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My Three Sons: Silver Threads (1969)
Tina Cole Shows No Gray
While little Dodie (Dawn Lyn) worries about going from the first to the second grade, Rob (Don Grady) and Katie (Tina Cole) run around the Douglas home like they are young schoolchildren. Rob is playfully mad because Katie thinks Steve McQueen and Paul McCartney are cute. Mother Barbara (Beverly Garland) tells Dodie not to worry about school. Dodie thinks Rob and Katie are old, but Barbara says they are young. Uncle Charley (William Demarest) joins the aforementioned cast for dinner at Rob and Katie's house and notices Katie has gray hairs. Four gray hairs are eventually spotted, and Katie fears she is growing old. Later, at the supermarket, Katie is mistaken for the mother of 7-year-old Dodie. Meeting hairless classmate Lou Cutell (as Marvin Horndiffer) threatens to throw Katie over the edge...
This episode focuses on Katie's fear of growing old, while Dodie's similar fear forms the parallel subplot. It's a natural story, but isn't convincingly played. An undeniably beautiful woman, Tina Cole looks astonishingly perfect at all times. Her hair may be naturally blonde, but it is also obviously colored. Her immaculately well-kept hair contains absolutely no gray. Moreover, there are no gray hairs to be seen on any of the older cast members. At one point, Uncle Charley suggests Katie use hair dye, but doesn't offer any of his own. Fred MacMurray and Ms. Garland do not offer any advice, preferring to keep their ability to maintain thick, uniformly colored hair a secret. This is only a television situation comedy, but it would have been better (and funnier) if re-written to have Don Grady growing the grays.
*** Silver Threads (1969-12-27) Frederick De Cordova ~ Tina Cole, Dawn Lyn, Don Grady, Beverly Garland
While Rob and Katie go the movies, Chip (Stanley Livingston) babysits. After the young couple comes home, an argument ensues. Rob (Don Grady) realizes Katie (Tina Cole) didn't really want to see "Slaughter on Bloody Ridge". She wanted to trick Rob into attending a shoe sale near the movie theater. Chip reports the shoe maneuver to Uncle Charley (William Demarest) and the Douglas household. Next, Steve (Fred MacMurray) is tricked into eating out with Barbara (Beverly Garland) and Dodie (Dawn Lyn) in an ultra-feminine restaurant. He is uncomfortable as the only man in the "Pink Parakeet" and must eat yogurt instead of steak. While they dine, Dodie reveals a problem at school...
Dodie needs someone to be a tree in her school play "Friends of the Forest"...
In my grade school, there were always a lot of people available to play the trees. Perhaps Dodie volunteered or was assigned the task. This episode suggests females manipulate their male partners into doing things against their wishes. The humor is seeing Dodie badly play a mushroom, cued by her tree. "We could use you in our fireplace," quips Uncle Charley. Earlier, while Rob tries to tell his dad the women are manipulating their husbands, he says, "You sure are naive for a father of three." Steve Douglas is the father of four sons and one daughter, which equals five. An adoptive father is still a father. Now, if Rob is not counting his forgotten older brother Mike, it should still be "father of four."
**** It's a Woman's World (1970-01-03) Frederick De Cordova ~ Fred MacMurray, Dawn Lyn, Don Grady, Tina Cole
My Three Sons: Table for Eight (1970)
Barbara Shares Her Cherry Nut Parfait
When Steve (Fred MacMurray) gets ready to go out with some important business executives, Barbara (Beverly Garland) suggests he invite his work friends over for dinner. Still a newlywed, Barbara hasn't encountered many of Steve's work-related friends, yet. She thinks her "cherry nut parfait" will be a tasty treat. Barbara tries to arrange a perfect dinner party, but things do not go according to plan. The entire cast appears in this episode, but it's mainly Ms. Garland's show. The plot is a familiar one in situation comedies. As usual, the best versions were delivered by Lucille Ball and her show's writers. An interesting bit has Barbara and Steve in a "silent movie" dream, with Uncle Charley (William Demarest) as a fussy maid. And, Garland sows a lot of skin for a family show, when bending over in her slip.
**** Table for Eight (1970-01-10) Frederick De Cordova ~ Beverly Garland, Fred MacMurray, William Demarest, Dawn Lyn
My Three Sons: Double Jealousy (1970)
Brenda Benet Will Straighten Your Tie
After some banter in the Douglas household, we switch to Rob (Don Grady) arriving at the office. A shapely secretary arrives to help him with some extra work. Rob appears to be stricken with her sex appeal. Katie (Tina Cole) leaves Uncle Charley (William Demarest) to look after the triplets so she can have lunch with Rob. Katie arrives to find sexy Brenda Benet (as Maureen Morgan) fussing over Rob, who has completely forgotten lunch. While getting ready for bed, the young marrieds quarrel. "I never thought I'd be the jealous wife type," Katie later tells Barbara (Beverly Garland). Barbara offers relieving thoughts, but is placed in the same position when Ms. Benet goes to work for Steve (Fred MacMurray)...
