Monday, June 11, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #44: “Goober’s Brother” (02/09/70, prod. no. 0201)


About a month ago on Mayberry Mondays, we learned that the town’s village idiot and gas pump jockey, Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), has a sister…whose progeny was the focus of the episode “Goober’s Niece.” Now, I’ve long labored under the impression that the only member of Goober’s family ever prominently mentioned on The Andy Griffith Show was that cousin who later enlisted in the Marine Corps, and I’m not sufficiently up on my Mayberry arcana to know for certain if other immediate members of the Pyle clan were ever mentioned by Goob on TAGS.  Personally, I suspect the writers are pulling these siblings out of their ass, and they go to that well again with this week’s installment, “Goober’s Brother.”

Our resident lug nut is quite excited as the episode unfolds; he can be seen racing down Mayberry’s main street (past the sheriff’s office, which made me a little wistful) carrying a letter…and nearly bumping into several of the nubile young beauties that populate that town.  He then jubilantly bursts into the city council office, where we find poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) officiating a meeting with resident fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) and pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson).  (Probably discussing where to move the crap game that’s always going on in the back of Emmett’s shop.)

HOWARD (holding up a small bulletin board): Well…those are the facts, Sam—what do you think?
SAM: Well, I’ll tell ya…
GOOBER (who’s just interrupted by rushing into the office): Boy, did I ever get a surprise!  I got this special delivery letter, and…
EMMETT: Just a second, Goober!  Whaddya think, Sam?
SAM: Well…now if we change the bowling night from Tuesday to Wednesday you’re gonna run into a conflict with the council meeting…
GOOBER (can’t contain his excitement): It’ll just take me a second to tell ya about this…see, I got this…
HOWARD (interrupting): Well, maybe we could move the council meeting to Tuesday night?
GOOBER: It’s really excitin’!
EMMETT: Then Cyrus would miss the lodge meetin’
GOOBER (angrily): Well, if you change your minds and wanna hear about it, let me know!

Goober storms out of the office, leaving his friends to wonder why they didn’t think of the concept of just ignoring him in the first place.  (Imagine the pain some of us might not have had to endure.)  The three of them look at one another as if to say, “What’s her problem?”—and then continue on to the important business at hand.

HOWARD: Well, personally…I think that bowling is an important adjunct to Mayberry’s physical fitness program…
EMMETT: Besides…it’s a good excuse for a night out
(Goober pops his head back in the office)
GOOBER: Change your minds yet?

Okay…that explains why this sort of thing was never tried before.  (He never takes “no” for an answer.)

SAM: Oh…what’s it all about, Goob?
GOOBER: Well…I got this letter…all the way from California…it was mailed yesterday, and I got it this mornin’
SAM: Oh…beats the Pony Express, huh?
EMMETT: Well, everything travels faster these days…

“Including my Martha!  Heeeeyyyyooooo…”

EMMETT: …you get bad news even before it happens!
GOOBER: This ain’t bad news, this is good news!  You see…
HOWARD: You know, they say with the convenience of the telephone…in another twenty years or so, letter writing may very well become a lost art form…

Oh, Howard…they said the same thing about that “e-mail” stuff, too.

GOOBER: Howard, I’m tryin’ to tell about my letter!
SAM: Yeah…go ahead, Goob…
GOOBER: Well…you’ll never guess who’s comin’ to visit me…my brother Braden!
SAM: No kiddin’!  Braden?  My gosh, it’s been so long I almost forgot you had a brother…

You and everyone else who ever watched The Andy Griffith Show.

HOWARD: You know that postmen and stationery stores could eventually become obsolete
GOOBER: He’s arrivin’ next week, and I thought…
HOWARD (interrupting): You know, if that happens…the value of stamp collections could really soar…you know, with fewer people sending letters…
GOOBER: Howard, you’re gonna get a slap right in the mouth

Hey!  You two keep this up and I will turn this city council office around and we will go straight home!  And stop kicking the back of my seat!

EMMETT: Braden was quite a bit older than you, wasn’t he?
GOOBER: Four years…I was just fourteen when he went into the Navy…
SAM: Yeah, I remember that…he hasn’t been back to Mayberry since, has he?
GOOBER: No…he just served one hitch, and when that was over he decided to stay out there on the West Coast…
HOWARD: That caused a little trouble in the family, didn’t it?
GOOBER: Yeah…they got him a job here with the family rubbish collection business, but…when he decided not to take it, there was bad words back and forth and we just sorta lost touch with Braden…
SAM: Huh…happens that way sometimes…

Particularly on sitcoms.

GOOBER: Wasn’t no trouble between me and Braden, though…we got along fine…he used to take me fishin’…showed me how to play pool… (Idiot grin) Told me about girls

“Took me to that whorehouse in Siler City…told me about communicable diseases…”

EMMETT: Started you on the road to ruin, huh?
(They all laugh)
GOOBER: Yeah…I heard from him four years ago, and we started exchangin’ Christmas cards, just to let each other know we was alive…and now he’s comin’ to see me on his vacation…
SAM: Ah…that’s just great, Goob…
HOWARD: What line of work is he in?
GOOBER: Ah, he works in some factory…prob’ly been scrimpin’ to save enough for this trip…I’m really gonna show ‘em the town…
SAM: Yeah, you should!
GOOBER (settling back in a chair): Boy, is ol’ Braden gonna be surprised to see how well the kid brother’s doin’…me ownin’ my own gas station… (Chuckling) He’s gonna be real impressed, seein’ how well I’ve developed my brains

Wait for it…


Yes, that is Mr. Braden Pyle’s name on that office door.  But, you’re probably thinking, it might be because he works for a progressive outfit that assigns importance to every job, from CEO to custodial staff.  And if you’re thinking that…well, knock it off.  Business doesn’t work that way.

