Monday, March 19, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #33: “The Farmer Exchange Project” (11/03/69, prod. no. 0209)

Once in a Carolina moon on Mayberry R.F.D., the show’s writers would engage in a little wacky fun winking at the audience by penning episodes that actually show poor-but-honest dirt-farmer-turned-city-council-member Sam Jones (Ken Berry) working on his farm.  The reasons for this are somewhat vague, but I’ve long suspected that executive producers Andy Griffith and Richard O. Linke probably got a memo from the CBS programming brass addressing this issue.  (“Ferchrissake…couldn’t you have him do a little plowing?  People are starting to ask questions…”)   So occasionally you will have an outing that gives audiences the faint impression there’s actually something agricultural growing on the vast Jones estate: there were two such installments in R.F.D.’s inaugural season, “Help on the Farm” and the too-ironic-for-words “Sam the Expert Farmer.”  Today’s episode, “The Farmer Exchange Project,” is the first of three episodes in the second season to once again yank the viewing audience’s chain.

“Project” also marks the first of two appearances from actress Dorothy Konrad, who is this week’s substitute for the AWOL Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier).  It has been bugging me as to where I know Konrad from—I looked at her IMDb c.v. after watching “Project” in the hope that it would jog my memory…and while I have certainly seen some of her credits (particularly guest spots on TV programs like Lawman, Petticoat Junction, The Lucy Show and The Monkees) I’ve yet to find that one appearance to make me go: “Aha!  That’s where I’ve seen her!”  Her films include Sweet Bird of Youth, Blue and Futureworld but her most prominent credit was a recurring role on a short-lived 1979-80 CBS sitcom The Last Resort, created by Gary David Goldberg (Ubu’s owner).  I thought Resort was quite funny—it was yanked by the network because…well, economics dictate you can’t put on a series for the benefit of just one person (me) watching it—but I don’t remember Konrad’s role…I was probably paying too much attention to Stephanie Faracy, one of my favorite character actresses.

But enough strolling down Memory Lane!  We’ve got Mayberrying to do, so follow along in your YouTube workbooks!


Our adventure begins at stately Jones Manor, with Flora bringing in wash and Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster) once again demonstrating that he needs constant adult supervision since he is apparently building a…well, quite honestly I have no idea what the hell it is (and neither does he, as we will learn from an exchange with his father later on) but I do know it involves hammer and nails…and that’s just asking for trouble.  Sam pulls up in his automobile, dressed in such a fashion that suggests he’s definitely not going to be working the ol’ farm today.

SAM: Well…it’s all set!
FLORA: Oh, Sam…that’s wonderful!
SAM: Yeah…
MIKE: What’s all set?

“Your enrollment in the Mount Airy Academy for the Not-Too-Terribly-Bright, son of mine!  Pack your things while I wait in the car!”

SAM: You know, when I volunteered for this project I had no idea they’d choose us—we were the only farm in the whole county they picked!
FLORA: What an honor!
MIKE: Whose honor?

“Here, Mike…fetch the stick!”

SAM: We are, Mike!  (To Flora) His name is “Luboff” and he’s going to be here at the end of the week…

Norman Luboff?  The guy from The Railroad Hour?  (No, I looked at the credits and it’s spelled “Lubov.”)

FLORA: My goodness!  I’m going to have to start thinking of suitable menus!  I do know that Russians are very fond of boiled potatoes
MIKE: Are we gonna have company?
SAM: Oh, very distinguished company, Mike…a professor!
MIKE: What for?
SAM: Mike, haven’t you been listening?

Wouldn’t it be weird if we learned that the entire town of Mayberry really just resides in a snow globe in Mike’s mind?

MIKE: Yeah…all I know is that you’re honored to cook some boiled potatoes for some professor…
SAM: Well…it’s called “The Farmer Exchange Project,” you see …and Russia is sending some agricultural experts over to this country to look at our farms and our methods…and we’re sending some experts over to Russia to have a look at their farms…

Okay…so if I understand this right, by “exchange,” that would mean Sam would have to go to Russia because he’s an exper…and I think I just answered my own question.

