Monday, April 30, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #39: “Palm Springs Cowboy” (12/29/69, prod. no. 0215)


Before Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) sneaked out of that sleepy little North Carolina town millions of TV viewers came to know as Mayberry and relocated to Raleigh, he made five appearances on the sitcom that followed in the wake of The Andy Griffith Show (our beloved Mayberry R.F.D.)…and every time, his presence was announced with this title card:


The only individuals other than Griffith to get a “Special Guest Star” designation are Don Knotts (because he reprises his role of “Barney Fife” in R.F.D.’s inaugural episode, “Andy and Helen Get Married”)…and this gentleman right here:


Very impressive, Mr. Kotter!  Classic movie buffs are of course well acquainted with Dick Foran, “the matinee idol of B pictures.”  Among his memorable film roles: The Petrified Forest, Black Legion, Daughters Courageous, My Little Chickadee, The House of Seven Gables, The Mummy’s Hand, Fort Apache and Donovan’s Reef (believe me—this is just the tip of the iceberg).  As the motion picture work started to dry up, Foran found steady employment as a frequent TV guest star, and even managed to land semi-regular gigs on such shows as Lassie and O.K. Crackerby! (a short-lived sitcom starring Burl Ives).  But with this Mayberry R.F.D. episode, Foran would bid show business adieu…so I guess the R.F.D. people thought it would be fitting to give him a little special treatment for his swan song.

As our episode begins, a car driven by Mayberry’s pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) pulls up in front of the palatial manse where our colorful cast of zanies has been staying for the past several episodes, enjoying a little R&R in Palm Springs.  Mike Jones (Buddy Foster), the idiot son of poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer (and city council head) Sam Jones (Ken Berry), has emerged from Hacienda del Selma.

HOWARD: Good morning, Mike!  Where is everybody?
MIKE: They’re coming…hope we’re not late…
HOWARD: Nah…we’ve got lots of time…
MIKE: Do you think they’re gonna have pancakes on a chuck wagon?
HOWARD: Sure they will!  Only you better call them “flapjacks” unless you want the cowboys snickerin’ at ya…

Yeah…like they won’t start guffawing the moment the little mook accidentally jabs a fork into his forehead.


Mike volunteers to go back into the house and see what’s holding up the crew…which leaves Howard plenty of time to mosey.  And unfortunately for this poor schmo who’s just emerged from his domicile looking for his morning paper…he’s going to have to make Howard’s acquaintance—whether he wants to or not.

HOWARD: Hi, neighbor!
MICHAELS: Mornin’…
HOWARD (chuckling): Beautiful morning, huh?
MICHAELS: Uh…yeah…
HOWARD (extending his hand): I’m Howard Sprague…
MICHAELS (reluctantly shaking Howard’s hand): Oh…Walter Michaels…
HOWARD: Pleased to meet you…the reason I’m all decked out in Western togs this morning is on account of a bunch of us are going for a breakfast ride…
MICHAELS: Oh?  Well… (He bends down and picks up his paper) I got some coffee going, so…
HOWARD: I guess you’ve been wondering what all of us have been doing over there at the Benton house, huh?
MICHAELS: No…not really

As my nephew likes to say (because he watches entirely too many Thomas & Friends episodes): “That made Ivan laugh.”

HOWARD: Whole bunch of us out here on vacation…you know, a very lovely lady that we call “Aunt Bee” is a friend of Selma Benton’s and…Selma is allowing us to use her house for a while…
MICHAELS: Oh…great…
HOWARD: We’re from Mayberry, North Carolina
MICHAELS: Wonderful…well, I’d better…
HOWARD: It’s not Palm Springs, of course, but we’re mighty proud of it…I’m the county clerk…
MICHAELS: Oh…good to hear…well, I’d better check my coffee…
HOWARD: What line of work are you in?
MICHAELS: Good, good…I’d better get in and see…
HOWARD: Uh…you didn’t understand…I was asking what line of work you’re in?
MICHAELS: Oh…picture business…
HOWARD: Oh, hey… (Realization sets in) Wait a minute…Walter Michaels!  Yes!  You’re the famous Hollywood producer!  Well, I’ve seen your name on the silver screen many times!  Oh, it’s certainly a pleasure to meet you!
MICHAELS (having his arm shook vigorously by Howard): Thanks…thanks…

