Monday, August 27, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #55: “Goober’s New Gas Station” (09/28/70, prod. no. 0309)

In the second season Mayberry R.F.D. episode “The Sculptor,” the lesson that we ultimately take away from our viewing experience is that sophistication and anything to do with a higher level of culture is to be feared and shunned in America’s favorite television town.  Today’s installment of Mayberry Mondays deals with a similar subject, only from a scientific point of view, and is put in motion by the grand opening of a new business…though this is a bit of a misnomer, in that the business isn’t really all that new (unlike, say, a boutique shop called “Chez Martha”) but an established brand just moving to a more convenient location. Yes, Goober’s Gas is now a permanent part of the city landscape.


And so we find Mayberry’s village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) doing driving-room-only business at his new digs…with poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry), fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) and pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) walking over to congratulate him on his good fortune.

SAM: Hey, Goob!  We just…wanted to wish you luck on your new station!
(All three men shake Goober’s hand, offering various congratulatory statements)
GOOBER: You know, I guess this is the best thing that ever happened to me…when they sold that other piece of property…
HOWARD: Yeah…it sure is…you know, it’s really great that you were able to set up right in town here…
EMMETT: Yeah…it’s more convenient for your customers, too…

“We can just walk right over here from town and loaf the rest of the day, instead of having to wait for the county bus…”

GOOBER: Yeah…you know, bein’ a new station and everything, the fella from the oil company come by and took my pitcher for their magazine…
SAM: Hey, that’s great!
GOOBER: Wanna see how I posed?
SAM: Yeah…yeah…sure…


GOOBER (striking a pose at the pump): Well, I was smilin’ a little, too…said there might be a chance they can use it on the cover…
SAM: Oh…
EMMETT: Too bad you weren’t wearin’ a bathin’ suit

The four of them find this uproariously funny.  Well, it is Mayberry, after all.

HOWARD: How’s business been?
GOOBER: Great!  Of course, I’ve just been open since yesterday, but up until now it’s been three times better than the other place!
HOWARD: Hmm…amazing, huh?
SAM: Yeah!  How do you account for that?
GOOBER: Well, a lot of people thought my other place was a dump
HOWARD: Hmm…well, I concur

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.

GOOBER: You what?
HOWARD: Nothing…
GOOBER: Well, anyway…a lot of folks who used to go to Siler City to get their gas are comin’ over here now—they like the station!  Boy, I’m really gonna hit the ball and make a success out of this!

We all know, of course, that these industrious men could stand around for the rest of the day—actually, it’s more like the rest of eternity—jawing with one another but Goober has been interrupted by the arrival of another paying customer, so Emmett suggests the remainder of the quartet entertain ideas of a little nosh:

EMMETT: How ‘bout lunch?
SAM: Yeah, fine…fine…
EMMETT: You interested in lunch, Howard?
HOWARD: No thanks, Emmett…I’ve got a couple of hard-boiled eggs waiting for me up in the office…

“That’s what happens when you don’t make payments to Big Louie on time.”  So Sam and Emmett head off toward the Blue Plate Special, and as Howard walks back to his office he notices this right by Goober’s station.


Geez, I hope Goober’s insured to the eyeballs.  That is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

HOWARD: Hey—what’s this for, Goob?
GOOBER: Well, I needed a place to dump that ol’ crankcase oil…I still gotta make it a little bigger, though…
HOWARD: Oh…
GOOBER (as he jumps into the pit): Wouldja hand me a shovel?
HOWARD: Yeah…sure…

Howard complies with Goober’s request, and as our favorite gas pump jockey continues with his digging, he experiences a little trouble when his shovel appears to have hit something hard.

HOWARD: What’s the matter?  You hittin’ a rock?
GOOBER: Oh, another one of them bones, I think…
HOWARD: Bones?
GOOBER: Yeah…I dug up quite a few of ‘em… (Grunting, he reaches down and pulls up a large skull-like object) This is the biggest one, I think…yeah…it looks like the head of an animal of some kind…
HOWARD (helping him pull the object out of the pit): Let me see that, Goob!

“Prob’ly a horse or a cow from a long time ago,” Goober says decisively.  Howard, on the other hand, is positively agog at the find:

HOWARD: It’s too big and heavy for that!
GOOBER: Howard, there ain’t never been anything bigger than a horse or a cow ‘round here…
HOWARD (as he furiously dusts off the object): You mean lately
GOOBER: Whaddya talkin’ about?
HOWARD: There’s such a thing as prehistoric animals, you know…
GOOBER: Well, you think I don’t know that?  But that skull’s too big for a kangaroo!

I used to think that it would be inhumane to keep kids in school for longer periods of time during the year.  Now I’m not so sure.


