Monday, April 15, 2013

Mayberry Mondays #76: “Goober, the Hero” (03/15/71, prod. no. 0323)

I’m starting to see daylight, knowing that with the completion of this week’s installment of Mayberry Mondays we have but two episodes to finish in our grand R.F.D. experiment…and then our long national blogging nightmare will be over.  (And the next two episodes—oh, dearie me, do they stink to high heaven.)  The title of our little sojourn to television’s favorite small town this week is a bit of a misnomer—village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) does not in any way resemble a hero; it probably should have been titled “Goober, the Potzer.”  But leave us not tarry over such trivial details: as our little playlet unfolds, we find the show’s main character, poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer-turned-town-council-head Sam Jones (Ken Berry), in the city council office stamping envelopes…and assisting in the licking of stamps is his idiot son Mike (Buddy Foster).  This scene produced a mild chuckle from me, since it subtly suggests that the only useful purpose the kid serves is as a moistener when there are letters to be mailed.

SAM: Well, Mike—you’ve been a big help… (Handing him the last envelope) And that’s…about it…
MIKE: That’s good…my tongue’s starting to curl…and it tastes funny!

“I like cheese!”  The audience is spared any more of this Cowardesque banter with the arrival of pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), sorely missed from last week’s proceedings (and as commenter basura rightfully points out, an episode without Howard is like a PB&J with just the white bread).

HOWARD: I’m glad I caught you two together…I just dropped in to remind you about Saturday…
SAM: Saturday?
HOWARD: Well, yes!  The ten-mile hike for the Junior Woodsmen!

Isn’t that the group to which Huey, Dewey and Louie belonged?

HOWARD: I’m counting on you to come along to help with Mike and his young friends…
SAM: Ohhh…oh, yeah…uh…well, uh, how many are we going to have this time, Howard?
HOWARD: Oh, just five or six young lads…the right number for a rewarding sojourn with Mother Nature…

The fact that Howard is completely unabashed about using the word “lads” is the reason why he’s the gift that keeps on giving.  This is amenable to Sam, who says he’ll get with Howard later about what they need to bring and all.  Howard gives them a snappy salute and heads out the door, nearly colliding with Goober…who gives Howard a quick greeting before coming into the office.

GOOBER (to Sam): I got your car outside if you want to run me back to the gas station…

Goober punctuates this line with an unusual “Pop—vroom” sound as he tosses the keys to Sam…but that’s not what’s so odd about this—it’s the fact that he has to be driven back to his Gas ‘n’ Lube.  “Goober’s New Gas Station” established that he moved his business into town, and both Sam and Emmett have walked to it at various times since the relocation.

GOOBER: What did Howard want?
SAM: Howard?  Oh…he was here in his official capacity as head of the Junior Woodsmen…
GOOBER: He still circulatin’ that petition to save the swamp rat?
SAM (chuckling): He just wanted to remind us about our hike next Saturday…he hasn’t had an outing with the boys for a couple of months now…

“And the restraining order’s finally been lifted, so…”

MIKE: Do we have to go, Pa?
SAM: Well, what do you mean, do you have to go?  I thought you and the other kids enjoyed those hikes…?
MIKE: We do…but the way Mr. Sprague does it…I mean…

“Jesus H. Christ on a nature trail…that man is the most boring individual on the face of this planet…”

MIKE: …well…we never get to go where we want to go!  We always end up at Myers’ Lake
SAM: Well…I guess I could suggest going someplace else this Saturday…where would you like to go?
MIKE: Indian caves!
GOOBER: Out Mill Creek Road?
MIKE: Yeah!  Aw, but Mr. Sprague is always saying they’re too dangerous to go in without a guide…we might get lost or something…
SAM: Well…he might be right, there…you know, those…those old caves go way, way back into those hills—I don’t think anybody’s ever traced them all the way…
GOOBER: I could be your guide…


Warning!  Warning!  Danger, Will Robinson!  Weak sitcom premise alert!  Because, golly, what could possibly go wrong with allowing Goober to explore caves while supervising “five or six young lads”?

SAM: You, Goob?
MIKE: No fooling?
GOOBER: Yeah!  As a kid I explored every nook and cranny of them Indian caves…I know my way around in there like I do the back of my hand…

“My mama used to leave me in them when I was…hey!  What’s this on the back of my hand—I never noticed that before!”

SAM: Hey!  You know, I wouldn’t mind seeing those caves myself!
GOOBER: Well, yeah—we could take some flashlights and lanterns and stuff…pack a lunch and make a day out of it!