The part of the unfortunate Mr. Michaels is played by veteran character great Arthur Space (his attempts to get away from the garrulous Howard are flat-out hysterical) who started in motion pictures in 1941 (with Riot Squad) and worked steadily in the movie and TV bidness for forty years after, his last credit being an episode of the TV series Walking Tall (based on the 1973 film of the same name).  I’ve mentioned Space previously in this space (sorry…couldn’t resist) since he appeared as a policeman in both The Fuller Brush Man and The Fuller Brush Girl, but he also turns up in such films as Tortilla Flat, Whistling in Brooklyn, The Big Noise, Leave it to Blondie, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, A Southern Yankee, 20 Million Miles to Earth and the 1955 serial cheese fest Panther Girl of the Kongo.  His TV appearances are also too numerous to document here, but he’s probably best known for his role as Herbert Brown, the ex-jockey father of Velvet Brown (Lori Nelson) in the boob tube version of National Velvet.

HOWARD: I always thought I had a flair for the picture business myself…of course…the opportunity just never came up…
MICHAELS: Maybe some day…
HOWARD: Yeah…

Sam’s voice can be heard calling Howard from across the street, so Michaels should be commended for resisting the urge to fall on his knees and thank his God for deliverance.  Howard has places to go and people to see (trash to haul, corn to hoe) so he takes his leave of his new friend, telling him “I’ll see you later, Wally!”  Howard runs up to the car where Sam, Mike, village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and fix-it savant Emmett Clark are waiting.

HOWARD: You know who our neighbor across the street is?
SAM: No…
HOWARD: Walter Michaels!  The big picture producer!
SAM: No kidding!
HOWARD: Yeah…yeah…we got real chummy, too—he’s a great guy…I’d still be yakkin’ away if you hadn’t called me…

A condition which Mr. Michaels is all-too-aware…I wouldn’t be surprised if he never went outside again unless he has positive proof Howard and Company have gone back to Mayberry.  Sam, on the other hand, is ready to “saddle up” before they all miss the “breakfast ride,” so Howard climbs into the back seat with Goober and Goober, Jr. Mike.  “Moving pictures…oh boy!  You know, that’s something I wish I’d considered more seriously when I was planning my career.”  Just think…if things had been different, you’d have a scenario where a studio head would be saying: “I think this leading man needs to be a little more boring…find out if Howard Sprague is available!  And if we can’t get him, get me a Howard Sprague-type!”

I suppose you’ve figured out by now that the female contingent on Mayberry R.F.D.—evil housekeeper Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) and lovely bakery chippie Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka)—will not be heard from this week so it’s pretty much going to be an all testosterone R.F.D. with one exception (but I’m getting ahead of the story).  Goober and Mike are riding up on horseback as our scene shifts to the “breakfast ride,” and Goob can be heard warbling Home on the Range, much to the neighboring coyotes’ disapproval.

SAM: Where have you been?  Breakfast has been ready for ten minutes…
GOOBER: Oh, we’ve just been scoutin’ around to see if there was any Injuns in the area…ain’t that right, Mike?
MIKE: Yep!  Ain’t seen nary a one…
SAM: Ah…good…good…it’ll be nice to eat breakfast without a bunch of arrows flying around…

After Sam lifts Mike down from his horse, the little cretin runs over to where this week’s guest star is manning a griddle and flipping pancakes:

KING: Hey there, Mike!  How about a couple of nice golden brown pancakes?
MIKE: You mean flapjacks
KING: Oh!  Sorry…flapjacks…
(Sam and Goober are also making their way over to where King is cooking)
SAM (to Goober): I never saw John Wayne get off a horse like that…
(Goober responds with something I couldn’t hear because the laugh track drowns him out)
KING: How many can you handle, friend?
GOOBER: Oh, about ten…I’ll see how they set…

