Monday, October 3, 2011

The Dick Van Dyke Show Blogathon: “Never Bathe on Saturday” (03/03/65)


The above image is my earliest memory of the situation comedy that I consider to be the greatest in television history.  I’m a little fuzzy on how old I was when I first watched this episode, but I do know that I was so young that I asked my Mom why the lady’s toe had got caught in the faucet and she sort of hemmed and hawed before finding an explanation that would essentially get me to stop asking questions.  (It’s sort of difficult explaining to a kid that age an episode with a strong subtext dealing with sexual frustration, I suppose…not to mention major titillation about a woman being nude, though you never actually see it on camera.)

As “Never Bathe on Saturday” opens, Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) carries his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) into the house and sets her gingerly on the sofa.  There’s a noticeable tension in the air, but it’s not the sort created after a married couple has just had a knock-down, drag-out fight…it’s the kind where you’ve just had a trying experience and you’re glad to just be home so you can try and forget about it all.  This tension is noticed by the Petrie’s next-door neighbor and Laura’s best friend, Millie Helper (Ann Morgan Guilbert), who comes into the house carrying a small suitcase…she became concerned when she noticed some of the Petries’ luggage sitting out in the driveway.

Millie starts to pump Laura with questions, because she’s convinced that the couple has had a fight, and Laura patiently tries to explain that this wasn’t so…though again, there is clearly frustration in her voice and manner as she converses with her friend.  She reveals that during their sojourn, Rob spent most of the time on the phone while she spent most of the time in the bathtub:

MILLIE: Is it something you can’t tell me?
LAURA: No, as a matter of fact it’s something most people would find very amusing…I suppose I will, too, someday…a month…when the throbbing stops

Finally, she agrees to tell Millie what happened…and at this point in the narrative, the sitcom resorts to one of its oft-used devices, the flashback.

The flashback technique wasn’t anything new to TV by this time, but I can safely say that The Dick Van Dyke Show definitely raised it to new heights.  It was necessary to use flashbacks whenever Rob and Laura would reminisce about their early courtship days (which was quite often) or the early stages of Rob’s writing career…but the show’s writers also put the device to use whenever there were zany elements present in a story or if something just plain out of the ordinary happened to one of the series’ characters.  In essence, by starting with that semblance of normality (where everything has been restored) but allowing the individual to talk about “this crazy thing that happened to me” as if it were a past incident kept the show grounded in reality no matter how “way out” some of the plots seemed.  (Reiner observed in the DVD commentary for “Saturday” that he was fond of telling the audience what happened and then showing it to them once their interest had been piqued.)

Rob and Laura have planned a romantic second honeymoon together at a swanky hotel; they’re essentially scheduled to see a Broadway show, but there’s a none-too-subtle indication that there’ll be an additional show afterward that will be confined to their hotel suite, he said, trying to be as subtle as possible.  Laura is overwhelmed by the opulence of their room, though Rob tries to be nonchalant about both the elegance and the cost (later, however, he giddily declares the room to be “a spiffy place” and kicks off his shoes to shuffle his feet on the plush carpeting):

LAURA: Darling, don’t you like this place?
ROB: Oh, well…it’s all right…I would have preferred a little something more elegant and expensive…
LAURA: Anything more expensive and we’d have to postpone Richie’s orthodontia
ROB: Yeah—who cares?
LAURA: You don’t care that your son’s back teeth don’t mesh?
ROB: Let him eat soup

Rob goes into a clinch for a kiss, but Laura is concerned that they have company, in the form of the bellhop that brought up the bags to the suite.  “What about the bellboy?” she asks.  “You first,” Rob jokingly responds.

Now to the subject of that bellboy.  If we apply the radical theories of television espoused by our good friend Dr. Tobias O’Brien of the Toobworld Institute, there would appear to be a conundrum in that neither Rob nor Laura recognizes this individual as Herman Glimscher, the mother-dominated boyfriend of Rob’s co-worker Sally Rogers (Rose Marie).  Dr. O’Brien would probably explain this away by insinuating that the three of them probably do know each other, but that this is a romantic rendezvous that they’re trying to keep secret from friends and family and that Herman is in on the deal.  Nevertheless, I remain baffled by the implications.

