Episode 16: Lumpy Rutherford

Original Air Date: 1/24/1958

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4orxad

Guest Star: Helen Parrish

Notable Facts : First appearance of Lumpy Rutherford

Hello again readers, family and friends. The episode being reviewed today, “Lumpy Rutherford” treats us to the first appearance of Lumpy. He would later become a “friend” to Wally and appear alongside Eddie Haskell in several episodes. The dynamic between Lumpy and his father, Fred Rutherford, was always fun to see. In this episode, we get a very nasty version of Lumpy Rutherford. He is a cruel bully to Wally and Beaver.

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Classic TV is full of plotlines that involve the stars of the show suffering the cruelty of a bully. However, this episode of LITB treated us to another dynamic. The brief glimpse into Lumpy’s home life provides no justification for his terrible ways. His mother seems like a sweet and reasonable woman. His father, while somewhat aloof, doesn’t seem domineering or cruel. At one point during the story, Mr. Rutherford claims that Clarence (aka Lumpy) has a personality that just draws others in. Fred Rutherford is a bit pompous but certainly not intimidating. When Lumpy encounters him briefly after taunting the Cleaver boys, he is timid and acts very obedient towards the kindly Fred.  Readers, your thoughts on the father and son relationship between Fred and Clarence are most welcome.

 

Upon learning the boys have encountered a bully, Ward offers to intervene. Not wanting to look weak amongst their peers, the boys decline. Ward then reminisces about his own trial with one and the prank he played on the boy. Wally and Beaver are soon mimicking Ward’s childhood prank as they have spread barrel hoops across the Rutherford’s driveway. As they yell taunts at the house to summon Lumpy, only Fred and his wife hear them. In the episode’s LOL moment, the boys yell “Hey, Meathead! Meathead!”, Mrs. Rutherford says, “Might be for you dear.”

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Helen Parrish

Mrs. Rutherford was played by the stunning beauty Helen Parrish. She had been an actress since age 4 and was a teen star in a few b-movies. Sadly, this would be her only appearance as Mrs. Rutherford. She would appear only one more time in front of the camera before passing away from cancer in 1959.

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The boys’ prank goes horribly wrong as Fred exits the house and falls victim to barrel hoops to the shins. The boys scamper away and Beaver loses his hat in the process. That same night as they fear the police will arrive any moment, the Rutherfords arrive instead. Totally oblivious that the Cleaver boys were responsible for Fred’s misery, they seek an enjoyable evening with Ward and June. Fred bolsters the events earlier that night to include a gang attacking him and leaving behind an incriminating hat. Ward suggests he go to the police with the evidence. After Fred shares what happened, the jig is up. Ward discusses briefly with the boys what happened and they are willing to go downstairs and confess their wrongdoing. Instead, Ward says he will take care of matters. As I watched this scene, I thought it was wonderful to see a father taking control and being the man of the house. A sitcom today would have had a dopey dad trying to get the hat from the Rutherfords on the sly and weasel his way out of the predicament.

As the Rutherfords leave for the night, all is well with Ward and Fred. Fred is disappointed in his darling boy and unaware he was called Lumpy. He assures Ward the matter will be addressed. However, like so many other sitcoms of yesteryear we never see the bully get his due. We also don’t see him as best pals with his victim by the story’s end. There is a powerfully touching scene to close out the episode. Beaver comes downstairs and he and his father discuss bullies. Ward shares with Beaver that bullies will always be among us and we just have to find a way to live alongside them and get along. Beaver asks about the best way to beat a bully. Ward gives the wonderful reply that the best thing we can do is never be anything like them.

This episode holds a special place in my memory as I recall watching it the same day I had encountered a jerk of a kid at the park. While he did not target me like Lumpy did the boys, his obnoxious, mean and boastful nature just irked me. I still remember Ward’s advice being comforting when I watched this episode that afternoon. Your own thoughts on this episode are most welcome! We will review the actor who played Lumpy, Frank Bank, in a future blog. See you next time!

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Episode 15: Party Invitation

Original air date January 17th, 1958

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4orxac

Guest Stars: Patty Turner and Lyle Talbot

Greetings once again dear readers!  Today we review “Party Invitation”.  It is a well remembered episode in the series.  The isolation Beaver faced as being the only boy at a party is not one I recall ever being touched on in other sitcoms.  The only other sitcom I can think of dealing with something similar was Full House.  There was an episode where Stephanie wanted to attend a mother-daughter function, but had no mother to accompany her.  That’s the closest I could come up with in my TV viewing experience.  Readers, if any of you recall another sitcom where this was dealt with, please share!

The episode begins with the boys searching their room for things they need for their day at school.  As they prepare to start the day, Beaver mentions a new girl in his class who has taken a shine to him.  Linda Dennison will be the source of Beaver’s misery in this episode.  At school that day, she passes him a note that is inviting him a note inviting him to her birthday party.  The posse of his peers that has given Beaver trouble in previous episodes does so again here.  I know Judy was never a classmate we were supposed to “like”, but season one’s writing seemed  to be pushing us to feel the same way about Larry and Whitey too.  They razz poor Beaver about having a girlfriend due to Linda taking a shine to him.  He confirms the note was a birthday party invite that he is sure other fellows will be getting as well.