BRADEN (to a colleague who’s just walked through the door—the one with his name on it): Oh, Reynolds...
REYNOLDS (handing him a sheet of paper): Here you are, Mr. Pyle…
BRADEN: Good…that’s good…Reynolds, I want you and Whitman to share responsibility on Project Egress while I’m away…
REYNOLDS: Yes, sir…
BRADEN: …concentrate on relieving the imbalance that’s causing the torque in the inner cylinder…
REYNOLDS: Yes…we’ll get on it right away…
BRADEN: …now you must make sure you’ve given sufficient allowance for longitudinal stress…we can’t afford the possibility of any circumferential failure…
REYNOLDS: No, sir…

And with that, the lackey answering to Reynolds is dismissed.  The actor playing Reynolds is Tom Palmer, a dedicated character thesp who some of you may recognize from a handful of Lawman episodes as the gentleman who played Laramie’s resident medico, Dr. Stewart.  Palmer’s other TV credits include guest appearances on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Perry Mason, The Fugitive, The F.B.I. and R.F.D.’s father, The Andy Griffith Show.

The next man Braden addresses is identified in the credits as “Hayes,” and he’s played by another actor from the trenches, Albert Popwell.  Popwell’s film credits include several Clint Eastwood vehicles—Coogan’s Bluff, Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer and Sudden Impact…but he’s probably better known for his roles in Cleopatra Jones and its sequel, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold.  His TV work includes appearances on the likes of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., McCloud, Search and Ironside.

BRADEN: Hayes…this is a fascinating concept…
HAYES: Thank you, sir…
BRADEN: Stick with it…the only protection I can question is this going directly from FA equals C times DM over DT…to DB there…I think there’s a step missing…

Whoa!  Check out the big brain on Braden!

BRADEN: Any questions, gentlemen?
REYNOLDS: Oh, yes…how long will you be away, Mr. Pyle?
BRADEN: No more than ten days…I’ll fly to Washington, go down to my hometown for a few days, check in at Cape Kennedy… then back here…
HAYES: And in case of emergency?
BRADEN: I can always be reached by phone…yes, even in Mayberry

I sort of chuckled at this last remark, because it reminded me of a conversation I had with a co-worker at the place that employed me during my period of exile in Morgantown, WV.  She said out loud one day that she was puzzled by the fact that West Virginia had only one area code (304, for those playing trivia in the audience).  I replied that this was established when WV only had one phone. (Rimshot!)

N-E-wayz…you’ve no doubt noticed by now that the actor playing brainy Braden is none other than one of the great character thesps of all time, Woodrow Parfrey.  It would probably be easier to list what Parfrey didn’t appear on than what he did…and while he doesn’t disappoint in his turn as the smarter of the Pyle brothers, the problem is that he’s visited Mayberry before…as an officious gas company bureaucrat in the previous R.F.D. episode “An Efficient Service Station.”

Which begs the question: if you met someone in real life who bore an amazing resemblance to a sibling (male or female)…wouldn’t you be just a teensy bit freaked out by the experience?  Of course you would!  So why didn’t Goober say anything about it in “Service Station” upon making Parfrey’s character’s acquaintance?  Here’s the official explanation: they are making this sh*t up as they go along.

Okay…I’ve calmed down now.  There’s a scene shift to the humble room in the humble boarding house where Goober marks down the hours, minutes and seconds of his life…and both he and Sam are lugging a rollaway bed into the room.  During this exercise, Goober manages to trap Sam’s hand against the bed…but there’s no need for concern.  (It’s not like he’s going to do any plowing or anything.)  Sam’s hand is injured a second time when he and Goober unfold the bed…so it’s a good thing Sam’s got a girlfriend.

GOOBER: Boy, I really appreciate you loanin’ me this rollaway bed, Sam…
SAM: Don’t mention it…
GOOBER: Yeah, I ain’t gonna let ol’ Braden stay in some ol’ hotel room when he can bunk in here with me…
SAM (surveying the close quarters): Could be a little crowded…
GOOBER: Well, snug maybe…but not crowded…

Sam hears yowling out in the hallway, which can only mean that his scion, Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster), is assisting in the rollaway transport.  To our revulsion, he enters Goober’s room carrying a couple of pillows.

MIKE: Hey…what a neat room!
GOOBER: Thanks, Mike…it’s home to me…
MIKE (noticing them on a shelf): Boy!  Look at all those comic books!
GOOBER: Yeah…I figger I must have one of the finest private libraries in this part of the state…

I’m sure the Library of Congress is just seething with jealousy right now.  I’m surprised Sam isn’t a little more spooked by this experience, seeing as how Goober’s existence is pretty much what his son’s life is going to be like twenty years hence.  But there is an additional cry in the hallway, one that belongs to the only reason why a sane person would ever tune into this sitcom: bakery divinity Millicent “Millie” Swanson (Arlene Golonka), who arrives at Goober’s threshold with some sheets and blankets in hand. “This is my room,” beams Goober.


Yes, Millie gives it the once-over and is speechless.  I find it a little hard to believe that she’s not become acquainted with Goober’s environs before, since they were featured in the “Goober’s Niece” episode a few installments back.  In the first place, it is not the same room from that episode.  In the second—if Goober was able to get a spare room for his niece in that episode, why is he not able to pull similar strings for brother Braden?

MILLIE: Hey!  Wow!  It’s…um…it’s…uh…very…uh…
SAM: Uh…cozy!
MILLIE: That’s it!  Cozy!
MIKE: Goober fixed it up all by himself!

“And it most certainly shows!”

GOOBER: Well, I did have a lot to work with…this is the choice spot in the whole roomin’ house…great view…
MIKE (looking out the window): Yeah!  Gee, Pa…you can see all the way to the city dump!