MIKE: No foolin’?
SAM: No foolin’!  And the Department of Agriculture has chosen our place as one of the shining examples of a small modern farm—how about that?

Oh, come on, Sam…the kid may be dumb—but he ain’t that dumb.

SAM: …and this Professor Lubov is going to be spending a couple of weeks with us just…well…watching how we do things…

Well, that can’t be good.  “Comrade Lubov!  Why must you spend valuable time goofing off in The People’s Fix-It Shop instead of tending to your farm?  ‘He who does not work, neither shall he eat!’”

FLORA: I hope he doesn’t throw the good glasses in the fireplace…well, I’ve seen them do that in pictures…
SAM: I think it was just the Cossacks that did that…
FLORA: You did say he’d be here at the end of the week?
SAM: Yeah, he’s arriving sometime Friday…he’ll fly into Raleigh, and I’ll pick him up there…
MIKE: Boy…I never met a Russian before…how do you talk to ‘em, Pa?
SAM: Hmm…same way you talk to anyone else, Mike…
FLORA: Except I wouldn’t say anything about our astronauts… (To Sam) I think it might be a touchy subject…

And after this roundelay, that’s when Sam tries to get in a little father-and-son bonding time by asking his progeny what he’s building…and the little mook replies (I swear I’m not making this up) “I don’t know.”  So let’s take a look into the future to see the kind of person Mike is eventually going to develop into as Sam pays a visit to the service station run by village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey).  Fortunately for the viewing audience, pedantic country clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) also happens to be standing by.

HOWARD: Yeah, it sure is a feather in Mayberry’s cap, all right…heh…chance to be a part of the global picture, huh?
SAM: Well, I never thought of it that way before, Howard…but I guess you’re right…
HOWARD: Yeah, yeah…chances are this professor fellow will go back to the U.S.S.R. and teach Russian youngsters…just think…his impression of the whole U.S.A. is going to be formed right here in “Big M”…

“You have my report on the Americans, Commissar…the country is populated by slack-jawed donkeys, and the invasion would be a success within 24 hours!”

SAM: Big M?  (After a beat) Oh, Mayberry!
GOOBER: Your oil’s okay…she took four dollars worth of gas…
SAM: Oh…okay, Goob… (He pulls a few bills out of his wallet)
GOOBER: Uh…what time are you figuring you’ll get back with that Russian guy?
SAM: Well, we won’t be back until tomorrow…his plane doesn’t get in til’ late tonight…
GOOBER: Oh… I wanna see if he looks like them fellers in the James Bond pictures

Goober then pretends to shoot a toy gun at Howard, who reacts with his usual annoyance at having to live in the same town as Mayberry’s resident Manchild.  Sam explains that he’s rented a couple of rooms at the Raleigh YMCA and has wired Professor Lubov to meet him there in order to bypass any confusion at the airport.  After Sam drives off, Goober again attacks Howard with a toy machine gun, and much hilarity ensues.

At the Raleigh Y, an interesting development occurs when the distinguished Professor Lubov arrives at the front desk manned by a clerk played by veteran character thesp Pitt Herbert.  His film credits include While the City Sleeps, Hud and The Trouble with Girls, and he appeared in a myriad number of TV shows, most notably on Perry Mason (where he would often play the coroner or medical examiner).  (In fact, I’ve mentioned him on the blog before—he’s the storekeeper in the classic William Shatner Thriller episode, “The Hungry Glass.”)


Hel-lo…it would appear that Lubov does resemble a character in the James Bond movies—only it’s Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) in From Russia With Love!  A little travelin’ music, Mr. Spear!

