Monday, December 10, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #68: “Millie’s Egg Farm” (01/11/71, prod. no. 0316)

Before we get into this week’s installment of Mayberry Mondays (and since I consider myself a good sport, I’m going to tell you right now that this is one of those “Millie-can’t-do-anything-right-because-of-her-ladyparts” stories, so if you want to bail now’s your chance) I thought I’d mention in passing the “lost” Mayberry R.F.D. episode…which aired on CBS just three days before “Egg Farm” on January 8.  Now—when I say “lost,” I mean only in the context that I don’t have the episode in my collection (nor have I seen the show)…and technically, it’s not an episode of R.F.D. but the premiere of The New Andy Griffith Show, the titular star’s failed attempt to recapture the magic of his landmark 1960-68 sitcom.

After telling CBS he wasn’t interested in a ninth season of TAGS, Griffith appeared in five installments of the show’s spin-off—four in the first season and the second season opener, “Andy’s Baby.”  Andy was more interested in making a name for himself in feature films in the same manner as his former TAGS co-star, Don Knotts…but Griffith’s 1969 film Angel in My Pocket was a box office disaster.  (Ironically, Knotts’ film career also took a bit of a nosedive that same year with the unsuccessful The Love God?—which prompted him to come back to TV in the 1970-71 season with a combination sitcom/variety show entitled The Don Knotts Show.  It lasted a single season.)  As for Andy, he chose a half-hour comedy-drama called Headmaster (created by TAGS scribe Aaron Ruben) for his comeback vehicle, in which he played Andy Thompson, the dean of a California coed prep school.  Headmaster started out strong in its premiere, but soon found its boob tube ass being kicked by ABC’s The Partridge Family on Friday nights.

So mid-season, Aaron Ruben came up with The New Andy Griffith Show—a series that unfortunately came across too much like the old Andy Griffith Show, except in a bigger town (the series’ setting was Greenwood, NC—population 12,785).  On TNAGS, Andy was Andy Sawyer, Greenwood’s mayor, and Lee “Time Tunnel” Meriwether played his wife Lee (Meriwether had also been married to Andy’s minister in Pocket)—they had two kids in Lori (Lori Rutherford) and T.J. (Marty McCall) and a sister-in-law named Nora who, as played by Ann Morgan Guilbert, was more like Guilbert’s Yetta from The Nanny than our beloved Millie Helper from The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Like Headmaster, TNAGS started out strong coming out of the gate but faltered down the stretch and it, too, left CBS’ schedule quickly; its last first-run episode was on March 12 of that year and by May it was gone.  (Proving that irony can really be ironic sometimes, TNAGS was replaced by reruns of Headmaster.)

In The New Andy Griffith Show’s debut episode “My Friend, the Mayor,” village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and fix-it savant Emmett Clark leave (Paul Hartman) Mayberry to pay their old friend Andy a visit in Greenwood, each angling to get him to use his influence to rezone a plot of city land on which both plan to start a new business.  A third old pal of Andy’s, who goes unnamed but is 1) wearing the same salt-and-pepper suit he sported at the Taylor-Crump nuptials and 2) played by Don Knotts, also figures in the shenanigans.  As I mentioned in the beginning—I don’t have this episode in my collection, but the Don Knotts portion is available from YouTube:



So Goober, Emmett and The-Man-Who-Might-Be-Barney are old buddies with Andy…Sawyer?  It never strikes any of these guys peculiar that the former sheriff of Mayberry now has a new last name?  I don’t even want to explore how this happened (though you’re certainly welcome to contribute your own theories: witness protection program, husband progressively taking wife’s name in marriage, etc.) because that’s Father O’Brien’s side of the street.   Nevertheless, if I do manage to obtain a copy of this for my collection, I will most assuredly add it to the write-ups for all the R.F.D. episodes in the past…but for now, I can only speculate while stroking my beard seriously and puffing on a pipe that I borrowed from last week’s “Howard, the Dream Spinner.”