“Right next to the rendering plant!”

MILLIE (spotting a bedside table): Oh, Sam!  Sam, look at the job Goober did on marbleizing this table!  Oh!  It’s beautiful, isn’t it!  Goober, I know how much time you must have spent on it…why, I’ve tried and tried, but I never could do it…my…you’re a real craftsman!
GOOBER: Well…actually, it ain’t exactly marbleized…uh…that design there is from puttin’ wet root beer cans on it…

You think that’s the end of the tour?  Oh, we’re just getting started!

MIKE (seeing a fish mounted on the wall): Hey, Goober!  Where did you catch this fish?
GOOBER: Ain’t that a beauty?  I didn’t really catch it…I found it floatin’ dead in the inlet…it looked so peaceful I decided to mount it…
MIKE: Hey, Pa…can we go down to the inlet and see if there are any more dead fish floating around there?

I know something I’d like to see floating dead in that inlet.  But I don’t think Sam will back me up on this one.  Goober is also very proud of this piece of art hanging on his wall, which he purchased from a woman “selling chenille bedspreads on the road from here to Fayetteville…”


“I bought a bedspread and she threw in the paintin’,” brags Goober.  (She must have given away all the Elvis prints.)  “Boy…a library…an art museum…it is pretty impressive, Goob,” Sam tells him with a perfectly straight face.

GOOBER: I can’t wait for Braden to see all this!  And the gas station…
MILLIE: Oh, he’ll really be impressed…
GOOBER: And did I tell ya I’m givin’ a big dinner party to celebrate his visit?
MIKE (looking around): Here?

Okay, Mike…you made me laugh.  Don’t make a habit of it.  No, Goober’s arranged to rent the back room in the diner, and in a quick change of scene Howard comes running up to Sam at the bulletin board outside the council office to tell him Braden’s in town—“I just saw Goober driving him in his truck over toward Miss Loudermilk’s.”  Howard has precious time to chat, however; he’s got to tell Emmett the news and so we take you to the Loudermilk Boarding House for a meeting with the Brothers Pyle:

BRADEN (pointing to Goober’s closet): In here, Goober?
GOOBER: Yeah…yeah…
BRADEN (unpacking his suitcase and hanging clothes in the closet): You know, you really shouldn’t have done that, Goober…planned that dinner…most of those people probably don’t even remember me…

More than you can possibly imagine, B.P.

GOOBER: Listen, Braden…while you’re in Mayberry you are Goober Pyle’s brother…and that’s what counts!

“Outside of Mayberry, Goober…could you pretend that you’re Smedley—my personal valet?  Just for appearances…”

GOOBER: Hey—whatcha got in here?
BRADEN: Oh…just some homework from the plant…
GOOBER: Oh…oh, gosh…I’ve been so busy tellin’ you all about myself that I ain’t even had the chance to ask you what kind of job you got!
BRADEN: I work for Universal Aviation…
GOOBER: Big outfit…
BRADEN: Mm-hmm…about 20,000 employees…
GOOBER (whistling): Wow!  Just what kind of work do you do, Braden?
BRADEN: Well…it’s sort of an office job…you know…
GOOBER: Oh…poor guy…they can’t even let you alone on your vacation… (Clapping him on the back) I’ll tell ya, Braden…nothin’ like bein’ your own boss!  Something for you to shoot for…
BRADEN: I appreciate your advice, Goober…

“You brainless, codswalloping milksop…”  In the next scene, there’s a party goin’ on in the back room of the diner—a testimonial to Braden where the Pyle brothers, Sam, Emmett, Howard and token black resident Ralph Barton (Charles Lampkin) are in attendance.  The others at the table are extras, who probably wouldn’t know Braden if he bit them on the inner thigh.  I love scenes like this in sitcoms, where there’s always a full house at the table even though these nameless, faceless folks will never be seen on the show again.

Braden is telling a hilarious anecdote (judging by the response from the extras) while a waitress serves the party a dessert that looks Jell-O-ish in origin.  (Way to suck up to the sponsor, guys!)  We’ll hear more from the waitress in a minute, but I thought you’d like to know that she’s played by Linda Meiklejohn in her last R.F.D. outing.  Linda was in three previous episodes (including one of my favorites, “The Caper”) as Goober’s girlfriend Hilda…so why he doesn’t acknowledge her during this episode is…well, kind of sad, really.  (She could be playing an entirely different character—due to her shorter hairstyle—but I suspect Goober is ignoring her because he’s ashamed to introduce her to Braden.)

SAM: Oh…this is some party, Goob…
GOOBER: Yeah…yeah…how do you like the flowers?
SAM: Oh, they’re great…great…
GOOBER: I coulda had the centerpiece they used at Cora Lee Rothwell’s baby shower this afternoon for half-price…but I wanted somethin’ special
SAM: Really goin’ first class…
GOOBER: Yeah…
SAM: Well, Braden…how does it feel to be back in town?
BRADEN: Oh, just wonderful, Sam…seein’ all you fellas again…

“Well…the ones I recognize, anyway…”

HOWARD: It’s been about twenty years, hasn’t it?
BRADEN: Just about…
RALPH: It doesn’t seem that long…
BRADEN: No…

“Ralph, when I was still living here you were bussing tables at this very diner!”

RALPH: Hey there…Goober tells us you’re with an aviation company…
BRADEN: Yes, I got interested in aviation when I was in the Navy…when my hitch was up, I decided to enter the field…
SAM: Well, what do you do exactly, Braden?
BRADEN: Well, it’s kind of difficult to say…
GOOBER (interrupting): Oh, he’s got some kinda office job…you know, Braden couldn’t get over the fact that I own my own gas station?
BRADEN: That’s right…that’s a wonderful little setup he’s got there…
HOWARD: Oh, yeah…

I know Meiklejohn is credited as “Waitress” in this episode…but seeing as its last appearance on the show, I’m going to refer to her as “Hilda” for old times’ sake.