Lubov
You’re the new kid in town
I said Lubov
You don’t know your way ‘round
I said Lubov
If you need to bed down
There's no need to be unhappy

Lubov
When you get off the plane
I said Lubov
It's too hard to explain
He won't know this
But Sam's in for a shock
Unaware that you're a girl doc

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A
They have everything for young men to enjoy
But it helps if you're one of the boys

LUBOV: I am here to see Mr. Sam Jones…he has reserved a room for me?
CLERK: Lady…this is the Y.M.C.A…you see, in case you don’t know it, “Y.M.C.A.” stands for…
LUBOV (interrupting him): Has Mr. Jones arrived?
CLERK: Yes…he…uh…checked in about an hour ago…but you see, Miss…um…um…I’d better ring him…what’s the name, please?
LUBOV: Professor Lubov!

Well, this could get very interesting…particularly if Doc Lubov bunks in Mike’s room during her stay.  The actress playing “Tanya Lubov” is Charlene Polite, who’s best-known TV appearance is in the Star Trek episode “The Cloud Minders.”  Her resume is a bit skimpy—guest roles on such series as Hawaii Five-O, The Doris Day Show, Cannon, etc.—and while I was trying to track down a better screen capture to let you know what she really looks like, I came across the #1 reason why there is an Internet: Stephen Bowie did a short post on her back in March of 2010 at his Classic TV History Blog.  (Good, informative reading as always.)

The news that Professor Lubov is of the feminine persuasion must be the biggest news to hit Mayberry since they fixed the vending machine at the bowling alley, because Goober comes rushing into Howard’s office to dish the dirt:

GOOBER: Boy, have I got news!
HOWARD: What’s that?
GOOBER: It’s a girl!
HOWARD: What’s a girl?
GOOBER: Well, that Professor Lubov!  That agricultural expert we imported from Russia!
HOWARD (incredulous): A girl?!!!
GOOBER: Yeah!
HOWARD: Goober, are you sure?
GOOBER: Look, Howard…I admit there’s a lot of things that I ain’t too smart about but I still know a girl when I see one…

Funniest.  Line.  Ever.

HOWARD: Where did you see her?
GOOBER: Sam and Flora brought ‘er into town to show ‘er around a little…
HOWARD: Oh…a girl, huh?  (Goober nods assent)  What’s she like?
GOOBER: Well…I figure she’s…twenty-seven, twenty-eight…you know, it’s easy to tell how old Russian girls are…they don’t wear no makeup and they kinda hang their faces right out there in the open…

Personally, I think the only thing Russian that Goober’s ever come into contact with would be the dressing on a Reuben.

HOWARD: Good looking?
GOOBER: Mm…it’s kind of hard to say…
HOWARD (exasperated): Goober, she’s either good looking or she isn’t!
GOOBER: Howard, whether a person is good lookin’ or not is a personal opinion…I mean, you couldn’t just take one look at my face and say “good lookin’”…
HOWARD: No, you couldn’t

The other day, my Mom—the best comedic foil I’ve ever had—was trying to give my Dad an ego boost by convincing him that despite his vintage he’s still a stone fox.  She says to me: “Tell me your father’s not handsome.”

“Okay…my father’s not handsome.”  This is probably why I laughed so hard at Howard’s line.  Goober attempts to explain to Howard that the Professor is rather plain-looking: “Long dress…some kinda of a black coat with a little scrawny fur collar…looked like chipmunk to me…”

HOWARD: Well…I guess being a professor in the field of agriculture…appearance doesn’t mean much to her…
GOOBER: I guess…it’s hard to get used to the idea of a woman being so important, though—ain’t it?
HOWARD: Yeah…she must be a very dedicated woman…
GOOBER: Yeah… (After a pause) Let’s eat…
HOWARD: Okay…

Both men leave to strap on the ol’ feedbag, and we’re whisked away via television magic to Jones Acres, where Tanya is grabbing a handful of good rich Mayberry farm dirt and trying to keep a straight face at the same time.