Every episode of R.F.D. has some dumb piece of business or line of dialogue guaranteed to make me snort with laughter.  And with that out of the way…

HOWARD: Boy, you know you really get the feel of the Old West on an outing like this…
EMMETT: Yeah…especially around my feet…I got sand in my shoes…
HOWARD: Oh, Emmett…you’re always thinking of nothing but creature comforts…you know right now you’re probably sitting in an area where once great herds of buffalo roamed…
EMMETT: Yeah…probably looking for a way to get out of the sun
HOWARD: Some outdoorsman…

Hey…as a guy whose only contact with The Great Outdoors is drinking cocktails on our carport, I can certainly sympathize with Emmett here.  The man who was manning the “flapjacks” then walks over to a covered wagon and pulls a guitar down…

KING: All right, you cowpokes…in the tradition of the Old West, we’re gonna have a little music…any requests?
HOWARD: “Wagon Wheel!”
GOOBER: “Ridin’ Old Paint!”

Freebird!”

KING: All right…which one will it be?
GOOBER: Have him sing “Ridin’ Old Paint,” Howard…that’s my favorite…
HOWARD: Okay…”Old Paint!”

As the balladeer launches into song, the Mayberry contingent listens as they scarf up their pancakes.  Mid-song, Emmett starts to experience déjà vu—he’s sure he knows this guy from somewhere, and Sam is in agreement.  Goober shushes the both of them, but a few bars later the penny has finally dropped:

EMMETT: Hey—do you know who that is?  That’s King Beaumont!
SAM: Hey…by golly, I think you’re right!
MIKE: Who’s he?
HOWARD: He used to be a singing cowboy in pictures…one of the really big ones!
GOOBER: King Beaumont…wow!
MIKE: What’s he working here for?
SAM: Well…singing cowboys went out about twenty years ago, Mike…a man’s gotta make a living…

“You’ll learn this when you get older, kid…after your sister has won two Oscars and you’re the third-shift manager at IHOP.”  Beaumont, having finished his song, gets a spirited round of applause, cheers and loud whistles from his breakfast patrons…and he promises another song “to aid the digestion” after everyone finishes.

GOOBER: Mr. Beaumont?
KING: Yeah?
GOOBER: I’m Goober Pyle… (He extends his hand for a shake)
KING: Oh?

That’s an odd reaction.  The usual response is raised eyebrows and a slight gasp…

GOOBER: We just recognized ya…I seen a lot of your pictures…
KING: You did, huh?
GOOBER: The one I liked best was Moonlight on the Trail
KING: Say, that was a great picture…yeah, I remember that last scene…ridin’ up through the arroyo…with Jennie Mae sittin’ there with my horse and I’m singin’ “Moonlight on the Trail”…ah, they don’t make pictures like that anymore…
GOOBER: You plannin’ on doin’ any more of them pictures?
KING: Well, I’m…bidin’ my time, you know…waitin’ for the picture business to realize that’s the kind of entertainment that’s gotta come back…
GOOBER: I’m gonna finish my breakfast and we’ll talk some more!
KING: Right!

Goober gives King his trademark tongue click, then wanders off in the direction of his friends.  During their conversation, Howard wandered over to eavesdrop and is now going to seize an opportunity to name-drop:

HOWARD (to King): You know Walter Michaels?
KING: The big picture producer? (Shaking his head slightly) I never met him; no…he’s a big man…a real big man…

With an eye like an eagle and as tall as a mountain was he…”

HOWARD: We’re right across the street from him!
KING: Oh, you are?
HOWARD: Mm-hmm…as a matter of fact, I was talking to Wally just this morning…we had a nice chat about the business…

Howard says “Wally” as if he was the guy who used to be Goober’s (and Gomer’s) boss…

KING: Ah…are…you in pictures?
HOWARD: Well, no…no…not actually…but…I’ve always had a feel for it, though…
KING: Yeah…
HOWARD: Well, I’ll let ya…I’ll let ya get back to work…