HILDA: Excuse me…but there’s a long distance call for Mr. Braden Pyle…from California
BRADEN: Thank you…where shall I take it?
HILDA (pointing): There’s an extension right over there…
BRADEN (getting up from his chair): Uh-huh…excuse me…

Braden picks up the telephone, and it’s Reynolds on the other end.  As he engages in conversation, the others are eating their dessert at the table.

SAM: Braden sure is a great guy, Goob…
GOOBER (with his mouth full): It runs in the family…
EMMETT: Like modesty
GOOBER (laughing): Sure hope that factory don’t cancel his vacation...,
(We can now hear Braden’s telephone conversation)
BRADEN: Well, then we must have miscalculated…that’s why we’re not conserving the angular momentum on the longitudinal stress!
GOOBER (to the group): What’s he talkin’ about?
HOWARD: Sounds like engineering terms to me…
GOOBER: Engineering?

Braden asks Goober for a piece of paper, which produces this priceless “Durrrrr…” reaction:


Fortunately, Sam is able to think more quickly and he hands Goob a napkin to take to his brother, who is still on the phone.  Goober presents it to Braden while in some sort of daze:

SAM: Goob…Goob, are you all right?
GOOBER: My own brother…and I can’t understand a word he’s sayin’…
HILDA: Excuse me…excuse me—but there are two more long distance telephone calls for Mr. Pyle…one is from Washington, DC and the other one is from NASA at Cape Kennedy…the operator wants to know which one he’s going to take first!
EMMETT: Washington, DC?
HOWARD: And Cape Kennedy, huh…?
HILDA: The operator wants to know which one he’s going to take first!
HOWARD: I’ll ask him!  Excuse me…excuse me… (He tries to make a path around the others, who are standing)
SAM: Cape Kennedy?  (The penny’s dropped) Oh…wait a minute…wait a minute!  Braden Pyle!  Wha…oh!  (Snapping his fingers) Why, I never made the connection!  I read an article about him in Newsview magazine!
GOOBER: You read an article about my brother?
HOWARD (making his way back through the crowd): He said Cape Kennedy, and then Washington
HILDA (scampering off): I’ll tell her!
SAM: Braden Pyle is a brilliant engineer!  He’s one of the big wheels behind the scenes at the space program! (Snapping his fingers again) Braden Pyle…

Okay…this kind of sounds plausible.  No, hang on a second…it doesn’t in the least.  Sam is not a stupid man (that distinction belongs to his son, who must have a lot of his ma in him) and I find it hard to believe that if he knew Goober had an alleged brother he wouldn’t have put two and two together.  (Think about this the next time you buy vegetables from Sam at the farmer’s market.)

BRADEN (still on the phone, and writing on the napkin): Okay, Reynolds…I’ll take it down now…FA… (His pencil breaks) Ohhh…Goober, do you have a pencil?
(Sam, Howard, Emmett and Ralph all tell Goober in unison to get Braden a pencil.  Goober walks over to where his brother is on the phone, and reaches into his shirt pocket to produce a pen.) Thanks, Goober… (Continuing with his call) That’s FA…equals…
(On the other side of the room, the rest of the party are discussing Braden)
EMMETT: You know…when you stop to think about it, it’s really hard to believe…
HOWARD: That Braden’s a genius?
EMMETT: No!  That he and Goober are brothers!


Poor Goober.  I know I make fun of him sometimes…okay, a lot…but I kind of feel sorry for the guy.  The scene fades to black for a commercial.

Back from the General Foods break, Sam and Howard are in the council office—still trying to figure out the thorny issue of the activities scheduling.  (I’m surprised that with Braden the Genius in town, they didn’t consult him on this weighty matter.)

SAM: So…it’s all set, then…the bowling team meets Thursday…
HOWARD: Right…we’ll have to check with the other guys…
SAM: Yeah…
EMMETT (entering the office): Hi, fellas!
HOWARD: Oh—hey, Emmett…
SAM: Oh…hey, Emmett—Thursday okay for the bowling?
EMMETT: Oh, fine!  Anybody seen Goober this morning?
SAM: Yeah, I stopped by the station…he seemed kind of quiet…
EMMETT: Must have really shook him up, finding out about Braden…
HOWARD: You know, that whole thing’s quite a phenomenon…Braden and Goober…heh…
SAM: Gee…Braden’s sure a nice guy…friendly, easy-going…
HOWARD: And a genius…
SAM: Yeah…that’s a tough combination to beat…of course, when you think about it—nobody’s friendlier or more easy-going than Goober…
EMMETT: But a genius he ain’t

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.

HOWARD: You know, this whole subject of heredity is really a fascinating field…I mean, here you have one genius and one…Goober in the same family…well, that’s your genes…
EMMETT: My what?
HOWARD: Your dominant and recessive genes…in one brother, one set of genes is dominant, and the other they’re recessive…according to Mendel…
EMMETT: Mendel who?
HOWARD: He was the one who started the whole science of genetics…
EMMETT: Oh…no kiddin’…
SAM: Yeah…it explains why some people have light hair and some people have dark hair, you know…
HOWARD: Hey—you know he proved it by experimenting with common everyday garden variety peas?
EMMETT: Aw…now you’re puttin’ me on!  Peas with hair on ‘em?
HOWARD: Emmett…
EMMETT: Cocoanuts maybe…but peas?
SAM: I just hope this doesn’t start bothering Goober…
HOWARD: Well, even it does I’m afraid there’s not much he can do about it…

“Boy’s just dumb, that’s all.”  But never let it be said that he’s not stubborn—the scene shifts to a real private library…well, what passes for a library in Mayberry anyway.  Goober is in the engineering section (located right next to “Fiction,” which made me chuckle) poring through hefty texts on the subject.  Millie is in the library, too—she waves at a couple of people, which would seem to suggest she spends a good deal of time there—and then when she spots Goober, she does sort of a double take…as if she thinking that seeing Goober in a library must be one of the four signs of the apocalypse.