LUBOV: Your soil seems to have good consistency…
SAM: Yeah, well…I…I treat it real regularly, you know…potassium, sulfur…a little potash…
LUBOV: Ah!  Pot-ash…
SAM: Mm-hmm…
LUBOV (writing this down on her clipboard): That’s very interesting…
(Sam picks off a pea pod to show to Tanya)
SAM: Ah…look at this…do you grow ‘em that big in Russia?
LUBOV (squinting): Not quite…we use a different strain
SAM: Oh…well, the bigger you grow ‘em, the less strain there is… (Chuckling, he notices that Tanya is not amused)  Little joke…

Very little.  Tanya then asks about Sam’s water supply, and he points toward his irrigation system, all the while describing it in such a fashion that I’m curious as to why she didn’t frisk him for note cards.  “You seem to have a very efficient farm here, Mr. Jones,” she says, still staying in character.  “I was wondering if I could have a picture.”

Sam combs his hair with his hand and stand by the irrigation valve, foolish enough to assume that Tanya actually wants an 8 x 10 glossy of him.  He then steps out of the shot in embarrassment as she snaps the photo.  (“I have revised my earlier prediction…we can take over whole of United States in 12 hours, tops!”)

Aw…here’s the reason why I keep coming back to this show every week…Mayberry’s exquisite bakery counter girl, Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka)—a true vision in white.  Millie is serving up salad to Sam, Mike and Tanya…the “two farmers” have quite an appetite, probably because Tanya has worn herself out laughing at Sam’s miserable little spread.

SAM: Well, Tanya…you must be exhausted…we put in quite a day today…
LUBOV: Oh, I feel fine—I’m used to it, Mr. Jones…

“In Russia, we actually till the fields…as opposed to your pathetic bourgeois charade to look busy talking to that horrible little man at that junk shop.”  (For the record, resident fix-it savant Emmett Clark [Paul Hartman] is not in this episode…and it shouldn’t be too hard to guess why.)

MILLIE: Well, Tanya…what do you think of America so far?
TANYA: From what I have seen, I think you have a very lovely country…

“Your decadent ways will soon come to an end once Soviet Russia has taken over.  Then you will really know the joys of baking and selling bread…”  Of course, because Mike the Idiot Boy is a precocious little sitcom tot, he asks Tanya if she’s planning to throw the glasses into the fireplace after dinner.  Sam makes the usual excuses for the boy (“Head injuries from a tri-cycling accident at the age of three…”) and then calls out to Flora to ask what’s for grub, leading to this:


Yes, this was stupid enough for me to laugh at it…though it would have been funnier if Flora’s kabobs were accompanied by Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance.  “You’re burning up the meat:” Mike cries out, since Flora seems to have forgotten that Idiot Boy is easily spooked by fire.

MILLIE: That’s the way they’re supposed to be, Mike…
MIKE: Burned up?
MILLIE (laughing): Here…why don’t you put them on this platter...?
FLORA: Oh, yes…I guess so…
SAM (ducking out of the way): Maybe you ought to put the fire out first…
MILLIE: Do you know how to put the fire out?
FLORA: Well, I don’t know…the recipe just said how to light them—but it didn’t say anything about putting them out!

Sam manages to serve up the international grub without burning the house down, and after dinner is finished:

LUBOV: That was a very delicious meal…
FLORA: Thank you!
MILLIE: It was an international triumph, Flora!
SAM: Yep!  Oh, uh…Mike…you can be excused now…you have your homework…
MIKE: How come, Pa?  I can tell the teacher we had company

“You will find that will not be so convincing an excuse once you are sent to re-education camp, foolish young American moron…”  Tanya volunteers to help Flora with the cleanup detail but when she is waved off, she excuses herself because she has much work to finish.

MILLIE: Don’t you ever stop?
LUBOV: I must do my work, Millie…
SAM: Are all Russian women as dedicated as you?
LUBOV: Oh…I guess not…I have known many women whose main interests are new clothes and parties

Um…Tanya…Millie is still in the room.  No, Tanya has her career to think of…which is why she’s wearing something off-the-rack from the Hitler Youth Haberdashery in Minsk.  She excuses herself from all the bourgeois frivolity, and retires to her room with a “dosvedanya.”