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Patty Turner as Linda Dennison

Linda Dennison was played by Patty Turner.  IMDB lists her appearances on LITB as her only acting credits.  However, a Google search of her found a webpage stating she was also in Cecil B. Demille’s “The Ten Commandments”.  The Google search also shared that today she is the CFO of a homebuilding company and poet.

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Beaver calls around to some other guys and learns they were not invited to Linda’s party.  With this news he decides he is not going.  However, his parents have other plans for him.  June was contacted by Mrs. Dennison and has determined Beaver will attend the party.  Ward has an interest in meeting Mr. Dennison and gives his full support to Beaver going to the party.  In a funny exchange, Beaver uses some improper English and says he “ain’t going” to the party.  Ward corrects his speech and states “you aren’t going”.  Beaver interprets this as Ward saying he won’t go the party.  This is an old joke now, but it might not have been in 1953.  Regardless, I laughed at it!

After a few more phone calls, Beaver is certain he is the only boy invited to the party.  I am glad the story’s structure had him making more calls after the exchange in the kitchen with Ward and June.  Beaver making more calls after talking to his parents gives good reason as to why he did not tell Ward and June he was the only boy invited; he himself was not sure at that point.

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Upon learning that he is going to be the lone male among a party of girls, he enlists Wally’s help in getting him out of the party.  He will leave the house in his party attire, but won’t actually go to the party.  In one of the funniest scenes of the series, Wally calls Linda under the guise that he is Ward.  He explains that Beaver came down with something unexpected and the doctor said no parties for 24 hours.  As Wally carries out this ruse, Ward enters the room and observes the lie in progress.  At the completion of the call, the boys notice Ward’s presence.  Wally is banished to his room for the day and Beaver is told he is going to the party.  In a funny bit, Beaver assures Ward he is not really sick.  One must wonder why Beaver didn’t just dress for the party and not go.  Maybe he was concerned that the Dennison’s might call the Cleaver home and inquire as to his whereabouts.

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After Ward and Beaver have left for the party, Wally shares with June the source of Beaver’s ire.  With this knowledge, she is sympathetic to Beaver’s plight and suggests she would not have made him go had she known he was the only boy going.  In the only weak point of the episode, Wally says it was not shared with her that Beaver was the only boy as he and his brother thought June and Ward were too old to understand why that was motivation for not going.  It just seems to me that at some point Beaver would have shared this bit.  He had all ready stated he did not want to attend, it seems he would have added justification as to why.

I don’t recall many exchanges like this between Wally and his mother during the series.  That’s too bad as the actors played well off of each other.

In the biggest act of defiance I ever recall exercised by a Cleaver boy, Beaver refuses to exit the car when being dropped off for the party.  Ward gets very firm with his youngest son and Beaver still holds fast to not going.  Beaver is finally extracted from the car and Ward is humiliated by the behavior.  Beaver says he will make his parents sorry by consuming a large amount of cake and ice cream.  The angst at the debacle still haunts Ward until he gets home and learns Beaver was just left at an all girl party.  Ward asks, “You mean all those kids in dresses were girls?”  This seems like a foolish question coming from a sage father like Ward, but this was season one and the character had a bit more faults about him.

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At the party, the miserable time Beaver expected is just what happens.  He suffers the company of a bunch of girls.  He wins the party prize of a doll.  Readers, did any of you ever attend a birthday party where such a nice gift was given to a guest?  Upon learning that the next party game will be post office, Beaver vanishes.

Beaver’s place of refuge turns out to be Mr. Dennison’s study.  Mr. Dennison welcomes the young lad and says he expected him sooner.  Mr. Dennison is a class act.  He welcomes the wayward Beaver to his room of manliness, showing Beaver his collection of firearms.  He even allows Beaver to put on a belt reportedly worn by Billy The Kid.  It is a great scene.  As I watched it, I thought about today’s television and how such an exchange would never make it to prime time today.   Modern television doesn’t offer up many roles where a man is just all around decent and kind.

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Lyle Talbot as Mr. Dennison

Mr. Dennison was played by Lyle Talbot.  He is the father of the child actor who would play Gilbert in later seasons.  Lyle Talbot’s career spanned several decades.  He was a part of Hollywood in the early days of film.  Harsh conditions for actors saw he was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild.  He would enjoy recurring roles on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Bob Cummings Show.  His final appearance in film would be 1987’s “Amazon Women on the Moon” and for television, an episode of Newhart.  He died in 1996.

Beaver arrives homes to apologies from June and Ward but dismisses them stating he had a swell time.  Beaver really was selective with information he shared as it seems such an exciting afternoon looking at antique firearms and other manly things would be an event worth sharing.  He does share such with Wally.  He also shares with Wally that he is asking Linda if he might walk her home the following week; he is hoping to get another visit with her father.  It was a fun conclusion to the story.

LITB is often thought of as the All-American Sitcom, at least for its time.  Episodes like this help solidify that reputation.  A boy Beaver’s age bemoaning an all girl party is a typical all American boy’s problem of the era.  I know for certain such an event would have held zero interest for me at Beaver’s age.  Your own thoughts are most welcome.  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

 

 

 

Episode 14: Part-Time Genius

Original Air Date: January 10th, 1958 

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4orxab

Guest Stars: Bobby Mittelstaedt, John Hoyt, Charles Davis  

Hello again readers and friends.  Thank you for joining me today to review “Part-Time Genius”.  After the fun viewing experience offered by the previous episode, “Voodoo Curse”, this episode was kind of a drag.  It was well written and well acted with a few chuckles here and there.  Maybe the lackluster appeal (to me) was that it was an often used sitcom device that fuels the story.  I can recall on The Brady Bunch, Andy Griffith Show and Dennis the Menace where a parent (or parents) found themselves very proud of a son only to later find said pride to be unfounded.  This no doubt happened on some other sitcoms of old, but like this instance of LITB or the others, it did not make for a memorable episode.

