On with today’s episode! It kicks off with Mike the Idiot Boy in repose in his bedroom as chief cook and bottle washer Cousin Alice (Alice Ghostley) enters with a load of clean laundry. She then grabs Mike’s shoulders and pulls him to his bed roughly, where they…hold on—that’s from some fan fic someone sent me via e-mail (and Lordy, do I wish they hadn’t). Instead,
“Dadrat the dadratted…gotta straighten out that closet one of these days.” Mike then asks
“I’d consider it a blessing,” she responds, producing in me a small chuckle.
MIKE: Take a look at this camera… (
walks over and looks over Mike’s shoulder at a catalog he’s perusing) I
think I’ll send away for it… Alice
As if it were scripted, the man claiming to be Mike’s father enters the bedroom and asks: “Hmm? Discuss what?”
SAM: Oh? (He sits down on the bed next to Mike)
MIKE: But I don’t think I will…it only costs twenty dollars…
SAM: Only twenty dollars?
MIKE: Yeah! I mean…if you’ve got thirty-five dollars to spend—why settle for twenty?
SAM: You’ve got thirty-five dollars to spend?
“That milk money extortion racket I’ve got going on at school is pretty sweet, Pa…”
MIKE: Well…I saved it up this month…for doing odd jobs after school and stuff…
SAM: Wait…wait…you made thirty-five dollars just from doing odd jobs for a month?
SAM (sighing): Look…Mike…it seems to me that you actually only…earned…ten dollars of that money—so it’s fair that you spend that much on yourself…but now as for the rest of it…
MIKE: Uh-oh…I bet you want me to do something sensible with it…
“Yes, I do. I’ll need you to stake me in that poker game tonight at The Royal Order of the Golden Door to Good Fellowship.”
SAM: Now, look—there’s nothing wrong with being sensible…
MIKE: Except that always means that I don’t get the money…
SAM: Now, that’s not true, Mike…you have built up a very respectable bank account through being sensible…
MIKE: Yeah…when I go in the bank, Mr. Haller says hello…and it’s neat when they stamp in your interest…
From Mike’s mention of “Mr. Haller,” this would seem to indicate that Cyrus Tankersley (George Cisar), Mayberry’s resident capitalist swine, has retired from the world of town banking. Cyrus’ last appearance on the show was in the R.F.D. classic “The Caper,” and I speculated then that they might have given him his walking papers as a result of Howard’s attempt to hold up the bank (even though Cyrus was referenced on subsequent episodes).
SAM: You bet it is! So…I suggest you put…say…uh…oh…fifteen dollars of that money in your savings account…
MIKE: Well…that still leaves me with ten…
SAM: Yeah, I know…and I was thinking…uh…you remember last Sunday when…Reverend Keith talked about charity—about helping others?
“Oh, who am I kidding—I was fast asleep by that time…”
SAM: Uh-huh…well, now don’t you think it would be nice if you gave that money to somebody less fortunate than yourself?
“Less fortunate than me? Who would qualify? You’re certainly not making any money from this alleged farm of yours…”
MIKE (sighing): Okay…whatever you say, Pa…
SAM: Now…now I’m not forcing you into this…it’s just that I would be very disappointed in you, Mike, if you went out and spent all that money on yourself…now I’m sure you can understand that…
MIKE: Yeah…well, I guess if I’m going to be sensible…somebody ought to get some good out of it…
A scene shift finds Mike in conference with this man…
Cornthwaite also had a lengthy television legacy, guest-starring on the likes of The Adventures of Jim Bowie, Perry Mason, Rawhide, Get Smart (as CONTROL scientist Professor Windish), The F.B.I., Batman and Dynasty. His best-known boob tube work is probably that of Alzheimer patient Howard Buss, who appeared in several episodes of Picket Fences—Howard got to be mayor of
before they croaked him in the second season. Because my familiarity with Cornthwaite
resides in both Fences and The Thing,
it’s a bit of a chore for me picturing him in charge of Mayberry’s church.
KEITH: Ten dollars…it’s very generous of you, Michael…
MIKE: Yes, sir…
“Now you make sure my family gets a seat up front for Sunday services from now on—capice?”
KEITH: You know…as long as it’s coming from a child—perhaps it should go to a child…
MIKE: Hey, that’s a good idea! Do you know somebody?
