Monday, December 22, 2014

Doris Day(s) #39: “A Two-Family Christmas” (12/22/69, prod. no #0416)


Welcome to the First Annual Doris Day(s) Christmas Special!  With the Widder Martin and her family (Philip Brown, Tod Starke)!  Curmudgeonly old Buck Webb (Denver Pyle)!  Myrna Gibbons (Rose Marie)! Michael Nicholson (McLean Stevenson)!  Ron Harvey (Paul Smith)!  The World of Sid and Marty Krofft!  And Paul Lynde as Santa Claus!  (Okay…I may be fibbing about those last two…)


Because it’s the holiday season, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is presenting this episode of The Doris Day Show out of sequence (and 45 years after its first telecast, too)…and you can probably tell that right off by the fact that Doris is sporting a new coif in this Christmas-themed episode, something that she starts in the earlier outing “Doris the Model” (11/17/69), which I haven’t yet covered on the blog.  (Believe you me—when I do, it will set the record for shortest Doris Day(s) write-up, since it’s mostly an extended fashion show with Doris posing in various outfits.  It’s really boring.)  Act One of “A Two-Family Christmas” finds Doris and Myrna in the offices of Today’s World (The NOW Magazine) decorating in anticipation for the big Christmas blow-out held every year.  Doris coaches her pal in the art of straightening the star for the top of the Christmas tree perfectly, and when they’re done they drag the ladder across the lobby…where they meet up with Myrna’s boss, Ron Harvey, who’s carrying a punch bowl the size of Rhode Island.


RON: Make way, ladies…make way…
MYRNA: Oh—there goes Candlestick Park…
DORIS: That is the biggest bowl I have ever seen!
RON (setting it down on a table): You see before you the Christmas wassail bowl…and in exactly an hour and fifteen minutes it will be brimming to the top with Ron Harvey’s special Christmas punch… (As he tosses in oranges) Which spells the difference between the ordinary Christmas party and “let’s-not-go-home-till-New-Year’s”…
DORIS: You mean we’re going to drink all that?
MYRNA: No, we don’t drink out of it—we bathe in it…

“You’d be surprised how quickly it disappears,” continues Ron.  “Finger lickin’ good…that is, if you can still find your fingers after the first dip.”  Well, that certainly sounds sanitary.  The trio’s punchy banter (sorry about that) is interrupted by our old pal Dave the Lackey (David Manzy), who informs Doris that they need more Christmas decorations.  This is Manzy’s second and final appearance on the program (his first was “A Frog Called Harold,” in which his role was a bit more substantial)—and again, he’s not to be confused with the Dave the Lackey from last week’s “The Woman Hater,” in which he was played by Johnnie Collins III.  Doris heads into her office and Myrna follows.

DORIS: Boy, this is going to be a swinging party…

Far out.

MYRNA: Well, I don’t know how we’re going to top last year
DORIS: We can have drag races in the elevators!
MYRNA: That’s what we did last year!

The phone in Doris’ office rings, and it’s Laird Buckley Webb on the other end.  They exchange Christmas pleasantries, and Doris asks about the state of her rugrats.

BUCK: They’re snoopin’ around the house tryin’ to figure out where we hid the Christmas presents…that’s what they’re doin’…hey, listen—the reason I called…I got to wonderin’…what’s the gang up there gonna do for Christmas…? You know—Mr. Harvey and Mr. Nicholson and Myrna?
DORIS: Gee, I don’t know…it’s been so hectic around here nobody’s even talked about it…I imagine they have, you know, plans…
BUCK: Well, uh…you sure?
DORIS: No…we didn’t discuss it, but…
BUCK: Well, I was thinkin’…uh…bein’ as how they’re all single they might enjoy comin’ out here and havin’ a real old-fashioned family Christmas with us…

“Hey—wouldn’t that have been fun!” gushes Doris.  Oh, yeah—there’s nothing single people enjoy more than to be reminded of the decisions they’ve made in life that have left them lonely during the holidays with no company but a house crammed with cats.  Doris has a sad because it’s probably too late to extend the invitation, but Buck counters that “there’s no harm in askin’.”

DORIS: Well, I’ll ask—but I wish you would have thought of it sooner
BUCK: Listen, I didn’t see this turkey sooner—we’ve got twenty-two pounds of turkey out here, and if we don’t get somebody to help us eat it we’re going to have turkey hash all next week…maybe into next month…

Doris promises Buck she’ll do what she can, and sends him off with her familiar “Toodle-oo!”  Myrna then emerges from Doris’ closet carrying two bags of decorations.