Sam’s only reservation about this patently terrible idea is that Howard might have other plans as far as the Junior Woodsmen excursion goes…and not that he’s entrusting the lives of his son and his friends to a man who used to be able to lift a hog clear over his head.  But Mike tells him Howard shouldn’t object too strenuously to including Goober: “With only five or six guys goin’…one more kid wouldn’t hurt any.”  (Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment—though this one is punctuated by Goober’s slightly-hurt expression.)


The scene shifts to the outside of the manor house located on Jones Farm, where…

Why the hell do I even bother to call it “Jones Farm,” anyway?  This program has been carrying on the charade for seventy-six episodes that Sam Jones makes a living from the soil, and I’m telling you right now—this is bullsh*t.  No real farmer would have the time to do everything he does—namely, sit around and philosophically jaw with his idiot friends—and still grow anything resembling a cash crop, unless it’s the kind that’s popular in some states for medicinal purposes if you know what I mean, and I think you do.  That guy is getting a subsidy check—no two ways about it.

All right, rant over—the Junior Woodsmen are all backpacked up and ready to go on their hike to Miller’s Cave or whatever the hell it’s called, and are appropriately assembled by Mistah Sprague, who looks like a drill sergeant that’s suddenly discovered he’s got news for himself.  There is then a shift to a scene just outside the Indian Caves, and as the Woodsmen eagerly rush toward them in order to be attacked by bears that much more quickly, Troop Leader Sprague rains on everyone’s parade.

HOWARD: Let’s all line up here, fellas…now there are certain set procedures we have to follow before we can enter the caves…do any of you boys know what the first step should be in order to make this a more satisfying and rewarding experience?

“Toss you into the lake so we can continue trying to have fun?”

GOOBER (raising his hand): I do!
HOWARD: Yes, Goober…?
GOOBER: Let’s eat!
(The kids break out in laughter and cheers)
HOWARD: Well, I have to admit—that is an excellent suggestion…

Sam instructs the kids to shed their packs and start gathering wood for a fire, and then a dissolve finds Howard tying knots in a rope in front of the group.

HOWARD: Now, you know these caves are uncharted and they have many twists and turns…but Goober here knows them pretty well, and he…well, he’s going to act as our guide…
GOOBER (beaming as he holds up a lantern): I’ll go in first with the lantern!
HOWARD: I’ve made a large knot every five feet or so in this guide rope…that’s so each of you boys can hold on to his place in the line as we move through the caves—all right?
SAM: Good idea, Howard!
HOWARD: Well…the result of careful planning…
GOOBER: Everybody ready to go?
SAM: How about it, fellas—you all set?
(The kids acknowledge agreement)
GOOBER: All right, men—let’s go!
HOWARD: Wait a minute, Goober!  I’ll give the orders here… (Goober rolls his eyes) All right, men—let’s go!

Let the spelunking begin!  The kids are impressed with the breadth and depth of the caves (and rightly so—they’re the best Hollywood money can build), and as Goober leads the party through the innards of Indian Caves, we have this conversation between Mike and his little pal Richard:

RICHARD: Do you suppose we’ll find any buried Indian treasure?
MIKE: Only pirates have buried treasure…
RICHARD: Well…maybe there were some pirate Indians

Only when Pittsburgh is playing Cleveland, son.  Richard is played by former kiddie thesp Brian Morrison (who turned 52 last Wednesday, so a belated birthday shout-out to Bri) in his second R.F.D. appearance…having introduced the character in the episode “The Kid from Hong Kong.”  Suddenly, a dramatic twist in the narrative!

GOOBER: Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!
HOWARD: What is it? What is it?
SAM: What’s the matter, Goob?
GOOBER: My stomach’s beginnin’ to rumble…you guys mind waitin’ here while I go back and get ‘nother sandwich?

You know I don’t like to nitpick…but if all they ate was sandwiches, why did Sam ask the kids to go gather firewood?   (Well, I suppose they could have been grilled cheese…)

HOWARD: Please…just keep moving, Goober…
GOOBER: Well, yes, Captain…okay, General… (He gives him a sarcastic salute)
SAM: Goob…wait a minute…wait…are you sure you’re going in the right direction here?  Maybe you ought to check the compass, huh?
GOOBER: Well, not me—I’ve been in here a hunnerd times!  Just follow ol’ Goober!