HOWARD: I’m talking about dinosaurs, Goober!
GOOBER: Dinosaurs in Mayberry?
HOWARD: Yeah!  Dinosaurs, tyrannosaurus, mammoths…they roamed all over the world million of years ago—their bones have been found everywhere!
GOOBER: Well, I still don’t see what they’d be doin’ in Mayberry

They came looking for the cradle of civilization…and then said: “Nope—this ain’t it.”

HOWARD: Can I take this thing with me?
GOOBER (laughing): Well, yeah…take it and all these bones...just some more trash, as far as I’m concerned…whaddya gonna do with it?
HOWARD: I wanna take it over to the library and do some research…you know, this could conceivably be one of the biggest archaeological finds in the state of North Carolina!

This might be my effete liberalism coming to the fore…but I find it hard to believe Howard’s going to find what he’s looking for in the Mayberry town library.  (Any science book that even hints at something other than creationism wouldn’t occupy shelf space for very long.)  Be that as it may …any kind of news, good or bad, spreads quickly through Mayberry because its inhabitants have little else to discuss beyond Mrs. Beasley’s daughter getting a (whispering) divorce.  So we find R.F.D. semi-regular Elmo (Vince Barnett) rushing into Emmett’s fix-it shop bursting to tell all he knows.  Now—during the course of their conversation, Emmett can be observed tinkering with an electric can opener…and I thought for one brief moment we had at last obtained proof of his phenomenal repair powers.  But the fact that he does not turn on the opener to check his handiwork, choosing instead to place the appliance in a box and begin wrapping it like a package fails to give us the evidence we need.  (I’m guessing he’s going to stick a little note inside the package later that reads: “I couldn’t fix this – E. Clark.”)

ELMO: Emmett!
EMMETT: What?
ELMO: Hey, didja hear the news?
EMMETT: What?
ELMO: Howard and Goober dug up a skull over at the gas station…
EMMETT (stops what he’s doing): No kiddin’?  Do they know who’s it is?
ELMO: No…you see…
EMMETT: Could be old Mrs. Venable…you know, they never did figger what happened to her…

Don’t know why I find it disturbing that there’s an unsolved murder on the books in Mayberry…but then again, Andy Taylor is no longer sheriffing there, so…

ELMO: No…no…Howard says this is some kind of prehistoric animal…big, flat head…long jawbone…
EMMETT: That could still be Mrs. Venable…

The fix-it comedy stylings of Shecky Clark, ladies and gentlemen.

ELMO: Emmett, I tell ya this is some kind of animal…Howard went over to the library and looked at some pictures…says it’s a dead ringer for some of those things you see in the museums…
EMMETT: You mean one of those dinosaurs or somethin’?
ELMO: Yep…Howard took the thing over to Raleigh today…gonna check with the museum people there…
EMMETT: Huh… (He picks up the can opener, and carries it over to his “cash wrap”) Dinosaur in Mayberry, huh?  Heh…whaddya know?
ELMO: Howard says it was probably…fifty, sixty million years ago…
EMMETT (putting the appliance in the box): Well…that’s when people shoulda bought property around here…

Oh, I could listen to these two wizened intellects talk for the rest of the day if I hadn’t already promised Mom I’d help her alphabetize the spice rack.  So instead, leave us journey to the state capital…to the Natural History Division of the Raleigh Museum, and meet its curator—Dr. H.W. Wallace.


The face might not be familiar…but once this actor opens his mouth to speak, there’s no mistaking the distinctive tones of actor Roy Glenn, a longtime character fave here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.  During Radio’s Golden Age, when people tuned in every week to hear a couple of white guys imitate a couple of black guys in less-enlightened times, Glenn was one of the few African-American actors who appeared on Amos ‘n’ Andy, and more likely than not as positive authority figures like doctors or judges or businessmen.  Among some of the other classic radio programs on which you could also hear Roy: The Lux Radio Theatre, Tales of the Texas Rangers, Broadway’s My Beat, The Hallmark Hall of Fame, Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

In addition, Glenn appeared on many Jack Benny broadcasts, usually as one of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson’s pals…and he repeated this role on a few of Jack’s TV shows as well.  Movie-wise…well, roles for African-Americans back then were neither plentiful nor particularly admirable; Glenn did his share of natives, butlers, porters and the like (he’s in the serials Jungle Drums of Africa and Panther Girl of the Kongo, for example—roles that require major struggles to maintain his dignity) but occasionally got nice parts in films like Carmen Jones (as Rum Daniels) and A Raisin in the Sun.  Classic movie fans might know him best as Sidney Poiter’s pop in 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.  What can I say—it’s splendid to see him turn up on Mayberry, R.F.D…particularly since he passed away not long after (in March of 1971).