DORIS: Hey, Myrn…do you have any plans for Christmas?
MYRNA: Are you kidding?  You know me—I’ve always got something cooking…
DORIS: Something big, huh?
MYRNA: Yeah…six-feet-two to be exact…

I didn’t know cats could grow so big…unless it’s that damn tiger from a previous Doris Day(s) outing.

MYRNA: …I heard he’s a dreamy ski instructor at Squaw Valley…so I made reservations…
DORIS: Squaw Valley!
MYRNA: Yeah, I figured if I work my balls out right, I could become one of his squaws

I’m not sure what Myrna means by “work my balls out right”…and upon further reflection, I’ve decided I’m not all that curious to find out.  Doris explains the reason why she’s so nosy is that she was going to invite her BFF out to Webb Estates for Yuletide gaiety and merriment.  Myrna says thanks but no thanks.

Doris’ boss, Michael “Nick” Nicholson makes his way through the offices, stopping long enough to stare at Ron’s punch preparations (“Bigger than last year,” brags his associate editor) and registering mild disapproval.  He’s also not too receptive to Myrna’s “Merry Christmas, Mr. Nicholson!”  Calling Doris into his office, we soon find out why Nick is acting like someone took a dump in his figgy pudding.

DORIS: Doesn’t the office look festive?
NICK: Mm-hmm…
DORIS (admiring a decoration hanging from the ceiling): I love this…everybody’s so excited about the party—they can’t wait for it to start…
NICK: Except me…I can’t wait for it to be over

Fa-la-la-la-la…la-la-la-la!  Okay, it’s not really fair to criticize Nicholson’s pessimistic attitude toward the office Christmas bash.  He explains: “I don’t know what it is about an office party, but it always gets out of hand!”  (It wouldn’t be an office party otherwise, would it?)

DORIS: Well…they’re just filled with the holiday spirit…
NICK: Yeah, well, I’ve got the holiday spirit, too, Doris…but I mean we really get it around here when everybody dips…when everybody dips into Ron Harvey’s special spirits…and then before you know it, the whole thing…the whole thing is a shambles…all of our quiet little secretaries turn into a bunch of Raquel Welches

Is this party reserved for Today’s World staff, or can anyone show up uninvited?

NICK: And Myrna…Myrna gets up and does a twenty-minute imitation of Jimmy Durante…
DORIS: You’re kidding!
NICK: No!
DORIS: Hey—I’ll bet she’s good!

She should be—she’s had enough practice!  Fans of The Dick Van Dyke Show know that Rose Marie, as Sally Rogers, imitates the Schnozzola in the classic Yuletide installment “The Alan Brady Show Presents” (12/18/63)—which is one of several boob tube celebrations of Christmas discussed in an uproariously funny article by my Cultureshark pal Rick Brooks at ClassicFlix (the Father Knows Best stuff had me on the floor).  R.M. even fearlessly imitated Durante on a December 24, 1948 broadcast of his own radio program (co-starring Alan Young and Durante regulars Florence Halop, Candy Candido, Alan Reed, Arthur Q. Bryan and Ruby Dandridge), available on Radio Spirits’ CD collection Christmas Radio Classics.  (Jimmy has a hilarious reaction to Rho’s impression: “How do you like that—I’ve been transcribed to a more convenient body!”)

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the shamelessly brazen plugs out of the way—Nicholson continues to disparage his employees’ antics from Christmas celebrations past.  “And then Ron Harvey will corner me and tell me what I did wrong all year.  And you know something?  For the next week, nobody can look anybody else in the eye.”  But Nicholson has a plan—he’s appointing Doris hallway monitor because she’s so good and kind and has new hair.  Tell me that job isn’t going to suck egg nog.

DORIS: Oh, Mr. Nicholson…you’re asking me to be the office party pooper…I mean, I can’t tell people how many drinks they should have…
NICK: Doris…I am not asking you to be a chaperone…nor do I want to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge…I’m just asking you if you’ll help me make this a nice Christmas party…

Doris reluctantly agrees, then it’s her turn to ask a favor—she inquires of Nicholson as to what his Christmas plans are, and he brags that he’s getting away to Seoul Palm Springs for a little R&R.  “That’s good for you,” affirms his secretary, “you really need a rest.  I’ll catch you next Christmas.”

