Monday, August 20, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #54: “Sensitivity Training” (09/21/70, prod. no. 0301)

When Thrilling Days of Yesteryear first embarked on the Mayberry Mondays Project back in May of 2010, I editorialized that one of the first episodes I tackled—“Youth Takes Over”—was also one of the worst of the entire series.  Well…never let it said that I can’t admit when I’m wrong.  Oh, it’s still a stinker as far as R.F.D. episodes go—but it’s not nearly as terrible (it’s one of the “Andy Taylor” episodes, so at least it has that going for it) as today’s installment: “Sensitivity Training.”


As our episode opens, we find pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) chivalrously escorting a young lovely who answers to “Carol” to her doorstep, presumably after the two of them spent a lovely evening with one another at the movies.  “Carol” is played by an actress named Maggie Malooly—a female thespian that, according to the IMDb, I’ve seen in episodes of The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch, Bewitched and Bret Maverick.  I just don’t remember anything particularly outstanding about her work on those shows.  Here’s her Brady gig:


Anyway, we join Howard and his new girlfriend on the front porch at her house…where the evening’s goodbye is going to be a little awkward because Howard is not enough of an animal to throw her to the porch and ravish her like a Mongol horde.

HOWARD: Well…it’s been a nice evening…
CAROL: Uh-huh!
HOWARD (after a pause): Lovely night… (Carol nods) The…uh…moon’s in its first quarter
CAROL: Oh…really…
HOWARD (after an intake of breath): Well, I enjoyed the movie…I…I…I hope you did, too…
CAROL: Yes…it was fine…well…I suppose I’d better be getting in…
HOWARD: Yes...I suppose...well…good night, Carol… (He takes her hand in his, and shakes it warmly)
CAROL: That’s it?!!


Yes, indeedy…you lucky girl.  Now run inside and phone your girlfriends!

HOWARD: Whaddya mean?
CAROL (disappointed): Howard…don’t you want to kiss me goodnight?
HOWARD: Well, a gentleman doesn’t kiss a lady on the first date…heh heh…of course, on a second date it might be another story…heh heh…

I wish this were the second date.

CAROL: I don’t think there’ll be a second date, Howard…oh, you’re a nice guy…but frankly you’re just a little too inhibited, and…well, stuffy!
HOWARD: Stuffy?  Stuffy?
CAROL: I’m not trying to hurt you…

Oh, of course not.  “Stuffy” is a term of endearment that dates all the way back to…well, never.

CAROL: …I just believe in being honest… (After a pause) Well, would it really be better if I told you I had a wonderful evening and…then made up some excuse the next time you called?

“Well…it would certainly be the procedure with which I’m better acquainted…”

HOWARD: Well…I must say…you certainly are frank
CAROL: Good!  Now you’re annoyed with me!
HOWARD: No…
CAROL: Yes, you are…now that was an honest reaction…

“Let’s try another honest reaction…bite me!”

CAROL: Don’t spoil it…if there’s one thing I learned in my sensitivity class…it’s that you have to be honest with yourself…and everybody else
HOWARD: You went to one of those sensitivity things?
CAROL: Yes!  And it opened up a whole new life for me…but don’t you see, Howard…there’s a tremendous freedom in being honest…you wanted to kiss me…but you weren’t even honest enough to admit it to yourself…that’s why it wouldn’t work out, Howard…you’re just too restrained and inhibited…

“Also, you’re boring.  Good God, are you boring!  I don’t even remember what the movie was about—I was asleep the entire time!”

CAROL: You’re living just half a life
(She suddenly pulls Howard close to her and kisses him)
HOWARD (stammering): You…you…you…you mean y-y-you wanted to kiss me?
CAROL: Not really…I just wanted to see how it felt to kiss a man with a moustache…

“You shouldn’t have had that chili dog at the movies, Howard.”  And so Carol calls it a night, leaving a forlorn-looking Howard standing on her porch.  There is then a scene dissolve to Howard sitting at a table at the Mayberry diner, carefully tearing out a portion of the Pulitzer Prize Award-winning Mayberry Gazette.  Poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry) approaches him, with his cute-as-a-button girlfriend Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka) in tow.  At the risk of being defriended by Miss Golonka on Facebook (and also revealing how superficial I can be at times) I have become somewhat disenchanted with Millie in the third season…but only because she started letting her hair grow long (I guess she was the only cast member allowed to do so, if you’re familiar with the Buddy Foster story).  I prefer first season Millie, when she was sporting that adorable bob.

