Monday, April 28, 2014

Doris Day(s) #16: “The Clock” (01/28/69, prod. no #8531)

To use an expression that has become popular in describing TV shows of today—this week’s edition is a “very special Doris Day(s).”  The reason for this is that “The Clock” is actually a sporadically funny installment, with a number of laugh-out loud moments (it made me nostalgic for Mayberry Mondays) and appearances from two character greats reprising their roles from past episodes.

As our show opens, it’s established that the Widow Martin (Doris) is wore to a frazzle—wore to a fraz…zle!  We don’t witness the birth, but apparently Alma the family cow was great with calf, and Dor has been up for the past two nights assisting with Alma’s labor.  (Why no one else in the household is dead tired goes unexplained—Doris must have been the only one assisting the vet.)  “Mother and daughter are doing just fine,” Doris assures her loyal housekeeper Juanita (Naomi Stevens) as she wearily drags her ass to the table located in the kitchen nook.

Oh my.  It appears this episode suddenly got interesting (and the blog’s pageview count has increased exponentially).  Sorry to disappoint you—this isn’t what it looks like, despite Doris’ “I think we should have a celebration—don’t you, Juanita?”  Nor is this, in which Juanita appears to be assisting Doris because the boss lady threw back too many tequila slammers:

Doris’ trip upstairs to catch up on her Z’s is interrupted by the arrival of the woman in the screen capture below, whom Doris Day(s) fans might remember (provided they refrained from drinking heavily after reading the write-up) from “The Friend.”  The role of Grace Henley is played by actress Peggy Rea, whom you’ve seen on The Waltons and Grace Under Fire; she would later work with Doris Day Show co-star Denver Pyle on The Dukes of Hazzard (Peggy played Lulu Hogg in several episodes).  Grace must have roaming privileges in the Webb household (“Yoo-hoo!  Doris!”)—she kind of just barges right in without so much as a door knock or bell ring.

GRACE: Oh, boy—what have you been up to?
DORIS: Well…
GRACE: Look…I just came to drop this off and check on your report…

Sometimes Doris’ reactions are the only things that keep me going.

DORIS: Oh, no…
GRACE: Don’t tell me you forgot
DORIS: Yes…oh, shoot…

Doris!  You watch your phraseology!

DORIS: You don’t have to have it until tomorrow, do you?
GRACE: Well, three o’clock the committee meets…and we can’t proceed with our other plans until we have the financial report…
DORIS: You got it…
GRACE: Promise?

Oh, Dor…you saucy minx!  Seeing Grace’s face fall, Doris reassures her she’s just kidding, so Grace takes her leave after telling her tired pal she’ll see her tomorrow at three.  “There goes my nap,” Doris tells Juanita sadly, and she orders her domestic to fix her a strong pot of joe.

My heart kind of skipped a beat in the next scene—not necessarily because inept handyman Leroy B. Semple Simpson (James Hampton) has returned to the show, but because this vehicle pulls up while Leroy is chopping a few cords of wood…

Yes, I thought for a moment I might have wandered into an episode of Green Acres by mistake, since that chug-a-bug looks similar to the truck driven by Hooterville’s resident con man Eustace Haney (Pat Buttram).  But as is so often our mantra here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: we simply aren’t that lucky.  We’ll have to settle for second best—or Haney-Lite—in the form of Tyrone Lovey, played by the incomparable Strother Martin, last seen in “Love a Duck.”  It is indeed a tragedy that Martin’s Lovey only appears in two Doris Day Show episodes; sure, you can make a strong argument that with the show’s gradual shift to action in the big city in future seasons it would have been hard to work him in…but many of the second season shows still take place at Rancho Webb, so it wouldn’t have been too challenging.  As Lovey brings his jitney to a stop, Leroy alerts the Laird and Master (Pyle) of Webb Farms as to his arrival.

LEROY: Tyrone Lovey’s here, Mr. Webb…
BUCK: So he is…now watch him…he’s liable to steal the barn…

I laughed out loud at Pyle’s delivery of that.  Leroy assures his employer he’ll “watch him like a hawk”—but to ease everyone’s fears, Lovey is not here to purloin a few more of the Webb Family’s feathered fowl…he’s here to talk bidness.