MILLIE (whispered): Hi!
GOOBER (also whispering): Hey, Millie…
MILLIE: Where’s your brother?
GOOBER: Oh, he’s back at my place…he had some work to do…
MILLIE: Oh… (She gets a gander at the section the two of them are in and says rather loudly) Engineering?
GOOBER (finger to lips): Shhh…
MILLIE (reading the book titles): Oh…“Handbook of Astronautical Engineering”…”Modern Flight Dynamics”…are you going to read these?
GOOBER: Well, I thought I’d kinda browse through ‘em…
MILLIE: Oh…I can’t even understand the titles…I didn’t know you were interested in engineering, Goober…
GOOBER: Oh, sure!  You know…after all, I work on motors all the time at the station…heh…
MILLIE: Oh, that’s true…
GOOBER: And I kinda reached a dead end over there…once you’ve taken a rear end apart, you’ve just about gone the limit…

Yes, Goober is bursting with excitement over the new career direction on which he hopes to embark—“I figger it might take me three, four years to whip it,” he explains to Millie.  But Millie has no such time for frivolities like quantum mechanics—she’s going to rush home to read the book that she’s selected from the library: “It’s all about a man who throws himself over Niagara Falls on his honeymoon.”  (Look…Millie is cute and all…but she’s also a bit shallow.  I’m starting to reconsider our relationship.)  “Sounds gorgeous, doesn’t it?” she asks Goober, and when he responds in the affirmative, they both go their separate ways.

Well, Goober has done the assigned reading…so what better way to “test drive” his new knowledge than on his idiot friends?  Fortunately, this is Mayberry…so he doesn’t have to go too far to look for them.

EMMETT (examining a mixer Sam has brought in): Well…let’s see what happens… (He plugs the device in, then switches it on and off…no activity) What’d ya do to this thing, anyway?

“I made the mistake of bringing it by your shop to have it repaired…”

SAM: Nothin’…it just died
(Emmett continues to look the mixer over…then by tapping it lightly against the counter, the machine springs to life.  He unplugs the mixer and hands it to Sam)
EMMETT: Here ya go…
SAM: How come it started all of a sudden?
EMMETT: Well, that might be a little too technical for you to understand…

Enter…the brother of a genius.

SAM: Been showing Braden around town?
GOOBER: He’s been workin’ all day on some of those things that come up last night…
EMMETT: Yeah…when you listen to him talk on them phone calls, it’s really all Greek…
GOOBER: Yeah, I suppose it would be if you didn’t have no trainin’ in astronautical engineerin’… (Both Sam and Emmett give him a look) It’s not really as hard as it sounds, for any of us that has a leanin’ toward that kind of stuff…
EMMETT: Any of us?  There ain’t nobody here but us three

Goober seizes the opportunity to start throwing around terms like “multidimensional specters,” and while Sam seems impressed with how much Goober has absorbed, the ever skeptical Emmett thinks Goober is full of it.  “It ain’t gonna work,” he grumbles, and when Goober asks him who says that he responds: “Mendel, that’s who.”

Goober’s argument is that it will probably take him a little longer to reach the level of Braden’s immense thinking prowess because “I’m younger, that’s all.”  He leaves the fix-it shop in a huff, and Emmett looks at Sam: “Is there such a thing as dominant hard-headed genes?”

We’ve watched enough episodes of R.F.D. to know that Goober, despite his lack of ability, rarely strays from any course of action until it’s been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s whipped.


He’s whipped.  But Braden has just pulled up to the service station in Goober’s truck, so Goob memorizes a few phrases from his honkin’ big book and decides to show off to Braden.

GOOBER: Hey, Braden…you finish up?
BRADEN: No, as a matter of fact I didn’t…I hit a snag…
GOOBER: Well, it’ll do you good to get your mind off it for a while…think about somethin’ else…uh…say…I wanted to ask you about that static lateral directional ability…
BRADEN: What?
GOOBER: Or I thought maybe you and me could talk about them multidimensional specters…
BRADEN (smiling): Oh, Goober—you haven’t changed a bit… (Laughing) Whenever I started taking myself too seriously, you always knew how to kid me out of it


Damn, Braden…that left a mark.  Braden tells his brother that he has some bad news—he’s needed at Cape Kennedy (he refers to it as “the Cape,” which is what my mom always called “Cape Cod”) and he’ll have to cut his visit short.  That means their fishing trip out at Myers’ Lake is going to have to be postponed…

BRADEN: So…if you could just drive me to the airport at Mt. Pilot
GOOBER: Well…sure, Braden…but I’m sorry you can’t stay though…
BRADEN: So am I…well…maybe I could come back soon…maybe you could come see me in California

This is kind of a bittersweet split.  We know, of course, that these two aren’t going to cross paths again any time soon—hell, Goober was in Palm Springs a while back and never even mentioned wanting to see his brother.  Dejected about the visit, Goober lays on his bed in his room, and a knock on the door reveals it to be Sam outside, who’s there to pick up the rollaway bed.

SAM (folding up the bed): It’s too bad Braden had to cut his visit so short…
GOOBER: Well, when you’re that important you can’t keep the White House waitin’…
SAM (chuckling): Or the man in the moon, either…
GOOBER: Yeah…
SAM: I guess…uh…Braden must have been real pleased to see how well you were doing…
GOOBER: Well, he said he was…maybe he just didn’t want to hurt my feelin’s…you know…compared to him, I’m…pretty small potatoes…
SAM: Says who?

