Monday, July 30, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #51: “Millie, the Secretary” (04/06/70, prod. no. 0208)

Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka), the counter girl at Boysinger’s Bakery in beautiful downtown Mayberry, is a breathtakingly attractive woman and as I have said frequently on the blog, one of the few reasons you should watch the vanilla sitcom known as Mayberry R.F.D.  I am also pleased to call the actress who played Millie on the series (and in two episodes of The Andy Griffith Show) one of my Facebook friends because one of the fringe benefits involves free donuts…and you know I’m most certainly down with that.

But I have to confess that the episodes that center on the Millie character are often the weakest of the R.F.D. oeuvre, which doesn’t have that many strong outings to begin with.  Part of this is because such episodes usually deal with the relationship between Ms. Swanson and the show’s protagonist, poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-city-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry)—who’s as exciting as a milkshake with two straws and also has an idiot (Buddy Foster) for a son (thankfully, he doesn’t grace us with his presence in this one).  The other has to do with the fact that Millie, while being cute as a button, is a bit shallow and lacking in substance…and uncomfortably, is treated with a casual sexism that has not aged at all well.  So I hope you’re prepared to suffer along with me on this week’s edition of Mayberry Mondays, “Millie, the Secretary.”

The ambitious Ms. Swanson is not going to be working up to her elbows in flour all her life—as the episode begins, we learn that Millie has been attending a business college taking secretarial courses, and she’s asked boyfriend Sam to help her study by timing how long it takes her to take down some dictation.  No one has bothered to tell the town’s resident fix-it savant, Emmett Clark, who enters the city council office (with an item he actually repaired, for those keeping score at home) as Sam is in mid-dictate:

SAM: “Brazilian Rubber Company…Rio de JaneiroBrazil…Gentlemen…I have received your letter of the fourth instant…and hasten to reply…”
EMMETT (entering the council office carrying a typewriter): Hi!  I got it fixed…
SAM (continuing): Oh…“I am…I am enclosing the signed sales agreement…for the purchase of the rubber plantation…and all processing facilities…our intention is to move to Brazil immediately…to assume operational control…”
EMMETT: Sam!  What is this?!!
SAM: Emmett, please…uh…”We expect to leave this coming week…and will temporarily base in Rio…”
EMMETT: Do you know anything about Brazil?!!  It’s a jungle!!
SAM: “After completing the business affairs…I will set up headquarters at the plantation…”
EMMETT: Sam, don’t do it…don’t do it!  It’s no place for a kid like Mike!

I have been saying this ever since Mayberry Mondays started.  There’s a military school up the road in Oak Ridge that would be perfect for the little mook.

MILLIE: Emmett, Sam is just dictating to me…I’m practicing shorthand…
EMMETT: Practicin’?
SAM: Yeah!  Didn’t you know that Millie was going to business school?
EMMETT: First I heard of it…I know you’ve been out of the bakery a lot lately…
MILLIE: With Mrs. Boysinger’s permission…

One does not leave the bakery unless Mrs. B has signed off on the proposition.

MILLIE: …I’m going to improve myself and get a better job…and Mrs. Boysinger gave me her blessing…

We never see the woman known as Boysinger on the show…but I imagine she’s a lot like Dame Judith Anderson in Rebecca.

EMMETT: Secretarial job, huh?
MILLIE: But if I’m good enough…
SAM: So, Emmett…if you’ll excuse us…Millie’s got her exams coming up next Monday (He sits down at the conference table)
EMMETT: Oh…sure…sure…stick with it, Millie…Sam…if you ever decide to go to Brazil…check with me first, huh?

“That way I’ll go with ya and can finally leave the ol’ battleaxe…”  After Millie announces her intention to practice her typing, there is a dissolve to a scene that finds pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) filing out of the council office along with Sam and Emmett.

HOWARD: So today’s the big day—huh, Sam?
SAM: Yeah…yeah…
EMMETT: Is she nervous?
SAM: Oh…a little bit, naturally…I guess we all remember what it was like to take exams…

Well, except for Emmett…because the first schoolhouse in Mayberry had not yet been built.

HOWARD: Oh, yeah… (Chuckling)
SAM: Anyway, I’m going to drive her over there and see if I can calm her down a little…

Yowsah!  You go, Samuel!