BUCK: What you got there, Lovey?
LOVEY: What have I got here?  (He climbs up on the truck) What have I…got here…? (Giggling) A sight to gladden the heart of your little girl…you’re gonna thank ol’ Lovey for this…

Tyrone removes the tarp with a flourish, revealing an antique highboy underneath.  As if scripted, Doris wanders out to the yard in time to see the furniture on Lovey’s truck.  “Just look at the gleam in that little girl’s eyes,” beams Tyrone…and this elicited a giggle, since that “gleam” is due mostly to Doris’ lack of sleep.

LOVEY: Like the eyes of a child on a Christmas morning!
BUCK: How much?
LOVEY: Buck Webb…you ought to be ashamed talkin’ money at a time like this…
BUCK: How much, Lovey?
LOVEY (to Doris): Missy…would I let money stand between you and your heart’s desire?
BUCK (under his breath): Oh, boy…
LOVEY: I’ll tell you what we will do…we will take this beautiful piece of furniture inside…and set it up where it’s gonna be…
LOVEY: It may be…that you won’t like it once you see how it looks…
BUCK: No you don’t!  We deal for this right here and…

Doris interrupts her pop—telling him that Lovey is right; it may not fit and if it doesn’t, they won’t want to buy it.  So Buck resignedly climbs into Tyrone’s truck and prepares to do the heavy lifting required to tote the highboy upstairs.  “Well, now…I’d like to help you,” explains Lovey, “I really would…but my back has been actin’ up somethin’ fierce lately.”

“I had a feeling you was gonna say something like that,” grumbles Buck.  Buck orders Leroy to give him a hand, and Doris…

…well, I don’t think we’re going to be able to count on Dor.  Buck wakes her up by stomping a couple of times on the truck bed, and Doris wakes up in a funny fashion.  “I’ll clear a place in my room,” she answers groggily.

A few minutes of amusing physical comedy follow: Buck and Leroy are trying to haul the highboy up the stairs but the drawers are sliding out (“Buck!  Leroy!  You’re losin’ your drawers!” warns Lovey).  As the two movers negotiate that tricky turn on the stairway Leroy loses his grip, pinning Buck to the wall with the furniture.  “You are crushing Buck,” admonishes Lovey.

Lovey, Buck and Leroy manage to bring the highboy into Doris’ room…where our heroine is sacked out on the bed.  Buck wakes her up with a “Doris!” and she sleepily walks over to the opposite wall, while trying to move a loveseat out of the way.  (Tyrone can’t help her, because bad back.)  Leroy finally sets the highboy down (and staggers over to a chair, out of breath) so that the four of them can admire their handiwork.

LOVEY: It fits in this room…like it was meant to be…
DORIS: Oh, it’s beautiful
BUCK (muttering to Doris): When he starts talkin’ about price…remember the big table in the kitchen… (To Tyrone) Uh…how much are you askin’ for this thing?
LOVEY: Well…uh…Buck…seein’ as how we’re neighbors…and because it does my heart good the way your little gal took to it…I am going to let you have this beautiful highboy…
BUCK: How much?
LOVEY: …for practically what it cost me
BUCK (angrier): How much, Lovey?
LOVEY: Eighty-five dollars…
BUCK: Eighty-five dollars?

“That’s not bad,” observes Doris.  “Well, in San Francisco it would cost twice that much…I know that.”  (A little bit of sitcom foreshadowing for Season Tres.)

LOVEY: That’s right, Missy…in San Francisco…that’s right…
BUCK: You haven’t been ten miles outside of Cotina…what do you know about San Francisco?
LOVEY: Well, they got the fire out—I know that

Laughed out loud at that, too.

BUCK: I’ll give you half
LOVEY: Buck…I couldn’t do that…
BUCK: All right—no sale!

Since Buck has made his mind up, Doris sleepily tells him “you better take it down then.”  “I’ll chip in, Mr. Webb,” chimes Leroy in a please-don’t-make-me-lug-this-back-downstairs voice, which was good for a giggle.  So Buck reluctantly opens his wallet and starts counting out the eighty-five.

“You just said…” starts Doris, but Buck interrupts.  “It’s either him or the chiropractor,” he says with finality.

But Tyrone isn’t quite finished.  “Missy,” he continues, “this here highboy…it needs somethin’ on it.  And I know just the thing…a nice, beautiful, chimin’ clock.”  Doris opens her mouth wide in amazement, which is Buck’s cue to give Tyrone a fast trip out of the bedroom.