Okay, I’m just having a little fun here—the bellhop looks like Herman because he’s played by the same actor, Bill Idelson, who appeared on the Van Dyke show on a number of occasions as Sally’s boyfriend.  (In 2004, when CBS aired The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, we learned that Herm and Sal finally got together in the matrimonial way…something that the sloppy sentimentalist in me found very sweet.)  Idelson was not only an actor who appeared on such shows as Dragnet, The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, etc. but an individual who worked on the other side of camera as a writer-script consultant (Gomer Pyle, USMC, The Odd Couple) and producer (Anna and the King, The Bob Newhart Show).  He’s fondly remembered by OTR fans as Rush Gook, the adopted son of the couple who lived in “the small house halfway up the next block,” Vic and Sade.

True story: When I was on the college quiz bowl team during my ivy-covered years at my alma mater, Armstrong State College, we got a three-part question on the subject of TV trivia during a match.  TV trivia was pretty much up my alley, though I am ashamed to admit that I only got two parts of the question right because I couldn’t remember the name of the motion picture studio that Jed Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies had an interest in—I knew it began with an “M” and for some reason I couldn’t think of anything but “Monogram” (it’s actually “Mammoth”).  But the last part of the question was “Who was Sally Rogers’ momma’s boy-boyfriend on The Dick Van Dyke Show?”—a question I could have answered in my sleep.  We got it right, and the moderator—an instructor at Georgia Tech who disdained all movie, TV and music trivia because he seriously thought it was contributing to the downfall of Western society—shook his head and muttered, “A normal human being should not know things like that.”  (Make of that what you will.)

Okay, let’s get back to the episode.  Rob and Laura are luxuriating in their surroundings, making themselves comfortable on the swanky furniture:

LAURA: Oh, darling—this is so much fun…how come we never did this before?
ROB: Because we never could afford it before, that’s why…but just stick with me, baby—we’re going to make your parents eat their words…
LAURA: What words were those?
ROB: “Rob Petrie is a bum and he’s never going to amount to anything…”
LAURA: Oh…when did they say that?
ROB: Last night…
LAURA (getting up from the couch): They’re absolutely right…but we haven’t seen my parents for months
ROB: Well, I dreamt it…
LAURA (as she starts to unpack a suitcase): Is…uh…that the dream you said you couldn’t tell me about?
ROB: No, that’s the one I could


Laura pulls a naughty little nightie out of her valise and Rob’s eyes nearly pop out of their sockets.  “Where did you get that?” he asks.

LAURA (giving him a look): The hardware store…
ROB: Boy, honey—do you know where to shop

Rob proposes that they have some hors d’oeurves sent up to the room and then they’ll dine after the show, and he orders caviar and champagne on the phone—“a good bottle,” he is careful to specify.  (“January 1965?  Very good.”)

ROB: Oh…and one rose…thank you!  (He hangs up the phone)
LAURA (tenderly): Aww Rob…
ROB: Did you want a rose, too?

So while the Petries wait for the grub and the drinks to arrive, Laura announces that she’s going to soak in a hot tub…something that she’s mentioned “ten times in the car on the way down here.”  Since she has just enough time to get her toes “pruney,” she heads off for the bathroom and Rob plans to unpack:

ROB: Hey, uh, honey?
LAURA: Hmm?
ROB: How should I dress for the champagne hour?
LAURA: Oh, uh…David Niven-ish…you know…smoking jacket, ascot…hmm?  Oh!  And see if you can grow a moustache…


Rob decks himself out in his smoking jacket and wraps a scarf around his neck to simulate an ascot…he then pantomimes downing a glass of champagne and does a funny “Reginald Van Gleason” bit in homage to The Great One.  He then finds what he thinks is Laura’s eyebrow pencil and starts to draw a duster over his upper lip…and then this person makes her entrance:


In the panoply of my beloved character actresses, Kathleen Freeman would duke it out with any contender for first place.  She is one of my true favorites; she doesn’t even have to say anything (but it’s beautiful when she does) to get me to laugh.  I don’t know how many fans of The Disorderly Orderly (1964) are out there but that woman walks off with the picture under Jerry Lewis’ nose and anyone who disputes this can just step outside.   (The scene where she’s laying on the couch, telling Lewis’ character that she loves him through gritted teeth…I have to watch myself or I will have an accident while laughing.)