“The Ore-Ida people.  I figger if anybody’d know, they would…”

GOOBER: Says anybody that knows the both of us…
SAM: Oh…so, just because you and Braden are different, that makes you small potatoes, huh…?  (Goober doesn’t say a word, but walks off to another corner of the room) Aw, come on…gee, everybody’s different…being different doesn’t mean you’re better or more worthwhile?!!  Why…look…some guys…got more hair than Emmett…there are some people who know more big words than Howard!

Seriously, Sam…this is where you’re going with this?  You really suck at this counseling thing.

SAM: So, there are…some people who are smarter than you about some things, but…but you can bet there are people who are smarter than Braden, too!
GOOBER: Oh, Sam…I…
SAM: Yeah!  Yeah!  Or you could look at the positive side…now, look…Emmett’s got more hair than a lot of guys…Howard sure knows more big words than most people…and you know more about a lot of things than a lot of people!
GOOBER: Like what?
SAM: Well… like…uh…

Psst!  Sam!  He can lift a hog clear over his head!  No, Goober is going to have to come through in the clutch on this one, mentioning that he “can put a carburetor together blindfolded!”  It seems to soothe the Goob’s ego, and allows Sam to reflect: “You’re what you are, and Braden is what he is.”

GOOBER: I may not know a lot about astronautics but I’m my own boss!
SAM: Sure!  You’re your own boss, and…and…well, you’ve got one of the largest private libraries in this part of the state….
GOOBER: Hey…that reminds me, Sam…would you drop me off at the library?
SAM: Right!
GOOBER (grabbing his books): I wanna check in these books on engineering…you know, one member of the Pyle family in astronautics is enough…wouldn’t want people to think we’re tryin’ to corner the market…

So Goober gives out with that idiotic laugh of his, and the two of them start to maneuver the bed out of Goober’s room.  Sam ends up mashing his hand for a third time…and considering that the pop psychology he used on his best friend really, really blew chunks I’m tempted to say he deserved it.

I’m going to abandon the coda this week because it’s not really funny and it involves Ralph…the only thing really amusing about it is that the schedule will have to be redone again because with bowling night on Thursday, Ralph will miss out due to choir practice.  Ralph then starts to tell Sam about how he identifies with Goober because despite all the things he has—a 40-acre farm and the like—his brother is an accountant, and lives in a city apartment, travels extensively, the whole nine yards.  (The episode ends with Ralph musing on how long it would take him to finish up an accounting course.)


I would be remiss, however, in not giving token black Mayberrian Ralph Barton a fond farewell…because this is Charles Lampkin’s swan song on Mayberry R.F.D.  Lampkin was a fine character actor—he later guest-starred on such shows as The Odd Couple (he was in “The Odd Monks” episode), Adam-12, Barnaby Jones and Quincy, M.E., to name a few of the many…but he always seemed just a bit out of place in Mayberry, and his character was never allowed to do the asinine (but funny) things frequently enacted by the other characters.  He later appeared briefly (as Tug Summerfield) in the original Friends series—an hour-long comedy drama that was on the air for about twelve minutes and starred The Love Boat’s Jill Whelan and two other insufferable brats.  But Lampkin’s greatest contribution to TV wouldn’t come until about a year before his death in 1989—he graced the cast of the dramedy Frank’s Place as philosophical bartender Tiger Shepin…and for a while that’s all I knew Lampkin for until I started to see him in old movies like Five and Watermelon Man.

So Hilda’s gone…Ralph’s gone…and even Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) wasn’t with us this week—which means Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Bee-o-Meter™ continues to stall at seven appearances for the season, with nineteen show-ups total.  Next week, the diabolical housekeeper makes her triumphant return…along with sorceress Clara Edwards (Hope Summers) and accomplice Myrtle (Maudie Prickett).  Heck, even the whole R.F.D. cast shows up for this one, so you won’t want to miss a minute of our next installment of Mayberry Mondays, “The Mayberry Road.”

18 comments:

Stacia said...

Yes! A hog-liftin' callback!

Love Woodrow Parfrey. I most recently saw him in an episode of The Virginian with Bette Davis. You can hear him saying his lines even without watching Mayberry RFD... and since I'm not keen on a Goober-heavy episode, I won't be watching this one. Sorry, General Foods!

The talk of genetics reminds me of an illustration I saw on Le Interhole ages ago, maybe close to 20 years ago. Someone was explaining carrier genes, and explaining when you have two parents who each have one carrier gene for idiocy, if they have four kids the odds are they will have one kid who has no idiot gene at all, two kids who are carriers, and one kid who is Gilligan.

Or, in this case, Goober.

I'm actually sad to know Hilda and Ralph won't be returning.

Toby O'B said...

That is a puzzle about Woodrow Parfrey's two roles on the show, something I'll have to find a splainin for. But in general, I figure there's something about these characters that we can't see from the audience which sets them apart from each other. Otherwise, why didn't Columbo say anything whenever another Vito Scotti showed up?

Stacia said...

I've been thinkin' on this today because there was something about this episode that has been bothering me. Basically, I can't figure out what the point of this episode was, unless the point was to make everyone feel rotten.

At the end of the episode, Goober feels bad because his brother is an internationally acclaimed super genius whom he is estranged from and likely won't ever see again. Ralph wistfully longs to be elsewhere... and is, perhaps not incidentally, never seen again. Sam can't proffer up any solid advice because the truth of the matter is that Goober is really a big dumb oaf and there's nothing you can do about it. And to top it all off, Goober pretended like he didn't even know his (ex?) girlfriend.

