(Crowd goes wild, kegs are opened and couches burned)
I knew this news would be greeted with an unprecedented display of sadness. And I apologize for not getting around to this week’s installment, “The City Planner,” earlier…but I have had a lot on my plate…and this episode is deadly dull. (Never a promising combination.)
We open this week with a meeting of the Mayberry city council…and as to whether this is some sort of sub-committee get-together or an actual official-capacity session I do not know, because keeping track of who’s legitimately on the city council is an exercise I gave up on many episodes ago. The only individual duly elected to that august body that we know for certain was poor-but-honest-dirt-farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry), who ran and won the top alderman position in The Andy Griffith Show episode “Sam for Town Council” (03/11/68).
His worthy opponent in that
episode was fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman), rejected by the voters
when the majority of them, in a moment of clarity, realized that they would be
turning over the wheels of government to a man who repairs appliances by
banging on them with a hammer. And yet,
a year after that humiliation, Emmett somehow wound up on the council. Whether he was appointed to fill out
someone’s term or whether he stuffed the ballot box during his second desperate
bid for office is a question that ultimately you, the loyal TDOY reader, must decide.
Pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) also appears to have wangled himself a council seat despite the fact that he’s already a city employee—which was a no-no where I came from (our town council was already crooked and needed no additional influence in that arena). Village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) is also represented on the council because he was apparently able to garner a near plurality of the town’s moron vote. The other two individuals seated in council chairs are bakery doyenne Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka), who must have brought donuts, and Jones Farm chief-cook-and-bottle-washer Alice Cooper (Alice Ghostley) who…well, that one has me stumped.
Oh, yes—there’s a seventh person at this meeting. She has no lines of dialogue, so she doesn’t get mentioned in the credits roll at the end. I really have no idea why she’s there—I can only speculate that maybe her car broke down in Mayberry and while she was waiting for it to be repaired Goober asked her if she’d like to go to a council meeting. (It’s certainly plausible.)
Anyway, this representative government farce is underway as our episode begins—Sam states that the “parking meter motion” vote was “five to three against”…but since there are only seven people seated at the table, either his math is wrong or another council member went to take a pee break. (The unidentified woman is seen writing down something on a piece of paper and handing it to Sam, so it looks as if she may just be a recording secretary.) Finally, Howard asks to be recognized and there is a slight audible groan in that the rest of all assembled have a sneaking suspicion they’re not going to be home in time to see Medical Center.
HOWARD: I have an announcement to make regarding my forthcoming nature talk for the Mayberry Women’s Club…it’s scheduled for the day after tomorrow, and anyone interested in the fascinating world of flowers and plant life may attend!
The response to this is underwhelming, to say the least. I wish they had gone in for a close-up on the attendees because a screen capture won’t do it justice…but Goober stifles a yawn, thus confirming the official mantra of Mayberry Mondays (“Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment”).
HOWARD: Well, you can…sign up on your way out…
“Let’s form an orderly line and no pushing.”
“Collect the money we need to send to that Nigerian prince on the Internet…”
(The other members respond in approval)
EMMETT: How do we know we’re going to get any results from this ya-hoo?
Honest to my grandma, if Emmett were around today he’d be head of the Mayberry chapter of FreedomWorks.
HOWARD (prissily): Emmett, I have some knowledge of City Planners Incorporated and I hardly think one of their representatives could be categorized as a “ya-hoo”…
MILLIE: And I think if Sam approves of it, we should let him follow through…
GOOBER: I think so, too…
Blind obeisance to King Samuel the Soporific! Suck it, fix-it man! And with that royal pronouncement, Sam adjourns the meeting, which then produces a dissolve that finds him and his lady love taking a long leisurely stroll in the city park. Millie asks Sam how long he thinks the
(City Planners Incorporated) guy will be in town, and her boyfriend
guesstimates it will take about a week, seeing that there’s so many sights and
smells in that burg (“…and here is where we shoot rats on Saturday nights…”):
MILLIE: You know, Sam…what I think I’ll do?
