Monday, August 13, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #53: “Emmett’s Domestic Problem” (09/14/70, prod. no. 0304)

With this week’s installment of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s Mayberry Mondays, we begin with the season premiere of the third and final season of Mayberry R.F.D.  R.F.D.’s first show in its inaugural season was “Andy and Helen Get Married,” which closed the chapter on The Andy Griffith Show by having Sheriff Taylor (Griffith) and Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut) make the whole darn thing legal…and included the only guest appearances on the show from former TAGS regulars Don Knotts and Ron Howard.  The season opener of the second year was “Andy’s Baby,” which brought back Griffith and Corsaut in their Andy and Helen roles…and introduced a new baby boy Taylor that was never, ever heard from again in Television Land after his initial visit to Mayberry.

Unfortunately—we do not get a return visit from Andy Taylor, who by this time was getting ready to change his last name to “Thompson” and move to California to teach at a private school, Concord (yes, I’m referring to the series Headmaster).  So to kick off R.F.D.’s third season, we find fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) and his doting wife Martha (Mary Landing) getting ready for bed.


No!  Come back!  Honestly—it’s not what you think.  They sleep in separate beds, so dry the tears of any children I may have inadvertently frightened.  (I’m really sorry…I should have approached that better.)

MARTHA: Emmett…I want to talk to you about something…
EMMETT (sighing): Why now in the middle of the night?  We’ve been sittin’ downstairs in the livin’ room starin’ at each other all evening…
MARTHA: But this is important…I’ve made a decision…

Please don’t ask for sex please don’t ask for sex please don’t ask for sex …

MARTHA: …I want to open up a little boutique shop…

Whew!  Dodged a bullet there.

EMMETT: Ohhhh…not that again!
MARTHA: But, dear…I have so much time on my hands…I need something to do…

“Especially since Mr. Felton’s wife has taken him back…”

MARTHA: …a woman needs to express her creative talents—after all, you have your work!  I just feel so useless

So you’ve arrived at where Emmett is in life, in other words.

EMMETT (sighing): Look, Martha…we’ve been through this a hundred times…you’ve got no business experience…it’d just be a waste of money…why don’t you forget about it and go to sleep?  (Turning over in bed) I don’t care if you’re useless
MARTHA: What?
EMMETT (stammering while sitting up): Oh…I mean…I didn’t mean that…uh…now let’s be practical…this pipe dream of yours is gonna cost us a thousand bucks just to get started!
MARTHA: Five hundred…and it’s not a pipe dream…
EMMETT: Okay…okay…number one: where are you gonna find a shop?
MARTHA: That little place down the street from you is vacant…
EMMETT: What about inventory?  Didja ever think of that?  And fixtures?  They don’t come free, you know!  You women never think of anything!
MARTHA: I’ve already talked to three wholesalers and they’ll let me have the merchandise on consignment…and as far as fixtures go…I found some used racks in a little thrift shop over in Mount Pilot…

Check and mate, fix-it man!

EMMETT: Look, Martha…you got no business experience…why don’t you forget it and go to sleep?  (He reaches up and turns off the lamp on the nightstand, then rolls over on his side)
MARTHA (defiantly turning the lamp back on): Agatha is selling her ceramics, you know, and her husband thinks it’s wonderful!  And Emily Williams caters birthday parties—why her choo-choo train birthday cakes are famous!  And…Harriet Bentley…
EMMETT: All right, all right…you win!  Go ahead…open up your boutique shop…
MARTHA: Oh, Emmett!  Thank you!  (She gives him a kiss)
EMMETT: Just get it out of your system…so we blow five hundred bucks… (He starts to root around in the nightstand drawer)
MARTHA: We will not!  You won’t be sorry…I promise…
EMMETT (handling several bottles of pills): We got any pills here for aggravation?

Naturally, when you don’t see eye-to-eye with the wife—where do you take your problem so it can be discussed and hashed out in a proper forum?  To Mayberry’s town council office, where poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry) hides out to avoid the fall planting, and village idiot/gas pump jockey Goober “Wind” Pyle (George Lindsey) joins him because he has nothing better to do.