I'm hard pressed to come up with a scenario that is more depressing than this one was. Are you sure you didn't watch an episode of "Mayberry, Rural Buzzkill District" by mistake?

Brent McKee said...

While a lot of people might know Albert Popwell for Cleopatra Jones and its sequel, I'm betting that most people know him from the five roles he did with Clint Eastwood, and particularly for his part in "Dirty Harry". He was the recipient of Clint's, "Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" speech and had one of the great comeback lines ever: "I gots to know."

Saskatchewan is still a one area code location but won't be for long (thank to them dang cell phones the kids keep buyin'). Our area code is in fact 306.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Love Woodrow Parfrey. I most recently saw him in an episode of The Virginian with Bette Davis. You can hear him saying his lines even without watching Mayberry RFD... and since I'm not keen on a Goober-heavy episode, I won't be watching this one. Sorry, General Foods!

I thought Parfrey was good in this (he used a sort of soft, subtle Southern accent--particularly in the way he addressed his brother as "Goo-bah") but I'm wondering if this episode might not have been so maudlin if they had gone with some guy who could do a Ronald Colman or George Sanders voice. I picture the Braden-Goober situation as sort of like that in the Tex Avery cartoons where the country wolf goes nuts over "Red" and his city cousin is trying to get him to restrain himself.

I'm actually sad to know Hilda and Ralph won't be returning.

I will miss Hilda terribly. Why do they always get rid of the cute, funny people on sitcoms?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I'm hard pressed to come up with a scenario that is more depressing than this one was. Are you sure you didn't watch an episode of "Mayberry, Rural Buzzkill District" by mistake?

Well, now you have me thinking about it! It was pretty sad, in retrospect (particularly the part about Ralph). If I had a COTW, this would be it, btw.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

While a lot of people might know Albert Popwell for Cleopatra Jones and its sequel, I'm betting that most people know him from the five roles he did with Clint Eastwood, and particularly for his part in "Dirty Harry". He was the recipient of Clint's, "Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" speech and had one of the great comeback lines ever: "I gots to know."

I threw in the Cleopatra Jones reference mostly for Clevenger's benefit...but you are right--I probably should have played up the Dirty Harry part more. To be honest, I thought about working in "I gots to know" as a joke for this write-up but I was concerned some people might take it the wrong way.

Chris Vosburg said...

Stacia, there's always Goober's cousin Gomer to give him a run for the money in the slow lane. The Pyle clan certainly seemed to have more than their share of idiots, and brother, in Mayberry that's really saying something.

I note that Gomer never returned to Mayberry after joining the Marines, and can only conclude that Sergeant Carter, finally fed up for good with the irritating knucklehead, shipped him off to Vietnam, which I suspect did not end well for poor Gomer.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I note that Gomer never returned to Mayberry after joining the Marines

Brother Chris...you need to check out this "twisted" episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: http://thrillingdaysofyesteryear.blogspot.com/2011/07/twisted-television-1-gomer-pyle-usmc.html

Chris Vosburg said...

Oh my. Thanks for that, Ivan. Twisted indeed; in fact I think Rod Serling covered this more than once:

War veteran returns home, no one recognizes him, he in turn recognizes no one, everyone he knows is gone, reveal is that he's a ghost. Watching him scratching away at the bus window at the arriving Andy, Bee & Opie, all I could hear was a four note ostinato saying you cannot go home, ever.

Filed under G for Gomer-- in the Twilight Zone.

Stacia said...

Clearly, the universe hates the Pyle family and wants them to suffer horribly.

Chris Vosburg said...

Ivan writes: I'm wondering if this episode might not have been so maudlin if they had gone with some guy who could do a Ronald Colman or George Sanders voice.

Paging George Macready, who has the advantage of actually being American. His voice and diction hail from New England, and an era in which New Englanders prided themselves on sounding like, well, Englanders, but it wouldn't have been too much of a stretch to cast him as a southern gentleman.

And oh, that voice.

Chris Vosburg said...

And last add: If memory serves, this was done to poor Goober once before on the Andy Griffith Show, in an ep in which Goober, Andy, and Opie travel up to a Raleigh Auto Show, and Goober encounters an old trade school friend who boasts loudly of the chain of gas stations he owns. Goober, the poor dear, is compelled to inflate his own resume a bit, only to be busted by Opie, who announces to Goober's old friend that he has only the small gas station in Mayberry and has big plans to soon include bicycle repair, which causes Goober's friend to smirk and toast this diversification, to Goober's humiliation.

Goober is downcast on the ride home, and is inconsolable, until Andy stops for gas, and lo and behold, there's Goober's pal under a car in the repair dock, a simple grease monkey after all with no gas station empire.

"Don't you wanna say hi to your friend?" asks Andy, and Goober simply replies, "no, it'd just embarrass him".

And there in a nutshell, by the way, is the difference between the soul of the Andy Griffith Show and that of Mayberry RFD.

Stacia said...

Excellent point, Chris, and I've always felt MRFD has had more than a hint of condescension toward the country/rural types, probably because the show ran during the so-called rural purge.

Tangentially, I also think backlash to the rural purge is part of why people nowadays get viscerally angry at people (like me) who don't care for the 1960s and early 70s rural sitcoms. I wasn't even born when the revolution was not televised, but I do think my feelings about how rural/small-town shows were depicted compared to the reality as I've experienced it marks me as a "revolutionary" who doesn't appreciate the right things in life.

And in this way, to get back to the topic at hand, I find myself actually enjoying some of these MRFD's I watch on YouTube. People are a little harsher to each other, reality seeps in a little more, there's a shrugging off of the old-fashioned idyllic fiction of small-town life. Unfortunately, it accidentally hits a little too close to home at times, with the one black family in town (which is exactly like the town I call Crapville, where I went to high school) and the local businesses are run by people who don't want to do much work. Even the need to have very few extras and background actors creates the impression of a small, insular, and exclusionary group of townsfolk, which is accurate, too.