So to show just how smooth the segueways go in these posts, this week’s episode features our favorite pedantic county clerk, Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), seated at the Mayberry Diner…with his trusty monkey boy—er, I mean Goober by his side.  Now, I personally find Goob a moron but every now and then he’ll do something to make me chortle; as the director-producer-writer credits roll in the beginning, he’s sitting beside Howard and blowing straw wrappers at an unseen person behind the counter (possibly the gal that Howard became acquainted with last week?).  I know that doesn’t play funny…but there’s several straws in front of him on the counter, which hints he’s being doing this a while…that’s what struck me so funny.


GOOBER: Some fun…havin’ coffee with you…sittin’ there with your nose stuck in a newspaper

I guess the honeymoon is over.

HOWARD (glancing over at him): Well, I’m just keeping my eye on the market…industrials are going up—might be a good time to buy in…
GOOBER: Not me!  My money stays right there in the good ol’ Mayberry First National Bank…

Was that the one that Howard tried to rob in “The Caper”?

HOWARD: Well, I wouldn’t keep it all there…
GOOBER: What’s wrong with the bank?
HOWARD: Well, nothing…it’s just that I prefer a more balanced investment depth program, that’s all…
GOOBER: Look, Howard…if you know something about the bank that I don’t, I think you ought to tell me…

One of the hallmarks of the Goober character is that being a Rube of Very Little Brain, he has a tendency to fixate on one thing until you distract him a shiny object or such.  You will certainly notice this in the following passages of dialogue since the sitcom’s hero, poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry), has entered the diner with his lady love, bakery doyenne Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka).

HOWARD: How’re things at the bakery, Mill?
MILLIE: Aw…same old million laughs…

“Why can’t a chicken lay a loaf of bread?  Because she ain’t got the crust!”  Don’t forget to tip your counter girls, ladies and gentlemen!

GOOBER: Howard tell you about the bank?  Somethin’ goin’ on over there… (To Howard) That banker ain’t playin’ the horses, is he?

Curious that Goober would refer to Mayberry’s resident capitalist swine Cyrus Tankersley (George Cisar) as merely “that banker.”  Oh, and Goob…let it go, already…

HOWARD: No, Goober… (To Sam and Millie) I was just telling him that there are other places to invest your money besides a savings account…you know, that a man ought to have a more diversified savings program…a little in…uh…stocks and bonds…a little in the bank…and a little in real estate…that reminds me—I hear Mrs. Plunkett is selling her egg farm?

Gosh, Howard…what a masterfully subtle way to set up this week’s plot!

MILLIE: What, that…that little farm next to yours?
SAM: Yeah…she’s moving down to Florida
GOOBER: With the banker?

Fetch the stick, Goob!

SAM: You know, that farm wouldn’t be a bad investment for…somebody…I mean, if somebody wanted to…take it over and really work it…
HOWARD: Hmm…how much do you think you could make?
SAM: Well, Mrs. Plunkett told me that in some years she cleared as much as sixty-five hundred dollars…
MILLIE: Really?
SAM: Mm-hmm…
HOWARD: Well, that’s not down my alley, though…

Oh, come on, Howard…Sam does all right for himself even though we rarely see him working his spread.

HOWARD: …but I always did think it would be nice to work for myself…
MILLIE: I know what you mean…
SAM: Yeah…it’d be a cinch to run that place…a one-man operation…
HOWARD: Not for me…all those chicken feathers flying around the air would be most detrimental to my nasal condition…

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.  Also, too: notice the subtle chauvinism in Sam’s remark about “one-man operation.”  (This will obtain a greater deal of relevance as this episode progresses.)

GOOBER: One thing you’re overlookin’, Howard…them savin’s accounts is insured by the Federal Government…
HOWARD (scoffing at Goober, then back to Sam): How much does she want for the place?
SAM: Uh…twelve-thousand five…ten percent down…
MILLIE: That’s all?
SAM: Mmm…that’s what she said…
GOOBER: I tell you one thing…I ain’t rushin’ over there and pullin’ out my hunnerd and seventy-eight dollars out of there all at once… (After Howard shoots him a look) Well, I don’t want to start no panic!

