Monday, January 7, 2013

Mayberry Mondays #70: “The Moon Rocks” (01/25/71, prod. no. 0319)

Mayberry R.F.D.’s detractors rarely waver from their belief that the mayonnaise of TV sitcoms offered nothing more than a weekly half-hour of bucolic shenanigans watered down from the greatness that was once The Andy Griffith Show.  But ever since Mayberry Mondays got underway here on the blog in May of 2010, you and I know this simply isn’t so.  (Well, most of the time.)  The program was unflinching in challenging many of the societal mores and controversial issues that dotted the headlines in its time.  For example: in “New Couple in Town,” village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) is blackballed from a prestigious literary club on the basis that he is an idiot…but by befriending author Frank Wylie (played by Community’s Richard Erdman), he is able to overcome the prejudice from small-minded fools and take his rightful place among the other members of the book-worshipping society.

Today’s episode, “The Moon Rocks,” doesn’t quite confront controversy but nevertheless addresses a topical subject: close to two years after man first landed on the moon in 1969, interest in the artifacts brought back from that expedition was at a fever pitch…and that contagion will soon spread through television’s favorite small town.  The plot is set in motion when poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry) arrives at an unnamed state university for a city manager’s conference (he later mentions in the program about driving back to Durham, so it sounds as if it’s Duke)…and because this is a sitcom, he fortuitously finds a parking place right outside where he’s supposed to be (I’m guessing none of the students on the Duke University campus have cars).  But that is not all he finds, dear friends and neighbors…

…he conveniently runs into an old friend in Pete Winslow, who cordially invites our hero to step into his office.  And with that invitation, let’s get a better look at the actor who will be essaying the role of Master Peter Winslow this week.

You know him, of course, as Gary Crosby—the eldest son of Der Bingle and probably the most prominent (in terms of show business success) of the Crosby sons (that Bing sired with first wife Dixie; the others being Lindsay, Phillip and Dennis).  Gary appeared alongside The Old Groaner in two films, Star Spangled Rhythm and Duffy’s Tavern, but he later went out on his own in the late 1950s with roles in movies such as Holidays for Lovers, A Private’s Affair, Battle at Bloody Beach and Girl HappyGary’s entertainment legacy was more prominent on the small screen, however: he was Eddie, the fast-talking sidekick to bellboy Jose Jimenez in the first season of The Bill Dana Show, and later played the role of Officer Ed Wells on Adam-12.  Among his other television work: Ensign O’Toole, The Twilight Zone, Julia, Emergency! and Hunter, to name just a few of the many.  (He also earned a great deal of notoriety with the publication of Going My Own Way in 1983, an autobiography that detailed the physical and emotional abuse he often suffered as Bing Crosby’s son.)

PETE: So tell me—what brings you up here?
SAM: Well, I’m up here…er…attending a city manager’s conference…
PETE: Oh, yes…seems to me I did hear about you becoming a big wheel down there in…uh…what is it, Weaver City?
SAM: Weaver City?  No!  No…pleaseMayberryWeaver City’s a bad word

“Hey!  My wife’s family comes from Weaver City, asshole!”  During the course of their riveting conversation, we learn that Sam’s buddy Pete works for NASA—his reason for being at Duke is that he is overseeing a series of moon rocks displays around the country.

SAM: Uh…you wouldn’t happen to have an extra one lying around…that we could show in Mayberry…do ya?  Old pal?  Old buddy?
PETE: Uh…no way…old pal…old buddy…
SAM: Uh…that’s too bad…that’d be a great thing for a little town like ours…
PETE: Yeah, I know, Sam—but I’m workin’ on a real tight schedule…
SAM: Hey…do you remember, uh, Howard Sprague?  The guy who went fishing with us that one time?
PETE: Is he the guy with the nasal condition?

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.  Sam, knowing what a fanatical rock hound Mayberry’s pedantic county clerk (Jack Dodson) is, would really like old buddy Pete to make a stop in Mayberry so that Howard could get a glance at a genuine moon rock (Sam sort of owes Mistah Sprague a favor, since Howard is “holding down the fort” in his absence.)  “Say, Pete—as long as you’re driving to Atlanta anyway…how about stopping by Mayberry and at least having lunch with me, huh?” asks Sam, as he slyly sets his trap.

“Now that I can do,” assures Pete.  “And while you’re there, we could…pull down the blinds and…we can show a moon rock to Howard,” finishes Sam, successful in trapping his prey yet blissfully unaware of the picture he’s now burned onto the retinas of everyone that’s tuned in.

