“The Harp” and deciding to learn how to play only because the writers were phoning in the script that week—not nearly creative enough to think of a storyline in which Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster) is eaten by a bear. The instructor who helps Alice overcome her fear of harping (if that’s what you can call it) and receive much applause at a later recital, is played by character great Leonid Kinskey, whose character is identified as “Professor Radetzky.”
In this follow-up episode (Seriously? There were people wanting a second appearance from this guy?), we learn that Radetzky has a first name…but we’re not going to reveal it just yet. Instead, we will open this week’s episode with a scene at the Jones family kitchen table: poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones and pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague are poring through some rather large record books that according to Sam contain property lists. This is the sort of sh*t that Howard lives for, but the two have no sooner started digging into their pile of work when he’s distracted by the sound of someone playing the scales on a harp from the living room.
HOWARD: Oh! Good for her! Glad to hear she’s still wooing the stringed muse…heh heh heh…
Gol darnit, Mr. Sprague…you use your tongue purtier than a twenty-dollar whore. Howard and Sam continue with their work when Howard hears a pleasant strumming of the instrument and remarks: “She’s doing splendidly!”
“Uh…no, that’s the professor,” Sam explains, which is then followed by the sound of someone trying to pluck the harp with a rake. “Now…that’s
RADETZKY (with a heavy sigh): Without suffering…there is no art…
RADETZKY: It will come, it will come, it will come…now—let us try the Brahms…
RADETZKY: Go go go…courage!
“Would that I were not,” returns Howard, and Dodson’s delivery of this confirms my long-held belief that there’s a laugh-out-loud moment in every episode. So Sam offers to help Howard carry the books of records out to his car, remarking “It’s a shame you weren’t here last week…they were playing The Happy Farmer.”
RADETZKY: You see—with my busy schedule—I often miss my breakfast…
RADETZKY: No no no dear lady…no no no…absolutely not…uh…nothing left…
RADETZKY: Absolutely! And the thumbs…they were magnificent! Especially this one… (He reaches for her hand and kisses it)
Here it comes…the moment you’ve been waiting for…
RADETZKY: Call me Wolfgang…
RADETZKY: You were marvelous! Especially with so much on your mind…it’s being so near dinnertime…
I’m starting to suspect that Maison la Jones is Wolfie’s favorite place to eat. Generous portions, and at ridiculously low prices.
Alice invites him to stay
for the early bird special, admitting that she was counting on it—but Radetzky
declines. “My dinner is waiting—and you
know how macaroni is once it’s thawed out.”
RADETZKY: Well…it’s Wednesday, isn’t it?
The two are interrupted by the arrival of the Master of the House, Laird Samuel himself, who is clearly carrying (judging by the pink box) something home from Boysinger’s Bakery…the place of employment for his best girl, Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka). (By the way—last Wednesday, January 23, was Ms. Golonka’s 77th natal anniversary…and I wished her many happy returns of the day on Facebook, along with a link to the zaniness that I do here every Monday. I have not received a response…but then again, I also haven’t received a letter or phone call from her attorney, so I consider this a win-win.) Anyway, Sam’s sudden entrance startles both Alice and Wolfgang in the same manner as one might walk in on a couple of teenagers exploring one another for non-scientific reasons, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
SAM: Oh really? Well…sure…by all means…do join us…we’d love to have you—as a matter of fact, look what I have here… (He holds up the box) Blueberry pie!
“Son of a…I had that for lunch…” No, the fact that there will be pie for dessert clinches the deal—“I’m helpless,” Radetzky admits coyly.
he’ll just put the pie in the kitchen but she insists on going in with him to
find a place for the dessert…and once he’s crossed the threshold he finds out
why— Alice has apparently been hard
at work preparing a regular banquet.
, this, uh, inviting the Professor to dinner wasn’t exactly a spur-of-the-moment idea, was it? Alice
SAM: Well, uh, I’ve never heard it put quite that way before…but…it is kind of old-worldly, and…romantic…
“It’s been so long, Sam…”
suggests to her cousin that while she putters around to prepare the splendid
repast, he should go out and talk with Wolfgang…maybe he’ll even entertain him
with a selection on the harp.
“Maybe I’ll have him play The Happy Farmer,” jokes Sam. “I’ve never heard that all the way through.”
Sam, Wolfie and Idiot Boy are seated at the dinner table when
Alice appears at the kitchen
door and asks Sam if he’ll light the candles on the table. Our hero is taking a real chance on this,
because one of them is right in front of his cretinous son and that’s just
asking for trouble. Alice
then enters the dining room carrying a tray with four servings on it.
MIKE: I got shrimp!
