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More humorous than most, with Frank Flannigan hurting and helping Ellery
The story begins with a humorous scene, setting the tone for the episode, which was clearly funnier than most episodes. We see Ellery, upset, inside an office talking to someone working at a table and we quickly learn that he is working on a comic book story involving a square-jawed character named Ellery Queen, who seems to be the more typical fictional detective, quick with his fists, in stories that vary greatly from the ones Queen wroteboth our hero in this series and the stories attributed to Queen over the decades. Ellery is told by the man he is arguing with, Kenny Freeman (Donald O'Connor), that he only does the lettering, and to go to another desk in the room. He does just that, and is soon re-directed to "the desk in front" a couple of times, and he goes around the room, meeting the guy who does the backgrounds, the coloring, and the figures, before getting into the private office of the man whose name appears as the writer, Bud Armstrong, played by Tom Bosley.
Bosley's character is extremely different from his regular roles as Sheriff Amos Tupper on Murder, She Wrote, Howard Cunningham on Happy Days, and as the star of the Father Dowling Mysteries. He promptly tells Queen that the new contract he signed with his publisher gives Armstrong the right to make this new comic book series and there's nothing Queen can do about it. An angry Ellery tells him he's going to fight him, insisting that he's going to find a way to "kill it." Clearly he meant kill the comic book, but the not-so-brilliant secretary who was in the room (Lynda Day George) later remembered only the "kill" part without the "it" helping it to sound like Ellery threatened to kill Armstrong.
The cartoonist's staff is seen in Armstrong's office where he berates all but the letterer for doing sloppy work. We learn that they have ironclad contracts that prevent them from quitting and getting another job in the industry. They leave except Freeman who asks what Armstrong thinks about his idea for a comic book titled Swamp People, a Pogo-like series about animals in a swamp. Freeman hates the violence and sex-filled stories Armstrong puts out and believes the genre is changing. Armstrong tells him to stick to the one thing he can dolettering, and Freeman leaves.
Back at the Queens', Ellery can't concentrate on work so he goes for a walk in the park. Meanwhile we see Armstrong, alone in the office until someone comes in, unseen by viewers. Outside, the cleaning woman hears a gunshot then a pause, a second shot another pause and a third gunshot.
Richard Queen and Sgt. Velie take Ellery to the scene. They realize immediately that Ellery is a suspect because of the "threat" and because the victim left a dying clue that seems to point to him. On a cartoon drawing a large X has been drawn right over the captioned words ELLERY QUEEN. Specifically, the whole caption has one of the characters saying "Not Ellery Queen" and the X is over the entire dialog in that box. Since one often marks "the spot" with an "X" and nobody would think a man would leave a dying clue that simply says who didn't kill him, the X is figured by all to be pointing at Ellery, rather than away from him.
Enter a new series semi-regular, reporter Frank Flannigan, of the New York Gazette, who writes a crime column. He is tipped off about the murder by the husband (Herbie Faye) of that cleaning woman we saw. Flannigan shows up at the precinct, boisterous, essentially accusing the inspector of covering up the fact that his son is the number one suspect in this killing. To help his dad, Ellery turns himself in to the jail and spends much of the episode there, reading comic books, learning about what their stories depict.
Of course, Inspector Queen and Velie spend most of their time checking out the other suspects. While the letterer Freeman doesn't have a good alibi, the other three on the staff all went to a bar together, verified by the bartender, who says they came in around 9 and were there until closing at 2 a.m. The murder was done about 10 p.m.
Flannigan is sent an Ellery Queen novel, The Disappearing Gun, and from reading it, is next seen being discovered inside the Queens' apartment, looking for the murder weapon, which he findsfurther incriminating Ellery.
Ellery is sent for by his father to help figure out certain clues and actually gets the key clue that lets him put it together from Flannigan, who I thought was one of the funniest characters in the series and would have loved to see more of himalthough I realize he couldn't have been on too often or his brash manner would have worn thin.
