With Donna (Donna Reed) donating all her time to the "Have a Heart, Hilldale" charity campaign, the housekeeping at the Stone's home isn't getting done. So, until Donna finishes her work on the charity drive, the Stones decide to hire a maid. Subordinate situation comedy maids are hard to find, as the family learns. Finally, English ladylike Estelle Winwood (as Mrs. Lovelace) is hired; she doesn't mind pet mice, or children. Unfortunately, Ms. Winwood can't cook or clean. Soon, the charming lady has Jeff (Paul Peterson) vacuuming, Mary (Shelley Fabares) cooking, and Alex (Carl Betz) making beds.
The tried and true "let's hire a maid" sitcom plot works out very nicely for the Stone family. Director Oscar Rudolph, writer Henry Sharp, and the cast are in top form. They present a funny and sentimental use of the formula. With her lovely guest-starring performance, and "tea-leaf diplomacy," veteran Winwood helps make this episode a first season highlight (the credits incorrectly identify her role as "Miss Lovelace"). Jeff's white mouse ("Herbie") performs well, too. And, the supporting cast features stuffy Margaret Dumont (as Mrs. Trilling) and exacting Esther Dale (as Mrs. Abrogast). Cheers!
****** Mrs. Lovelace Comes to Tea (5/13/59) Oscar Rudolph ~ Estelle Winwood, Donna Reed, Margaret Dumont
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