HOWARD: Good…you know, I sure am glad she’s taking her courses at Bradbury…that’s my old business college, Sam…
EMMETT: That’s right—you did go there, didn’t ya?
HOWARD: Yeah…spent my entire collegiate career there…took the full year-and-a-half course!

“Got my letter in boring, too!”  Tediously monotonous tales of Howard’s college days are avoided with the arrival of Millie, who bustles down the street, greeting everyone with an enthusiastic “Hi!”

EMMETT: We just came by to wish you luck, Millie!
(Howard chuckles approvingly)
MILLIE: Thanks…thanks…
HOWARD: Give it the old Bradbury College try, Mill…
MILLIE: I’ll sure do my best!
(Sam helps Millie into the car)
HOWARD: And remember the words of our old Bradbury alma mater—it tells the whole story… (Singing and gesturing like Jolson) “Rise up, ye men of BBC…”
SAM: Howard…
HOWARD (continuing): “Bradbury Business College…”
SAM: You can finish that later…
HOWARD: “Typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, too…arm yourself with knowledge…”

Howard’s business school “fight song” did make me laugh out loud, because there’s always one such moment in these repeats.  He’s still singing as Sam and Millie drive off, but he stops to yell at her: “Hey, Mill…Mill, when you get back we’ll have an alumni reunion!”


The hallowed halls of Bradbury Business College.  I’m still working on the school motto, but in keeping with its inspiration (which I’m guessing is the late, legendary author Ray Bradbury) the best I’ve thought up so far is “Home of the Fighting Illustrated Men.”  (Suggestions are welcome in the comments section.)  Sam drops Millie off at the school but she’s concerned about what he’s going to do for the next two hours.  “Oh, I’ll wander around…have a cup of coffee…don’t worry about me,” he reassures her.  (Siler City does have that burlesque house...)  Sam wishes his gal good luck with a goodbye peck, and with another dissolve…


…we find him standing around by the car as a dejected Millie exits the building with her classmates.  This does not bode well.

SAM: Millie?
MILLIE: Drive me to a bridge
SAM: Whuh…a bridge?
MILLIE: I want to jump off
SAM: Oh, now…come on, Mill…
MILLIE: I flunked
SAM: Well…they didn’t mark the papers already, did they?
MILLIE: No…but I know I flunked…
SAM: Well, how can you be sure?
MILLIE: I’m sure…
SAM: When do you get your grades?
MILLIE: The day after tomorrow…they’ll mail ‘em to me…
SAM: Oh…well…come on…just get in the car, and we’ll take a nice drive…and you can unwind…


As Millie settles in the passenger seat, she casually drops her classroom items out the car window (as somber music plays on the soundtrack): steno book, notebook, pencils (including the one behind her ear).  It’s all rather poignant; a sad commentary on the fact that she will never escape the iron thumb of Boysinger’s Bakery…sentenced to a life of cupcakes and tiramisu.

But good news arrives two days later!  The Mayberry postman—not up-at-the-butt-crack-of-dawn carrier George Felton (played in several episodes by veteran character thesp Norman Leavitt), but (and it’s kind of hard to tell from the poor quality of the episode recorded—though it looks a lot like him) the unidentified actor who was delivering mail in “The Caper”—has just dropped off some cards and letters at Boysinger’s when an enthusiastic Millie shoots out the front entrance and grabs the postal guy, swinging him around and giving him a big smooch.  She continues to run down Mayberry’s main thoroughfare, yelling “I passed! I passed!”—and greeting others along the way with much fervor (she does not bestow a kiss on Emmett, but does a little tongue work with a strapping young grocery boy).  She then runs into Howard:

MILLIE: Oh!  Howard!  I…
HOWARD: No, no…don’t tell me—you passed!
MILLIE (squealing with delight): Yes!

Millie continues down the street, and Howard launches into his Bradbury fight song again…then stops quickly when a passerby in a beige jacket and red cap gives him a look.  (The other laugh-out-loud moment in this episode.)

Millie bursts into the city council office, startling Sam into spilling his coffee all over himself (a brief reminder of Ken Berry’s better work on F Troop).