A syndication mandated edit finds our explorers in a large area of the cave that has Howard very impressed, particularly with some of the formations on the walls:

HOWARD: Hey!  Look at this!
MIKE: What is it, Mr. Sprague?
HOWARD: Why, it’s a perfect example of inclined stratification!  Yeah…these lines were…were formed by crimping and folding many centuries ago…
MIKE: Oh…that’s very interesting, Mr. Sprague…


Always likes to keep his audience riveted!  Howard continues to drone on about the formation of the cave rocks as only he can do, and as such Goober decides to wander up ahead.  It does not take too long before the spelunkers realize that their “guide” is no longer with them.

MIKE: He’s gone, Pa!
SAM: Well…you don’t suppose he went on ahead, do you?
HOWARD: Oh, no…even he wouldn’t do a thing like that!

I don’t think Howard really believes that statement.

HOWARD: He must have seen us stop!
RICHARD: You want me to run up ahead and see if I can find him?  (He starts toward a passageway)
HOWARD: No no no no no!  Definitely not!  No no no no no…we don’t know where that leads!  The best thing we can do is to stick together…
SAM: Where, Mike?
MIKE: He said something about being hungry…and wanting another sandwich…I’ll betcha while we were standing here talking…he went back for food…
HOWARD: You know, Sam—I wouldn’t be surprised if that was exactly what he did…

“It’s a well-known fact that it’s the nature of the primitive Goober to forage for food.”  So the group decides the only course of action is to retrace their steps and head back for base camp, and as they make tracks for the exit…


…yes, you’ve already guessed it—Dumbass is lost in the cave.  (Oh, this irony is delicious—have some seconds, and try some of that dipping sauce!)  Outside where it’s safe…

SAM: Nah…he’s not here, Howard…
HOWARD: Well—he hasn’t been here; either…his food wasn’t touched…

Yes, I laughed out loud at that for reasons I can’t explain.  (“There are no signs of his stool, either…”)

MIKE: Gosh, Pa…he must have kept on going in the cave…

“This is probably not the best time to tell you this, Mike…but I’ve been living a lie.  Goober is your real dad.”

SAM: Yeah…I’m afraid he’s lost in there, Howard…maybe he can find his way out but maybe he can’t
MIKE: Do you suppose we should go in and try to find him?
HOWARD: Nah…we couldn’t do that, Mike—none of us knows our way in the cave…and besides, we’ve lost our guide rope…
SAM: Yeah…well…he’s safe enough in there temporarily…with that big lunch he ate, he’s not going to starve to death…look, I think we’d better get these kids home before it gets too dark, Howard…and get back out here with some kind of help, huh?
HOWARD: Yeah…I think you’re right…

“Or…we could meet Millie at Morelli’s and grab a bite to eat…then head over to Siler City and catch The Andromeda Strain—I hear that’s supposed to be good!  I’m sure there’s no real rush to get to Goober…he is a cave expert, after all…”  Come on—you can’t tell me that Howard won’t jump at the prospect of leaving Goober to be devoured by bears, freeing him to a life where he no longer has to explain things to his dim chum.  Well, Howard tells the kids to get their gear together and meanwhile, back in the cave…


…Goober eats his last candy bar.  You know what they say—sometimes you eat the bar…and sometimes the bar, he eats you.  (Oh, like you weren’t thinking of that joke yourself.)

Back from commercial, we find a worried Sam getting off the phone in the city council office.  He walks over to grab a cup of free city-subsidized Sanka, and at a table sits Howard, fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) and Sam’s main squeeze, bakery doyenne Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka).

SAM: The, uh, Sheriff’s department over in Mt. Pilot…be happy to help…but they don’t have anybody over there who’s familiar with the caves either…it’s out of their territory…

There’s a tip for you local police departments out there—next time someone reports a drowning, simply stroke your chin and say: “Well…technically, water isn’t in our jurisdiction…”

HOWARD: Well, this…this, uh, Barnsdale you mentioned—who’s he?
SAM: Oh, that’s, uh, Ted Barnsdale…he’s the county geologist…he’s explored the caves several times, he has all the equipment and he probably knows them better than anyone else around here…

“Well, with the exception of the dipsh*t who’s trapped in them now…”


SAM: He’s coming back off a field trip late tonight, and we’re going to meet ‘em all out at the cave first thing in the morning…
EMMETT: You mean you can’t do anything till then?
SAM: Well, they’re sending a couple of deputies to stake out the entrance to the cave till morning—just in case Goober finds his way out…but, uh, they feel it’s too risky to go in there without the expert…
MILLIE (sighing): Oh, dear…
EMMETT: Well, if Goober gets hungry in there before morning he can eat sand lizards
(Millie is repulsed by this notion)
HOWARD (to Millie): Don’t think he won’t!
(Sam and Emmett laugh)
MILLIE: Poor Goober…it’ll be so terrible for him…trapped in a cold, dark cave all night…
SAM: Actually, he’ll be safe enough…
MILLIE: Oh, Sam…it’ll be so depressing and uncomfortable for him in there…
SAM: Have you ever seen that furnished room he lives in?