Doris still hasn’t asked Ron how he plans to make merry over the holidays, so she returns to the scene of the party preparations to find him pouring a liquor store’s worth of booze into that gi-normous punch bowl.


DORIS: How much are you putting in there?
RON: Oh, this is just the base… (Chuckling) From here I build
DORIS: Mr. Harvey…don’t you think you’re overdoing it?
RON: I may have overdone the nutmeg

Ron is asked about Christmas, and he, too, has plans—Acapulco!  “Golden beaches covered with golden girls,” he muses while continuing to pour.  Why he’s envisioning Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty on white silver sands goes unexplained, but this means he will be unable to attend Webb-a-Palooza, touched as he is by the offer.  Because Doris asked Ron if she might be the first to sample his concoction, he offers her a generous ladleful…providing this facial reaction, which may be the funniest in the show’s history:


Smooooooooooth!  With a dissolve, we find the Today’s World employees furiously frugging to hip music as Doris and Myrna watch from the sidelines.  “I think you better take it a little easy with that stuff,” scolds Doris as Myrn drains a cup of punch.

“Ohhhh I can handle it—it’s just punch,” Myrna replies, giving her bud a playful shoulder nudge.  “I think I’ll go take another dip in that beautiful pool.”  Cheese and crackers—run for the hills, men!  Myrna is tipsy and frisky!  (She’s fripsy!)  As Myrna samples some more Old Harvey, the manufacturer makes his way over for a little boss-to-secretary chat.

RON: My…beautiful…secretary…
MYRNA: Oh, boy—this punch is stronger than I thought
RON: Myrn old girl…I know that I’ve been hard on you all year…I mean, always needling you with making you work overtime…snapping at you when you misspell a word—at which, incidentally, was quite often…but this is the Christmas season…and it’s a time for love…and understanding…I want you to know that…well, maybe sometimes I appear like an ogre…but…deep down inside…I’m a wonderful, loving human being…who appreciates you…right now I want to show you my appreciation… (He puts down his glass and gives her a tender kiss)
MYRNA (after a pause): Boy, you’ll do anything to get out of giving me a Christmas present, won’t you?

Ron protests his assistant’s sarcasm.  “On my desk is a beautifully wrapped gift from me to you,” he explains.  “Really?” Myrna asks in earnest.

“It’s a dictionary to teach you how to spell,” is his snarky reply.  Ha!  Ya burnt, Myrna!  And speaking of words, the intoxicated Harvey has “a few choice ones” for the man who continues to employ him despite apparently being told off at the Christmas party each year.


Doris is on the case, though!  She quickly intercepts Ron and scolds him for not asking her to dance, so they do a turn on the floor (both looking as if some joker arranged to have fire ants dumped into their undergarments).  Their mating dance is interrupted by a dweeby-looking chap (James B. Douglas) answering to “Mr. Singer”—who, in a following bit of dialogue, reveals himself to be the office payroll clerk (he starts macking on Doris big time).  Douglas had roles in MASH (1970) and The Changeling (1980), and appeared a few times on the Showtime series Soul Food as Principal Gordon.


While Doris is trapped with Singer, Ron takes the time to unload on Nick—calling him “stodgy” and “old-fashioned” in his management of the NOW magazine.  Doris manages to fob Singer off on the horny Myrna, and breaks up Nick and Ron’s confab by reminding Nick he promised her a dance.  As Doris and Boss trip the light fantastic, Ron staggers over and asks if he can cut in; Nicholson reluctantly agrees, and Ron takes him out on the floor for a twirl.  (Yes, I did laugh at this—but only because Curly used to do that to Moe in a lot of the Stooges shorts.  “My father died dancin’…on the end of a rope.”) 


Then it’s time for Myrna’s Durante impression (“Stop da music—stop da music!”), which is quite good (she warbles a few bars of Jimmy’s signature You Gotta Start Off Each Day With a Song) until she starts insulting the staff.  “You should see my boss Ron Harvey,” she brays.  “He’s got such a big nose—he should have, he gets it in everybody’s business!”  (Physician…heal thyself!)

There’s a dissolve, and Nick walks among the party attendees with a smile on his face—presumably it hasn’t been such an obnoxious affair after all.  Doris is getting ready to motor because kids, and Nick thanks her for keeping the employees in line.  “I just wanted to tell you this is turning out to be the best office party we ever had,” he informs her.

