It’s the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear feature that is making news all over social media—and generating the type of buzz that sounds amazingly like: “That guy must have eaten a lot of school paste as a kid.” Yes, it’s Doris Day(s)…and this week’s episode just goes to demonstrate that despite its stupefyingly bland trappings, The Doris Day Show was fearless when tackling controversial issues of its day.
Our episode unfolds in the barn at Rancho Webb, where we find Toby (Tod Starke)—the youngest and painfully slow son of The Widow Martin—peering into bales of hay as his older brother Billy (Philip Brown), family dog Nelson (Lord Nelson) and farmhand Leroy B.
TOBY: I can’t see anything…
BILLY: What are we gonna do, Leroy?
TOBY: Yeah! What are we gonna do, Leroy?
LEROY: Gonna have to move that hay…that’s all there is to it…
BILLY: All of it?
Wow! Major family crisis! Buck Webb (Denver Pyle), the boys’ grandfather and Mr. Simpson’s employer, enters the barn and his lackey greets him with “Oh…hi there, Mr. Webb! What are you doin’ here?”
“I own the place,” is his curmudgeonly response.
TOBY: Just lookin’…
BILLY: Leroy lost somethin’…
LEROY: Figured it might be in the haystack...
Ha! That’s something Goober Pyle would have…on second thought—even Goober was never dumb enough to misplace a tractor.
LEROY: Well…that’s where the tractor was this mornin’ before them fool
brothers delivered the hay… Carson
LEROY: Oh…no sir, Mr. Webb… (Pointing to his right) I told ‘em to stack it over there on the north wall…
Oh, Leroy. You’re incorrigible. Well, as if it were scripted, The Widow Martin (that’s Dodo) comes riding in on the very tractor Leroy thought he misplaced. “Hi, gang!” she greets all assembled as she turns the tractor off.
TOBY: Just looking for the tractor…
We met Maxwell Digby (Woodrow Parfrey) in last week’s episode, “The Uniform,” so let’s concentrate on our female guest, shall we? She’s character great (Margaret) Peggy Rea—who’s perhaps best known as Rose Burton, the cousin of Olivia Walton on the TV drama The Waltons; Rea’s Rose appeared in the last two seasons of the series to compensate for the departure of some of the adult actors. Rea also had regular roles on The Dukes of Hazzard (as “Boss” Hogg’s wife Lulu), Step by Step (Ivy Baker) and Grace under Fire, where she played the titular character’s horribly racist mother-in-law. If you keep an eye peeled while watching reruns of Have Gun – Will Travel, you’ll see Peggy in occasional small parts but you’ll also become familiar with her name because she worked as a casting director on that show. Peggy plays “Grace Henley” in both this episode and “The Clock”…then later turns up in a third first season episode (as a different character) in addition to an episode in the show’s last season.
Doris comes into the kitchen, and like the courtly gentleman he is, Digby rises from his seat and reaches out to her in a greeting…but she waves him off, owing to the fact that she’s been working and is all sweaty (“I’m just a mess!”). She asks Aggie to throw her a towel, and then the conclave commences.
DIGBY: Well, Mrs. Martin…at yesterday’s committee meeting at school…I was appointed faculty advisor for the milk fund drive…
GRACE: Oh, well that’s not the news…
Doris a cup of
GRACE: No…no…Mr. Digby?
DIGBY: Well, I recognized something had to be done when I discovered your committee couldn’t possibly fulfill its pledge of 200 pints of milk a day for the children…
GRACE: Well, Margie Benson marked the cards all wrong and everybody won! There weren’t any profits!
Incidentally, the character that Rea plays in the later first season episode is Dorothy Benson…and if Cotina is anything like Mayberry there’s probably…well, forget I mentioned it..
DIGBY: Mrs. Martin…last summer I developed a new feeding formula for Henry Pritchart…
GRACE: The owner of the
AGGIE: He’s still on formula?
Yes, I did laugh out loud at this. (Last week, Digby was a music teacher…now he’s some wizard/genius solving Cotina’s hunger problems. Science!) Grace reveals that the two of them went to see Mr. Pritchart, “and to make a long story short…” well, it’s a little late for that. Be that as it may, Pritchart has graciously agreed to supply 200 pints of milk a day for the school kids.
DIGBY: Oh, yes…yes…yes…he is very generous…
Sheah…he’s probably writing it off on his tax return.
GRACE: But on one condition…
“That’s why Mr. Digby has the French maid costume and the riding crop out in the Edsel…and we have to hurry, because the rental place closes at five…”
GRACE: …in return for his generosity…we have agreed…to let him photograph a typical American farm mother and her children…
“Thus the maid’s uniform and riding crop…”
GRACE: …for his new advertising campaign!