“I have the very person in mind…I have a son…his name is…er…Brian! Brian Keith, that’s his name…”
KEITH: Well…let’s see here… (He begins to rummage through his desk drawer, and then pulls out a folder) Ah…here we are…how’d you like to send a child to school? For a whole year?
MIKE: For ten dollars?!!
Reverend Keith then informs Mike that there’s a mission school in
Hong Kong where the tuition for one year is one
sawbuck, where a young child can get a good education before going to work in a
sweatshop factory to make clothes for Wal-Mart.
(It also provides food for the youngster, in case a hungry Sally
Struthers comes skulking around.) Okay,
I am being a little facetious here—but it will allow Mike the Idiot Child to
become a “foster parent” with his ten bucks admission.
KEITH: Good! All we have to do is…fill out the forms…send it along with the money…I’ll…uh…I’ll write it out for you if you’d like…
MIKE: Hey, that’s cool! I mean…thank you, Reverend Keith…
Cornthwaite’s odd, hesitant phrasing in his portrayal of the Rev curiously makes me think he’s planning to take that ten-spot down to the track later. “And Mike…I think your gift is going to mean a lot to some deserving child,” he tells our young doofus as solemn music swells on the soundtrack. (“Her name is Bambi…she’s promised me a lap dance later this evening.”)
We then shift our scenery to the mission school in
Kong, and this would seem to suggest that Reverend Keith isn’t
dipping into the collection plate to play the ponies now and then, particularly
since this guy…
REVEREND (to a little girl): I have very good news for you…you now have a foster father…
KIM: I do? Where did I get him?
REVEREND: He’s an American…his name is Mr. Michael Jones and he lives in
… Mayberry, North Carolina
“I’m so sorry to hear that.” The child actress playing the role of Kim the Orphan (her real name is Kim Lee, but I like my way better) is identified in the closing credits as Teresa Jaw. She gets no mention at the always reliable IMDb (though she is listed at TV.com) and as such this would seem to be her only television appearance. Far be it from me to speculate on why this is so, but it could either be that her parents felt a show business career wasn’t in her future…or because she is a horrible actress. (I’m voting the latter, in case you were curious.)
KIM: Mr. Michael Jones…that is a nice name…I wonder is he tall with big smile like Americans in comic books?
REVEREND: I wouldn’t be surprised!
Ohhhhhhhh…yes you would. He’s short and nerdy and a shoo-in to cop the class award of “Most Likely to Be Tossed into the Girls’ Locker Room.” I’m going to abbreviate most of the Kim the Orphan scenes for the simple reason that the little girl will get on your wick after a while: suffice it to say, Kim is so excited about having a foster father that she is going to brag to her friend Lin Yang. The Reverend then tells her that she should compose a letter to her new patron, and that she will include a copy of her report card despite doing poorly in mathematics. (I will let you make the obvious joke here.)
Back in the
Alice is on kitchen patrol when
Mike enters Casa Del Jones through the back door. “Hi, Mike,” Alice
greets the foster dad. “Have a nice
“A nice day? I was in school,” he laments.
then alerts him to a letter that awaits on the kitchen table.
MIKE: Hey! It’s from that mission school in
Hong Kong! (He opens the letter) They probably want to
thank me for that ten dollars…
Or if experience has taught me anything, they’re probably going to hit you up for more.
MIKE (starting to read): “Most honorable father”? This must be for Pa…
MIKE: Mr. Michael Jones…hey!
MIKE (reading): “I am filled with the great happiness that you are going to be my foster father…” Hey—it’s signed, “Your devoted daughter, Kim Lee”…
“Don’t call me daughter/Not fit to/The picture kept will remind me…”
MIKE: Oh, yeah…when I gave Reverend Keith the money—he said something about a foster parent plan…and how I helped some kid get through a mission school…
MIKE: “I am filled with the great happiness that you are going to be my foster father…and much pleased that you help me stay here in mission school…I hope I will be worthy of you…I am sending you a picture of me, so you can see if you like me…your devoted daughter, Kim Lee…”
“Well—what a pretty child!” gushes
“Maybe it runs in the family,” jokes
Alice. Mike then hurries off in search of Sam to inform
him of his Asian child bride, and finds him pretending to repair some sort of
farm implement. “Pa,” Mike asks him, “I
know what a parent is—but what’s a foster?