The three of them stare at Goober with the same look you give the loved one you’re about to yank them off the life support system.  And then a scene shift to stately Jones Manor, where Millie is having a chinwag with housekeeper Cousin Alice (Alice Ghostley).

ALICE: But tell me…what do you know about egg farming?
MILLIE: Alice, the chickens do all the work…besides—I’m going to think it all over very carefully…and do a lot of checking…well, I mean…it’s a big move and I’m not going to rush into it!  Come on, Alice—let’s go look at it before somebody else beats me to it!

“Good idea,” says Alice half-sarcastically as she removes her apron and follows Millie to the next scene.  Now—during their brief exchange of dialogue, Alice was stirring something on the stove…and though it looks as if she turned down the heat, leaving her kitchen in that state is just asking for trouble, particularly with Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster) having the run of the place (“Pa!  I scalded myself again!”)  Okay, we can take solace in the fact that Mike is not in this week’s episode…but still…


This was the best screen capture I could get of “Mrs. Plunkett,” the proprietress of this pullet factory Millie’s going to buy (oh, like the episode title isn’t a spoiler).  Character actress Alice Nunn spent nearly fifty years in the bidness racking up movie credits like Johnny Got His Gun, Mame, The Fury, Mommie Dearest and Three O’Clock High—and making the rounds guesting on shows such as Petticoat Junction, McMillan & Wife, Happy Days and Simon & Simon.  Apart from regularly appearing on the short-lived cult sitcom Camp Runamuck (as Mahala May Grunecker, head counselor of rival girls’ camp Camp Divine), Nunn is best recognized as scary lady trucker Large Marge from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  (Nunn passed away three years after the release of that film, in 1988.)

PLUNKETT: …keep ‘em on the ground, that’s what I say…some of the big farms keep ‘em in those wire cages…but I say they lay better in a hen house
MILLIE: Y-Y-You mean some of them are in there right now laying eggs?
PLUNKETT: They’d better be!
MILLIE: Oh, isn’t that beautiful!
PLUNKETT: Overwhelming… (Pointing off to the right) Now, that shed down there…that’s where you grade ‘em and wash ‘em…
MILLIE: You have to wash the chickens?
PLUNKETT: The eggs
MILLIE: Oh…well, of course…I-I-I knew that, I just wasn’t thinking…

“Well, I’ve got work to do…you just look around,” Mrs. Plunkett advises the two women.  “If you have any questions, ask me—I’m here…I’m always here.”  A lot of Nunn’s performance is lost on the printed page (or in this case, a computer screen) but she has this hilariously dry delivery…I kind of wish they had written a bigger part for her in this thing.

Millie thinks—despite all evidence that Mrs. Plunkett probably hasn’t had a vacation since the Great Depression—that the egg farm is “dreamy” in that giggly and oftentimes annoyingly scatterbrained way of hers.

ALICE: Well, it’s not exactly Sunnybrook Farm
MILLIE: Oh, and I can afford it with what I’ve saved…oh, think of the income…you know, Sam says sixty-five hundred a year
ALICE: But…uh…this is an egg farm…what do you know about taking care of chickens?
MILLIE: Alice…I’ve had a parakeet and two canaries…

Well, Millie’s going to have to buy this place otherwise you’ll all be staring at yesterday’s post…Millie, like the way she’s always written, is prattling on about having to put up new curtains and plant daisies on the place as Mrs. Plunkett walks by the two women, struggling with a wheelbarrow filled with feed.  The look that Alice gives Mrs. P as she goes by isn’t done any justice by a screen capture but it did make me laugh out loud, because Alice just knows this is going to turn into a clusterfudge.

ALICE: Millie…you are going to talk to Sam first about this—aren’t you?
MILLIE: Oh, sure…sure…I mean, I know I get carried away with things, but…well, really…I would never do a thing like this without asking Sam’s advice…

“Tee hee…I couldn’t possibly make an independent decision without having Sam check into it…”  Groan.  Oh, well…three…two…one…

SAM: You’re…you’re going to buy the egg farm?
MILLIE: Well, I’m just thinking about it…I mean, once you recommended it, I just started to fall in love with the place…
SAM: Millie, I didn’t recommend it—I just mentioned it…
MILLIE: …oh, you said it was a sensational bargain…
SAM: Millie…Millie…all I said was it was a good buy…Millie…
MILLIE: …that little farm is me!  I mean, can’t you just see me running it!