MILLIE: Sam…I’m sorry I frightened you…
SAM (brushing himself off): That’s all right…what…you passed your test?
MILLIE (laughing with joy): I did it!
SAM: Oh!
MILLIE (reading her grades): “Satisfactory, satisfactory, excellent and satisfactory!”
SAM: Oh…wonderful!  What was the “excellent” for?
MILLIE: Neatness…
SAM (laughing): That’s great, Millie…I’m proud of you… (He gives her a peck on the cheek)
MILLIE: Oh, thank you!  You want to hire me?
SAM: Well…I sure would, if I needed a secretary…yeah…that’s…that’s going to be your main problem—I mean, who in Mayberry needs a secretary?


Yes, at first glance it would appear that Millicent hasn’t completely thought through this change of vocation …but the college has referred her to an employment agency in Siler City, who will send her out on prospective jobs (despite Sam’s disappointment that her future job may be in Siler City).  The “Ajax Employment Agency” sends our newly-minted administrative assistant to the company run by this man:


Couch potatoes will have little difficulty recognizing this character actor: he’s Ted Gehring, a hard-working thesp whose television resume includes appearances on favorites like The Fugitive, Gunsmoke and The Rockford Files (just to name a few) but might be remembered by TV fans as “Ebenezer Sprague” on Little House on the Prairie and “Brady York” on Dallas.  His most prominent boob tube gig was as Charlie, one of the regulars at Mel’s Diner on the sitcom Alice.  Since his character is identified in this episode only as “First Employer,” I have decided to dub him “Sprague” in honor of his Little House role…because, once again, it’s my blog.

SPRAGUE: Well, uh…just how much experience have you had in the…hydraulic equipment business?
MILLIE: Well…uh…none actually…uh, you see…what I do is type, take shorthand…
SPRAGUE: Uh…Miss…I need a girl with a hydraulic background…do you know anything in the world about hydraulics?

“No…but I can sprinkle jimmies on cupcakes like a house on fire!”  Despite her eagerness to learn the hydraulics bidness, Sprague is unimpressed with Millie’s lack of experience and so he sends her on her way, adding insult to injury by yelling out the door he’s ushering her: “Next!”

I’ve talked here on the blog in the past about how these R.F.D. episodes are subject to a sort of vasectomy for syndication—during their original network airing, the series only had to please one sponsor (General Foods) and as such ran episodes that were of a twenty-five minute length.  But in the wide, wide world of syndication the goal is to cram in as many commercials as you can—so because of this, the company that syndicates the show often makes painful snips in the program’s content.  “Millie, the Secretary” features one of the most glaring examples of this: both the IMDb and the end credits of this episode mention that OTR veteran Olan Soulé plays a “Second Employer”—but in the copy I have, there is simply a dissolve to the “Third Employer” (played by character great Milton Parsons, whose films include Edison, the Man, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball and The Haunted Palace), who greets Millie as she enters his office with “Miss Swanson—did they instruct you in the use of legal bonds at school?”  (Millie then says “Goodbye” and heads back out the door.)  Needless to say, I was disappointed that Olan’s participation ended up on the cutting room floor; my many Twitter followers (both of you) are well aware of my propensity to give Mr. Soulé a shout-out whenever I see him on a TV rerun.

MILLIE: Oh, it’s just no use…I’ll never get a job…
SAM: Well, you just have to keep at it, Millie…
MILLIE: It’s impossible!  They won’t hire you unless you have experience, and where are you going to get experience if you don’t have a job?
SAM: Hmm…good question…
MILLIE: Oh…all that money for a secretarial course…and my career is finished even before it begins!
SAM: Oh…it’s not the end of the world, Mill…

Perfect, Sam.  Just the way Sheriff Taylor would have handled it.  Well, Sam’s words of wisdom (I said sarcastically) are interrupted by the ring of the telephone, and Sam passes it off to Millie (she explains she told Old Lady Boysinger she’d be there in case anyone called)…

MILLIE (on the phone): Hello?  Yes…oh, really?  (To Sam) They’ve got another interview for me…
SAM: Oh…
MILLIE (back to the phone): A-A-And you don’t need experience?  Oh, great! (To Sam) Would you write this down, Sam?
SAM (grabbing a pad and pencil): Yeah…mm-hmm…
MILLIE: “Magazines Incorporated…”


And the scene shifts to that very organization, located in the heart of Siler City.  A seedy-looking man approaches the painter putting the last touches on the door, then goes through and crosses over to another door at a back office, where he knocks impatiently.  A seedier-looking man sitting at a bank of telephones gets up from his desk and presses a button on an adjacent desk, which operates a buzzer that opens the back office door.