Pete agrees to the arrangement—but stresses that the display is only for Howard’s benefit.  So why does Sam call Howard with the news, knowing full well Mayberry’s all-too-curious phone operator Sara could be listening in?  Because this episode would have only been three minutes long if he hadn’t.

HOWARD (on the phone): Moon rocks?!!  Would I!  There isn’t an amateur geologist in the country who wouldn’t give his eyeteeth to see a lunar sample!  Wow…what a feather in my geological cap that’ll be!

“I’m getting a stiffie just thinking about it!”

HOWARD (still on the phone): What?  Oh…sure…oh, sure—I understandcertainly…tell your friend he has nothing to worry about…mum’s the word…mum’s the word…yeah…okay…see ya tomorrow!

You know what’s coming.  Howard turns around and finds…

GOOBER: Moon rocks, huh?

Cue the sad trombone!

HOWARD: Goober!  How long have you been standing there?!!
GOOBER: Long enough to hear you say “mum’s the word” and all that—what’s it all about?

“You realize that I now have to kill you, Goober.  This just isn’t your day, pilgrim.”

HOWARD: Nothing…nothing, just forget it…
GOOBER: Okay…if you don’t wanna tell me…
HOWARD: That’s right—I don’t…

Howard, Howard, Howard.  You surely know by now that the only surefire method of getting Goober to move on to another topic is with the use of a shiny object or perhaps that antique coin the Bowery Boys always used to hypnotize Huntz Hall.  Because the curious Goober takes less than an eye blink to ask Sara the operator where that call to Howard came from, and he soon confronts him outside the Mayberry Foodstuff Emporium, where Howard is purchasing groceries from an unidentified tradesman.

GOOBER: Howard! (He startles Howard slightly) He’s in on the big secret, too—huh?
HOWARD: No, he isn’t!  Goober, will you please drop it?!!
GOOBER: I’ll bet Alice knows…I’m gonna ask her what she knows about moon rocks!
HOWARD: Will you please not mention it to anyone!!!
HOWARD: Because nobody’s supposed to know they’re coming here!
GOOBER (loudly): Moon rocks are comin’ to… (Howard puts his hand over Goober’s mouth)

Two ladies walk by at this moment in time, and kind of give Howard a quizzical look as they witness him with his hand clasped over Goober’s mouth.  (Good for a chuckle.)  Howard then tells Goober that he’ll fill him in on the “moon rocks” details if he’ll just keep his big bazoo shut.

“I can keep a secret as good as you can,” responds Goober hurtfully.  But in a scene dissolve, we find the mentally challenged grease monkey at his humble gas station pressing his pants…and because there’s not nearly enough idiocy in this scene, he is soon joined by fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman).

EMMETT: Whaddya doin’?
GOOBER: I’m ironin’…what does it look like I’m doin’?
EMMETT: I know that…heh…you’re pressin’ your deputy sheriff’s uniform—there must be a new crime wave…kindergarten kids been puttin’ slugs in the gumball machine?
GOOBER: Very funny…well, it just so happens that I may have to guard somethin’…
GOOBER (quickly): Nothin’…I mean…I’m just…gettin’ prepared…in case somethin’ valuable comes to Mayberry…
EMMETT: Fergus the Jeweler gettin’ in some new zircons?

Fergus the Jeweler?  I’ll bet those TV commercials are a riot.  (“He went to Fergus...”)  “It ain’t no use you pumpin’ me…my lips are sealed,” he assures his friend…and then he becomes aware of the arrival of two yokels outside when one of them calls out: “Hey, Zeke—what’s the name of this burg?”

“Oh, it’s them wise guys from Weaver City,” grumbles Goober as he sets down his iron.  And with that, let’s meet them.

I should first state for the record that neither of these “wise guys” is named “Zeke” (so I don’t get the joke, either).  But the actor playing “Eddie” is “Deputy” Don Melvoin, a thespian who had a brief career in films and television, with a role in 1980’s Somewhere in Time and guest shots on the likes of The High Chaparral, Bonanza and Night Gallery.  But Melvoin’s face is more than likely familiar to those people in the viewing area of Traverse City, Michigan’s WPBN-TV: in the 1950s, Melvoin was kiddie show host Deputy Don, and when the Hollywood thing didn’t pan out as he hoped he went back to WPBN to not only resurrect Deputy Don but become the titular host of Count Zappula’s Horror House (Melvoin also hosted daytime movies as well).