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The episode opens with Ward suffering the braggart ways of a colleague.  Willis Cornelius goes on and on about the greatness of his children.  A funny line is uttered as he asks Ward if he told him about his oldest boy to which Ward replies, “Not today”.  Ward is just too polite and allows this continue even though dinner awaits him at home.  The conversation with Willis Cornelius does inform Ward of a school-wide test being given the following day.

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At the dinner table, Ward presses the boys for news of the school day and the test being given.  They are nonchalant and unconcerned about it.  After they retire to their room, Ward admits that Cornelius did hurt his ego a bit bragging about his kids.  Ward approaches the boys with an offer to help them study and prepare for the next day’s test.  A laugh out loud moment occurred for me when Beaver asked if Ward’s offer to study together meant he was going to take the test too.  Ward soon learns the test being given is an IQ test.  Readers, do any of you ever remember taking an IQ test?  Other than questionable versions given online, I never remember doing so.  Is an Intelligence Quotient still considered a valid measure of smarts in scientific and academic circles?  I do recall a very funny King of the Hill episode where Peggy has her IQ assessed by a shady operator.

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The next day, after the class completes their tests, the new boy, Charles, is sent to deliver the completed exams to the office. Will this minor event in the script play a huge role in the story?  Beaver and the classmates with scripted lines talk about the test and it sounds like Beaver and Whitey didn’t do so well.  What a surprise it is a short time later when we learn that Beaver scored the highest mark in the school and the second highest in the history of the test!

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Ward is understandably anxious to call Cornelius and shares his boys’ intelligent ways.  June discourages such, but Ward does so anyway to June’s chagrin.  Although, I am sure some viewers took some satisfaction in seeing Willis Cornelius deflated a bit.

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Charles Davis

Willis Cornelius was played by Charles Davis.  This was one of two appearances on LITB.  He would later have a recurring role on The Wild Wild West.  While he worked steady for most of his life, IMDB lists no regular roles on series or starring movie roles of note.  His final acting job was in a 1987 episode of Highway To Heaven.  In his later years he would be the founder of two different actors’ learning institutions and taught actors.  Another interesting bit of his biography shows he was married to the same lady for 59 years.  Charles Davis died in 2009.

Beaver’s newly discovered smarts have him shunned by his peers at school. While Judy was always a nemesis to Beaver, season one suggests many of his other “friends” were too.  Beaver’s new intelligence assessment has Ward and June at the ready to send him to a school more accommodating to those with higher IQs.  This is at the suggestion of Mrs. Rayburn and Miss Canfield.  One might think Ward and June might give it some more thought than they do.  It seems they immediately started shopping around for a new school for Beaver.  The school they visit, The Hawthorne School, advertises itself as being for the progressive boy.

The ways of doing things at The Hawthorne School are new to the Cleavers.  Ward suggests Beaver be dismissed while matters of schooling are discussed, but Dr. Compton will have none of it.  In a funny line, Beaver says his parents talk in front of him and spell out the bad words.  One can’t help but wonder what words Ward and June found necessary to spell out.  Here we see just how “all boy” Beaver is. He is none to happy that the school has no baseball diamond and does not promote competitive sports.  The vocation he aspires to is to be a trash collector; they don’t have to wash their hands and nobody cares about how they smell.   When Beaver arrives home, he shares his dislike of the new school and fears he will not like being a genius.

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John Hoyt

Dr. Compton was played by John Hoyt.  His acting resume is long and varied with many appearances on many shows throughout the years.  A regular role for him would come late in life when he played Grandpa Kanisky on Gimme A Break!  He is also remembered for multiple appearances on Hogan’s Heroes, but not as the same character on any of them.  John Hoyt died in 1991.

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Beaver’s fears are soon resolved.  Miss Canfield arrives at the Cleaver home with her new student Charles in tow.  She is there to share that Beaver did not get the high mark, Charles did.  Charles caught flack at his last school due to his good grades and he sought to escape that persecution by swapping the name on his test with Beaver’s.  Seeing how Beaver caught heck from Whitey, Larry and Judy earlier, Charles’ concerns were well founded.  One might think the Cleaver’s living room a strange place for the reveal.  Bringing Charles to the Cleaver house instead of having Ward and June come to the school seems unusual.  Perhaps filming ran long and the school set was not available.  In a nice touch, Charles said he swapped the test with Beaver’s as all the other kids seem to like Beaver a lot.  If the treatment by the other kids indicate they like him, I’d hate to see how the kids who are disliked are treated.  This season, we’ve seen Beaver’s classmates mostly be lousy towards him.

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Bobby Mittelstaedt

The test switching lad was played by Bobby Mittelstaedt.  Other than an appearance on one other show, his IMDB resume lists only appearances on LITB.  A Google search produced nothing conclusive about his post acting life.