Fighting back the temptation to tell him it’s “beer” in an Aussie accent, Sam explains to Mike that “it’s almost as if you adopted her, Mike—but not really.”
SAM: I mean…now she has someone to look up to as a father…and I supposed she now feels like she’s part of a family, even though she’s in
Kong and you’re here in
MIKE: I guess…here’s her picture… (He shows it to Sam)
SAM: Aw…say—she’s cute!
MIKE: She’s more than cute, Pa—she’s my daughter!
Mike then rattles off Kim the Orphan’s grades to Sam; with a special emphasis on the “D” she received in arithmetic. But Sam is preoccupied with fixing his implement (snicker) and ignores Mike because he has to contact Elliott’s Hardware for a gasket for his valve “and he might have to order it from
Raleigh.” Sam walks off and Mike whines: “Boy…if I get
a ‘D’ he blows his stack…”
MIKE: Mr. Sprague…have you ever been to
HOWARD: No, Mike…no, unfortunately I haven’t—and it’s one of the great regrets of my life…although I am familiar with its colorful background and history!
MIKE: Do you know anything about the people who live there?
Man, this kid is a glutton for punishment.
HOWARD: Well…I believe that
Hong Kong is
mainly inhabited by the Chinese…and I certainly have a great deal of respect
for their customs and traditions…
Howard goes on to explain to Mike that family relationships among the Chinese are different in that the children are never disrespectful to their parents, and that their parents are fiercely devoted to them. “I mean, they know the children look to them for guidance and…well, they’re always more ready and willing to give them the benefit of their sage wisdom,” Howard further pontificates.
Mike is taken with this concept of “sage wisdom.” “Boy,” he tells Howard, “for a guy who’s not a teacher or anything you sure know a lot of good junk.” As he heads for the door, Howard stops him:
HOWARD: Mike? You got me kind of curious, Mike…why this sudden interest in
MIKE: I’ve got a daughter there!
Which prompts a priceless deadpan from Howard. (Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.) The scene then shifts to Mike’s bedroom, where our foster daddy sits at his typewriter, hunting and pecking a letter to Kim the Orphan. A kid enters, carrying a baseball mitt, and Mike addresses him as Richard…
RICHARD: Hey! Who taught you how to run a typewriter?
MIKE: Nobody! When you use just one finger you can teach yourself…
RICHARD: You use it for homework?
MIKE: Nah…just for important stuff…I’m writing my daughter a letter…
Richard is apparently out of the grade school loop, since he’s a bit puzzled as to how Mike could have a daughter if “you don’t even have a wife.” Idiot Boy explains to his pal the whole “foster father” deal, and then proceeds to read him what he’s typed so far.
MIKE: “Dear devoted daughter Kim Lee…nice to hear from you, and get your report card—except for that ‘D’ in arithmetic, which makes me very disappointed…”
RICHARD: You gonna write some more?
MIKE: Yeah…besides telling her to try harder in arithmetic, I’m gonna tell her to take good care of her tonsils…and brush her teeth, and keep ‘em straight and all that stuff!
RICHARD: That’s a good idea!
MIKE: You know, Richard…I never knew us fathers had so many problems…
It’s a good thing they decide to break for some words from General Foods at this point in the narrative, because this oh-so-cutesy “Mike as father” crap is starting to make me a little nauseous. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really miss Goober and Emmett.
Back from the commercial break, we find Mike back at the typewriter, passing along “sage wisdom” to his little
The scenery then shifts to the mission school, where Reverend Chambers is praising Kim the Orphan’s progress in arithmetic—on her most recent test, she only got three answers wrong.
“Next time maybe none wrong,” the kid burbles. “Then I will write to Honorable Foster Father once more, so he will know that I am trying harder.” The audience’s hopes that Kim the Orphan will instead wind up in a
Hong Kong house of pleasure are
dashed, however, with a knock on the door that signals the arrival of an
American couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kenworthy.