SAM: What are you tearing out of the paper there, Howard?
HOWARD: Oh!  Hi, Sam…Millie!  (He rises from his chair)
MILLIE: Hi!  Oh—don’t get up…
HOWARD: Sit down!  Join me!
SAM: Oh…thanks…
MILLIE: Thank you!  (They both sit down, and Millie picks up Howard’s newspaper) Oh!  You tore it out of the personals!

Mayberry’s paper has a personals column?

HOWARD: Oh, it’s just a want ad…
MILLIE: Oh…let me see… (She examines the scrap of paper) Are you going to take ballet lessons, Howard?

“No need to, Mill…Mother saw to that when I entered grade school…”  At this point in the conversation, Sam addresses one of the diner’s wait staff as “Mike”...which might be a foreshadowing of the eventual career path his own son—aka Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster)—will take.  (Mike does not appear in this episode, and for that may we truly be thankful…Amen.)

SAM (to Mike the waiter): Millie and I are just going to have coffee…thanks…
HOWARD: It’s the other side… (He flips the scrap paper for Millie)
MILLIE: Sensitivity training…


It might be a little hard to read the above screen capture—but the bottom of the ad reads: “Call Mount Pilot 8057.”  (If it ain’t happenin’ in the Pilot…it ain’t happenin’, baby.)

SAM: Sensitivity training…you, Howard?

“Me Howard…you Sam…her gorgeous…”

HOWARD: Why not?  What’s wrong with that?
SAM: W-W-Well, isn’t that one of those things where everybody sits around and…pours out their hang-ups?
HOWARD: Well, that’s a rather crude way of putting it, Sam…
MILLIE: Oh, I think it’s exciting, Howard…
SAM: Well…yeah…but that’s for people who have hang-ups…I-I always figured you to be one of the best adjusted guys I know, Howard…

“Apart from that Oedipus complex, that is…”

HOWARD: Well…how do any of us know how adjusted we are?  I mean, even you—how do you know how well-adjusted you are?
MILLIE: Yeah!  How about that?

“If I was maladjusted, I’d be funnier on this show.  Cogito ergo sum.”

SAM: Wait a minute…I don’t have any hang-ups…I know where I’ve been…and I know where I’m going…

“I’m going to take the Little Farmer out for a walk in his fields…back in a sec…”

HOWARD: Oh…Mr. America, huh…
(Millie grins and nods)
SAM: No, I didn’t say that…
HOWARD: Look, Sam…a man should try to broaden his horizons…you know, we’re not living in the Dark Ages…a man should open his eyes to new ideas…try to improve himself…the best way to do that is by…well, by being completely honest with yourself…that’s what sensitivity training is all about…now what’s so wrong with that?
MILLIE: I think it’s groovy, Howard…

I’m sorry…did I just walk into an episode of Room 222 by mistake?  “I’m gonna give it a whirl,” declares Mistah Sprague…and though Sam is fairly certain that he knows where he’s been and knows where he’s going, he wishes his pal good luck by raising his coffee cup in tribute.  So let’s meet the people who have speaking parts in Howard’s sensitivity session…


This gentleman is identified in the closing credits as “Leader”—but he does have an actual name in the episode…it’s “Oscar.”  (Oscar, Oscar, Oscar…)  He’s played by Fred Sadoff, who’s probably better known for extensive stage work (he was a one-time protégé of Michael Redgrave) though he has appeared in such films as Viva Zapata, The Quiet American, Papillion, Cinderella Liberty and most famously, The Poseidon Adventure (as Linarcos).  He also did a lot of guest roles in TV shows like The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones and Barney Miller; Me-TV viewers might recognize him for his semi-regular role as Dr. Murchison on The Streets of San Francisco.  He also made the rounds on several soap operas—Ryan’s Hope, All My Children, and Days of Our Lives—before his death from AIDS in 1994.


In the closing credits, this actor is identified as “Guy with Headband”—but “Oscar” calls him “Jerry” at one point, so that’s good enough for me.  He’s also billed as Roy Applegate, but he’s probably better known as Royce D. Applegate…with an extensive career in films and television before his tragic death in a house fire on New Year’s Day in 2003.  He had a regular role on TV’s Seaquest: DSV as Chief Crocker, but because I never watched that show I remember him more as Reverend Brocklehurst in Twin Peaks since I’m kind of twisted that way.  He also appeared in such movies as Fuzz, Harper Valley P.T.A., Alligator, Splash, The Rookie and Seabiscuit…but again, owing to the nature of my warped mind, I vividly remember him as one of two security guards assigned to a toxic waste dump (his character pulls a tooth out of his head) in 1985’s Armed and Dangerous, which starred John Candy, Eugene Levy and my bête noire Meg Ryan.