As always in this brilliant series, all the clues Ellery used to solve it were revealed to us at the time. There was no revelation, like Jessica Fletcher or Perry Mason did so often, where only after the murderer is named do we hear, "I learned that such-and-such
" when they reveal something we viewers never heard before that led them to their conclusion. In this series, you really can figure out the murderer and state the telltale clue on your first viewingprovided you are sharp enough to put the clues together. On so many other whodunits, all the viewer/reader can do is guess the identity of the killer and say, "I just had a feeling." Because this episode was so loaded with funny stuff, from the way Ellery kept getting redirected around the office to the lingo used by Flannigan, and because the logic of how the murder was committed and solved, I thought it was one of the series best, and give it a 10.
Welcome to Mooseport (2004)
Mildly amusing, but illogical relationships plague this film
This film is reasonably pleasant to view in that the characters were mostly likable and there wasn't cursing or sex scenes thrown in just to draw an "R" rating. In fact, the closest to a sex scene at all was showing two people kissing which stands out since a large portion of this film was about the romantic lives of the leading characters.
But the above is about all the positives I can report except that there were some chuckles along the way. The plot deals with a former U.S. president, now divorced, having lost his residence to the ex-wife, deciding to move into his vacation house in the town of Mooseport, Maine.
As soon as he moves in, the town leaders practically beg him to run for town mayor, telling him the deadline for filing is tomorrow and he'll be running unopposed. The ex-president, Monroe "Eagle" Cole, played by Gene Hackman, decides to run. Almost as soon as he does this, he learns that at the last minute, the town's hardware store owner and plumber, Handy Harrison (Ray Romano), has also filed. He goes to talk to Handy and the handyman readily agrees to pull out. But on seeing Handy's girlfriend, Sally, the Eagle decides to ask her out. Because she just had a spat with Handy, she agrees. So Handy stays in the race, opposing "the most popular former president in history."
The candidates have a debate, which was shortened to three questions due to Handy running out after Sally after he embarrassed her by mentioning private things during the debate. Cole gave a populist answer to the first question from a citizen, and Handy said that he agreed. Cole gave a well-received but impractical answer to the second question, while Handy spoke to the person causing the problem with what was supposed to be a practical solution, although the logic of this failed.
The third question came from a pretty young woman, who bluntly asked, "Now that the president is dating your girlfriend, does that mean you're available?" Handy winds up chasing Sally out of the hall and the debate is over. Later we hear that, somehow, Handy won the debate handily.
The two decide to play a round of golf, with the winner getting to date Sally. Thanks to his ex-wife, who has shown up in town campaigning for Handy, Monroe learns that his golf game isn't nearly as good as he thinks, that Secret Servicemen have been lining the woods and throwing all of his errant shots back onto the fairway, using substitute balls.
The ex-wife prevents this from happening in this round, leaving him woefully behind Handy. Only by getting Handy to make a sucker bet on an old trick on the last hole does the Eagle win the golf game. The Eagle has throughout the film two assistants, Grace, a young female who seems to be more of a detriment than an aide, and Bullard, played by Fred Savage, who is your stereotypical yes man who annoys the Eagle so much that he is often told to move out of his line of vision. He doesn't have to leave the room, just get away so the Eagle doesn't have to see him. Halfway through, Rip Torn is brought in as a political adviser as well.
The election is close, but the real ending involves marriage proposals, from Handy to Sally AND from Monroe to his assistant Grace who has suddenly resigned from his staff, and everyone is happy again in Mooseport.
My problems with the film are basic: It lacked laughs. For a comedy, this is essential. Almost nothing I didn't describe above was funny at all. The characters who live in the town are all stereotypesHandy is such a rube that he doesn't even wear a suit to the televised debate, just his Ray Barone white T-shirt showing through his unbuttoned plaid button-down shirt. I didn't mention the town leader who kept yelling that the idea for Monroe to run for mayor was his idea, or the old man who ran through the streets as a streaker, wearing nothing but socks and shoes but who was accepted and liked by all. Just the fact that Monroe's longtime assistant, a woman about half his age, was in love with him all the time, is another stereotype.