EMMETT: Five hundred bucks…right down a rat hole
SAM: Oh…you don’t know, Emmett…something different for Mayberry…might catch on…

“That chain of Discount Dominatrix stores, for example—look at how they took off!”

GOOBER: Well, I don’t see how…unless she sells more than just booties
EMMETT: Not bootiesboutique!
GOOBER: Well, la de da!

I don’t know why you people even try.  I really don’t.

EMMETT: Goob…a boutique is a place where they sell a bunch of junk nobody wants
GOOBER: Then how is she gonna make money?
EMMETT: She ain’t gonna make no money!  Why do you think I got these bags under my eyes?

Fred Allen impression?

SAM: Emmett, if you’re so set against it how come you let her do it?
GOOBER: I bet they had a big fight about it… (He laughs)
SAM (laughing, too): Yeah…
EMMETT: I can see you guys ain’t married…

Well, Goober’s never found the right primate but Sam had to have been married at one time—he wouldn’t have willingly adopted his idiot son Mike (Buddy Foster).

EMMETT: Sometimes peace in the family is more important than money
GOOBER: Must have been some fight… (Laughs again)
SAM: Aw, Emmett…there are all kinds of successful women…look at the…the women doctors, and lawyers…and the women executives we have…
EMMETT: Yeah, but women just ain’t cut out to be business people, Sam…

I can’t quite figure out why this episode is called “Emmett’s Domestic Problem”—because that sounds like the Clarks are having trouble with a maid (Hey!  They should have asked Shirley Booth to be a guest star!).  A more fitting title would be “Emmett the Chauvinist Porker.”  It’s up to Goober to put the capper on this caveman conversation by remarking: “Well, I’ll tell you one thing…I ain’t taking no physical with no women doctors.”  (That sound you hear is an audible sigh of relief from the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, by the way.)


As you can tell by the above screen capture, Martha has made her boutique a reality: I kind of like the name, “Chez Martha”—it’s catchy.  It’s the grand opening, and we find Sam and pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) able to get away from their hectic jobs (snicker) to check out the new Mayberry bidness as Parisian music plays in the background.

HOWARD: Hey—it looks real nice, huh?
SAM: Yeah…yeah…
HOWARD: Well…they got the window fixed up real pretty…
SAM: Ah…yeah…yeah…you know…that…that’s interesting, isn’t it?


HOWARD: Yeah, it sure is!  Heh… (After a pause) What is it?
SAM: I was hoping you’d know…

The two men enter Martha’s humble establishment, where a couple of women are already examining the tchotchkes, knick-knacks and curios on display.  One of the women is a familiar face in actress Maudie Prickett, in her third appearance as Mayberry resident Myrtle (Prickett made an additional appearance on R.F.D. in “The Church Bell,” playing a different character.)  (If they had taken my advice and had Shirley Booth on the two women could have had a reunion.)  Howard and Sam greet Myrtle, and then congratulate Martha on the look of the store…with Sam commenting “We didn’t want to miss the big opening.”

“Just fabulous!” Howard editorializes, trying in vain not to appear gay.

HOWARD: …I mean a whole veritable array of doo-dads and such, huh?
SAM: No doubt about it!
MARTHA: And a lot of it’s imported!
HOWARD: Oh, yes!  I can see this!  (He picks up a figurine) Like this one—this is from the Orient, no doubt…
MARTHA: Oh…no…those are made in Poughkeepsie
HOWARD: Oh…well…overlap in cultures, possibly…heh heh…I mean, the twain has finally met, huh?

Oh, brother…I wish you were on a twain.  Preferably one headed for Waleigh.  Martha invites Sam and Howard over to have some coffee and cookies…where Emmett has been standing the entire time, looking as if someone peed in his corn flakes.

HOWARD: Boy, you sure must be proud of her, huh?
EMMETT: Well, I’ll be a lot prouder when she sells somethin’…
MARTHA: I’ve only been open an hour
MYRTLE (on the other side of the room): Oh!  Aren’t these shoes adorable!
MARTHA (calling out to her): Italian import!  (To Sam and Howard): Did you see the roses Emmett sent me?

