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The Donna Reed Show: Pickles for Charity (1960)
Season 2, Episode 28
One of series funniest
28 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Alex and Donna return from a charity dance which was a rousing success leaving them in high spirits...until Donna gets a phone call informing her that they charged too little for the tickets for the dance and their club lost over $200. The members decide to each make up their share--$27--by doing something to make money-- basically selling something they are good at making.

Donna gets inspired by her family's love of her homemade pickles (apparently far better than Aunt Bea's) and arranges to sell them at the local grocers' that Saturday. She and her children all pitch in to help make all the jars.

In the store, it seems everyone, including the lady who can't eat pickles, loves to taste their free samples, but prefers to buy the store's version. To avoid distressing Donna, Alex happily buys the whole supply and the three of them--in Donna's absence--give them away to store customers passing by.

Of course, Donna finds out, but she isn't upset.

I enjoyed Jeff attempting to influence potential customers by moving around to the other side of the little table and pretending to be a customer who loves the pickles. It was nice to see both kids happily working together to help their mother without being promised any sort of reward.

Most of laughs came from the family's banter both before and after Donna got the idea of selling pickles. If you are looking for a quintessential episode of this series--one that typifies the type of stories they had--this might be the best example you can find.

Look for Tiger Fafara as a box boy/bag boy at the grocery store. You likely know him as Tooey, Wally's friend on Leave it to Beaver.
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JFK: The Smoking Gun (2013 TV Movie)
Hokiest notion I've seen on what happened in Dallas in '63
10 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's impossible to only review this as a film and ignore the story--the theory about the assassination presented.

As a film, the "actors" doing the re-created scenes were miserable. There was way too much repetition, making the film seem padded--to fill out the 2 hours including commercials.

As to the theory--there are two reactions I had--chortling and shaking my head in amazement.

We are supposed to believe that the third shot did not come from Oswald's gun, but from a rifle fired by accident by a Secret Serviceman sitting, rather, standing in the car right behind the president's car. Presented in the film is the notion that on hearing the first shot, this agent reached down and picked up a rifle on the floor, then when the car sped up after the second shot, the agent fell backwards and his rifle just happened to be fired by accident right during the portion of a second it was pointed right at the president's head.

The unlikelihood of that happening is close to 100%. First of all, the agent would most likely have not had his finger on the trigger while he was holding the rifle up and looking around to see if he could spot a shooter. If he fell back and lowered the rifle, there would have been less than a second when it really was pointed toward the president at all.

More significantly, IF this had all happened, there is no way in the world none of the other 9 people aboard (including agents on the running boards) that vehicle would not have reported hearing a gunshot from a couple of feet away. Certainly some of the hundreds in Dealey Plaza would have reported seeing and/or hearing a gunshot from the area of the car behind the president. Someone with a still camera would surely have photographed something to support this film's preposterous claim. The only photo showing him with a rifle was taken after leaving the scene of the shooting-which is when the agent says he picked up the rifle in the first place.

The film makes a big deal about the autopsy claiming the entry wound on the final shot was reported as 6 millimeters, when the bullets from Oswald's gun were 6.5 mm. It never mentions that skin can contract after a hole is poked. It doesn't mention that the hole in JFK's neck wound--the one they agree came from Oswald's rifle--was measured as 4 mm. So much for that notion.

They never mention that ballistic tests on actual human skulls found bullets of the type Oswald used often did shatter on impact and explode like the final bullet in the JFK shooting. Instead, they waste time shooting bullets into melons to demonstrate how some bullets will explode on impact more easily than others.

Presenting only evidence that advances your claims and excluding facts known that contradict those claims is dishonest.

The best part of this film is when they show how the shot that hit both the president and Governor Connelly could definitely have done so, because of the fact that the governor's seat was more toward the middle of the car than the president's--that there was nothing magic about that bullet hitting both did not change course in mid-air as the conspiracy people have claimed.

That comes early in the film. I advise anyone to switch channels after that portion and not waste their time (like I did) with the rest of this nonsense.
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Waterhole #3 (1967)
humorless bore
13 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Last night I saw one of the worst movies I ever saw. Waterhole # 3, widely panned by critics when it came out in 1967--I read AFTER viewing it--is somehow praised on IMDb by people who differ from my viewpoint.