The other yokel, identified as Tom, is Eddie Firestone, Jr.—a radio, television, film and stage veteran whom most old-time radio fans will instantly identify as Joey Brewster, the Henry Aldrich-wannabe of That Brewster Boy.  Firestone’s other radio gigs include Let George Do It, Family Theatre, The Life of Riley, Honest Harold, Suspense, This is Your FBI and Dragnet.  He was a favorite of that program’s auteur, Jack Webb, who used him in both the original 1951-59 and 1967-70 incarnations of the TV version; Firestone also guested on such shows as The Untouchables, Bonanza, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke and Mannix.  His film roles include Joe Butterfly, The Law and Jake Wade, Two for the Seesaw and Duel.

GOOBER: It’s Mayberry, and you know it, Eddie!
EDDIE: Yeah…I keep forgettin’…couple of gallons, Goob…but don’t put any of that Mayberry water in my nice clean radiator…
TOM: Try to hurry it up… (Coughing) This smog here is killin’ me!

Let the battle of half-wits begin!

GOOBER: You guys are a laugh a minute…

We should be so lucky.

GOOBER: …of course, you need a sense of humor to live in Weaver City
EDDIE: Say, Goob—didja hear the news?
GOOBER: What news?
TOM: Don’t tell him, Eddie—it’ll break his heart!
GOOBER; Don’t tell me what?
EDDIE: Oh, nothin’…except that we’re gettin’ a new library in Weaver City
TOM (holding up fingers): With two wings…

What…so it can fly?

GOOBER: A library, huh?
TOM: Yeah!  We can read over there!
EDDIE: You can hear about it on TV tonight…you do have TV here, don’tcha?
GOOBER: Darn right we do!  We got everything that Weaver City has…and more!
TOM: Except a new library…
EDDIE: Of course, Mayberry does have the new dump…

“Yeah?  Well, why don’t you drive down there and dispose of yourselves?”  Okay, enough of this witty banter…you know what’s coming, and I won’t disappoint you…wait for it

GOOBER: Is that so?  Well, we’re gettin’ the moon rocks!

“Moon rocks?” asks Tom.  This is bad, this is very, very bad—but Goober has compounded his fox paw by shouting this within listening distance of Emmett “Gabby” Clark.  “So that’s what why you were pressin’ your uniform, huh?  That’s what you’re gonna be guardin’!!!” Emmett says excitedly.

TOM: You mean they’re bringin’ ‘em here?
GOOBER: No!  I mean…they ain’t here yet…I mean…it’s a secret…you ain’t supposed to know—forget I said anything about it!!!  You, too, Emmett!!!

Goober turns around in Emmett’s direction…no Emmett.  That’s because Mr. Clark has borrowed Mr. Pyle’s phone to tell his beloved spouse Martha (played by Mary Lansing, when they allow her to appear on the program) all about the secret moon rocks.

As I have mentioned so many times on the blog in the past…I grew up in the town of Ravenswood, WV—which I have previously calculated was actually smaller than the fictional Mayberry.  And I also know that if you had planned to reveal anything remotely secretive to anybody in that burg the only way to accomplish it was to use the freakin’ Cone of Silence.

GOOBER (entering the council office with Emmett in tow): Howard…Howard…you might as well know—Old Big Ears here found out about the moon rocks!
HOWARD: What?!!
GOOBER: Well, you tell him this ain’t gonna be no public showin’
HOWARD: Well, how did he find out about it, anyway?
GOOBER: Well, that don’t make no diff’rence—just tell him he ain’t gonna see ‘em…
HOWARD: That’s right, Emmett…Sam arranged a private showing for me because he knows I’m interested in things geological…
EMMETT: Are you tryin’ to tell me he ain’t even gonna let Mike see them moon rocks?  His own boy?

“He’s not taking any chances.  That kid might eat one!”

HOWARD: Well, he’ll probably let Mike see them…
EMMETT: You see—that makes two…already you don’t know what you’re talkin’ about…
GOOBER: Seems to me if he can show ‘em to two he can show ‘em to three


ALICE (bursting through the council office door with Myrtle following): Howard, when will the moon rocks be in town?
HOWARD: Alice!  How did you find out about it?!!
ALICE: Martha called me!
HOWARD: Martha?!!

To the moon, Alice!

