Monday, February 25, 2013

Mayberry Mondays #74: “Howard, the Swinger” (03/01/71, prod. no. 0324)

It’s been nearly a month since we’ve paid a visit to America’s favorite television small town here on the blog…and so I’m pleased as fruit punch to be able to present another installment of Mayberry Mondays, this week’s playlet entitled “Howard, the Swinger.”  This is the last of the tolerable Mayberry R.F.D. episodes: it’s all downhill from here, folks.  And the first indication that this is going to be worth sitting through starts with the episode’s opening credits…


…yes, it’s directed by none other than “Mr. Radio” himself—Elliott Lewis, a true renaissance man when it came to the aural medium in that he was not only a performer (best known for his peerless work on The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show as Frankie Remley) but also a writer, director and producer on such classic programs as Broadway’s My Beat and Crime Classics.  Although radio would always be Lewis’ first love, he secured a great deal of work on the glass furnace, serving as a director and/or producer on such series as The Lucy Show, Petticoat Junction and The Mothers-in-Law—in the years before his death he served as a script consultant on TV’s Remington Steele.


The second indication is that after the opening credits, we find the trusty rusty pickup of gas pump jockey/village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) tooling along the streets of Mayberry until it reaches its destination: Goober’s Gas-Up.  The truck is towing a little sporty car, and the visual of this did make me chortle a bit.

Pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), who is apparently done with his duties for the day, happens to be hanging out at the station with poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry)…who, as experience has taught us, is never done with his duties because he’s essentially getting a subsidy check from Uncle Sam each month.  Howard immediately recognizes the vehicle being towed because he remarks to Sam: “A fellow journalist!”  He then reminds his friend that it’s Pamela Bennington (Judith McConnell), “fashion editor of the Mt. Pilot Clarion.”  Faithful TDOY followers will remember that we all made Ms. Bennington’s acquaintance in the episode “Millie, the Best-Dressed Woman”…in which bakery doyenne Millie Swanson’s (Arlene Golonka) attempts to dictate what Mayberry women will be wearing is foiled by Pamela’s entrance at one of the town’s notorious dances, where she models a short skirt for the delight of the middle-aged leches mesmerized by her shapely female legs.

GOOBER: Hey, fellers—look who I found!

“Can I keep her?”

HOWARD: Well…hello, Miss Bennington!
PAMELA: Hi, Howard!  Sam…
SAM: Pamela…what happened?
PAMELA: Well, I don’t know…I was driving along and then…all of a sudden I wasn’t driving along…
HOWARD: What a shame!  What do you surmise to be the problem, Goob?
GOOBER: I surmise her car conked out…

Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.

SAM: Oh…that’s too bad…
PAMELA: Well…that’s life…I have to get back to Mt. Pilot—do you have a loan car?
GOOBER: Well…if you can double-clutch, you can use the tow truck
PAMELA (laughing): I’m afraid I’m not ready for that…

Pamela starts to throw out hints that she’s going need a lift back to the “Pile,” as I like to call it…and Howard uses his keen powers of county clerk observation to discern Pamela is a damsel in distress.  “I think I can solve your problem, Miss Bennington,” he eagerly responds, reaching into his pocket.  “I have a bus schedule right here!”

Pamela is underwhelmed, and the usual Goober-Howard dynamic of idiot-and-even-bigger-idiot gets a nice twist when Goob mutters to the clueless Mistah Sprague: “Don’t you know when a girl’s hintin’ for a ride, dum-dum?”

HOWARD: Of course I’d be more than privileged to offer you a ride…it’s just that…well, I…I didn’t want you to think…well, you know—just the two of us alone…
PAMELA: Oh, Howard…I’d be delighted to ride with you!
HOWARD: Oh, splendid!  And you needn’t worry about my driving—I’ve never had a moving violation

As the two of them go off toward Howard’s car, Goober gives Sam a look that says “The boy just don’t be knowin’.”  The scene shifts to a car pulling up to the sidewalk outside the Riviera Park Apartments.