My take: We see 1800s soldiers moving a heavy box into a storage shed, guarded by Claude Aikins, an Army sergeant. Next door is a shoemaker's shop, where the shoemaker is forced into a hole in the floor, that we quickly learn leads to a tunnel through which this box, containing 100 lbs of gold, in four bars, has been stolen almost as soon as it was placed in the storage shed.

A separate--supposedly--scene takes place in a bar where James Coburn plays a card sharp who gets in a dispute with a man who then wants a showdown--drawing guns on each other in the street. Coburn exits the saloon on being called out by the man, walks away from him, apparently not interested in a gunfight, then goes behind his horse, whips out a rifle and shoots the man dead from behind the horse--not at all a fair fight, but murder.

The man he killed was involved in the gold heist, and on his body is a map Coburn finds, when he steals money from the dead man's body--somehow, nobody else in the town gathers around at all.

Coburn is next seen in a town where Carrol O'Connor (Archie Bunker) is the sheriff. He gets the drop on the sheriff (who knows he's wanted for murder) locks him and his deputy up in the jail and has them take off all their clothes. Somehow, the two lawmen are too embarrassed to yell for help, so that lets Coburn escape, heading for the sheriff's house to steal, apparently, the only good horse in town, from the sheriff.

While in this act, Coburn bumps into the sheriff's grown-up daughter, in the barn. He almost immediately goes after her, she tries to resist and we are treated to seeing the beginnings of a rape scene--the film makes it clear without nudity. Next scene, she emerges from the barn in the morning, now happy about the whole thing, yet still willing to tell Daddy that she was raped.

In a broad farce, a rape "could" possibly come off as funny. But there was too much seriousness here to make this the least bit funny. It was painful to watch as he chased her around the barn then pulled her down and started forcing her to kiss him. There was no humor here at all.

When she tells Daddy what happened (he got clothes from someone else) he was more upset that his horse was stolen than that his daughter's virtue was trashed. He goes after Coburn, and the rest of the film features long chases through the desert and many switches of possession of the stolen gold between Coburn and O'Connor's characters, who join together, inexplicably, and the original thieves.

The biggest flaw here was that there was nobody likable in the show. We need to have some reason to root for someone, but we didn't. So there was no reason to care about who wound up with the gold.

I think I smiled once or twice, but nothing in the entire film generated even a chuckle.

Believe-ability is also important. If the sarge in charge of guarding the gold is IN on the plot to steal it, why on earth did they need a tunnel to steal it in the first place? Just have the people taking it slip in when the sarge is the only guard around.

So, the comedy was totally missing, the drama was a bore, and the notion that rape is a minor offense is offensive; those together force me to give it my rarest rating--a one.
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Leave It to Beaver: The Yard Birds (1962)
Season 5, Episode 32
Boys act like real people, making a pretty good episode
12 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Here we see Beaver and Wally directed by Ward to spend a couple of their Saturday hours doing yard work, including collecting a lot of trash they are to stack by the curb and then contact a trash man to pick up everything.

Their friends are eager to do other things, but the boys have to tell them they can't until their work is done. As they clean, they find an old baseball and decide to see if the lopsided thing will curve more easily than a regular ball.

Later, Beaver is caught by Wally, returning from getting a drink of water, balancing a rake on his chin, with his friend Richard doing the same.

Despite Wally's insistence that they get back to work, the boys shortly get sidetracked again when they find Beaver's old archery set and they begin a game with that.

They finally are seen entering the house to call the trash man--and are stunned to learn that they are 90 minutes too late to reach him. They had too much fun and lost track of the time.

Big problem: What to do with all the trash they stacked up by the curb. To the rescue, they think, come Eddie and Lumpy. Eddie volunteers Lumpy's pride and joy, his roadster, to take the stuff to the dump. And they'll do it for half what the man usually charges-- just $3. The boys happily load the stuff into Lumpy's car.

But en route to the dump, Eddie spots a vacant lot and convinces his buddy that dumping the stuff there will save time and gas money.