What really didn't make any sense to me was the relationship between Handy and Sally. People in their 40s, with no kids or divorce concerns in this century rarely date for 6 years without moving in togetherwith or without the benefit of marriage, unless one or both of them still wants to date other people. Handy's disinterest in talking about this is what made Sally mad at him, yet she seemed incapable of even discussing it with him.
Was she never going to be grown-up enough to bring up the subject herself. Handy seemed oblivious to her frustrations, totally unaware why she was annoyed with him, yet she never seemed able to speak to him at all about, "Where do you see our relationship going?" This couple both earned good livings. There was no reason not to tie the knot. If you want to say they were afraid of "commitment" then there was no reason not to move in together. (For those who want to argue on moral grounds or religious training, nothing was mentioned about anyone in this film ever having any religious thoughts at all, nor any standards decrying sex without being married.)
As a movie viewer, I can forgive unrealistic actions, but cannot forgive unfunny scripts. If you combine all the chucklesthere were no loud laughs at allinto a half-hour sitcom you would have had, maybe a 6 out of 10. I feel generous in giving this a 4.
I Love Lucy: The Marriage License (1952)
Laughs from a Guest Star, But 2 Dumb Plot Points
We begin with Lucy sorting out items from drawers, throwing away almost nothing. Ethel drops by and Lucy tells about the wonderful memories each item brings. When she pulls out her marriage license, she notices for the first time that Ricky's last name is spelled as "Baccardi." She immediately worries that this might make her marriage not valid.
Ricky comes home and she expresses her huge concern and dashes off to city hall to find out if they are legally married. Ricky, for reasons that boggle the mind, decides to take advantage of Fred's having a buddy who works in that department, by calling him (unseen) and having him tell Lucy that the license is not valid.
Next we see Ricky and Fred worried because Lucy has been gone for hours. How they could not think this would be most troubling to her is a mystery to me. She was obviously greatly concerned when talking to Ricky.
When she gets home, she tells Ricky they have to re-do it, the proposal and elopement in Connecticut, just like before. Ricky agrees to go along, realizing how furious she would be if she learned the truth at this point.
Most of the show is set in Connecticut. We see them at a park, where Lucy has to prompt Ricky to go through his proposal just like 10 years ago, on his knee, line by line. When she gets to the clincher, Ricky, after playing it straight the whole time, comes up with one joke line about not being so sure he wants to pop the question again. Lucy immediately jumps up and storms off, ignoring his apologies and insists she now doesn't want to get married again herself.
So they go to a hotel where Lucy insists on behaving like they aren't marriedwell, she thinks this is soand it takes quite a bit of talking from Ricky before he gets her to change her mind the next day.
At the park, Lucy tells Ricky she took his wallet out of his pants, because on the original proposal he had forgotten it. So Ricky had no driver's license or money. At the hotel, once the matter of separate rooms--$4 eachwas determined, Lucy refuses to pay for Ricky's room even though she is the only reason he had no money. So she stays in a nice room while he sleeps in the lobby. There are more troubles for Ricky when she refuses to pay for the gasoline put into the car, prompting him to almost be arrested.
Now married or not, since she took his wallet away from him, it was totally wrong for her to refuse to pay for the room, or the gas for the two of them.
The funniest scenes involve the hotel clerk, played by Irving Bacon, who is one of those TV-style small town man does everything characters. He is the justice of the peace, sheriff, desk clerk, gasoline attendant, and more. Each time the need for these different jobs is mentioned, he reaches under the counter, sometimes rushing back to it, and slips off one hat to put another one on. At one point Lucy proclaims, "The big money in this town is selling hats." Elizabeth Patterson plays his wife, and she does a marvelously off-key rendition of "I Love You Truly." After this performance, the 77-year-old actress became a semi-regular on the series as Mrs. Trumbull, the lady always willing to babysit Little Ricky at a moment's notice.