And of course, there’s no mistaking this gentleman—it’s Paul Simon!  Okay, I made a little joke there (very little)—it’s actually actor Frank Corsentino, another character thesp who’s no longer with us (he passed on in 2007).  Corsentino’s film resume includes flicks like cult favorite Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Up Your Alley and Moonchild, and he made the rounds on such TV favorites as The Odd Couple, Gunsmoke, Vega$ and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  His character goes unnamed; he’s billed as “Guy in Pancho” (the IMDb corrects the spelling) which would seem to suggest that he’s doing something with The Cisco Kid’s sidekick that’s really none of my business.  (The way he’s wearing that pancho—I mistook him for a much shorter man when I first watched this episode.)  We’ll call him “Poncho” for clarity’s sake.


This attractive woman is billed as “Sexy Girl”—probably because she asks Howard at one point in the episode, Rod Stewart-like, “Do you think I’m sexy?”  She’s played by actress Susan Alcott, who now goes by Susan Alcott Jardine and is an artist, as well as the author of such books as The Channel: Stories from L.A..  (This website explains what she’s been up to since then—you will notice there’s no mention of the R.F.D. episode.)  Her credits include an unbilled appearance in 1966’s The Oscar and several episodes of TV’s Medical Center.


Finally, a character billed as “Plain Jane”…though it’s kind of obvious it’s the writers’ euphemism for “Lesbian” (you’ll find out why in a minute).  Played by actress Lavina Dawson, whose TV credits include The Doris Day Show (so we’ll probably see her again soon…hint, hint) and The Rockford Files—she also co-wrote the 1986 TV-movie A Time to Triumph (according to the always reliable IMDb).  Dawson, for those of you looking for an excuse to get me in trouble, is actually on Facebook (she’s Lavina Dawson Caparella now).

We’ve introduced our players…so now let’s sit down and rap with these kids and find out where their heads are at.

OSCAR: …after all…if we’re not honest with ourselves and each other…how are we ever going to get rid of our inhibitions?
JERRY: Aw…look, Oscar man…I got rid of my hang-ups a long time ago…man, I’m looking for some direction, man—you know?  I mean, where am I going?  Just where am I going?
OSCAR: It’ll come, Jerry…

Perhaps a talk with Sam “I’m okay, and you’re delightful” Jones would straighten you out, Headband Guy.

OSCAR: …we find ourselves through our relationships with others… (Noticing a couple fondling each others’ faces) Hey, that’s it!  Get to know each other!  This is what it’s all about!


Um…yeah.

PONCHO: Oscar…let me ask you…is it all this simple?  I mean, is it just a matter of everybody getting to know everybody else?  And all our troubles disappear?

“No, I would not give you false hope.  On this strange and mournful day.”

OSCAR: More or less…
SEXY GIRL: If we’re to exist in this universe in harmony…we must show affection for each and every one of our fellow inhabitants… (Turning to Howard) Don’t you agree?
HOWARD (flustered): Uh…well…I must admit…the idea certainly has its merits
OSCAR: Sprague…don’t be afraid to express yourself!  We’re here to help each other!  We’re all searching…trying to find some answers…
HOWARD: Yes…of course…
SEXY GIRL (giggling): Do you think I’m sexy?

“I’d have to be gay not to!  Uh…what I mean is…”

HOWARD: I beg your pardon?
OSCAR: Sprague…let me tell you something…I know this is your first time here, but…if you expect to get anything out of it, you gotta loosen up a little…
PONCHO: Yeah, that’s right…like, nothing we say here is carved in marble…it’s just opinion…off the top of your head…
HOWARD: Well…I certainly do want to contribute
OSCAR: Come on, Sprague…what’s your hang-up?  We’ve all got ‘em…

“M is for the million things she gave me…”

HOWARD (clearing his throat): Well…actually, it’s not anything that’s…really serious…you know…I mean…it’s…well, you see…some people think I’m rather…inhibited
JERRY: I dig, man…you mean you’re square

Nailed it, Headband Dude.

