Monday, December 6, 2010

Mayberry Mondays #28: “Saving Morelli’s” (09/29/69, prod. no. 0207)

Last week when I kicked off the inaugural episode of Mayberry R.F.D.’s second season with “Andy’s Baby,” I mentioned in passing that I’d already watched the remaining installments of the show and that some of them were a real chore to watch.

This is one of them.  Your enjoyment of “Saving Morelli’s” will depend largely on your appreciation of star Ken Berry’s singing and dancing gifts; I don’t wish to disparage the man—he clearly has talent, which he displayed prominently with numerous guest appearances on The Carol Burnett Show and his own short-lived variety series The Ken Berry Wow Show—but the last thing the Velveeta of sitcoms needs is musical numbers.  Since I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, however …I have no alternative but to solider on.

It’s Saturday night in Mayberry, and if that sleepy little North Carolina hamlet is anything like the town I grew up in West Virginia (Ravenswood) folks are prepared to do some wild and crazy things…like playing with the automatic doors at Penny Fare.  No, I’m only slightly kidding about that; to your right is a picture of the local hot spot, Morelli’s…but something seems amiss as the song on the jukebox ends and four individuals walk back to their table from the dance floor: city council head/poor-but-honest dirt farmer Sam Jones (Berry), bakery doyenne Millicent “Millie” Swanson (Arlene Golonka), pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and a young underage girl (Symma Winston) who answers to “Shirley” and who appears to be Howard’s date for the evening…

HOWARD: Boy, there sure is a lot of elbow room out here tonight, huh?
SAM: Yeah—I’ve never seen a place so empty
MILLIE: It’s probably just an off night—it’s usually real bouncy here Saturday nights…
HOWARD: Yeah…sure is… (To Shirley) We always think of it as a real fun place…


You think I’m kidding about this girl, but honest to my grandma she doesn’t look a day over fourteen, even in this admittedly crappy screen capture.  I’ll bet Howard drove around the schoolyard for hours before finding someone who’d go out with him.

HOWARD: Well, whaddya say we tie on the old feedbag, huh?
SAM: Fine, fine…
MILLIE: Yeah, I’m starved…

A gentleman who looks like he came in third in a Chef Boyardee look-a-like contest emerges from the kitchen and looks around sadly.  For the purposes of our play, he is the “Morelli” of the restaurant’s title but in actuality he’s character actor Frank Puglia—a stage, screen and television veteran whose film credits go all the way back to silents (he was cast by director D.W. Griffith in Orphans of the Storm and Isn’t Life Wonderful) and who’s best remembered here at TDOY as the thesp who plays “Baron Montay” in the 1947 Bob Hope comedy My Favorite Brunette.  (Movie fans might also recognize him as the street vendor who keeps offering Ingrid Bergman a discount as she chats with Humphrey Bogart in the marketplace scene in Casablanca.*)


MORELLI: Hello, everybody…
SAM: Oh…hi, Mr. Morelli…
(Morelli is greeted by the others seated at the table)
MORELLI: Uh…you order good and fine…order good because everything is on the house
SAM: On the house?  That’s swell!
MILLIE: Oh, what’s the occasion?
MORELLI: Well…I’m closing the place…
SAM: Oh…no, you’re kidding…
MORELLI: No…I’m not kidding…I close next week…

“One teensy little cockroach in the veal scallopini, and BOOM!  The Board of Health comes down on you like a ton of bricks…”

MILLIE: But why?
MORELLI: No business, senorina…just no business…on Saturday night I should have them lined up here
HOWARD: Yeah, what happened to everybody?
MORELLI: They go to Pagano’s…
MILLIE: Well, Pagano’s has nice food but it’s not nearly as good as yours…

Well…there is that endless salad and breadsticks deal…

MORELLI: Senorina…the food has nothing to do with it…it’s entertainment…he gives them entertainment!!!
SAM: Oh, yeah…I’ve seen their ads…they put on a floor show over there, don’t they?
MORELLI: Yeah…well…I go back to St. Louis…I got a brother-in-law there; he owns a hamburger joint…
SAM: Well, look, Mr. Morelli—why do you have to go back there?  Why don’t you just put entertainment in here?  (Morelli starts to interject) No, no, no—if Pagano’s can do it, you can do it…
MORELLI: Look, Sam—what do I know about entertainment?