We rarely get to see the soft white underbelly of the sweetness-and-light that is R.F.D.—so watching these alleged friends of Goober joke about his predicament is actually sort of amusing, in a black comedy sort of way.  We then are taken back to the cave, where a terrified Goober continually yells “Help!” and to add insult to injury, his lantern finally goes out.  In pitch darkness, we hear him wail: “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  Why the network didn’t go to the show’s producers and propose a crossover with Lassie (also on CBS at this time) is an idea gone unexplored—she would have found Goob before the General Foods break.


It is morning, and as Sam, Emmett and Howard (still hilariously wearing that dorky ranger’s hat) wait by the cave entrance we are introduced to two of the guest dramatis personae in “Goober, the Hero.”  One of them is Sheriff Fred Matson, who’s played by one of the character greats, James Westerfield.  The burly Westerfield appeared in such films as On the Waterfront (as Big Mac), Three Hours to Kill, Lucy Gallant, Decision at Sundown, Cowboy and Birdman of Alcatraz—Disney devotees know him as “Officer Hanson” in three films: The Shaggy Dog, The Absent Minded Professor and Son of Flubber.

The other gentleman is the previously mentioned Ted Barnsdale, played by another veteran from the character actor trenches—Len Wayland.  If you’re a Dragnet junkie like I am, you know Wayland from multiple appearances on the 1967-70 version; his friendship with creator Jack Webb even led to a co-starring role in Webb’s final TV series Sam, which was on for about twelve minutes in 1978 (it was about a crime-fighting German Shepherd, and starred Mark Harmon in one of his earliest boob tube gigs…no, he did not play the dog).  Wayland also had recurring roles on such series as Dr. Kildare, Felony Squad (as the D.A.) and Dallas, in addition to soap operas like A Time to Live and From These Roots.

HOWARD (to Ted): I understand you know these caves fairly well…

“Well, enough not to go blundering around in them like a damn fool and risk being eaten by…uh…well, I’m sure he’s still alive…”

TED: Yeah—they’re a pretty complicated headwork of tunnels…but if we examine all the branches systematically, we’re bound to find your man…

“Or his remains, surely…”  The sheriff tells Barnsdale to lead the way, and now all we can do is wait.

HOWARD: I hear The Mount Pilot Clarion got wind of this last night—most the news media will probably be here to cover Goober’s rescue…
SAM: Yeah?
EMMETT: We ain’t had so much excitement since they dragged the lake for old Mrs. Venable!

Emmett’s joke about “Mrs. Venable” is the second time for the series—he refers to her mysterious demise in the previously mentioned “Goober’s Gas Station.”  I don’t claim to be a scholar in the ways of Mayberry, but I’ve often wondered if this wasn’t an in-joke directed toward Alma Venable, a one-time hairdresser who did the hair of Geneva Griffith, mother of Andy.  Venable operates the Mayberry Motor Inn in Mount Airy, NC and is owner of a large collection of memorabilia once belonging to actress Frances Bavier, which she houses in the “Aunt Bee Room”—she also has the “Mayberry Squad Car” on the premises, as well as “Emmett’s Truck”…though I don’t remember Emmett ever driving any other vehicle besides a DeSoto.

Sam suggests to Howard and Emmett that they saunter over to see what they can do to help…and the camera then cuts to the inside of the cave, where our little lost Goober is now waking up.  He’s puzzled by the fact that the cave is bathed in light, and he looks up to see an opening.  Emerging from his cave prison, Goober is amazed to see…


…a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing Rick, Will and Holly Marshall!  Okay, just a little Land of the Lost humor there…he actually finds this:


A little shack in the North Carolina woods.  And because the first priority of the Goober is to always forage for food, he ventures down to the cabin where this gentleman resides inside…


