Monday, January 21, 2013

Mayberry Mondays #72: “Goober, the Elder” (02/15/71, prod. no. 0314)

This week on Mayberry Mondays: a hard-hitting episode on the nature of faith.  Okay, I’m really just kidding about that—but it is interesting to note that Mayberry R.F.D., the vanilla pudding of sitcoms, was never reticent about showing its characters attending services—as witnessed in episodes like “Help on the Farm” and “The Church Bell.”  (There have also been wedding-themed episodes, an episode involving a christening, and a few in which stage productions on behalf of the town’s church are performed.)

So this week’s “Goober, the Elder” is an interesting one since TV sitcoms are often criticized for not having their characters demonstrate fealty to any kind of organized religion.  (By the way…it’s an all-male preserve this week—though the bakery at which cute-as-a-button Millie Swanson [Arlene Golonka] will be glimpsed briefly.)  The episode gets underway with the dismissal of services for that Sunday, and as is traditionally shown in movies and TV, the minister stands outside the church to greet parishioners, who usually offer up editorial content in the form of either “Reverend, you outdid yourself!” or “Boy…did that sermon blow chunks…”  The minister is a repeat appearance from actor Robert Cornthwaite, whom you will remember advised Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster—also not in this episode…proving the existence of God) on how to spend a windfall of ten dollars in the “The Kid from Hong Kong.”  We’ll just assume he’s the same guy, Reverend Keith.  The first person out the door to congratulate Rev. Keith is the only man windier in that town than Keith is—pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson).

HOWARD: Nice sermon, Reverend…certainly was food for thought…
REVEREND: Well…I’m glad you enjoyed it, Howard…say—would you mind staying for a minute?  I’d like to speak to some of the elders…
HOWARD: Oh…certainly!  I’ll round up Clarence for you…

The “Clarence” to whom Howard is referencing is Clarence Demarest, introduced in the episode “Millie, the Best-Dressed Woman” as one of several Mayberrians outraged that our favorite bakery gal isn’t showing any more leg when she swaps her mini for a midi.  (The actor who plays Clarence, the late Ken Sansom, also appears in “The Harp”—just as a different character.)  The next two people to exit the church are fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) and the show’s reluctant hero, poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry).

SAM (shaking Keith’s hand): Good sermon today, Reverend…really made it honest…
EMMETT: Yeah, I’ll say… (He starts to yawn in a way that suggests he was probably snoozing through the Rev’s sermon) I’m sorry…I stayed up last night and watched the late movie, Reverend… (Quickly) Samson and Delilah!
SAM: That makes it okay…heh…
REVEREND: Could you two step into my study for a minute?
SAM: Sure!

Oh, now you two are in for it…this’ll teach Emmett to nap in church.  Actually, the usually unfunny “anti-Floyd” provides several laugh-out-loud moments this week, beginning with his plaintive “Well, will it take long?  You know the ball game comes on in twenty minutes.”

I feel Emmett’s pain on this.  Not because I care about watching the ballgame—it’s just that I was raised Catholic and it was an eternity waiting for Father Schmidt to finish going through the church bulletin.  (The man might have made a commitment to the Man Upstairs but he did not take a vow of chastity with regards to his own voice.)

So Sam, Emmett, Howard and Clarence all file into Reverend Keith’s study to discuss weighty matters of church and…church.

REVEREND: It looks as if we’ll have to fill a vacancy on the Board of Elders…George Dewey’s moving to Siler City

“I tried to tell him that affair with the fifteen-year-old cheerleader would lead to scandal and ruin…but you know George…”

(The others expressed disappointment)
SAM: Yeah…I heard about that…
HOWARD: That’s too bad—he’s a real worker…

That’s what she said.

REVEREND: I just wanted you to start thinking who should replace him…
CLARENCE: What about Doc Belding?

“He’s Jewish.”

HOWARD: Aw, he’s too busy, Clarence…he wouldn’t have the time…
EMMETT: The game starts in fifteen minutes

That’s two for Emmett.