So here’s a close-up of the two men in the office.  I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve seen these two guys before!”  Actors Herbie Faye (Corporal Fender on The Phil Silvers Show) and Lewis Charles (Lou on The Feather and Father Gang) played ex-convicts hired by Sam to work his farm (snicker) in the R.F.D. episode “Help on the Farm.”  So it’s kind of fitting that they’ve been reunited for this outing—you can even use your imagination and suggest that the reason why their names are different (Faye plays “Marty” while Charles answers to “Frank”) is because people in their line of work resort to a lot of aliases and it’s just possible they may be the same guys.  Both actors played their share of two-bit hoods on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., two sitcoms that suggested untrustworthy individuals lie in wait around every corner to prey on innocent people; one TAGS outing on which Faye appeared, “Aunt Bee Takes a Job” (12/06/65), mimics the plot of “Secretary” in that Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) goes to work for a printing shop run by crooks.

MARTY (on the telephone): Fine…yeah…we’re at 424 Main Street…Siler City…it’s the same action…well, the heat was on the other place and before it was too late, we…made a move…oh, I don’t know…maybe we’ll hang around a month and then we’ll see…look, Charlie…I…I gotta make a lot of phone calls…and…uh…I just wanted to let you know where we’re at…oh, sure…whaddya want?  Ten on Flying Fox in the third to win…you got a bet… (He hangs up)
FRANK: I was over at the agency—they’re sendin’ some kid over…
MARTY: I still can’t figure out why you want to take a chance on some chick we don’t know!
FRANK: Because the chicks we do know…don’t look like no secretaries!  They look like exactly what they are…hookers!

I did kind of chuckle at that.

MARTY: So what’s the difference?
FRANK: We need a front…we need some respectable-lookin’ chick out there to keep the insurance salesmen away…there’s a lot of traffic that goes through a building like this…


Which is why you gentlemen should be renting space in the Bradley Building—the hideout of the bad guys in the serial The Green Hornet (currently being covered here on Serial Saturdays) and The Phantom Creeps (at She Blogged by Night).  Just a thought.  The two men hear someone in the outer office, and so they venture out to find Millie waiting to be interviewed for the position.

MILLIE: Hi…how do you do?  I’m Millie Swanson…the agency sent me… (She fumbles in her purse for a card, and presents it to Marty)
FRANK: Oh…secretary, huh?
MILLIE: Yes…
FRANK: Well…uh…sit down then!  (He motions her toward a chair)

Marty helps his partner out by grabbing a chair and positioning in front of a desk, where Frank sits down after Millie is seated.  Marty grabs a chair as well, then nervously hands Millie’s card to Frank, who in turn passes it back to Millie.

MARTY: Well, uh…naturally we want to interview you…
MILLIE: Uh-huh…of course…
MARTY: Uh…er…first, uh…your name is Millie Swanson?
MILLIE: That’s right…
MARTY: Uh-huh…and…you’re a secretary?
MILLIE: Yes…
MARTY: Er…good…now…um…er…uh…um….well, Frank—can you think of anything else to interview?
FRANK: Well, uh…you’d be sort of like a receptionist here…uh…Mr. Parker and I are gonna be very busy in the back room sellin’ magazine subscriptions over the phone…if you want the job, it pays seventy-five bucks a week and you can start tomorrow!

“Oh!  Do I want this!” Millie says excitedly.  She tells Marty and Frank that she’ll see them in the morning, and as she exits the office does a quick comic “duck-and-dodge” bit with the door painter.  So let’s grab a General Foods break.

Back from commercial, an exuberant Millie is relating the news of her new job to Sam and Howard in the city council office.

MILLIE: …so I started today at seventy-five dollars a week, Howard…
HOWARD: Well, I certainly want to offer my felicitations, Millie…
MILLIE: Thanks…thanks… (She laughs)
HOWARD: What sort of job is it?
MILLIE: Oh, it’s primarily a receptionist…a lot of people come in the office that they don’t have time to see and I tell them very politely that they’re too busy…
HOWARD: Uh-huh…
SAM: She has two bosses, you know…
HOWARD: Really?
MILLIE: Yes, they’re very nice and very considerate…
HOWARD: Well, I imagine being in the magazine business they’re the intellectual type, huh?
MILLIE: Well, I-I-I wouldn’t say that…they’re actually salesmen…they sell over the telephone…
HOWARD: Oh…

Tough break, Howard.  I guess “Tuesdays with Goober” will continue.