That evening, when Ward later asks Wally how much he needs to put on the check for the trash man, Wally honestly tells his Dad what happened. Ward is happy they found a solution to the problem and gives Wally the $3 to pay them.

Eddie and Lumpy come by to collect and they are paid off. The four go upstairs to the boys' room and while they are still there, a Mr. Hill arrives to see Ward. It seems he found some magazines with Ward's name on the subscription label, and he figures Ward dumped all that trash on his vacant lot. Ward assures him everything will be cleaned up the next morning.

Ward goes upstairs and solemnly directs all 4 boys to clean up the lot the next morning. One of the episode's funniest lines comes in the tag scene as Wally describes how after they finished taking everything to the dump, Lumpy's car wouldn't start, so they were pushing it to get it started and a worker at the dump thought they were stealing one of his junk cars.

What I liked best about this show was that the boys were trying to do the job right, but just got carried away with distractions--not realizing, like real boys, how much time they wasted. When Wally was asked about payment, he told the truth right away instead of coming up with some tall tale. I always wished the Beaver did that more often in this series.

Eddie convincing Lumpy to save time and effort in dumping the trash was certainly in character with them.

One thing I don't believe made much sense was the business that they had to call the man by 1 p.m. and he would later come over, but if they called after 1 it would be too late. So he's still working after one, but even with someone else answering the phone, you can't call after then. Calling at 10 to 1 is fine.

Aside from what I just said, I don't understand why they couldn't have just called him, say at 11, and said, "We'll have some junk piled up by 1 p.m. (they planned to) could you come by sometime after that to pick it up."? Why do they have to wait until the pile is ready before they call the man? Do it logically, no problem exists.

But otherwise, this was a pretty good episode with the characters all behaving quite realistically.
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Serious topic not done that well, in almost laugh less episode
20 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Here was another example of a serious episode, focusing on Margaret. She had decided to sell the family's baby crib, along with a baby scale and some blankets, by placing an ad in the newspaper.

We viewers are taken into the kitchen of a young, married couple, who decide to go over the very morning they see the ad. The wife, Esther, played by Christine White, is much troubled by the things she hears from Kathy,particularly when told that her mother is going to disown her because of all the trouble she causes. Now Kathy explains right away that her mother isn't serious, only that she's rather upset at everyone but this doesn't placate the nervous mother-to-be.

Nevertheless, on husband Walt's insistence, they buy the items for $10, asking if they can pick them up that evening. Esther, whose face makes one think she was in a hypnotic trance throughout the episode,continues to be haunted by the chaotic scene in the Anderson household— basically things like a sweater dropped on the floor and Margaret seeming rather annoyed with everyone—nothing all that disturbing. Walt has not returned by the usual time from his job at a gas station. We see him still working and not quite picking up the phone in time when Esther calls to find out if he's still at work.

Now this is where we lose sight of logic. Esther immediately decides to go home to mother, by bus, just because she couldn't reach him at the station on one phone call, and not tell him anything about her sudden bus trip, nor let him know anything about what is troubling her. First she returns to the Anderson home to get back the $10 they paid. While there, she gets a good talking too by Margaret about how much she really cherishes her family, and that Esther just happened to earlier catch her on a bad day. Jim, Kathy and Bud overhear what Margaret tells her, and they are most happy to hear what she really thinks. Walt shows up about this time and Margaret gives him a story that Esther came by to surprise him by being there when he arrived to pick up his merchandise.

The only humorous parts were how sloppy Bud and Kathy kept making messes, and how Jim and Bud could sit at the table unaware that badly burning toast was smoking about 6 feet away. That is to say, almost all of the intended humor was in those scenes. There really were almost no chuckles, let alone anything more in the whole episode. We were given no reason to believe Esther and Walt had any serious troubles, which is why her plan to suddenly leave Walt—even assuming it wasn't to be permanent, is the sort of thing old shows used to do often, which always frustrated me. How, I ask, can one spouse leave his/her partner without ever letting that person know that there is a problem?