Freeman is the hotel housekeeper, and she’s brought up some extra towels for Rob and Laura.  She lays them down on the chair by the door and walks back toward the doorway, making certain to give Rob a wide berth…but then she stops and helpfully points to the left side of his lip, saying “You need a little more on this side.”  She then turns and exits the room…but not before giving Rob one last look as if to say “Seek professional help.”

Rob is so impressed with his handiwork that he starts to admire himself in the mirror and then proceeds to talk to himself: “All right, lady…this is it!  Because you happen to be a married woman and I happen to be your husband with a very jazzy moustache, there is no reason for you…”

He stops suddenly, and it’s because he has an audience…it’s Bellhop Billy (his character’s name is “Bruce,” by the way), this time with a fruit basket compliments of the management.

BRUCE: Uh…you…you are Mr. Petrie, aren’t ya…?
ROB: Well, yes…that’s right…
BRUCE: You didn’t have a moustache when I brought you up here…
ROB (laughing): Well, uh…yeah, of course I had a moustache when you…
BRUCE: Oh no, sir…you see, I’m studying to be a house detective and I remember things like moustaches and beards and…false teeth, scars and moles…I don’t remember that moustache…
ROB (still laughing): Well, then you better keep studying, huh?
(Rob hands him a coin for a tip, and upon further examination, realization finally sets in for Bruce)
BRUCE: You painted it on!
ROB (sheepishly): Well…yeah…
BRUCE (as he walks out the door): Well, sure…he painted it on!  I knew I wasn’t crazy…

After Sherlock Bellboy leaves, Laura calls to Rob from inside the bathroom, wanting him to come in…so he walks over to the door and tries to open it—and when it won’t budge he cracks “Don’t toy with me, you saucy wench…”  But Rob’s problems are just beginning:

LAURA (from inside): Darling…can’t you open the door?
ROB: It’s locked, honey…if you want me, you’ll have to get out of the tub…
LAURA: I can’t
ROB: Why can’t you?
LAURA: Because I’m stuck
ROB: Stuck? (Laughing) How could you be stuck in a bathtub?
LAURA: Well, darling…if you come in I’ll show you…

Rob still can’t get the door to open, and so he calls the hotel’s front desk, all the while failing to grasp just how Laura got into her predicament (“How could you be stuck in a bathtub—is it that narrow?”).  Getting the front desk on the phone (“My wife locked herself in there…no, not against me—it was an accident!”), he reassures Laura that the hotel is sending up a maid with a key that will unlock the bathroom door:

ROB (through the door): How do you feel?
LAURA: Wet and stupid…
ROB: Honey, what is your foot stuck in?
LAURA: The faucet…
ROB (after a reaction): The…the faucet?
LAURA: You know…the little pipe that the water comes out of…
ROB: Well, honey, that’s…that’s not the faucet, honey…
LAURA: Rob…I don’t care what you call it…my big toe is stuck…
ROB: Well, how did…how did you do it?
LAURA: I was playing with the drip

There’s a knock on the hotel room door, and Rob, after announcing that the maid has arrived with the key, discovers that it’s actually a waiter (Johnny Silver) from room service…who wheels in the Petries’ caviar and champagne…Rob, flustered by Laura’s situation, fumbles around (he forgets to tip the guy on the ticket) but finally takes care of the service when Laura beseeches him to hurry, complaining “I’m starting to look like a prune!”  “Did she say she wanted prunes?” the waiter asks Rob, as he hustles him out of the room.

Laura then asks Rob if that was the maid, and when he replies in the negative Freeman’s housekeeper arrives on cue just in time to hear Laura ask “Where’s that stupid maid with the key?”  (“She’s right here, honey…” is Rob’s embarrassed reply.)