SAM: How are you coming along with your typing and shorthand?
MILLIE: Well, I’m just doing typing so far…they gave me a telephone book, uh, of the whole area, and I have to make a list of all the names…right now I’m making a list of all the people in Siler City…and when I’ve finished that in a couple of weeks, I start on all the people in Pokesville and then Warrentown…
(Both Sam and Howard give her a puzzled look)
SAM: Why do they have you do that?
MILLIE: Sam, I’m not going to ask why on my first day!
SAM: Oh…no…of course not…
MILLIE: Well, I’m not going to stop just being a secretary…I’m going to work very hard and be conscientious…oh, and learn the business…
SAM: That’s great, Mill…
MILLIE: I just know I’m going to end up someplace!

Do the words “Camp Cupcake” ring a bell?  Well, in the next scene, Marty and Frank are putting in another nine-to-five laying bets when Frank hears a knock on the back office door…he goes over to answer it, and finds Millie waiting for him—so he carefully closes the door so she can’t detect what’s going on.

MILLIE: Hi…I finished with the A’s and was just wondering if you’d like them or should I just hold them…?
FRANK: Uh…w-w-well, you’d better just hold them…uh…file ‘em under the A’s!
MILLIE: All right…I’ll start on the B’s right away…but…well, I do wish there was some way I could be of more help to you…
FRANK: Oh…well, you see…this is sort of a two-man operation!

Millie nods assent, and sits back down at her desk…then Frank raps on the door, and re-enters the back office when Marty presses the buzzer.  Wiping his brow, he walks over to Marty’s desk, where his partner stares at him.

FRANK: That chick’s getting’ itchy
MARTY: What?
FRANK: She wants to help us…we gotta find something else for her to do before she gets too nosy!
MARTY: Like what?
FRANK: How do I know?  What do guys do in the magazine business?
MARTY: I don’t know…I guess they write letters or somethin’…
FRANK: That’s a start, anyway…go on out there and dictate a letter…
MARTY: Me?  What kind of a letter?
FRANK: How do I know?!!  Just go on out there and dictate and feel your way along…

Done, sold, Bob’s your uncle!

MARTY: Hi…
MILLIE: Hi!
MARTY: Uh…er…I…I wanna dictate a letter…
MILLIE: Oh…oh!  Well, certainly!  (She reaches into the desk for her steno pad and a pencil)
MARTY: Uh…lemme see now…uh…you can start by puttin’ the date up there in the corner…uh…”International American Magazine Company…uh…Cleveland, Illinois…uh…Gentlemen…”
MILLIE: Uh…that’s…that’s Ohio
MARTY: Oh…yeah…yeah…I was thinkin’ of Chicago
MILLIE (giggling): Oh…
MARTY: Uh…now for the letter part…uh…”Gentlemen…we regret to say that we haven’t been able to sell subscriptions to the magazines you…uh…put out…because business has been very slow, and…uh…and…we…uh…we are not able to get out of the gate…”

Learning of the downturn at the company for which she works causes our heroine some concern, and in a scene shift she can be seen discussing the problem with Sam, Howard and Emmett (but no Goober—even though the always reliable IMDb credits him with being in this episode).  Emmett, Sam and Howard are munching on boxes of popcorn, which suggests the four of them have just caught the latest double feature at the Mayberry Film Festival.

SAM: Business is bad?
MILLIE: Mm…it was all in the letter…
EMMETT: Well…maybe it’s just temporary…take the fix-it business—it’s either feast or famine…right now it’s a famine

A nice chuckle moment.