The clown with his pants falling down...or the dance that's a dream of romance...or the scene where the villain is mean…that's entertainment!

HOWARD: Hey…we’ve all got a little bit of show biz know-how…why don’t we try booking an act and sort of get the ball rolling…?
MILLIE: Why yes!  Why not?
HOWARD: I mean, when I was in college I staged the Senior Hi-Jinks…and Millie, you were in some shows in Raleigh
MILLIE: Right!  (To Sam) And you told me you did some shows in the Army in Alaska, Sam…

“And my uncle’s got a barn we could rehearse in…”  The mention of Millie’s Raleigh shows is, of course, a reference to an earlier R.F.D. outing, “The Church Play,” in which her attempts to stage a production of Sleeping Beauty are nearly scotched by Mayberry’s resident evil bitch, Clara Edwards (Hope Summers).  But if Howard and Sam are “show biz veterans” why did they go through all that trouble asking Millie to take over the church play if they could have done the job themselves?

SAM: Yeah…well, I didn’t put on any shows or stage them or anything—I was just in them…
MILLIE: A song and dance man…
HOWARD: Yeah, yeah, I remember…well, give us the word, Mr. Morelli and we’ll book a show for you…
MORELLI: Well, I appreciate it very much but I think it’s asking too much…
HOWARD: Nonsense!  It’s just as important to us to keep this place open as it is to you…
SAM: Sure it is!  We have to have a place to go on Saturday nights…
MILLIE: Right…
SAM: I mean it’s either here or the library

I don’t know, Samuel—I hear that library can get pretty lively sometimes, especially when the copy of Peyton Place hasn’t been checked out.  So Morelli the restaurateur gives his stamp of approval in allowing our heroes (and heroine) to book some first-rate entertainment into his joint (Howard tells him they’ll head up to Raleigh and stop off at a talent agency) and motions for a waiter to take everybody’s order.  (I wonder if they’re still getting the meal on the house?)


Now, if this were the same Charles Pierce who writes for the Boston Globe and is a frequent guest on NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! this episode would improve a hundredfold…but as I have so often commented in the past, we simply aren’t that lucky.  No, this Charlie Pierce is…well, let me see if I can provide some photo identification:


Yes, it’s our old pal Buddy Lester—whom we last saw on the show as a salesman who successfully sold would-be shoe peddler Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) a pen in the episode “An Efficient Service Station.”  Howard and Millie catch Pierce in mid-sandwich; he explains that agents have to grab a bite of lunch whenever they can.

PIERCE: Now what can I do for you?
HOWARD: Well, we’d like to book an act for a roadhouse…
PIERCE: Oh…what’s the name of the joint?
MILLIE: It’s called Morelli’s…

“Morelli’s?  I thought the Board of Health closed that place already…”

PIERCE: Morelli’s…that’s outside of Chicago, isn’t it?
HOWARD: No…it’s outside of Mayberry…
PIERCE: Outside of what?
HOWARD/MILLIE: Mayberry…
HOWARD: It’s a small town, but rather sophisticated, I’d say…

If by “sophistication” one means The Dukes of Hazzard airs exclusively on PBS…

PIERCE (grabbing a Rolodex): Well…lemme see who I got that ain’t workin’…you know, I handle some of the biggest acts in the country—some of them world renowned…sophisticated, you say, huh?
HOWARD: Right…
PIERCE: Sophisticated…S…S…ah!  Picked one right off the bat…Harbinger the Magician…
MILLIE: Definitely no…you see…
HOWARD: Mr. Pierce, I think I can straighten you out pretty quick…what we’re actually looking for is a musical act who’s known in the area…I mean, that people have seen on local television or somewhere around…a name that’s familiar to them…
PIERCE: Well, I don’t know…like I said, most of my acts are world renowned…local, huh?  (Back to the Rolodex) L…L…local…ah!  The Claghorn Brothers?
MILLIE: Oh, you mean the ones that used to be on WBTD?
PIERCE: Yeah…yeah…
HOWARD (excitedly): Oh hey, Millie—I think we’re onto something…the Claghorn brothers are great!  Good singing, and funny, too!
MILLIE: Oh, well…I think they’d be just perfect!