Oh, yeah.  He’s on board with this.

SAM: I mean…Millie, look—you’ve already got a good job…

“Yeah, the service industry was a lifelong dream for me.  And I made it happen.”

MILLIE: Oh…well, Mrs. Boysinger understands…she says if I ever want to go back to the bakery, I can…and I’m not going to give up my place in town until I’m sure I’m making a go of it…
SAM: Hmm…at least that makes sense…
MILLIE: Of course…I wouldn’t make a move without your advice…
SAM: Good…Millie…because you see…
MILLIE: I’m so excited!  Now I know how you must feel about your farm…I mean, you wouldn’t give it up for the world—would you?

Perish the thought!  Considering how much time he diligently puts into its upkeep, he said sarcastically.

SAM: Well…no…Millie…but…see, I know something about farming…what do you know about raising chickens?

“How hard could it be?  I spend sixteen hours a day either playing checkers at Emmett’s or hanging out at Goober’s…and before you know it, viola!  Eggs by the dozen!”

MILLIE: Well, everything!  I mean, I went to the farm bureau and they have all sorts of information!
SAM (laughing): Look, Millie—I know you’re all enthusiastic about this whole thing…but an egg farm is a lot of hard work!

Sam’s argument might be a bit more convincing if the life he leads as a gentleman farmer showcased a little more sweat on his brow and less walking back and forth to that filing cabinet in the council office.  Millie then prattles on about Alice’s enthusiasm for the idea because “she thinks I’m very good at handling animals.”  “And Alice thinks I’m a very good worker,” she continues in closing arguments.

“Wait a minute—how did Alice get into this?” asks Sam.  That’s when he learns that his cuz went with Millie to look at the farm, and when Sam asks Millie what Alice knows about farming his girlfriend’s reply is “she knows how hard I worked on the Harvest Ball.”

“I’ll take your advice—you’re the one who knows,” Millie says, heading for the home stretch.  “Whatever you say—if you don’t think I’m really capable of handling it…”  Sam cuts her off, knowing that if he really entertained thoughts of saying “I don’t think you’re really capable of handling it” he’d have to find someone else to sing Carolina Moon to on his front porch…and that’s when Millie interprets his “Millie, I didn’t say that” as his stamp of approval on Project Henhouse.


The next scene finds Millie carrying a box of personal doo-dads into her new chicken ranch house as Sam follows behind toting two chairs.  Howard and his little idiot friend are also on hand to do the heavy lifting.

MILLIE: I can’t thank you guys enough for helping me…
HOWARD: That’s okay, Millie!  (As he grabs one end of a couch and Goober the other) Sam…I just hope you knew what you were doing when you talked Millie into buying this place…
SAM: I didn’t talk Millie into buying this place…
GOOBER: You might have thought twice, Sam…after all—you can take Millie out of the city but you can’t take the city out of Millie!

Sam continues to protest that this was not his idea as the three of them carry items into the house.  There is a scene dissolve to a rooster seated on Millie’s windowsill.  Mr. Rooster does what chickens of his sex usually do at the butt-crack of dawn and Millie awakens…looking finer than any of us on the off-chance that we were rising and shining at that same hour.  She greets the rooster with a cheery “Hi” and then grabs the telephone—asking Mayberry operator Sara (who, I’m guessing, has been pulling an all-nighter) to put her through to Sam.

The fact that Samuel Jones, Farmer at Large, is still fast asleep only confirms my long-held suspicion that the Jones plantation is getting a hefty subsidy check from the government each month, which is why he doesn’t have to get up early or do anything resembling, oh, farming for example.  He answers the ringing phone with a groggy “Hello?”