MILLIE: I wish I could help out in some way…
HOWARD: What, you mean by getting some subscriptions?
SAM: A few subscriptions wouldn’t help that much…
MILLIE (brightening): Oh!  Why wouldn’t they?  You know, every little bit helps…
HOWARD: Well, Sam—you know I’m always a firm believer in helping the small businessman…

“That’s why I patronize that Mom-and-Pop adult bookstore over in Weaverville as opposed to your bigger chain outlets…”

MILLIE: Yeah!  How about some subscriptions, fellas?  Howard?
HOWARD: Well…I already get Poetry Gems Digest and The Bird Fanciers’ Guide to the North Carolina Woods, but…well, I might be interested in a newsmagazine or something political…I’ll let you know…

“They have an introductory subscription to Dull Weekly at half-price…I’ll mark you down for that…”

MILLIE: Thanks!  Sam?
SAM: Oh no, Millie…we already get about five magazines…

ButtmanLeg ShowJuggs…”

MILLIE: Oh, and you can get another one…maybe for Mike…

“Who do you think bought the subscriptions to ButtmanLeg ShowJuggs…”

MILLIE: Emmett?
EMMETT: Well, I’ll think of somethin’

“Is Housewives’ Vibrator Monthly still publishing?”

MILLIE: Oh…thanks!  Sam…will you find out what everybody wants, collect the money and then…uh…bring the subscriptions over to the office tomorrow?
SAM: In Siler City?
MILLIE: Of course!
SAM: Oh no, Millie…I’ll give ‘em to you tomorrow night…
MILLIE: Oh, please Sam…
SAM: …I’m a working man, Millie…I can’t…

Sam, you know better than that.  Millie isn’t dumb enough to buy that excuse.

MILLIE: Oh, please…I want to turn them in tomorrow…
SAM: Look, Millie—I can’t…
MILLIE: Oh, thanks, Sam…
SAM: I…

Realizing that if he doesn’t capitulate to Millie’s demands he really will be a working man, Sam agrees to run the subscriptions over to “Magazines, Incorporated”…and in the next scene is seen entering the office of the company.

SAM (handing Millie the subscriptions): Hi…here…
MILLIE (turning away from her typing): Oh!  Hi!
SAM: There’s the subscriptions, and there’s the money…
MILLIE: Oh!  Oh, Sam—this is so sweet of you to do this…
SAM: Yeah…darn sweet if you ask me…I gotta get back to the farm, Millie…

I’ll say this for Sam.  He’s consistent, crappy excuse-wise.

MILLIE: Oh no, Sam…you give it to them…please?
SAM: No, Millie…I don’t have time
MILLIE: Please?
SAM: I’ve got to get back to the… (His voice trails off as Millie picks up the phone and buzzes Frank and Marty in the next room)

“I don’t want to miss Goober’s attempt to break the world record for stuffing marshmallows in his mouth!  While Frank is taking down bets, Marty has a quick and terse conversation with Millie.

MARTY: She’s got some guy out there who wants to give us some magazine subscriptions
FRANK (throwing down a pencil in disgust): Oh, why doesn’t she mind her own business

So the two bookmakers go out into the outer office, where Millie introduces them to Sam as “Mr. Wayne” (Marty) and “Mr. Parker” (Frank).  Since Sam doesn’t immediately say: “Hey…didn’t you two guys work for me on my pretend farm a year or so back?” it’s safe to assume that these are two entirely different characters.

FRANK: Well…we appreciate you wantin’ to give us some subscriptions, but…uh…we kinda ran out of order blanks, and we decided to cool it for a while…
MILLIE: Oh!
FRANK: See ya!
MILLIE: Well, I-I-I’ll go out and get some order blanks if you’ll tell me where to go…

“Ooh…wouldn’t I like to tell you where to go…”

MARTY: No no no…thanks…some other time, huh?
SAM: Now, wait a minute…wait a minute…I drove all the way over here from Mayberry with this stuff…well…you might as well take ‘em…
FRANK: Okay…whaddya got?
SAM: Well…uh…Howard Sprague wants a magazine called Modern Art Forms and…uh…Emmett Clark…
FRANK: Okay…okay…look…we’ll take care of it…
SAM: Here’s the money…here…you can just…mail me a receipt…
FRANK: Sure…sure…we’ll mail you a receipt…
SAM: Yeah…
MARTY: Thanks!
SAM: You bet…
MARTY: Goodbye!

The two bookies duck back into their office, smiling at Sam and Millie as they do so.

