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Better Title: How Poor Communication Causes Huge Problems
Here we have Patty dating an older man--who graduated a few years ago,we hear, and is working for a stock broker. He has a mustache (rare in the mid-60s) and smokes most of the time (common then). He is polite in meeting Martin. Just before leaving with Patty, he brings out virtually the only chuckle in this entire episode. He offers to help Martin if he ever wants stock advice, because he has been with his company "over two months."
We next see the young couple parked in a secluded spot (I guess these are rare, but possible in Brooklyn Heights/Brooklyn) where Patty appears to be quite bored as the man just talks about how much money he is making. Suddenly two men come up from behind and tell the man they are repossessing the car for three missed payments. He gets out, apparently to be left alone, but the guy returning the car is happy to drop Patty off where she lives.
We next see Martin and Natalie's bedroom, where Martin wakes up, at 1:30 and sees that the porch light is on--which to him proves Patty did not get home by her curfew of midnight. Natalie convinces him to check her room, which he does.
Just before he goes there, Patty happens to wake up, remembering she forgot to turn off the light, so she goes downstairs to do so. So when Martin peeks in, he sees her bed is empty. Somehow he doesn't notice that it looks slept in--blanket and sheet askew. He returns to his room and in seconds he and Natalie her Patty's door shut. They figure she just got home.
Now Martin has the right idea--talk to her right away. This would preclude her having much time to come up with a lie/ or even think about it--supposing Martin was right. Of course, we viewers know he would see her in her pajamas and robe and happily accept that she just went down to turn off the light. Episode over at this point. But Natalie convinces him to wait till morning.
The next blunder comes when Martin only gives Patty his conclusion-- that she wasn't home by midnight. She says he was and believing she is lying upsets Martin so much that he next interrupts her when she tries to explain, saying, "I'm not interested in any explanation..."
This crushes Patty. Since he doesn't want to hear her explain, she politely asks to be excused. She has always been portrayed as having a good relationship with her dad and to suddenly not be trusted, to not even get a chance to explain hurt her, as it logically should have.
After a full day apart, at work and school, the two finally talk enough to make up, with Martin learning what really happened the night before. He was stunned to learn that he had said to Patty that he didn't wantto hear her explanation. He never meant to say that.
I find it quite believable that Martin would have been unaware of what he said that so stunned Patty. (Been there, done that.) Thinking of her as a real-life person, Patty should be commended for not yelling at her dad, but quietly excusing herself that morning and then talking politely with him that night. I think most teens would not be that good.
Of course, the whole morning scene would have ended the episode quickly if Martin had just begun by telling Patty what he saw instead of giving her his conclusion. Had he just said, "Patty, I woke up about 1:30 in the morning and saw the porch light was still on. I checked your room and you weren't in bed. Then I heard your door being closed a minute later. Why did you get home so late?"
Her answer would have been good enough and there would have been no conflict to be resolved. The dialog had to be a bit convoluted so they could have the big issue about trust to show the dramatic scene the writers were seeking.
As a drama, not too bad. But this show was a comedy. It had no more than two things that were even supposed to be funny. (The second was a tag scene where 3 members of the family, Cathy absent, teased Martin when he was seen in pajamas turning off the porch light the next night.)
The serious tone really made it a weak episode to me. We knew they would make up and that all that was needed was for Martin to learn what really happened.
Comedy shows really should stick to making us laugh, with serious scenes not dominating whole episodes.
Beaver never really learns to trust Dad
After pleading with Dad for $6 to get "season tickets" to the town's new skating rink, Beaver soon decides he NEEDS new skates. Ward and June let him take money from his bank account to buy them, then agree to let him go do so without either of them being there.
The salesman eager to sell him skates, learns from a colleague that they out of the size 6 skates Beaver needs, and everything else smaller than size 9. So he decides to hold the tag upside down so the 9 will look like a 6 to fool Beaver. He then tells Beaver that they are so big because he is supposed to wear three pairs of thick socks as well. Beaver is so easily fooled he never even attempts to stand up on the skates in the store, even though he has put them on.
Beaver is eager to test his new skates but finds he can't take a step without falling down because they are so big. Whitey tells him "You could put a whole other foot in that one skate." So the Beav decides to pretend to go skating every day, instead spends his time in the library, as Wally put it, "pretending to read." When Wally found him at the library one day, he learns what happened and goes with Beaver to return the skates. But the salesman insists they got scuffed when Beaver fell down and therefore he can't take them back.
The boys still won't go to their parents, but they get caught when Ward catches a small newspaper story about the ice rink having to close for a few days for repairs. Beaver finally fesses up and Ward returns the skatesscene unseen, and for what seems like the 183rd time, Beaver learned a lesson about how he should go to his parents when he has a problem.