MAID: Stupid maid, huh?
ROB: Well, we had a stupid maid once… (Rob walks over to the bathroom door and putting the key in the lock, still can’t get the door open) Doesn’t seem to work…darn it!
MAID: Pardon?
LAURA (from inside): What is it?
ROB: Well, the key doesn’t work, honey…
MAID: May I?
ROB (stepping aside so the maid can have a go): I don’t think that’s the right key…
MAID: It’s the right key…
ROB: Apparently it isn’t…
(The maid begins struggling with the door key)
LAURA: Rob, what’s the matter?
ROB: Well, we got the wrong key…
MAID: It’s the right key!  (Through the door) Uh, dearie—would you try jiggling the doorknob?
LAURA: I can’t reach the doorknob…
MAID: Why not?
ROB: She’s stuck!  May I? Please?
(The maid gives Rob as a look as he switches places with her again)
MAID: Look, why can’t your wife open the door from the other side?
ROB: Because she’s stuck in the tub…
MAID: And she calls me stupid…

Rob asks the maid if that’s the only key, and she snaps “That’s it, Ace…” so he decides to break down the door, only to be informed by the housekeeper that the hotel will charge him for it.  So he instructs the maid to keep at the door while he tries to get hotel maintenance on the phone:

ROB (on the phone): Hello?  May I have the engineer, please?
LAURA (inside the bathroom): Maybe you’ve got the key in upside down, darling…
MAID (snappish): I know how to use a key, dearie…
LAURA: Sorry…
ROB (on phone): Hello?  This is Suite 17-C…engineer?  Could you come up and see if you can open up a locked bathroom door for us?  No, no…the housekeeper sent up the maid with the wrong key…
MAID: It’s the right key!  It’s your door!
ROB: It’s not my door…
MAID: Well, when you bust it down it will be…look, I’ve got beds to turn down…
ROB: Hold on just a minute… (To the maid) Turn ‘em down, I’ve got the engineer now… (Back to the phone) Hello?
MAID (muttering as she walks out of the room): She gets stuck in the bathroom…he paints on moustaches…they’re a great match!

Rob stresses to the engineer that Laura’s being trapped in the bathroom is an emergency and when he’s told that the engineer has bigger fish to fry (we later find out that there are some people stuck in the hotel elevator) he becomes frustrated and threatens to break down the door again.  (Freeman’s maid comes in briefly because she’s forgotten her bed linen and upon hearing Rob’s threats once again reiterates: “They’ll charge you for it!”  “So let ‘em!” Rob shoots back.)

ROB (through the door): Honey, how do you feel?
LAURA: Waterlogged…
ROB: Well, why don’t you let the water out of the tub?
LAURA: Too chilly in here…
ROB: Well…can’t you put your robe on?
LAURA: Nope…can’t reach it…
ROB: Well, how…how about draping some towels around you?
LAURA: What towels?
ROB (after a slight pause): Laura, I’m gonna bust down the door…
LAURA: Oh, Rob…isn’t that kind of drastic?
ROB: You want to get out, don’t ya?
LAURA: Well, not at the expense of a broken husband

Rob assures Laura that he’s not going to hurt himself because “there’s a technique to these things…” (He then mumbles to himself: “I wish I knew what it was.”)  He gets a running start from the other side of the room but before he hits the door Laura begs for him to stop because there’s a full-length mirror on the other side of the door and she’s afraid that she’ll be cut by the flying glass when it falls off from the impact.  Rob’s solution to this is to ask Laura to cover herself with the bathmat, and he’s off to the races again.  He hits the door and conjures up a beautifully contorted facial expression of excruciating pain, which is made even funnier when Laura asks through the door: “Did you hit it yet?”  Rob has a total of three tries at the door but the wood refuses to give way…the last try results in a loud crash inside the bathroom, where he’s informed that he knocked the mirror off the door.