Trying to put myself in Walt's place, I will say that if my wife got furious with me, told me off royally, yelling and whatever, and said she's "going home to mother"…when we talked in a few days, maybe a week or more, I would be most happy to listen, apologize if necessary, work out our problems. But if I got home one night and she was just gone and didn't let me know for days where she was, I would be furious at her for making me worry AND for running away without letting me know what the problem was. Repeated actions like that could threaten any long term hopes of happiness.

I think the writers really just wanted an excuse for the family, minus Betty, to hear Margaret saying some really nice things about her wonderful family. This vehicle left this viewer quite bored with this almost-laugh less story. A 3.
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Father Knows Best: Woman in the House (1955)
Season 2, Episode 5
Not super funny, but a positive message as Margaret learns something
30 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Jim is visited in his office by an old friend, Virge, who tells him that he is now married. Naturally, the couple are invited to the Andersons, where the wife, Jill is first seen smoking a cigarette through a long holder, saying she thinks she broke their television set.

As they sit down to talk, Jill is pleasant in a way, but as she talks about the books she likes, she annoys Margaret greatly, making her feel ignorant for not knowing certain authors, etc. Soon enough, Virge needs to take a 2-3 day trip to his mother's and because his mother doesn't like Jill, he asks if Jim and Margaret will put her up because Jill "doesn't do well all alone" in a hotel.

Of course they do, and she seems to continue to rub Margaret the wrong way. Because Jill professes to not being a good cook, Margaret basically shuts her out from helping in any way. She just wants her to sit and relax, making Jill feel unwanted. Now mind you, Jill tries to be nice and never directly says anything critical, but Margaret can't wait for her to leave.

Only near the end, when Jill has jumped in to shampoo Kathy's hair and breaks down crying as little Kathy gets her to admit that the only friend she has is her husband, and Margaret learns of this, does Margaret understand that she has been unkind to Jill by just wanting her to stay out of the way and not try to help her with anything around the house. She asks for help with that night's supper and we see that they will now become friends.

Now much of this was not intended to be funny as they were making serious points here. I found it an interesting story, partly because the new guest was much more realistic a character than the modern-day house guest would be on most shows. Today's shows would have the person ridiculously rude, such as the aunt who visited on The Hogans who on given a hint of advice about smoking, snarled at one of the boys—"You want to live my life…pay my bills." I liked the funny lines in the beginning with Virg and Jim, and some of Jill's interactions with the kids were cute too. Betty of course, was overly dramatic about how much trouble she felt Jill was causing. Jill played catch with Bud and screamed at a frog Kathy showed her—from up close.

It was one of those "nice message" shows, pointing out how letting a house guest help out is usually a good thing. I give it a 7 for the good message.
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Charlie in great peril, after getting rare chance to sing
27 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I don't need to detail the plot of this 82-year-old film with 30 other reviews already available here.

I just saw this again. I remember thinking as a teen that this was the "scariest" of the Chan series and I believe it is primarily because Charlie was kidnapped, held prisoner, and later led into the den of smugglers where he certainly could have been killed in two different locations. In most Chan films, he rarely faces any danger other than someone taking a shot at him and running away, having missed.

His fatherly relationship with son, Lee, was never warmer. Lee was not the bungler he and brothers were in later films. He was comical, but didn't hinder Charlie's work, and was quite helpful, quite possibly saving his life even.

I loved the scene at the banquet early on where after a speaker spoke in Chinese for about 3 minutes, someone asked Lee what he said, and the response was "He said, 'Thank you, so much.'"

Charlie gets to sing a song to some children early in the film, and he does the usual wise old sayings.

The mystery was pretty good, as we had a few occasions where we were led to believe someone was a "bad guy" then saw the opposite, then...

There was a cool scene where Charlie demonstrated how someone could have snuck out of a room, leaving behind a locked window.

Very good entry in the series.
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Patriots Day (2016)
Tons of cussing, violence, and tense police action
16 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
We saw this in the theater on January 14. I read all available IMDb reviews and am writing this because two rather important elements were not mentioned in any reviews I saw. To me, a review should help potential viewers decide if they would like to see the film in question.