HOWARD: Oh, no!  I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t say that
SEXY GIRL: I don’t think you’re a square, Howard…
HOWARD: Oh…well, thank you…
SEXY GIRL (cuddling up closer): Would you like to kiss me?
PLAIN JANE: I think that’s disgusting

And there’s the dyke bit in this episode.  Subtle it ain’t.

SEXY GIRL: Do you want to kiss me?
HOWARD: Well, it’s…uh…something that’s…certainly worth considering
JERRY: Look, Sprague…why don’t you take your shoes off, man…
HOWARD: What?
JERRY: Well, I mean just for a starter…you gotta relax
OSCAR: Yeah…why don’t you get with it, Sprague...

I’d like to be able to tell you that Howard’s removal of his shoes results in the breakout of an orgy, making this the best R.F.D. episode ever…but as I have said so often in the past: we simply aren’t that lucky.

HOWARD: All right…but I think…I…I think I ought to warn you…that…well, I’ve got a hole in my sock…


Dun dun DUN!!!

HOWARD: Well, you see…the laundry was late and this is the only pair that matched my suit

Every episode.  One laugh-out-loud moment.

OSCAR: Howard…don’t you understandWe don’t care!  This is being honest, instead of hiding things…
HOWARD: Oh…oh, I get it!  You mean we are…what we are!
JERRY: That’s it, man!  Now you got it!

Popeye’s been saying that for years, man.

PONCHO: Yeah!  We are what we are

That’s what we are.  We all want a love bizarre.

PONCHO: …beautiful, man, beautiful…
PLAIN JANE: And I think you have a lovely tone
HOWARD: Really?  Well…thank you!  Heh…I guess this is what we call “lettin’ it all hang out,” huh?


Right on.  Howard laughs some more, and then taking off his other shoe, says “Get with it!”  In the next scene, it’s apparent that that Howard loves Alice B. Toklas (and so does Gertrude Stein) because he’s truckin’ down Mayberry’s Main Street wearing sandals and shades.  It’s a shame he gave this outfit to Goober…


…because that would have made him all kinds of hippie-hip.  Struttin’ his stuff downtown, he passes by several Mayberryians (most of whom look at him with a “What the…front yard?” expression on their faces) before reaching the humble establishment of fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman), who is sitting down perusing the paper as the town’s village idiot, Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) joins him in an adjacent chair.  (I guess everybody’s good as far as gas goes in that town.)

HOWARD (walking past): Mornin’, fellas!  Beautiful day!
GOOBER: Howard?  Are you on vacation?
HOWARD: No!  I’m just on my way to the office!
GOOBER: You goin’ to work dressed like that?

Physician…heal thyself.

HOWARD: Why not?
(Millie joins the group)
MILLIE: Hi, guys!
HOWARD: Oh!  Hey, Mill!
MILLIE: Oh!  Hi, Howard!  (She can’t help but notice his sandals) How was your sensitivity class?
HOWARD: Oh, great…great!  Oh, hey…that reminds me—I promised to tell Sam all about it!
MILLIE: Oh!  I’ll go with you!
HOWARD: Okay!  Come on!

Howard does an amusing bit of business where he puts his arm around Millie as they take off down the street…and she sort of looks back in surprise.  Naturally, the sight of Howard macking on Sam’s girlfriend is enough to fire the tiniest synapses in the minds of Goober and Emmett.  “They’s somethin’ the matter with Howard,” observes Goober.

“Yeah…that ain’t the Howard I know,” Emmett replies…and so the two of them decide to investigate, which is how everyone winds up in the usual meeting place of the city council office.

HOWARD: The best thing that ever happened to me!

Damn it!  They did have an orgy, and I’ll bet those numbnuts edited it out for syndication.  (Razzle frazzle fricken fracken…)

HOWARD: I mean, everything that I’ve been most afraid of people finding out about myself was laid right out there…and nobody seemed to care!  Heh…I was hung up on absolutely nothing…
SAM: Well…that…sounds like some evening…
HOWARD: Hmm…you bet it was!  It’s like starting all over again—I feel like a free man!

I am going to refrain from the obvious joke here.  You may thank me later.