GRACE: Then you’ll do it…?
Yay Doris and milk! After a round of applause from Grace and Digby, the scene shifts to the offices of Henry R. Pritchart, milk mogul…in this instance played by another character veteran, the legendary R.G. Armstrong. As you may be aware, Armstrong passed away in July of 2012 at the age of 95…and left behind a resume of TV and film appearances that threaten the very bandwidth of the Internets. In addition to regular roles on such series as T.H.E. Cat, Friday the 13th and Millennium he guested on all the greats: Perry Mason, The Rifleman, Maverick, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive and on and on and on. A majority of his high-profile film roles involved westerns: No Name on the Bullet, Ride the High Country,
PRITCHART (seated at his desk, looking at photos): Perfect…absolutely perfect! What do you think, Mitchell?
MITCHELL: Very nice…
PRITCHART: Very nice?
Pritchart’s “yes man” is identified in the credits as Brig Mitchell, and he’s played by an actor named George Morgan. Before the Day gig (sorry about the pun), Morgan appeared in Chafed Elbows, a 1966 movie directed by indie film provocateur Robert Downey, Sr…and in fact, George would have small roles in Downey’s best known vehicles, Putney Swope and Greaser’s Palace. Morg did some other guest roles—The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Bonanza, etc.—but his big break was playing Father Mulcahy in the 1972 TV pilot for M*A*S*H. Unfortunately for George, two episodes later they recast the part with the now better known William Christopher.
PRITCHART: Exactly…now that’s what I’m talking about! Real kids…not those model types I keep seein’ on TV…
MITCHELL: You’re absolutely right…congratulations, sir!
PRITCHART: For what? They’re her kids!
MITCHELL: Of course…congratulations, Mrs. Martin…
MITCHELL (as Pritchart joins in laughing): Well, at least it wasn’t lit!
We may have a record here. This is the second time I laughed out loud…though admittedly it was at the thought of
Doris’ dumb kid with a candle in his ear, sitting at a table surrounded by kids .
PRITCHART: Mitchell’s our advertising man…I brought him here from
to spread the word about the dairy and create a…create
a…what was that? Phoenix
MITCHELL: An image, sir…
Pritchart explains that while Mitchell may know images, he knows families…and that’s why he wants Dor to be the spokesperson for Sunnyvale Milk. But Mitchell has a thought—which pleases his boss, because that’s what he’s paying him for…
MITCHELL: That’s too bad…
“Do you think Candle Boy would agree to wear a blonde wig and a dress?”
PRITCHART: Uh…what do you mean, “too bad”?
MITCHELL: Oh, I don’t mean bad too bad, sir…I mean that…according to the latest survey…
’s ideal family is 3.8 children…two boys, and…well…almost two girls… America
Doris is worried that this will disqualify her from hawking Pritchart’s milk, but the boss man will have none of that—he wants Doris and her family, and Mitchell goes from zero to suck-up in five-point-two seconds. The simple solution? They’ll find two girls to be the Martin boys’ sisters, even though
Doris is a little apprehensive
about this because everyone who knows her knows that she has only the two kids…and
you know how small-town folk like to talk.
MITCHELL: Well, we’re not asking you to represent yourself really, Mrs. Martin…the picture will simply represent…an image…
PRITCHART: Uh…where are you going to get the little girls?
MITCHELL: From an agency…
PRITCHART (slamming a hand down on his desk): No models!
MITCHELL: Now, Mrs. Martin…the one thing we don’t want is models…
I’m going to skip over a lot of this next segment because it’s mostly a lot of alleged visual comedy: Mitchell has hired a photographer to take the snap of
Doris and her extended family, and
for some odd reason Buck keeps wandering into the picture, only to be shooed
away by Mitchell. I do want to take a
quick moment to show you the man behind the camera…
…he answers to “
So most of this is just Buck sneaking back into the viewfinder of
Harvey’s camera and Mitchell
removing him…finally, maid Aggie descends the backstairs that lead from the
kitchen to the bedrooms and looks at Buck:
AGGIE: What are you all dressed up for?
AGGIE: Well, you’re wearing a tie…
AGGIE: Stand by the fireplace…you’ll get warm and be in the picture…
MITCHELL (almost to himself): I forgot the milk…I forgot the milk!
MITCHELL: That’ll never do…
(Aggie brings a glass over to Doris, who pours a generous amount of milk into it. Mitchell looks at it again.)
MITCHELL: Well…it looks like ours—doesn’t it?