REVEREND: Clyde Wilkins is certainly a worthy man…
EMMETT: Yeah…he’ll do… (He turns to leave)

Three for Emmett.  Some of you might be familiar with the name “Clyde Wilkins”—it’s been established on the show that he’s Mayberry’s undertaker.

HOWARD: Emmett—now, wait a minute…let’s not jump into this…there are lots of qualified men in Mayberry but we want to take the time and pick the very best… (Turning back to Reverend Keith) Now, there’s Judge Edwards…and…and…Herb Twitchell…and what about Kirk Price?

“Howard, don’t you ever read anything in The Mount Pilot Clarion but that damn poetry column of yours?  All three of those men were sentenced last week for their part in an embezzlement scheme involving the Edwards Foundation!”  Sam, on the other hand, has a radical idea:

SAM: Hey, I’d like to make a suggestion…
EMMETT: Yeah, so would I—do we have to have these church meetings on Sunday?

Four for Emmett.

REVEREND: What were you going to say, Sam?
SAM: Well…uh…I’d like to suggest a man for the job—he’s honesthard-working…and if you want a man who’d really serve his church…how about Goober?

All five men then fall to the ground in hysterics, with Reverend Keith holding back tears of laughter (“Good one, Sam!”).  No, I made that up…but Howard is incredulous at the suggestion of the town’s resident grease monkey rising to the position of Very Serious Church Person.

HOWARD: Goober? An elder of the church?
CLARENCE: Our Goober?
SAM: Is there any other Goober?

One can only pray there isn’t.  (And what better place to pray than in a church?)

REVEREND: That’s a thought, Sam…I’ll say this for him—when there’s work to be done he’s the first to volunteer…
HOWARD: Yeah, but…but…taking up a collection is one thing, Reverend—serving on the Board of Elders is another
CLARENCE: He’s been a good head usher…
REVEREND: He hasn’t missed a Sunday in seven years

Well, Goober is not in attendance at church in the aforementioned “Help on the Farm.”  That would seem to invalidate his record.  And besides, Rev…you’ve only been the pastor for that jernt a year, so how would you know?

SAM: Well…so…should we all sort of count on Goober, then?
REVEREND: Fine with me…
(Clarence nods assent and Emmett can be heard saying “Yeah…sure…okay.”)

I say quite often in this feature that every episode of R.F.D. has at least one laugh-out-loud moment.  There have been several from Emmett so far, but Howard’s reaction to the thought of making Goober an “elder” is hysterical.  (“You fools!  You mad, crazy fools!”)

HOWARD: Well…I-I-I mean…the bylaws state that…that a new member has to be voted in at a regular monthly meeting...

“Which I move we schedule to the third Friday in June…2052.”

HOWARD: Besides—Goober may not even want the job!

Wait for it…

GOOBER (entering the Rev’s study carrying a sack): What job?
HOWARD: Oh…hi, Goober…heh…how did the collection go?
GOOBER (holding up the sack): Oh, good!  It was a real haul…what job?
SAM: Well…uh…the fact is, Goob…there’s…uh…there’s an opening on the Board of Elders and…we’re considering you

Great reaction shot from the Goob.  It’s as if he’s saying: “Seriously?  You want me?”

GOOBER (taken aback): Me?  Uh…on the Board of Elders?
SAM: If you’re interested
GOOBER: Interested?  Well… (He turns serious) Just a lifelong ambition…but I never even thought I’d be considered!  Well…I don’t know how to thank you guys!
HOWARD: Well, it’s not final yet, Goob…I mean…we have to take a vote at the regular meeting
GOOBER: Oh…well, that don’t matter… (He throws an arm around Howard’s shoulder) Just knowin’ you was thinkin’ of me…that’s enough, Howard…

“I’m also going to do whatever I can to ensure that this idiotic proposal never goes before the other members.”  Goober is pleased as punch at the idea of “bein’ on the team”—and that reminds Emmett that there’s a game starting, so he runs out of the study as he bids his goodbyes.  Later, Sam and Goober can be found walking back to Goober’s gas station.