WALLACE (examining the skull): Well, this is definitely from the Jurassic strata…this was found in rather shallow ground, wasn’t it?
HOWARD: Yeah—about six feet down, I’d say…
WALLACE: Mm-hmm…you know, the cranial structure places it at least…fifty million years ago…
HOWARD: Huh…from the…uh, Jurassic strata, you say…
WALLACE: Mm-hmm…
HOWARD: You know, that’s not a term that’s unfamiliar to me…I…uh…happen to have a few rocks from that same strata…
WALLACE: Oh!  A fellow scientist!
HOWARD: Well…in a manner of speaking…yeah…heh heh…

Provided that “manner of speaking” is another way of phrasing “not even in the same ballpark.”

HOWARD: You know, we’d be very happy to contribute this specimen to the museum of Raleigh here…we…uh…we may very well…we’d consider it a high honor to be able to contribute to the world’s knowledge of the past…
WALLACE: Well, that’s very kind of you, Mr. Sprague…but…uh…actually, we already have a number of such specimens…
HOWARD (disappointed): Oh…well, then it’s…it’s not a rare thing…?
WALLACE: Oh, it is rare…but… (He lifts the skull with a little difficulty) Others have been found that are very similar, and… (He struggles with the object, finally laying it down on a file cabinet) …we have an adequate display…
HOWARD: Oh…well, gee—there’s not much else you can do with a dinosaur skull, is there?
WALLACE: Is it possible…you could put it on display in Mayberry?

“You ever been over to the Art Museum in town and had a glance at that ‘Struggle’ sculpture by Rex Alexander?  You have?  Well, that should answer your question…”

HOWARD: Well…gee…I don’t know…
WALLACE: Of course, just this cranium is of limited interest…but on the other hand—if you could possibly recover the whole skeletal structure…well, then you’d have yourself quite a discovery…
HOWARD: Gee whiz…a whole dinosaur right in Mayberry…heh…well, yeah—there were some other pieces found, but…but how to get the rest of it?

Taking out a pencil and some paper, Dr. Wallace makes a quick sketch of the size he believes the dinosaur to be…he guesstimates it to be about twenty feet in length, and asks Howard if he remembers the exact position where the bones were found.  Howard not only remembers, he’s pretty certain he’s got a bead on where the remaining skeleton can be excavated…and Wallace advises him that he’s got to dig by hand, to insure the bones are not damaged.  Shaking Wallace’s hand vigorously, we can already surmise that Howard’s spent a little too much time out in the sun because as he picks up the massive dinosaur skull, he burbles: “You know—the way my thoughts are running now…this could be the…well, the beginning of a cultural renaissance in Mayberry!”


EMMETT: Whaddya mean, a cultural renaissance?
HOWARD: Fellas, if we can uncover the rest of this skeleton this whole thing can be an important archaeological discovery!
SAM: Well, I agree, Howard, but…so what?
HOWARD (folding his arms): All right, fellas…hold on, here it comes…I’m thinking in terms of starting the Mayberry Museum of Science


Dun dun DUN!!!

SAM: What?
EMMETT: A museum in Mayberry?

“But…museums are the Devil’s think tank!”

HOWARD: Exactly!
EMMETT: Aw, come on, Howard…it took eight months to get that pizza stand built over on Elm Street!

Progress.  There’s no stopping it.

SAM: You can’t have a museum with just a dinosaur in it…
HOWARD: Yeah, but Sam—Mayberry is a veritable treasure house of artifacts…why, I know of at least a half-dozen collections of Indian relics in the area…I’ve got my rock collection…there’s plenty of early American pottery around…

“Not to mention Clara Edwards!”

EMMETT: Where ya gonna put it all?  Didja ever think of that?
HOWARD: In the old lodge meeting hall…it hasn’t been used in years, it’ll be perfect…look, fellas—this could enrich our whole community…why…why it could make something more of Mayberry than just a rest stop on the way to Mt. Pilot…

So that’s what’s written on the town welcome sign all these years: “A rest stop on the way to Mt. Pilot.”  They really need to repaint that.

EMMETT: Look—there’s nothin’ wrong with us bein’ a rest stop!  Every community has its own purpose!
HOWARD (annoyed): Yes, but it’s about time Mayberry’s purpose became a little more elevated
EMMETT: Elevatin’ I don’t know about…but there’s a lot of folks who are very grateful to us…

As in: “Cheese and crackers, am I glad I don’t live in Mayberry, ‘Rest Stop of the South’…”  Howard, who’s never funnier than when he’s ramped up like a cocky super villain, now has to persuade Goober to let him go on a little excavation under his brand spanking-new gas station.  I could tell you Goober’s reaction is: “Sure, Howard…knock yourself out…” but that means I’d be done with this for the week.