Howard gives Beaumont a friendly wave…and King watches him walk away, with a sort of wistful look in his eye.  This cannot be good, because it’s clear he’s convinced that Howard may be able to open doors for him when in reality the most Mistah Sprague could do is give him an extension on the deadline for his property tax.  The scene shifts to poolside at Chez Selma, and as Sam, Goober and Mike continue to enjoy the benefits of knowing a rich old dame and her pool, Howard “Scoop” Sprague has been hard at work hunched over his Olivetti Praxis (oh, it only sounds dirty)…

HOWARD: Hey, fellas…see what you think of this… (Howard walks over to where Goober and Mike are horsing around on the diving board) To the Mayberry Gazette, for immediate release…Palm Springs byline by Howard Sprague…”Hello, Mayberry!  This is your man in Palm Springs, the land of sunshine and celebrities…FLASH!  Speaking of celebrities, guess who your reporter had breakfast with this morning?  None other than King Beaumont, the famous singing cowboy star!”
GOOBER: Well, I had breakfast with him, too!

“FLASH!  Former movie cowboy King Beaumont charitably allows himself to be eating breakfast with local moron!”  Howard gives Goober one of his trademark hilarious glares, but is interrupted by none other than Beaumont himself.  Now…I was admittedly puzzled as to how Beaumont located the address where our Mayberryians are staying—Howard did mention they were right across the street from producer Michaels, so it’s possible that King made a few phone calls and tracked them down that way.  But on further contemplation, I have decided that this is just lazy move-the-plot-along shorthand courtesy of veteran R.F.D. scribes Dick Bensfield and Perry Grant.

KING: Howdy!
HOWARD: Well, hi there!
(The rest of those assembled enthusiastically greet Beaumont as well)
KING: Well, I hope you don’t mind my bargin’ in like this…
HOWARD: No—not at all!  Sit down—make yourself at home…you know all these fellas here, don’t you?
KING: Yeah…sure…

“There’s the dumb guy…the really dumb guy…and the guy with the dumb kid…”

KING: Well, the reason I stopped by is I brought you by a picture script to read… (He hands it to Howard)
HOWARD: Me?
KING: Yeah!  You bein’ a pal of Walter Michaels, I thought you might be able to get him to read it, too…
HOWARD: Oh…well…
KING: It’s an original western…yes sir, this might bring the singin’ cowboy back…and that’s what the public’s been waitin’ for!  Now let me tell ya somethin’…the thing that they’re tryin’ to get rid of in pictures today is violence, right?  Now the singin’ cowboy wasn’t a violent man…he maintained law and order, but he did with a song instead of a gun…

Um…I don’t want to break ranks here…but I’ve seen a few Gene Autry and Roy Rogers pictures.  Those guns on their holsters weren’t there because they came with the holsters.

HOWARD: Well…gee, King…I don’t know if I’m the right man
KING: Mr. Sprague…the minute I met you, I sized you up as a go-getter…a fella we can use in the picture business…

…and I’m beginning to understand why Beaumont is now fry cook on a chuck wagon.

KING: Yes, sir…I figure that you and me and Walter Michaels can wrap up this whole package and put the picture business right back where it should be!

“Hey!  They’ve brought the nickelodeons back!”  King leaves the script with Howard, telling him he can pass it off to his “friend” Walter Michaels to let him know what he thinks, and that he’ll be “waiting for his call.”  Taking the script—entitled “Stranger at Rustlers’ Gulch”—out of the envelope, Howard offers up a preview for his friends:

HOWARD: “A dust-covered stagecoach, drawn by four lather-whipped horses, skids to a stop in front of the Wells Fargo office…and an exhausted driver steps down from the box…the driver says: ‘The gold!  They took the gold!  The Daggett brothers cut us off at the pass!”
MIKE: Boy!
GOOBER (grinning like a you-know-what): I always love it when they steal the gold…

With the passage of time and a few glasses of lemonade, Howard is in the homestretch:

HOWARD: “…with the Daggett brothers finally behind bars, peace has come once again to the valley of the little town of Rustlers’ Gulch…we see King Beaumont, sitting on the top rail of the corral fence, looking into Jennie Mae’s eyes and singing ‘Old Faithful’ as Valiant, his trusty horse, nudges his nose between them…the end…”
GOOBER: It’s gotta be a hit!