ALICE: Well, Howard—when will they be here?  The Women’s Club has to know if we’re going to serve refreshments!
MYRTLE: I thought I’d make a green cheesecake!  Wouldn’t that be clever?
GOOBER: Yeah!  That sounds good!

I kind of laughed at this scenario…not because of the dialogue, but because I’m very impressed at how Alice—who was a pathetic wallflower type just demobbed from the service in “The New Housekeeper”—has fully blossomed into the take-charge Aunt Bee role.  As for Myrtle (Maudie Prickett)—sadly, this is her last time on Mayberry R.F.D.  Prickett, best known as gal pal Rosie Hammaker to Shirley Booth’s Hazel Burke on the sitcom Hazel, seemed to function merely as a sounding board to Aunt Bee when Frances Bavier was still on the program.

HOWARD: Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!  You’re all jumping ahead of yourselves!  Sam said it was just for me to see!
ALICE: Oh, that’s silly!  You know if we want to see them, Sam will show us…
GOOBER: Yeah!  He’s too nice a guy!
MYRTLE: And we are taxpayers!
EMMETT: Yeah, it’ll be a big thing for the merchants… (Turning to Howard) Are you sure you just ain’t tryin’ to hog the whole show?

Howard’s protests are ignored, because Alice and Myrtle have decided to continue preparing the celebration just in case.  A scene dissolve finds Sam returning to Mayberry, briefcase in hand…and Howard meets him outside the council office, grinning in that way one does when the fit is about to hit the shan.  In fact, Sam ironically comments that the conference was a real revelation: “You can really appreciate Mayberry when you see some of the problems these other cities have around here.”

Will Howard tell Sam that Project Moon Rock has snowballed into a genuine clusterfudge?  Well, he makes a sporting try at it but Sam waves him off, wanting nothing else to do but put his briefcase in the office and head back to tending his crops the bosom of his loving family.  Instead, he opens the door and finds…

…it’s apparently Election Night in Mayberry.  Much milling around and people discussing at tables, which did make me laugh.

ALICE: Welcome home, Sam!  You’re just in time to help plan the festivities!
EMMETT: Oh, it’s gonna be a big boost to the business community!
MYRTLE: Thanks to you, Sam!
SAM: Well, you’re welcome!  Now what are we talking about?
ALICE: Why, the moon rocks!

As my BBFF Stacia has stated before—no one does “shame face” better than Jack Dodson.  This laugh is punctuated by Sam’s turning to him and saying “Howard…” before Howard interrupts with “I tried to tell you…” as he points outside.

ALICE: Now, Sam…don’t blame Howard—you know you can’t keep a secret in a town like this!
GOOBER: Besides—this could be the biggest thing that ever happened to Mayberry!  We figgered there wasn’t no sense in wastin’ it on Howard…
SAM: Wasting what?
EMMETT: The Mayberry moon rock display!
SAM: Display?
GOOBER: At the museum!
HOWARD (sheepishly): Yeah…they want me to show my rock collection, too…
ALICE: And the Women’s Club is serving refreshments…
MYRTLE: And I’m going to make one of my green cheesecakes! (Laughter in the room) Get it, Sam?  Green cheese?

Sam is having difficulty understanding how something that was originally supposed to be “a private showing” has snowballed into a venue for green cheesecake…and while everyone continues to excitedly talk about ideas for the event, his cretinous son Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster) enters the council office to tell his Pa they’ll be letting everyone out of school to view the rocks.

“See, Sam—you can’t keep the Mayberry kids out of the Space Age,” observes Howard. 

“I think we should have a big banner across the street like when Art Linkletter came through,” Emmett offers up.  (I’ll bet that’s the only time in his career when Linkletter discovered that the title of his show was a misnomer.)

Sam, being the responsible parent in the room, now has the unpleasant duty of having to explain to everyone that he’s turning the car around and they’re going right back home.  “Now…my friend from NASA was going to stop by here for lunch—and as favor to me, he was going to show the moon rocks to Howard.  And I promised to keep it a secret.  Now somehow, it seems to have gotten out of hand,” Sam complains, staring straight at Howard.

“Well, there’s no harm done,” counters Emmett.  “Yes, there is, Emmett,” Sam continues.  “I made a promise I can’t keep.  So there’s only one thing I can do…I’m going to call my friend, and tell him what happened…and call the whole thing off.”  The reaction from the room is comparable to Sam telling them there’ll be no ice cream for dessert.