NICK: You sure came through—what all did you do, anyway?
DORIS: Well, I watered down the punch…
NICK: I thought it tasted a little flat
DORIS (laughing): And then I got Myrna with Mr. Singer…
NICK: Mm-hmm…
DORIS: …and then I introduced Mr. Harvey to that new research assistant, you know…so that automatically quieted things down…

Doris wishes Nick a Merry Christmas in Palm Springs, and he returns the sentiment with a friendly peck on the cheek.  As Doris makes her way out of the Today’s World shindig, she passes Myrna slow dancing with her new squeeze (“Hey, Dor—he’s kind of cute!”) and presses the button for the elevator.  As the doors slide open, we find Ron snogging with the new research assistant (“Just rehearsing for Acapulco”).  (Boy, is she gonna get a surprise in nine months!)  End of Act One.

“A Two-Family Christmas”…Part the Second.  Back from commercial, we find Doris putting the young’uns to bed—soon, Billy and Toby will have dreams in which sugar plums and Gouda wedges dance in their heads.  Downstairs, Gran’pa Buck is filling stockings with apples and nuts and other baked goodies.

BUCK: Listen—I think we better wait for about a half-hour before we put those presents under the tree…let ‘em get to sleep good…
DORIS: Okay… (After a pause) Can’t wait to see Billy’s face when he sees the slot cars…he is going to flip out
BUCK: Listen—did you notice ‘em at dinnertime?  They were helpin’ with the dishes…
DORIS: They do it all the time now…you know…
BUCK: Oh, yeah…but tonight they put a little somethin’ extra in…they’re not gonna blow any chances for those presents…

I may have misjudged those kids—they’re smarter than I thought.  Doris laughs, and then asks: “Can you imagine Christmas without them?”  (You will in two more seasons, Miss Que Sera Sera.)  All snarkiness aside, I do like Buck’s answer: “They are Christmas.”  (Amen, brother.)

BUCK: As far as…well, I was kind of hopin’ your friends would come over and join us…
DORIS: Yeah…they would have loved it…but they made big plans…
BUCK: Tell me something…do you kind of wish you were going to all them fancy places?

Doris assures her father that Acapulco and Palm Springs and Squaw Valley can’t compare to what she’s got…but as I said before, things will be different when Season Four gets underway.  Then Toby appears at the top of the stairs, because he’s been doing some thinking—and that can’t be good.

TOBY: Well, Santa Claus is going to come down the chimney, isn’t he?
BUCK: Well…yeah…
TOBY: Don’t you think you better put out the fire?
DORIS: We will, honey…
BUCK: Yeah…see…he’s not due here until after midnight and…uh…uh…uh…he likes a nice warm house to come into…

Jeebus, Buck—is that the best you got?  Billy soon joins his brother on the stairs, reasoning that “if Toby gets to stay up, I get to stay up, too—I’m older.”  Doris is just about to exercise her parental veto when the family hears a group of carolers outside singing God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.  “Who could it be?” Doris wonders.


The four of them head outside to find Nick, Ron and Myrna caroling.  (They’re not really caroling—they’re probably spiffed from the Christmas party.)  We know that Rose Marie is no slouch when it comes to singing, but both McLean Stevenson and Paul Smith do a passable job in joining in.  The three of them decided to accept Doris’ invitation after all!  (I’ll bet the Denny’s was closed.)

DORIS: What happened to your plans?
MYRNA: Well…after the office party broke up, why…we got to thinking that…Christmas was for family and friends…not…strangers in Squaw Valley…
DORIS: Yeah…but what about six-feet-two, eyes of blue?
MYRNA: Well…my kind of luck, he’d probably wind up being four-foot-three

Nick explains that a trip to Palm Springs just “didn’t seem very Christmassy,” (Doris: “It’s just too hot—that’s all!”) and Ron’s jaunt to Acapulco was scotched along similar lines.  “Why should I go all the way to Acapulco just to make a bunch of women happy?” he asks.  “Let ‘em suffer!”  Excellent proclamation, Sir Muffin of Stud.

Because they have company, Billy is able to wheedle a bit more stay-up time from his ma (score!) and as they are invited to make themselves to home, the office trio refuse any grub but will not decline Buck’s offer of a “hot toddy.”  (Miserable drunks.)