HOWARD: Well…here we are, safe and sound!
PAMELA: Thanks for the lift…
HOWARD: Oh…my pleasure, Miss Bennington…
PAMELA: Pamela
HOWARD: Well…Pamela

“And you can continue to call me Mr. Sprague.”  Howard then says that he should probably let her out before people get the wrong impression, so he exits the vehicle first and goes around to the passenger side to open Pamela’s door like couples do before they get married.  Howard takes a little time to admire Pamela’s digs…and her apartment complex, too (rimshot!):

HOWARD: Well…it certainly is a very nice building—just for singles you say, huh?
PAMELA: Yes, it’s very nice…always something going on—wonderful for meeting people…
HOWARD: I’ll bet!
PAMELA: If you’re interested, I think there’s a vacancy…
HOWARD: Oh?
PAMELA: Well…thanks again for the ride…
HOWARD: Thank you for riding with me…

“You know, Howard—you really are a very sweet man,” she tells him as she gives him a peck on the cheek.  (Howard gets to first base!)  In addition to giving Howard a stiffie, the kiss puts him in a reverie to the point where when he gets back to his car he opens the door to the back seat behind the driver…then snaps out of it and gets in on the driver’s side.  As he does this, he wipes the lipstick residue from his cheek with a hankie.

There is then a dissolve to the Mayberry Diner, where Howard nearly runs into a departing patron as he enters the establishment.  Seated at a booth are Sam, Goober and fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman).  The reason for Emmett’s presence in this episode really goes unexplained; the climax of this installment takes place at a party that Howard throws in his new swingers’ pad…which Emmett does not attend, since he rarely takes his wife Martha (Mary Lansing) anywhere.  So you kind of have to wonder why scribes Dick Bensfield and Perry Grant bothered to write a part for Emmett.  But he’s here, and so we’ll simply have to make the best of it.

SAM: Did you get Pamela home all right?
GOOBER: No movin’ violations?
(The others laugh)
HOWARD (sniffily): For your information, Goober…it was a very pleasant experience…uh…by the way—you fellas don’t happen to have any cleaning fluid on you, do you?
EMMETT: Cleanin’ fluid?
SAM: I’m sorry, Howard…I seem to be fresh out…
GOOBER: What do you want cleanin’ fluid for?
HOWARD: Well, I thought it might help me get the lipstick out of my handkerchief…

“That’s right, bee-yotches…we had sex and everything!”

SAM: Oh, Howard…you devil!
GOOBER: She kissed you?
EMMETT: Who kissed him?
HOWARD: Pamela Bennington…of course, I call her Pam…
EMMETT: You mean that good looker over in Mt. Pilot?  She kissed you?
GOOBER: In the broad daylight?

Howard brags that he and Pamela have “established a great rapport,” even to the point of where she dropped the hint about the vacancy at the apartment complex.  Despite the fact that Howard owns a house in Mayberry, he went by the rental office to pick up a brochure because damn it, he’s moving into that place come hell or high water.

EMMETT (looking at the brochure): Wow!  Hey—listen to this…”Dancin’, swimmin’, relaxin’…never a lonely moment at the swingin’ singles Riviera Park…home of the beautiful people...”  Hey—look at that pool! (Low whistle)
SAM (also whistling): I may sell the farm…

That might possibly be the funniest line in this whole episode.  Emmett starts to count the number of bikinis in the brochure’s photograph, prompting Howard to admonish him with “Emmett, you’re a married man…”

“Well, I may be down but I ain’t out,” cracks Emmett with that well-honed Algonquin wit of his, eliciting a hearty guffaw from Goober.

SAM: Howard—you’re not seriously thinking of moving over there, are you?
HOWARD: Well, I…made a deposit

Yeah, we’re done hearing about your little Pamela escapade, Howard.

HOWARD: It’s only for a couple of months!
GOOBER: One kiss and he goes ape
SAM: That’s a little drastic…I mean, Pamela’s a nice girl and everything but…to put down a deposit…
HOWARD: Well, I didn’t say I was doing it just because of Pamela
EMMETT: You ain’t sayin’ it…but that lipstick is…
HOWARD: Well…Pamela may have something to do with it—but even if she weren’t there, I figure that’s my type of place…
GOOBER: With the swingers?
HOWARD: Well, why not?  Just because a man comes from Mayberry doesn’t mean he’s not hep…

I sit corrected.  That’s the funniest line in this whole episode.  And the punchline on this is Howard calls out to a waitress: “Hey, Gorgeous—lay a cup of java on me, will ya?”  (I’d like to be able to report that she kicks Howard right in the Spragues…but we aren’t that lucky, though she does give him a look that suggests she’ll be serving him a piping hot cup of STFU.)