Billy arrives via the back door, and he’s brought a playmate! The character goes by “Jackie Clements” in the credits, though she’s only identified by her first name. (The reason for this is that the character makes a return appearance to the series in the later “The Black Eye.”) But you shouldn’t have any trouble recognizing her as actress Lisa Gerritsen, who played Bess Lindstrom—the daughter of Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman)—on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Phyllis.
Now…there have been more than a few of you who have taken perverse delight at my revulsion with child actors (don’t think I didn’t see those Twitter rumors saying I live in a house made of gingerbread) but Gerritsen was an exception to the rule—I never found her insufferably cloying, like many of her kiddie thespian ilk. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Lisa also starred on the short-lived Emmy Award-winning sitcom My World and Welcome to It, which has now become my new Holy Grail as far as a
release is concerned. She was
sensational on that as daughter Lydia. Gerritsen is also the granddaughter of
legendary screenwriter True Boardman (Jr.) who, in addition to penning such
Abbott & Costello films as Ride ‘Em
Cowboy and Pardon My Sarong, was
a radio announcer (The Silver Theatre, Favorite Story) and writer (Family
Jackie is warmly welcomed by
and Mitchell (after running Buck off for the umpteenth time) starts to arrange
the members of the photo in the fashion he desires. And look!
Here comes Toby, who announces “I brought my sister!” Doris greets this girl
as well…yet oddly enough, the camera stays on Doris, Billy and Jackie as the
other “sister” talks to Doris on the soundtrack. Here’s the shorthand version of why this is
so—though if anyone’s ever seen the classic Dick Van Dyke Show
episode “That’s My Boy??” you’ll have seen this punchline coming a mile away.
MITCHELL: And now the other little boy…
Back from the Ralston-Purina break, the sticky wicket of Toby’s little school pal being blah isn’t addressed immediately—they have to ease into this, you know. They do this by featuring more alleged comedy with the doltish farmhand known as Leroy, who’s playing “hide-and-seek” with the kids as opposed to getting his chores done. With the mood lightened, we then get to the serious issue at hand.
MITCHELL: Mrs. Martin—what are we going to do?
MITCHELL: About what? About your son’s choice…what in the world did you tell him?
DORIS: Oh…well…I told him to bring home a little girl that he would like to have for a sister…that’s exactly what he did…
“I guess he just took ‘sister’ a little too literally.”
MITCHELL: Why not? Because…because we just can’t!
MITCHELL: Well, we just have to replace her…
MITCHELL: We’ll just have to replace her…
MITCHELL: No…no, I was planning on you doing that…
“Oh, don’t look so surprised—I’m in advertising…of course I’m going to behave like a douchebag!”
begins yelling at Mitchell, standing firm that she won’t tell the little
girl—identified as “Patty,” and played by Cheri Grant—that she can’t be in the
milk ad with her lily white friends.
Mitchell says simply that he’s just thinking about his job. It just makes Doris so
Well, we go back to the barn to ease the palpable dramatic tension. Buck enters carrying a tray with cookies and some milk that is definitely not that of the
LEROY: For me? You didn’t have to do that…
“Nincompoop,” as Doris Day(s) fans (both of you) will learn, is Buck’s term of endearment for his farmhand…because at that particular time CBS wouldn’t let him say “sh*thead.”
LEROY: Uh…no, sir…I’ve just been workin’ around here…
Lord Nelson commences to barking as Jackie and Patti come running into the barn yelling “Free!”—an indication that Leroy’s dedication to getting his work done has taken a back seat to his joining the children in their youthful romps and games.
LEROY: Well…yes, sir…Mr. Webb…I moved all that hay over on the south wall where you said it was supposed to go…
BILLY (running up to the two of them): You’re “it,” Leroy…Grandpa—they already take your picture yet?
BILLY: Okay…when they want us, we’ll be here…come on, Leroy—you’re “it” again…
LEROY: Oh…I’m gonna cut them fence posts…
“That rapier-sharp wit of yours, you old fossil…”
LEROY: I don’t know, Mr. Webb…but you used it last…where’d you leave it?
Oh, Leroy…will you ever win? Buck cracks a lame hide-and-seek joke, and then a dissolve finds he and Doris seated in the breakfast nook as Dor watches the kids at play and Buck drinks from that gi-normous coffee mug of his. Little known trivia fact that I just made up: Buck was one of the masterminds behind 7-Eleven’s “Big Gulp”—because when your coffee intake results in your being up 22 hours each day, you tend to think about things like this.
BILLY (appearing at the back door): Hey, Mom—Patty and Jackie have to go pretty soon…where’d everybody go?
BILLY: Oh…you mean because of Patty?
(Buck and Doris look at one another)
BILLY: Oh…I guess maybe I should have told you, huh…?