Howard and Sam are highly complimentary on both the roses and Emmett’s thoughtful gesture.  “Six bucks more down the drain,” Emmett grouses, stirring his coffee.  Well, the shenanigans should pick up with the arrival of the fourth Marx brother—Goober has just made his appearance at Chez Martha as Myrtle and Martha are oohing and aahing about the Italian import shoes.

GOOBER: Hey, Martha!  Boy, this is nice—best of luck!
MARTHA: Thank you, Goober…
MYRTLE: Hello, Goober…
GOOBER: Hey, Myrtle!  (He takes one of the shoes from her) Aw, hey…those are nice…my goodness…but your feet are a lot bigger than that, ain’t they?


I am ashamed to admit I laughed at this—it helps that Myrtle shoots Goober a look that suggests she’ll show him they’ll fit…up the crack of his ass.  Goober then saunters over to the snack table.

GOOBER: Hey, cookies! (Idiotic laugh) These are free, ain’t they?
EMMETT: Yeah…for the customers
GOOBER: Well, how do you know I ain’t gonna buy somethin’?  (He starts grabbing pastries and a cup for his coffee)
SAM: Hey, look… (He holds up a pair of inflatable pillows)  Martha’s got more street signs than Mayberry has…


Yes, I laughed at this, too…but not in the same goofy manner as Goober.

HOWARD (holding up an incense burner): This is kind of nice…
SAM: Oh?  What is it?
HOWARD: It’s an incense burner…
EMMETT: She got two dozen of ‘em…and the nearest Chinese is in Siler City

Um…yeah.  Well, it looks as if Myrtle’s going to take a pass on the shoes, so she exits Chez Martha along with another anonymous woman who dutifully follows when Myrtle announces she’s leaving (I guess she has to go, too—she’s incapable of shopping independently).


EMMETT: Did she buy the shoes?
MARTHA: No…but they’ll be back
EMMETT: I’ll bet
GOOBER (holding up a ball-shaped fuzzy item): I’ll take this key ring, Martha… (Showing it to Sam) Nice—ain’t it?
SAM: Yeah…fluffy!
MARTHA: That’ll be a dollar-seventy-five…
GOOBER: Well, that’s okay… (He reaches into his pocket for some money) Uh…would you put it in one of those pretty sacks?  My sister’s got a weddin’ anniversary comin’ up…
HOWARD: You’re going to give your sister a key ring as an anniversary present?
GOOBER: Well, Howard—it’s my only sister

“Boy…if that’s the kind of customers she’s gonna get,” Emmett continues to moan.  “Well, I bought somethin’, didn’t I?” returns Goober, as he grabs a few more cookies for the road.  There’s a scene dissolve, and we find Howard walking past Emmett’s shop where a crowd has gathered, as they look in awe at Emmett fixing a variety of appliances.  Okay…I knew I’d never be able to keep a straight face saying that—Emmett is asleep in his usual chair, and Howard does a humorous bit of business where he wakes him up by raising the bill of Emmett’s cap with a folder of papers he’s carrying.


EMMETT (groggily): Just gatherin’ my thoughts…
HOWARD: Yeah…sure…how’s it going?
EMMETT: Oh, big…big
HOWARD: And Martha’s boutique…how’s that going?
EMMETT: You figure it out…she didn’t open the shop ‘til nine-thirty
HOWARD: Oh?  Well, I don’t suppose there’d be many women out shopping before that…
EMMETT: Look—I’ve been here since eight o’clock…that’s the way it is every day here with me…eight to five, hittin’ the old ball…


The expression on Howard’s face here is priceless.  You can tell right off the bat he’s thinking: “What a crock of sh*t…”

EMMETT: These women just don’t understand you gotta stay on your toes if you’re gonna do business…
HOWARD: Yeah…I suppose…listen, the reason I stopped—is my electric can opener ready yet?
EMMETT (taking off his hat and scratching his head): When you’d leave it?
HOWARD: About ten days ago
EMMETT: Oh, yeah…yeah…well, I’ll get to it this afternoon…you ain’t my only customer, you know…I gotta a lot of stuff piled up there ahead of you…

Howard, realizing that by the time Emmett gets that contraption repaired canned food will have been obsolete for decades, has to mosey on to his soul-sucking government job…but Emmett asks him, “What’s your hurry?”