SAM: It’s the same thing, Mike…
“I like cheese!” Wolfgang politely holds the chair out for
and the four of them sit down. At the
end of the meal…
SAM: Yes, it was…just excellent,
MIKE: Boy—that’s the best meal I ever had on a weekday! You’re a swell cook, Cousin Alice!
came on this show (“The New Housekeeper”) she couldn’t even bake a cake. Now suddenly she’s the Barefoot Freaking
SAM: Not bad for a sergeant!
RADETZKY: Hmm? Sergeant?
SAM: Yes—didn’t you know? Alice had quite a career in the WACs…we are now dining with Alice B. Cooper, Sergeant, United States Army, retired…
MIKE: Yeah! She gets a check from ‘em every month! Just for doin’ nothin’!
“Come to think of it…so does my Pa!”
RADETZKY: Really? Hmm…it’s very interesting…what a wonderful custom!
RADETZKY: Sergeant…you must allow me to reciprocate for this wonderful meal…
RADETZKY: But it is! Tomorrow I shall take you on most glorious picnic in the country…
SAM: Hey! That sounds nice,
RADETZKY: I know exactly the spot…a wooded glade…by the babbling brook…with nothing but sky above us…
RADETZKY: As for the food…bring whatever you like…
Sam does a take at this, and then there’s a dissolve to the council office, where Howard is trying to catch up on the latest gossip since he’s apparently finished his work for the day. The non-presence of gas pump jockey Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and fix-it savant Emmett Clark goes unexplained in this episode, unless there’s a nearby idiot convention in
. Siler City
SAM: Well, she’s, uh, certainly seeing a lot of her professor…
HOWARD: You’re not hinting that there’s a romance in the offing, are you?
SAM: Well…I don’t know about that, but they are on a picnic…
Enter the always delightful Millie, who asks “Who’s going on a picnic?” since she’s walked in on the tail end of the conversation.
SAM: Uh…Alice and the professor…they’re going on a picnic…
MILLIE: Oh! How romantic…
SAM: Yeah, I’ll say it’s romantic—she worked all morning getting the food ready…
MILLIE: I think it’s sweet…even if there is a difference in their ages…
People just can’t get over that stigma of women dating younger men.
MILLIE: Well, when she’s 45…he’ll be… (She shrugs, and opens a paper bag containing her lunch)
Boinking an eighteen-year-old.
SAM: Millie…Millie, look…cold cuts and potato salad up at Myers’
Lake do not necessarily add up to wedding bells…
HOWARD: I don’t know, Sam…
“Cold cuts are widely known throughout the world for their aphrodisiac qualities…”
HOWARD: …never underestimate the persuasiveness of the European male…it’s a well-known fact that Rochambeau, the artist? He married his grandson’s girlfriend at the age of 93…
“…and he ate a lot of cold cuts!” Sam pooh-poohs all this talk of romance—he’s convinced that it’s nothing more than the usual teacher-pupil relationship, except that the teacher, rather than making lesson plans, is eating him out of house and home. Millie thinks it would be wonderful if they hit it off together, and Sam admonishes her for trying to make them an item.
“Mmm…I don’t know, Sam,” interjects Howard. “I’m inclined to go along with Millie.” (Suck-up.) “Vive l’amour!” he adds, with a hound dog grin. (“Tish! You spoke French!”)
Back at the Jones Ranch, Sam is perusing a note left by Cousin Alice for him in the kitchen. It would seem that she and Wolfgang have gone to
to see Blossoms in the Dust (1941) and— not to put too fine a point on
it—he and the moron kid are on their own. Mt.
SAM: You mean they came home from the picnic and took off again?
MIKE: Uh-huh…and they were laughing a lot…and Cousin Alice’s cheeks were red…and they didn’t even go near the harp…
SAM: Oh, really?
MIKE: Uh-huh…and…they asked me to go with them…but I could tell they didn’t really mean it…
“Because when I came back downstairs after getting my jacket…they weren’t here…and neither was the car.” So it looks like it will cold roast duck for Jones pere et fils. “Think we can handle it without the candles?” Sam asks Mike.
“Sure, Pa,” is his response. (“Fire bad!”) A dissolve finds Sam sitting in repose in his chair, reading Tropic of Cancer when he hears a car door slam outside and
voice as the two of them head toward the house.
As Sam heads for the front door, we then hear her say, “Oh, Wolfgang!”
and suddenly everyone watching this episode has never wanted a front door to be
shut tightly in all their lives. But Sam
insists on opening the door, and in spill Alice and Wolfie, looking a bit
SAM: Oh, good! Good…I…was, uh, I was just reading here…I wasn’t waiting up or anything…
SAM: No! (After an uncomfortable pause) Well…how was the movie? I heard you went clear to
… Mt. Pilot
RADETZKY: I give his daughter lessons and…he gives me passes…
He’s like a barter gigolo. Well, this awkward moment could probably last the rest of the sitcom, so Sam starts doing some faux yawning (a chuckleworthy moment) and announces he should probably get to bed.
then tells him that she and the Professor are going to grab a snack, and she says to him: “You don’t
care for anything, do you, Sam?”