Claghorn…Claghorn…it seems, I say, it seems to me I’ve heard that name somewhere before…


HOWARD: How much do they get?  I mean, this would be for the weekend, Saturday and Sunday…
PIERCE (after some thought): Five hundred bucks? That’s two shows a night…
MILLIE: But Mr. Morelli said we could spend that much…
HOWARD (getting up out of his chair): Mr. Pierce…you got yourself a deal!
PIERCE (shaking Howard’s hand): Good…you made a wise decision…

Well, it sounds good on paper at least—but will it pass muster with Mayberry’s resident fix-it savant, Emmett “Lowest Common Denominator” Clark (Paul Hartman)?

EMMETT: Hey—the Claghorn Brothers, huh?
HOWARD: Right!
EMMETT: Oh, they’re great…they’re just great…
SAM: Yeah, Howard…you and Millie picked out a real winner there…those Claghorn Brothers are a big attraction around here—they oughta really pull the people in…
HOWARD (beaming): Oh, yeah…they got what it takes, all right…good singing, guitar playing…and a lot of humor in what they say…they get off some real rib-ticklers…
SAM: Yeah…
EMMETT (laughing): I like it when the big guy goes dancin’ around singin’ into the jug…
SAM: Yeah…
HOWARD: And the little guy’s good, too…

Oh, spiffing…you’ve spent $500 of someone else’s money on a jug band, Howard.  Take a victory lap.  Howard, professional booker of talent that he is, then whips out a floor plan of the restaurant in order to show Sam and Emmett how the production will get underway…

HOWARD: Now—as far as the lighting goes…Sam, what’s your feeling about an amber spot?

“Um…well, I saw Amber Spott dance down at the Titty Twister and thought she was pretty good…”

SAM: Well…uh…gee, I don’t know…amber’s a nice color…
HOWARD: Check…now, I guess the boys will need a combination to back them up…
EMMETT: You mean music?
HOWARD: Yeah…they’ll need accompaniment on some of their numbers…what are some of the combos we’ve used at the dances?
SAM: Well, let me see…at the last thing we had we used Swifty Lewis and his Mad Hatters…
EMMETT: They must be good…’cause people still danced til’ twelve-thirty…
HOWARD: Swifty Lewis…yeah, I’ll check him out later this afternoon…he works righ down here at the toll bridge…

And what’s more, you can get Swifty and the Hatters for a mere spaghetti dinner and a lap dance from Amber.  Sam tells Howard and Emmett that he’s going over to Morelli’s and get him up to speed, also suggesting that Mr. M publicize the big event.  Apparently the notices in the Hooterville World-Guardian were effective because in a scene dissolve we find Sam, Millie and Howard seated at Morelli’s and Howard bragging about all those who have R.S.V.P.’d:

HOWARD: Hey, it’s a real sellout, all right…
SAM: Well, great…great…
HOWARD: Yeah, the crème de la crème, too—we’ve got people coming from Walnut Hill, Magnolia Park and Winston Meadows…the real jet-set!

“Abigail, let’s drive into Mayberry and see what those yokels are up to on a Saturday night…it might be frightfully amusing…”

MILLIE (to Mr. Morelli): Are you going to have enough food?
MORELLI: That’s what I’m working on now!  And I want to thank you very much—all of you…you saved Morelli’s…
SAM: Aw…
HOWARD: Oh, forget it, Mr. Morelli…oh, yeah—by the way…I thought it might be a good idea if somebody got up and introduced the Claghorn Brothers…you know?  And I suppose it really should be one of us…how about you, Sam?
SAM: Oh, me?  No, not me…how about you, Howard?
HOWARD: Well, how about you, Mr. Morelli?

“Look, Nancy—that food in the kitchen doesn’t cook itself, you know…”

MORELLI: Me get up in front of an audience?  I faint…
HOWARD: Well… (Chuckling) I suppose I might be able to handle it…
SAM: Look if there’s nothing more for me to do here there’s something I really have to take care of at the farm…

And as his friends chew the insides of their mouths to keep from laughing out loud at that patently ridiculous notion, Millie gives Sam a send-off just as the phone starts to ring over at the front of the restaurant.  “I’ll get it,” announces Howard as he makes his way over.  “I’ll just have to tell them we’re full up.”