Bacon has a list of film credits dating to 1915. He had small roles in all sorts of movies, from serious dramas to westerns to comedies, including I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, a Hopalong Cassidy movie, Mr. Moto's Gamble, before becoming a regular as the postman on the Blondie series of movies. His last listed credit is that of a customer in the shoe store in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1965.
Years later, Dick Van Dyke had a similar episode, better done. In that one, because of lie about her age, it was stated that Rob and Laura weren't married, so they went to Connecticut to see a justice of the peace, only they got into a big fight and almost didn't get re-married that day.
The two things that bugged me on this I Love Lucy were Lucy's relieving Ricky of all his money and then refusing to pay for things, and Ricky thinking his obviously-bothered wife, willing to race downtown right away to find out about this matter, would not be troubled to be told she was never married. It just seems like a truly stupid practical joke on Ricky's part. Without that, we had no showunless it was re-written.
Oh, and the biggest thing to be re-written would be the thought that such an obvious mistake as "Baccardi" instead of "Ricardo" would not have been noticed by either of them before ten years of marriage. An extra "c"maybe, but not an entirely different name that doesn't even begin with the same letter. For that matter, how in the world could any clerk hear or see one name and write down the other on the license? I can give this episode a 5, mostly due to Irving Bacon's scenes.
The Donna Reed Show: Big Star (1962)
Much singing, almost no plot otherwise
This is an episode you can enjoy if you like the slow, sentimental songs of the era. Otherwise, skip it entirely. Donna has almost nothing to do in the show, Jeff is practically a walk-on, and Alex has two one-liners about the guest star being clumsy. It is all about Mary and her new friend, Clay Shannon.
At the beginning, Clay sings an old folk song to Mary on the Stone's front porch. He did have a nice voice. I looked up his bio and saw he is someone named Jerry Lanning, who apparently did not go on to any sort of recording career, but acted mostly in soap operas and sang on stage in New York. He also guest starred as a would-be singer on what is often called the worst episode ever of The Dick Van Dyke Show, "The Twizzle" as a would-be pop singer who invented a new dance craze and impressed Rob and his colleagues.
Mary wants him to start a singing career but the young man, who works in a nursery, is shy and doesn't want to sing in front of crowds. Virtually the rest of the plot deals with Mary trying to get him to sing for some big talent scout who happens to be in Hilldale "for the music festival." Clay reluctantly agrees to meet with a college prof of Mary's, who knows this scout, but he chickens out, angering Mary, who again tries to get him to agree to sing for the man. Finally, when Mary tells him how disappointed she is, he agrees to meet the talent scout.
Inside her hotel room, Clay sings another slow, sad, song for her. As he is singing, Mary drifts out of the room, later telling Donna, "He's going to be a star and I'll never see him again." She goes outside to the porch and sings her big song of the episode, "Big Star," another slow, sad, song.
Oops, I just gave away the ending. Sorry, but there really is almost no plot to this one other than Mary trying to get the guy to sing for others and him being too shy. This was really about a half musical episode and I can't think of more than three things that were designed to make you chuckle.
If you like the songs, you might think this good. If you're looking for comedy, or even some sort of realistic drama about the lives of one of the main characters
you'd probably agree with me, this is one of the series' worst, which I give a 2.
Two plots, neither developed as well as possible
This was really a split episodethe first part had nothing, really, to do with the second, but was tied to it on a flimsy premise. Both halves were reasonably funny, but it did appear that the writers didn't feel they could develop either plot as an entire episode, so they wove them into one. I thought both could have been better if given the whole 25 minutes to themselves.