EMMETT: Like I was sayin’ about these women…they just ain’t got no get up and go…that’s their trouble!  Now, you take Martha…

Yes—let’s take Martha.  For as Emmett is pontificating on how man is superior because he made fire (and Howard hilariously complements Emmett’s b.s. with some first-rate funny facial expressions), Martha is busy at her boutique waiting on a black customer (played by Amentha Dymally, whose TV work includes Ironside, Room 222 and Marcus Welby, M.D.) billed in the closing credits as “Nancy.”  (Also known as Betty Jo Bialowski…for you FST fans out there.)

MARTHA (holding up a purse and a blouse): Here we are…I think this will be perfectly stunning with this blouse…
NANCY: Yes…extremely smart…I’ll take them both…
MARTHA: Right…
NANCY: Oh…and those guest towels?  I want a half-dozen of those… (She hands Martha some bills)
MARTHA: Certainly!  Thank you!

We now return to the Business 101 lecture from Dr. Emmett Clark, esteemed Sitting-On-Your-Ass-ologist.

EMMETT: Howard, I’ll tell you somethin’…that boutique is gonna cost me…but it’ll probably be good for my marriage…teach her to appreciate all the work her husband does…get her out in the dog-eat-dog world…she’s been sheltered too long in that ivory tower I built for her…

If you had a hand in its construction, I’m surprised it hasn’t been condemned by the city by now.

HOWARD (looking at his papers and feigning interest): Yeah…I suppose…
EMMETT: You know…once you carry ‘em over the threshold you carry ‘em for the rest of your life…they don’t wanna admit it…they always wanna prove they can do anything a man can do—but they’re never willin’ to admit that it’s the man who wears the pants!
HOWARD: Well…that’s just the natural antagonism between the sexes, Emmett…
EMMETT: Five hundred bucks for her to try on the pants…well, I’ll be glad when the whole thing’s over…


Not nearly as glad as I’ll be.  “Let her take her beatin’ and forget it,” asserts Emmett, as the scene cuts to a montage of Martha selling boutique items and pocketing large wads of currency.  (The jaunty Parisian music plays in the background as well.)  When the montage is through, the scene then shifts to the inside of Emmett’s fix-it shop…where at first glance it looks as if he might be repairing something—but he’s actually painting a cradle, and that doesn’t count.

SAM (entering the shop): Hey…who’s that for?
EMMETT (looking up from his work): Oh…hiya Sam…it’s for Martha…
SAM (grinning): Oh?
EMMETT: Never mind the “oh’s”…it’s for the boutique shop…she’s gonna fill it with paper flowers
SAM: Ah…hey, how’s she doing over there?
EMMETT: Aw, according to her she’s doin’ just fine…of course, that’s what she says every time she makes a sale…she hasn’t bothered to…subtract the outgoing from the income yet…
SAM: I guess that’s where it counts, huh?
EMMETT (smiling): While she’s over there playin’ games, I don’t mind tellin’ you—I’ve been havin’ a big week…
SAM: Oh, really?
EMMETT: Yeah…I cleared ninety-eight buckscleared, I said…
SAM: Wow!  Not bad!
EMMETT: Yeah, but don’t forget—I’ve been buildin’ up to this for twenty-two years

Betcha by golly wow…Emmett and Martha will soon be moving to the tonier section of Mayberry in a spin-off entitled Walnut Hills, C.O.D.—a further attempt to dilute the once-beloved TAGS franchise.  Martha enters the shop, greeting both Sam and her husband.

MARTHA: Emmett—guess what?
EMMETT: What?
MARTHA: I just got caught up on my bookkeeping…I can’t believe it!  I cleared a hundred-and-forty-three dollars the first week!
SAM: Well…gee…that’s great, Martha!
MARTHA: Uh-huh!
EMMETT: Aw…you must’ve goofed up your figures…
MARTHA: Well, I don’t think so…you want to check them for me?  (She hands him her ledger)
EMMETT: Well…I’d better before the Internal Revenue gets a hold of it… (He looks intently at the figures) A hundred-and-forty-three dollars…let’s see…subtract five from seven…five from… (Laughing) Hey, Sam…come here…look at this…look at this…
SAM (moving to where he can look over Emmett’s shoulder): What?
EMMETT: Five from seven is one… (To Martha) Five from seven is ordinarily except that it’s two
MARTHA: Oh, dear… (Realizing) Oh!  Oh, that’s two-hundred-and-forty-three dollars!  I cleared over two hundred dollars!
EMMETT: Ah…
MARTHA: Oh, I’m so happy!  Aren’t you?
EMMETT: Oh, sure…sure…