It’s Gus!  So this is where he retired after leaving Mayfield!  I am, of course, referring to the iconic role of character legend Burt Mustin, that of “Gus the Fireman” on the sitcom Leave It to Beaver.  Let me just say for the record…that if there is a President Emeritus of the “Hey!  It’s That Guy!” fraternity—Mustin surely must have pasted it in his scrapbook shortly before the dawn of time.  He’s no stranger to Mayberry, of course—he appeared multiple times on The Andy Griffith Show, usually as a codger named “Jud Fletcher” (also spelled “Judd”…as in “For the Defense”)…and I even wrote about his guest appearance one time in a twisted episode of Gomer Pyle, USMC.  Other shows on which Burt had recurring roles: The Great Gildersleeve, A Date with the Angels, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, All in the Family and Phyllis.  (My favorite Mustin guest role is a Dragnet episode in which he plays Calvin Lampe, dismissed by Friday and Gannon as a meddlesome old coot as they try to solve a homicide until they learn he’s a retired police detective…and then they nearly kill one another trying to be the first to kiss his ass.)

GOOBER: My name is Goober Pyle from Mayberry, and I’m lost…

“And in other breaking news…sugar is sweet.”

GOOBER: Could I come in a minute?
BENSON: You ain’t one of them hippies, are ya?

Goober assures him that he is not, and so Benson—Harvey Benson—invites him in.  When he introduces himself to Goober, our favorite manchild remarks: “You must be Old Man Benson!”  (“No, that’s my father…schmuck…”)

BENSON: The oldest Benson there is that’s still kickin’…you’re a good seven miles from Mayberry…hmm…got lost in the woods, huh?
GOOBER: No…lost Indian caves…

Goober keeps staring over at a pot of stew that Benson has bubbling on the stove, and though the old man is reasonably sure Goob’s not a member of the Manson family he decides it might not be a bad idea to let his guest fill his belly with some grub.  As Goober generously ladles it on a plate, he explains to old man Benson how he stupidly got into the cave in the first place.

BENSON: Bad place to be iffen you don’t know your way around…
GOOBER: Well, I thought I did—but I kept runnin’ into blind alleys…I’d still be there if I hadn’t woke up and found the exit…
BENSON: You stumbled onto the old north entrance…don’t hardly anybody know about that…over a mile from where you went in…

This starts to cast a shadow of doubt on the cave “expertise” of Ted Barnsdale, County Geologist.  Scarfing down the stew, Goober glances at his watch.

GOOBER: Wow—it’s almost ten o’clock…my friends must be goin’ crazy lookin’ for me—have you got a phone I can use?
BENSON: Got no car…got no phone…

Got no light.  Not a single luxury.  Like Robinson Crusoe, it’s primitive as can be.  As Benson himself explains: “Fella has either one, his friends keep droppin’ in or callin’ up…people’s what I come out here to get shed of.”  (Oh, Gus…they must have done you so wrong back in Mayfield.)  Goober then notices Benson’s antique television set…


…and asks “Holy smokes, that old set still work?”  “Like a charm,” boasts OMB.  “That thing’s stuck with me since Kukla, Fran and Ollie.”  (“Plus I’m smart enough not to let that cretin at that Mayberry fix-it shop get his greasy mitts on it!”)  Because this is a sitcom, as soon as Benson turns it back on we get this gentleman…


Anytime a character in either a movie or TV show switched on a TV set—it was even money that the announcer-reporter-newscaster-sportscaster-what-have-you would be Bill Baldwin.  Baldwin has a long list of credits at the IMDb, but he’s primarily remembered for narrating such series as Harbor Command, Bat Masterson and Animal World.  We take you now to an on-the-spot report from the venerable Mr. B:

BALDWIN: Friends, as this rescue operation moves into its third hour this morning, there is still no sign of the unfortunate victim who disappeared into the winding catacombs…of Indian Caves
GOOBER: Hey!  That’s…that’s the entrance!  That’s where I went in!
BENSON: That’s it, all right!
GOOBER: Then…I must be the unfortunate victim!

“Son…level with me…you’re not really that stupid, are you?  You’d never have made it out of that cave if you were…”

BALDWIN: …after an all-night vigil by two deputies here at the entrance to the cave…Sheriff Matson this morning rushed Mr. Ted Barnsdale—an expert on subterranean exploration—to the site…Mr. Barnsdale has twice entered the gaping maw of this treacherous cavern…and twice come out with no clues whatsoever…no evidence as to whether Mr. Goober Pyle is alive and well…or instead has…been swallowed up forever in some uncharted abyss…in this dangerous chasm…
GOOBER (horrified): Wow!  Did you hear that!  If I didn’t know I was sittin’ here watchin’ I’d be scared to death!