DORIS (to Leroy): You know something…he’s right…he’s got an eye…a chiming clock would look just…perfect on it…
LEROY: Yeah…it would kinda fill up that hole, wouldn’t it?

DORIS: Uh-huh…
LEROY: Are they expensive?
DORIS: Oh, yeah…it’s not in my budget right now anyway…

But it just might be in Mr. Simpson’s budget—particularly since he has precious little outlets to spend the mere pittance that Buck and Doris pay him for working the Webb estate.

A dissolve finds Doris’ spawn, Billy (Philip Brown) and Toby (Tod Starke) running to the front door, calling out Leroy’s name.  Doris walks in from the kitchen just as Leroy enters with a package—it’s clear she’s not been to bed yet, but she tells him goodnight.  As Leroy brings the package in, the kids are curious as to what’s inside; he tells Billy and Toby “You’ll never guess in a million years!”

Unfortunately for Leroy, there’s a rather audible ticking emanating from the package…and while Toby may be slow, he’s not that slow.  “I know—it’s a clock!” he exclaims.

“Well, if it’s not,” jokes Buck, “we all better start running.”  Doris melts at Leroy’s thoughtfulness, and she opens the clock at the foot of the stairs.  “Oh, look,” she wails.  “Just what I’ve always wanted…look, boys!”  The kids respond with the enthusiasm usually reserved for the news that they’re getting a vaccination during this visit to the doctor.

DORIS: Hey…let’s go up and see how it looks, huh?
BUCK: Why don’t we do that tomorrow?  If you’re gonna get that report out, you better get crackin’…
DORIS: Oh…yeah…you know something?  I’m…I’m so tired I think that I’m just going to do it in the morning, you know?  Anyway…oh, I just love it…

Doris needs Leroy to pull her up off the stairs so she can give him a thank-you kiss, and in the next scene we find Dodo sleeping peacefully, dreaming her dreamy dreams.  (As Warner Brothers fans know—she’ll see you in her dreams.)

But enough of these obscure movie references.  The camera pans over to the clock in the highboy, as it begins to chime ten times because it’s 10pm.  However, the chimes resemble the sound of someone standing in Doris’ room, furious clanging two pans together.

A half-asleep Doris takes the clock into her bathroom, and gingerly places it in the tub, covering it with a bathmat.  She resists the urge to drown it, and instead heads back to her bed for some badly needed rest.

But, no!  An hour later, the clock strikes eleven and chimes again—so loudly that Doris falls out of bed!  You kook!

Naturally, with that racket going on all night…Doris is in no shape to attend the committee meeting that afternoon.  She’s asleep in a chair, looking as if she burnt the candle at both ends the night previous.  After Grace finishes her presentation, she calls upon Doris for her report.

Doris!  Wakey wakey!  Eggs and bakey!

Doris gets to her feet, and with pointer in hand, informs the committee that at the beginning of the year they started out with six thousand dollars in the treasury.  Grace gently corrects Doris—they actually had a balance of sixty dollars.  (Hey—just a little sloppy accounting, nothing to get too worked up about.)

Doris!  Up and at ‘em, sunshine!  Well, our heroine valiantly struggles to remain awake…but if you’ve got any money on The Sandman in this bout, prepare to collect your winnings from Monty the Gonif.  Doris performs some amusing physical comedy, running her pointer through the chart (“There goes March,” she chirps).  Finally, Buck emerges from the kitchen and informs the other committee members that “this isn’t what it looks like.”

I love this bit, where Pyle carries Doris off like she was a sack of grass seed.  He calls out for Juanita, and as he takes Doris upstairs the other women can be heard in sympathy (“This report can wait, can’t it, girls,” says Grace sadly).  A dissolve finds Juanita tucking Doris into bed, and then she turns to Buck.

BUCK: Well, that tears it…there’s only one thing to do—get rid of that clock…
JUANITA: She won’t let you…that was a present from Leroy
BUCK: Well, present or no present…she can’t go on with no sleep like this…it’ll ruin her health!