Cue the sad trombone!  Well, unlike her husband—Martha has no time to sit around jawing with Mayberry’s barely-employed: she’s got a boutique to run!  “Time is money!” she sings out, as she says goodbye to Emmett and blows Sam a kiss.  Oh…wait a second…strike that…reverse it.  (You know what I mean.)  And now, the emasculation of Emmett Clark has begun.

EMMETT (embarrassed): Ah…that’s…really somethin’, ain’t it?
SAM: Yeah…yeah…
EMMETT: Yeah…well…oh, of course the first week ain’t much of an indicator…you know, all her friends comin’ in and everything like that…
SAM: Oh, yeah…sure…
EMMETT: Uh…you know…I’m…I’m happy for her…but…uh…you gotta allow for beginner’s luck…you know…it’s the long haul that counts…
SAM: Oh…yeah…sure…

Sam…not only do you suck at giving advice…you really stink when it comes to rubbing salt in people’s wounds to make it funny.  Let’s bring in someone off the bench.

GOOBER (entering the shop): Heeeeeeyyyyy…there he is!  Mr. Lucky!

All thirty-four episodes of the 1959-60 series coming in October from Timeless Factory Video.  (Hey…never hurts to throw in a plug—they might send me a freebie.)

EMMETT: Huh?
GOOBER: I just talked to Martha…oh, boy—how does it feel to be on Easy Street?
EMMETT: Goob…it’s just her first week
GOOBER: Well, wait until she gets rollin’!  Eaaasy Street for ol’ Emmett!
SAM: Uh, Goob…
GOOBER: I wouldn’t mind lettin’ some woman support me…huh, Sam?
EMMETT: She ain’t gonna support me!
GOOBER: Well, give ‘er time!  Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Reminds me of this movie I saw once…guy just pluggin’ along…then he marries this dime store heiress…spent the rest of his life, over there on the Riviera, soakin’ up sunshine and lappin’ up that champagne…
SAM: Yeah, Goob…Goob…
GOOBER: …had a surprise endin’, though…guy shot hisself

A louder than usual guffaw from me—partly because of Ken Berry’s annoyed reaction to the conclusion to Goober’s story, and partly because Lindsey chooses to pronounce “heiress” with the “h” intact.  So we have a quick General Foods break, and then it’s back to the council office where Howard is perusing the latest issue of the Mayberry Gazette as Sam sorts through his mail.

HOWARD: Here’s an article in the paper about Martha…
SAM: Oh yeah?
HOWARD (reading) “Boutique spurs Mayberry business community…”
SAM: Huh…
HOWARD (continuing): “Martha Clark has proven again that there’s a place in the business world for women…her boutique on Main Street is setting all records for a new business in Mayberry…” Huh…?
SAM: Hey!  Not bad!
HOWARD (continuing): No…”Combining creative merchandising ideas with acute business…” (He stumbles slightly on the next word) “…acumen…Mrs. Clark sets an example of industry and competence for the local merchants who have invited her to speak at next Tuesday’s Rotary meeting…” Well!  Emmett must be proud…
SAM: Uh…I hope so…
HOWARD: What do you mean?
SAM: Oh…I don’t know…I think Emmett’s a little…uptight about that whole thing…
HOWARD: Oh?  That’s a shame…hmm… oh, there’s more… (He continues to read) “Mrs. Clark, a Mayberry resident for twenty-three years, resides on Elm Street with her husband Emma…”
SAM: Emma?
HOWARD: Must be a typographical error…


Howard gets a tremendous kick out of this, and starts chortling as Sam buries his face in his hands.  Howard then stops suddenly, and a whip pan to the council office entrance shows a scowling Emmett, who tells Howard: “Go ahead and laugh…everybody else is.”