The episode concludes with Ward and June feeling just fine about having a lad of average intelligence.  Well, Ward is mostly glad.  When Cornelius phones again, Ward doesn’t reveal Beaver’s score was not legit.  Charles was promised secrecy regarding his smarts, but I could not help wonder if his parents were told or not.  Also, Beaver was not going to share with his friends he was not a genius after all.  The secrecy plan just seems doomed to fail and quickly.

Thank you for reviewing “Part-Time Genius” with me.  As stated earlier, this one for me is a lackluster season one installment.  Your own thoughts are most welcome!  Next week, we will review another season one classic, “Party Invitation”.  See you then!

 

Episode 13: Voodoo Magic

Original Air Date:  January 3rd, 1958

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4orxaa

Guest Stars: Karl Swenson and Ann Doran

Greetings once again readers and friends!  Thank you for joining me today to review “Voodoo Magic”.   Not only is this episode one of my favorites of season one, it is one of my favorites of the entire series.  We get a good dose of Eddie Haskell and some all around funny moments.  Let’s begin reviewing “Voodoo Magic”!

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The story begins with Ward and June discussing Eddie Haskell.  June says, “I just don’t like that boy”.  This again suggests that Eddie has only recently came to know Wally.  Eddie and the Cleaver boys are planning to go see a movie, well a double-bill if you will, at the Globe Theater.  The movies are Massacre At Blood River and Voodoo Curse.  June says no way on Beaver seeing such violent and adult titles.  Eddie tries to win her over by suggesting Voodoo Curse is an education film since it was shot in Haiti.  June is not won over by this argument and suggests the boys go see Pinocchio at the Valencia Theater.  The boys agree to go see the Disney classic.  After they leave, Ward suggests that there should have been no problem with Beaver seeing Voodoo Curse as he saw many a horror film as a boy.  June worries about Beaver being permanently scarred by seeing the film.  This reminded me of a time early in my relationship with my wife.  I wanted to take her son (later to be my stepson), who was then around 13,  to see The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The former California governor had just recently resumed acting and I was excited to see him on screen again.  My wife had to read the plot, check the rating and make sure it was suitable for a boy of his age.  I was surprised as my own mom never cared much about what I saw on TV or at the movie theaters.  The scene with Ward and June is truly a sample of art imitating life.   In case you were wondering, we did go see the movie.

 

We get to see some classic Eddie Haskell scheming when the boys arrive at the Globe Theater.  They had agreed to accompany Eddie there before going to see Pinocchio.  Eddie hatches a plan that will allow the boys to see Massacre at Blood River and Voodoo Curse.  Eddie reasons Wally promised he would not take Beaver to see the two films; nothing was said about Beaver taking Wally to see them.  Therefore, if Beaver pays for the tickets, he is taking Wally.  Eddie calls this underhandedness catching parents on a technicality.  Wally knows it is wrong, but agrees to the plan.  He suggests the trio go look at the Pinocchio poster at the Valencia as it will allow him to truthfully state they “saw” Pinocchio.  Eddie gives this reasoning the OK sign.  As Eddie reasoned this way, it would seem he had a future in the legal field and maybe his father was even a lawyer.

Later that same day, Eddie calls the Cleaver home to let it be known that Beaver left his cap at the Globe Theater and it is in the manager’s office.  Eddie’s motive here is never made known.  The scene plays out like he was doing a genuine favor for Wally and Beaver, but surely he realized sharing this with June would rat the boys out for disobeying her.  Ward and June confirm by checking the newspaper that the boys had no reason to be at the Globe Theater that day.  Readers, your thoughts on Eddie’s motives here are most welcome.  Please share with us your thoughts.

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Something fun we often did on The Brady Bunch Reviewed Blog was take a closer look at newspapers when seen on camera.  This one did not offer up any fun articles.  “Stage Whispers” may be a genuine article as the contents don’t look to be gibberish.  I was curious to see if Spanish Daze (sp?) was a genuine film, but a Google search yielded no results.

 

That night at dinner, Ward and June perform and honesty assessment with Wally and Beaver.  It is a hilarious scene.  When questioned about the plot, Wally gives the most generic answer that the title character “has adventures”.  June questions a very specific scene in the movie and Wally suggests the boys were up getting popcorn during that part.  Beaver knows something is up and chuckles nervously during the course of the conversation.  Beaver tries to lie his way out of the jam by saying he missed much of the movie as a big man was sitting in front of him.  When asked outright about being at The Globe Theater, Wally makes one last hail Mary play and suggests the Valencia Theater ran out of popcorn, making necessary for the boys to visit The Globe….  Ward’s shaking head makes known the ruse is over and the boys are busted.  This masterfully written scene is one of my favorites of the entire series.  It is so well written and acted and truly something one might have expected to transpire around his or her own dinner table as a youth.   The boys try to blame Eddie for their own misdeeds, but Ward will have none of it.  He makes clear that Wally knew he was doing something wrong and deliberately disobeyed.

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Upstairs, the boys express their dislike of Eddie.  Wally says he would not like him at all if they were not best friends.  Beaver confirms he fixed Eddie good by placing a voodoo curse on him.  Here we see a Raggedy Andy doll stuck with two pins.  To make certain it was Eddie who received the voodoo magic, a piece of tape bearing the cursed’s name is place across the doll’s forehead.  This would have likely been quickly forgotten should Wally and Beaver learn the next day that Eddie was absent from school.  Beaver is worried he did in fact bring illness upon Eddie via a curse.  Wally assures him there is no such thing as a voodoo curse and in funny bit adds Beaver would have to be a genuine witch doctor for it to work.