HOWARD: Morelli’s…Howard Sprague speaking…oh, hi, Mr. Claghorn!  We were…what… (Ominous music up full) Well, you can’t…no!  I mean…Mr. Claghorn, we…well, yes…yeah…I understand…goodbye…
(Howard hangs up the phone with an expression that looks like he’s the victim of someone breaking into his house and swiping his stamp collection)
MILLIE: H-Howard?  What’s the matter?
HOWARD: That was Elmer Claghorn…his brother Willie’s about to become a father somewhat prematurely and they’re leaving for Atlanta…they cancelled out on us!
MILLIE: Oh, no! 
MORELLI: Cancelled out?  (Sighing) It was too good to be true…
MILLIE: But we’ve got this mob coming!
HOWARD: I know, I know…let’s just not panic…I’ll have to get on the phone with Charlie Pierce and see if he can send us some kind of replacement…if not Charlie Pierce, then some other agent…

Cue the sad trombone!  Howard’s failed attempts to get Pierce to answer his phone are explained away as it being a Saturday…though I personally believe it’s because Pierce isn’t wild about Howard calling him by his first name so he's ignoring the calls.  And the other agents are in solidarity; with the hours ticking away before the big event the only luck Howard’s had at landing a replacement act has been all bad…

HOWARD (dejectedly): No answer at any of the booking agencies…it’s Saturday…
MILLIE: Oh…
HOWARD: Well, doesn’t anybody know of any local talent?
MORELLI: I don’t know anybody…

Well, I was going to suggest Millie do a little entertaining for us…but what I’d like for her to do probably isn’t appropriate for a family sitcom…

HOWARD (frustrated): Just somebody who could sing a little!  Or…or do anything!
MILLIE: There’s just nobody
HOWARD (after a pause, and then you can almost see a light bulb by his head): Millie…
MILLIE: Yes?
HOWARD: What about Sam?
MILLIE: Well, what about him?
HOWARD: Well, you know that show he was in when he was in the Army…maybe he could do something from that…
MORELLI: Sam Jones?

Yeah, Mr. Morelli…Sam Jones is the only thing keeping you and your fine eatery from being demolished by an angry Walnut Hill-Magnolia Park-Winston Meadows horde.  Be afraid…be very afraid…

HOWARD: He did some shows in high school, too…he sang and dance and he was good
MILLIE: Oh, whatever that show was I know he did it a lot at the Army bases…oh, but that was years ago…
HOWARD: Yeah, but a performer never forgets that stuff…

Speak for yourself, Debate Team Boy—if it weren’t for the Internets I’d never remember all the words to “Jubilation T. Cornpone”…

MILLIE: There’s only one little hitch…I don’t think Sam would do it…
HOWARD (after a pause): Yeah, but that may depend on the approach…
MILLIE: What do you mean?
HOWARD: Millie, we’ve got to handle this carefully…very carefully…
MILLIE: Right...


As the two of them conspiratorially shake hands, the entire blogosphere can be heard collectively shouting: “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”  (Or it could just be me…but if it was, the voice would be kind of raspy.)  After the General Foods break, Howard and Millie pay Sam a visit at Jones Farms, where our hero manages to say with a straight face that he working on repairing a “darn pressure gauge off my irrigation pump”…(chortle)

SAM: Did you finish up out at Morelli’s?  (Howard and Millie respond in the affirmative)Yeah, I’m sure looking forward to the big night tonight…oh, Howard—I meant to ask you…did, uh…did anybody make any arrangements for the Claghorns?  I mean, a place for them to stay while they’re in town?
HOWARD: I-I-I-I-I spoke to Elmer Claghorn about half an hour ago…
SAM: Oh, good…
HOWARD: Yeah…
SAM: I should have known you’d take care of everything… (Millie and Howard laugh) Uh…well…you want to see me about anything special?
HOWARD (taking a deep breath): Sam, there comes a time in the course of human events…
SAM: Howard…Howard, how about just coming out with it…

Oh, but Sam…why not let him tell it in his own fashion, because you’re going to live forever

HOWARD: The Claghorn Brothers have cancelled out…
SAM: What?  Oh, no…why?
MILLIE: Oh, the details are unimportant…but there’s nobody else we can get—all the booking agencies are closed…
HOWARD: Sam…it’s up to you

“You’ve got just three hours to become a booking agent and build up a swell clientele in order to find us a replacement for the no-show Claghorns!”