BILLY: Patty hates milk…
Kids. You know I love ‘em!
BILLY: ‘Cause he likes her!
“I believe his words were: ‘You’re sweeter than the honey that the bees make…soul sister…you’re brown sugar.’” Okay, I’m just funning—Billy’s explanation has something to do with the fact that Toby and Patty are the dodgeball champions in their class, and the ball they use belongs to Patty. I don’t buy this, by the way—only because that little mook Toby doesn’t look as if he’s aggressive enough to play dodgeball…if memory (and bruises) from high school haven’t failed me.
Maybe this isn’t the time to bring this up…but couldn’t you people supply “homegrown” milk to those kids? Just a thought…
Here is what is so interesting about Buck’s line—he identifies R.G. Armstrong’s character as “Emery Pritchart”…and yet the closing credits clearly identify him as “Henry R. Pritchart.” (Also, Parfrey’s Digby identifies him as “Henry” as well.) So there appears to be a major continuity boo-boo here. This is not just nitpicking; Buck later vouches for “Emery” by commenting that he “knows him” (I’m assuming this is not in the biblical sense)…and since the dialogue also establishes that the two of them (Doris and Buck) are talking about the same person—it’s interesting to note this in light of what transpires in the upcoming paragraphs. It’s a little disturbing because Emery/Henry turns out to be a bit of a racist dink. (Maybe Buck knows him from the Klan meetings.)
(Also, too; Doris has a line—“Yeah, well, he works for him and I know that type…just because he owns a big factory he thinks that he can go around bullying everybody and just getting away with everything.” Doris Day is a lifelong Republican and she’s upset by people like this? Welcome to the one percent, sweet cheeks.)
Buck suggests to
PRITCHART: And I want to talk to you!
PRITCHART: No…you’ve got a problem…we made a deal…I would deliver 200 pints of milk a day to your school and you would let us take a picture of your family…
PRITCHART: Your family, Mrs. Martin…now does that little girl…what’s her name?
PRITCHART: Does she look like a part of your family?
“Mrs. Martin, that child is a (bell clang)…”
PRITCHART: I don’t think so! My truck has already delivered 200 pints of milk to your school…now we expect you to keep your part of the bargain…
PRITCHART: Oh, come now, Mrs. Martin!
PRITCHART: Explain it biologically…
“I’ll lend you my copy of Murray and Herrnstein’s The
PRITCHART: Well, she is different!
PRITCHART (getting up from his desk): We’ve spent a lot of time and money on this campaign…what do you expect us to do? Change it?
“Boss…I’m just motherhenning this but...what’s your reaction to this slogan: ‘Sunnyvale Milk—Why Do You Think It’s White?’”
tells Pritchart that, yes—he should change the campaign.
Ohhhh...I'm sorry. The answer we were looking for was "breasts."
Theoretically, maybe. My sister Kat—couldn’t stand the stuff. Our family went to a Howard Johnson’s one time when we were on vacation, and to get rid of her milk (ordered at breakfast by my Doris Day-like mom, natch) she downed it in one breath. Seeing that her glass was empty, the waitress took her glass…and brought her back a fresh serving. (Forty years later and we’re still laughing like hell about that.)
DORIS: …children of every size, shape and color…now the picture that you’re asking for shows one family drinking Sunnyvale Milk…is that the image that you really want? I mean, what about all the other families in town? What kind of milk are they drinking? So I say—why not make
milk? Why not take a picture of me, my
children and their friends drinking Sunnyvale Milk…that’s the image that you want, Mr. Pritchart…that’s the image to
be proud of…and I guarantee you…it
will help business… (She gives him a big wink) Sunnyvale
PRITCHART: Are you finished?
PRITCHART: Mitchell…I hired you to take care of my advertising campaign…is there any reason why I have to listen to this?
“No, sir…I shall release the hounds post haste!”
MITCHELL: Oh no, sir…no, I’ll get rid of her…come along, Mrs. Martin… (He takes
Doris to the
office door) That’s right, just right out there…
PRITCHART: Mitchell! When you get back…be sure and have the picture…
What picture? The picture that’s going to get
Doris calls Buck into the kitchen
(she calls him “Buckaroo”) and tries to tell him about Mitchell’s new campaign
Lovers’ quarrel? No, Buck is hurt because Mitchell kept moving him out of the photograph during the first milk campaign, so Doris assumes out loud that he’ll want no part of the new idea in which her father will pose for the photo. She phones Mr. Mitchell to tell him “no dice” and that’s when Buck starts to have second thoughts, grabbing the phone away from his daughter. “You big phony!”
Doris hisses at
Buck. ( Doris—you
watch your phraseology!)