MILLIE: You know, I-I was thinking before…we might try and get her a date for the dance…well, now I don’t know…
FLORA: I don’t think she’d go…
SAM: Well…she sure doesn’t seem like a party girl…

Au contraire, Samuel…a couple bottles of “wodka” and she’ll launch into a rendition of Ой, Мороз, Мороз! faster than you can say “Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn!”

FLORA: Sam…why don’t you get her a date with Howard or Goober or somebody?

“Because U.S.-Soviet relations are fragile enough as it is, Flo…that could plunge us into World War III!”

MILLIE: Yeah!
SAM: Oh, come on, I’m…she’s a nice girl and everything, but…she’s not exactly the kind of girl who’d appeal to those guys…
MILLIE: Oh, come on, Sam…please?  Just try


Not the first time Sam has heard that, I’m sure, and of course he is powerless when Millie begs.  Getting a look in his eye that Aunt Bee would surely be proud of, he hits upon the means he’ll use to snare his pigeon: “Maybe I’ll put it on the basis of…patriotism…”

Back from the General Foods break, Howard and Goober notice that Sam has pulled up outside the service station:

GOOBER: Hey, it’s Sam…looks like he got away from the Russkie for a while…
HOWARD: I met her this morning going into the feed store with him…boy, the way she looks you right in the eye and talks to you—reminds me a lot of my father

Okay…we have a new winner in the “funniest line ever” sweepstakes.

SAM: I just stopped by to check with you on the dance Saturday…
(Howard starts to throw a dart but is stopped quickly by Goober, who makes him take a few steps backward to an imaginary line)
GOOBER (muttering to Howard): Cheaters never win… (To Sam) We was just talkin’ about that…I’m takin’ Hilda Witherspoon…

Hilda Witherspoon is the woman that Goober decided to go steady with in the previously discussed “Millie, the Model”…and will be played by actress Linda Meiklejohn.  (I had forgotten Hilda had a legitimate last name.)

SAM: Ah…Hilda Witherspoon?
GOOBER: Yeah…the girl who works in the office down at the icehouse…
SAM: Oh, yeah…yeah…nice girl…
GOOBER: Yeah, the only trouble is she never knows if she’s gonna have the sniffles or not…
SAM: Uh…how about you, Howard?
HOWARD: Oh, I don’t know yet, Sam…I thought I’d hit my little black book within the next day or so…

You’re killing me, Howard.  Promise me you’ll never leave this show.

SAM: Say, Howard…this morning…that…that was the first time you ever met Tanya, wasn’t it?
HOWARD: Yeah…amazing a girl like that a professor…
SAM: Yeah…gee, you know she’s a…a sweet person…real nice…
HOWARD: I was just tellin’ Goob she reminds me a lot of my father…

Oooh, I’m dy-y-yin’!!!

SAM: Oh?
HOWARD: The same drive…and that steely quality…
SAM: Well…that’s…that’s…that’s just one side of her…I-I-I mean, like I say…she’s a real nice girl…uh…pleasant…honest… (Sighing) Probably a…great dancer…
HOWARD: Sam, are you suggesting that I…?
SAM: Now…now look—she’s going to be judging this whole country on her impressions of Mayberry…now…now, you said that yourself, Howard!  Now I’m asking you to take her to the dance…because I want her to have a favorable impression…of America
HOWARD: Well, gee…the way you put it you make it sound like a patriotic duty…

Get him over here closer to the boat, Sam, and I’ll net the essobee.  Sam continues to stroke Howard’s ego by telling him that Tanya is the type of a woman who presents sort of a challenge, and that Howie “Little Black Book” Sprague is the only eligible bachelor in Mayberry up to the task.  “Well, when your country calls you can’t very well turn your back,” he says, beaming.  “I volunteer.”

“Volunteer?” responds Goober.  “You was drafted.”