SAM: Nobody is going to see any moon rocks…
HOWARD: Except me, of course…
SAM: No, Howard…especially not you…not now… (He goes out the door)
HOWARD (plaintively): But Sam…
GOOBER: Blabbermouth

Normally I would feel sorry for Howard…but this is kind of his fault.  He could have avoided this by saying, “Hey, Goob—let’s go out to the new dump and shoot rats.”  And then just made sure he was the only one who returned.

Well, Sam’s soliloquy brings on a commercial break, and upon returning from shilling for General Foods we find Sam enjoying a leisurely country breakfast.  A man must eat a hearty first meal of the day when he’s got a day of chores a-waitin’…so Sam is just having toast, lightly buttered.

ALICE: Breakfast all right?
SAM: Mm-hmm…fine, Alice…thanks…

“I can’t figure out what went wrong…there was enough rat poison in that oatmeal to bring down a polar bear…”

ALICE: You know…it’s amazing, Sam…absolutely amazing
SAM: What?
ALICE: How can you have such a big appetite after you’ve disappointed the whole town…

Day-amm, Alice!  You’ve clearly been taking night courses at the Irene Shreve School of Guilt.  Sam’s position is that the matter is no longer under discussion because “we covered this whole thing last night and there is nothing I can do about it.”

Alice knows when to tactfully retreat.  But she adds: “I suppose Myrtle can save her green cheesecake for St. Patrick’s Day.”  The writers then decide to add young Mike into the mix, who enters the kitchen and greets the lady who cooks his meals and cleans his room with a cheery “Hi, Cousin Alice.”  He does not, however, acknowledge the presence of his father…something Sam would be well advised to get used to and enjoy.

SAM: Morning, Mike…
MIKE: Hi, Pa…
SAM: Okay…let’s hear it from you, too
MIKE: Well, gee whiz, Pa…I wanted to see the moon rock!
ALICE (snidely): Good luck…

Sam is having little luck explaining to either relative that it’s simply not possible to have a public showing of the find of the century in a little pissant town like Mayberry.  But he is amenable to driving Mike down to Atlanta over the weekend so they can see it there.

“I don’t know, Pa,” replies Mike.  “I don’t think I wanna see it if my friends can’t.”  Mikey me boyo…do you think for one second that Harold or Richard wouldn’t sell the playing cards in their bicycle spokes for a chance to see the moon rocks without you?

SAM: Mike, the man in charge said no!
MIKE: Well…maybe he can talk to his boss…or maybe you can write to a senator or something…
SAM: Look…why don’t you hurry up with your breakfast and…I’ll give you a ride to school…
MIKE: I think I’d rather walk today…

“Yeah…I’ll walk to Mr. Sprague’s office.  And see what kind of paperwork I have to fill out to have my name changed.”  Well, public opinion on Sam’s decision is not in his favor in town, either.  Sam has to listen to Emmett bitch as the fix-it man cleans a painted sign from his window announcing that he’ll fix vacuum cleaners as part of a “moon rocks special” for the princely sum of $3.98.

EMMETT: …the Mayberry economy ain’t exactly boomin’, you know…moon rocks would have been a big help
SAM: Yeah, I know that…
EMMETT: Yeah…gettin’ our hopes up and then shootin’ ‘em way down…you know—I voted for you because you were supposed to be a doer…only now that I think back on it…you ain’t done so much!

This is an interesting conversation.  Sam Jones’ first appearance in Mayberry was on the old Andy Griffith Show, in an episode entitled “Sam for Town Council.”  The plot has Emmett planning to run for a vacant council seat, and a small chunk of the Mayberry power structure—including Sheriff Andy Taylor hisownself—is repulsed by the notion, so they talk Farmer Jones into running against Emmett Clark.  Sam wins the election—and Emmett eventually comes around to acknowledging that the people have spoken…the bastids.

Now…between that episode and the one I’m dissecting now—there has never been another election in Mayberry.  Which is surprising—you’d think the writers would have come up with at least one idea for such an episode…but instead they frittered away their time with idiotic outings about bicycle clubs and toupees.  And the makeup of the town council changes at the whim of each episode; eventually, Howard, Goober and Emmett are all on the town council despite my disbelief that any serious-minded voter would make a check next to their name.  (Then again…when you consider some of the bozos in public office now…maybe it’s not so hard to believe.)  What I’m trying to say here in my typically longwinded fashion is that with the absence of any kind of election on R.F.D. this can only mean that Emmett voted against himself in the episode “Sam for Town Council.”  That means even he knows if he were to hold public office it would bring down the very foundation of civilization as we know it.