MILLIE: Morning, Sam…good morning!
SAM (still half-asleep): Oh…
MILLIE: Sam—do you know…my very own rooster woke me up this morning…yeah, I’d forgotten how clean and crisp the air can be!  I just never get up this early!
SAM: You know something, Millie?  Neither do I… (He slams the phone down in disgust)

There is then a scene shift to the outside door of Sam’s bedroom, as our hero emerges wearing his pajamas top while struggling to put on his pants.  He’s rushing down the hallway when Cousin Alice sleepily emerges from her bedroom.

ALICE: Sam!  I heard the phone…is anything wrong?
SAM: Well, Millie just called…some kind of emergency!

A worried Alice cries out “Oh, dear!” and slowly begins to vanish.  (Oh, hang on a sec—I got the wrong sitcom.)  There is yet another scene shift (I’m starting to suspect some heavy syndication editing here) to a close-up of this poor chicken:


MILLIE: See…I told you!  She’s sick!
SAM: She’s sleeping!
MILLIE: Oh…
SAM: I’m glad somebody is…

Sam then rights the chicken to show that the hen is still among the living…and then we have another shift in scenery back to Jones Farm, where Sam emerges from the barn.  (His truck is parked nearby with several sacks in the truck bed…could this be a rare episode in which he actually does some toil in the soil?)  As he lifts one of the sacks, he hears Millie’s plaintive cries of “Help!” and in yet another scene shift…


…find her being attacked by mad chickens!  Oh, the humanity!  Sam, easily amused by the sight, begins laughing.

SAM: The rooster?
MILLIE: Oh, what’s so funny?  He was making crazy noises and flapping his wings!
SAM: Flapping his wings?
MILLIE: Yes!  (Sam doubles over with laughter) Sam, it’s not funny!  He could have bitten me!
SAM: No…no…pecked you!  Pecked you…that’s nothing!  Oh, boy…some farmer you make!

The two of them get into an argument—which I’m not going to take the time to transcribe here, because most of it is just silliness—about how Millie’s purchase of Egg City was a tremendously idiotic idea.  (Millie does say at one point: “You think I’m too stupid to do anything but sell donuts.”  Sam tries to explain that this is not so—but come on, man…selling donuts is not a stupid activity.)  Then it snowballs into how ridiculous it is for Millie to be dressed the way she is for farm activity, with the eventual capper of how Sam chauvinistically believes that Millie is too cute and dainty to be an egg farmer, and so Millicent is going to show him a two or thing.  “And I don’t need any help from you!” she yells at him, storming off.  That is a cue for a commercial break—though Sam does do a funny bit of business when he looks in the direction of the demented cockerel and cracks: “Hang in there, fella…”

Back from commercial, we find the War Between the Sexes has shifted to new ground: at Sam’s spread, where Millie is shooing some of her chickens with a broom as Alice puts laundry on the line and Sam carries a load of firewood while watching in bemusement.

SAM: Hi, neighbor…
MILLIE: Good morning…
SAM: Uh…some of your chickens got loose, huh?
MILLIE: That’s rather obvious
SAM (starting to put the firewood down): Here…I’ll help you…
MILLIE: No…no, thank you…I’m perfectly capable of getting them home myself…and don’t worry—my birds and I will be off your property as soon as possible…

Millie continues rounding up her chickens as Sam glances at Alice and comments: “Her birds…”

ALICE: I thought you said it was a little argument…
SAM: Wishful thinking, I guess…
ALICE: Well, Sam—you never should have talked her into buying that farm in the first place…

The running gag in this episode about Sam being responsible for ditzy Millie’s purchase of the egg farm is already starting to wear out its welcome…but adding Alice to the mix kind of stops the joke dead in its tracks—because having went with Millie to look at the property at the beginning of this episode, she should have the good sense to blame all of this on Millie’s impulsive nature.  As Sam begins to argue for the umpteenth time that this is not his fault (seriously, Sam—why not just tell Alice “Bite me!”) he notices that Millie’s hens are starting to make a meal on a newly-planted field of his.  (I want it on the record that we never actually see Sam plant this, by the way.)  He then runs over to shoo the chickens away.

SAM (angrily): Look—I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your chickens out of my corn!
MILLIE (returning fire): Well, you can just keep your corn out of my chickens!

Two great tastes that taste great together.  “Well, it was your idea!” Alice again remarks to Sam in the hope that saying it a second time will make it funnier.