MILLIE: It sounds exciting, Howard…
GOOBER: It sounds like a wild party to me…
EMMETT: Goob…he told you it was a sensitivity training class…
HOWARD: What do you think of my big toe, Sam?
SAM: Your what?
HOWARD: My big toe!  What do you think of it?  The class thought it was beautiful

Well, since the brownies were passed around a few times…

SAM (looking at Howard’s toe): Wuh…to tell you the truth, Howard…it never really…hit me one way or another…
HOWARD: Well, I mean…the toe itself isn’t important…it’s symbolic…see, I had to take my shoes off and I had this big hole in my sock and it exposed my toe…nobody cared!  I mean, they just didn’t give a darn!
GOOBER (as only an idiot can laugh): Give a darn…that’s a good one!  You know, with the hole in the sock…
HOWARD: Goober, please

Howard…you were the one who argued he should be an inside pet.

MILLIE: You seem like a different man, Howard…
HOWARD: Well, I hope I am…it’s a whole new outlook for me, and it’s just great!

I don’t want to cause anybody any undue alarm…but Howard’s kind of acting like a person who’s just joined a cult.  He even mentions that he “could just reach out and hug the whole world”—which provides an amusing moment in which Emmett and Goober sort of jump back to avoid Howard’s world embrace.  But Howard’s on such a feel-good kick that naturally he wants his friends to share…after all, those flowers at the airport won’t sell themselves, you know.

HOWARD: Oh, there’s no reason why you all couldn’t feel the same!  It’s just a matter of changing your attitude toward life!

“…and simply by pledging your allegiance to the Church of Religious Consciousness…help me unpack these carnations, would you?”

SAM: Well…yeah…maybe that’s true, Howard…but I’ll tell you the truth…I can’t picture myself getting involved in one of those groups…
GOOBER: Well, me neither
HOWARD: Hey, wait a minute…why not?
EMMETT: Why not what?
HOWARD: Why not have our own group?  You know, I’ve been through the whole session, and I could act as kind of a leader…

“You could call me ‘Dear Leader’…”

HOWARD: …you know, I think I understand it…
SAM: Aw, Howard…
HOWARD: Yeah!  We could have our own sensitivity class right here in Mayberry!
GOOBER: Well, not while I’m the deputy sheriff…

If you’ve ever wondered why troublemakers like me give the South such a hard time…there’s your answer.

MILLIE: Oh, it might be fun!
HOWARD: We could use my place…there’s plenty of room!
SAM: Oh…oh…no…you’re gonna do it without me…
HOWARD: Aw, Sam…come on, it’s a beautiful experience…this thing could change your whole life!
SAM: But I don’t want my life changed, Howard!
EMMETT: Yeah, count me out, too…I ain’t got no hang-ups…
GOOBER: Well, I feel the same way…I like me the way I am…

Oh, if only everyone else were in agreement.  Interestingly, Millie seems to be the only open-minded member of the group—she urges the others to take Howard up on getting in touch with their inner hippie.  But Sam is definitely unconvinced, and Goober threatens Howard: “If you come around huggin’ on me, I’ll poke you right in the nose!”  I guess now is as good a time as any for a General Foods break…

…and when we come back, we find Goober at Emmett’s (Abandon All Hope of) Repair Shop…where he notices a single rose inside a coffee cup on the counter.

GOOBER (sing-songy): Where’d you get the rose?
EMMETT: What do you mean by that?
GOOBER: Nothin’!  I just asked where you got it…
EMMETT: Oh…somebody gave it to me…
GOOBER (grinning): Secret admirer?
EMMETT: No he ain’t!
GOOBER: He?

Well…this episode sure got interesting in a hurry…

EMMETT: Howard gave it to me…
GOOBER: Oh, him

Good for a chuckle, only because Goober doesn’t register any kind of shock at this revelation…and also because you people thought I was joking about that cult thing, didn’t you?

GOOBER: Is he still buggin’ you with that sensitivity stuff?
EMMETT: Yeah…talk about bein’ hung up
GOOBER: Yeah!  Where does he get off sayin’ we ain’t happy?
EMMETT: Oh, you know Howard
GOOBER: Ain’t I always been a happy guy?

Deliriously happy in your cocoon of idiocy, your Goobness.

EMMETT: Yeah!  Sure you have!
GOOBER (after a pause): Gotta say…it’s helped him, though…
EMMETT: Yeah… (He holds up the flower) Any guy who’d hand you a rose…sure ain’t stuffy…I’ll go if you go…
GOOBER (quietly): Okay…

Well, now that we have the feeble-minded on board, it’s time to go to work on the smartest person on the sitcom.  To accomplish this, we will need someone of the female persuasion.