DORIS: Oh, this is great!
RON: Well…the truth is…I kind of miss a family Christmas…
MYRNA: Me, too…
NICK: Well—let’s face it, Doris…Christmas is family and…uh…none of us have any family out here…
DORIS: Well, you have now

With a dissolve, we find Ron and Myrna looking through a photo album with Billy…who points out a picture of him when he was four years old.  “Hey—you’re a handsome devil, aren’t you…heh heh?” comments Myrna.  “Do you ski?”  Doris brings in some goodies (leftovers from dinner, perhaps?) and I chuckled at Lord Nelson’s attempt to grab a few nibbles.  True story: we owned a dachshund one time who, one Christmas, helped himself to about half a box of Reese’s miniature peanut butter cups from sister Kat’s room while we were out of the house for some family function.  The look on the dog’s face when we confronted him with this vile deed is tattooed into my brain: “You…you don’t think I did this, do you?”

NICK: Hey, that’s a cute picture…the one on the bearskin rug…which one of the boys was that, Buck—Toby or Billy?
BUCK: No!  That’s Doris!
(They all laugh)
RON: Hey, you got any more of those?  I’d like one for my desk
DORIS: I’ll bring it in Monday…

Silent derp...holy derp.


Toby walks over to the family piano—which, up until this time, I was not aware it was a player piano—and starts up Silent Night, which the family and friends all join in singing until the fade out.


The coda on this one is kind of amusing…and also a bit freaky.  We see Toby and Billy having fun with Bill’s slot car set…and then the camera pulls back to reveal that it’s actually Nick and Ron futzing with it, as the boys whine about getting a turn.  (Chalk up that bit of directorial inspiration to none other than OTR vet Larry Dobkin, helming the first of two Doris Day Show episodes in the director’s chair.)  Ron is whining, too; he wants to switch from his blue car to Nick’s red car.


RON: This time I want the red car…
NICK: There’s nothing wrong with the blue car…
RON: Well, if there’s nothing wrong with the blue car how come I can’t have the red car?
NICK: Because I’m the boss…

Dor brings out hot chocolate “for whoever wants it,” and as Buck pulls roasted chestnuts out of the fire (Myrna: “I always thought that was the lyrics for the song—I never thought people actually did that!”) for family and guests, Doris turns to the camera and “breaks the fourth wall”:


Well…this is our Christmas…and as you can see, it’s been a very special one…so from all of us here…to all of you there…we wish you happiness and peace…and much, much love…good night…Merry Christmas…

I don’t have to tell you I was kind of freaked out by this the first time I watched it…only because you never saw that sort of thing on Mayberry R.F.D.  (“I’m not really an inept fix-it man…I just play one on this here show!”)

I hope you all enjoyed our temporary Doris Day(s) detour to spotlight an episode that focuses on the spirit of the holiday season.  I know I poke a lot of merciless fun at Dor and Company (and many times rightfully so), but I don’t disagree with this episode’s premise that family is all a part of Christmas.  Fortunately, Los Parentes Yesteryear and myself will get to spend some quality kin time with my sister Debbie and her husband and daughter starting tomorrow…so that might explain things if it gets a little slow on the blog in the interim.  Next time, we’ll return to our regular Doris Day(s) rotation with an amusing little playlet entitled “The Chocolate Bar War.”  (Seriously, this one has a good laugh or two, and appearances from OTR vets like Amzie Strickland and Howard Culver.)  Please make a sticky-note to join me, and in case I don’t shout at you in the meantime: Happy Holidays!

2 comments:

Rick Brooks said...

Thanks for the nod, Ivan!

As usual, your review is 10 times more entertaining than the show itself (I feel readers should be reminded every now and then, lest they try to seek out these episodes, that reading the Doris Day(s) are far more rewarding than actually watching them).

Stacia said...

We can have drag races in the elevators!

Heh. If only.

Silent derp...holy derp.

LOL that poor kid and his perpetual derp face.

Doris always did spend a lot of time making herself look significantly younger than she was, and this 'do (with the attendant makeup and clothing overhauls, and a new practiced smile) is no exception. I mean, I don't begrudge her looking at least a decade younger than her 47 years here, but there's something so Hollywood about it all, which makes the "peace" and "family" stuff seem a little hollow.

But, I'm cynical, and we're well into February now because I suck, so maybe if I'd read this in a timely manner (did I mention I suck?) I wouldn't be so grouchy about it.