There’s a dissolve to the Jones living room.  Mike is reminded that it’s time for his bath, and before the little dimwit can put up an argument Sam gives the kid a threatening hand gesture that suggests physical abuse might be the reason why that kid is so slow at times.  Flora announces her intention to bake a cake in the kitchen (despite Mike’s mentioning she already baked one earlier in the day) and Sam volunteers to help her, leaving Howard and Tanya alone.  (Bow-chicka-a-wow-wow…)

HOWARD (rising from his chair and moving over to the couch where Tanya is sitting): Professor, I…uh…heh…I guess you heard that we’re gonna…have a dance Saturday night at the town hall…
LUBOV: No, I did not hear…
HOWARD (letting this sink in): Well, we are…heh heh heh…
LUBOV: I…I’m sure that will be very nice…
HOWARD (clearing his throat a few times): Professor, I wonder if you would…do me the honor of accompanying me…to the dance…
LUBOV (taken aback) Well, I…I would like to thank you very much, Mr. Sprague, for your very kind invitation…

Tanya pronounces “Sprague” as if it rhymes with “frog.”  I think that’s kinda cute.

LUBOV: …but while I am in America, I will not have time for dances…I must devote my evenings to my studies and research…
HOWARD: Oh…

She then further elucidates in a Russian accent: “I think, Mr. Sprague... no, I am positive... that you are the most unattractive man I have ever met in my entire life. You know, in the short time we've been together, you have demonstrated every loathsome characteristic of the male personality and even discovered a few new ones. You are physically repulsive, intellectually retarded, you're morally reprehensible, vulgar, insensitive, selfish, stupid, you have no taste, a lousy sense of humor and you smell. You're not even interesting enough to make me sick.”  Okay, I’m just kidding…that’s from a movie I watched once.  After knocking Howard down like a piñata, she then excuses herself for the evening…and then Sam and Flora emerge from the kitchen to posit the theory the distinguished Professor Lubov might be a dyke.

HOWARD: Well, I tried, Sam…
SAM: Yeah, I know…we heard…
HOWARD: I mean…I did my best…
SAM: Yeah…
FLORA: She doesn’t seem to think of anything but her work…

Up in the guest room, Tanya rifles through the things on her desk and realizes she’s left something important downstairs.  When she gets to the landing at the top of the stairs, that’s when she gets an earful:

FLORA: She’s bright, and I think she could be very pretty if she just did something to herself…
SAM: I never saw a girl like this…
HOWARD: Sure not like any girl I ever met before…
FLORA: Why, she doesn’t even seem to be concerned about her appearance…most girls that age are always primping up…

Yeah…if they’re hoping to attract the eye of Ashley Wilkes later on at the cotillion ball.  “Well, I guess she just hasn’t learned that it’s fun being a woman,” concludes Flora.  (Perhaps you could give her a few pointers, Florrie.)

Having learned that her American hosts have written her off as some sort of a lesbian, Tanya is understandably a little out of it the next morning when Millie stops by the house to drop off a dress for Flora that she picked up at the cleaners.  Seeing that Millie is her usual adorkable and spunky self, Tanya gingerly approaches the subject of the Mayberry hoedown:

LUBOV: I suppose you are looking forward to the dance tonight…
MILLIE: Oh, yes…yes, they’re a lot of fun…I’m…uh…I’m sorry you can’t make it…I heard you had to work…
LUBOV: Yes…
MILLIE: Hmm…do you have many dances in Russia?

“We do not have time for such inconsequentiality, American harlot.  We are too busy working for the glory of Mother Russia!”

LUBOV: Oh, yes!  Yes…I…I think there are many dances in Russia…I really don’t know…I-I’ve not been to a dance since… (Her voice trails off)
MILLIE: Since…since when?
LUBOV: Oh, never mind…it’s not important…
MILLIE (after a pause): Do you really have to work, Tanya?
LUBOV: Well…it’s too late now, anyway…

Millie takes exception to this, telling her it’s never too late…even though Tanya is sure that “Mr. Sprog” has probably asked someone else by now.  (Tanya needs to spend more time in Mayberry to see how Howard operates.)  Millie tells her she can go stag and arrive at the dance with Sam, Flora and herself but Tanya is hesitant. 