Well, as a Facebook friend of mine who’s also in the movie bidness would say: “Does it have to be a horse?”

MIKE: Those Daggetts really got what was coming to them!
HOWARD: I see real merit in this!  Oh, it could use some updating, without question…but I…I think the conflict between good and evil is very nicely handled…what do you think, Sam?
SAM: Oh boy—don’t ask me, Howard…I don’t know how these things are supposed to look on paper…

“Besides…you’re the one in the motion picture business, C.B…”

HOWARD: You know, the one thing that King said that stuck with me is there’s no violence in this…I mean, the singing cowboy was one who could handle any sort of situation without resorting to gunplay…and I think the time is definitely right for a return to this kind of picture…
GOOBER: Well, I say he’s right…yo-yo’s was out for a while but they’re coming back strong…

No…I won’t do it.  They’ve made it too easy.

HOWARD: I’m gonna set up a meeting with King and Walter Michaels and…present the whole package to them…
SAM: Well…good luck on it, Howard, but…I-I-I think you might be getting in way over your head on this thing…
HOWARD: Hmm…maybe so, Sam…but I think it’s worth a try…and…forgetting my involvement in it for a moment…well, this could very well be King Beaumont’s last opportunity to get back on the trail again…

Back from the General Foods break, we learn that rather than having his people call Michaels’ people, Howard has decided to wait outside the producer’s front gate until he goes after his morning paper.  (Space does a funny bit of physical business here, looking for his paper while clearly hung over.)

HOWARD (chuckling as he replaces the rubber band on the newspaper):  Here’s your paper…
MICHAELS (yawning): Oh, thanks…
HOWARD: The reason I’m here is…I came across an item that I think might be of great interest to you…
MICHAELS: Fine, fine…I’ll see ya… (He turns to go back inside)
HOWARD: No no no—wait a minute…you don’t understand!
MICHAELS: Well, I have some coffee on…and yesterday…
HOWARD: No no, Mr. Michaels…look…this could be one of the greatest things to happen in the motion picture business in years!
MICHAELS: Really, I’ve got all I can handle…

“Will you get the hell out of here before I have you arrested for stalking!”

HOWARD: Now, look—the whole presentation will only take an hour or so…why don’t you come on over later this morning?
MICHAELS: I couldn’t…I’m planning to have some friends over…
HOWARD: How about this afternoon then?
MICHAELS: This afternoon I’m going to…
HOWARD: Well then, how about this evening?  Or any time?  Anytime at all, you name it!
MICHAELS (resignedly): This afternoon…two o’clock
HOWARD: Great!  I guarantee you won’t regret it!  See ya later, Wally!

Howard claps Michaels on the back and sends him reeling slightly, which is good for a chuckle.  The scene shifts to the inside of the vacationers’ hacienda, where a seated Michaels is being offered appetizers (since Aunt Bee is nowhere around this week, I was curious as to whether she prepared them):

MICHAELS: No, thank you…thanks anyway…
HOWARD: Well, now…these are chopped egg…and your deviled hams are here…
MICHAELS: Just finished lunch, thanks…
HOWARD: Oh… (He takes the tray away but Goober stops him momentarily to load up) Well, Mr. Michaels…I guess the first thing to do is to clue you in on what this is all about, huh?
MICHAELS: Yes…
HOWARD: It’s a western…and knowing how many westerns you’ve done, I think this might be right up your alley…
GOOBER (to Michaels): It’s all about them no-good Daggett brothers…they’re gold stealers…

This is why it’s always a good idea to keep pets outside when company is here.