SAM: Aw…come on, Emmett…it’s just a typographical error…
EMMETT: Oh, sure…sure…I guess I’m lucky they didn’t call me “Mr. Martha Clark”…

The phone rings, and upon answering it, Sam finds out it’s Martha, asking for Emmett.  Talking to his wife for a few moments, his mood suddenly changes after he hangs up.  “I’ll see you guys,” he tells his friends.  “Martha needs me over at the boutique…I knew she’d be callin’ for help sooner or later…”

EMMETT: Well—here I am!
MARTHA: Oh…thanks, dear…I’m sorry to bother you…
EMMETT (laughing): Ah…it’s no bother…what’s a husband for if he can’t come to his wife’s rescue now and then?  What’s the big problem?
MARTHA: Well…I hate to ask you…but I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to do the marketing
EMMETT (his face falls): Marketin’?
MARTHA: Mm-hmm…uh…oh…here’s the list…we need potatoes and a pound of coffee…
EMMETT (sotto voce): Will you keep your voice down!
MARTHA: Well, for heavens sake…if you don’t want to go…but we’re out of everything
EMMETT: I’ll go…I’ll go…


So there’s a quick (and funny) shot of Emmett carrying a few bags of groceries to his car, and then the scene shifts to Goober’s Gas, where he pulls up to his bosom pal’s pump and yells “Fill ‘er up!”

GOOBER: All right, Emmett!  (Emmett tries to get out of the car, but he can’t get the door handle to work) When are you gonna spend a dollar and get this ol’ door fixed? (He glances into the back seat) Hey!  Gotcha doin’ the marketin’, I see…
EMMETT: Whaddya mean, “got” me?  I did it ‘cause I wanted to…
GOOBER: Well, I guess that makes sense dollar-wise, since her time is more valuable than yours

I know I’ve ragged on Goob many times in the past…but occasionally kernels of truth come out of his mouth along with the buffoonery.


EMMETT: Will you just go get me some gas?!!
GOOBER (grabbing the hose-and-nozzle and staring off reflectively): You know…when I get married…I’m gonna look for me a girl that ain’t as smart as I am…
EMMETT: Well, that’ll take some diggin’…

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.

GOOBER: That way, we…did you insult me?
EMMETT: Would you put that hose in the tank!
(Goober puts the nozzle in the tank, and then reaches into one of Emmett’s grocery bags, pulling out a stalk of celery.  He takes a giant bite)
GOOBER: How soon you figger to be livin’ off of Martha?
EMMETT (annoyed): Why don’t you mind your own business!  I’ll tell you one thing right now—I’m still the breadwinner in my family!


Reaching into another one of the bags, Goober pulls up a loaf of bread and cracks: “Well…I don’t know about being the breadwinner…but you’re sure the bread buyer!”  He starts laughing idiotically, and then sticks the final shiv in by calling Emmett “Emma.”


After a long day of being humiliated by his alleged friends, Emmett is sprawled out in repose on his couch in the living room as Martha sits at a desk, in a dither about how much work is involved in the running of her fabulously thriving business...

MARTHA: Emmett?
EMMETT: Yeah…
MARTHA: You know…I was thinking, just today…wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could work together?
EMMETT: Huh?
MARTHA: Well, with things going as well as they are I was…thinking of opening more shops…in Siler City, and maybe Mount Pilot!  And you can help me manage them!

Look…I know it’s sometimes difficult to keep nepotism out of any business…but look at Emmett’s track record with that fix-it shop, and then reconsider what you just asked him.

EMMETT: Me work for you?
MARTHA: Well, not for me…we’d be partners!  I could do the buying, and the decorating, and all that…and you could come in and do the books!
EMMETT: Well, what about the fix-it shop?
MARTHA: Well…you could dabble in it if you wanted to…

In other words…pretty much what he does now.

MARTHA: …but Dear…you’ve worked so hard all your life…

Must…keep…straight…face…

MARTHA: …you deserve some time to play
EMMETT: Play?  Oh, fine!  Just…wonderful!  How about my two weeks with pay?!!
MARTHA: What?
EMMETT: What about early retirement?  Well, I’ll tell you one thing… (He gets up off the couch, angry) I ain’t goin’ to no Riviera and booze myself to death for nobody!