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Ann Doran and Karl Swenson

Eddie’s ailing ways have him laying in bed moaning and groaning.  We see Eddie’s parents looking over their sick boy with concern. Mr. Haskell was played by Karl Swenson.  This was one of two LITB appearances for him.  His entertainment career began in radio and he later made the switch to movies and television.  His career was long with too many credits to list.  A steady recurring role would not come until his final years when he played Lars Hanson on the series Little House On The Prairie.  He died in 1978,  Eddie’s mother was played by Ann Doran.  She too had a very long resume of movies and television shows.  The only two recurring roles listed on IMDB were for Longstreet and National Velvet.  A notable starring film role was 1938’s “Rio Grande”.  Ann Doran died in 2000.

 

Beaver’s concern for a person he dislikes motivates him to pay a visit to Eddie. Upon entering the room, it is made known that Eddie is in fine health.  He brags about his illness faking abilities as a means to avoid going to school.  Beaver shares he put a voodoo curse on Eddie because he doesn’t like, and in a funny bit adds he didn’t want him to die.  He goes on to share with Eddie that nobody likes him.  After Beaver leaves, some psychosis hits Eddie and he soon finds himself suffering the pains of the voodoo curse.

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That night, George Haskell arrives at the Cleaver home angry that his son was cursed.  While it does seem silly that a grown man would arrive angry over such, a parent’s love and concern can cause questionable actions at times.  The fact that Eddie is such a scheming kid indicates he may be quite spoiled and used to always getting his way.  Mr. Haskell’s actions do represent the actions of a spoiled kid’s father.  During the conversation, Mr. Haskell refers to Beaver as “Gopher” and I have always chuckled at that.  The hilarity continues as June defends Beaver as a sweet boy who even likes Eddie.

 

Soon all is well again as June talks to Eddie’s mother and learns he is back on his feet and well again.  Ward had Beaver go over to visit Eddie again and remove the curse placed on him.  Upstairs, the boys are again planning to go to the movies.  Eddie once again wants to go see a forbidden title.  Wally says no and even suggests Eddie is such a miserable creep since he never listens to his parents.  Wally and Beaver won’t be swayed again and leave for the Valencia to see Pinocchio.  I found it kind of strange that they left their own house with Eddie staying behind.  It works for the scene as a few seconds later, as Eddie leaves the Cleaver home, he shares he too will be going to see Pinocchio as that is what his parents would like.  I always enjoyed these flashes of decency exhibited by Eddie, courtesy of the Cleaver boys influence.  However, we must realize these were exceptions to the norm.  There would be plenty of more scheming and con-jobs ran by Eddie in the seasons to follow.  Even on “The New Leave It To Beaver/Still The Beaver”, Eddie was a cheating louse into adulthood.  We love the character for his duplicity so his low down ways served the show well.

Thank you for reviewing “Voodoo Magic” with me.  As always, your own thoughts and observations are most welcome!  Please share them in the comments section.  Next week, we will review “Part-Time Genius”.  See you then!

 

 

Episode 12: The Perfume Salesmen

Original Air Date:  December 27th, 1957

Video Link: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4ooplo

Hello again dear readers!  Today we review “The Perfume Salesmen”.  It seems every sitcom of old featuring children had at least one episode with the youngsters getting entangled in some shady money making scheme that saw them peddling ineffective or defective products.  The only exception that comes to mind right away is Dennis the Menace.  I’ve seen each episode a few times over and don’t recall Dennis ever sending away for some junk product to sell. Readers, please share any other examples that come to mind.

 

Wally and Beaver’s sales efforts come to light at the beginning of the episode.  After some playful banter between Ward and June about how she knows how to handle her husband, the pair question what the boys are sending away for from Acme Products, but don’t pry as they don’t want to invade their privacy.  This is the second occasion of season one where the boys’ privacy is taken into account.  The Cleavers are still idealized as the model family, but sometimes parenting gives adults the right to look out for the child’s best interest without regard to privacy.  Had this been a love note or a letter to a friend or family member, then privacy should be a concern.  Readers, your own thoughts here are welcome.

 

The boys letter turns out to be a request for a product to sell.  It is soon revealed that the boys sent away for Flower of the Orient Perfume.  They are tasked with selling $24.00 worth and in return will be the proud owners of a movie projector.  With a movie projector on hand, they will earn money showing movies to their friends. They soon find out the challenge that awaits them as the aroma of the perfume is akin to an old catcher’s mitt.  I wondered if maybe this was some warehoused perfume that sat on a shelf way beyond its shelf-life and now the company was hoping to unload it and make a few dollars via parents who sought to bail their kids out of trouble.  Otherwise, why would Acme Products send kids a product that was unsellable?