We then go back to the entrance to the cave, where Baldwin—reporting for Mt. Pilot’s TV station WZAZ—conducts an interview with Sheriff Matson:


BALDWIN: Sheriff—perhaps you could summarize for us the progress that’s been made so far?
MATSON: Well, our county geologist tells me that…this here cave has four main branches…and he’s already checked, uh, two of them with the help of my men…
BALDWIN: I see—well, besides that…do you have a backup plan to…facilitate the operation?
MATSON: Dogs…
BALDWIN: I beg your pardon?
MATSON: We’re flyin’ in a couple of bloodhounds by helicopter…from Burleigh County…we’ll turn ‘em loose in the cave and they’ll sniff out the culprit…uh…the, uh, victim…

After strapping on the ol’ feedbag at Benson Estates, Goob is about ready to bid his benefactor goodbye since his friends are probably worried about him.

GOOBER: I gotta get movin’…let my friends know I’m safe…helicopters, geologists, dogs…they’re spendin’ a fortune huntin’ me…
BENSON: Sure are…
GOOBER: If I follow this road out here will that take me back to the cave entrance?
BENSON: Yep…if you’re crazy enough to go there…
GOOBER: Whaddya mean by that?
BENSON: Son…you breeze up to that cave entrance right now…with all them cameras and reporters and sheriffs swarmin’ all over the place…you’re gonna be the most unpopular man in these parts!

Got a TL for you, Harve…he wasn’t held in particularly high esteem before he went into that cave.

GOOBER: Well, how you figure?  I’m the one they’re lookin’ for!
BENSON: That’s right!  But they’re lookin’ for you in the Indian Caves, where you’re supposed to be trapped underground!  They’re usin’ a lot of money and manpower to rescue a poor, unfortunate victim…now you go waltzin’ up there good as new—Sheriff Matson and them men are gonna be mad as hornets!
GOOBER (sitting down): I never thought of that…
BENSON: You can’t cheat them boys out of a rescue!  Besides—you’d be the laughin’ stock of the county!

Got another TL for you, Harve…he…oh, never mind.  At this point in the narrative, reporter Baldwin is back on the air with geologist Barnsdale to report a couple of new developments in l’affaire Goober…and he also asks two of Mr. Pyle’s friends, Mr. Jones and Mr. Sprague, to join him on camera.  Faithful Mayberry Mondays fans know that the program’s surefire formula for comedy is to simply point a television camera at Howard…but since the dialogue here isn’t particularly knee-slapping, I can now guess why the writers insisted he leave the hat on.


BALDWIN: Fellas…could you identify these items or connect them with the missing victim, please…?
HOWARD: Yeah…well…uh…uh…this is Mr. Pyle’s comic book, all right…Captain Whammo—he never goes anywhere without it…
SAM: Yeah, and the candy bar wrapper…that’s definitely his…I saw him eat five or six of those after breakfast yesterday…
BARNSDALE: I found these in a section called “the Grotto”…
(Barnsdale is interrupted by the sounds of barking dogs)
BALDWIN: Sheriff!  What have we here?
MATSON (coming into camera view): Dogs!  Dogs!  The dogs just got here!  Bring ‘em on in here, fellers!
BARNSDALE: Good…we’ll take them in with us and give them the scent…I think we’re closing in on our man!
BALDWIN: Thank you, Ted…and thank you, Sheriff…
MATSON: Now them dogs is trained by my cousin over in Burleigh…Clyde Matson…runs the pet shop at 16 Brill Street…open nine to five…

Goober is at this point so concerned that he pours himself another glass of milk.  “With all that trouble and expense looking for me—well, them guys are liable to kill me if I just walk up now and say ‘what’s new?’”  Old Man Benson did not become the crafty unsociable hermit he is today without learning a few things along the way, however…he tells Goob he’s going back in that cave!  (Prompting Goob to quickly make himself a mayonnaise-and-bean sandwich for the road.)

At the other entrance, as Millie gets coffee for everybody because, female, Sheriff Matson emerges from the cave to excitedly announce that Goober has been found!  (I know, I know—I was hoping the same as you…that Goober would instead elect to stay with Harvey as the focus of a Mayberry R.F.D. spin-off, Goober and the (Old) Man.)  “He looks a little beat-up from bein’ trapped down there,” asserts the sheriff, “but otherwise he’s fit as a fiddle.”  Naturally, Goober’s friends and loved ones are pleased that he’s safe and sound.