HOWARD: Goober, there’s a dinosaur under your driveway that runs right out into the street there and I want your permission to dig it up for about two weeks…
GOOBER (after doing a nifty spit-take with orange soda): You what?
HOWARD: It’s for science!

Science!

GOOBER: My brand-new station?!!
HOWARD: It’s for posterity!
GOOBER: Tear up my driveway with the business I’m doin’?!!
HOWARD: But, Goober—there’s a dinosaur under there!
GOOBER: Howard, there’s nobody diggin’ up my driveway for no dead animal!
HOWARD: Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!
GOOBER: No!
HOWARD: No no no no no no…calm down…calm down…now, look Goober…unbelievable…unbelievable as it may seem to you…this could be the beginning of a museum for Mayberry…
GOOBER (through gritted teeth): The answer is no, Howard…
HOWARD: Goober!
GOOBER: I said no!!!
HOWARD: Is that your final word?!!
GOOBER: No, my final word is “Get out of here”!!!!

In the R.F.D. episode “The Caper,” Howard demonstrates that when a problem poses itself in Mayberry, he must marshal in a super secret emergency meeting of whatever branch of the city government has jurisdiction to find the proper way of dealing with the situation.  In practice, the actual makeup of the official town council is…well, outside of Sam I’m not really sure…but the smaller committee members vary with whose agents are answering phone calls that week.  This time around we have Sam, Howard, Emmett and Elmo…and a new face whom we’ll get to here in a sec.


SAM (having banged his gavel): Okay…we’re all here…Howard?
HOWARD (getting to his feet): Thank you, Sam…uh…the reason why I asked Sam to call this meeting of the Mayberry Development Committee is…well, because of a situation with which I’m sure you’re all familiar

“…the mysterious disappearances of young children in the vicinity of the residence belonging to one Clara Edwards…”

HOWARD: …the dinosaur which has been found within the confines of Mayberry Township is apparently to be denied us because of the shortsightedness of one of our very own…Mr. Goober Pyle…
EMMETT: He says if anybody comes messin’ around he’s gonna hit ‘em with a tire iron
HOWARD (huffily): Hmm…well, now I’d like to call on Miss Fawcett of the school board to make a few comments…

The part of Miss Fawcett is being played by another OTR veteran, Alice Backes—whose resume includes appearances on This is Your F.B.I., Dangerous Assignment, The Whistler, The Halls of Ivy, Rocky Fortune and Suspense.  Like Roy Glenn, Backes also appeared on Jack Benny’s TV show on occasion, not to mention the likes of M Squad, Leave it to Beaver, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, Hazel, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Bewitched and Here’s Lucy.  Her best known TV gig occurred in the first season of Bachelor Father, where she played John Forsythe’s secretary (Vickie); this will not be Alice’s last R.F.D. appearance, however—she turns up in two more episodes…also as a teacher, but with her last name changed to “Pringle.”


FAWCETT: Gentlemen…now Mayberry’s children have had certainly adequate education, but…if a museum were available to them…however sparse it might be in the beginning…it would serve to make them proud of being a Mayberryite…

And all this time I’ve been using the term “Mayberryian.”  By the way, I’m a little disturbed by the term “adequate education”—I’m not sure if I should be protesting the current state of the school system in that burg or applaud Miss Fawcett for her bracing honesty.

HOWARD: Thank you, Miss Fawcett…Elmo?
ELMO (getting to his feet): Oh…ah…well…speaking for the Chamber of Commerce…uh…it…it’d be a big plus for us…no…no question about it… (He sits back down)

I guess it’s safe to say that Elmo is a product of that adequate Mayberry education.  Emmett is in agreement with Elmo: “You give the people a museum and a rest stop…you got a real attraction goin’…”

HOWARD: Sam, you’re the head of the town council…couldn’t we pass an ordinance allowing us to dig on Goober’s property?
SAM: Whuh…oh, fine…fine—we pass a law that says if anybody finds a dinosaur they can dig it up wherever it is?  Come on, Howard…
HOWARD: Sam, you’re blocking us!
SAM: Look, Howard…Howard…I’m sure we all feel very privileged that we have a person like you around who’s so interested in the cultural side of Mayberry…

“…even though the rest of us could give a flying frog’s ass…”

SAM: …and whether you’d like to believe it or not, I’d like to have a museum in this town, too…but this is a matter of law, Howard…and we cannot invade private property—now, that’s all there is to it…
HOWARD: All right…all right…all right… (He gets to his feet) But I’ve got the bit in my teeth, and I’m not giving up!

And fade to commercial.  (During the fade, Emmett picks up his cap from where he set it on the table and starts to place it on his head…that made me chuckle.)  Back from plugging General Foods, we find Howard…well, we know enough of the man’s character not to be too surprised that he’s poring through a book entitled Mining Techniques and Underground Shafts at his desk in the county clerk’s office.  Sam enters the office, startling Howard and causing him to hide his book and a few sketches from his desk while he alibis as to what he’s been up to (“I was just…walking the parapet.”)