LUBOV: Is that proper…without a chaperone?
MILLIE: Well, of course!  Everybody dances with everybody else anyway…

…and ends up sleeping with everybody else, but let’s not spoil the surprise for Tanya.  But the Professor has no dress for a party!  Millie to the rescue—“I’ve got one that will look just fantastic on you…the last time I wore I got five whistles within two blocks!”  Millie, darlin’…you could wear a space suit and still have trouble keeping the wolves away.

So Millie gets to do what she enjoys more than powdering donuts—extreme makeover!


LUBOV: You are going to all this trouble and I don’t even know if I remember how to act at a dance…I was never really good at small talk…

“So…Comrade…do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”

LUBOV: When I was at the University, I was never…how you say…frivolous?
MILLIE: No problem…I’ll teach you…when I was in school, I majored in frivolousness…

With a minor in keg stands.  Millie gives Tanya the same advice she bestowed upon Aunt Bee on how to seduce men at sea in the episode “Aunt Bee’s Cruise”:

MILLIE: Now…you don’t have to do much talking…the main thing is to…have an air about you…
LUBOV: Oh…
MILLIE: Right…when you walk into the room, look around…as if they were all peasants…just stand there and let them drink you in…
LUBOV: Drink me in?
MILLIE: Right…
LUBOV: Millie…what if they are not so impressed?

“And what if they are not thirsty?”  But there’s no turning back!  We are now at the town hall, where someone decided to skimp on the entertainment budget and just move Morelli’s jukebox into the hall.  (Carl Benson and his Wildcats could have come down a little on the price, but noooo…)  Goober is dancing out on the floor with his date Hilda, and the fact that he’s not frugging with his usual wild abandon would seem to suggest that the magic is slowly leaking out of that relationship like a flat tire.

GOOBER (meeting Howard at the punch bowl): Uh…you know Hilda Witherspoon…
HOWARD: Sure!  How are ya, Hilda?
HILDA (with a cold in her nose): Fine!
GOOBER: You didn’t bring anybody, huh, Howard?
HOWARD: Nah, I figured I’d play the field tonight, Goob…

Howard’s ma must have had a quilting bee already scheduled.

GOOBER: Well, you’re sure lucky to get out of that other deal…
HOWARD: Boy, you can say that again!  There’s a limit as to what a fellow should have to do for his country!
HILDA (still sniffly): Excuse me, Goober…I wanna go check my sweater…

When Hilda walks off, Goober tells Howard with a tinge of regret: “Even after she leaves the icehouse she says it takes her about three hours to warm up.”  (Because I’m a little ahead in the reading, I know that Hilda’s fortunes are about to take a tremendous upswing…but that’s a tale for next week.)

That’s when Howard and Goober notice that Sam, Millie and Flora have arrived…but who is that gorgeous hunk of feminine pulchritude?


HOWARD: Who’s that with them?
GOOBER: That’s the professor…ain’t it?

“Why, Comrade Lubov…without your glasses and with your hair down, you’re…you’re beautiful!”  I couldn’t get a decent screen capture of what happens next but Howard walks the entire length of the dance floor in a trance, interrupting couples in mid-dance because he’s mesmerized by this little Soviet strumpet.  (Seriously…he did everything but say “homina homina homina”…)

HOWARD: Professor Lubov?
MILLIE (prompting him): Tanya!
TANYA: Hello, Mr. Sprague…
HOWARD: Tanya…would you do me the extreme honor of having this dance with me?
TANYA (initially taken aback): Of course!

And so Howard and Tanya hit the dance floor and meringue like revolutionaries.  There’s also an amusing dissolve (kind of hard to see in this one) where Goober does a spirited Russian folk dance that is in perfect sync with his spastic antics…

…finally, Sam takes his turn with the lovely visiting agricultural academic (I wonder if it was Millie’s idea to put the glitter in her hair) before Howard cuts in.


Coda time!