Sam stops for a moment because he could do with a nosh…and then sees
looking at him in the same way she was probably staring down Mike earlier. Sam says no thank you, and Alice
and the professor head out to the kitchen to do it on the kitchen table.
No! I mean…sorry to plant that into your heads, friends and neighbors. But we do go to a commercial, and when we return from paying the bills with Sanka and Grape Nuts, we find Sam exiting the kitchen just as
Alice is coming
downstairs carrying a dress on a hanger.
SAM: Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s about…Professor Radetzky…
SAM: Yeah…oh? Yeah…
Alice. We would have been so much better off not
SAM: Yeah…you have been seeing…quite a lot of each other, haven’t you?
SAM (slightly surprised): He is?
“It’s been so long, Sam…”
tells Sam that Wolfie has suggested he and Millie go with them, as in a double
SAM: …I’m sure Millie would get a kick out of that…
SAM: Yeah…okay…I’ll do that…
SAM: Well…uh…huh…boy, you really are excited about this, aren’t you?
“Perhaps I’m not making this clear to you, Sam…it’s been so long.”
giddiness about the large hunk of stud muffin that is Radetzky is explained in
a statement she makes to Sam: “Wolfie just—what is that phrase they use? Uh…turns
me on!” All we need now is Jo Anne
Worley telling him to “ring my chimes” and we won’t be able to think about
eating for a year.
“One thing, Mr. Jones,” Radetzky says just before he hangs up. “I insist—next time it will be my treat.” (Okay, I did laugh at this.)
So we dissolve to a scene of dining and dancing at the world famous Morelli’s restaurant…and it’s a little hard to tell from the above screen cap but there are several rather large barrels of wine decorating the place in the background with the words “Morelli’s Choice Wines” and “Morelli’s Vineyards.” What I want to know is—has this always been a Morelli’s tradition? In a second season episode, “Saving Morelli’s,” Sam must dance like a scarecrow to keep the restaurant afloat (Mr. M is losing business) but you can’t tell me a joint making its own spirits would have trouble attracting customers. (Besides, Mayberry has always struck me as a dry county, given the amount of shine that was brewed there when Andy Taylor was sheriff.)
RADETZKY: Oh… (He gives her an “it was nothing” wave)
SAM: How do you like Morelli’s, Professor?
RADETZKY: Oh…how could I not like it?
RADETZKY: Good food…music… (He takes
’s hand and kisses it) And the charming companionship… Alice
“Plus I won’t have to wash dishes this time around, so…”
Somebody goes a little wild with the jukebox and starts playing a sprightly polka…and Radetzky asks
to dance. But she declines, telling him:
“I think that’s a little too
stirring.” Fortunately, Millie is game
enough to go out on the dance floor, and as the two of them shake a tail
feather, I am reminded of village idiot Goober’s talent for dancing as if he
were an epileptic trying to tamp down a brush fire.
A quick optical wipe later, and Millie and the Professor are back at the table.
RADETZKY: But now…I have a surprise for you…
“I’m really going to pick up the check…”
RADETZKY: This afternoon I brought Mr. Morelli a very special record…a waltz…composed many years ago…by Wolfgang Radetzky…
RADETZKY: Yes…and I asked Mr. Morelli…to do me a favor and put it on his jukebox…
MILLIE: Oh! I’m dying to hear it!
SAM: Yeah! Me too!
RADETZKY: I was hoping you would… (He stands up and fumbles through his pockets) Uh…does anybody have a quarter?
Millie starts to reach for her purse but Sam waves her off—well, why not…he’s paying for this shindig; he might as well kick in for the music as well. Morelli takes the coin from Sam and then coming back from the jukebox, tells
“This dance must be ours.” The couple
get out on the dance floor and boogie like rock stars.
SAM (resignedly): That’s romance…
Hot cookies, Agnes! It looks like we’ll be getting a new character on the show—I can see it now…Wolfie helping Goober out at the service station because the harp lesson gigs have dried up…Wolfie and Howard discussing classical music and putting everyone to sleep…Emmett distrusting the Professor because “I ain’t exactly sure where that guy comes from!” This will be just the creative kick in the pants this show needs!
There is then a dissolve to the council office.
SAM: Well…I have to admit—they made a very handsome couple out there on the floor…
HOWARD: Yeah…I heard all about it—it’s the talk of the town!
MILLIE: You should have seen
…ah, she glowed… Alice
A couple bottles of Morelli’s sparkling burgundy will have that effect on a gal.