A scene dissolve finds Howard, Sam and Goober outside the Riviera Park complex, with all three of them carrying boxes filled with Howard’s crap.  An attractive blonde comes walking out, prompting Goober to let loose with a wolf whistle.  “Goober!” scolds Howard.  “These are my new neighbors!”


The three of them enter a courtyard where people far prettier than Howard sit around in lounge chairs and at tables beside the spacious pool shown in the brochure.  Howard is trying to locate the direction of his apartment, explaining “I think it’s down here somewhere.”  “No hurry,” Sam cracks, clearly enjoying the scenery.  So much so that in watching a young lovely on a beach towel he loses his footing and is inches from falling into the pool.  (This made me laugh out loud, since it was a real F Troop moment.)

HOWARD: It must be around here someplace…I know it’s right near Pamela’s…
GOOBER: Why don’t you ask one of your swingin’ neighbors?


Howard asks this woman—who identifies herself as Jane Mullins—where 214 is.  Jane is played by actress Judith Cassmore (billed here as Judy), who despite being fairly attractive is considered to be the complex’s wallflower (as we will soon see)…which will give you an idea of what the other women are like.  (Babes.  Fabulous babes.)  Cassmore’s resume at the IMDb is a little on the skimpy side; apart from appearing in the 70s cult classic Foxy Brown most of her assignments were on the small screen, in guest star roles on series like That Girl and Love, American Style.  (She did appear as Don Rickles’ secretary on his short-lived self-titled sitcom in 1972.)

JANE: Are you just moving in?
HOWARD; Uh…yes…214…
JANE: Oh!  It’s over there!  We’re practically neighbors!  I’m in 203…
HOWARD: Oh…really?  Well…thank you very much…

The three doofuses go on their way, and as an afterthought Jane calls out to them: “There’s a barbecue every Wednesday night!”

“I don’t remember her from the brochures,” grouses Goober.  “Maybe she was underwater.”

Having finally settled into his new bachelor digs, Goober and Sam are checking out Howard’s “pad” like the rubes we know them to be.

SAM: Yeah, you really got all the essentials here, Howard…you got a…fireplace…stereo… (Pointing to the bookshelf) Omar Khayyam…

Condoms…

GOOBER: Is he the guy you’re sublettin’ from?
HOWARD (after giving him a look): Hey!  You know, I think I’m going to hold an open house party this Saturday night…or as they probably call it here, a “bash”…


Another way they describe it would be “I have to wash my hair that night.”  Sam and Goober are quite excited by this proposal, and in a syndication-mandated edit we find Howard decked out in some funky bachelor duds (check out the red suit), fluffing pillows on his couch as the soundtrack swells with hip tuneage that apparently came from the same music library as The Partridge Family.  With his apartment looking properly swinging, he then walks over to a sugar dish sitting on the bar and empties the contents into an ashtray beside it.  Taking the empty sugar dish, he starts to exit the apartment but quickly looks down at his shoes…and gives them a quick shine by the old-rub-them-against-the-back-of-my-pant-legs maneuver.  He is then off…to Apartment 201.


Howard doesn’t get the opportunity to rap on her chamber door because Pamela emerges from her digs at the same time he’s getting ready to knock.  She is also accompanied by a man, played by actor John Strong—who (according to the always reliable IMDb) hosted a talk show in 1971 in addition to his acting credits on such shows as 77 Sunset Strip and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  His IMDb listing also states that he later became a writer and associate/supervising producer (on series such as Search and Return to the Planet of the Apes), with film credits that include Heart Like a Wheel (1983) and Cop (1988).

PAMELA: Why, Howard!  What are you doing here?
HOWARD: Surprise!  I just moved in down the hall…
PAMELA: Well, how nice!  Oh…I’d like you to meet my boyfriend Pete Handley…

Cue the sad trombone!

HOWARD: Boyfriend…
PETE (extending his hand for a handshake): Uh…glad to meet you, Howard…
HOWARD: Hi…
PETE (noticing Howard’s dish): What’s that?
HOWARD: Oh, I just wanted to borrow some sugar…
PETE: Aw, come on—that corny bit?

I got a TL for you, Pete—this is Mayberry R.F.D.  It’s all corny bits.