HOWARD: Boy, that sure was some dance Saturday night, huh?
SAM: Yeah…
HOWARD: Yeh…
SAM: Say, you and Tanya sure seemed to be hitting it off…
HOWARD: Yeah…yeah…as a matter of fact, she’s invited me to visit her on the family farm next summer…it’s about 100 miles outside Moscow
SAM: Really?
HOWARD: Yeah…
SAM: Well, are you going?
HOWARD: Nah…nah, I don’t think so…that’s kind of a long trip…

Millie enters the city council office, wore to a frazzle.  (Wore to a fraz…zle!)  She’s accompanied Tanya on a last minute shopping binge in Mayberry; Tanya wants a few things to smuggle back into the country before she returns from her trip.

MILLIE: Oh, you ought to see what she bought…hmm…miniskirts, sun suits…three bikinis…wait till the Kremlin gets a load of her!
HOWARD: You know, Sam…on second thought…I’ve always wanted to see Russia!


You old dog…

Well, we’re currently in the middle of an “Aunt Bee” drought here on Mayberry Mondays…so Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Bee-o-meter™ is still stuck on three appearances for the second season…and a grand total of fifteen overall.  The curious thing is that while I don’t know for certain why actress Frances Bavier was absent for these two episodes (there’s a wild Internet rumor going around about an unpleasant incident at a party thrown by Don Knotts in which Bavier disrobed and the guests remembered they had some ironing to do*) if you read Flora’s dialogue it’s pretty obvious it was scripted with Aunt Bee in mind.  It will also be apparent in Flora’s second and last episode…but that’s two weeks ahead from now; next week, one of the funniest—if not the funniest—episodes of the much maligned sitcom known as Mayberry R.F.D.: “The Caper.”  But until that time—dosvedanya!

*If there wasn’t a rumor, there is now.

9 comments:

basura said...

When I saw your picture of Dorothy Konrad my first reaction was it was a photo of Mr. Belvedere.

But even spookier, I recognized her because this morning at 530AM I was glancing at ME TV and the episode of "Dobie vs the machine" and she was in that episode!

Weird. I never remember seeing her before in anything and now twice in one day. Who'd thunk it?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I never remember seeing her before in anything and now twice in one day. Who'd thunk it?

It's the power of television!

(Actually...I'm starting to think that Dobie Gillis episode is where I remember Konrad from...)

Stacia said...

Well, that can’t be good.

Ha! How many times on average do you say that during a MRFD ep?

I dressed like Tanya in high school, in the late 1980s. Very Kraftwerk, with an added fedora.

It's difficult to get used to the idea of women being in positions of importance. I mean, usually it's the men who are in such positions: Mechanic, dirt farmer, baby blue porkpie hat model...

These episodes are getting funnier.

Cap'n Bob said...

Last year I tried to find a picture of Aunt Bee/Bavier when she was young. No luck. Has anyone out there ever seen one?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Last year I tried to find a picture of Aunt Bee/Bavier when she was young. No luck. Has anyone out there ever seen one?

According to the (always reliable) IMDb, Bavier has a bit part in the 1931 Girls About Town. I acquired this on DVD (from the She Blogged by Night archives) a while back and I have it in the queue for an upcoming "Overlooked Films on Tuesday." I'm going to see if I can spot her in that, since the next earlier film appearance is in The Day the Earth Stood Still

Stacia said...

I think I remember where Bavier is in Girls About Town. I'll check it tonight and get a screencap if I can.

Stacia said...

I think she's the girl in the upper right hand corner:

http://i150.photobucket.com/albums/s120/praghead/girls-about-town-2.jpg

I couldn't tell you if she has lines or anything, it's been too long since I've seen the film.

Stacia said...

Oh, and here are two small photos of her. Sorry the 2nd link is so long:

http://educatedhomemaker.com/frances.JPG

http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=157830&imageID=79015

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I'll check it tonight and get a screencap if I can.

This is why Stacia is Queen of the Internets, and we are merely her toadying subjects. Permission to grovel, Your Grace?

Honest to my grandma, if I didn't know that was Frances Bavier on that "Educated Homemaker" link I would have sworn it was Elsa Lanchester.