First, the basics: This is a gritty, adult-oriented film about the horrible bombings at the 2014 Boston Marathon that killed 3 people and lead to 280 people being injured and two additional police officers being killed in the manhunt that followed. It is quite fact-based, designed to let viewers see the horror of it all, and how the police agencies worked diligently to capture the Islamic terrorists who perpetrated the whole thing.

The film begins with an unrelated police raid the night before the marathon, where we focus on a policeman, Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), who, I've learned, represents a composite of several real officers involved in the actual events. This is a common ploy by filmmakers because viewers feel lost if the movie keeps showing so many different police officers accurately doing their parts and there's no continuity in who we are watching.

We get, in the beginning scenes, several vignettes of actors portraying different real people, preparing to watch or participate in the marathon. These brief introductions let us feel a connection to the real people, some of whom are shown in film-ending scenes talking about their lives and how they were changed by the bombings.

Scenes of the race, the crowds, the finish line site that was bombed and the mass confusion and bloodshed lead to how police investigate. A command center was established in an old warehouse, a large part of which was used to lay out clothing and belongings found at the bomb site, putting everything gathered on a recreated bomb site. A large part of the investigation involved finding video footage of people, searching for possible suspects, and later, publicizing the photos of the two suspects, seeking public help in identifying the perpetrators.

We also saw in the opening sequences before the marathon, and later on, scenes involving the brother who carried out the bombings. We weren't meant to get to like them, but we saw a couple of scenes of the pair who lived together with the older one's wife and their young daughter. It was clear that the wife knew just what they were planning and was in full support. It was also clear that the older brother was in charge, but that the 19-year-old, while he argued about what specific actions they should take, was totally willing to kill as many innocent people as possible.

We later saw a scene where the wife of the lead terrorist was being questioned. She revealed nothing and, we were told at the end of the movie, was never arrested for her part in the whole thing.

It took several days for authorities to find these punks, with the biggest key being a young man who was kidnapped by the pair, as they stole all the money they could from his bank accounts via an ATM, and drove his car. The young man was able to escape and phone police, leading to a police chase which had a huge gunfight in nearby Watertown resulting in another officer being killed (in addition to a separate killing by one of the brothers) and 16 more officers being injured in the gunfight that ended when the younger brother escaped, driving a stolen car, smashing through police cars and driving over his injured brother, killing him accidentally, as he tried to make his getaway.

Almost anyone old enough to see this film remembers where the younger brother was found hiding. Seeing how many police were involved and how they went about this capture was quite interesting.

The film includes many bloody scenes of people's injuries, at crime scenes and in hospitals. These scenes are important to show the horror of it all—to make sure we don't gloss over what these two evil people did.

Now for the two overlooked elements of this movie: First is the use of a spinning camera, panning about various scenes at such a speed as to possibly make you dizzy. Some scenes designed to show the chaos of the bombing see things whirling around too fast to see clearly. Viewers close to the movie screen might find themselves a bit queasy if not worse. If you are sensitive to such scenes, I'd advise you to close you eyes for a few seconds.

Another topic not discussed much is the cussing, particularly the so-called "F-bomb." I'll estimate that had they chopped out 85 uses of this word, there would still have been at least four dozen times when you hear it.

Largely, the situations seemed like one where you might expect to hear cussing. This isn't a lighthearted comedy or a movie that would be interesting to kids. But they could have reduced the cursing and still kept it gritty. Like any word or expression, overuse reduces or destroys the effectiveness of the term. A remake of Gone With the Wind made today would likely have had Rhett cussing frequently, which would make the famous line near the end totally forgettable, instead of being one of the most famous lines in Hollywood history, made so because it did stand out thanks to the use of one normally-forbidden word. If you are troubled by hearing F and S words in shows, you probably will not want to see this movie because there is so much profanity used throughout the film.

Otherwise, it is a tense, police-action film full of violent scenes that depicts a horrible event that will never be forgotten. I give it a 7.
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Very good entry for this series
11 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Whenever I see an old film and wish to review it, I try to place myself as if I saw it in the theater when it was first released. The Black Camel came out in 1931.

Talking motion pictures were common by then, but almost every movie- goer had spent most of their time reading subtitles on their movies. The lack of background music didn't seem odd as it does to us today.