PETE: You’re not trying to move in on my girl…are you, Clyde?
HOWARD: Howard
PAMELA: Oh, Howard and me?  Don’t be silly…

“Howard is as gay as an Easter parade.”  Pamela explains to her macho boyfriend that Howard is a perfect gentleman…and “if he says he’s here for sugar, he’s here for sugar.”  (Well, he was there for sugar.)  Pamela then tells Howard to go into the apartment and help himself because they’re late for the dance…and I don’t know perzactly what the security is like in that joint but I’d be a little leery of letting people have the run of the place, if you know what I mean.  At any rate, Howard is dejected because the mixed signals he received from Pamela have caused him to drop a bundle on this second home…and with that, we pay a few bills with a commercial break.

Part the second begins with the ever cheerful Millie entering the diner with Sam, who humorously tells Howard to “slide over there, swinger” in order to let Millie sit down in the booth while he grabs an extra chair.  Goober and Emmett are seated on the other side of the booth.

MILLIE: Well…tell us…was Pamela surprised?  All the girls think it’s so romantic you moving all the way over there just to be near her… (She giggles)
GOOBER: Somethin’ went wrong
EMMETT: Yeah…he got slapped
HOWARD: I did not!  For your information, I merely decided that I wasn’t ready to tie myself down yet!  I mean…before a man makes a big decision like that, he…he ought to look the field over…
GOOBER (to Emmett and Sam): Pam dumped him…
HOWARD: Would you stop saying that?!!  I’m going to keep Pam on my list, it’s …well, it’s just…that I think that…if I’m going to be a swinger, I oughta swing!
GOOBER: Does that mean you’re still gonna have the bash Saturday night?
HOWARD: Well, yeah!  Sure!  Why not?
GOOBER: Hey…wooo….wow…wait ‘til you see the lookers over there…which one you gonna bring?  How ‘bout that wild-lookin’ blonde?  You know—the one that Sam was lookin’ at when he almost fell in the pool

Sam…if you were a dairy farmer, you could keep a cattle prod handy for when Goober says stupid things like that.

MILLIE: Oh?!!
SAM: Oh…thanks a lot, Goob…
EMMETT: What about it, Howard?
HOWARD: Oh, I’ll latch onto one…give ‘em all a chance, that’s my motto…

You’re just a hunka hunka burnin’ love, you stud muffin you.  “Where’s the chick—I want some buttermilk,” he muses, looking around for his favorite waitress.


The scene shifts back to the Riviera Park, where our ladies’ man is negotiating his way around the complex’s swimming pool—a popular gathering place for “the beautiful people.”  He finds an empty lounge chair next to a woman getting some sun, and begins to make small talk.  The woman identifies herself as “Susie”—she’s played by Susan Odin, who started out in films as a child actress (Annie Get Your Gun, The Fastest Gun Alive) before moving on to guest roles on such programs as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Wild Wild West.  Check out His Smoothness:

HOWARD: Hi…mind if I put my diddy bag here?
SUSIE: Hello…
HOWARD (after laying out his towel on the chair) If…uh…if I may be so bold…I’m Howard Sprague…I just moved into 214…
SUSIE: Oh, hi Howard…I’m Susie…
HOWARD: Hi…heh…are you going in for a swim?
SUSIE: Uh-huh…
HOWARD: Oh!  Well, mind if I join you?
SUSIE: Oh, fine—as a matter of fact I’m not much of a swimmer…
HOWARD: Oh…well… (Getting up from his chair) In that case, it’s best to use the buddy system…I have a lifesaving merit badge…

“But first—I really ought to call my mother…I want to make sure it’s okay if I go swimming so quickly after eating.”  As if his enthusiasm about merit badges isn’t enough to send this lady running towards the Sapphic sisterhood, Howard then dons this get-up:


He then asks her—and I won’t lie to you, hearing Dodson do this with the nose plug is hilarious—if she’s doing anything Saturday night.  “I’m sure I must be,” she replies, staring at him in complete horror.


Howard throws his towel down on the chair in frustration, and as he walks off the increasingly "repulsive" Jane sees him.  She greets him cheerily, and after exchanging a brief pleasantry Howard continues his quest to find someone hotter than she.  Another woman who’s also worshipping the sun is approached by the suave county clerk…but we never learn her name because in sitting down in the chair beside her, Howard ends up smooshing her sunglasses.  The amusing thing about this encounter is that this woman—identified as “Cheryl” in the credits—is played by Sandra de Bruin, who also played a stewardess Howard was trying to mack on in “Palm Springs, Here We Are.”