SAM: Uh…the reason I dropped by, Howard…I just wanted to make sure you…you weren’t mad about that stand I took last night…
HOWARD: Oh…no…no…think nothing of it, Sam…
SAM: Believe me, I’m sure you understand…you know, where private property is concerned, there’s nothing we can do…
HOWARD: Oh, of course not…I understand…
SAM: You’re not sore?
HOWARD: No…no…no…believe me, I’m not sore at all…I’ve forgotten the whole thing…
SAM: You sure seemed sore at the time…
HOWARD: Well, my motto is “forgive and forget”…I’ll just…have to play ‘em the way they fall…
SAM: Oh…well, good—I just wanted to make sure you understood…


“I understand perfectly.  Consider it your last f**king day on this planet, as I rip out your f**king heart and feed it to your f**king girlfriend with a side salad!  Er…I mean…have a blessed day!”  Howard’s insincere smile disappears once Sam goes on his merry way, and he goes back to pulling tools out of his desk: book, magnifying glass, flashlight, pickaxe, collapsible shovel…we know what Howard is going to do, and he doesn’t disappoint.


You’ll notice in the above screen capture that Howard has found the intercostal clavicle, so he’s well on his way to completing his excavation.  The following morning, Emmett is taking full advantage of the close proximity of Goober’s new gas station as he sits in repose, sipping orange soda and thinking about all the stuff he could be breaking back at the shop.

GOOBER: I just can’t help it…I just got a feelin’ that something’s goin’ on around here that I don’t know about…
EMMETT: Whaddya mean?  What could be goin’ on?
GOOBER: I don’t know…it’s just a feelin’ I got…call it a fifth sense if you want to…
EMMETT: Sixth sense…
GOOBER: What?
EMMETT: Sixth sense!  (Holding up fingers) Six!  Six!

Look…if establishing a museum in that town will ensure a lot less Goobers in the world…not only will I donate some money, but I’ll start whispering “eminent domain” into the ears of the county commissioners…

GOOBER: Well, I don’t know about the number…but I just got a feelin’ inside of me that things ain’t like they should be…
EMMETT: You think it’s got somethin’ to do with that dinosaur over there?
GOOBER: I don’t know…you know, I was wonderin’ about that?  You’ve heard about people comin’ back from the dead to spook ya and everything?
EMMETT: Yeah…I heard of things like that…
GOOBER: You reckon a dinosaur could do that too?

Yeah…he’s probably pissed you’re not a Sinclair Oil franchise.  (Ba-zinga!)

EMMETT: Goober…now you’re asking me somethin’ that’s out of my field… (He gets up out of his chair)
GOOBER: I’ve just got a feelin’ something’s goin’ on…
EMMETT: Well…maybe you should let Howard dig up this driveway and get that dinosaur out of here…
GOOBER: And be outta business for two weeks with things goin’ great?  A lot of my customers’d go back to Siler City and I’d never get ‘em back!
EMMETT: Well…it’d be a big thing for Mayberry…
GOOBER: Look, Emmett…I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ against dinosaurs…it’s just that I got a business to think about here…
EMMETT: Well, it’s your decision…

As he prepares to mosey on back to the fix-it shop so he can sit outside for another four hours, Emmett asks Goober if he’s still working on his oil pit.  Goober tells him no, that “I’ve had other things on my mind.”  (Like communicating with dead dinosaurs, it would appear.)  Fortunately, Howard has the situation well in hand.


Bob Ross and David Evans, the scribes on this episode (from Evans’ story), are about to give us an example in what we’ll call Lazy Screenwriting 101.  Now, Howard is burning the midnight oil digging in that pit for dinosaur artifacts…and in the most amazing of coinky-dinks, the rooming house where Goober resides just happens to be next door of the property recently purchased for his gas station!  How else would Ross and Evans explain how Goober discovers Howard’s nocturnal digging unless he hears a noise from his room and, turning on the lights and going downstairs, goes over to the gas station to investigate?


GOOBER: Okay, Howard…come on out!  Out!  Out!
HOWARD (laying down his tools): All right…what are you gonna do about it?
GOOBER: I’m arrestin’ you for trespassin’ on private property!
HOWARD: You’re what?
GOOBER: I’m the deputy sheriff in this town…and don’t you ever forget it!  Now, out!  Come on, get out of there!
HOWARD (climbing out of the pit): Oh, Goober…I will admit that I did use a rather unorthodox approach to achieve my end…

You know…Mayberry R.F.D. would be a better sitcom if Howard resorted to more of these super villain shenanigans on a regular basis.  Just sayin’.