That's not to say the simple morals of TAGS don't have resonance or legitimacy. I just personally find more to connect with in MRFD, even though it's a far inferior show to TAGS.

As my grandmother would say, I do go on.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Mr. Vosburg is a casting genius:

Paging George Macready, who has the advantage of actually being American. His voice and diction hail from New England, and an era in which New Englanders prided themselves on sounding like, well, Englanders, but it wouldn't have been too much of a stretch to cast him as a southern gentleman.

See, I would have had to think long and hard about Macready…and I still might not have come up with the right answer. Excellent suggestion.

He also pointed out:

And last add: If memory serves, this was done to poor Goober once before on the Andy Griffith Show, in an ep in which Goober, Andy, and Opie travel up to a Raleigh Auto Show, and Goober encounters an old trade school friend who boasts loudly of the chain of gas stations he owns.

I saw that episode (“Goober Goes to an Auto Show”) when I watched the last season of The Andy Griffith Show in its entirety just before embarking on the Mayberry Mondays project. It’s a great example of how—and I know this is going to tick a few people off—despite the departure of Don Knotts, and the switch to color from black-and-white, TAGS could still hit one out of the park every now and then. In fact, one of the color TAGS episodes, “Dinner at Eight,” is one of my all-time favorites of the series period…because I identify so strongly with Andy’s predicament in that episode (he winds up having to consume three spaghetti dinners)—I had the same thing happen to me one Thanksgiving. In fact, my Thanksgiving experience (which also involved food poisoning, in a repeat of The Accidental Tourist) might make a splendid episode for my sitcom.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

My BBFF opined:

Tangentially, I also think backlash to the rural purge is part of why people nowadays get viscerally angry at people (like me) who don't care for the 1960s and early 70s rural sitcoms. I wasn't even born when the revolution was not televised, but I do think my feelings about how rural/small-town shows were depicted compared to the reality as I've experienced it marks me as a "revolutionary" who doesn't appreciate the right things in life.

I think a familiarity with radio shows like Lum 'n Abner and Vic & Sade helps develop a greater appreciation for rural sitcoms a great deal. I know that most small towns are more like Peyton Place than Hooterville or Mayberry, but I'm drawn to rural sitcoms for the characterizations more than anything else. (Plus in the case of TAGS, they get most of the town details right.) The comedy of L&A and Vic & Sade was character-based, with an exaggeration of small-town eccentricities and mores...and it's recognizing these traits in classic TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show and Green Acres that makes them endlessly viewable. (For me, anyway.)

It's interesting that you prefer Mayberry R.F.D. to TAGS in many respects because while I've enjoyed a few of the episodes, overall I'm completely gobsmacked by how bland it is. It's akin to Petticoat Junction, where nothing ever really bad happened on it and everyone was content in their little white bread world. I think that sometimes that's the only way I can tolerate watching the show, seeing it as a satire of how people think things should be.

I should also point out that the revolution will be televised soon--there's a third season R.F.D. episode called "Howard's Nephew" (who turns out to be--gasp!--a hippie) that is so godawful...it's worse than that "Youth Takes Over" outing.

Chris Vosburg said...

Stacia and Ivan, that for me is the appeal of the AGS:

Yes they were dolts, but they were good-hearted dolts, and you could actually draw a lesson of sorts from their behavior.

In MRFD, they were just dolts.

Stacia, I actually had to google "rural purge" to be reminded of the collapse of the Hooterverse in 1970-1971.

Since you mention your youth, I'll crap on about the sixties, where I spent my teens, like the boring old bugger at the end of the bar that I am: So, set the Waybac, Sherman, and:

[thunder is heard, lightning briefly bathes the scene, cue In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida].

It was a time of great madness.

American culture in the sixties was defined more than anything else by a rift between generations: It was THEM and US. THEY were sentencing US to fight THEIR war in vietnam, THEY were actively denying OUR first amendment right to speak, THEY were denying US the right to vote (voting age was twenty-one back then), THEY were the arbiters of consumer entertainment, and on and on and on. THEY just didn't get US.

It was as if we were different species: THEY struggled valiantly and blindly to repair the rift, and there is no greater comedic illustration than the stumbling television shows of the sixtes, in which poor bewildered Herman Munster is blindsided by son Eddie with "Dad, those neat guys are the Standells!" or Andy Griffith trying to deal with son Opie's interest in music not like his own at a sock hop (the AGS house band really struggled with this, trying to sound like something kids might listen to), Star Trek's descent into hippie cuture in "The Way to Eden" or best of all, Dragnet's Joe Friday attempting to deal with youth culture at the Sunset Strip riots ("what's happening, girls", Friday deadpans upon making the scene on Sunset), and to top it all off, there's Gomer Pyle inexplicably serving in a peacetime army in the middle of the vietnam war era.

O God how they tried, and hilariously failed, and nevertheless we finally, as a culture, just grew up.

Parents and kids no longer experience the same degree of alienation they did then (despite your protestations if you have kids [laughing], they don't, I assure you). Now, it's hard to imagine such a rift: American culture is now driven by youth more or less, and when the phrase "damn kids" is used, it is a jokingly post-modern reference to an earlier era.

But it remains for me the sheer disconnection from reality that is most striking about these sixties TV shows, and I am, I'm afraid, forever doomed to view them through the prism of having been an angry young man of the era.

Jerry said...

Stumbled across this while Googling this episode. I haven't laughed so hard since I can't remember when. Looking forward to reading everything on this site. I think sitting down with you over some blue steaks and a pitcher of martinis would be a memorable experience to treasure.