Emmett stomps off toward the stairs (yes, the floor plan has changed radically since we last saw the house in “Emmett and the Ring”) and does a funny little stumble on his way to charging up the stairs (I credit Hartman’s previous career as a dancer for making this work).  The scene then shifts to outside the council office, where Sam greets Martha as he prepares to unlock the office and spend another nine-to-five avoiding his crops.  Martha asks Sam if she could have a word with him…and why Sam has never considered saying: “Gosh…I’m really going to be busy for the next three hours” in order to avoid these little problem-solving sessions is a mystery to me.  (Then again, everybody’s pretty clued in that Sam doesn’t really do a hell of a lot, so it’s possible he did try it in the past and was rewarded with hysterical laughter.)

SAM: Now…what can I do for you?
MARTHA: Well…I hate to bother people with personal problems, but…I need a man’s viewpoint…

“And Goober’s working on a leaky piston valve, so…”

SAM: Oh…well…all right…fire away…I’m all yours…
MARTHA: Well…it’s about Emmett…I have a feeling that he resents my boutique…has he said anything to you about it?
SAM: Oh…uh…well…no…he hasn’t said anything to me directly about it…but I…I think I know what you mean…
MARTHA: I didn’t realize it would hurt his feelings…I thought he’d be proud of me…
SAM: I’m sure he is, Martha…
MARTHA: No, he isn’t…he’s jealous…I’ve stepped on his male ego…oh, Sam—what am I going to do about it?  How was I to know that my boutique would be so successful that I’d wind up making more money than he does?
SAM: Well…
MARTHA: Should I just…give up all I worked for, or do you think he’ll adjust to it?
SAM (sighing): Boy…heh heh…that’s a tough one…I…I really don’t know what to tell you, Martha…you know, some men can live with a thing like that and some men can’t…just depends on what kind of a man your husband is…

“Now you take a man who’s all wrapped up in his work—I mean, really engrossed in it…well…it probably wouldn’t make any difference at all to a man like that,” adds Sam, who has reached the highest plateau of suckitude in solving people’s problems in Mayberry.  Emmett, of course, is not the kind of man Sam is describing…but rather than tell Martha that she should keep the business and if Emmett continues to pout, kick the essobee to the curb, Sam sort of backs Martha’s intentions of selling Chez Martha.  What has been a fairly amusing episode in spots has now become a nightmarish scenario in which a woman who clearly demonstrates a keen business sense and a talent for selling fancy crap to women is going to chuck it all just to keep her jealous, sniveling excuse for a husband happy.  Martha…feminism is on line two.  They’d like their dignity back. 

Later that night, as the Clarks prepare for bed, Martha puts on a performance that wouldn’t pass muster as third-rate dinner theater.  (The next few scenes, by the way, are not for the squeamish.)

MARTHA: Oh, darn…
EMMETT: Now what?
MARTHA: I forgot to call the wholesaler…and I promised Millie I’d have those hip-huggers for her…
EMMETT: Oh, go to sleep…she can’t wear ‘em tonight
MARTHA: Oh, I can’t sleep…I’ve got too much on my mind…I didn’t realize how everything would pile up on me…

“It’s more than my girly brain can handle…I think I’m going to faint…”

EMMETT: Well…I coulda told you that…go to sleep…
MARTHA: I don’t see how you do it…
EMMETT: I put my head down…I close my eyes…and I shut my mouth

Remember, Martha—this is the marriage you’re saving.

MARTHA: I mean…I don’t see how you stand all the pressure running a business…

Pressure?  In Emmett’s business?  Playing checkers, jawing endlessly with his friends, napping outside his storefront…where the hell is the pressure?

EMMETT: It takes self-discipline…
MARTHA: Well, it’s not easy for a woman…you’ve taken care of me for so long, I…I guess I just didn’t realize what a grind it would be…
EMMETT: Well…I guess that’s my fault, Martha…I’ve always protected you from that side of life…

I’ll say.  Anytime Emmett gets invited to a party or some sort of social function in that town it’s a miracle if he brings Martha along.  So Martha asks him if it would “upset you terribly if I sold the shop?”  Emmett nearly falls out of bed, trying not to appear too eager.  Although Martha has made the idiotic decision to tank her business just to stay married to that wanker, I guess there is a bright side to all this—at least she doesn’t have to mingle with the Rotarians. “It’s your happiness that counts,” Emmett cluelessly tells her, “now you just rest up and take it easy.” 