In “Goober’s New Gas Station,” the episode that announces Goober’s relocation of his Gas-Up, the boarding house in which he resides is conveniently located next to his business.  That boarding house disappears in a subsequent episode, “Goober, the Housekeeper,” but as you can see in the above screen capture it’s back by the station again.  Continuity has never been a strong point on this program.

GOOBER (to Sam): You know what I might do?
SAM: What?
GOOBER: Change my sign…

Well, why not—your boarding house never stays in one place for too long.

GOOBER: Instead of Goober’s…it’d be “Elder Pyle’s Service Station”…huh?
SAM: Well…
GOOBER: Nah…I guess that wouldn’t be right…tradin’ on an honor like that just for bidness…but I still can’t believe it!

Goober hurriedly says goodbye to Sam—not even letting his buddy help himself to “a bottle of pop.”  There’s an explanation why.

GOOBER: Not now!  Come back later!
SAM: Well, why?
GOOBER (after furtively looking around): ‘Cause I gotta hide the church collection till the bank’s open tomorrow and I don’t allow nobody to see where I put it!
SAM: Well…then I’ll turn my back and close my eyes!
GOOBER: Well, you still might hear me move the oil drum

Goober then stops, and the “Oh, merde” look he gets on his face is good for a laugh.  Sam tells him not to sweat it; he’ll see him later.

Inside the gas station, Goober is preparing to hide the church collection in his usual secret hidey hole.  The phone then rings…and when Goober answers it, this gentleman is on the line:

This is actor Patrick Campbell…a character thesp that I had to look up on the IMDb because while I recognized him I couldn’t come up with his name or think about where I’d seen him.  Before he passed away in 2003, Campbell had bit parts in such films as Cat Ballou, Enter Laughing, Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie and Critters 2.  His guest appearances on TV programs number hits like Petticoat Junction, Love, American Style, Mary Tyler Moore, Sanford and Son (which is where I finally remembered him from, in an episode called “The Great Sanford Siege”) and Dallas.

ELBERT: Goober?
GOOBER: Who’s this?
ELBERT: Cousin Elbert!  How’s it goin’, old buddy—how’s my favorite cousin?

That’s rather presumptuous of you, friend—Goober’s favorite cousin is in the United States Marine Corps.

GOOBER (disappointed): Oh, it’s you…well, I ain’t gonna do it!
ELBERT: Do what?
GOOBER: Whatever you’re butterin’ me up for…you still owe me twenny dollars from last time…
ELBERT: Okay…I deserve that…but can’t a man turn to his own family for help in time of need?
GOOBER: Well, how about turning to the rest of the family?
ELBERT: Well, I did…but they turned me down…
GOOBER: Shows they got brains

I’m sure Goober was being unintentionally funny with that observation.  Elbert, a Pyle relation heretofore unmentioned on either R.F.D. or its parent series The Andy Griffith Show, needs a handout—he’s got to get a C-note from his “favorite cousin” because he claims to be at Death’s door…and he demonstrates with a coughing act that would put Camille to shame.  Goober tries to explain to his cuz that there’s no way he can get “a hunnerd dollars” because it’s Sunday and the banks are closed…but when Elbert says “I ain’t worthy of your Christian charity” we hear the sad music strike up on the soundtrack and immediately know good-hearted Goober is going to do something stupid.

Yeah, Goober’s gonna float Elbert a loan from the First National Bank of Church Collections.  His cousin tells him to meet him at Mt. Pilot’s beautiful Piedmont Hotel (Room 306)…and Elbert then gets off the phone (after checking the coin return slot, which was funny) to duck back into a room where several other men are glimpsed playing cards.  “All right—I’m fat again, deal me in,” he tells those assembled.