GOOBER: Now keep your mouth shut
HOWARD: Look—I’m determined to get at the one true treasure that Mayberry can boast of!
GOOBER: Not while I own this gas station you ain’t!
HOWARD: Goober, look…a dinosaur in Mayberry…a museum…a small step for culture but a giant step for Mayberry! Doesn’t that mean anything to you?

A topical joke at the time, sure…but in light of the recent passing of the first man to walk on the moon, a very poignant (and fitting) remembrance.  R.I.P., Neil Armstrong.

GOOBER: March!
HOWARD: March?  March where?
GOOBER: To jail!
HOWARD (loudly): Aw, you’ve got to be kidding
GOOBER: Shh!!! There’s people sleepin’ up there!  Now I said march…you are trespassin’…and damagin’ private property…you’re takin’ the law into your own hands!  You’re goin’ to the lockup, Mr. Howard Sprague
HOWARD: This is preposterous!
GOOBER: Watch your tongue!
HOWARD: Goober, you’re not putting me in any jail…
GOOBER: I said march…I’m gonna count to ten…
HOWARD: Do you think you can?

The other laugh-out-loud moment in the episode.  Goober threatens Howard with a pointy stick, so Mistah Sprague reluctantly agrees to accompany him to Mayberry’s pokey, but first insists on taking along his tools.  “No you don’t,” admonishes Goober.  “Them tools happen to be known to the law as ‘tell-tale evidence’…”

Poor Howard.  As many times as he’s been incarcerated it’s a wonder he keeps his county clerk job.  Well, he’s apparently spent the night there (he’s got a case of five o’clock shadow—the a.m. kind) because the next scene takes place in broad daylight as Sam and Emmett enter the sheriff’s office.

SAM (to Goober): Open that…
GOOBER: He’s a prisoner!
SAM: I said open it
GOOBER: Look, I’m the deputy sheriff…I’ve got some rights
SAM: Goob, are you gonna open that or do you want me to open it for you?
GOOBER: Gee whiz…
SAM: Open it!
GOOBER: I swear, a deputy sheriff can’t do nothin’

There’s an interesting dynamic at display here.  Where Sam gets the “author-i-tay” to start ordering Goober around goes unexplained, because in a similar situation in “The Caper” Goober stood his ground and refused to budge.  Granted, you could argue that the severity of the crime in that episode (Howard tries to knock over the town bank) gave Goob a little more gumption…but I personally think the writers just forgot what happened in that earlier episode to justify getting home early to have a swim in their pools.

SAM: You had to take matters into your own hands, didn’t ya, Howard…?
HOWARD (sheepishly filing out of the cell): Look, Sam…I…
SAM (interrupting): Howard, you know when those people from the Raleigh museum told us what we had here I was as anxious as anybody to put that thing on display…I realize it’s an important discovery but it happens to be on a spot that Goober does not want dug up and that’s that
GOOBER (snottily to Howard): See?
SAM: You’ve got to get that through your head, Howard…
GOOBER: He’s just stubborn
EMMETT:  I say we forget the museum…Mayberry just ain’t ready for culture…

“I further propose that we raze the town and live in simple mud huts, adopting the life of hunter-gatherers.  Also, that we toss that whole monogamy crap out of the window…”

HOWARD: Sam…?
SAM: Yeah?
HOWARD: Is there any law against digging in the street?
SAM: Why?  What for?
HOWARD: Well, these dinosaurs are twenty feet long or better…that tail is laying out there somewhere beyond the sidewalk!
EMMETT: What good is the tail?
HOWARD: Emmett, in the world of archaeology we take what we can get!

Howard puts on his falling-down funny mining helmet and storms out of the jail.  In a short scene that follows, Howard is digging away just beyond Goober’s property, and our favorite chimpanzee mechanic warns Howard not to go near his driveway.

HOWARD: Don’t worry, Goober…your precious business can continue, and you can go on making your millions and millions
GOOBER: Well, it ain’t up to that yet…but I’m doin’ good!
HOWARD: Well, I’m glad to hear it… (He continues to dig)
GOOBER: Still think you’re gonna have a museum?
HOWARD: Definitely!  It may not be all I hoped for, but I’m not going to be thwarted by any obstructionists such as you!
GOOBER (taking offense): Politics ain’t got nothin’ to do with it!


Kowabunga, cartooners!  The Mayberry Science Museum is up and running and open to the public.  (I wonder just how they’re going to pay the rent on this building…donations?  “Welcome to America’s Rest Stop” T-shirts?)  “And this is our feature attraction right over here,” curator Sprague instructs a mother and a young boy named “Bruce.”  Ma is played by actress Janice Carroll, whose film credits include roles in Shane, How to Be Very, Very Popular, The April Fools and The End.  Little Brucie is essayed by Larry Michaels, who after additional guest appearances on The Brady Bunch and Shazam! apparently decided to go into honest work.