“Millie and the Palm Springs Golf Pro.” The role of Madam Kenworthy is essayed by Jean Powell, who in addition to playing “Sally Phillips” was the co-author of the 1955 Roger Corman-directed The Fast and the Furious, according to the IMDb Apart from that contribution to cinema, Howell has also appeared in films such as Apache Woman, Crime of Passion, Who’ll Stop the Rain and Superstar (the last film a truly remarkable feat in that she died three years before it was released in theaters—I think there’s some credit confusion here)—and made the rounds guesting on the likes of TV’s Dragnet, Trackdown, Dennis the Menace, The Loretta Young Show and many others. Old-time radio fans know her as the wife of actor Larry Thor, who’s best known as detective Danny Clover on Broadway’s My Beat and the one-time announcer for Suspense; the two of them worked together on a Crime Classics broadcast entitled “The Terrible Deed of John White Webster” (
REVEREND (to Kim Lee): You remember Mr. and Mrs. Kenworthy—they stopped by to visit you last week!
“It was Orphan Photo Opportunity Day!”
MRS. KENWORTHY: We’ve reached a decision…
KENWORTHY: We decided we’d like to adopt a little girl… (Turning to Kim) Named Kim Lee…
REVEREND: You know what that means, Kim Lee?
“I get to knock off early at the Apple parts factory?”
MRS. KENWORTHY: Well…we don’t have any children of our own…
“My insides are a rocky place where Mr. Kenworthy’s seed can find no purchase.”
MRS. KENWORTHY: …and…we’d like you to be our child and come and live with us in the
…in United States … Washington
“And this has nothing to do whatsoever with my husband’s reelection campaign.” Okay, I’ve kind of telegraphed a plot point here (Kenworthy is a Congressman) but nothing stands in my way when there’s a joke to be made. Kim is a bit taken back by this turn of events, which prompts the Rev to observe: “This is often hard for them to absorb.” Mr. K tells the Reverend that he and the missus will be in Hong Kong for the next two weeks, and asks him if the paperwork can be expedited so that little Kimmy can come to America A.S.A.P. The Rev assures him all will be taken care of, and the couple leaves in a rather awkward fashion—I mean, they just met the little mook last week and they’ve already decided to adopt her? You can’t tell me they don’t have ulterior motives.
REVEREND: Kim…you don’t seem to be too excited about this…you do like Mr. and Mrs. Kenworthy, don’t you?
“Put yourself in my shoes, Rev…I hadn’t planned on becoming a politician’s concubine so early in my childhood development.”
KIM: Oh, yes…
REVEREND: Well…won’t it be nice to have your own mother and father?
KIM: But I already have a father…
REVEREND: Mr. Jones?
“…and me/Stare at the beautiful women…” Reverend Chambers tries to explain to Kim that Mr. Jones is just a dweeby kid from Mayberry with ten bucks burning a hole in his pocket and who’ll probably lose a finger in shop class some day while the Honorable Representative Kenworthy is the guy she’s gonna want to hitch her wagon to, even if he and his wife exploit the dickens out of her among their hoity-toity Washington friends. So Kim asks the good Rev if she should write to Mike about her adoption: “Do you think it will please him?”
“Oh, yes…I’m sure he’ll be very pleased,” Chambers replies. (I’m beginning to understand why they assigned this guy to a post in
MIKE (reading): “…I do not know if I want to go…so I hope you will write to me very soon…and tell me if you are pleased…”
SAM: Well…you don’t look too…happy about it, Mike…
MIKE: Well, gosh, Pa—how would you feel if you got a letter from your daughter…and she isn’t your daughter any more?
“If only I could get a letter like that about my son.” Both Sam and Alice (who sucks at this whole counseling thing almost as much as her cousin; I’m starting to understand Stacia’s dislike for her, though she’s still not off the hook where Una Merkel and Thelma Ritter are concerned) try to tell Mike that this is really the best thing for Kim Lee: a nice home in Washington, and a family who (allegedly) love her. “And now all your responsibilities will be over,” Sam concludes. “You can stop worrying about her report cards and start worrying about your own.”
MIKE: But, Pa…I still say the least they coulda done was ask me about it!
SAM: Well, Mike—you weren’t really all that…deeply involved…I mean, you sent her some money to help her with her tuition…and you exchanged a few letters…but that’s all…
MIKE: I suppose so…
SAM: It was…it was a very nice gesture, Mike…and I’m sure she’s very grateful…but…now that she’s been adopted I’d say everything worked out just great!