Well, having no luck in the “give ‘em all a chance” department, we find a somewhat dejected Howard walking down the hall of the complex and stopping outside the door to 203…the home of the "hideous" Jane.  (To make sure the audience sees how grotesque she is—even though she’s really quite lovely—she comes to the door in curlers.  Yecchhh!!!)  Howard’s heart is clearly not in visiting with her—he calls her “Jean,” and she corrects him—but the two of them go inside the apartment, and she says she’ll leave the door open because “you know how people talk.”  (See?  Jane is like Howard’s soul mate, but he’s not bright enough to see it!)  Leaving the door open will allow the two of them to hear an argument going on between Pamela and Pete, who’s really started to take on some major dinkitude:

PETE: …but I call everybody “Honey”…look—all I said to the girl was “Hi, Honey”…
PAMELA: Pete, it’s not what you said it’s how you said it!

“You were stripped to your shorts!  In the restaurant!”

PETE: Oh, come on… (He takes her shoulders) Look, I’ll see you Saturday…
PAMELA: You can forget Saturday night…I’ll be busy…you’re not the only man in the world, you know…

Meanwhile, back at Chez Jane:

HOWARD (as he’s leaving): Well…thanks for the cocoa…
JANE: Thank you for inviting me to your party…I can hardly wait…Howard…
HOWARD (he gives her a little wave): Well…bye…

I have a sneaking suspicion a heavy holding hands session went on in there.  As Howard goes back to his “pad,” Pamela is exiting her apartment.


PAMELA: Howard!  Where have you been keeping yourself?
HOWARD: Well…I’ve been kind of busy…
PAMELA: Too busy to come and see me?

“Warning!  Warning!  Danger, Dr. Sprague!”

HOWARD: Well…I mean…with your boyfriend and all…I thought…
PAMELA: Oh…he’s nobody we have to worry about anymore…
HOWARD: Really?
PAMELA: Why don’t you come in?

Bow-chicka-a-wow-wow…we see Howard enter Pamela’s apartment, and then the scene dissolves to the Mayberry City Council Office.

SAM: You mean you’ve got two dates for your party?

“Dude—what show do you think this is?  The Brady Bunch?”


SAM: Ho…you really do swing over there, don’tcha?
HOWARD: Aw, come on now, Sam—it isn’t funny…

No.  And it’s not likely to ever become so, either.

SAM (chuckling): Well, I know Pamela…but who’s this Jane?
HOWARD: Well, she was…sitting there beside the pool when I moved in…she was reading a magazine—remember?
SAM: No…no, I guess I didn’t notice her…
HOWARD: That’s the one…

And besides, Captain Parmenter, you were kind of busy trying not to fall into the pool.  Howard tells Sam that the only honorable thing to do is “to call it off with Pamela and go with Jane…right?”

“Right,” agrees Sam.  “So what are you going to do instead of that?”  Well, this particularly sticky wicket that Howard is in is about to be resolved…enter an idiot.

GOOBER; Hey, Howard—didja ever get a date?
SAM: Hoo hoo…boy, that’s an understatement…
GOOBER: Hey, great…who?
HOWARD: Well, I… (Realization kicks in) Hey, Goob—who are you taking?
GOOBER: Oh…nobody…I just…thought I’d show up and play the field…

I guess Goober’s cousin is washing her hair that night.

HOWARD: You want me to fix you up with one of the swingers over there?
GOOBER: Hey!  How ‘bout that…redhead?
HOWARD: Well, I don’t know about her—but I tell you what… (Giving him a wink) You just show up, okay?

Goober leaves the council office on a cloud, and Howard turns back toward Sam…who is giving him a real stare down.  “Well, I’m only trying to bring two nice people together, that’s all” is Howard’s excuse for tricking the manchild that is Goober.

Sam continues to stare at him.  “Well, say something—will you?” pleads Howard.

“I’m trying to think of something,” is Sam’s reply…prompting Dodson (Howard) to react with a funny sour face.  The scene then shifts to Howard’s “bash,” and we see our swinger standing next to a young lovely (Lea Cook) with a blindfold in his hand.  “For those of you who prefer, uh, less strenuous games there’s Parcheesi right over there.”


“Hey, this is weird,” remarks the woman as Howard slips a blindfold over her.  “Whoever thought of playing party games at a party?”  Just wait until they break out the Strip Chutes and Ladders, kiddo…they’ll have to bring in Mt. Pilot’s finest to break that up.