SAM: Up to me?  Well, what can I do?
HOWARD: Something from that show you did when you were in the Army…
SAM (trying to get the words out): Oh, now wait a minute…wait a minute…you can’t be serious!  I’m no professional!  And besides…do you know how long ago that’s been?  That was twelve years!
MILLIE: But you said it was a big hit!  You said so yourself!
SAM: Don’t you understand…it’s just been too long ago…
HOWARD: Sam…is that your final word?
SAM: Oh, look…I’m sorry… (Howard and Millie turn and walk away, disgusted with their friend) I…I’m sorry…no, really… (Calling after them) I’m…I’m sorry…it’s just that I…I…I’m sorry!  I…I’m…sorry…

I’m not always that good at reading people, but I can’t help but think that Sam is sorry.  But not nearly as sorry as the treatment he’s going to get from this turniphead, who just so happens to run the town’s fix-it shop:

SAM: Emmett…hey, Emmett…I wonder if you’d take a look at this pressure gauge for me…it’s off my irrigation pump and it’s not registering for some reason…
EMMETT: Take it somewhere else…I don’t do business with fair-weather friends
SAM: What?
EMMETT: Morelli’s…you’re lettin’ it go down the drain…
SAM: Oh…look, Emmett…they’re asking me to do something I haven’t done for twelve years!
EMMETT: So what?  Sam Jones…Mister Nice Guy…

“That’s Mister Mister Nice Guy to you, my fine friend…”

EMMETT: Mayberry’s Sir Lancelot…not in my book you ain’t…
SAM: Look, Emmett…
EMMETT: I hope you never get your pressure gauge fixed…
SAM: Emmett, try to understand, will ya?  I’d be a flop!
EMMETT: Maybe…but at least you’d give Morelli a fighting chance…and I’ll thank you to keep your pressure gauge off my counter!  (The camera cuts to a barking dog standing in the doorway) See?  Even he’s heard about it… (To the dog) Sic ‘em!  Sic ‘em!  Sic ‘em!

Oh, if only that dog would go Cujo on Sam’s ass…this would be the best R.F.D. ever!  Unfortunately, he just chases our hero out the door, and the scene shifts to the restaurant, where Mr. Morelli sits dejectedly doing paperwork…

SAM: You’re not going to open at all?
MORELLI: No point…the people will hate me if there is no entertainment…sit down…
SAM (seating himself): Thank you…
MORELLI: Now, uh…I still want to thank everybody for being so kind…and trying, anyhow…
SAM: Aw, gee…I wish I could help, Mr. Morelli…but really, there’s…
MORELLI:: Please…Sam…don’t apologize…I know you’d do it if you thought you could…Sam…if you need any…pounded steaks…I have about a hundred and fifty of them…

Wait a minute…has this…this has all been a scheme to get some free beef!  Sam, you magnificent bastard!  I never…oh…wait one more minute…Sam’s not that clever to cadge some gratis meat…this plan would have had to have been hatched by a person not only familiar with the food situation at Rancho Jones…but someone who is pure dagnasty evil


You read my mind, good people.  This will go a long ways toward explaining why Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) isn’t in this episode…she’s working behind the scenes…well, Sam and Mr. Morelli don’t have much to say to one another after this—he asks Morelli if he still plans to relocate to St. Louis and when Morelli answers in the affirmative, Sam breaks another uncomfortable silence by telling him he’ll see him again before he leaves…

Sam is really getting a major guilt trip out of all this, and to be honest I don’t think it’s fair.  After all, he’s not Rob Freakin’ Petrie here.  And besides, Millie was in burlesque shows in Raleigh—ferchrissake, why won’t someone suggest she do a little bump-and-grind for the sake of an old man who’s going to wind up flipping burgers if his restaurant goes under?  (I know you think this is all about me, but I only want what’s best for kindly Mr. Morelli.)