What would have jumped out at me 86 years ago was the wonderful scenery of Hawaii that opened the film. We saw beaches and other views of the city. We saw surfers from an angle that made it look like we were in the water very close to them. Now to almost anyone at that time, these scenes were probably our first ever look at such activity in any film.

We are taken to a movie scene--that is, our movie shows actors on a beach filming a movie. The lead actress begs off work for the day, and we learn it has to do with the guy she met on the ship coming to Hawaii to make this movie.

I later learned that the man playing the director of the film within the film was actually the director of this film. Neat.

Charlie Chan appears shortly and Warner Oland is just like the Charlie Chan we know from many other movies. The biggest difference is that he is "assisted" (and I use the term loosely) by another policeman who bumbles around more than any of his sons did in later movies, comically running onto the set calling out, "Clue!" He had a way of sliding to a stop when running up to Charlie that made me chuckle.

Our actress friend has sent for her psychic, played by Bela Lugosi, to advise her on the notion of marrying her new lover. Before long we are involved with a murder that seems to be related to a murder in Hollywood that took place 3 years ago. It seems everyone connected with this actress was also on the scene at that time, and is thus a suspect in that murder as well.

There are plenty of clues for the detectives to find. On the way we get a neat scene at the Chan household, where Charlie learns that one of his offspring is at the bottom of his class, because, "all the other places were taken." He happily leaves his beloved family to go back to the pleasures of detective work.

Before he wraps things up, he has a thrown knife narrowly miss him, and confronts someone who falsely confesses to the main murder.

This film had all the elements the later ones did--including Charlie's proverbs, the mix of humor and suspense, even the oft-used clue-stolen-while-the-lights-went-out-trick. It was the only film in the long run of the series that actually had parts of it filmed in Hawaii.

Another famous face is Robert Young, best known as Jim Anderson and Marcus Welby.

To me, this film ranks among the better of the Chan films, with all the likable elements in place. Too bad we don't have copies available of the other Oland films before 1934s Charlie Chan in London, which is normally the earliest one ever shown on TV.
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Wonderful Christmas Episode
16 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favorites on my Christmas DVD collection of over 20 sitcom Christmas shows. It starts with Ozzie and Harriet looking at the Christmas cards they've received and discussing which ones they like best. Ozzie hates ones where the sender doesn't write any sort of note. He then reads a sweet, sentimental card to Harriet, something that nicely concludes something about "hoping we can always include you in our list of closest friends." When Harriet asks who it's from, Ozzie deadpan replies that it's from their dry cleaners.

Most of the episode deals with Ozzie being tricked into agreeing to do everything for everyone--play Santa at one place, play Scrooge at another, and join in singing Carols with another group, while still finding time in the last few days before Christmas to buy and put up a tree and string lights outside the Nelson home. I particularly liked how neighbor Joe reports that the guy who normally plays Santa moved away and they don't have a suit. Ozzie says, "I have a suit" and Joe quickly thanks him for volunteering to do the job, knowing full well Ozzie only wanted to let them use his suit.

While shopping at a department store, Ozzie is visiting with a neighbor lady when he hears the P.A. calling, "Will Little Ozzie Nelson report to the Lost & Found" before the voice apologizes and asks for "Mr. Ozzie Nelson" to report.

One scene has Ozzie climbing a ladder outside his house, carrying lights, while practicing his Scrooge role with Ricky, sticking his head out the window and reading the lines of Marley's ghost. Throughout the show, Ozzie keeps getting interrupted with another request keeping him from finishing whatever he was working on.

Near the end, he feels frustrated at not getting anything done around the house because he was too busy with all his other activities, when his loving family shows that they were able to get the other things done.

This isn't a side-splitter comedy, but lots of gentle laughs wrapped around what was always portrayed as a realistic, happy, family. I will always remember Ozzie's distinctive rendition, practicing a bass voice for Deck the Halls, after the lady leading the carolers asked him, "Are you a bass?" and when Ozzie said he wasn't, she calmly asked him if he'd try to be, because they needed more bass voices. Fa la la la la.
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Last Man Standing: Last Christmas Standing (2011)
Season 1, Episode 10
Mike re-learns an important Christmas message
9 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Saw this on DVD last night--first time since it first aired.