Rob is all set to bruise himself a fourth time despite Laura’s fear that when he comes crashing through the door he’ll injure himself on the broken glass scattered over the bathroom floor.  He never gets to complete Try #4 because Bruce the Bellboy has arrived on the scene with the hotel detective (Bernard “Dr. Bombay” Fox), who’s brandishing a pistol:

ROB: Who are you?
DETECTIVE: The house detective!
BRUCE: You see, there’s that phony moustache—he’s a nut!
ROB: Now wait just a minute…
DETECTIVE: Get away from that door or I’ll blow you up…
BRUCE: And he’s not kiddin’!
LAURA (inside): What’s going on?
DETECTIVE: It’s all right, madame…everything’s under control…just don’t come out for a minute or two…
ROB: She can’t come out…
DETECTIVE: What have you done to her?
ROB (frustrated, through clenched teeth): I tied her up…

The hotel dick and Bruce get Rob down on the floor and when Bruce tries to stuff a handkerchief in Rob’s mouth to subdue him he gets a nasty surprise (Bruce: “He bit me!”).  The detective announces his intention to blow the lock off the bathroom door, which inspires Rob to spring into action, snatching the man’s gun from him and holding him and Bruce at gunpoint:

ROB: Now only a husband…can blow the lock off a bathroom…with his wife in a bathtub with nothing on…and her…her toe stuck in a pipe!  Now call me a prude if you like…(Rob points the gun at the bathroom door lock and fires off a shot, and then turns back in the direction of the two men) Now you stay right there and don’t make a move… (He goes into the bathroom) Honey, are you all right?
LAURA (from inside the bathroom): Oh, Rob…
ROB (laughing) I’m sorry, you look so funny…
LAURA: Well, gee…
(Rob emerges from the bathroom in hysterics as Bruce and the detective stare at one another with puzzled looks)
ROB (having momentarily lost it): You guys want to see something ridiculous?  (He then regains his composure and continues to point the gun at the two men)

The engineer (Arthur Malet) finally arrives to rescue Laura from the bathtub, and it looks as if the Petries aren’t going to make it in time for the show—when the man starts to use his saw on the pipe and Rob asks “Is there any particular reason you’re sawing so slowly?” he replies: “The best one…I’m seventy-five years old.”  He manages to saw off the faucet, but she still has the fixture clamped to her toe:

LAURA: Oh, Rob…I never felt so silly in my whole life…
ROB: Yeah, I know…neither did I…this stupid moustache…honey, don’t ever buy any of that indelible eyebrow pencil again…
LAURA: Why—do you plan to continue penciling on moustaches?
ROB: I don’t know what I’m talkin’ about…look, how we can get that stupid thing off her toe?
ENGINEER: A jeweler’s saw…
LAURA: Oh?  Do you have one?
ENGINEER: Oh, I’ve got all kinds of things in this little old toolbox…
ROB: Oh, wonderful!
ENGINEER: Yeah…wish I had one of those

Despite having reservations about starting a new fad that carries toe rings to the next level, Rob and Laura decide to see the play after all…Laura will just bandage her foot, and everyone will just think she’s injured her ankle.  Of course, since they’re relating all that happened to them to Millie back at the home base of 448 Bonnie Meadow Road, we know this didn’t happen:

LAURA: I walked out of the hotel with a bandage that big…I looked like I had gout…
MILLIE: But then wait a minute…I don’t understand…now you’re telling me you went to the show and before, you said you didn’t…
ROB: We didn’t go to the show…
MILLIE: Yeah, but you just said…
LAURA: We went to the theater…but we were just too embarrassed to go in…
MILLIE: Well, why?
LAURA: Well, we got into the lobby just before curtain time…and who do we almost run into but a theater party from our church…minister and all…

Laura could have explained the bandage…but she tells Millie: “…Rob didn’t think he could explain his moustache.”  It turns out that her hubby used a laundry marker, not an eyebrow pencil and he was unable to get remove it despite a regimen of soap, cold cream, benzene, alcohol… So when Millie asks how he finally took the moustache off, Rob reveals he didn’t…he wipes his upper lip to demonstrate it’s still there; he just concealed it with makeup:

MILLIE: You know who you look like?
ROB: David Niven?
MILLIE: Ben Turpin

If I can ever get my niece Rachel interested in watching some of these old shows I’m going to have a dickens of a time explaining to her who “Ben Turpin” is.  (But it made this classic movie fan laugh hysterically.)