A scene shift finds Millie in her shed, looking at a number of eggs via a grading apparatus.  The clucking of her chickens startles her and she drops one, then she looks disgustedly at the broken egg.  Another scene shift finds her struggling to put up a handmade sign that reads “Millie’s Egg Farm – Fresh Eggs Daily.”  Having nearly split our sides at these two events, we must now journey to Goober’s Gas-Up in order to catch our collective comic breaths.

SAM: Hey…you guys want anything from Siler City?
GOOBER: Uh-uh…
HOWARD: No thanks…we thought you might be on your way out to that egg farm you had Millie buy…

“Howard, reach into that soda machine and see if there’s an ice cold bottle of STFU…”

SAM: No, I’m not…
GOOBER: Yeah…helpin’ her with all that heavy work she has to do…
HOWARD: Yeah…and with the problems of running an egg farm…
SAM: Nope…I’m on my way to Siler City

“They got some crazy little women there/And I’m gonna get me one…”

HOWARD: Well, I guess it really isn’t our concern anyway…
GOOBER: Yeah…what business is it of ours you gettin’ her into that mess…?

“I wish everybody would get it straight that I did not…”  Sam never finishes his sentence, but simply waves the both of them off with an “Ah…forget it.”  Berry’s delivery of this is kind of funny, but the sight gag that follows—he speeds off in his truck and Howard, who was leaning on the back end of it the entire time nearly falls on his ass—made me laugh harder.


GOOBER: Well…Alice said Sam and Millie had a fight…from the way he’s actin’ it sure musta been a good one
HOWARD: Yeah…you know, I went out to see Millie yesterday…I thought I’d buy some eggs, you know, try to help her out…asked her for a dozen and she could only scare up three…

Yes, I am ashamed to admit I laughed at this, too.

GOOBER (snapping his fingers): Hey—I bet I know what’s the matter…I bet them chickens are mad at her…
HOWARD: Mad at her?
GOOBER: I mean it!  My granddaddy used to raise chickens…and he always said they had feelin’s just like people…they ain’t happy, they don’t lay—that’s why he always played a harmonica around ‘em…to keep them smilin’

It must be a slow day at the county clerk’s office because Howard seriously entertains the thought that Goober might have a bright idea (though in his defense he does preface his remarks with “As ludicrous as it may sound…”).  So in a scene shift, we find Howard plugging in a stereo system into an outlet in the henhouse because, of course, they put in the outlets for just such non-laying emergencies.


HOWARD (to Millie): What we want to do is to get the proper stereo balance…we don’t want those chickens laying lopsided, do we?

The Kounty Klerk of Komedy, ladies and gentlemen!  Howard drops the needle on a recording of Brahms’ Lullaby, the idea being “to calm them down and lessen their tension.”  Goober, on the other hand, subscribes to the School of Henhouse Rock ‘n’ Roll—he puts on one of those generic rock records sitcoms use so they don’t have to pay anyone royalties and starts getting down with his bad grease monkey self:


Gah…what has been seen cannot be unseen.  Well, predictably an argument erupts between Howard and Goober over which genre of music is favorited by your average pullet, and their bickering upsets Millie, who runs out of the henhouse crying.  Howard goes after her, and when the chickens start cackling Goober tells them to put a sock in it.  “If you’d done your jobs in the first place this wouldn’t have happened!”

Is it possible to up the ante on the laugh quotient in this episode?  Well, let’s take this back to the council office for another rousing rubber of “it’s-all-Sam’s-fault.”

HOWARD: I hope you’re happy!  I just hope you’re happy, Sam!
GOOBER: Anybody coulda told you—it don’t take no brains to see that Millie ain’t cut out for farmin’!

The wisdom of a fool.