MILLIE: Uh…well, as long as you’re going to be tied up—I think I’ll go visit my sister in
…you know, I’ve been talking about doing that… Atlanta
MILLIE: You know, I’m…I’m going to miss you, though…
MILLIE: How much?
After shoving his girlfriend on the bus, Sam is approached by this stunning woman (who has matching violet luggage—something I found…bizarre):
WOMAN: I’m looking for a Mr. Sam Jones…
WOMAN: Yes…head of the town council?
WOMAN (laughing): Oh…well, you’re the man I’m looking for!
WOMAN: I’m Terry Philips! City Planners Incorporated?
“Yes, you are Terry Philips!” Are you savoring the irony here—Sam, chauvinist porker that he is, was obviously expecting a manly male representative from
he’s introduced to this splendid piece o’crumpet. That’s as good a time as any to get a closer
look at “Terry Philips”—if that really is
her name—and the actress who plays her.
But as you’ll notice in the previous screen capture, Ruta’s standing in the industry at the time of this episode must have been considerably stronger than most of the “guest stars” in these installments because she gets a nice big credit along the order of Arlene Golonka, Jack Dodson and Paul Hartman just before the closing credits roll. Indeed, there have been only two individuals in the history of Mayberry R.F.D. to receive “special guest star” status: Dick Foran and that guy what used to live in Mayberry before the town (and show) went to hell in a handbasket.
Okay…enough of my stalling. Sam manages to stammer out an apology for his idiocy, and offers to take Terry over to his office—grabbing her purple luggage in the process. A couple of unidentified townswomen walk by and give Sam the stink-eye, to which he stiffly replies, “Ladies…” (I snickered a little at this.) The scene then shifts to the council office, as Terry pokes through some files in a folder.
“Like my etchings?”
TERRY: Yes, I know…
“I’m not the one who’s been babbling like an idiot the entire time.”
TERRY: You should have seen your face when you found out I was the man from City Planners…
TERRY: Why? Don’t you think a woman can be just as efficient?
And that explains why Mike the Idiot Boy (Buddy Foster) doesn’t have a younger sibling. That also reminds me—I forgot to mention that the last installment, “Goober, the Hero,” was young Master Foster’s R.F.D. swan song. (I’m sure you’re all crushed.) Sam does some more stammering at the stupid thing he’s just said, and Terry laughs it off.
TERRY: Now…what about industry in town…?
“And the pimento factory had to lay some people off…they kept missing the olives.”
TERRY: Oh? Where?
The two of them walk over toward a map on the wall that’s been thumb tacked a little too high for Miss Philips…who has to stand on a chair to get a closer look. This exposes a bit of her leg, which Sam gentlemanly tries not to stare at…and of course, you can guess what happens next…
GOOBER (staring at Terry): I just dropped in…see you got company…
Terry stares at Goober, as if she’s trying to figure out how whatever Goober is has acquired the power of speech.
TERRY: How do you do?
GOOBER: Hey… (He extends his paw for a handshake)
Goober says hey. Sam explains to Goober who Terry really is and he goes back for a second handshake, burbling “I couldn’t help but notice you’re a girl”—followed by his trademark Goober laugh.
“Yeah, that’s the group I belong to,” she replies as Sam helps her down from the chair. Goober explains that he just stopped by for a chat, and after taking his leave with “Nice chattin’ with ya,” breaks the current land speed record running over to Emmett’s to spill the gossip. (
is also in Emmett’s for some reason…apparently she has fallen under the fix-it
shop’s mysterious “I’ll-just-piss-the-rest-of-the-day-away” spell.)
GOOBER: No…but Sam’s got a baby doll in his office…
EMMETT: A what?
GOOBER: Only her name is Terry…and she’s a representative from the City Planners and she’s gonna be workin’ with him all week…while Millie is away…
EMMETT: No foolin’! Is she a looker?