There is then a dissolve to the living room at Jones Manor, where Sam and Howard are having cookies and coffee.  We will learn that while Howard considers Goober one of his bosom chums—he’s just not wild about having him mingle in the same social circles…a situation not unfamiliar to those who’ve seen the episode “New Couple in Town.”

HOWARD: Suppose…suppose…all right—well, just suppose all eight of us got sick some time and Goober had to represent Mayberry at the regional church conference…he’d probably show up in his beanie!
SAM: Now there’s something to lose sleep over…
HOWARD (letting loose with a loud sigh as he rises from his chair): Well, look Sam…I’ve got to be going…anyway, you know what I mean…I’ll see you later…
(The telephone starts to ring)
SAM (as he walks toward the phone while showing Howard out): Okay…okay…you know what I mean—now…now Goober is sincere; he’s hard-working and nobody could be more honest

Wait for it…

SAM (answering the phone): Hello?
GOOBER: Sam…I’m in jail!

Cue the sad trombone!

SAM: Huh?
GOOBER: In Mt. Pilot!
SAM: Who is this?
GOOBER: It’s me…Goober…but don’t mention my name!
SAM: Goober?
GOOBER: I told you not to mention my name!
SAM: Okay…okay…just calm down now…and tell me what you’re doing in… (Looking at Howard) Uh…that place where you are…
GOOBER: I got… (He looks around) Raided in a poker game…
SAM: What?!!
HOWARD: What is it, Sam—what’s the problem?
SAM: Uh…nothing…everything’s fine…
GOOBER (still on the phone): It ain’t either!  Sam, you gotta bail me out…and don’t plan on usin’ the church money…it ain’t available
SAM: Huh?
GOOBER: Sam…could you hurry up before people start missin’ me?

We still have a while yet.

GOOBER: And don’t forget…I just get one phone call…
SAM: Yeah…yeah…okay, Goob…I’ll see ya… (He hangs up the phone) Uh…
HOWARD (accusingly): What’s Goober done?

Beautiful delivery from Dodson on that line. 

SAM: Well…uh…nothing, Howard… (As he walks over to a desk and grabs his checkbook) Look…I’ve got to get going…there’s a…couple of things I have to do here…
HOWARD: Well, if it’s nothing what’s your hurry?
SAM (on the defensive): Well…I…I’m not in any hurry…not in any hurry… (He starts toward the front door)
HOWARD: Well, there must be some kind of a problem…why did you grab your checkbook?
SAM (taking a breath): Howard…doesn’t it strike you that it’s something I don’t want to talk about?
HOWARD: Well…all right, Sam… (As he goes out the front door he stops) You…uh…want me to ride along with you?

Sam tells him no, and Howard returns with “Well, then can I follow you?”  The two of them are out the front door and there is then a dissolve to the Mt. Pilot sneezer, where an unidentified policeman leads Goober out to an area in front of the desk sergeant., where Sam is standing  Goober is holding a hand up to his face.

GOOBER: I’d just as soon ya not look at my face, Sam…I don’t want ya to see me in my moment of shame
SAM: Oh…come on…
GOOBER: And don’t worry about the bail…I’ll pay ya back if it takes the rest of my life!  How much was it?  Ten thousand?
SAM: Twenty-five dollars

The desk sergeant tears off a receipt for Sam, telling him that Goober is “all yours, Mr. Jones”—something I’m sure chilled the marrow in our hero’s bones at that point.  The sergeant is played by James Jeter, a character thespian who’ll be no stranger to Little House on the Prairie fans; he played “Hans Dorfler” on several episodes of that series, and made the rounds on such programs as Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Switch and The Rockford Files.  His movie credits include The Sand Pebbles, Cool Hand Luke, Oklahoma Crude, Assault on Precinct 13 and Bound for Glory.  Sarge also tells Goober: “You’re due in municipal court at ten o’clock on the sixteenth.”  In handing back his personal effects, the sergeant also looks at Goob’s yo-yo strangely before giving it to him, which I did chuckle at.