MILLIE (bursting into the council office): Sam!  Sam, guess what!  Goober and Emmett are going to Howard’s sensitivity class…

“Well, that’s not surprising…they’re morons!”

SAM: No…really?
MILLIE: Mm-hmm!  And I said I’d go, too!
SAM: You… (Sighing) Well…have fun!
MILLIE: Oh, come on, Sam…come with me…
SAM: Oh, no…no…you’re not gonna get me to go to one of those things…
MILLIE: Oh, but Howard said it will make us much happier…
SAM: Millie, I’m already happy!  I’m happy!
MILLIE: Well…well, at least it’ll give us something different to do one evening instead of going…well, going to the movies…or Morelli’s…or sitting on the porch listening to you play the guitar…
SAM: Oh…now you don’t like the way I play guitar?

“Learn a f**king new song, ferchrissake…if I hear Carolina Moon one more time I’m going to show you what one looks like!”

After arguing that he’s a perfectly happy individual despite being saddled with a doltish son, Sam tries a new tack.  “This might have worked fine for Howard—but I just don’t see the point in the rest of us going.”

“Well, does there always have to be a point about everything?” Millie returns.  “Why can’t we just do something in this town just once without analyzing it to death?”  (Well…it would certainly free up Mondays for me, that’s for certain.)


So Sam gives in.  (Not the first time, I’m sure.)  We find Howard throwing pillows willy and nilly around his bachelor pad in preparation for his guests.  The door bell rings, and as is the usual wont in sitcoms everyone invited has been circling the block to arrive at the same time.  “I think you’re going to find it a very enlightening experience,” crows Howard optimistically. 

“I’ll tell ya,” whispers Goober to Emmett, “I’ll tell ya one thing—I ain’t takin’ off my clothes.”  (That sound you hear is an audible sigh of relief from the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, by the way.)

Howard is asked what they should do, and he suggests that everyone have a seat on the floor, taking off their shoes in the process.  Sam starts to grumble, not seeing what this is going to accomplish but Millie scolds him with a “there’ll-be-no-roll-in-the-haymow” tone in her voice.  The five of them then sit facing one another, drinking in the awkward silence.

MILLIE: Well…here we are! (She giggles)
GOOBER: Yeah…
EMMETT: Uh…how long is it supposed to be before we feel happy?
HOWARD: Well…it takes a little time, Emmett…we have to relax first…get to know each other…
EMMETT: Well, Howard—I’ve known you for twenty-four years
HOWARD: Ah, but you haven’t really known me…that’s one of the reasons why we’re here…

Dear God, please do not let him be talking about the Biblical sense.  And twenty-four years?  Please.  Emmett wasn’t even seen in Mayberry until the final season of The Andy Griffith Show.

HOWARD: See, the idea of it is this…whether we know it or not, each of us has certain things that he’s…well…sensitive about…
GOOBER: Hey—I bet that’s where the name of the class comes from!

Sharp as a marble, that boy.

HOWARD: Now, then…who wants to start us out?  (Awkward silence) Well, anyone who has a problem…just say it…right out!
(Long pause)
EMMETT: I hear they’re rippin’ out the streetcar lines over in Mt. Airy
SAM: Uh…yeah…yeah…I read about that…
EMMETT: That’ll make it tough to get around…
MILLIE: Yeah…I guess so…
GOOBER: I wouldn’t mind pickin’ up a streetcar from a mountain cabin…

Well, since this isn’t going as swimmingly as Howard had hoped…he suggests that the four of them try out some techniques that he observed in the class he took…


…I have a sneaking suspicion Sam and Millie have already explored this terrain—the funny bit comes when Goober and Emmett treat each other to a facial rub.


“Well, at least he coulda shaved,” complains Goober.  “Howard…what are we supposed to be doing?” asks Sam in an irritated manner.

HOWARD: Well, I’m…trying to get you to relax…and open up… (Sam sighs disgustedly) Listen, everybody…if you can’t talk about yourselves…maybe you can talk about each other, huh?  Millie…Millie, just to get us started…why don’t you tell us, for example, what do you think of…uh…Emmett?
MILLIE: Uh…well…I-I think he’s a good businessman…and…uh…well, he certainly is a good fix-it man…

I just hope Chris Vosburg wasn’t sitting on a barstool when he read that.