Sam unfortunately had to bring his girlfriend Millie, who is standing over at the food table with her beau:

SAM (in response to the girl’s rhetorical question): Howard—who else?
MILLIE: Um…which one is the blonde you fell in the pool?
SAM: I didn’t fall in the pool…and I promised not to stare at her again until you get the blindfold on…

Howard makes his way to where Sam and Millie are standing, and asks in an irritated voice, “Where’s that Goober?”  This prompts Millie to ask which girl is Howard’s date—“That’s an interesting question,” jokes Sam.

HOWARD (to Pamela): I brought you some punch…
PAMELA: Oh…thank you, Howard…
HOWARD: Two gallons didn’t quite fill the whole bowl, so I…poured in a pint of champagne…don’t let the bubbles tickle your nose…heh heh…

You are a wild man, Mr. Sprague!  In a funny bit of physical business, Dodson starts to put his arm around McConnell’s Pamela…and stops quickly with the arrival of plain Jane.

JANE: Howard…
HOWARD: Oh…hi, Jane!
JANE: I brought you some punch…
HOWARD: Uh…thank you…
JANE: And I made the coffee…all I had to do was plug it in…
HOWARD: Oh?  Well…you didn’t have to do that…

So the faux go-go music starts in, and Sam and Millie hit the dance floor—not dancing like hipsters but kind of a modified ballroom strut.  “Hey…that’s groovy music!” says Pamela approvingly.

Jane likes that funky music as well, and both women wait, expecting Howard to ask them to dance.  But Howard realizes that “I left the rumaki in the oven”…and he starts off toward the kitchen Jane tells him she’ll take care of it.  After Jane has left, Pamela says to Howard: “She’s such a sweet girl—who’s she with?”


“Oh…some guy,” responds Howard.  Well, I’m going to cut to the quick on this one only because the next few bits are simply variations on a theme (Howard invited both girls to the party, but can’t bring himself to cut one of them loose) though there is a funny gag where Howard sits on the couch holding hands with both women.  Finally, “that dumb Goober” shows up—he went to the barbershop before the party and “got the works.” (“Smell the Witch Hazel?”)

Seeing that Goober has arrived, Howard asks Jane to come with him to meet his pal because he’s going to fob her off on one of the lower primates.

HOWARD: I’d like you to meet Jane Mullins…
GOOBER (not completely hiding his disappointment): Hey…
JANE: Hello, Goober…Howard—you have such nice friends…of course, that’s because he’s such a nice guy himself

Another number from The Partridge Family strikes up, and there is a nine-month pregnant pause as the three of them stand there until Howard says to Goober: “Well, Goober—I guess you want to get dancing and everything…”

Goober’s reaction that he’s going to have to frug with Jane equals that of someone who’s just bitten down on a caterpillar he didn’t know was in his soup.  Goober asks Jane if she wants to dance…but then Howard explains: “No, Goober…Jane’s my date—you’re with Pamela.”

Yeah, Howard may be a dweeb…but he’s a dweeb who does the right thing. 

MILLIE (to Sam): I’m confused…
SAM: I think you’re going to have company
(Howard makes his way past the dancers to Pamela)
HOWARD: Pamela…can I ask you something? (She nods) Well…Goober just got here without a date, and I want him to have a good time and everything…and…well, I’m so busy being host…and…I know it isn’t fair to you…
PAMELA: Howard…would you like me to be Goober’s date?
HOWARD: I know you’re disappointed, but…
PAMELA: Wonderful!  I’d love it!

Either Pamela is the most understanding person in the world…or she’s turned on by a man who approaches her with a mouth full of rumaki and asks her to shake a tail feather on the dance floor.  Howard then asks Jane to dance—“I thought you’d never ask,” she says to him happily.

JANE (as they dance): You’re a smooth dancer, Howard!
HOWARD: Oh-ho…thank you!  I learned at cotillion
JANE: So did I!

So Sam and Millie join the dancing throng, too—and Sam takes care to avoid Goober, who’s doing his patented “epileptic-tamping-down-a-forest-fire” shtick.  “Hey, you’re too much!” laughs Pamela, having quite a time.

“That’s what everybody says!” observes Goober, as we limp to the coda.

The wrap-up finds Emmett (you see why I questioned whether his presence was necessary in this episode) getting the skinny from Sam on the wildness that was HowardFest ’71:

EMMETT: Let me get this straight…Goober come by himself and he ended up with Pamela…Howard come with Pam and Jane and he ended up with Jane…you come with Millie and you ended up with Millie…
SAM: Mm-hmm…yeah…
EMMETT: Outside of you—that sounds like one of those new moving pictures I’ve been hearing about… (Sam laughs) Goober and Pam, huh…that just don’t figure…
SAM: Well…don’t sell him short…

I’d take whatever I could get for him.