We begin with a busy Donna cooking, helping Alex with plumbing, getting a phone call and trying to answer the door, virtually all at once. The man at the door is Harvey Korman, playing an advertising man whose company has chosen Donna as one of 25 women in Hilldale who are absolutely "average housewives," whom the company wants to do some research on to determine just how much of their time is spent each day on cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
While he is dining with the Stones, Donna hears him spout all sorts of statistics on what makes someone or someone's home average. He predicts exactly what sort of meal will be served, what the dessert choices will be, and Donna is shown getting rather upset at being considered "average." She quietly takes it out on her family after he leaves, while agreeing to be part of the research utilizing several stop watch recorders on a strap attached to her arm.
That's pretty much the end of the first plot. Her friend, the local newspaper editor drops by to ask a favor. A former Hilldale resident, now rich and famous, is in town and the editor wants to know why he is trying to buy a small piece of landwhat sort of big development is he planning? Because Donna knows him personally, the editor figures the millionaire, Jason Farnum, who has shut off all contact with others in his hotel room in town, will allow Donna to visit him and she can find out the story.
Now we could have had Donna doing this for her friend, and happy to see her old friend, Jason without the tie in with her being eager to do something NOT average, but that is how they tied this together.
At the hotel, Donna is denied a chance to talk to her old friend by Mr. Whipple, that is, the desk clerk is played by Dick Wilson, who was commercial-land's Mr. Whipple for many years. This might have been Wilson's last TV appearance without a mustache, giving him a different look.
The funniest scenes are when Donna is sneaking about the hotel trying to find Farnum's room, including where she poses as a new maid, including a fake Irish brogue.
But because we spent the first half of the show on the average housewife plot, this episode winds up fairly quickly as she finds Farnum and learns what he plans to do quite easily.
We finish with her family being stunned to read a newspaper story detailing the man's plans with Donna's name in the byline.
I believe the first plot would have been better if Donna had chosen her own ways of being a not-so-average woman instead of luckily having a chance to be a reporter thrust upon her. The second plot would have been much better if she had to go to more elaborate means to locate the man's room and wasn't handed the reason for the land purchase by him, willingly, almost as soon as she started to visit with him.
Funny episode, but expanded, broken into two, each of these plots could have been among the series' funniest. I give it a 7.
Jeff umpires softball, talks to Hall of Fame pitcher
The basic plot description does little to describe what this episode is about. Jeff does indeed score an interview, in his home, with the famed Dodger pitcher, Don Drysdale. In my memory, whenever some star athlete was on a sitcom in this era, his appearance was basically a walk-onhe would be talked about and would finally appear near the end of the episode, say a couple of funny lines, seem to be a good guy, and that would be it.
Here, Drysdale has a featured role in two scenes. Of course, he comes across as a good guy, but he plays an important role in this episode.
The main plot involves Jeff being sweet talked by two girls his age, Angie and Marcia, who seem to be captains of rival softball teams who want Jeff to umpire their upcoming game because he's about the only guy they can trust to be neutral. Angie is played by Candy Moore, better known for her portrayal of Chris, Lucy Carmichael's daughter on The Lucy Show.
When Jeff mentions to Drysdale at the end of his interview that he agreed to umpire a girls' softball game, Drysdale tells him he should have never agreed to do this because it will be a big headache for him. When we get to the game, we quickly see how right he was. The girls raise the roof complaining about virtually every call he makes. Jeff politely lets them state their opinion and doesn't understand how to keep the game from having a huge debate after almost every pitch or play.
During the game, Drysdale stops by, witnesses Jeff's dilemma and tells him he needs to take charge moremake the call and make it clear that he doesn't want any arguing. Jeff gains the respect of the girls by doing so, although he thinks they all hate him, particularly Angie and Marciaeither of whom he'd like to date.
Afterwards, both girls come by with plans to ask him to a Sadie Hawkins dance. Jeff seems to make a logical decision, but then puts his foot in his mouth and the episode ends with this matter unresolved.