GOOBER: Thank you, everybody!  Thank you!  I’d like to thank all of you for snatchin’ me from the jaws of death
(Reporter Baldwin runs up and makes his way through the crowd)
BALDWIN: Oh, Mr. Pyle…if you’re not too exhausted, can you say a few words to our television audience?
GOOBER: I’ll try

Baldwin walks Goober over to where the cameras are waiting, and the interview begins.

BALDWIN: Ladies and gentlemen…I want you to meet the heroic survivor of twenty-four terrifying hours in Indian Caves…Mr. Grover Pyle…
GOOBER: Goober…Goober Pyle…
BALDWIN: Of course…but Mr. Pyle—briefly for our audience…could you tell us the secret of your successful underground struggle with the forces of Mother Nature?
GOOBER: I-I-I just tried to figger what one of my favorite heroes would do and I done that…
BALDWIN: One of your favorite heroes?
GOOBER: Uh…Captain Whammo…

This provokes priceless reactions from both Howard and Sam.


GOOBER: …he always keeps his head…and don’t never panic…
BALDWIN: I see…well…how did you manage twenty-four hours without food or water?
GOOBER: Uh…will power…
BALDWIN: By sheer will power…that’s an absolutely remarkable story, absolutely remarkable…well, I know you want to get back to civilization and a well-deserved meal, so I won’t detain you any further…
GOOBER: Yes, sir…
BALDWIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Grover Pyle…
GOOBER: Uh…Goober…Goober Pyle…


When Goober steps off camera, another idiot is there to take his place.  (I just love the expression on Hartman’s face—it is prime rube, ladies and gentlemen.)  Goober then runs over to where Sam and Howard are standing, asking “Didja see me on TV?”  As he grabs his comic book from Howard, Millie comes up with a couple of sandwiches.

MILLIE: Here, Goober—this isn’t much but maybe it might tide you over until you get home…
GOOBER: Oh, thanks, Mill…but I’m so full I couldn’t eat another thing…I… (Realizing once again he’s said something stupid) Whuh…what I mean is, I really had a big lunch yesterday!

Goober nibbles at one of the sandwiches, and we can’t get to the coda of this thing quickly enough.


The Indian Caves snafu has made the front page of The Mount Pilot Clarion—demonstrating for all that there is simply not enough news for a paper like that to print a daily edition.  But Howard, in the council office with Sam, still has some unanswered questions regarding Goober’s mysterious “rescue”:

HOWARD: I don’t know, Sam…what do you think?
SAM: What—about Goober’s…ordeal?
HOWARD: Yeah!  And about the sandwiches!  “I’m so full I couldn’t eat another bite”…there’s something strange about the whole business…
SAM: Yeah…yeah, I agree…
HOWARD: …and when they were helping him into the Sheriff’s car—a mayonnaise-and-bean sandwich fell out of his pocket…

Sam cuts Howard off quickly because he’s spotted Goober getting ready to enter the office.  Goob is carrying a small stack of Mount Pilot Clarions under his arm, and he’s about to come clean to his friends that “somethin’ ain’t quite right.”

GOOBER: If I let you in on it…you promise not to tell anybody?
SAM: If you say so…
GOOBER: Well…it says there “Mr. Goober Frederick Pyle was rescued after twenty-four hours without food or water”?
HOWARD: Yeah…?
GOOBER: That ain’t exactly right…
(Howard shoots Sam a knowing look)
SAM: It isn’t?
GOOBER: No…I just tole them my middle name was “Frederick”…what it really is is “Francis”…

And scene!  Two more episodes, friends and neighbors—and I’m going to be honest and upfront with you like I always am unless it conflicts with my plans for world domination.  The next episode is plenty bad—it’s one of those Millie-is-going-to-be-jealous escapades.  But “The City Planner” does feature a guest appearance from a seasoned actress who will (knock wood) celebrate her seventy-seventh birthday come this May 30…and an OTR veteran making her third and final appearance on the show.  As for Cousin Alice (Alice Ghostley)—she’s the only regular who had nothing to do on the show this week, so Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Alice-o-Meter™ stays right where it is at twelve appearances for the third and final season.  Will I be able to overcome the guaranteed lethargy and ennui to talk about “The City Planner” next week?  Keep an eye on this space to find out!

8 comments:

Stacia said...