SAM: Look, I didn’t talk her into buying this thing—I tried to talk her out of it!  But she wouldn’t listen!
GOOBER: We were sittin’ right there when you told her it was the steal of the century!
SAM: I did not!  All I said was it wouldn’t be a bad buy…
HOWARD: Poor Millie’s savings…right down the drain…
SAM: Now, look you guys…I’m not gonna…
GOOBER: …once you talked her into it, you didn’t help her!
SAM: I did, too!
HOWARD: I didn’t see you helping her over there today!
SAM: That’s because she doesn’t want me over there helping her today!
HOWARD: Well, I don’t blame her!  Come on, Goob…I’m gonna have a talk with Reverend Keith…I think we need another one of those “love thy neighbor” sermons…

The “Reverend Keith” to which Howard is referring has been mentioned on R.F.D. before…but we won’t actually see him on the show until next week’s episode, “The Kid from Hong Kong.”  The previous pastor in Mayberry, Reverend Tucker (William Keene), disappeared about the time of “Andy’s Baby”—though I personally think he went running after Andy and Helen’s car at the end of that episode yelling “Take me with you!

Well, back at Chez Millie, our plucky farming heroine is making her way to her hens when Sam stops by and apologizes for being such a jackass.  He asks her if he can help her with anything, and she pridefully tells him “no problem.”  Then she does a funny bit in which the gate to her honkin’ big coop falls down when she presses on it.


MILLIE: Don’t you say one word…not one word
SAM: Look…Millie…gates are always a problem on a farm…they get rusty…and…and the wood rots…they’re always falling down…
MILLIE: Not when you just fixed them…
SAM: Oh, really…?
MILLIE: Oh, Sam…I’ve been so silly and foolish…and so boneheaded…you must think I’m a real dope…

“Of course I do, sweetie…it’s this whole patriarchal male thing…”

SAM (laughing): No…No, I don’t…
MILLIE: Well, I do…I don’t belong here and everybody knows it…
SAM: Oh…of course you belong here…
MILLIE: No, I don’t…but I could do it!
SAM: Of course you could!
MILLIE: But I don’t want to do it…I’m tired of smelling like chickens…and I-I don’t like getting up early…and…oh…Sam…Sam, I hate that rooster…

Millie’s upset because she’s stuck with the place—but she warns Sam not to say “I told you so.”

“I won’t,” he promises her.  “I’m not that dumb.”  (It only seems like the jokes just write themselves.)  Millie goes off in search of some tools to repair the gate…and that’s when a real farmer pulls up in his automobile, telling his passenger (apparently his wife): “I’ll go up and check on it—you keep your fingers crossed, Katie…all right?”


I joked about this gentleman being a real farmer because this actor is Kay E. Kuter—known to people like myself who have nothing better to do than watch endless TV reruns as befuddled farmer Newt Kiley from Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.  Kuter guest-starred on a fistful of TV classics—The Texan, The Virginian, The Rifleman, The Outer Limits, etc.—but Seinfeld fans might remember that he was the Latvian Orthodox priest (in “The Conversion”) who realizes that Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) has “kvorka” (“the lure of the animal”).  (Kuter also did voiceover work for Hershey’s chocolate kisses for a good many years.)  Among Kuter’s film credits: Guys and Dolls, The Big Night, A Time for Killing and The Last Starfighter.

Since the Headmaster/New Andy Griffith Show tutorial ran longer than I planned I’ll kind of cut to the quick on this—the man introduces himself to Sam as “Phil Snyder” after mistaking our hero for another real farmer, the Plunkett that formerly owned the egg farm (Snyder saw the newspaper ad about the property being up for sale).  Sam then has to tell him that the Plunketts have sold the place…but that the current owner is looking to get out of the egg bidness.  “Nothing’s wrong with the place…it’s just that the new owner is a city girl and she’s not cut out for farming.”

Sam also advises his new neighbor—seeing as how “these city folks try to take you every once in a while”—to offer the owner “not a penny over $13,000.”  So in the next scene, it’s apparent that Millie and Snyder came to an agreement because she proudly boasts to Sam, Howard and Goober in the council office that she made a five hundred dollar profit on her investment.  (“Actually, five hundred and twelve—I cleared that selling eggs.”)  And so Millie’s off to beg the sinister Mrs. Boysinger for her job back at the bakery…the conditions of her return making a far more interesting episode than the one we’re in now.