GOOBER: I’ll say… (Whistles)
“…instead, I’m going to run over and check this out for myself.” Well, heck—what else were you expecting? Five…four…three…two…one…
“…with your harlot…”
“Man got his woman to take his seed/He’s got the power, oh, she’s got the need…”
Oh, I have so many filthy responses to this one…but I kind of overstepped the misogyny bounds this week with the lyric to “Only Women Bleed.” So I’ll let it pass, and simply remark that
Alice is as subtle as a
boot to the head.
TERRY: Millie—is that…Mrs. Jones?
“Well…not really a friend when you stop to think of it…just someone I keep around for shits and giggles…”
TERRY: Oh…well…now then…about these sites…do you suppose in the next day or so we could drive out and look at them?
TERRY: Oh, dear…I was kind of hoping it would sound like fun…
So the scene then shifts to the county clerk’s office…because what better way to show someone around town in an effort to impress them than to introduce them to the most boring man on the face of the planet?
TERRY: Just fine, thank you…today, Sam showed me Grover’s Woods…and
Paradise Acres…and we also had a fascinating tour of the filtration
HOWARD: Oh, yes—the filtration plant…that’s our pride and joy! Did Sam tell you that’s capable of purifying over 86,000 gallons of water per hour?
“No, because by that time he was concentrating on how to unhook my bra.”
Oh, you poor woman. You’re about to experience ennui beyond the threshold of human endurance. Howard generously offers his humble file cabinet to “so charming a researcher,” and then…
HOWARD: Say…in your explorations…you didn’t happen to…uh…come across a dryopteris filix-mas, did you?
TERRY: Well, if we did, it didn’t bite…
Oh, silly woman—Howard is using his fancy expression for the male fern, which he had hoped to acquire for his nature talk tomorrow…so if you’re smart, you’ll wrap this trip up by this evening. Sam offers to give Terry a lift back to her motel later on, but she begs off, telling him she’ll grab a bite to eat at the diner and then walk back. Howard will have none of this!
HOWARD: Oh, gee whiz…that doesn’t sound like Mayberry hospitality, Sam…have you shown her Morelli’s?
HOWARD: Oh, you have to see Morelli’s—that’s our own little bistro! Italian cuisine, soft lights…your choice of wines, white or red…
Yeah, I did cackle out loud at that. Howard seems awfully anxious to get Sam together with Miss Terry, and the only hypothesis I can offer at this point is that he’s still carrying a torch for Millie (see the
episodes “Howard’s Main Event” and “Howard and Millie” for the skinny on that)
so he’s trying to eliminate the competition.
But Terry is convinced that the hallmark of a great town is a really
fine restaurant and that it is worth “researching”…and since it’s all for
“research,” Sam suggests that they take in a meal there…but first, a commercial
TERRY: Oh, perfect!
“If we had known she was-a restaurant critic, we would have had-a the staff wash-a their hands!”
TERRY: Maybe an extra one for the wine!
GINO: Wine…courtesy of Mr. Morelli!
Oh, so Morelli’s comped the wine…that was decent of him. Gino then shows Sam and Terry the newest attraction at the bistro—a gi-normous photo machine that he proudly boasts is “a souvenir of your evening here at Morelli’s.” Sam observes that there’s nothing like that in
because they don’t have as many yokels in that burg as does Mayberry. So the two of them decide to have some snaps
taken…particularly since Mr. Morelli is springing for them as well (he’s a big
spender, that guy). Siler City
They take the goofy pictures…but in the process of waiting for them to develop, it would appear that there are still a few bugs in the system—with Gino saying embarrassedly: “It-a worked fine when the man was-a here.” As he starts to bang on the machine and curse at it in Italian, Sam and Terry decide to take that opportunity to skip out without paying the check.