 

The boys’ first day of selling has the expected comical results.  The first attempt we see has a lady buying the perfume, aroma unsmelled, then angrily sending the boys on their way.  Why did this woman have to be so rude to the boys?  Their kids for crying out loud.  A polite rebuff of “Boys, this stuff smells bad and no lady would want it.” would have gotten the job done just fine.  Another home they visit has a man lathered up for a shave answering the door.  If the perfume did indeed reek of old leather, they could have pitched it to this guy as a musky smelling aftershave.  The third call they make has an old lady humorously putting her small dog in the door way to bark at the boys and make it known their presence is no longer welcome.  Wally and Beaver were polite boys by nature and I am sure they were in their sales pitch.  Why did people have to be so rude?  After a morning of rebuke, the boys put an end to their sales ambitions.

 

Acme products is none too happy not to receive their $24 or worthless perfume back.  In today’s dollars, Acme Products would be seeking $225.00.  So, the fact that they are pursuing such is believable.  Wally and Beaver receive a letter from a law firm threatening legal action should the money or product not be received.  This is made known in a humorous bit as June commends her son’s angelic behavior.  Ward lets her know her angels are being sued!

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Upstairs, Ward lectures the boys on their lack of effort and salesmanship.  He might have thought twice about this talking-to had he actually inspected the product they were expected to sell.  He puts his foot in his mouth as he brags that he could have sold 100 bottles of perfume at their age.  In a funny twist, Beaver asks Ward to help him and Wally peddle the goods.  Ward is taken aback, but realizes he dug the hole himself and agrees to do so.  He further realizes the mess he got himself into when June shares with him the lousy quality of the perfume.

Ward’s next action brings the episodes “moral conflict” up.  Instead of just admitting he was wrong, the product is junk and that is why the boys could not sell it, he takes another course of action.  He calls up the members of June’s women’s club and recruits them to buy a bottle of the perfume.  He gives his sons a supposed list of sales leads and sends them on their way.  He even agrees reimburse the ladies should they not like the perfume.  It seems here that Ward was looking to save face in light of his talk with the boys by giving them a false solution to their problem.  This is one time I don’t agree with Ward’s parenting.  He really set the boys up for failure should they ever decide to try and peddle another junk product.

 

The boys definitely realize something is amiss as the first sale goes so smoothly.  In a laugh out loud line after the bottle is sold, Beaver asks “What just happened?”  With the ease of the first transaction, the boys continue on the route Ward provided and continue to unload the perfume.  Wally definitely knows something is amiss as the easy transactions continue.  However, it is decided not to investigate the strange occurrences until after the projector is ordered.  He and Beaver unload all of their product by day’s end.  In a nice piece of writing, June questions Ward’s actions and if he did right by the boys by setting up the easy sales.

 

The boys’ efforts are rewarded with a fancy movie projector with a film strip included.  The boys are understandably excited and June is soon suspicious.  When trying to return the projector to its packaging, she realizes the projector on hand is not the one that was delivered.  How she was unaware is questionable Ward would have had to have left the house for some time to obtain a different projector and get it set up for the boys.  Ward reveals to June the projector delivered by Acme and it is as junky as the perfume.  It is no projector, but a view-master type contraption that  allows a movie to be “viewed” while squinting into it.  Today, such deception would likely result in a charge of fraud against Acme products.

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Certainly not what was delivered!

Wally is wise to his father’s actions as he sees inconsistencies in what was promised versus what was delivered. He knows the projector he and Beaver now have to enjoy is not what was delivered.  Upon learning this, Beaver wants to do the polite thing and endthank his father.  Wally says this is one time that their dad would not want them to be polite. The episode ends on a happy note as the boys order Ward a thank you gift.  The clock, a souvenir from Atlantic City, is delivered with a thank you note from the boys.  I question why this particular gift was picked out for Ward.  Maybe he has some affinity for Atlantic City or maybe this was all the boys could afford.  Maybe somebody involved with the production wanted the piece out of his or her own home and used it in this episode to get rid of it.

Thank you for reviewing “The Perfume Salesmen” with me.  It is a decent episode.  Next week’s episode, “Voodoo Magic” is one I remember being a lot of fun.  Please do share you own thoughts in the comment section below.  See you next week!

Episode 11: Beaver’s Short Pants

Original Airdate: December 13th, 1957

Video Link: https://binged.it/2HvRial

Guest Star: Madge Kennedy

Hello again readers, family and friends.  Thank you for joining me today to review one of the more memorable season one episodes. The story introduces us to Aunt Martha who would contribute to some later episodes. This time around, she has come to help look after Ward and the boys as June must go help her sister who just delivered a baby.  On older TV shows, I have noticed how the menfolk just seem so inept at domestic tasks. LITB is not the only occasion I can recall when the lady of the house had to leave and some other female arrived to see that the house was clean and the menfolk fed.  In this case, June was going to be gone a week or so.  It seems the boys could have managed just fine.  However, if they had we wouldn’t have this fun episode!

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Ward is not happy to have Aunt Martha in June’s stead.  He says every time he is in the room with her, he feels like he should be apologizing for something.  Upon her arrival, her pretentious ways come to light very quickly.  Commenting on the fine home June and Ward live in, she says Ward must be doing really well and tacks on “now” to indicate at one time he did not meet her approval.   She heavily handed suggests an eastern college for Wally.  She is so disapproving of Beaver’s attire that she asks June if she may take him shopping for new clothes.  Poor Beaver has no idea what is in store for him.  He is hopeful he will soon be the proud owner of a leather jacket.