HOWARD: Goober…please…now we’ve got a script all right here, Mr. Michaels…it needs polished—but I think it will work…
MICHAELS: I see…
HOWARD: The reason why I didn’t want you to read it up until now is that I wanted you to wait until you could meet our star—he should be here any minute…then you can see the whole ball of wax at one time…
MICHAELS (without much enthusiasm): Right…
HOWARD: We think it has great promise…don’t we, Sam?
SAM: Hmm? Oh…yes…great promise…

Howard, buddy…you need better “yes” men.

MICHAELS: This is it, eh?  (He picks up the script)
HOWARD: That’s the baby!
MICHAELS (putting on his glasses and reading the title): “Stranger at Rustlers’ Gulch?”
HOWARD: Got a nice grab to it, doesn’t it?
MICHAELS: Uh…titles are sometimes misleading

The doorbell rings, and Howard sings out “That must be our man now!”  (I kind of chuckled at this point—not because of what Howard said, but because the doorbell chimes are the same as the curfew bell that rang in my hometown in Ravenswood, WV when I was growing up.)  Howard ushers in King Beaumont, who is accompanied by two other actors dressed in Western garb.  “I brought the whole gang with me here,” King informs the others.  “Thought you might want to meet my partners in this thing…”  After shaking hands with Michaels, he introduces the first of his “partners”…


…her character’s name is “Jennie Mae Swanson”—and while her face might not be immediately familiar, her voice will be to many old-time radio fans.  She’s Jeanne Bates, and during the Golden Age of Radio she made the rounds on many of the best-known series: Escape, The Whistler, Night Beat, Gunsmoke, Have Gun – Will Travel and many, many more.  In fact, it was her radio work— in San Francisco, she appeared on soap operas and on the mystery program Whodunit (where she also “screamed” every week)—that got her a contract with Columbia Pictures in the early 1940s, appearing in such films as The Chance of a Lifetime, The Return of the Vampire, Shadows in the Night, Soul of a Monster and as the leading lady in the 1943 chapter play based on Lee Falk’s The Phantom.  Beginning in the 1950s, she worked like a fiend as a guest star on such TV shows as The Restless Gun, Wagon Train, Perry Mason and Bachelor Father—with a recurring role as “Nurse Wills” on the 1961-66 medical drama Ben Casey (and later continued in the nursing profession in the daytime soap Days of Our Lives). Cult film aficionados will recognize her as “Mrs. X” in David Lynch’s Eraserhead (she also had a small part in the director’s Mulholland Dr., her last feature film before her death in 2007).  This is the first of two appearances for Jeanne on this program; she will return later down the road in the episode “The Health Fund.”


The gentleman beside Howard is introduced as “Shorty Williams,” and he is played by utility thesp William “Bill” McLean.  McLean was a member in good standing of the Hey!  It’s That Guy fraternity—a hard-working actor who may not have been credited in many of his film appearances (which include everything from I Was a Male War Bride to House) but definitely made the rounds when TV became popular, appearing on such shows as The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Burke’s Law, Petticoat Junction and on and on and on.  Here at Rancho Yesteryear, however, McLean has been immortalized as “Harvey Moorhouse” from the WKRP in Cincinnati episode “Secrets of Dayton Heights”—a Communist barber who is in reality the real father of the station’s resident oddball reporter Les Nessman (Richard Sanders).

King assumed that Michaels wanted to meet his supporting cast (when in actuality he’s frantically looking for the exits) and tells the producer that Shorty “does all the comical stuff”…


This results in a hearty guffaw from Goober, who during the course of the visit finds himself continuously amused by Shorty’s antics.  (This might help Howard sell the picture idea…because Hollywood is renowned for wanting to get as many dolts in the theater seats as is possible.)

HOWARD: Well, in case this is all happening too fast for you, Mr. Michaels…this is…this is King Beaumont!
MICHAELS: King…Beaumont?
HOWARD: The famous singing cowboy!