Emmett ticks off a list of Sam’s disappointments, starting with his failure to get Miss North Carolina to come to Mayberry’s Fourth of July picnic.  “No, and I didn’t get us Expo 70, either,” says Sam angrily—a reference to the World’s Fair held in Osaka, Japan that also featured a moon rock from the Apollo 12 mission on display.  Just then, a couple of women walk by and give Sam the cold shoulder…suggesting that when there is finally an election in Mayberry Sam will need to start kissing hands and shaking babies.  (Wait…that can’t be right.)

A scene shift finds us in the Mayberry Museum, where Howard is kvetching to Sam about all the hard work he did putting together his rock collection, categorizing and printing up note cards.  (Something I have a feeling he enjoyed better than sex.)  Goober, also on the scene, chimes in: “What about me?  I’ve been bustin’ my brains out readin’ that pamphlet on security precautions.”

Howard spent the bulk of his time mounting a nice tourmaline stone that he found in the god-awful second season “Palm Springs” story arc that was mur-der getting through.  Sam is at a loss for words, and Goober tells him: “Say somethin’ nice…you already broke his heart!”

HOWARD (holding up the tourmaline): Took me two hours to mount this…
SAM: Well…that’s…that’s very nice, Howard…
GOOBER: Show him that atheist you dug up in Mexico, Howard…
HOWARD: That’s amethyst, Goober…

Yes, I laughed out loud at that.  “Oh, what’s the difference now, though,” whines Howard.  “It’s bad enough I don’t get a chance to show the folks my collection but now I don’t even get to see a moon rock!”

SAM: Oh…come on now…they…they’ve got a very tight schedule for showing these rocks!  NASA isn’t going to change that just for us!  W-What do you want me to do—do you want me to write our senator, like Mike suggested?  Or maybe I should wave a magic wand, huh?
HOWARD: There’s no use in getting defensive about it, Sam…this isn’t an election year

Howard decides to leave his rocks in the museum for a couple days—“Might as well give folks a chance to see them at least.”  Both Howard and Goober are ladling a lot of guilt on Sam about this fiasco even though it’s typically not his fault (the only blame to be shouldered is that he still lives in Mayberry when he should have bolted years ago).  Finally Goob and Howard admit that maybe they were a little bit at fault, and Sam says the best thing for everybody is just to forget about the whole affair and put it behind them.

“You can count on me,” Goober remarks in his usual stupid fashion.  “As a lawman, I’m trained to keep my mouth shut.”  (Too…many…sarcastic…comebacks…can’t…decide…which…to…use)

The quiet lawman emerges from the museum and prepares to mount his bicycle when the two members of the Weaver City chapter of MENSA ride up in Eddie’s jeep.

EDDIE: When are you gonna get that moon rock?  We ain’t heard anymore about it!
GOOBER: I can’t talk now…I’m busy!
TOM: You don’t look busy…
GOOBER: Well, I am!
EDDIE: We came all the way down here to see it—thought we were gonna see it today!
GOOBER: Whatever gave you that idea?
TOM: That’s what you told us!
GOOBER: Well, what’s the difference? (Condescendingly) In Mayberry, we don’t have to brag about every little bitty thing that happens…I’ll see ya around…
TOM (getting out of the jeep): Hey, Goob…now level with us… (Eddie gets out of the jeep, too) Mayberry is gettin’ a moon rock, ain’t it?  Or did somebody just make that up?
EDDIE: Some guy who’s jealous ‘cause Weaver City’s gettin’ a new library
GOOBER: We do, too, have moon rocks!
EDDIE: Prove it!

Back against the wall, Goober escorts the two men into the museum…and tries to pass off Howard’s Palm Springs tourmaline as the “moon rock.”  For a brief shining moment, it looks as if he might successfully pull off the charade…but then Eddie, the brighter of the two, notices the card underneath that reads: “Tourmaline, Palm Springs, California.”

GOOBER: Well, ain’t you ever read Buck Rogers?  I mean, everybody knows that the moon originally busted off from the Earth…
TOM (hooting): Oh, boy—did you hear that?  The moon came from Palm Springs! (He starts cackling)
EDDIE (patting Goober’s shoulder): Good try, Goob…good try…
TOM: What did you say the name of this burg was?
EDDIE: Phoneysville, USA!