“Will I lose my vote?” Goober asks the sergeant anxiously as Sam begins to usher him out of the station.  The bombshell has not yet been dropped, but it soon will.

GOOBER: Guess you’re dyin’ to know what happened…
SAM: Well…sort of…yeah…
GOOBER (clearing his throat): Well, I’d just as soon not talk about it…
SAM: Okay…
GOOBER: It was a bum rap, Sam!
SAM: A bum rap?
GOOBER: Yeah…that’s what my pals in the cell call it…it means I’m innocent
SAM: Well…look, you don’t have to tell me about it if you don’t want to…
GOOBER: Thank you…I don’t…my cousin Elbert called me and said he needed money…
SAM: Cousin Elbert?  I’ve never heard of him…

You would not be the only one, my non-farming friend.

GOOBER: Well, the family ain’t exactly proud of him…anyway, he had this bad cough—and he gimme this hard luck story, so I took the money over to his hotel and I said “Hey Elbert—here’s the money!”  And the police came chargin’ in and busted us…that’s what my pals in the cell call it…
SAM: Oh…well…
GOOBER (realization sets in): Hey!  The money!  I gotta get the money!

Goober goes back over to the sergeant’s desk and asks if the church fundage might be returned to him…and the Sarge tells him that the police have to keep it for evidence.

GOOBER: But I gotta get it back!  It ain’t mine!  It’s the church collection!
SAM: Wha…
SERGEANT: Church collection?
SAM: Why, Goob—you’re kidding!
GOOBER: Well, I ain’t exactly told ya the whole story, Sam…
SAM: No…I guess not…come on…

And as Goober covers his face again, Sam leads him out of the station.  A man who’s been seated in a nearby chair during this exchange gets up and walks over to the sergeant’s desk.

MAN: Did he say it was the church collection?
SERGEANT: Yeah…there’s a story for your paper…
MAN: Boy…takes all kinds…

The reporter—I wonder if he knows Howard?—starts to take this all down.  He’s not mentioned at the IMDb (what is it going to take to get this guy a little IMDb love?) but the actor playing the reporter is Bob Beban, who we previously saw play a father (hey—could be the same character) in the episode “Mike’s Project.”

And with that…we’ll take a commercial break.

Back from shilling for General Foods, either syndication-mandated edits or lazy scripting would seem to dictate that Goober has already explained to Sam why he won’t be making a deposit of the church money any time soon…because the next scene takes place at Goober’s Gas-Up, where Emmett has just pulled up in his DeSoto for his monthly gallon of gas.

EMMETT: Hey, Goob…how about that game on TV yesterday?
GOOBER: Uh…how’d it come out?
EMMETT: You mean you didn’t see it?  How come?
GOOBER: Look, Emmett—did you come in here to buy gas or to cross-examine me?
EMMETT: Don’t get so snippy…I’m just makin’ conversation…that’s all…
GOOBER: Well, I ain’t got nothin’ to talk about…I ain’t done nothin’ and I ain’t been nowhere…especially yesterday!

A scene dissolve finds Sam coming out of the building that houses the county clerk’s office, and Goober catches up to him, asking if he told Howard about his run-in with the law.  Sam assures him he hasn’t, and Goober is freaking out slightly with a guilt trip—he says both Howard and Emmett have been peppering him with questions at the service station and he’s convinced that everyone in town is looking at him funny.  (Yes, he’s just now noticed the looks of pity.)  “I was gonna replace the money first thing—you know that,” Goober wails at Sam.

Sam tries to reassure his pal that he doesn’t think badly of him and he knows that Goober is merely the victim of a wacky sitcom plot device.  “Goob, I’m tellin’ ya,” Sam says supportively.  “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Dun-dun-DUN!!!  “I’m dead!  I’m just dead!” Goober cries out as Sam tries to get him to calm the hell down.  You’ll notice in this screen cap…

…that the woman has just emerged from Boysinger’s bakery with some baked goods.  (Had I been one of the writers, I would have worked in a Millie cameo.)  Goober puts a coin in the newspaper dispenser, saying out loud: “Maybe it won’t mention my name…”

I have to tell you…that is some amazing journalism being performed in that town.  A guy asks a few questions of the sergeant on desk duty, and the next thing you know somebody’s located a picture recording the event.