HOWARD: Those old world charmers certainly know how to treat a woman, all right…well, it was nice of the Professor to take you all to dinner…
SAM: Oh, don’t kid yourself—that “old world charm” maneuvered me into picking up the check…
Millie has no more time to stand around looking adorable—she has to get back to the old salt lick, so she gives Sam a peck and tells him “Keep me posted!” as she heads out the door. (Though with the news of Alice and Wolfie being “the talk of the town” she’ll probably get a bulletin before she’s back behind the register.) The conversation between Sam and Howard is interrupted by a phone call—Radetzky is on the other end, and after talking with him for a few Sam hangs up, perplexed.
HOWARD: What is it, Sam?
SAM (after a pause and a sigh): The Professor wants to have a little talk with me…in private…
HOWARD (grinning): Uh oh…I’ll bet it’s about
SAM: Howard…you don’t suppose…
HOWARD: Yes! Of course! He’s going to ask for her hand in marriage!
“And Goober, Emmett and I will be bridesmaids!” Sam is completely taken aback by this. (Not the bridesmaids part—that I made up.)
SAM: Well…what am I supposed to say?
HOWARD: Well…what a father would say if somebody asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage…
SAM: Oh, Howard…
HOWARD: Yes! You’ve got to ask about his family background and his prospects…and of course, his bank account…
That shouldn’t take too long. Sam doesn’t want to get dragged into this, but Howard tells him that he is the head of the family. “Oh, and one thing more,” his friend says as he starts out the door (presumably to run up the street and gossip all this with Millie), “You’d better be prepared to come up with a huge, sizable dowry.”
So Sam arrives back at stately Jones Manor through the back entrance in the kitchen, and
tells him that Radetzky is waiting for him in the living room. Sam is just sick about having to do
this…probably because there’s a possibility he’s going to also have to have a
talk with Wolfie about where babies come from.
ALICE: Well, Sam…he is a lovely man…we do enjoy each other’s company…and…we have common interests in music…and he did teach me to play The Happy Farmer all the way through…but…Sam…I don’t want to marry him…
“Last night when I went back to his place…I figured out why it had been so long.” Sam is relieved about this turn of events, and tells
Alice that all she has to
do is kick Wolfgang to the curb. But she
wants him to do it—she “just couldn’t find the words.” She also butters up her cousin by telling him
that “you know that you’re awfully good at this sort of thing”—but having sat
through seventy-two episodes of this nonsense, we know a pile of road apples
when we see it. Sam has little choice in
the matter because Alice keeps
shoving him toward the door leading to the living room.
Sam goes out to the living room and meets with Radetzky. He tells him that he’s guessing the Prof wants to talk about Alice, a gal Wolfie describes as “a woman of infinite charm and grace.” Sam stammers a bit and finally manages to blurt out the word “marriage”…but it would appear that the eminent Professor Radetzky has his own views on that subject:
RADETZKY: About marriage, Mr. Jones…I, also, have very strong feelings…marriage is an admirable institution…
Please take note that I refrained from making the obvious joke.
RADETZKY: But, alas—it is not for Wolfgang Radetzky…
SAM: Not for you?
RADETZKY: I’m an artist…a free soul…soaring on the wings of music…these wings cannot be clipped…
SAM: Now…wait a minute…Professor…I want to get this straight…you…you don’t want to marry
RADETZKY: It will break her heart, but…this is the meaning…and Mr. Jones…would you please covey this message to the dear, dear lady…?
“And that message is—‘Why pay for the cow when I can get the milk for free?’” Well, it looks like Cousin Alice dodged a bullet on that one. As Radetzky is getting ready to run like a jackrabbit from the house, he asks Sam to let
Alice down easy…and
to also impart this bit of advice: “Thumbs up…fingers down.” (You can make your own joke here.)
Brief coda to this one because I’m anxious to get a shower and remove any lingering traces of this episode from my body. Alice and Sam are in the living room; she plays the harp and they both sing Those Endearing Young Charms…because Dish TV has not been invented yet. Then Idiot Boy emerges from his boy cave and lighting a cigarette lighter, shouts “Freebird!”
No…I’m making that last part up again.
MIKE: Sure! (He grabs a chair and sits down beside them)
SAM: Really, Mike?
MIKE: Yeah! Besides…it beats doing homework!
Get it? Because the kid’s a moron! Oh, R.F.D.—you’re fearless when it comes to bringing the comedy.
Speaking of the Alice-o-Meter™…I’m going to have to put this up on eBay soon…but until that time, next week we’ll have (hopefully, if I’m not swamped) the last really worthwhile R.F.D. episode, “Howard, the Swinger,” which includes a return appearance from a lovely lady in a previous episode. And then…it’s downhill from there, folks. So join us when you can, won’t you?