EMMETT: Thanks, Millie!  Did I tell ya I like that outfit you have on?
MILLIE: Oh!  Thank you!  I’m…uh…glad somebody noticed it…
SAM (realizing he’s not the “somebody”): Oh…now what’s that supposed to mean?
MILLIE: Nothing nothing nothing… (Her voice trails off)
HOWARD: She didn’t mean anything by it…come on, Sam…open up!
MILLIE: Yes, Sam—is there any little thing you don’t like besides my slack suit?
SAM: Oh…Millie, I don’t know what you’re talking about…I like your slack suit…
MILLIE: Well, you didn’t say anything about it…
SAM: Well…I…wh…Howard…is this the way this thing is supposed to go?
HOWARD: Well, give it time, Sam…give it time…

And now for something completely different.

GOOBER (raising his hand): Can I say somethin’?
HOWARD: Whatever you feel, Goob…
GOOBER: Well…it ain’t easy to say, but…

“Sometimes I relieve myself in people’s gas tanks when they ain’t lookin’…”

GOOBER: Sometimes I ain’t as neat as I should be…
HOWARD: Mm-hmm…does anybody care to comment on that?
EMMETT: Well, he’s just sayin’ he’s sloppy…that’s no secret—we’ve all known that for years
GOOBER: I don’t know how…I ain’t never said it before…
EMMETT: Well, we got eyes, ain’t we?
HOWARD: Fellas…please now…remember, we’re all friends here…
EMMETT: Well…if we’re all bein’ honest…I’ll tell you somethin’ about myself…

“Martha is really my sister.”  Oh, I’m even ashamed at myself for even going there…no, the real revelation isn’t going to be all that earth shattering because, as Mr. Clark himself has observed, “we got eyes, ain’t we?”

EMMETT: I know…I always try to make everybody think that I’m a genius…runnin’ the fix-it business, but…let’s face it…I ain’t no genius…

“This just in…grass is cool beneath bare feet during summer…”

GOOBER: Oh, yeah you are…a genius at ruinin’ things…and what’s more, you ain’t supposed to interrupt!  (Turning solemnly back to the others) Sometimes I don’t even make my bed…
EMMETT: Goober, will you forget that junk!  I’m tryin’ to bare my soul!
GOOBER (getting in his face): Whaddya mean, junk?
HOWARD: Fellas…fellas…please…we’re not here to argue…Sam…Millie…don’t you two have something you’d like to discuss?
(Sam shakes his head in the negative)
MILLIE: Well, why don’t we, Sam?  I mean, if we’re to have a meaningful relationship we have to be honest with one another…

“Because up until now, this relationship has only really been about hot monkey sex.”

SAM (exasperated): Millie…I have no complaints about you…I like the way you are…I think you’re great, okay?
MILLIE: Don’t tell me you think I’m perfect
SAM: Well, no…of course not!  Nobody’s perfect…
MILLIE: Oh—so there is something you don’t like!

“You trapped me into that,” counters Sam, proving he’s every bit as stupid as his friends.  This is pretty much where the episode goes south—it winds up in a series of contrived squabbles and arguments, although I did enjoy the part where Emmett starts to pontificate: “Sam…maybe I’m just a big blowhard…”


Not really paying attention to what Emmett is saying, Sam responds: “Okay…I agree!” and then goes back to quarreling with Millie.  (Sam: “What do you want me to do, make out a list of the things I don’t like about you?”  Millie: “Oh!  Now there’s a list!”)  None of the disagreements come off believable for a minute, and even doing a bird’s eye view of the skirmish a la Hitchcock…


…ends in complete boredom.  Everybody leaves Howard’s pissed at one another, leaving our well-intentioned touchy-feely guru all by his lonesome.

The next morning…

HOWARD: Sam?
SAM: Oh…hi, Howard…
HOWARD: I just wanted to stop in and apologize for last night…
SAM: Oh…that’s okay…
HOWARD: No, it isn’t okay…I mean, a lot of feelings got hurt, Sam…I don’t know what I’m going to say to Goober and Emmett…
SAM: Well…whatever you do decide to say, I…uh…I wouldn’t say it for a few days yet…

“Unless you’re fully stocked up on roses and all.”

HOWARD: I just don’t know what went wrong, Sam…you know, sensitivity training is getting to be a recognized science…

Riiiiight.