There’s a nostalgic element (but then, that’s the case with pretty much everything on this blog) to “Never Bathe on Saturday” that makes it one of my favorite Dick Van Dyke Show episodes, chiefly because it’s the very first one I remember seeing at the start of my voluminous couch potato career.  (Carl Reiner, who penned this classic, called it “one of the best things I’ve ever written.”)  In many ways, it’s a perfect example of the magic of the show: a situation that’s exaggerated just enough to be funny and yet manages to keep one foot grounded in reality (hey, most of what takes place in this one could conceivably happen).  As I mentioned before, my love of Kathleen Freeman burns with the embers from a thousand campfires, and I’ve always been a fan of Idleson’s (he resembles my old college paisan Jeff), particularly because in addition to acting on Dick Van Dyke he also penned three of the series’ episodes…plus he also co-wrote “The County Clerk” for The Andy Griffith Show, which introduced the Herman Glimscher-like Howard Sprague to that series (though there may be a detractor or two who’d argue that’s not necessarily a good thing).


Bookmark and Share

12 comments:

Toby O'B said...

I haven't reached this episode yet in my semi-marathon viewing of the series. (It's been slow going because I'm taking so many notes for an annotated timeline of the series.) But I remember it well, although I totally forgot it was Herman Glimpsher's evil twin as Bruce the Bellboy.

But there are two Toobworld elements I may point out at some point today in my own marathon of blog posts related to the show - that Kathleen Freeman's maid is the same woman who owned the Lakeview Lodge in Missouri where Rob & Laura spent their honeymoon. ("Honeymoons Are For The Lucky") And the hotel engineer (played by the wonderful Arthur Malet) is the older brother of Andrew, the building super played by Hamilton Camp in 'That Girl' a few years later.....

Good job, Ivan. I'm glad it was your first experience with the DVD show, because it's an episode that may not have come to mind as a topic for anyone else otherwise.

ClassicBecky said...

I just loved this episode! You are so right - the best episodes are the ones that may be crazy, but are really things that could happen! Rob and his moustache, brandishing that gun and defending his right to be the only one to see his wife with nothing on --- then he gets the door open and says the guys should come in to see something funny...his expression after he realizes what he had said was another Van Dyke special!

Wonderfully written and quoted, Ivan. And one of the biggest laughs for me was when you said something that was said almost word for word to me by a family member with no sense of the rabid nature of classic movie/TV nuts: “A normal human being should not know things like that.” Well, whoever said we were normal? Loved it Ivan! (BTW, your embedded code isn't working either...at least all I'm seeing is a black space.) I would say LOL, but everybody who doesn't know what we went through last night would think I was mean!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Great review of my favorite episode, Ivan! In his book, it's interesting to note that Dick mentioned that when they were taping this episode, Mary Tyler Moore's tense demeanor was not imagined. She really was tense because she was in the midst of giving up smoking and was dying for a cigarette! You can really tell, particularly in the opening scene when she's telling Millie what happened.

Lisa M. said...

I've always loved this episode, one I recall VERY much from early viewings and then later of course again and again. So memorable, supremely silly, sexy, titillating -- just a terrific set-up that been imitated but never duplicated! The Flaming Nose will be getting our post on "I'd Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head at All" later today! We'll let you know when it's up!

Happy DVD Blog-a-thon Day! You're doing a wonderful job and thanks for all the hard work!

Unknown said...

Great post. I love this episode! I remember once learning this about it:

At this point in her career, Mary Tyler Moore was still insecure about the screen time she was getting, and she objected strongly to this episode's script, since she was no more than a voice offscreen for much of it. Someone (Carl Reiner?) had to convince her that this script would be terrific for her stardom -- as the entire audience would be imagining her naked in a bathtub for half an hour!

Yvette said...