Because, golly, what could possibly go wrong with allowing Goober to explore caves while supervising “five or six young lads”?

Because he'll probably come back with two or three young lads.

Let the spelunking begin! The kids are impressed with the breadth and depth of the caves

Ahem.

I enjoyed them all searching for the elusive Cave Goober, known to eat sammiches and leave distinctive footprints ('cause he's missin' a toe).

What I don't understand is why they didn't leave someone behind just in case Howard made it out. Oooh right yeah they're stupid, I forgot for a moment.

That old TV set is sweet. Wish they hadn't taken the brand name off of it.

basura said...

I love that screen cap of Idiot Boy and his pal in the cave listening to Howard.

It looks like the kid is a ventriliquist dummy on Idiot Boy's knee with Buddy's left arm manipulating the dummy's mouth.

Rich

Chris Vosburg said...

Old man Benson's TV is a mystery, and for me, man, that's saying something, 'cause I pride myself on knowing my vintage television sets; it's what I do for a living (should show you a picture of the 24frame vintage television warehouse shelves some time).

Nobody bothered to "greek" out manufacturer badges back then (as is common in TV and movies now), which makes the illegibility of the badge all the more mysterious. The shortness (XXX / XXX) makes me think RCA followed by model name or number, but perhaps I'll never know.

I'm dying of curiosity here, and suspect I'll be hitting the 24frame library of yellowing product catalogs for a little R&D.

That said, as always nice one Ivan, and thanks for that.

Oh also, Huey Dewie Louie ID tip: it's their cap color that differentiates them (RBG, respectively).

Chris Vosburg said...

Sort of off topic (what? again?), while watching a AGS ep while waiting for the Dodger game to come up down the pub, we pub idlers started discussing weird alternate actors for the Mayberry Alternity, and well, it just got sillier and sillier, but we had a lot of fun assembling what turned out to be a largely eurocentric cast.

We wound up with:

Andy Taylor: Alan Rickman
Barney Fife: Hugh Laurie (does a great hillbilly accent, by the way)
Aunt Bee: Judi Densch
Floyd the Barber: Peter Dinklage (cutting hair standing on a box!), second place Billy Bob Thornton
Otis Campbell: Oliver Reed
Helen Crump: Milla Jovovich (oh hell yes!)
Gomer Pyle: Christopher Walken

Told ya it was silly, but ya gotta admit, it's a lot of fun imagining these actors putting their inimitable stamp on these roles, and wondering how each resulting ep woulda turned out.

You may have have noticed that we totally drew a blank on the role of Opie, so I leave this to you all, as well as welcoming your own suggestions for all the other roles. Hey it's fun.

Andrew Leal said...

Ugh, a bad remake of "Barney and the Great Cave Rescue," but where that was built on touching friendship, this is just built on stupidity.

I'm also confused about Sheriff Matson's jurisdiction. Are these caves near Mt. Pilot? If not, why don't they actually let *him* handle law and order over Goober "Gets lost in a cave" Pyle.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I'm also confused about Sheriff Matson's jurisdiction. Are these caves near Mt. Pilot?

The caves sound like they're closer to Mayberry. Which would make them the jurisdiction of...um...the man trapped in the cave.

If not, why don't they actually let *him* handle law and order over Goober "Gets lost in a cave" Pyle.

That is still the nagging question that continues to dog me throughout the entirety of this series. The only theory I've been able to come up with is that Mayberry isn't a real town -- it's a stop in Purgatory.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

We wound up with:

Floyd the Barber: Peter Dinklage (cutting hair standing on a box!), second place Billy Bob Thornton


Thornton has long been a TAGS fan, and I'd love to see him in the Floyd role -- it could echo his tonsorial turn in The Man Who Wasn't There

And Gomer Pyle as interpreted by Christopher Walken. The implications are staggering, and that watch segment in Pulp Fiction is starting to get mighty interesting.

Chris Vosburg said...

Oh man, Ivan, we fell off the barstools doing our Walken impressions of him doing the Gomer Pyle character. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN IS GOMER PYLE!

Billy Bob does not smoke, but trooper that he is, managed to suck a cigarette through every scene of The Man Who Wasn't There, and well, all I can say is, he is awesome.

I neglected to mention that we cast the Howard Sprague character as well:

Jeff Goldblum.

Again, it's just so much fun to imagine each of these actors laying their own take on the simple character comedy of Mayberry, because they are all quite capable of comedy-- but it's not the Mayberry type of comedy, you know?