The two of them tiptoe out of Doris’ room…but another dissolve finds Buck sneaking back in later that evening.  He removes the clock from where Doris had it in the bathroom, and then starts downstairs—the only problem is that Nelson (Lord Nelson), the faithful family mutt, is whining and growling at him for invading His Mistress’ boudoir.  Lifting up the phone receiver, Buck dials a few digits…

BUCK (whispering): Hello…Lovey?  Buck Webb… (Pause) No, I haven’t got a cold!  Well, never mind why I’m talkin’ this way—listen…how would you like to have a genuine antique clock…free?!!

After the Ralston-Purina break, Tyrone Lovey noisily pulls up in his teakettle Town and Country…and Buck yells at him to “turn that motor off!”  “What are you trying to do, wake everybody up?” he asks.

“Is the family sleepin’?” Lovey asks him.  “Well, what do you suppose at 3:00 in the mornin’ they’d be doin’?” responds Buck sarcastically.  (“Hey…I’ve heard stories around Cotina, Buck…that’s all I’m willin’ to say.”)

LOVEY: Hey…hey…that is a nice lookin’ clock…I bet that would look real good on Miss Doris’ highboy, huh?
BUCK (handing him the clock): Now this is what you come for…you got it, now get movin’…
LOVEY: Uh-uh…not too fast…I bet you got this insured pretty good, ain’tcha?
BUCK (yelling): What are you…? (Tyrone places a finger to his lips, and Buck starts to whisper) Talkin’ about?
LOVEY: Shoot, Buck…you don’t have to play cozy with ol’ Tyrone…I expect you’re gonna get a pretty penny back from the insurance company
BUCK (glaring): Lovey…you wanted a clock…you got a clock…now get out of here…

It’s not that Tyrone isn’t willing to help his pal out.  It’s just that at the time he agreed to take the clock off of Buck’s hands, he didn’t realize it was a chiming clock.  “Everybody knows it’s bad luck to travel at night with a chimin’ clock in your truck,” he explains.  He got that “straight from a gypsy fortuneteller.”

LOVEY: It’s ten years of nasty bad luck
BUCK: And just what would it take to ward off that…uh…ten years of nasty bad luck?
LOVEY: Well…I don’t think that a dollar a year would be too much…do you?

Buck gazes up at the second floor where Doris’ bedroom is located…then reluctantly fishes a sawbuck out of his wallet to give to Lovey as we dissolve to the family kitchen.  It is morning, and while Buck and Leroy are finishing off a hearty breakfast of baklava smothered with sticky buns, Doris conveys the news to all assembled that her clock…is gone!

DORIS: Hey…did one of you take the clock from my room?
DORIS: Well, it’s gone!
LEROY: You mean somebody stole it?
DORIS: Well, if none of you here took it…well, then…I don’t know…

The first rule in the Shreve household when I was growing up was that anytime something was broken or missing, the interrogation of the children commenced immediately.  (This was to prevent my sisters and me from “lawyering up,” to use the vernacular of Law & Order and its various franchises.)  How Billy and Toby escaped this questioning I attribute to writer Joe Bonaduce’s desperate need to wrap this episode up.

DORIS: All I know is when I woke up…it was gone… (Buck has difficulty concealing his guilt) Leroy…I’m just…if it’s true…I’m just sick about it!
LEROY (getting up from the table): I’m gonna call the sheriff…
BUCK (stammering): Well, what…what…what good will that do?
LEROY: I’ll offer a reward!
DORIS: Oh, I just feel terrible
BUCK: I…I can’t tell you how that makes me feel…

We hear that familiar “ding” on the soundtrack…followed by another…and no, it’s not the bell on a typewriter.  Doris is using her special tingly mom sense to discern that something is not quite kosher.  A dissolve then brings us to the Webb family living room, where Doris, Leroy and Buck have congregated—Leroy asks if Doris has heard from the sheriff yet.  “Not a word,” she says firmly.

BUCK: Doris, will you quit frettin’ over that dang clock?
DORIS: I like to know who did it!
BUCK: Well, if I thought it was that important to you I’d have… (He stops suddenly)


DORIS: You’d have what?
BUCK: Forget it…
LEROY: You know what I think?  I think that there’s a gang of clock thieves loose in this neighborhood…

“I’m warning you, Dobbs!”  Buck presses upon Leroy to shut up about the freakin’ clock, but his handyman reminds him about the reward he’s offering.  And speaking of “reward,” outside we hear the “toot-toot” of the Loveymobile…and as Tyrone is welcomed inside, he carries with him…the clock.