SAM: Boy, they really hit it off…last I saw Goob was leaving to walk Pam home…
EMMETT: Think he kissed her?
SAM: Well…I don’t know…


At that point in the conversation, Goober storms into the council office…sporting a shiner over one eye.  He’s looking for Howard—“He didn’t tell me Pam had a boyfriend!”

Emmett finds Goober’s black eye uproariously funny…probably because he’s now got something to tell Martha when he gets home that night.

The Mayberry R.F.D. writers took pity on us and spared us the indignity of having to listen to Sam’s progeny, Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster)…but that also means we had to go through Cousin Alice (Alice Ghostley) withdrawal—so her absence means that Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Alice-o-Meter™ stays right where it was the last time I did a Mayberry Mondays…at a total of eleven appearances for the third and final season.

Next time—and I want to stress next time only because I can’t guarantee it will be next week; it will depend on my schedule and all—we’ll have the return of Mike in an episode that will feature an apology from me for not giving one of R.F.D.’s regulars a proper send-off.  That installment is “Mike’s Car”…and I invite you to join us when you can.

7 comments:

basura said...

Your mention of her got me thinking - What happened to Howard's mother? I don't know if she even made it to the RFD series.

Can we expect Psycho VII the Mayberry experience?

Rich

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Your mention of her got me thinking - What happened to Howard's mother? I don't know if she even made it to the RFD series.

No, Howard's mom never graced any of the R.F.D. episodes...she gets her send off in "The Wedding," an episode in the eighth and final season of The Andy Griffith Show in which she remarries and Howard tries to turn the house into "a swinging bachelor pad"--much in the way he does here. "The Wedding" has one particularly so-bizarre-it's-funny moment in which a bachelor party is thrown for Howard's new stepdad (played by Iggie Wolfington, who played the TV ringmaster in the R.F.D. classic "The Mynah Bird") and because Andy is the only person who brought a date (Helen) all the guys end up dancing with her. (Paul Hartman's Emmett really shakes a tail feather in this one...I forget why he didn't bring Martha but it's probably because she broke her arm in that fall.)

TAGS fans know that Howard's ma was played by character veteran Mabel Albertson--best known as Samantha Stevens' ma-in-law on Bewitched.

Stacia said...

like couples do before they get married

HA!

This was amazing. Such a great write-up Ivan, seriously.

I haven't heard of "rumaki" in years, not since looking through mom's old recipe cards from the 1970s, in the Party Foods section.

Howard being a stud, Goober with a black eye, no Mike... this episode had it all.

Andrew Leal said...

"In addition to giving Howard a stiffie"

Yikes. Stay classy, Ivan!

Outside of that little lapse in decorum though, your coverage of "Howard the Swinger" shows that the title fulfilled its promise.

Also, Susan Odin has OTR connections: She was on "One Man's Family," playing two of Jack's daughters at various times (according to John Dunning): Elizabeth Sharon Anne Barbour and Janie Barbour; Jack's third daughter Mary Lou (boy, he reproduced) was at one time played by... Mary Lansing!

Scott said...

Wait -- the previous episodes were "tolerable"?? What happens from now on that could possibly make this show any worse -- Sam dispenses homespun wisdom to his idiot son while wearing a mask made of human skin and vivisecting hobos?

I don't know how you've sat through these episodes up till now (I couldn't do it as a kid, and back then, I'd watch anything). It seems medically inadvisable to even try -- unless, perhaps, the show was accompanied by your exegeses running in real time along the bottom of the screen like a news ticker.

roger said...

Jack Dodson guested on a 1975 episode of BARNEY MILLER entitled "Horse Thief." He played a historical novelty salesman who is assaulted by an assertive hooker -- played by none other than "wallflower" Judy Cassmore!

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Jack Dodson guested on a 1975 episode of BARNEY MILLER entitled "Horse Thief." He played a historical novelty salesman who is assaulted by an assertive hooker -- played by none other than "wallflower" Judy Cassmore!

Nice catch, Rog! I have only the vaguest recollection of the episode but I'm sure if I revisited it (I think I have it on DVD) it would all come flooding back to me.