Goober has gambled on his superior intellect (ha!) and lost.  In a scene dissolve, Goober sits forlornly at the table in the council office as Sam, Howard, Emmett and Alice look contemptuously at him.  The Goob tries to explain that he did what he did “them guys were sayin’ bad things about Mayberry…”

“Well, they’ll be sayin’ worse now,” counters Emmett.  And how—as Howard reads from the latest edition of the Weaver City Daily News:

HOWARD: Listen to this: “Promises, promises…green with envy about the new Weaver City Library, Mayberry promised the moon and delivered the usual nothing…did they really feel the substitution of insignificant rocks from Palm Springs would fool certain citizens from Weaver City?  Or were they hopefully trying to gain fame by perpetrating the biggest fraud of the century?”  Now we’re going to be the laughingstock of the county!

An entirely new experience for Mayberry citizens, I’m sure.  “And what do they mean, ‘insignificant rock’?” continues Howard.  “That was my best one!”

Oh, now they’ve done it.  Now they have done it.  Nobody, I repeat, nobody disses the rock collection of Howard W. Sprague!  “I guess I done a dumb thing,” Goober says apologetically and without any trace of a startling revelation.

“All of this wouldn’t have happened if somebody had come up with the moon rock like somebody promised,” Emmett continues to piss and moan.  Sam, knowing he’ll probably hear this bullsh*t for the rest of his life in Mayberry, decides that now is time for decisive action—he’ll make one more final plea to his pal Pete.  “Want me to come along and help ya?” asks an eager Goober.  Sam tells him no…but it would be funnier if there was a “hell” placed in front of it.

Pete would love to help his old friend out…but his hands are tied.  He and Sam discuss the matter back and forth until they are interrupted by the ringing of Pete’s phone.  Pete answers it, has a few words with the party on the other end and even gives Sam a look during the conversation.  Having completed the call, Pete looks at his friend:

PETE (sighing): All right, Sam…how’d you swing it?
SAM: What?  Swing what?
PETE: That was my boss on the phone…I just got an order to set up a moon rock display in Mayberry…
SAM: No…you’re kidding!
PETE: No…no kidding…tomorrow morning…come on…what did you do?
SAM: Well…uh…I don’t know, Pete…I don’t know!  I just…but…everybody said I could do it, and…you know something?  I guess they were right…

Behold the moon rock display!  As predicted, it proves to be a sensation in a town where the installation of a new flag pole is considered big doin’s.  Goober, dressed in his deputy sheriff duds, is providing “security” while the rock is on display, and Howard is proudly showing his collection to Mike and a few nameless school chums.  The kids aren’t at all impressed with the Sprague collection, however, and hurriedly get back in line to see the moon rock again, prompting this priceless Howard reaction.

Pete’s boss, Charlie Hendricks, has made an appearance at the Mayberry display and Pete introduces him to Sam…

…his face may not be familiar, but his voice will certainly will be.  Character actor Tyler McVey has an old-time radio resume that includes shows like The Lux Radio Theatre, Cavalcade of America, The Smiths of Hollywood, Family Theatre, Fibber McGee & Molly, Wild Bill Hickok and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.  On the small screen, Tyler appeared as Maj. Gen. Norgath in the short-lived 1959-60 series Men Into Space and guested on such shows as You are There, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Checkmate, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Wild Wild West.  His films include The Day the Earth Stood Still, From Here to Eternity and Seven Days in May.

HENDRICKS: I…uh…flew down to see that everything was all right…
SAM: Oh, everything’s just fine…I want to thank you for everything you’ve done…but if you don’t mind my asking, Mr. Hendricks—how did all this happen?
PETE: Yeah…I’ve been wondering about that myself…
HENDRICKS: No big mystery…I, uh, got a phone call from your senator…respectfully requesting that I, uh, get a moon rock for Mayberry…
SAM: Our senator?
HENDRICKS: Mm-hmm…oh, it happens every now and then…seems he got a letter from, uh, a disappointed little boy here in Mayberry…and it…kind of got to him…
SAM: No kidding?  Boy…it must have been Mike!  (Laughing) How about that boy?
HENDRICKS (pulling the letter from his pocket): No…that…that wasn’t the name…I’ve got the letter right here…it’s kind of hard to read this…childish handwriting…it’s from a little boy who kind of has an…unusual nickname…Goober Pyle?