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Beaver’s hopes are dashed upon visiting an upscale clothing store.  The sales clerk commends Martha on her fine taste in children’s attire.  Martha verifies that Theodore’s new clothes (hard to call him Beaver dressed like that!) are English.  So pretentious is Aunt Martha that she has the sales clerk dispose of the clothes Theodore was wearing! If June did not think so highly of Aunt Martha, she might have had something to say about that.  In a funny bit, Beaver retrieves a dead goldfish from his pants pocket before his old clothes are trashed.

Beaver does try to enlist his father’s help with unwanted school attire.  Ward is a man on the go however and can’t listen to Beaver’s problems.  Wally tries to be somewhat consoling, in that realistic big brother way, as he says Beaver’s classmates will stop laughing after the first few classes.  So poor Theodore must go to school looking like an upper class boy from a Dickens novel.  He arrives to an empty school, but in a fun bit of direction kids seem to appear almost magically in the hallways.  He is crafty in that he walks alongside Mr. Bloomgarden, who is pushing a rolling book cart, to conceal his short pants.  In a funny touch, even Mr. Bloomgarden does a double take at Beaver’s clothes.  His terrible day continues as he hides in the mop closet to eat his lunch.

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Unfortunately, all his evasive efforts are for naught.  He is soon confronted by his peers in the hallway who show no sympathy for Theodore Cleaver.  As cruel as Beaver’s classmates seem here, this is not unrealistic.  In third grade I remember a poor kid whose desk posture revealed he was wearing Mickey Mouse underwear and he was teased about it.  That same year, another little girl came to class wearing a crinoline.  As the kids started making fun, the teacher came to her aid and said they were coming back into style.  The teacher wasn’t just being kind, a few days later I saw on the news where they were coming back into style.  The new trend must have fizzled quickly as that little girl was the only kid I ever saw wear one while not performing some kind of dance routine.

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The fact that Beaver is wearing short pants seems to give his classmates the most ammo.  Perhaps a reader can verify for us why this was such a faux pas at the time.  By the 1980s, shorts were a part of regular school attire at my elementary school.  As I watched this, I could not help but think about how Beaver could have slung an insult back at Larry whose pants were obviously way too long.  Look at how high those britches are cuffed!  Larry throws the ultimate insult at Beaver as he calls him a sissy.  Beaver is having none of that and socks Larry in the gut.  When Judy tries to come to Larry’s aid (verbally), Beaver pulls her hair.  A fight erupts in the hallway.  Mr. Bloomgarden is passing by and puts an end to it.  A funny exchange occurs.

Mr. Bloomgarden  :  Did you start this fight, Beaver?

‘Beaver’  :  No sir, my pants did.

This was a different time and place and this fight in the hallway is just broken up and forgotten.

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That night, after learning of Beaver’s humiliation, Ward seeks to speak to Aunt Martha about her overbearing ways with Beaver’s clothes.  Before he can speak to her and let her know Beaver will dress like the other students, June calls from her sister’s.  In speaking to Ward, she tells him how much Aunt Martha means to her and how much she values her aunt’s feelings.  With this, Ward dismisses Martha saying the subject he wished to discuss slipped his mind.  Usually, sitcom plots where all the characters tap dance around someone’s feelings to their own heightened misery annoy me to no end.  If it is your home, you are free to (politely) state how things are going to be.  In this case though, June’s phone call gives this device increased credibility and for me, tolerability.

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As Beaver leaves for school the next day, Ward comes to the rescue.  He is staked out in the garage with some modern day attire for Beaver.  The pair have a very touching chat as Ward makes certain that both Martha and Beaver’s feelings are accommodated.  He even takes the umbrella from Beaver.  My only thought was what if Martha had some reason to go out to the garage that day.  They left Beaver’s English duds laying in plain sight!

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Madge Kennedy

Aunt Martha was played by Madge Kennedy.  This was one of five appearances on LITB.  Other TV appearances would include The Odd Couple and My Three Sons.  Her acting career began in 1917 and continued until 1928.  After a break of over 20 years, she was back in front of the camera in 1952.  She worked steadily in until her final appearance in the 1976 feature film “Marathon Man”.  She died in 1987.

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The episode ends on a heartwarming note.  Aunt Martha is being taken back to the airport and the entire family is going along.  Beaver comes downstairs dressed in the schoolboy attire.  Ward is taken aback at Beaver’s clothing but the youngster shares he is wearing it so Aunt Martha will be happy.  It was a nice little lesson Beaver learned about the feelings of others and valuing those who are important to those he himself looks up to.

Thank you for reviewing “Beaver’s Short Pants” with me.  Your own thoughts on the episode are most welcome!  Next week we will be reviewing “The Perfume Salesman”.  See you then!

Episode 10: Wally’s Girl Trouble

Original Air Date: December 6th, 1957

Video Link: https://binged.it/2NmY3vO

Guest Star: Cindy Carol
Hello again friends and readers.  Thank you for joining me today to review “Wally’s Girl Trouble”.  It is another ho-hum installment of LITB that doesn’t treat us to the supporting cast that made the show so great.   Well, we get a few minutes with Larry, but that is all.  The story begins as Wally and Beaver leave for dance school.  Ward and June are surprised to find their sons dressed and ready to go earlier than planned.  As soon as they set foot outside the door, the discuss their plan to cut short the dance lessons and go fishing.  Beaver will feign an ankle injury that sees them leave early and start casting their lines.  As I watched this, I wondered if maybe the boys had stashed some fishing attire someplace else.  Surely they weren’t bound for the lake dressed like that.