DORIS: Where did you find it?
LOVEY: Well…I…it is the strangest thing…
DORIS: Well, it sure is! (Soundtrack ding)
LOVEY: Now simply there I was…drivin’ along the road on my way to prayer meetin’…when I saw this light in the brush…well…I’m not a suspicious man by nature—and never have been—but something told me I oughta take a look-see…and what do you think I saw?
BUCK (resignedly): A…clock…
LOVEY: No!  I saw a gang of clock thieves…and…and they was makin’ their escape in this truck just loaded with clocks…
DORIS (noticing that Buck is slinking upstairs): Where are you going?
BUCK: Well…I thought I’d get my pipe…or…
DORIS: Don’t you want to hear the rest of the story?

There’s really not much left to tell—which is good, since that means we’ll get out of here early for a change.  Lovey continues embellishing his story—the “thieves” lost one of the clocks in their escape, and Tyrone brought it over to the Webb farm to see if it belonged to Doris.  Which it does.  (Quel surprise!)  As Buck tries to give Tyrone the bum’s rush, Tyrone brings up the small matter of the reward…and Leroy, a man of his word, rushes out to his room in the barn to get the money.

DORIS: …now I don’t think Leroy should have to pay this…
BUCK: Well…if he was fool enough to offer…

Major emphasis on “fool.”

DORIS: Now, wait a minute…the clock was stolen from our house…don’t you think you should pay for it?
BUCK: Well…
(Doris gives him The Look, so he pulls his wallet from the back of his pants and opens it up…then hands some bills to Lovey)
TYRONE: That’s ten…and twenty…thanks…

“Evenin’, Missy,” Tyrone tells Doris as Buck hustles him out the door.  “I’m glad I was lucky enough to find the clock…”  What a swell guy.

DORIS: It kind of backfired, didn’t it?
BUCK: Now…no third degree…I confess…but I just couldn’t stand to see you walking around here like a zombie…

The Doris Day Show…cross-pollenated with The Walking Dead.  Oddly enough, I’d watch that.

DORIS: Look…I appreciate your kind thoughts…but did you have to do it this way?  I mean, we could have thought of something
BUCK: Uh-huh…well, you got your clock back…you may never sleep again—but Leroy’s feelings won’t be hurt…

Oh, Buckley…you foolish mortal, wearing the manure-stained footwear.  There’s a reason why we’re always hearing so many “dings” on the soundtrack of this show—never misunderestimate Doris’ motherhood powers.

DORIS: Maybe not!
BUCK (as he stops on the stairs): What do you mean?
DORIS: You know—something happened to my clock when it fell off the truck… (As she plays with the clock hands) It sure is running fast…do you think Leroy could fix it?
BUCK: Leroy?!!
DORIS: Uh-huh…
BUCK: That boy has trouble tyin’ his own shoelaces!
DORIS: Yeah…
BUCK: He couldn’t fix that clock in a million years without wreckin’ it!
DORIS: Right

Then the penny drops for Buck.  “Right!” he agrees conspiratorially.

Let’s put this one to bed only because the coda is fairly anti-climactic—Leroy is in the living room, working on Doris’ “broken clock”; there’s a towel nearby him with various clock parts and tools, and he’s being assisted in the “repair” by Doris’ cheese-loving sons.  Doris and Buck are seated in a chair and on the sofa, respectively, getting ready to high-five one another over the brilliance of their plan.

Leroy grabs what he believes to be an essential cog in the clock’s works, then Toby informs him “That’s from my tiddlywinks set.”  Finally, he finishes attending to the clock and he closes the cover (he’s got a few spare parts left over, too).  The clock’s internal ticking mechanism can be heard loudly as Doris and Buck stare at one another in disbelief.  When Leroy moves the hands to 3:00 to check out the chime, the clock rings out noisily…one…two…three…four…five…six… (Leroy, you’re incorrigible!)

Next time on Doris Day(s): a dismal little outing entitled “The Buddy,” which features appearances from two character greats.  One of them is an old-time radio veteran (Let George Do It, Wild Bill Hickok, Dragnet) who’s best remembered for the movie line: “Nothing's too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance!”  The other…well, I’ll let my Twitter compadre Stephen Bowie tell you all about her here.  Be sure to join me!

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