Yeah, you can’t tell me you didn’t see that coming.  I especially enjoyed the reference to Goob’s “childish handwriting”—because he’s practically illiterate!  (Okay, that’s a little harsh—I’m sure both his parents were married.)  Sam runs over to tell Goober this little tale but Mayberry’s fearless deputy sheriff is too busy cackling at a joke Howard’s made: “One small step for man…one giant leap for Mayberry.”  (Eight more episodes of this to go, and our long national nightmare will be over.)

The coda on this one is kind of amusing: Goober is reading (see what I mean?) a reply he received from the senator regarding the moon rock events to Howard and Sam at the gas station—“And it ain’t one of them mimeographed ones, neither.”

GOOBER: Says he appreciates me callin’ attention to the problem…gives me some personal advice, too…he says America needs young men like me…wants me to work hard and mind my mommy and daddy…of course, I always do that…here’s the big surprise—it says right here…if I ever wanna go to West Point, he’ll gimme a letter… (After a pause) I never knew they took guys my age…?

Well, character actress Alice Ghostley is certainly earning her keep on the third and final season of Mayberry R.F.D.—she’s in this episode, which means that Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Alice-o-Meter™ moves up another notch to chart nine appearances for Cousin Alice in total on the series.  In fact, Ghostley has already racked up more show-ups than Mary Lansing…whose Martha Clark may have only been mentioned in passing this week, but who will chalk up her eighth appearance on R.F.D. on our next installment of Mayberry Mondays.  If watching two people be positively horrible to one another in a loveless marriage is your idea of big laughs—then you’re gonna love “The World Traveler.”  (Oh, and our favorite bakery counter girl—Millie Swanson [Arlene Golonka]—will be back next week, too.)


Stacia said...

“He’s not taking any chances. That kid might eat one!”

I won't lie to you: I woke people up laughing at that. Also at Howard's cross-eyed shameface, which is spectacular this evening.

Also, tell your mom I didn't laugh at that one joke, even though I really did, ok?

What I don't understand is how these rumors don't become mangled a la the Telephone Game. That's what always happened in the small town I lived in. Someone would get a parking ticket and within 12 hours it was rumored to be a DUI with "mysterious blood" on the grille of the car.

I have seen moon rocks (at the Cosmosphere) and I don't recall them looking like styrofoam painted black.

hobbyfan said...

You know, Ivan, there's one thing that bothers me about Mayberry, RFD.

After Sheriff Taylor packed up and split, they never appointed someone to fill the position, did they now? Like, no deputies, either.

I've got my own series review of RFD up @ the Land of Whatever for your perusal. Holla.

VP81955 said...

If it's a state university (Duke is private) and it's in Durham, then it must be North Carolina Central University...a predominantly black institution. Not completely impossible for a 1971 sitcom, but highly unlikely. (Perhaps you meant a university in the state, whether it be public or private.)

Anonymous said...

Fairly recently in my neck of the woods some missing moon rocks were found, so I found this episode to be quite timely. With Goober in charge of security I'm surprised the moon rock didn't somehow disappear. I think the the first place I would look would be in the H.S. rock collection.
Nice job, Ivan. Funny stuff. I look forward to you taking on Doris Day.


Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

(Perhaps you meant a university in the state, whether it be public or private.)

Yeah! Yeah -- that's what I meant. (I didn't find out about the Durham connection until later in the episode, and when I went back to insert that info I didn't change the description.)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

With Goober in charge of security I'm surprised the moon rock didn't somehow disappear.

Not to mention several civilian casualties...

Chris Vosburg said...

Thanks, Ivan, Mayberry remains laughable with your help.

Re Gary Crosby:

My favorite role of his was as the obnoxious Floyd Burney of Twilight Zone ep Come Wander With Me, a self-absorbed "folk singer" smarmily crashing around the hollers of Appalachia looking for public domain songs to plunder. Calls everyone "chickie" or "daddy" and refers to the locale as "sticksville" or "nowheresville," to their faces.

Never gets tired of referring to himself, from the constant "Hey! I'm Floyd Burney!" ("the Rockabilly Boy!") to the enormous "Floyd Burney" logo on his guitartop, he's even got a "FB" embroidered on the pocket of his Elvis wannabe shirt.

No wonder they shot him.

Hank Patterson as Fred Ziffel, or at least wearing the same outfit, including the hat, that he wore to the various Hooterville sets. I'm beginning to think Patterson carried his own wardrobe, since he showed up in "Beginning of the End" (in '57!) in the same hat and duds.

Gorgeous atmospheric direction from Richard Donner, by the way, and if it's been a while, you might wanna check out the very crisp IMDB free ep courtesy hulu, here.