This was a moderately funny show altogether, although I am weary of the way Beaver seems to never feel like he can share any problem with his Dad until there is no other option. The way Ward is portrayed throughout the series, he is extremely eager to make things right, never hits his boys, rarely punishes them with anything more than "going to their room," and seems like the kind of father real kids would feel comfortable approaching when they have a problem.
I can't cite other episodes, but it also seems like most salespeople on this series, like the skate salesman here, are rather dishonest in nature.
My biggest gripe about this plot is how Beaver was so dumb as to not realize with his toes not coming within three inches of the end of the boot, that he would have trouble using these skates. Who tries on shoes in a shoe store and doesn't at least stand up, if not walk a bit. (For those who've never skated: If you can ice skate, you can walk at least some on your skates. You normally have to just to get from the area where you put them on to the ice surface itself.)
Funniest episode I've seen yet
As viewed today on Antenna TV, the episode "Father is a Dope" was the funniest I've seen since watching this series again a couple of months ago.
We began with the family laughing at a TV series where a family convinces the father that he would be dumb to give up everything to mine uranium. Everyone loves this series except Jim, who thinks it's so stupid he proclaims that instead of being titled, "Father Goofs Up Again, it should be called "Father Is a Dope." Then he makes plans to go hunting with his neighbor the next morning. But he begins worrying that Margaret and the kids will hatch some plot to keep him from going, even though she said she wanted him to go.
Almost immediately, Betty is asking him to go with her to a job interview, Kathy wants to go to a party, but can't because there'll be no car available to take her there (Jim is taking the family vehicle on the hunting trip), and Bud suddenly feels a strange pain in his side and shows dad that he cannot raise his hand up to here. When Dad points out that he is holding it there, Bud says, "Well, I can't go any higher." Then Margaret goes to take the car to go to the market, but smashes into the fence, further convincing Jim she is trying to keep him home. But he gets it fixed good enough the next morning, but as he prepares to leave, he keeps worrying whether or not they are trying to get him to stay home, or if they really happen to be coming up with true things that would keep him home, without having any sort of scheme.
One thing I have learned in getting reacquainted with this classic show is how most of the episodes I like a lot today, in 2016, are the ones featuring Jim. Although he frequently did not "know best" as Margaret and sometimes the kids really did, he was about the most realistic regular father character on TV in the medium's first 20 years.
This episode was excellent, earning the first 10 from me for any of these episodes seen this year.
Too patient with a stranger
As Kathy celebrates her birthday, we see in the early moments how she hides under the table and sees where Mother has hidden the birthday cake that was delivered from the bakery. The family is planning on having prime rib for supper and going to the circus that evening. But Bud answers the doorbell to tell Father that a man is there wanting to see him.
Jim starts drilling Bud on the details of the man's appearance, which was kind of funny, as Margaret slyly suggests he just go out and talk to the man. When Jim does go out, he finds a pleasant, bud odd man named Lyle (Parley Baer, known for being a neighbor and friend to Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, then later the second mayor of Mayberry on Andy Griffith) who Jim eventually learns isn't really a friend at all of Jim's old friend George, but simply a man who encountered George as a judge when he got a speeding ticket in another town.
Lyle seems intent on sitting and talking, essentially about nothing, while Jim cannot figure out how to get rid of him. When the children drop some not-so-subtle hints, the visitor invites himself to supper, and is delighted to "share" the birthday cake with Kathy, because it was his birthday yesterday.
Jim finally comes up with a way to trick him into leaving, and the Anderson's eat and rush to the circus to find out it is sold out. Then they encounter Lyle again and learn how being nice to someone can pay off in the long run, even though it sure didn't seem like it would.
I know it would have forced them to radically change the whole episode, but I was driven nuts by the fact that on getting acquainted with Lyle, Jim never said anything along the lines of "What brings you to town?" or "What business are you in?" It also seems unnatural for him to let this man interrupt a special day for the family once they learn he isn't in any way an actual friend of "Old George's." I couldn't help but draw parallels with the infamous episode of Leave It to Beaver when the boys special day at the fair was pretty much ruined by them being forced to stay almost all day for the visit from Aunt Martha and her friend. I have written on that board about how I hated that episode because June's dear relative didn't announce her arrival until after the boys and Ward had made plans for the special dayand being a "fair", like a carnival or the circus, was not something they could just do any ol' Saturday.
At least on LITB, the special day was hampered by a visiting relative. In this episode, it was a total stranger, who didn't even know anyone in the Anderson family who was allowed to just stay and talk and interfere with the family's special plans.
It would have been much more realistic to have had Jim, upon learning the man wasn't really any friend of his friend's, to have said, "Well Lyle, I have enjoyed meeting you and if you're going to be in town, I'd be happy to invite you out to lunch tomorrow, but I'm afraid you've come at a bad time because my family has special plans to celebrate my youngest daughter's birthday tonight, so I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave for now." Anything like that would have been good.
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.