Alone while drinking a cup of joe, Sam starts to sing the words to the tune he performed while in the Army, desperately trying to remember the routine…


…he even attempts to try a little bit of the ol’ footwork, and is pleased when it all comes back to him…


His confidence returned, he gets on the horn and asks Sara—Mayberry’s phone operator and gossip queen—to get Howard on the phone.  It’s a momentous occasion here in Mayberry; Sam is going out on the floor of the restaurant as a city council official…but he’s coming back a star!

Ladies and gentlemen…Morelli’s of Mayberry is pleased to present your master of ceremonies for this evening…that kounty klerk of komedy, Howard Sprague!


HOWARD: Good evening, ladies and germs… (Laughs) Yeah…um…I’m Howard Sprague, your master of ceremonies…and a funny thing happened to me on the way to the club tonight—I was driving along, and a chicken…flew right into the windshield of my car


I’m interrupting this hilarious monologue because I love this picture of Millie and Emmett sitting at the table…Emmett’s looking around as if he expects Martha (Mary Lansing) to breeze in and catch him at any minute.  Where the hell is Mrs. Clark, anyway?  No wonder that marriage is always in trouble—Emmett’s too busy cattin’ around to pay her any attention.

HOWARD: …and the farmer came running out, and he said: “Uh, Mr. Motorist, that’s a very valuable chicken—he’s worth ten thousand dollars…”  And I said: “How can any chicken be worth ten thousand dollars?”  And he said: “Well, sir, that chicken can recite the Gettysburg Address…”  And I said: “Mr. Farmer, I’d like to hear that chicken say the Gettysburg Address…”  And he said: “I’m sorry, he can’t—he only does it on the Fourth of July…”

Millie is the only one in the joint who laughs at this, which just makes me love her all the more.  (Personally, I think Howard should have gone with that lisping parrot joke Andy wanted him to tell last week.)  “Well, so much for the humorous part of the show,” Howard continues on, bathed in flop sweat (“He gets things off to a nice lull,” cracks Emmett); he announces to those assembled that there’s been a slight change in tonight’s program by revealing that the Claghorn Brothers will not appear.  As the crowd grows restless and you can hear the faint sounds of beer bottles being broken against the bar to use as weaponry, Howard brings on the replacement: “Swingin’ Sam Jones!”


Those of you who were expecting to see Sam dressed in a Frank Sinatra fedora and coat stylishly draped over his shoulder really ought to read this weekly feature more often; he comes out instead channeling his inner Ray Bolger and sings and dances to a forgettable little ditty about how barnyard sounds are “heavenly music” to him.  Just be thankful I didn’t upload this to YouTube, and I will be expecting your PayPal donations in return sometime before the week is out.  (When I first watched this, the portable DVD player in my bedroom did not have a fast forward function…in Athens, several people can hear you scream.)


Well, maybe I’m being a tad harsh—the crowd in Morelli’s seem to like his stuff, as they applaud wildly like a group starved for entertainment…not to mention pounded steaks.  (I have never been so anxious to get to the coda of an episode in all my life.)

We find Sam, Millie, Howard, Emmett and Mr. Morelli in the city council office, where Howard is reading a glowing review of Sam’s performance in the Mayberry Gazette:

HOWARD: You were a smash!
MILLIE: Oh, everybody thought you were just wonderful
SAM: I got by, that’s about it…
MORELLI: Uh-uh-uh…but you know, all the people told me “Hey…will he come back next week?”
SAM: Oh, no…no no…I did my one number, that’s it
EMMETT: Well, I’ll fix your pressure gauge anytime you want me to, Sam…
SAM: Well, since I’m such a big star I don’t know if I’m going to give you my business anymore…
MILLIE: Oh, you… (Laughing with everyone else)
HOWARD: Well, I guess we’ll just have to call Charlie Pierce and see if we can get something new for next weekend…
MILLIE: Oh, what about an emcee?  Are you ready to do it again, Howard?
HOWARD: Oh, no…nooo…I’m a one-shot man, too…
EMMETT: Well, we’ll have to get somebody to introduce the act…whatever it is…
MORELLI: I was thinking of the same thing… (He gets up from his chair) Now, Howard…I watched you last night…yes…and I was thinking…I said…well…uh…should a chef always be a chef?  Just a chef?
SAM: You, Mr. Morelli?
MORELLI: Why not?  (Clearing his throat) Something very funny happened to me last night…in the kitchen…I was stirring the zuppe, and a fellow comes in and says: “Hey!  It looks like rain!”  And I said…”Yes…but it smells like zuppe!”