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The boys’ plans for the lake are left a mystery as Wally’s attentions are diverted to a pretty young dancing class peer.  Pamela Jamison commends Wally’s dancing and he is struck by that love bug for the rest of the episode.  Beaver and Larry stand by and watch Wally dance.  In his and Beaver’s exchange, we learn Larry has an older brother.  The compliments continue for Wally as Pamela says he has eyes like Tab Hunter. I must admit the reference was lost on me as I had no idea who Tab Hunter was.  Per the internet, his heyday was the 1950s and 1960s.  He is pictured alongside Tony Dow below.    The new girl and her complimentary ways has Wally forgetting all about the escape plan to go fishing with his brother.

Wally arrives back home a changed youngster.  Ward surmises his oldest son is

developing a sense of responsibility.  June thinks differently.  Upstairs, Wally has taken an interest in his appearance as he applies “Groomwell” to his hair.  It is a product advertised as being for the fastidious man.  A Google search found no results for a product by this name.  In this scene, Wally’s new romantic interest is referred to as Penny, instead of Pamela as Larry referred to her earlier.

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The object of Wally’s affection soon calls the Cleaver house and confirms June’s suspicions about Wally’s new behavior.  Penny (formerly Pamela) soon calls Wally and asks for Mr. Cleaver.  Ward is understandably confused as he is the only Mr. Cleaver around.  Penny is calling to ask a favor of Wally.  Wally is willing to completely shuck his plans with Beaver and readily agrees to such.  The pair end their conversation with a humorous “Byeeeee”.  Wally’s new social scene is cramped when he learns he must take Beaver along for the fulfillment of the favor to Penny.  I remember my mom forcing my brother to take me along with him when he first got his driver’s license and wanted to drive places.   Unlike Beaver in this episode, my brother being forced to do so did not make me happy at all.  I had zero interest in riding around with my brother and he had zero interest in having me along.

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The scene with the boys at the library begins with good humor.  Wally is there to pick up a copy of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  Upon entering, he and Beaver see some of Wally’s friends.  The group does not include any of the usual cadre we know and love.  Wally tries to be discreet about the book he is there to borrow, but Beaver fails him as he says it out loud, much to the amusement of Wally’s pals.  The humor of the scene soon turns to sadness as Wally is really hateful to his little brother.  He tells him to leave him alone and stop hanging around him.  Where at the episode’s beginning he and Beaver were scheming together, Wally now wants his little brother out of his way.  It can always be sad or maybe bittersweet when those we love and care about enter new phases of their lives that take some part of them away.  I can only imagine how this would have stung for the Beave’.

Still hoping for some of his brother’s time, Beaver takes on Wally’s lawn chores for him.  June comes to his aid and assists with weed eating.  Did/do people use scissors to trim weeds?  We see June doing this and it seems like a tedious task. Come dinner time, Beaver is exhausted.  Ward commends Wally’s fine work on the lawn and Beaver covers for him by not sharing Wally did none of it.  In a very funny moment, in Beaver’s tired mind, he calls his father Ward and quickly corrects himself.

Half out of obligation and half out of genuine love, Wally declines another date with Penny and takes his brother fishing.  Wally’s begrudging ways are not lost on his younger brother as he can plainly see Wally doesn’t want to be there.  The fishing excursion ends early.  In another testament to Beaver’s love of his older brother, he seeks to help him with his girl trouble.  He consults Ward for advice.  Ward says he and June never fight, but then “last Thursday” is mentioned. Ward dismisses this and suggests a gift can make things right between a feuding man and woman.  Ward goes downstairs and discusses the matter with June who also brings up “last Thursday”.

Beaver’s attempts to set things right only makes them more awry.  He delivers Penny a gift wrapped frog and says it is from Wally.  There was no malice intended.  The youngster only wanted to make things good between Wally and Penny again.  Penny’s shrill scream makes evident the lad’s failure.  Penny calls Wally and the often used sound effect of a person being angry on the phone is heard.  It is a muffled and unintelligible sound that favors a record or tape being played at the highest of speeds.

guest

Penny Jamison was played by Cindy Carol.  She was using another screen name at the time of this episode.  This was one of seven appearances on the episode for the actress.  She would portray Alma Hanson a few times in later episodes.  She had a role in the 1960s version of the film “Cape Fear”.  She was a regular on The New Loretta Young Show and Never Too Young.  Her last IMDB credit is the series “Tattletales” in the 1970s.  IMDB trivia notes she became a teacher later in life.

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The episode’s conclusion does not suggest things were made right between Penny and Wally. It seems Wally could have given the girl a call or paid her a visit a little later and just explain his brother meant well and the gift really wasn’t from him.  I am sure Beaver would back him up.  It might have even made for a cute scene.  Instead we get a little brotherly bonding and Beaver is certain he can find another toad and Wally certain he can find another girl.

Overall, this episode is okay.  The Cleaver family is a delightful clan and it is nice to see them on screen.  However, this episode falls into the less than memorable quality for me.  Readers, your own thoughts are most welcome!  Next week we get to review a classic.  “Beaver’s Short Pants” was one of the definitive episodes of the series.  See you then!