I've worked as a Volunteer Historian of Paramount Ranch in partnership with the National Park Service for over 30 years. The historic film location has been part of the LA area Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area since 1980, as both a historical site, recreational site and continuing film location. Part of my work is researching information on productions that have filmed at the ranch and it also entails trying to secure copies of the productions for the archives. After a great many years of fruitless searching for a copy of this show, we were recently generously given a copy of the original SuperStation TBS TV broadcast by a relative of one of the kids in the cast. The information that I am providing here will come from viewing the recording and from the NPS filming permit that I have been able to see and reference, as part of the show filmed at Paramount Ranch.
The story of the stand-alone episode, which it titled "Going to the Dogs" - "Ma" (Kathleen Freeman) runs a café in the saloon of a Western Movie Ranch that seems to be a tourist attraction. While that is not made clear in the dialog, it is inferred by a large sign on the saloon building that says "Nugget Falls Movie Ranch Saloon". The Our Gang kid's clubhouse is in a log cabin that is implied to be part of this movie ranch. Snooty Mrs. Bancroft, desiring the property for a lucrative property development, has her bratty son, Winston, release a bunch of rats into Ma's saloon one night, resulting in a steep fine by the Health Department that will threaten Ma's business and the future of the attraction. Winston doesn't entirely get away with the dastardly act, as the kid's dog, Walter, see's him and retrieve's the rat's cage with Winston's name on it when Winston drops it.
The next day, the Our Gang kids call an emergency meeting at their clubhouse to plan how they can raise money to help Ma. They come up with the idea of a "dog wash" and build a fanciful mechanical dog wash contraption of the sort that you might expect in an attempt at a new version of Our Gang. A good bit of action takes place here, much of it of a slapstick nature. In the meantime, Mrs. Bancroft is overseeing preparation for the annual dog show over at the Ridgefield Community Center and instructs Winston to take her fluffy little white-haired dog for a bath at their groomer's, telling him to make sure whitener is used. Instead, Winston leaves the dog at the dog wash, where the kids mistakenly use hair remover instead of "hair whitener" with comic results. They manage to cover up the mistake and Winston takes the dog back to his mother at the dog show.
Eventually, the kids realize they haven't raised quite enough money to help Ma. Walter totes over the rat cage and the kids realize the Bancrofts were behind the scheme. They all go over to the dog show, where they disrupt it by releasing rats and turning on lawn sprinklers.
Naturally, the kids have saved the day and Ma's and all ends well.
The program is decidedly aimed at children with lots of cutesy personalities of the various kids and the slapstick nature of much of the goings on.
With all due respect to other reviewers and the original listing of this production as a "series" here on IMDb, based on the recording of the original television airing and on information in the NPS filming permit, I believe that this is the only episode made. A "coming up next" promo states "Up next on SuperStation TBS, an Our Gang Special". The filming permit states that IF the production, listed as a pilot under the working title of "The New Our Gang", is picked up as a series, they would be returning and using Paramount Ranch as a regular location. I know for a fact this never happened. It makes logical sense that the production would be labeled as a stand-alone "special" for airing if no further episodes had been made.
The Paramount Ranch Western town, as it appeared before Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman came to the ranch in 1991 and modified it, was used as the Nugget Falls Movie Ranch in this show, with primarily exteriors of the saloon building and the yellow ranger house being seen, with the large barn seen the in background of the dog wash sequence. The old log cabin/shack at the edge of the town was used as the kid's clubhouse. According to the filming permit, both interiors and exteriors were shot at the cabin clubhouse. The cabin had a "wild wall" on one side that could be removed for interior filming. A partial interior set for Ma's kitchen was set up in the picnic pavilion behind the town. The permit mentions other interiors to be set up, but does not specify what they were. The other interiors in the show are Ma's office and the Bancroft living room. It seems that the entire production was done on location. The Community Center and a handful of other scenes were filmed just a short distance from Paramount Ranch over at the Malibou Lake Clubhouse and adjacent grounds. According to the Paramount Ranch permit, the production was at the ranch from the 1st of June through the 1st of July, 1987. That would include set preparation, filming days and striking the set and cleanup.
I hope that this information will help clear up uncertain information and boost foggy memories of this very rare show. One bit of information that I am still trying to find is the original air date on TBS. There is an ad for the movie, Mac & Me advertised as opening in August 1988, so it would have likely been sometime mid-1988.
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