Michaels, an individual who couldn’t tell the difference between King Beaumont and King Vidor if they both bit him on the inner thigh, continues to humor the cowboy and his handler (Howard).

MICHAELS: Oh, yes…yes, of course…
KING: Did you happen to read the script, Mr. Michaels?
MICHAELS: No…well…just the title…
KING; Well, uh…that’s all right…Jennie Mae and Shorty and I will act out some of the high spots for ya…
MICHAELS: Fine, fine…

So the Mighty Beaumont Art Players set up a makeshift stage in the living room.  What follows is a very uncomfortable scene—King and the others are acting in earnest, but it becomes painfully obvious that the scenario (as well as their performances) is what would be considered “camp” and “old-hat” today.  (In their defense, Goober is entertained by it all.)  Even Beaumont’s warbling of O Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie isn’t enough to overcome the fact that this is sadly an era whose time has passed.


HOWARD: Well…how ‘bout that?  (He chuckles to break the stony silence)
SAM: Didn’t have any violence!
MICHAELS (shaking his head): Mm-hmm…
KING: Of course, with a little rehearsal we could get it down pat…
MICHAELS: Oh, sure…sure…takes rehearsing…
SHORTY: Yeah…I-I-I could probably do a little bit better if I had my own props and all…
JENNIE MAE: Good lighting helps a lot, too…
MICHAELS: Sure…sure…
KING: You know…Shorty does a funny thing here with the horse…he…he steps right over him, trying to get on (Chuckling)…
JENNIE MAE: Should we do the scene in the corral?
SHORTY: Would you like to see that, Mr. Michaels?
MICHAELS: No…no, thanks…I think I get the general idea…uh…I’m just wondering, though, if the time is right to bring back this type of picture…
HOWARD: Well…that…that…that might be a very good point, Mr. Michaels…yes…
MICHAELS: Maybe in another year or two…
HOWARD: Yeah!  Yeah!
KING: Yeah…maybe in another year or two…

King asks for his script back, trying to save face by mentioning that a couple of other people want to look at it.  Michaels gracefully exits by announcing he’s expecting a call from New York and he has to get back to the house.  Usually when I tear up during an episode of R.F.D. it’s because it’s lousy…but I got a little misty-eyed, knowing that this type of picture has come and gone—nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, and the only tonic is reminiscing once a week every Wednesday here on the blog.

EMMETT (trying to console King): That’s only one producer’s opinion…
KING: Sure…sure…
SAM: There are plenty of producers around…
GOOBER: Sure…there’ll be somebody else who’s interested…
JENNIE MAE: We sure want to thank you folks for trying to help us…
KING: Yeah…thanks a lot for everything and…we’ll be seein’ you fellas…
SHORTY: Yeah…I gotta go…my horse is double-parked out in front…
GOOBER (to King): Um…where you going?
KING: Well, it’s gettin’ kind of late and…
GOOBER: Well…ain’t ya gonna stay and sing some more for us?
SAM: Hey…yeah…w-w-would you do that for us, King?  Hey, it’s been a long time since we’ve heard this kind of music…
EMMETT: Yeah!  Sing us one of those songs you made famous!  It’d be a great treat, King!
SAM: Yeah…how about “Red River Valley?”  That was always one of my favorites, huh?
GOOBER: Mine, too!
EMMETT: How ‘bout it, King?
KING (moved): Well, I…guess we have a few minutes to spare…huh?
JENNIE MAE: “Red River Valley” it is!
SHORTY: Yeah, what the heck—let that crazy ol’ horse of mine get a ticket...

King sings Valley while strumming his guitar, and then has everyone join in on the final chorus for a touching (if incredibly off-key) sing-a-long.  When he’s finished, Goober has one of his rare lucid moments when he declares: “Boy, them kinda songs ain’t never gonna die.”

Okay…I know what you’re thinking—“Sheesh, Iv…you really got sappy there in the homestretch.”  But I’m not going to disappoint you…we still have a coda to this thing, which ends with one last dip in the waters of Selma’s pool from the people who trashed her house while she was away.


