboy.


The expression on Sam’s face says it all: “Please, dear God in Heaven let him have washed his hands.”  Goober serves Nunez and Santos, and then stops and takes the servings away, explaining “ladies first.”  The scene then dissolves to the kitchen, where Aunt Bee is washing up:

AUNT BEE: Did you show them around the farm?
SAM: Yes, they’re out on the porch now…did Goober and Millie leave?
AUNT BEE: Yes, they had to get back to town…
SAM: Ah…uh…Aunt Bee…about that lunch…
AUNT BEE: Don’t you think it went well?!!!
SAM: Well…yeah…but…don’t you think having Goober was going a bit too far

We’ll take a short break from the narrative while the entire blogosphere responds with a resounding “Hell yes!”

AUNT BEE: Now, Sam—if they can afford to buy a lavish gift like that silver cup…they’re bound to have houses and servants and all kinds of things…I was only entertaining them in the manner to which they’re accustomed…

“When we visited America, our food was brought to us by a greasy hillbilly gas station mechanic…que lastima!

SAM: But this business of putting on airs, Aunt Bee…
AUNT BEE: Did you think about the gift for tonight?

“Well, the Stop ‘n’ Rob is open 24-7…we could go by and get them some lotto tickets…”  Aunt Bee continues to prod Sam on this, reminding him that he’ll have to make the announcement at the big soiree that evening.  As Sam makes plans to get back to their guests, Aunt Bee asks him to take a bowl of candy out to them as a palate-cleanser.

SANTOS (patting his stomach in contentment): Ah…I think we have a fine sister city…
NUNEZ: Yes…and they are very wonderful people…
SANTOS: And the food they… (He nearly walks into a hanging plant, and he ducks just in time) And the food they serve…and the crabmeat…
NUNEZ: Very good…
SANTOS: I had it once in Acapulco…like I told you…all the American cities are very rich…
NUNEZ: It seems that way…this is a beautiful farm…

Well, of course it’s beautiful—it’s completely uncontaminated by anything resembling vegetation.

SANTOS: And they pick us up in a big limousine…and servants…
NUNEZ: Yes…
SANTOS: You know…I think we did the right thing in bringing them an expensive gift…even though it cost one-half of the town treasury…
NUNEZ: I still do not know if an expensive gift was so important…

Unbeknownst to the two gentlemen, Sam has been eavesdropping on their convo and now knows the full story behind that swanky cup.  He goes back out to the kitchen and tells Aunt Bee: “I think we’d better have a little talk.”

The scene then shifts to the big to-do at the Town Hall, where once again somebody stands up to make a speech (I’m starting to understand why so few Mayberryians participate in government, what with all the glad-handing, back-patting and speechifying)—this time, it’s Aunt Bee…

AUNT BEE: Ladies and gentlemen—with the presence of His Honor, Mayor Nunez of Puerto Bello…I declare the Pan-American Ball officially open… (Applause, etc.)  And to start the festivities, Miss Millie Swanson will have the first dance with our honored guests…


Check out the Millster—she’s so cute, and decked out like a giant ice cream cone.  She’s…um…that reminds me…any more of that ice cream left?  Where was I?  Oh, as they head out on the floor to get down with their bad selves, Nunez confesses that he hasn’t danced in a long time—but Millie assures him he’ll do fine.  (I’m not known for my terpsichorean skills but if a stone fox like Millie asked me to boogie I’d fake it like nobody’s business.)  What’s really amusing as the two trip the light fantastic is that the music on the soundtrack is the show’s theme, “The Mayberry March,” played in waltz time.  There is then a quick dissolve to Sam, who’s…yeah, you guessed it, and he’s making another speech:

SAM: Uh, ladies and gentlemen…ladies and gentlemen…before the next dance Miss Beatrice Taylor has an announcement to make about Mayberry’s gift to Puerto Bello…uh…Mayor Nunez, would you step up here, please?
NUNEZ: Surely…
AUNT BEE: First, I would like to say to Senor Nunez that Mayberry is very, very grateful for the beautiful silver cup you presented to us…but…however…we’d like to return it… (There is a noticeable gasp from the crowd)
NUNEZ: Oh, no…
AUNT BEE: No no no no no no no no no no!  You just don’t understand…it’s…it’s just beautiful!  And it’s much too generous of you…but there is something that we will treasure even more…the scroll…telling us about your friendship…oh, between communities like Mayberry and Puerto Bello there’s no need to exchange material things, it’s…it’s the mutual feelings that we have for each other that are important…and…if I may, I would like to give you… (She reaches over for the framed needlework) A gift from Mayberry… (She presents it to Nunez) With the sincere feelings from all the people of Mayberry…
NUNEZ: This is the most beautiful gift we could have received…


“And the stingiest.  Mujer estúpida!”  Coda time!