Please…I must ask you not to point or stare or giggle at the finished skeletal remains.  Howard is very sensitive.

HOWARD: Why don’t you…step up a little closer and get a good look at it?  (He ushers Bruce and his mom over to the dinosaur)
BRUCE (to his Mom): See?  What did I tell you?
HOWARD (clearing his throat): Well…just look around…there are many items of interest…this dinosaur, for instance, is well over fifty million years old…
MOTHER (examining the incomplete skeleton): He certainly must have had a very hard life

For starters, his skeleton was completely comprised of Plaster of Paris…no wonder they became extinct.  Howard wanders over to where Sam and Emmett have made themselves to home on folding chairs, and he grumbles: “Enlightening the public is no easy task.”

EMMETT: Howard…I gotta admire ya…if this thing ever does go you deserve all the credit…
HOWARD: Thanks, Emmett…

At this point in the conversation, Goober wanders in and while he’s greeted by Sam and Emmett, Howard gives him the cold shoulder with the exception of a fruitily-delivered “Well…Goober Pyle…humph…”  Goober’s a little ticked: “This thing is open to the public, ain’t it?”

Goober walks over to the dinosaur display, and can’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation between Bruce and his ma.  “I still can’t figure out why there isn’t any middle,” Bruce says in a voice you could hear in Weaverville.  His mom is a little put out by her son’s brazen rudeness, and escorts him out of the museum, threatening to send him to bed without supper.  More kidlings then show up in the form of a class taught by Miss Fawcett, who, after exchanging pleasantries with Howard, brings her class over to the exhibit.

FAWCETT: Come on, children…come on…get close, now…there you are, children…this is a species of dinosaur that lived over fifty million years ago…and which now has become extinct…
LITTLE GIRL: What do you mean, “extinct,” Miss Fawcett?
FAWCETT: Doesn’t exist… (Clarifying) It doesn’t live anymore…
LITTLE GIRL: Oh…
LITTLE BOY (pointing at the dinosaur): No wonder!  It doesn’t have any middle!
LITTLE GIRL: Sure does look funny

The “little girl” in the above dialogue exchange is played by a child actress named Linda Marie who, after a long period of inactivity, recently got back in the acting biz in the aughts with roles in the films Klepto the Clown and Big Babies.  The “little boy” got a little more exposure on TV—Dennis Larson played one of Jimmy Stewart’s kids on his short-lived NBC sitcom from 1971-72.

FAWCETT: Children…we’re not here to make remarks…we’re here to learn something…
LITTLE GIRL: Why don’t they have the rest of the dinosaur, Miss Fawcett?
FAWCETT: I’m sure I don’t know…this is, I suppose, as much as they could find…


Goober’s bags are now packed for a guilt trip.  In a scene dissolve, Howard can be seen telling Emmett: “Makes a difference, doesn’t it?”

“It sure does,” replies Emmett.  Now we can see that it was all made out of Plaster of Paris, as it becomes apparent that Goober acquiesced and allowed Howard to complete the dinosaur.

SAM: Goob…you did a good thing…
GOOBER: Well, we couldn’t have the Mayberry kids lookin’ at a half a dinosaur, could we?

And as it turned out…yeah, he did have to close the station for ten days and now the driveway has to be repaved.  “Money ain’t everything, I guess,” Goober philosophizes.  (Yeah, but it’s close.)  Miss Fawcett brings the kids back to see the entire dinosaur, and the skeleton is met with oohs and aahs from the little rugrats.  Goober, about to burst his shirt buttons with pride, takes it upon himself to instruct their impressionable minds in a little dinosaur history, explaining that the dinosaurs eventually died off.  ”And this one died right under my gas station,” he beams.


I guess Elmo must have snuck in with Miss Fawcett and her class, as you can tell by the above screen capture.  I threw that in there so you can see the marvelous expression on Jack Dodson’s face.

Coda time!

Goober is hammering on a sign near his gas pumps that reads “Mayberry Dinosaur Found Here”:

GOOBER: I figgered I get some publicity out of it…
SAM: Sure…why not?  Huh?
EMMETT: Well…it ain’t no Washington Monument…I guess it’s interestin’, though…
HOWARD: You know, Goob…when you started to dig this oil pit I bet you never figured you’d cause such a stir… (He chuckles)
GOOBER: Ah…I’ll tell you one thing…I’m glad we found it, but I’m sure glad it’s over with…
SAM: Yeah…
HOWARD: It’s been a pretty exciting two weeks, hasn’t it?