Break out the peaches and cream, Cousin Alice! But Mike is still pretty sulky about this whole situation—and in a scene dissolve, can be found sitting in bed reading Kim’s letter over and over again. Outside his bedroom door, Sam is moseying down the hall when he sees Mike’s light on through the bottom and he knocks on his door, calling out his name. Mike then turns off the light quickly and does his patented “pretend-to-be-asleep” gag that worked successfully in the coda to “The Harp”—but Sam has wised up a bit since then.
SAM: Mike…Mike, I know you’re awake…I saw the light under the door… (Mike turns on the lamp by his bed) Do you know it’s almost ? Huh? What are you doing up so late?
MIKE: Uh…I was reading…
SAM: Reading what?
“Honest, Pa…I found it in Goober’s stack of comic books. I didn’t know what it was until I looked at the centerfold.” Sam learns that Mike has been reading Kim the Orphan’s letter again, and is positively gobsmacked by this. “Come on, Mike—you must know this letter by heart…”
MIKE: Uh…I just wanted to read it again…
SAM: You’re really upset about this, aren’t ya?
MIKE: I’m worried about her, Pa!
“It’s like the guy who writes this blog said earlier—adopting her after just knowing her one week is too convenient!” Never let it be said that Sam doesn’t try to be a good dad: his idea is to take Mike to
(well, he’s got to pick up his subsidy check anyway) and there he can meet with
Kim the Orphan as she and her new parents arrive by plane. Sam will call Reverend Keith in the morning
to make all the arrangements. And with
…Mr. Jones goes to
KIM (bowing): So happy to meet you, Honorable Foster Father…
SAM: Uh…no, honey…no…I’m…this is your Honorable Foster Father…
MIKE: How do you do, Kim?
KIM: You are my father?!!
MIKE: That’s right!
KIM: I thought you were going to be bigger…
“…and less of a geek!” As Mike walks with his “daughter,” Sam and the Kenworthys make a bit of small talk, and Mr. Kenworthy invites Sam and Mike to lunch with them “If you have the time.” This is where we learn that the five of them will be dining in the Capitol Dining Room…because membership has its privileges. (Mike has a funny moment when he whispers to Sam “Pa—is he a Congressman?” as if it were something to be ashamed of. Insert your own commentary here.)
(Mike produces a model of the White House)
MIKE: It’s to make you feel more at home in
KIM: Oh—it is very pretty! It is my new house?
MIKE: No, that’s the President’s…but anyone can go inside…
“And you can sleep in the
bedroom, if the price is right.” Kim
also has something for Mike, though he insists it wasn’t necessary—but Kim
counters that it is. She has brought her
latest report card, and she’s worked her way up to a “B+” in math. Mike excitedly tells Sam about Kim’s progress
in arithmetic, and he humorously cracks: “I hope that will be an inspiration to
your father over there.”
So as the five of them continue through the airport on their way to lunch, Mike takes Kim the Former Orphan by the hand and instructs her to stick close to him so she won’t get lost. And if she does get lost, she needs to find a policeman. And don’t talk to strangers. Or talk with your mouth full. And stop tracking mud on my nice clean floor. (Oy. This one was gooier than your average Family Affair episode.)
Well, since I spent twelve Word pages on this doggone thing the coda is going to be cut to the quick. Sam and Mike arrive back at Jones Estates, where Alice and Richard welcome them with open arms. Mike is telling Richard all about the sights he saw in D.C., and Sam mentions to
that the Kenworthys seem to be decent people despite Mr. K’s choice of a career
MIKE: Really, Richard? Hey, that’s neat!
RICHARD: I just got a picture in the mail…
MIKE: What’s she look like?
RICHARD: I got a son…
“But I don’t know about giving him a lot of sage wisdom,” Richard ponders. “My kid is three years older than I am.” And while everyone out in YesteryearLand takes a moment to catch their breath from laughter, we’ll…
On a personal note: this is the final post in 2012 for TDOY. I don’t make merry in the way that I used to (the ‘rents will be lucky if they’re still awake past ten) but I still cherish the tradition of wishing all and sundry the happiest of New Years’ celebrations. Tomorrow, I hope to have a post up on the state of the blog…but for now, we will party like rock stars. Good night, everybody!