SAM: …they didn’t have to mention your name…did you have to stare into the camera?
GOOBER: Well, I ain’t exactly used to bein’ raided, you know!  What am I gonna do?
SAM: Don’t panic…don’t panic…
GOOBER: Well, that’s easy for you to say—you ain’t the dope standin’ there like the Statue of Liberty with the Sunday collection in his hands!

So Goober gets a brainstorm—he’ll buy all the papers!  Lindsey turns this into a funny bit of business because he puts a coin in the slot, removes a paper, and then closes the lid on the dispenser.  And then does this again a second time.  And a third time.  Much to Berry’s chagrin.  “Well, you’ve got it open—why not take them all?” Sam asks Goober.

“It ain’t legal,” Goober explains.  They grab all the papers (Sam leaves a dollar in the dispenser as payment) and then Goober remembers there’s a second rack at the drugstore.  So he races down the street…and guess who happens to be walking around the corner?

If you guessed Howard and Emmett—you get a cigar.  Goober falls to the pavement, scattering papers everywhere.  As the two men help him up, Howard grabs one of the papers, anxious to read the front page:

HOWARD: Well, look at this…”Church funds grabbed in a gambling raid…”
GOOBER (grabbing for it): Gimme that paper!
HOWARD: Let go, Goober…
EMMETT: How low can people sink?
HOWARD (having turned the paper over to see Goob’s picture): Goober!!!
EMMETT: Goober?!!
GOOBER: I’m innocent!  I don’t care how it looks, I’m innocent!
EMMETT: Oh, this is awful

“If you think that’s awful, look at this,” crows Howard—who’s just got a gander at the “Church Doings” column (and so can you):

Now I know that’s just a small-time rag—a more accomplished paper would have put both stories on the front page.  “Mayberry hasn’t had a scandal like this since Old Man Peabody ran off with the librarian!” wails Howard.  Goober can only open his mouth but say nothing (which you must admit is a darn good arrangement).

In the council office, Howard makes his feelings known to Sam regarding l’affaire Goober:

HOWARD: It’s obvious by now that Goober can’t serve on the Board of Elders—how will it look?
SAM: Howard…do you want to break his heart?

“Heart, no…neck…no comment…”

HOWARD: Of course not…but the Board has to be above reproach!
SAM: He is innocent!
HOWARD: Well, that doesn’t matter, Sam…the suspicion has been cast!
SAM: Well, you seem to be the only one that’s worried about it…

Because the writers of this episode—the ever popular Dick Bensfield and Perry Grant—rarely bothered to keep track of previous installments, they seem to be missing the point that it’s a bit two-faced for Howard to be slagging on Goober in this fashion.  After all, when Howard pulled that bank job in “The Caper” no one threatened his position on that Board of Elders thing.  Of course…it could be a sly statement from Messrs. Bensfield and Grant about the hypocrisy of organized religion.  But I doubt it.  Speaking of religion…enter a man of God.

REVEREND: Sam…?  Oh…hello, Howard…
HOWARD: Reverend…
REVEREND: I just dropped by… (After a pause) Say—have you noticed any reaction to Goober’s little misfortune?
SAM: Mm…a little…
HOWARD (prissily): Everyone I’ve told about it is shocked
REVEREND: It’s a shame…I guess I’m going to be in for a little ribbing for a while…
SAM: Ribbing?
REVEREND: I just had a call from Reverend Chase at Clinton Corners…he wanted to know if my Board of Elders could give him a good horse in the fifth race…
(Sam chuckles at this, while Howard fumes)
HOWARD: Well, it sounds like the opening shot’s been fired…

A scene dissolve finds Sam at Goober’s station, where the amount of gas he’s put in the car comes to $4.25, so Sam gives Goob a five-dollar bill.  He also tells Goober that the Board of Elders are going to conduct a “special” meeting that evening…and Goob is worried they’re going to vote him down.  Sam says the purpose of the evening’s conclave is just to hear Goober’s side of the story.