I wish I could say the same for this episode…the exciting part, anyway (though it did seem like two weeks).  Howard, who’s been poking at the ground with his toe this entire time reaches down and picks up a piece of bone, attracting the attention of Sam and Goober…

SAM: What’s that, Howard?  Something else?
HOWARD: Hmm…I don’t know…they say dinosaurs traveled in pairs
GOOBER (threatening Howard with a hammer): Hey—take it easy, Howard…I’m not goin’ through this again…
HOWARD (chuckling): Don’t worry, Goob…it’s nothing prehistoric
SAM: What do you think it is, Howard?
HOWARD (shrugging): I don’t know…
EMMETT (running over, concerned): Hey fellas!  Maybe that’s Mrs. Venable!

Be sure to return with us next week for the next Mayberry Mondays installment, “The Trial of Emmett Clark,” in which our beloved fix-it man stands to be convicted on purely circumstantial evidence in the Venable murder.  Okay, I’m just making that up (though believe me—I wish I weren’t)—next week, our wacky weekly Mayberry hi-jinks will involve the introduction of a new cast member on R.F.D. with an episode entitled “The New Housekeeper.”

7 comments:

Mike Doran said...

Ivan: Apologies for going off-topic, but I have to put this somewhere:

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this , but I do my commenting from a computer here in my office (on company time, but keep that under your hat).

My company employs an outfit called Websense, which takes it upon itself to "filter" (read:censor) certain websites from my view, for various and sundry reasons.

Sometime last week I was here, scanning your amazing colossal blogroll, and I decided to make one of my semi-regular visits to The Timothy Carey Experience.

Websense is now "filtering" this site.
This is the reason they're giving:
POTENTIALLY DAMAGING CONTENT
No other explanation, just that.

I never had any trouble connecting with the Carey site before last week, so I'm stumped: what exactly is "potentially damaging" now that wasn't before?

I'm wondering if any others who comment here are having similar problems with this - or any - site: Maybe I'm the only one who has a workplace censor trying to protect my soon-to-be-62 self from bad influences.

Chris Vosburg said...

Now—during the course of their conversation, Emmett can be observed tinkering with an electric can opener…

See, I recall that in the "Emmett's Domestic Problem" ep a couple weeks ago, Howard stops in to ask Emmett if he's repaired the electric can opener which Howard brought in (ten days earlier!).

So, I think we know why poor Howard is subsisting on hard-boiled eggs and such, is what I'm sayin'--

Chris Vosburg said...

Mike Doran writes: I do my commenting from a computer here in my office (on company time, but keep that under your hat).

Not gonna be secret for long if you keep blabbing it all over the internet, Mike [laughing].

Re your Websense filter question, I have too much time on my hands, apparently, so headed over to the Websense URL Categories page, which describes the various types of filtered content, and why it's filtered.

Under the "Web Reputation" category, we find the "Potentially Damaging Content" subcategory, which is defined simply as "sites likely to contain little or no useful content". Not harmful, just useless, is what they're saying-- you'll rot your brains with that stuff, kid!--, and they appear to be making something of a value judgment here, an odd thing for them to do, and have given it an even odder and deceptively frightening name.

Stacia said...

Roy Glenn was born in Kansas, Pittsburg to be exact, down in the southwest corner of the state. We almost moved there when I was a kid, and I spent a month there at Honors Academy (aka Nerd Camp) and I shudder to think what kind of life Glenn would have had in that town in the 1910s and 1920s. Jeez, I had no idea he died so young.

Also, as a former anthropology major, I call major baloney on the good doctor saying that they don't care about the cranium of the dinosaur, it's the rest of the body they want. And telling Howard to do it himself? Dude, we lost some of the Mayrieres cave paintings because of "good deeds," you know better than to let Howard go at this alone.

Stacia said...

...that is the most pathetic fake sitcom dinosaur EVER.

Chris Vosburg said...

Stacia writes: as a former anthropology major, I call major baloney

Oh hell yes. A find of this sort, in a few feet of topsoil in the lush and humid North Carolina is extremely unlikely, for one thing, and a Museum Curator would probably have been on the phone like a shot to the Paleontology Department of the nearest UNC.

Paleontology is more about where and when and how than just digging up bones and reassembling them; it's painstakingly mapping location and strata, etc, etc., so they would have first told Howard to not contaminate the site further and let the pros do their job, and then descended on poor Mayberry with an archaeological crew and stakes and string enough to grid off the whole freakin' town if need be, after browbeating Goober into permission for a dig.

The find itself would have put Mayberry on the map, big time, so there's that to console Howard.

Stephen Bowie said...

I had lunch with Alice Backes at Musso & Frank when I was in college. Very nice lady.

Looking back, I can't imagine what somebody like that -- a elderly character actor, never famous -- must have thought when some nineteen year-old nerd called up and wanted an interview.