MILLIE: Honestly, Sam—don’t you feel good about helping?
SAM: Not particularly…I mean, the way they acted you’d think they’re doing me a favor…


Sam does not get to finish his thought…for he is interrupted by the arrival of two plainclothes cops, one played by one of the deans of character acting, Richard X. Slattery.  To list all of Slattery’s credits would take a lifetime, but he’s best known for regular gigs on such series as The Gallant Men, Mister Roberts (the TV version) and C.P.O Sharkey (TAGS fans will also recognize him as Captain Dewhurst, Barney Fife’s superior officer in two of the Don Knotts guest appearance shows).  Slattery’s character answers to “Detective Carter,” and is accompanied by “Barton,” played by William Henry (though he’s billed as…well, Bill).  This is Henry’s second go-round on R.F.D. (he played concerned parent Mr. Wilkerson in the episode “Driver Education”); he’s best known for his turns in films such as The Thin Man (as Gilbert Wynant), China Seas and Tarzan Escapes.

CARTER (knocking on the back office door): All right, this is Detective Carter…come on out, Frank…Marty…now come on out, I know you’re in there…
(The door opens, and Frank & Marty sheepishly walk out into the main office)
MARTY: Who talked?
CARTER: Let’s go…
FRANK: You got no evidence!  We’re in the magazine business, just like it says on the door!
CARTER: Not according to those telephone tapes we’ve got…
BARTON (indicating Sam and Millie): You, too…let’s go…
MILLIE: Oh…now wait a minute…
MARTY: They know nothin’ about it…they’re clean
CARTER: We’ll check that out down at the station…come on…
(Barton escorts Marty and Frank out of the office)
SAM: Now…hold it…hold it…listen…there’s something you should know…I happen to be head of the Mayberry city council…
CARTER: Well, the Mayberry city council!  I’m certainly thrilled to hear that…let’s go…
MILLIE: We don’t know what this is all about!
CARTER: Well, that’s possible, miss…but we’d like you to cooperate anyhow…
MILLIE: Well…are we being arrested?
CARTER: Not exactly…but would you come along now?

To say that Sam is taking all of this with his characteristically good (if bland) humor would be a big fat whopper—he’s irked at Millie that she’s gotten him involved in all of this.  I’d also like to be able to tell you that the two of them wind up behind bars and that Mayberry R.F.D. takes a new direction in its third season but as I have stated on the blog so often before…we simply aren’t that lucky.

CARTER (after getting off the phone): Well, your stories check out all right…sorry about this, Miss Swanson…Mr. Jones…but obviously we have to find out who’s involved in these things…
MILLIE: We understand…
BARTON (who’s entered with Marty and Frank; he hands Carter a folder containing paperwork): They’re all booked…
CARTER (to a uniformed cop standing behind them): All right, put them away…
FRANK: I’m sorry we gotcha mixed up in this, Miss Swanson…but it wasn’t supposed to be like this…
MARTY: Yeah, and if we need a secretary again in a couple of years you’ll be the first one we’ll call!
MILLIE (with little enthusiasm): Thanks a lot…

I’ll say this for Marty and Frank.  They are gentlemen of the first water.  When the police move in, they simply throw up their hands and observe “It’s a fair cop,” rarely engaging in any kind of messy shoot-outs or resorting to hostage situations.  They’re a credit to the crook profession.

CARTER: Miss Swanson…I…don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting anything but…during the time you worked for them, didn’t you notice anything at all suspicious about their activities?
MILLIE (flustered): Well…no…I…
SAM: I can’t understand that either, Millie…really…you work for a couple of guys for almost a week and you have no idea that they’re bookies?
MILLIE (defensively): Well, how was I supposed to know?
SAM: Didn’t you see anything that made you a little bit suspicious?
MILLIE: They did everything in the back room!  I don’t have X-ray eyes!

“Who the hell do you think I am, farmer boy—Ray Milland?”

SAM: It seems to me that if you were as sharp a secretary as you say you are…
MILLIE: I am a sharp secretary!