Something certainly smells all right.  (After this episode, I’m putting in for hazard pay.)

With Aunt Bee diabolically working behind the scenes in order to make certain Sam can put meat on the table for the winter, we don’t see her physically in this episode, so Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Mayberry R.F.D. Bee-o-meter™ stalls at one appearance in the second season and thirteen show-ups overall.  (I’m guessing that Mike the Idiot Boy [Buddy Foster] must be acting as her loyal minion, since he’s MIA from this episode as well…not that I’m complaining, mind you.)  So except for a few stray choruses of “Carolina Moon” in some of the codas in future episodes Sam puts his terpsichorean skills in mothballs until “Community Spirit”—a much funnier episode than this one that, sadly, is in the third season so it will be a while before I get to it.  As for next week…well, it puts Howard Sprague in the spotlight but not in one of his better showcases—so the decision to come back here next week for “Howard the Poet” will be left entirely up to you.

*Puglia is also in a 1935 Technicolor comedy entitled Okay, José!—which is discussed in passing in this post at TDOY friend and supporter She Blogged by Night.


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8 comments:

Stacia said...

Pfft. I don't just mention "Okay, Jose" in passing, that's the whole dang short right there, my friend. It just seems like it's in passing because the plot is so thin: El bandito, la policia, El Brendel in drag, FIN. Puglia es el comandante in the short, and he has a pretty big role but is unforgivably credited below lesser parts.

But enough about "Okay, Jose." This MRFD episode would have killed me dead. I cannot abide by song 'n' dance numbers in sitcoms. It all started when I was frightened as a child by Valerie Bertinelli's Elton John impersonation on "One Day at a Time".

Did poor underage Symma get to speak any lines? I hope she was just a friend of a producer who asked her to do this at the last minute.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Did poor underage Symma get to speak any lines? I hope she was just a friend of a producer who asked her to do this at the last minute.

Symma doesn't say a word the entire time. And since this would appear to be her only credit at the always reliable IMDb, I think your guess about her "friend of the producer" status is right on the money.

Pfft. I don't just mention "Okay, Jose" in passing

You'll notice that I use the term "in passing" at the beginning of this post, so when I used it again in pointing people to "Okay, Jose" there was no malice intended. It's just a writer's tic of mine.

It all started when I was frightened as a child by Valerie Bertinelli's Elton John impersonation on "One Day at a Time".

You know, I was scarred by the same experience. Just as Jeff Overturf is my long-lost brother, I'm beginning to suspect that I have another sister of which I wasn't previously aware.

Kevin Deany said...

That "heavenly music" number sounds like the same song Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers performed in the 1950 musical "Summer Stock."

quizshowbob said...

I want a hat like Howards.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

That "heavenly music" number sounds like the same song Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers performed in the 1950 musical "Summer Stock."

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you were correct, Kev. I tend to leave musical matters in Pam's hands because I know when I'm way out of my depth.

mndean said...

Producer's "friend with benefits"? Ah, maybe not since she only got the one part.

Puglia's also pretty funny as the police chief (and Pat O'Brien's puppet) in Torrid Zone.

Stacia said...

I didn't mean to imply you were being malicious - sorry! I was trying to say that my summary of "Okay, Jose" looks like a brief mention because the plot was so thin. Sigh. Passions run high when El is in drag.

Regarding Symma, I really did mean friend because I was thinking "friend of the producer's daughter." You all think I'm joking, but I'm not, that's honestly what I was imagining!

As you can see with both these examples, my brain isn't working at full capacity lately, and I am being very silly as a result.

Toby O'B said...

If only somebody in Mayberry went into the Morelli's bathroom and pulled out that gun taped behind the toilet water tank.....

As for song and dance in sitcoms, it has to be the right context. It always works in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. A tap dance with 'My Mother The Car' might be a bit tough to pull off.....