As they dim the lights—get back here—Emmett rambles on about how “it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there,” which reminds me of the old Woody Allen gag: “It’s worse than dog-eat-dog—it’s dog-doesn’t-return-other-dog’s-phone-calls.”  “The Good Lord knew what he was doin’ when he put the man in charge,” Emmett grunts, prompting a slightly sarcastic “Mm-hmm” from Martha.  (My favorite part of his soliloquy is when he talks about pressure and things involved like “deadlines to meet” and “competition to beat down”—which had me asking out loud: “Is there another fix-it shop in Mayberry run in the same sh*tty, slapdash fashion?”)

The coda on this one has both Sam and Howard agreeing that while it’s a shame Martha’s giving up the store it’s probably the right decision.  “After all…they’ve been happy together for eleven years now—why rock the boat?” posits Sam, oblivious to the mockery that is the Clarks’ matrimonial union.  Still, Martha is having a going-out-of-business sale, with fifty percent off—so there should be some good buys for her former clientele.  “For a woman, yeah,” observes Howard.  “Not much in there a man could use.”

Yes, you just knew that Goober was going to be the punchline in this one…he walks proudly into the council office, and pulls out an item that he’s purchased at the now-defunct Chez Martha…


“To wear around the gas station when it rains,” he grins in his typical fashion.  “Well, who’s to say these are just for women?”

A promotional memo from the CBS network about this episode...with Maudie Prickett's character referred to as "Winifred."
Oy.  That was painful.  Let me just say right now…I wouldn’t blame any of you if you skipped next week’s edition of Mayberry Mondays.  The episode to be discussed is “Sensitivity Training”—possibly one of the worst in the entire series.  But if you’re game for it, I’ll be back here at this same time next week.

5 comments:

Stacia said...

Emmett, if you’re so set against it how come you let her do it?

...

I...

It... it just...

Ugh.

Stacia said...

I'm back, because:

Oh, brother…I wish you were on a twain. Preferably one headed for Waleigh.

HA!

I know I do the "HA!" a lot, but I mean it. A "HA!" is not uttered unless it is completely deserved.

What puzzles me about this episode and, frankly, a lot of similar shows from this era, is the casual sexism of Sam's comments is just accepted while Emmett going on and on, basically saying the same thing but more obnoxiously, is supposed to be hilariously wrong.

Also? There is no way MY Howard wouldn't know the word "acumen!" I demand a rewrite!

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Also? There is no way MY Howard wouldn't know the word "acumen!" I demand a rewrite!

This is one of the curious things about this episode...he doesn't mispronounce it or anything, but he reacts as if it's the first time he's ever come in contact with the word and that just seems out of character for Howard. (I suspect they were just too lazy to do a retake.)

What puzzles me about this episode and, frankly, a lot of similar shows from this era, is the casual sexism of Sam's comments is just accepted while Emmett going on and on, basically saying the same thing but more obnoxiously, is supposed to be hilariously wrong.

This episode literally made me wince the first time I watched it. My gob has just been completely smacked at a woman who's going to give up that kind of economic security to preserve a marriage that by her husband's definition involves "sittin' around and starin' at one another." They should have made mention in Return to Mayberry that Martha ended up croaking Emmett with a frozen leg of lamb, later devoured by the detectives investigating the case.

Chris Vosburg said...

What puzzles me about this episode and, frankly, a lot of similar shows from this era, is the casual sexism of Sam's comments is just accepted

Since my main meat is fifties b sci-fi, I get to see a lot of this sort of stuf. The top of the pops is this line from Cat Women of the Moon:

Walt Walters [to a Moon Women]: "You're too smart for me, baby. I like 'em stoopid."

She smiles shyly. Oink, oink, Walt. Minutes later he's in the "caves of gold" with a shiv sticking out of his back. Wanna guess who put it there?

Chris Vosburg said...

And I think I'm correct in saying that the Emmett repair-o-meter is still pinned at the lower extreme of the scale: zero [laughing].