It gets worse when Steve's sore foot develops gout. Benet offers him some bedside manner and little Dodie (Dawn Lyn) brings her girlfriends home to look at her father's big toe. Only the little girls get to look under the bed covers; fortunately, we are spared. The main attraction in this episode is seeing Benet in a featured role. She's a lovely and appealing young woman, although her character is silly and dimwitted. Television series followers should note Ms. Benet married TV favorites Paul Petersen (Jeff in "The Donna Reed Show") and Bill Bixby (of "My Favorite Martian" and others). Benet appeared in several episodic television series, usually as a sultry woman. Sadly, she committed suicide following her son's death.
***** Double Jealousy (1970-01-17) Frederick De Cordova ~ Fred MacMurray, Beverly Garland, Brenda Benet, Don Grady
My Three Sons: Dodie's Tonsils (1970)
No Quiet on the Set
Before going on vacation in Mexico, Rob (Don Grady) and Katie (Tina Cole) leave the triplets with Barbara (Beverly Garland) and Uncle Charley (William Demarest). Chip and Ernie (Stanley and Barry Livingston) are natural babysitters. In Mexico, Katie spends more time worrying about the triplets than having fun with Rob. Meanwhile, little Dodie (Dawn Lyn) may be developing tonsillitis. After Dr. Roy Roberts pays the Douglas family a house call, it is confirmed Dodie must go to the hospital and have her tonsils removed. Surprising her mother and new father, Dodie says he wants Steve (Fred MacMurray) to stay with her in the hospital, rather than Barbara. The delicate request is made by Dodie through her doll "Myrtle". Due to an unexpected slip, Dodie may get her wish. We're told to expect a week of Dodie not speaking loudly, but her tonsils seem strong throughout her illness.
*** Dodie's Tonsils (1970-01-24) Frederick De Cordova ~ Dawn Lyn, Fred MacMurray, Beverly Garland, William Demarest
My Three Sons: Who Is Sylvia? (1970)
Jane Wyman Visits
Former girlfriend Jane Wyman (as Sylvia) pleasantly startles Steve (Fred MacMurray) at the office. She is surprised at how handsome Rob (Don Grady) has grown and disappointed to learn long-time bachelor Steve has married. Home for lunch, Katie (Tina Cole) tells Rob she is wary about Ms. Wyman going to the Douglas home. Because the Douglas phone is off the hook, Wyman arrives unannounced. Barbara (Beverly Garland) is caught cleaning while wearing an old shirt and scarf. The elegantly dressed, attentive and wealthy Wyman makes Barbara jealous. Uncle Charley (William Demarest) insists Wyman stay for dinner (meatloaf) and she enjoys catching up with the Douglas family while looking at old picture albums...
Wyman arranges a golf date with Steve and asks Dodie (Dawn Lyn) to call her "Aunt Sylvia". This gives Ms. Garland a good reaction shot. Wyman takes Chip and Ernie (Stanley and Barry Livingston) in her limo to see the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, that's cool...
A check of credits reveals this to be Wyman's only appearance on "My Three Sons". At first glance, long-time series writer George Tibbles sure makes it seem like the character is the "old friend" in the script. Wyman's "Sylvia" remembers Ernie and was a babysitter for Chip. She is well-acquainted with Uncle Charley, but doesn't mention Bub or Mike. She can be forgiven for the latter lapses. Nobody else mentions Mike or Bub, either...
Wyman and MacMurray were Hollywood movie stars in their younger years. They co-starred in a film relatively late, Disney's "Bon Voyage!" (1962), and were likely off-screen friends. While it's nice to see Wyman, she seems not suited to the warmth of the Douglas children. Her manner had become haughty and aloof, which proved to be more useful in Wyman's late career role on the nighttime TV serial "Falcon Crest".
**** Who Is Sylvia? (1970-01-31) Frederick De Cordova ~ Jane Wyman, Fred MacMurray, Beverly Garland, William Demarest
My Three Sons: You Can't Go Home (1970)
Robbie Goes Home
An old classmate from Bryant Park asks Rob (Don Grady) to be best man at his marriage. Happy to be going to Bryant Park for the first time since the Douglas family moved to California, Rob leaves the triplets with Uncle Charley (William Demarest) and Barbara (Beverly Garland) so he and Katie (Tina Cole) can attend the wedding. Rob is looking forward to seeing the old small town, and is anxious to share its charm with Katie. Little Dodie (Dawn Lyn) is looking forward to helping her mom take care of "Robbie's adorable rotten babies." Steve (Fred MacMurray) thinks Rob's going to be disappointed, believing you can never really go back home and accurately recapture the past...
"My Three Sons" ran out of steam after a healthy run, then more than doubled its television stay with gimmicks. Before you knew how the last change in situation or characters was doing, they changed again. These changes (some forced) were relaxingly paced, however. Arguably the most successful alteration in format was the pairing of Don Grady and Tina Cole (as Rob and Katie)...