GOOBER: I don’t care how it looks…I wouldn’t take a nickel from nobody—you know that…
SAM: Yeah, I… (He stops)
GOOBER: What’s the matter?
SAM (holding out his hand containing change): Oh, you’re a…you’re a quarter short here…
GOOBER: Wha…that’s just a mistake, Sam—anybody can make a mistake!
SAM: I know that, Goob…
GOOBER (reaching into his pocket): Why, you’re the last guy I’d cheat…I mean, I wouldn’t cheat anybody!  Scouts honor!  You know that!
SAM: Goob, I know!  I know…I know…I know…

There is a dissolve to Reverend Keith’s study.  Clarence, Emmett and Sam are seated in chairs along the back wall, as is another unidentified person whom you will never see on this show again.  (A second man stands near the door—must be the sergeant-at-arms.  He will also vanish once the closing credits roll.)  As Reverend Keith sits at his desk, Goober is seated across from him…and Howard, who’s apparently seen too many episodes of Perry Mason (Goober even references this in the dialogue), begins a rigorous cross-examining of Goober and the incident involving the church funds.  Howard is also a devotee of Fox News, since many of his statements are comparable to that cable network’s time-honored technique of using the phrases “Some people say” and “There are those who think”…

HOWARD: Now, then I think one of the first questions most people are going to ask is just who is this cousin that you’ve never mentioned before…
GOOBER: It’s my cousin Elbert…
HOWARD: And why haven’t we heard of him?

Because writers be lazy!

GOOBER: We don’t talk about him much…
SAM: We’ve all got a few skeletons in our closet, Howard…

“You’ve met my son Mike.”  Howard then drones on: “Now you say this purported cousin…”

“Hold on, Howard,” Goober interjects.  “If he’s purported, it ain’t from my side of the family!”

HOWARD: Goober, I’m merely trying to find out if he exists
GOOBER: You sayin’ he don’t?
HOWARD: I’m not saying anything!  It’s just what the public might be asking!

“Next on Fox and Friends…Mayberry County Clerk Howard Sprague…”

HOWARD: Now you say this cousin phoned you…and asked you to bring the church collection to a poker game?
GOOBER: No…he didn’t say nothin’ about church funds…that was my idea…
GOOBER: I mean, the bank was closed and I had to take him the money to the poker game…but…I didn’t mean…for his cough and everything…
HOWARD: A hundred dollars for some cough drops?
GOOBER: You’re gettin’ me all twisted!
HOWARD: Goober, I’m not me…I’m the voice of the public!  Right now I’m not really your old friend Howard!
GOOBER: You sure ain’t… (To the others) And he did sound sick on the phone…
HOWARD: So sick he could run down three flights on the fire escape when the raid started?
EMMETT: How come you didn’t run?
GOOBER: ‘Cause I wasn’t guilty!
EMMETT: Oh, yeah…I keep forgettin’ that…

We, the audience, know that Goober is just a victim of circumstances…but his friends aren’t as easily convinced.  Emmett brings up a time when Goober was the big winner at the last poker game they had—and Clarence points out that after selling a buttload of raffle tickets for the prize of a turkey Goober took that, too.  Sam protests this line of McCarthy-istic smearing, vigorously defending his pal by pointing out that the purpose of the meeting was just to ask a few questions.