A scene dissolve finds the couple pitching rocks into Myers’
remarks on the beauty of it all, with Sam observing that “practically anyone
who grew up in Mayberry has a warm spot” for the site.
TERRY: Have you ever thought of developing it? You know, a boathouse…concessions…that sort of thing…
Because you’ve clearly wiped out the city’s treasury on…what, exactly?
TERRY: There are professional concessionaires who could do it and then give the town a share of the profits…
Be a heck of a place to put a strip mall. Sam isn’t completely repulsed by the idea, so he suggests that Terry put the suggestion in her report and then he’ll present it to “the council”—in other words, the next time he, Howard, Emmett and Goob are kicking back over root beers at the service station. Terry then notices a treehouse in a nearby tree…and Sam remarks that “a bunch of kids built that…a few years ago.” (Really, Sam? I thought that was contracted out…) Terry wants to climb up into it, the rationale being…well, we’ll get to that in a sec.
TERRY (as she and Sam are in the treehouse): Hey, you know something? I feel like we’re a couple of kids playing hooky today…
TERRY: You? Solid Sam Jones?
TERRY (laughing): You must have been born and raised right here in Mayberry, huh?
Stamped “B” for boring.
TERRY: You’re lucky…ah, it’s a wonderful town…
TERRY: You never remarried...?
“Plus I have an idiot for a son, so…”
TERRY: Yeah, I know…sometimes a girl waits so long that…by the time she thinks she’s ready all the good men have been taken…
Or are gay.
TERRY: What about a girl like me?
Oh, I think his meaning was rather clear on that, cupcake. This riveting dialogue is interrupted by the cawing of a crow…except it’s not a real crow, it’s Howard imitating one. It would appear that our favorite county clerk is in the middle of his nature talk with the women’s club…but before Sam can alert him that they’re up in the treehouse, Terry waves him off that idea—ostensibly because she thinks people will talk or start singing “Sam and Terry sitting in a tree…” (Actually, I think it’s because she would rather not listen to Howard prattle on about nature, and I can’t say that I blame her.)
You might recognize the red-headed woman in the middle of the group—it’s
HOWARD: That, ladies, is the call of the common crow…it should elicit a response in kind… (There is no response other than the chirping of other birds, so Howard tries his crow impression again)
MISS PRINGLE: Maybe they’re out of season?
Sam whispers to Terry that they’ll probably pass by the treehouse on the way to the lake, so be vewy vewy quiet so as not to give their position away. And that’s when a clap of thunder is heard on the soundtrack, signaling what Howard calls a “summer shower”—so he instructs the women to follow him under the treehouse for shelter…while up above, Sam and Terry get a right soaking.
TERRY: Well, I didn’t know it was going to rain! Oh…what are we going to do?
(Underneath the tree)
MISS PRINGLE: How long do you think we’ll be stuck here?
HOWARD: Oh, not long…this is what’s known in meteorological circles as “transient precipitation”… (Chuckling)
Howard, my man…you are the gift that keeps on giving. I love that screen shot with Howard and the old women huddled together for shelter—though it does make me sad, too, in a way…this is what Mayberry’s Women’s Club has come to since the departure of Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier) and Clara Edwards (Hope Summers). The camera then pans up to the treehouse, where Sam and Terry continue to be drenched by the transient precipitation.
The scene then dissolves to the Jones kitchen, where
is talking to someone on the telephone.
Sam enters, sneezing…because nothing says comedy than someone catching a
cold after being out in the transient precipitation.
That line had me a little baffled…because I don’t know why Millie would be in
Raleigh if she
went to visit her sister in Atlanta. I suppose you could rationalize it by
considering that Millie is such a ditz she would get on the wrong bus and wind
up in Raleigh—but in the ensuing conversation, she says both her sister and her
trip went fine (so the logistics are still a little confusing). Throughout their conversation, Sam does his
best not to sound guilty that he had steamy treehouse sex with Terry while Howard
did bird calls with the women’s group.