A truly hilarious episode, particularly the antics of Mandy and Ed. Mandy has a line where she's busy and the doorbell rings. She calls out, "Can someone other than me please get that." Ed had a line a couple of minutes later that made me pause the show for over 45 seconds until I stopped laughing. I cannot reveal it because it needs too much context.

The main plot deals with the entrance to the series of Ryan, Boyd's father, who is back in the area and now wants to be a part of his son's life, but is not interested in being involved with Kristin at all. Kristin is happy for this, but Mike is rather hostile to Ryan. Ryan has been performing in fairs and such, and Mike tells him, "The role of Boyd's father should have been cast 2½ years ago."

Eve seems to get to her father a bit, and with Kristin's recalling a World War I story Mike has often told, and on getting him to re-tell it by playing dumb (getting all the facts wrong as she starts the story) Mike agrees to a "Christmas truce" with Ryan.

This all came after Kyle was quite disturbed that his serious girlfriend might get back with Ryan, and the actions he took were also important in the plot, but won't be revealed here--too much of a spoiler.

Meanwhile, Mandy gets a Christmas time job at the store, playing an elf-helper to Santa Claus (Ed) who tells her one of her big duties is making sure all the little kids have gone to the bathroom before they sit on his lap.

Mandy causes a stir by getting all the other Christmas help to go on strike, demanding better working conditions. When she talks about certain benefits "after six months" Ed reminds her, "you do realize your job ends in three days, don't you?"

I thought this episode was brilliant, utilizing all the cast well, and providing a nice Christmas message of forgiveness as well. It even had a cute finish involving Ryan showing a weird side by singing on his own at church with the family, distracting everyone else from the hymn they were singing. This was interesting because in this episode, Ryan was played by singer Nick Jonas.

When the episode is great from start to finish, it has to get a 10 score from me, something I rarely give out for any series episode.
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The Odd Couple: The Hideaway (1971)
Season 1, Episode 15
Affirmative Action Eskimo is Helped by the Couple
18 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This episode began with Oscar sneaking in some fellow in a parka to the apartment, and being caught immediately by Felix, who is told that the young man has just finished college at Alaska A & M and is a fabulous football quarterback, Ernie Wilson, whom all the pro teams are dying to sign to a contract—which Oscar is going to help him with for 10% of the deal.

Oscar knew Ernie because he had somehow written about him in his column. Players having contracts negotiated by an agent was still a relatively new thing in sports, but a sportswriter who knew the guy might well have attempted to help him, and himself, as Oscar was trying to do.

Now the NFL draft had been around for decades, beginning in 1936, so the whole premise of this episode did not ring true for football fans. If Ernie was so highly sought-after, he would have been drafted. Players not drafted do sign with pro teams, but they are not, then or now, highly desired by all the pro clubs, as Oscar stated.

Ernie was also an Eskimo, which led to a succession of jokes between him and Felix about cold weather, eating fish, etc., mostly stated by Felix who immediately apologized for his dumb jokes.

Ernie was played by Reni Santoni, a 31-year old actor best known for his role as Poppie on Seinfeld, but who has a long list of TV credits dating to 1964.

Right after introducing Ernie to Felix, Oscar leaves to go to his office to make phone calls for Ernie, with strict instructions for Felix to keep Ernie in the apartment and not let anyone in, lest some team representative be eagerly trying to sign him to a contract without Oscar helping.

Almost immediately, Felix answers the doorbell and a big, burly guy almost forces his way into the apartment, but he has nothing to do with football. He represents some, I presume, fictional musical school who is eager to sign Ernie as a cellist.

Felix is impressed with Ernie now, and we are told that Ernie would like to study music instead of playing pro football, even though the money wouldn't be nearly as much. Oscar, on learning from Felix that Ernie would like this comes on board. Only as soon as Ernie starts playing the cello Felix rented for him, Felix learns that he is terrible at this talent.