HOWARD: Hey…you know…I think that King and Shorty and Jennie Mae felt a lot better by the time they left, huh?
GOOBER: Yeah, singin’ always seems to help… (He laughs)
SAM: Boy, we sure had some experiences here in “the Springs,” haven’t we?

That’s what the locals call it…”the Springs.”

HOWARD: Yeah…
SAM: Cowboys…dune buggies…golf…
EMMETT: Yeah…tomorrow it’s all over…
HOWARD: What time does the plane leave?
SAM: Ten o’clock…gee, I wonder how my farm’s looking these days?

Oh…probably like one that’s consistently neglected by a man who spends most of his waking hours inside a crappy fix-it shop yammering with yokels.  (But I’ll admit I could be biased.)

EMMETT: Oh, with Ralph takin’ care of it you got nothin’ to worry about…

The smart money says he burned it down for the insurance.

GOOBER: I been wondering about the gas station…I sure hope that Hurston boy was able to take care of my customers…

He buried them in alphabetical order around back…don’t make such a fuss.

HOWARD: Well, we’ll know for sure by tomorrow night…
EMMETT: Yeah…it’s been a wonderful vacation…
SAM: Nice to have been here…and it’ll be nice to get back to Mayberry…
HOWARD (raising his glass, with the others following suit): Hear hear!

And all the time I thought those guys were drinking lemonade.

With Aunt Bee a no-show this week (“Officer, I swear…she wandered off while we were on vacation and we don’t know where the hell she went…”) Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Bee-O-Meter™ budges nary an inch, standing at six appearances for the show’s second season, and a total of eighteen show-ups in the entire enchilada.  Actually, we’re in for another Aunt Bee dry spell—she won’t return until episode #42, “The New Well”—so I’m thinking about putting the Bee-O-Meter™ in mothballs until her return.

Instead, we will celebrate a milestone with this write-up: I am halfway through the R.F.D. series.  (There were 78 episodes in all…26 per season.)  Eventually I will have to find another sitcom to mock (I’m still a year away from that, of course) but I’ve been turning a few candidates around in my head.  I thought about tackling F Troop next, to keep the Ken Berry thing going (the advantages of that are I have all the episodes in better visual quality on DVD…downside is that I like the show too much to poke fun at it) but I think I’m going to let Hal at The Horn Section tackle that when he gets the chance.  The Flying Nun is a strong candidate—I’d just have to find the third and final season since it’s not been made available to DVD (and re-learn what I forgot in Catholic school).  And I’ve also been considering Family Affair, only because it starts with an “F” and I could call the feature Family Affair Fridays…but I don’t know if my insurance will cover me watching all those episodes.  The strongest contender is The Doris Day Show—simply because it’s ripe for sending up (Matt Hinrichs once joked that the opening credits of that series were reminiscent of a feminine hygiene commercial) what with its format changes each year (and eventual disappearance of Doris’ kids).  But like I said: that’s still a long ways off, so have some a piece of cake and be back with me next week for more Mayberry shenanigans with “Goober’s Niece.”

2 comments:

Hal said...

"I thought about tackling F Troop next, to keep the Ken Berry thing going but I think I’m going to let Hal at The Horn Section tackle that when he gets the chance."

Thanks, Ivan. I have been laying the groundwork for F TROOP FRIDAYS, inspired by your fine work here. Not sure if I'm going to jump around (the way I have been on the QUINCY, M.E. episodes) or do them in order, but I'm leaning towards the former right now.

Hoping to get F TROOP off the ground within a couple of months actually. :-)

Stacia said...

OMG the title is a reference to Midnight Cowboy THIS IS AMAZING. Who dies on the bus home? Is it Emmett? It's probably Emmett.

“There’s the dumb guy…the really dumb guy…and the guy with the dumb kid…”

About four paragraphs earlier, I swear to you I was thinking that exact thing.

the Hey! It’s That Guy fraternity

HA!

I love these posts, but I admit that I am not really looking forward to a Goober heavy episode next week.