Okay, I am kidding about that—but Millie does inquire about the city
planner, asking Sam if “he’s going to be any help” and Sam doesn’t let on that “he”
has a fabulous pair of gams…which earns him another “Girlfriend, please!” look
from Alice. The call concludes with that
time-honored gag of Sam making kissy noises to Millie on the phone, and Alice’s
reaction to that is pretty funny.
The scene then cuts to Terry entering the council office, where she presents her final report to Sam…and she sneezes, reminding everyone of the passionate afternoon the two of them spent in the Treehouse by the
TERRY: Productive…that’s a pretty businesslike word, that “productive”…
TERRY: Look…you don’t have to explain…really…
“And let me tell you…I’ve taken some real uggos up there…” I know I’m being snarky to the extreme here, but I really don’t see what the point of this whole exercise has been—Sam tells Terry in as few words as possible that he’s loyal to Millie even though she’s not wearing his commitment pin or anything, and Terry laments again that “all the good men are taken.” Personally, Ter—you’re better off without Sam unless you’re dedicated to the idea of spending the rest of your life on an alleged farm with him singing Carolina Moon on the porch every freaking night.
So the two of them exchange a chaste handshake, and Sam sneezes again in the hopes that someone will laugh at it even though no one has the first hundred times they did it. There is then a dissolve to a shot of Sam waiting for Millie’s bus to arrive, and some sorely needed dramatic tension arrives in the form of Terry lugging her purple suitcases to where he’s standing.
TERRY: Well, it’s the only one there is…
Schmuck. She tells him not to worry; she won’t make any sudden moves toward Millie or tell her what a great time her boyfriend was in the treehouse as she’s getting off the ‘Hound. The bus pulls up…Millie gets off…and as Terry climbs aboard she and Sam sneeze simultaneously in the hopes that…well, we’ve covered that. Curiously, as Sam is greeting his lady love with hugs and kisses we see Terry giving him a high sign from the window near her seat, almost as if she’s saying “Good choice, Sam! Great ass!”
Oh, let’s leap to the coda on this because if I have to spend any more time with this episode there will be hair-tearing. Sam takes Millie to Mayberry’s own bistro, and as he’s paying the check Millie naturally notices the photo machine…so she wants to have her picture taken. Sam takes Gino aside to ask him if it’s working, and the maitre d‘ assures him that a man spent two hours repairing it that afternoon—they’ll be the first ones to use the machine.
Goofy picture time! (I don’t have to tell you where this is going, do I?) As they patiently wait for the photos to develop, Sam makes a joke about there being a little man inside the machine, something that Millie finds very clever. (He’s repeating a joke Terry made earlier.) The photos emerge from the machine and…
MILLIE: Yes…how about that?
A smarter man would have faked a epileptic seizure about this time, but Sam is most assuredly not that guy—he tells Millie there must be some sort of freaky double exposure problem. “Well, what about this theory,” she posits. “That…uh…this is Terry Philips, the city planner and, uh, you brought her here last Thursday night.” It would appear that Millicent has already been briefed on her boyfriend’s proclivities once the cat was away in
Atlanta. “Don’t you know in a town like this you can’t
keep a secret?” she asks.
Millie simply plans to hold the photos over Sam’s head for the rest of his life (that sounds about right) as she slips them into her purse, and then Sam sneezes again in one last futile attempt to make that funny.
Everybody okay? I know this one was painful to sit through, so I want to make sure everyone is all right…and if you’ll just take a quick moment to sign this waiver absolving the blog of any responsibility we’ll wrap this up. “The City Planner” marks the last appearance of two R.F.D. regulars—the first being congenial idiot Goober Pyle, who you’ll notice didn’t have too much to do in this one…and as such, wasn’t quite as nettlesome as usual. (Actor George Lindsey receives his usual co-starring credit in the next and final episode, “Emmett’s Invention,” but he’s not actually in that show.)