GOOBER: Sam…I think I got a way…to solve this whole problem…
SAM: What do you mean?
GOOBER: By withdrawin’ my name as an elder…
SAM: Goob—you didn’t do anything wrong!  You had the best of intentions…
GOOBER: Well, I know that…but whatever I did—if everybody’s gonna keep askin’ me questions about hunnerd dollar cough drops (Howard looks ashamed) and turkeys (Ditto Clarence) and everything…and have all these suspicions in their mind (Now it’s Emmett’s turn)…I just think the best thing for me to do is to forget about bein’ an elder…that way I won’t be any more…trouble to anybody…

Goober runs out of the room, and now it’s Sam’s turn to do some shaming.  He stresses that being an elder has nothing to do with where you went to college or how fancy you dress (Howard) or how rich you are (Emmett: “I ain’t rich!”) but the level of dedication one brings to volunteering—which Goober has in spades: leading the youth group, being head usher, repairing the bus, etc.  Smiling, Reverend Keith suggests they put it to a vote…and the result is a unanimous “yes” for Team Goober.  “Well…I guess we can’t get any more conclusive than that,” he comments wryly.

The nest Sunday service finds a nervous Goober having his tie adjusted by Howard as Sam looks on.  Goober is worried about having to say something, and the two of them tell him that all Reverend Keith will do is call his name and he needs to stand up in acknowledgment.  That’s all.  The three of them walk towards the study door.

GOOBER (to Howard): I guess you heard I was cleared of the gamblin’ charges…
HOWARD: Yeah!  Sam told me!  You know, that was pretty noble of your cousin Elbert to give himself up that way, just to clear you…
SAM: Uh-huh…yeah…
(Howard goes out the door but Goober stops to confront Sam)
GOOBER: Sam…Elbert didn’t give himself up—the police picked him up in a crap game!
SAM: Yeah…yeah…I know that, Goob…but I didn’t see any reason to get Howard all shook up again…

Coda time!

Goober and Sam are walking back to Goob’s gas station, and Sam is remarking on the reaction of the congregation to Goober’s promotion.  He also jokes that he supposes Goober will want him to turn his back while he hides the collection money.

GOOBER: No…but I’d appreciate it if you’d hide it until tomorrow…
SAM: Well…why?  I thought you had a pretty good secret place right here at the station…?
GOOBER: Well, I do!  Under a big oil drum in a coffee can sunk in the floor!  Got an automatic booby trap and everything…
SAM: Well…then how come you want me to take it?
GOOBER: ‘Cause somebody knows about it, Sam…somebody whose judgment I don’t trust too good…
SAM: Well, who’s that?

“I think it’ll be safe,” Sam tells him to put a lame capper on this one.  “Just don’t answer the telephone.”

Six more of these to go, cowboys and cowgirls…and then it’s Doris’ day.  With Cousin Alice sitting this out as part of the show’s female contingent (Millie, too) that means that Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Alice-o-Meter™ stalls at ten appearances in the third and final season of R.F.D.  But if you know that next week’s episode is called “Alice and the Professor”—it’s a good bet that she’ll definitely be on hand for the wacky fun.  We’ll also welcome back the irrepressible Professor Radetsky from the previous “The Harp”—did you know he has a first name?  He does…but you won’t hear it until the next installment of Mayberry Mondays

We also bid a fond farewell to both Clarence Demarest and the Right Reverend Keith, who depart the series with this episode.  Fellas—you have no one to blame but CBS.


Patti said...

Gosh, Ivan, what a great post this is! You put so much time and effort into it!

I have very fond remembrances of watching Mayberry when I was a kid. Nowadays, I'm not a huge sitcom fan, mostly because they seem to be filled with obnoxious, disrespectful kids and seemingly-idiotic parents. I wish they still made shows like this. Yeah, I know, they were corny by today's standards, but, for this gal, they were better. (I know, I'm showing my age!)

Have a great day!

Stacia said...

Woah, I was so sure I had commented earlier this week...

It seems like MRFD is pretty much just phoning it in for the final episodes. Very little about this scenario makes sense, from having known knucklehead Goober nominated as elder to having him hold any amount of loot to everyone forgiving him even though he was clearly going to use the money for his no-good cousin.

I'd love to know who is in that newspaper pic with Goober. Doesn't look like the cousin.