He phones the man from the musical school, who comes over and agrees that Ernie is terrible at playing. He reveals that he is desired because they don't have an Eskimo cellist. They don't use the words "affirmative action" but this is what they are describing. Schools and businesses were eager for "token" representatives to put up appearances that they were diversified and many people got places in a school—in this type of instance—who weren't at all qualified in the skills normally needed. The episode was really a stinging criticism of this practice, without really delving into the politics of it all.

The "big scene" set up by all of this is a pro team owner, Slim Daniels (Dub Taylor), supposedly with a background, not a personality, like that of Gene Autry, comes by with three other men to the apartment, to find out why Oscar told him Ernie was not interested in playing football anymore, not knowing that the QB had now changed his mind, on learning why he was desired by the musical school.

Slim talks about his accountant and his lawyer, leaving Oscar to ask about the third man. We all learn that it is Slim's movie sidekick, Grubby (not Gabby) who happily recites on of his supposed movie lines that endeared him to movie fans. Slim still employs Grubby because "we take care of our own." The scenes with Slim were the funniest in the show, as improbable as they were. I don't think it will spoil the fun for anyone to read here how the resolution really was that Ernie was advised by Oscar to get a good lawyer to help him sign the contract because Oscar was inexperienced at that. Frankly, as a big-time sports writer, Oscar would have the knowledge of what other QBs were getting and actually could have gotten him a good contract. In those days, most players had one-year contracts, or maybe 2-3 years and there wasn't any salary cap, or deferred money to complicate matters.

Nowhere near the best episode, there were some laughs and it was nice to see the pair not getting into any sort of fight for a change. Some of their arguments were quite funny, but a series wears out its welcome if they keep having big arguments almost every week. I gave it a 7, with one point just for seeing Poppie a quarter of century before his wacky role on Seinfeld.
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Better Title: How Poor Communication Causes Huge Problems
18 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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Leave It to Beaver: Beaver's Ice Skates (1961)
Season 5, Episode 9
Beaver never really learns to trust Dad
21 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
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 skates—scene 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.)
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Father Knows Best: Father Is a Dope (1955)
Season 2, Episode 10
Funniest episode I've seen yet
14 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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Father Knows Best: A Friend of Old George's (1955)
Season 1, Episode 15
Too patient with a stranger
1 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
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 day—and 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.
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More humorous than most, with Frank Flannigan hurting and helping Ellery
2 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
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 wrote—both 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 do—lettering, 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 finds—further 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 him—although 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 viewing—provided 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.
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Mildly amusing, but illogical relationships plague this film
11 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
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 stereotypes—Handy 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 together—with 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 chuckles—there were no loud laughs at all—into a half-hour sitcom you would have had, maybe a 6 out of 10. I feel generous in giving this a 4.
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I Love Lucy: The Marriage License (1952)
Season 1, Episode 26
Laughs from a Guest Star, But 2 Dumb Plot Points
22 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
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 married—well, she thinks this is so—and 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 each—was 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 show—unless 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.
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The Donna Reed Show: Big Star (1962)
Season 5, Episode 9
Much singing, almost no plot otherwise
27 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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The Donna Reed Show: Rebel with a Cause (1962)
Season 5, Episode 8
Two plots, neither developed as well as possible
26 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This was really a split episode—the 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 land—what 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.
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The Donna Reed Show: The Man in the Mask (1962)
Season 4, Episode 37
Jeff umpires softball, talks to Hall of Fame pitcher
17 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
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-on—he 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 more—make 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 Marcia—either 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 scenes—we 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 states—either northern Indiana or Illinois, or southwestern Michigan. Simply put—any 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 visit—such 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.
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The Donna Reed Show: Mary's Crusade (1960)
Season 2, Episode 33
A dumb promise leads to dumb lies
11 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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The Donna Reed Show: The Caravan (1962)
Season 4, Episode 34
Vacations Always Lead to Fun
7 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is all about the Stone family vacation, which Donna—chosen 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 narration—by Donna—as 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 series—Andy 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.
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Petticoat Junction: The Chicken Killer (1965)
Season 2, Episode 31
Almost a Green Acres type of story
27 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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