Once again, a Donna Reed episode takes us away from indoor scenes. We see a real softball field, not a few teens on a tiny stage pretending it is a ballfield. The action sceneswe see about four "plays" in the game, are well staged. The pitcher throws like one would in a real game and the other people's movements are realistic for the action we see. I hate the stage scenes on old shows where the kids playing catch, for example, are clearly about 10 feet apart and can do nothing more than gently lob the ball to each other, making for a ridiculous-looking game of catch.
There is also a bit where Drysdale tells Jeff to contact him the next time the Dodgers are due to play in Chicago so the pitcher can arrange for some great seats for the Stones. Without the episodes where the family seems to be living in some other location, this would clearly establish them as living in certain areas in one of three stateseither northern Indiana or Illinois, or southwestern Michigan. Simply putany other portions of those states, or any other state, and he would not have simply assumed they could travel to Chicago to see his team, OR he would have stated a different city for them to visitsuch as Milwaukee, St. Louis or Cincinnati instead of Chicago.
It is also worth noting that the teenage girls having softball teams was treated as normal, with no jokes about them being poor athletes or knowing nothing about the game. That puts this show ahead of the curve in its treatment of women and sports.
This episode wasn't hilarious, but it was rather amusing. I think a 7 is fair here.
A dumb promise leads to dumb lies
This presented a very nice side of Mary, while also showing a rather disturbing bit of stupidity on her part, and on Donna's.
Here, Mary has a friend named Ellen, who is totally unable to attract boys because she is too smart, according to what we hear. Ellen is not unattractive at all, but is thought to not appeal to boys because she is bright, and doesn't work to have them huddle all around her doing her little favors like a really popular girl, Melanie, is shown doing at the malt shop. In that scene, several boys are seated around Melanie, who drives Mary nuts by using the word "divine" as often as modern teens say "like." Every time a boy comes into the shop and starts speaking to Mary and Ellen, even when sitting with them, Melanie calls out to the boy to come over for some silly reason or other and he obeys almost like a servant, immediately leaving Mary and Ellen's table.
Mary's "crusade" as the title goes, is to try to get a boy to ask Ellen to the big dance coming up. She is so committed to this task that she doesn't even worry about getting a date for herself. She tries to teach Ellen how to flatter boys and walk differently, etc. But none of her efforts pay off, and with the dance almost at hand, she is ready to give up. She tells her mother that she was so sure she'd get a date for Ellen that she promised her that if she couldn't, she wouldn't go to the dance herself.
Now this seemed kind of dumb to me. There's no need for both of them to miss the big school event just because one can't get a date. Their plans to see a movie together could easily have been done the night before, or after, and Mary could have still had a good time at the dance. I sure wouldn't want a friend to miss out on some fun just because I couldn't join them.
It seems, from what this script writes, that no girl in those days would even think of going to the dance without a date bringing her. I would think that a good many of the teens would be going "stag" leaving them free to dance with numerous people all evening and not feel tied down with one of them.
So Mary is not sure what to do about honoring her promise or not. Donna encourages her to honor the promise and never tries to teach her how stupid the promise was. I thought she should have told her to talk to Ellen about the whole thing, to suggest they see a movie together and have fun the night before the dance instead, since it would be obvious that Ellen wouldn't really want Mary to miss the dance just because of her. But no, honesty is not something they encouraged in this episode.
The next part will spoil the latter part of the show if you haven't seen it.
Ellen comes by the Stones' house and tells Donna and Mary that she has been invited to a fancy birthday party by a boy at her old school, and that she'd like to break her movie date with Mary. Mary is delighted Ellen has something special to do, and that she can now happily go to the dance without going back on her promise.
But Donna learns that Ellen is lying just to help her friend Mary feel free to go to the dance. Then she stupidly tells Mary about it instead of letting Ellen's lie solve the problem, or better yet, getting Ellen back to tell her that they know the truth and get her to realize that being honest is a better way for friends to treat each other.