Here, Rob and Katie take center stage as they "return" to the old Douglas home. We are bracketed with just the right amount of cast to make the entire production a winner. From young Gary Grimes to old Burt Mustin, the supporting cast is perfect. Chip and Ernie (Stanly and Barry Livingston) appear only in brief flashback, but it's a fine moment. Best of all is Bryant Park Hotel clerk Olan Soule (as Everett Mindermann). His inability to remember "Don" (!) Douglas is hilarious and Mr. Grady delivers one of his best late-series performances. In the end, we get to see what happened to the old Douglas home. It's all beautifully written by the prolific George Tibbles.
******** You Can't Go Home (Feb. 1970-02-07) Frederick De Cordova ~ Don Grady, Tina Cole, Olan Soule, Yale Summers
My Three Sons: Guest in the House (1970)
Would Chip Cheat?
After Steve (Fred MacMurray) leaves on one of his frequent work-related trips, Chip (Stanley Livingston) and Ernie (Barry Livingston) turn to Uncle Charley (William Demarest) for permission and advice. Barbara tells her mother (Eleanor Audley) that Charley runs a "tight ship" and is in charge of the Douglas household. While Barbara considers it normal the boys don't think of her as their mother, she's clearly upset by the fact. Chip is particularly excited about having cute Janis Oliver (as Sally Crane) come over, after school, to study. He hopes studying with Ms. Oliver will get his grades up. It works too well and Chip is accused of cheating. Also a teacher, Barbara tells little Dodie (Dawn Lyn) to say "May I?" instead of "Can I?" More importantly, Barbara gets a chance to help solve a problem for one her new teenage sons...
This episode may be most notable for including a respected teacher who is clearly wrong about something (teachers were generally respected in 1970, anyway). Sit-com teachers were generally correct about most things, but Dolores Quinton (as Joan Terry) could have ruined someone's life, if she'd performed similarly at a college level. It's also strange to see Barbara's teaching past downplayed. Having her play a working high school teacher might have been a good move for the series. Rob (Don Grady) and Katie (Tina Cole) do appear, offering advice as Barbara's suggestions are ignored. According to the IMDb credits, this is Eleanor Audley's last appearance as Barbara's mother. Not missed, the character seemed to become someone for Beverley Garland's character to talk to when Fred MacMurray wasn't available.
**** Guest in the House (1970-02-14) Frederick De Cordova ~ Beverly Garland, Stanley Livingston, William Demarest, Barry Livingston
My Three Sons: Charley's Cello (1970)
Uncle Charley's Quartet
While Barbara and Dodie go out to a movie, Uncle Charley (William Demarest) takes time to play his cello. His songs make family dog "Tramp" howl. Barbara (Beverly Garland) and Dodie (Dawn Lyn) return and listen to some of Charley's playing. They think he plays beautifully. Sad about Charley playing alone on a Saturday night, Barbara briefly speaks to Steve (Fred MacMurray), then arranges for Charley to play in a string quartet. Rob (Don Grady) and Katie (Tina Cole) are unimpressed with the group, but urge Charley to keep playing. The group is a success, and they begin to play semi-professionally.
Although they are named "The O'Casey's String Quartet", violist Winnie Collins (as Effie Springer) complains Charley's tempo is too slow on "Oh Shenandoah (Across the Wide Missouri)". Charley plays with Rob, Chip (Stanley Livingston) and Ernie (Barry Livingston) in a jazzy up-tempo quartet, but he may be fired from his own group. Seeming to channel character favorite Reta Shaw, Ms. Collins steals the show. That's not easy, with competition from both Tramp and the boys. Also in the quartet, semi-regular Virginia Lee is introduced (as a love interest for Charley).
***** Charley's Cello (1970-02-21) Frederick De Cordova ~ William Demarest, Beverly Garland, Don Grady, Winnie Collins
Penguin Pool Murder (1932)
Having Fun with Edna May Oliver
Done with her marriage to a broke stockbroker, attractive blonde Mae Clarke (as Gwen Parker) decides to divorce her nasty husband. She arranges to meet younger, handsomer lover Donald Cook (as Philip Seymour) at a New York City aquarium. It's not a great place for secret rendezvous, but the aquarium is a neat place for murder. Also making the scene is fidgeting spinster schoolteacher Edna May Oliver (as Hildegarde Withers), on a field trip with her young students. Penguin enthusiast and lawyer Robert Armstrong (as Barry Costello) is also around. After a dead body is found in the penguin tank, Ms. Oliver teams up with police inspector James Gleason (as Oscar Piper) to solve the murder...
This was the first in a series of movies based on characters created by novelist Stuart Palmer. This movie murder is nothing to write home about, but the lead character "Hildegarde Withers" is a delight. Even better, the spinster sleuth is played to perfection by Oliver. The part seems tailor-made for Oliver, who starred in two more entries, before leaving the role in less capable hands. Oliver gets a great sparring partner with Mr. Gleason, who stayed with the series longer. Director George Archainbaud and the RKO crew give it an intriguing setting. The diversity and attention given to Oliver's students is notable. Also, the ending event was reconsidered off screen, in Mr. Palmer's second book.
****** The Penguin Pool Murder (1932-12-09) George Archainbaud ~ Edna May Oliver, James Gleason, Robert Armstrong, Mae Clarke