Before this can completely turn into an endless “Millie is a ditz” roundelay, Detective Carter brings up an important point:

CARTER: Mr. Jones…you say you gave them these subscriptions and they didn’t have any order blanks
SAM: That’s right…they ran out of them…
CARTER (scoffing): Didn’t that seem strange to you?  Selling subscriptions and no order blanks?
SAM: Well…uh…
CARTER: You gave them the subscriptions…
MILLIE (nodding): Hmm…
CARTER: …doesn’t sound too sharp to me, either…
MILLIE: That sounds real stupid if you ask me…

Check and mate, sod buster!  Well, having established that both of them are idiots (something that really doesn’t come as too much a surprise), Carter suggests that if they’re going to engage in any kind of violence that they do so outside the police station.  He’s the agent provocateur in this whole exchange, and we are all the richer for it.

I’m going to breeze through the coda this week because it’s little more than a rehash of what happened earlier—Sam apologizes to Millie for being a wanker, Millie asks him what Howard and Emmett said when he told them about her idiocy, the “who’s stupider” argument flares up again, yadda yadda yadda.  As for any change in Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Bee-o-Meter™—the fictional device that measures the number of times Aunt Bee punched a time clock in her two seasons with the series—it budges nary a nonce: ten show-ups for Season Deux, and a subtotal of twenty-two appearances for the entire R.F.D. series overall.  Next week on Mayberry Mondays: Aunt Bee’s swan song (no bird pun intended, by the way) in one of the series’ funniest outings, “The Mynah Bird”—which also wraps up the second season of the venerated sitcom (it says here).

7 comments:

rockfish said...

"at Bradbury college, we pull the finger..." and this episode is another opportunity to realize that savant-like Goober was the real 'brain' behind Mayberry RFD, guffaw wise. And a nice easy paycheck for the Who's Who of character actors...

hobbyfan said...

Ivan:

I've seen a few eps of Mayberry RFD over the years, and it seems our opinions vary. To wit:

1. Mike is just a typical, overly curious to a fault juvenile whom they tried to posit as the 2nd coming of Opie. That wasn't gonna happen. So he's about as sharp as a dull blade. La-de-da.

2. This was a means for star Ken Berry to avoid the typecasting that could've come from playing a bumbling soldier on F-Troop. CBS pulled the plug on the show way too soon, catering as they were to demographic interests even then. The suits that cancelled the show were the real idiots.

3. It was a pity that Sam, Millie, et al weren't invited back for "Return to Mayberry" 15 years after this series ended. How would Andy have interacted with them after all that time and the minimal amount spent with them during season 1 of "RFD"?

basura said...

Millie Swanson... X-Ray Eyes...

Don't leave us hanging!

Stacia said...

Boysinger’s Bakery

Am I the only one HEY THAT'S THE BRADLEY BUILDING ahem... as I was saying, am I the only one who reads this as Boysenberry's Bakery?

Arlene Golonka, somewhat ironically given the tone of this MRFD, was the only breath of almost-feminism in the Natalie Wood vehicle Penelope.

That said, this episode screams sexist right off the bat, with that pretend letter Sam dictates sounding almost exactly like what Clark Gable dictates to Jean Harlow in Wife Vs Secretary.

Two guys names Sprague, huh? That's going to cause a little confusion. Mind if we call one Howard to keep it clear?

Bradbury College: We'll Teach Your Fingers to Pay the Mortgage

Stacia said...

FRANK: Because the chicks we do know…don’t look like no secretaries! They look like exactly what they are…hookers!

I would be remiss if I did not point out that the occasional edginess of MRFD both shocks and delights me.

Chris Vosburg said...

Ivan describes: Emmett Clark, who enters the city council office (with an item he actually repaired, for those keeping score at home)

Oh, no. No, no, no. Emmett delivers but usually doesn't actually fix. In this case, probably, the p and q keys have been swapped, the capslock key is missing and the carriage flies across the room whenever the lever is slapped.

Far as I'm concerned [laughing], Emmett's still batting zero until I see the thing actually work. Video or it didn't happen!

Thanks, Ivan, for your usual hilarious take, and I agree with Stacia about the "hookers" line. Whew.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

rockfish argued:

this episode is another opportunity to realize that savant-like Goober was the real 'brain' behind Mayberry RFD, guffaw wise

And we will test this theory on Monday, when the Goob returns for one of my favorite R.F.D. episodes, "The Mynah Bird"...

And the incomparable Mr. Vosburg remarked:

In this case, probably, the p and q keys have been swapped, the capslock key is missing and the carriage flies across the room whenever the lever is slapped.

Curse you, Inspector Vosburg! You are far too clever for the likes of Emmett Clark!