To give a happy ending, there is another twist at the end, nothing surprising or particularly funny. Actually, there were almost no laughs in this episode other than the almost hypnotic way Melanie commanded all the boys to hang out at her table almost fighting over her, ignoring all the other girls.
Can't give this one more than a 4 out of 10.
The Donna Reed Show: The Caravan (1962)
Vacations Always Lead to Fun
This is all about the Stone family vacation, which Donnachosen by the others to decide how to spend it, chooses a Motor home for a long drive to culminate in visiting Las Vegas.
Had they done such things in 1962 when this was first aired, they would have been wise to make this a two, or even three-part episode. In just 25 minutes, they could only touch on certain things and had to leave out all kinds of funny possibilities.
We saw scenes of the vehicle driving down roads that were clearly in the American West. We saw no scenes and heard nothing about any driving in eastern states, but they were vague about things so that you could not say that Hilldale has to be IN the West, based on this episode.
The first morning waking up in the vehicle sees Alex unable to unzip his sleeping bag. They finally bring in a mechanic to help him out and before he is able to get Alex out, Donna interrupts, offering him a cup of coffee, which he happily accepts, dropping the project of freeing Alex.
They didn't have any time for traveling woes of getting lost, having to take detours, finding restrooms, or having mechanical problems. We saw some scenes of the hazards of trying to prepare meals while the vehicle is zooming down the road, with a rather well-executed fall by Donna spilling a bowl of spaghetti on her head. One of the funniest scenes culminated in a line from Jeff after rain began falling while they were cooking on an open fire.
This episode stands out in that it includes several scenes of narrationby Donnaas though she's writing in a diary all about the family trip. These served to bridge the regular scenes with the ones without dialog, to make the story flow.
We saw that 3 of the family were having a wonderful time with their various activities, while Donna was stuck cooking and cleaning their mobile home. So they were happy to check into a hotel in Las Vegas. We were treated to several shots of famous Las Vegas hotels of the early 60s, before they checked into the one that got a sponsor listing on the final credits.
Although there wasn't anything super about the plot, this was, overall, funnier than most episodes of this series. It stands out in that it was one of the very few episodes to actually portray a TV family taking a vacation trip together. One thing I always thought odd is that almost none of the seriesAndy Griffith, Beaver, Dick Van Dyke, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, and the others, virtually NEVER showed their families taking a trip together. Sometimes the parents went away and left the kids with someone else. But there were almost no portrayals of a family vacation of any type.
This one leaves me wishing there was a part two. I gave it an 8 out of 10.
Almost a Green Acres type of story
We begin with Betty Jo playing with her dog, the always unnamed foundling, only here we see the county dog catcher hiding in the bushes with the proverbial net trying to capture the dog. We see him just miss a few times, then chase the dog into the hotel lobby where the dogcatcher, identified as Hinky Mittenfloss, played by Percy Helton, is chased off by Kate, who pulls a shotgun from under her front desk and points it at him.
It seems some farmers are losing chickens and because the Bradley's carelessly let their dog run around the valley at night, he is thought to be the culprit. So that night they, of course, let him out again "to visit his lady friends" (another problem we won't get into) and the next thing we know is that the dogcatcher returns in the morning with a story about farmer Luther Craig reporting that three of his chickens were killed and he saw a dog running from his hen house.
Enter the Shady Rest dog, covered with chicken feathers. Hinky takes him into custody. The next scene is at the dog pound where the visiting Bradleys (only Kate, Betty Jo, and Uncle Joe are seen in this episode, not the other sisters, who aren't even mentioned) are led to the "solitary" cell, where the dog is held, complete with a ball and chain on him, even though he's in the cell.
With a Green Acres type of silliness, the family visits a lawyer (this aired only months before the arrival of Oliver Douglas in the valley) who tells of a case in 1897 where a dog can sometimes be permitted a trial. He insists that Kate act as lawyer, telling her she can do as well as him, somehow.