I'm adding this episode to my list of Must Watch today, Ivan. Thanks for another great post. I seem to have forgotten a lot of the episodes. But thanks to you, I'm getting them all back. :)

By the way, thanks for hosting the Blogathon. It was (is) great fun to participate.

Yvette said...

Meant to mention, I too love Kathleen Freeman. :)

I posted about her a bit when I did my character actors post a couple of weeks ago. She was a total pro.

Caftan Woman said...

Whenever I'm watching a crime picture and someone has to smash down a door, a part of my mind immediately goes to Rob in this episode, and my shoulder gets sore.

It's a dandy!

Classicfilmboy said...

One of the all-time great TV shows. What I love about episodes like this one is that the craziness is funny but never unrealistic. While I don't know anyone who ever got a toe stuck in a faucet, it could happen, which is what makes this so much fun. And in the style of great comedy, it layers on other gags as well. It's one of many brilliant episodes of the show, and thank you for profiling it. (Do you think Herman G. had a twin brother who was a bellhop?)

The Lady Eve said...

I feel like I just watched this episode! Great piece, Ivan. I'd forgotten about Herman Glimscher - I tend to remember Sally's lovelife as completely lovelorn. I hope she was happy with Herman. Thanks again for hosting the DVD blogathon - enjoyed it much & still traveling from blog to blog to check out all posts.

Alex said...

My husband and I love this episode. It's got both the subtle and the broad comedy did so well. I can understand why Carl Reiner was proud of it.

Andrew Leal said...

Last week was busy and stressful so belated response, fair Ivan, but excellent analysis and choice of screengrabs. Kathleen Freeman was one of my heroines as well. In 2001, I had a serious accident, but to help the long rehab process, Dad ordered cable for when I got home... and TVLand ran a Kathleen Freeman marathon the weekend I returned (I still have it on VHS, complete with an amusing jingle, as part of their "Unsung Heroes of TVLand" series, including several clips from her immortal turn as Phil "Shifty Shafer" Silvers' spouse Flo: "Who's that lady steamin', screamin', schemin'/she looks kinda grumpy, dresses kinda frumpy, but don't you call her dumpy or you'll get kinda lumpy/she can be sedate, more often she's irate, better watch your manners or she'll hit you with a plate! She's kind of like a bulldog, her temper's quite a fright, but she's really just a softy, her bark's worse than her bite, she's steamin', schemin', screamin! Kathleen Freeman.") The marathon included a *different* DVD episode as yet another hotel employee, in "Honeymoons Are for the Lucky," wed to Johnny "stupid fool" Silver.

For my No. 1 character actress spot, it would be a tough fight between Kathleen Freeman and the equally immortal Mary Wickes (Edna May Oliver fits more in the character lead class for me); probably after an exchange of sharp wisecracks, they'd serve on alternate Tuesdays, and maybe gang up on Bob Cummings or somebody.

Also, I just realized that the particular way DVD used the flashback was really akin to the "frame" narrative used for years by short story writers, in particular P. G. Wodehouse. Really *every* Bertie Wooster tale, as a first person narrative, is an after the fact flashback, but it's more apparent in say the Drones Club stories, when the Eggs, Beans and Crumpets wonder why Freddie Widgeon suddenly hates cats or tightwad Oofy Prosser actually lent money, or the later Ukridge tales (Ukridge rolls up at pal Corky's either unusually flush or utterly destitute, and so on, and proceeds to explain the chain of events that led to the circumstance, and both Bertie and Ukridge would sometimes catch themselves and say something along the lines of "I'm starting off wrong" to fully explain the story to their listener/reader). For that matter, it's a confirmed fact that in his later years Wodehouse was himself a devoted fan of the series: "Also, at 11-30 in the morning I have to watch the Dick Van Dyke Show. Have you seen it? It's easily the best thing on television."

(And it's almost not too much of a stretch, famous Cockney critiques aside, to imagine Dick Van Dyke as Bertie, Rose Marie as an aunt, Richard Deacon as any number of severe or humorless uncles, butlers, magistrates or lords...)