HOWARD: Well, I’m certainly delighted for Millie…
GOOBER: Mmm…you betcha…she was really down…
SAM: Well?  Everything turned out for the best, didn’t it?
HOWARD: It certainly did…
GOOBER: No thanks to you…Mister Jones…

Once again, Sam patiently tries to explain to his chums that…oh, what’s the use.  It would be funny if Ken Berry suddenly morphed into Eddie Albert, but otherwise it falls flat.  Let’s march to the coda and get out of here while we’re still awake.

At the diner, Goober is intently devouring one of his comic books (reading, not eating) as he finishes his coffee and is getting ready to go back to work.  He meets Sam, who’s also coming in for a cuppa Joe.

GOOBER: Is Millie back at the bakery?
SAM: Yeah…she started this morning…why?
GOOBER: I got somethin’ for her…listen to this ad: “Fun and profit for the shrewd investor…raise chinchillas in your spare time…only five hunnerd dollars puts you in business for yourself…”
SAM: You gonna show that to Millie?
GOOBER: Yeah!  It’s a great opportunity—five hunnerd dollars is what she made sellin’ the egg farm…

Sam tells Goober that after he’s finished at the diner, he plans to go over to the bakery…so to save his friend a walk over, he’ll take the comic book over to Millie himself.  Goober then graces the diner with his non-presence…Sam stuffs the comic book into a trash can…and the rest of us are saved from any more dreadful episodes in which Millie decides to do something over Sam’s common sense objections.

Cousin Alice’s constant reminder of what a missed presence Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) is in Mayberry continues in this episode, allowing Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Alice-o-Meter™ to inch up another notch, making seven appearances for character actress Ghostley in the third and final season of the vanilla pudding of TV sitcoms.  Now…I’d tell you next week’s episode is an improvement on this one…but you know by now that I’d never lie to you unless it stood to benefit me financially beyond my wildest dreams.  It’s a cautionary tale about what happens when lax parental supervision allows Mike the Idiot Boy to become an importer of Asian child brides.  (Okay, that’s not really what happens—but you have to get people inside the tent somehow.)  Join us next week for “The Kid from Hong Kong”…

3 comments:

Stacia said...

At the diner, Goober is intently devouring one of his comic books (reading, not eating)

Haha, see, that's funny because with Goober? YOU HAVE TO CLARIFY.

Hey, Millie is using a candler! Dad dug out an antique candler for us in high school after getting one too many eggs from the grocery store that had chickens in 'em.

Was that too gross? Maybe that was too gross, I'll talk about something else.

After all the delightful homoerotic tension in the last episode, this "bitches be crazy" episode does leave me a little cold. It's unfortunate, but not exactly out of character, for a sitcom in the early 1970s to have the lone female character be a complete ditz. But part of the reason TV channels canceled "everything with a tree in it" was because these sorts of plots were old-fashioned.

But hey, the good news is that it's all back in style again!

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Hey, Millie is using a candler! Dad dug out an antique candler for us in high school after getting one too many eggs from the grocery store that had chickens in 'em.

Future note to self: if I don't know what something is called, I need to ask Stacia. I had no idea that's what the "grading apparatus" was called. (In my defense: I did know what a "halyard" was--see Saturday's Galahad chapter.)

After all the delightful homoerotic tension in the last episode, this "bitches be crazy" episode does leave me a little cold.

Anytime you want to know my personal opinion on an R.F.D. episode, a surefire way is to count the number of "cut to the quicks" in the essay. I couldn't wait for this one to be over and done with. I worship the ground Arlene Golonka walks on (I saw the last TV thing she's done of late, an episode of The King of Queens last week) but I wish they had made Millie a little smarter when this show was on the drawing board.

Stacia said...

I'm actually pretty clueless when it comes to farm stuff, though I recall telling Jack Pendarvis the thing he thought was a hay tanner was actually a hay tedder, and he was very impressed.

An egg grader is a much larger machine, if I recall, something that sorts basically by size. What Millie is using is a candler, which they called a grading apparatus, but which wasn't -- and I suspect quite a few in the audience realized it at the time.

And now everyone's gonna be askin' me 'bout farmin' stuff.