The key scene is a wild courtroom scene that includes a Perry Mason-like demonstration to discredit a witness, a "soil expert" who makes a conclusion about mud obtained from the farm in question exactly matching farm he scrapes off Arnold Ziffel (the pig) by simply looking at the two in his hands for a couple of seconds, and "testimony" from the dog himself, answering Kate's questions.
I won't give away any of the surprises near the end. I will say that this episode was reasonably funny, in a Green Acres type of manner. I can see fans of this series thinking it was one of the funniest episodes, and other fans thinking it was REALLY stupid. If you are not bothered by large portions of the show seeming unrealistic, you might think this a very good episode. If you like the Junction crowd better when they behave more like real people, this would probably be a good one to skip. As one who loved the wild characters of Green Acres, I enjoyed it enough to give it a 6 out of 10.
few laughs, most illogical behavior and plot
We begin with Kathy, in just her 8th appearance, still recently married, complaining about being taken for granted, essentially saying to Danny that she'd like to get applause and take a bow like he does in his work. Suddenly she is mollified when he assures her the next time she makes a pot roast that he will applaud her.
The couple get to talking about when Kathy was in high school and sang in school plays and did a marvelous job and how she'd love to go on a real stage and sing sometime. Danny proceeds to tell her about how she'd be like others he's known who would get the "puckers." On stage, in front of strangers, she'd be unable to open her mouth to sing, only able to open wide enough to pucker. Kathy is upset at this and we the viewers know immediately what will happen later.
Next comes Terry and her friend, Peggy, asking Danny to help them find a female singer for a high school benefit who will sing on their limited budget of $63. Danny says he's going to a studio and will do what he can. He leaves and Kathy hears them talking and works to get asked to sing for them. The teens think she'll be fine and figure Danny won't even remember to try to find someone for them, much less actually get somebody. But Kathy makes them promise not to tell Danny before the event.
At the studio, Danny meets the very singer mentioned earlier, Dinah Shore, who is eager to ask him to do a comedy act for her child as a benefit. The two stars agree to trade favors, although Danny pauses to consider how unfair it is that Dinah will get $63 while he has to settle for just over $27.
When Danny brings home Dinah, Peggy and Terry are stunned. They try everything but the truth to keep Dinah from being the singer because they don't want to go back on their recently-made promise to let Kathy be their singer.
Kathy learns about Danny's arrangement and cleverly finds a way to back out to let the famous singer do the job. (SPOILERS concerning the ending coming up) After Dinah sings for the group of high schoolers, it is revealed by Rusty that Kathy had been asked to sing earlier. When Miss Shore hears about this, she insists Kathy go back out and sing for the audience right then. Of course, Kathy is glad to do so and all she can do is pucker her lips before she runs off stage, embarrassed, having proved Danny's point that just seeing a small group of high school kids would give her incredible stage fright.
My problem with the plot is that the girls came up with all sorts of lies about why they didn't want Dinah Shore instead of just saying they already got a singer and that they cannot say who at this time. They could have gone to Kathy and explained.
Furthermore, the setup for this performance seems all wrong. They said they needed a "female singer" even though from what little we saw, it was just some sort of musical numbers being sung, not a play. If it was some sort of musical review, they could easily have added a second female singer and let Kathy and Dinah Shore both sing. The entire notion that they needed one female, but couldn't use two, would only have worked if it was a dramatic play they were putting on. Any realistic type of musical show already cast, would have had the people in charge happily adding any number of songs if a famous person was suddenly available to help out.
Rusty and Linda were mostly featured in a scene where they were offered bribe money to not tell Daddy about Kathy's plans to sing. The reason Rusty blabbed at the end is because his "bribe money ran out" the day before. As they rushed into the room for their scene we had the usual Linda with a big forced, unnatural smile, which seems to be what she always did when entering the scene or when waiting to give her line. Nobody walks around with a large toothy smile all the time naturally.
While there are many funny episodes in this series, I hope I remember to skip this one next time I see it on. I could only give it a 4.