SAM: Oh, yeah…yeah…I know that, Howard…but…well, maybe we’re just not the type for it…this isn’t exactly Greenwich Village, you know…

There’s the understatement of the season.  Sam and Howard then decide that if the truth is going to hurt someone, “maybe it’s good to lie a little”—the foundation for all strong, healthy relationships.  And Sam’s parting words to his friend—“It’s good to have you back, Howard”—reinforces my theory that Howard managed to escape from that cult just before he started writing poetry for The Washington Times.

Coda time!

We find Emmett in his usual position—resting on his brains, and breaking an appliance someone brought in—with Sam seated beside him, perusing the Hooterville World-Guardian.


SAM: You and Goob speakin’ to each other yet?
EMMETT: Oh, sure…how can you stay mad at a nut like that?

Get it?  Nut?  Goober?  Peanut?  Bueller?

EMMETT: Don’t tell him I said that…
SAM: No…no… (He laughs with Emmett)
EMMETT: I don’t know…I just can’t carry a grudge for very long...

The two men are then approached by Millie, who offers her mea culpas to Sam, and everybody ends up friends again.  Millie does ask Sam if she really talks too much, and in asking the question…yeah, you guessed it—she starts to prattle on and on and on.  Because she’s a girl, silly, and that’s what girls do.  (After finishing this episode, writers Dick Bensfield and Perry Grant then went down to the Brontoburger stand for lunch.)

Oh, man—am I glad that’s over.  I’m really starting to worry that I’m about to hit the wall, and I’ll wind up setting aside this thing for another year or so.  But I’m determined to stick it out, so join me here next week for the hilarious Mayberry Mondays antics of “Goober’s New Gas Station.”

7 comments:

Stacia said...

“Well…it would certainly be the procedure with which I’m better acquainted…”

I can actually hear Howard saying that!

Honestly, I like Millie's hair longer. It's the teased look that bothers me. It made everyone look like they were wearing a wig even if they weren't.

Okay, and now it's time for a confession: The only MRFD episode I ever remembered seeing a part of before Mayberry Mondays, and I couldn't even tell you when it was. (Probably on TV Land, but I was a huge fan of sangria back then, so... well. Ahem.) But that screencap of Howard in the Nehru jacket seals the deal: It was THIS episode that I saw. Oh, my head.

P.S. SLACK SUIT.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Probably on TV Land, but I was a huge fan of sangria back then, so...

I can't get my sister to make the stuff anymore. The last time she whipped up a beautiful batch of sangria, she woke up the next morning with a head as big as her head. (I felt no ill effects, but then again I'm of a considerably larger size than she.)

Stacia said...

Hey, I'm a large gal myself and just two glasses of wine do me in nowadays. Ah, my misspent youth, so far behind me now.

I'm going to try to get a pic of myself in Vegas so you finally have one of me. If that doesn't work then I'll just go find an old picture and you'll have to make do. What is WITH me and pictures, anyway?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I'm going to try to get a pic of myself in Vegas so you finally have one of me. If that doesn't work then I'll just go find an old picture and you'll have to make do,

I thought I saved that one on your first day of teaching in Walnut Grove. But it doesn't look as if I did.

Stacia said...

Just for that, I'm going to get a picture of myself in Silver Lake and send it to you.

Chris Vosburg said...

SEXY GIRL (cuddling up closer): Would you like to kiss me?

It's called "shag" carpet for a reason, Howard.

And though I wasn't on a barstool when I read Millie's praise of Emmett's fixit mojo, I was in a desk chair as it happens, and sure enough fell right the hell off laughing. Maybe he did manage to fix Millie's typewriter after all.

Also, Emmett makes reference to new streetcars in Mt Airy, which caught me by surprise. I don't know all the eps of TAGS and MRFD, but this is the first time I've heard the actual real-life birthplace of Andy Griffith (thought to be a model of sorts for the fictional Mayberry) referenced in either show. Is it just me?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

From the irrepressible Mr. Vosburg:

It's called "shag" carpet for a reason, Howard.

No more calls, we have a winner!

Also, Emmett makes reference to new streetcars in Mt Airy, which caught me by surprise. I don't know all the eps of TAGS and MRFD, but this is the first time I've heard the actual real-life birthplace of Andy Griffith (thought to be a model of sorts for the fictional Mayberry) referenced in either show. Is it just me?

I also did a small double-take when I heard that, only because it's been my experience that they went to great lengths to disguise a lot of the real town names--for example, the "Mount Pilot" on the show refers to "Pilot Mountain" in real life, etc. But it's definitely the first time I've heard of the Airy reference.