SAM (walking into the kitchen): Well, they’re off…
AUNT BEE: Oh…is the train on time?
SAM: Yep—right on the button…
AUNT BEE: You know, I think they enjoyed their visit…
SAM: Oh, I’m sure they did…hey, I had a very nice chat with Mr. Nunez this morning…
AUNT BEE: Oh?
SAM: You know something?
AUNT BEE: What?
SAM: He invited you and me to come down and pay him a visit one of these days…
AUNT BEE: Oh!  Oh, how sweet!!!  Well, you know… (She walks over to the kitchen table and sits down) You know, I don’t think it’s too early to start thinking about a gift…do you remember what Emmett said, you know, the gold key…or do you think the silver service…

As Aunt Bee’s clucking trails off, Sam reaches for an apple that’s among many in a bowl on the counter and he bites into it.  The sound of its crunch awakens those of you who fell asleep during this little roundelay, and believe me—I do not hold it against you.

Aunt Bee might not get invited to any birthday parties (damn you, Martha Clark!) or show up for church on a regular basis but when there are official government events that require her to be in prime schmooze mode, she’s ready, willing and able—which is why with this episode, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Mayberry R.F.D. Bee-o-meter™ finishes at twelve appearances for the sitcom’s inaugural season.  Oddly enough, Sam’s idiot son Mike (Buddy Foster) is MIA from this outing—not that I give a damn, of course, but you’d think he would have been on hand to greet the good people from Puerto Bello and then later have to write a report for school about it.  Another oddity about “Cities” that has me puzzled is that the episode was first telecast on May 12, 1969—a full six weeks after the first season’s penultimate outing, “The Church Bell.”  (My theory is that R.F.D.’s producers knew this show was an el stinkeroo and scheduled it accordingly.)

So with the first season of Mayberry R.F.D. tucked under its belt, TDOY has no room for pie…but hopes to be able to tackle episode one of season numero dos next week…though I don’t think it will be a huge problem to write this one up; the title—“Andy’s Baby”—kind of gives away the special guest star.  (Hint: It’s not Hal Smith as “Otis Campbell.”)  But it also proves to be one of the series’ most controversial outings, and I’ll have a special guest here to discuss its social ramifications and all sorts of other serious-sounding words.  As always, I hope you’ll join me.


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4 comments:

Stacia said...

the city of Puerto Bello

They pronounced it "Porto Bell-O", didn't they?

So do I get a whiff of implication that they thought the Puerto Bello committee was scamming them a bit? Dude, I have read this twice and can't really figure out any of the underlying reasoning or motivation of most of the characters.

quizshowbob said...

Oh... I'm so excited about Aunt Bee and Sam's potential visit to Puerto Bello. Aunt Bee could use her fabulous skills as an aviatrix to get them there.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

They pronounced it "Porto Bell-O", didn't they?

Yes. Yes, they did.

So do I get a whiff of implication that they thought the Puerto Bello committee was scamming them a bit? Dude, I have read this twice and can't really figure out any of the underlying reasoning or motivation of most of the characters.

No, the Porto Bell-O people were on the up-and-up; they just bought them the expensive gift because they didn't want their Mayberry hosts to think that they were a poor city. In fact, in some expository dialogue it is they who first observe: "We are not rich...but we are not poor, just comfortable." My contempt for this episode, however, is such that I didn't feel like transcribing all that and so I took a shortcut -- so the confusion is all on my part.

Stacia said...

Oh, no, I'm quite certain it's the episode and not your translation that's the problem here, Ivan. You speak fluid Mayberrian, but they didn't give you a lot to work with here.

I think Sam's know-it-all nature made me think he's good-naturedly suspicious of everything. I've had that feeling in previous episodes, too, like he thought Aunt Bee was drinking from the cooking sherry but he was too nice to say anything.

And I am DYING of curiosity about the controversy in next week's episode.