Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 25, “The Flip Side,” March 25, 1969

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Written by: Roy Kammerman. Directed by: Charles Barton.

We open with a TV show within a TV show.

This guy is singing a song with lyrics that include, "I never shave or comb my hair, but I do think of her."

We’re watching a guy sing a song with lyrics that include, “I never shave or comb my hair, but I do think of her.”

(Interestingly, this actor had a minor hit years earlier with a song called “Ain’t Gonna Wash for a Week.” Hygiene was an issue for him, apparently.)

So, why are we watching him?

Because Cissy and this guy with a beard are sitting in a Family-Affair-green office and watching him.

Because Cissy and the singer’s bearded manager are sitting in a Family-Affair-green office and watching him, too.

Cissy has somehow got the chance to interview the teen heartthrob for her high school newspaper.

When Charlie enters the room, Cissy compliments him on his TV performance. He jokes that his band hit a few clinkers but the audience probably just thought it was a modern arrangement.

As we will see throughout this episode, Charlie is the world's most self-effacing pop star.

As we will see throughout this episode, Charlie is the world’s most self-effacing pop star.

He’s also straightforward when interviewed.

Our budding Rona Barrett leads off by asking him if he's in love.

Our budding Rona Barrett leads off by asking him if he’s in love.

Yes, he says, “with whatever girl I’m talking to at the moment.”

The full implications of this remark go whizzing right past Cissy's head, especially when he adds that she's pretty.

The full implications of this remark go whizzing right over Cissy’s head, especially when he adds that she’s pretty.

Back at home, the twins are building a block tower, and Buffy's predicting that it will fall if it get's any taller.

Back at home, the twins are building a block tower, and Buffy’s predicting that it will fall if it gets any taller.

Jody disagrees, but Buffy turns out to be correct, proving once again that she’s the brains in this duo.

"You weakened the lateral resistance," Uncle Bill observes to Jody.

“You weakened the lateral resistance,” Uncle Bill observes to Jody.

Sigh–I love it when he talks physics.

A euphoric Cissy breezes in and starts squeeing about Charlie.

A euphoric Cissy breezes in and starts squeeing about Charlie.

Bill and the twins don’t know who Charlie is. With an eye roll, Cissy informs them that he’s the only Charlie in the world–Charlie Higgins of Charlie and the Unsung Heroes.

That rings a bell for Buffy--she's familiar with his song "Let's Go Swinging in My Yellow Submarine with a Purple Balloon."

That rings a bell for Buffy–she’s familiar with his song “Let’s Go Swinging in My Yellow Submarine with a Purple Balloon.”

Cissy tells Bill that Charlie asked her out for a date. Bill asks if this isn’t rather sudden, but she assures him that it’s a great honor to get an invitation from Charlie Higgins. He then asks if Charlie isn’t a little “sophisticated” for her, but she insists he’s sweet and shy.

Brian Keith adopts some great facial expressions in this scene.

I love Brian Keith’s facial expressions in this scene.

Cissy goes on to say that 19 girls fainted when Charlie played Madison Square Garden.

"If you like him, I'll like him," Bill says, though he slips in a "Maybe" under his breath.

“If you like him, I’ll like him,” Bill says, though he slips in a “Maybe” under his breath.

After Cissy leaves, Buffy announces that she’d like to skip her teenage years–she doesn’t want to be so excitable.

A cute line, but it causes me a painful wince thinking about Anissa Jones' future.

A cute line, but it makes me wince when I think about Anissa Jones’ future.

When Charlie shows up, his dress and manners are so conservative that even French can’t find fault.

When Charlie shows up, his dress and manners are so conservative that even French can't find fault with him.

“Hey, you sound English,” Charlie says, adding in his disarming style. “That’s kind of what we speak back in St. Louis but not really.”

(French gives a weird response: “I spent several years in Mayfair in service.” Makes it sound like he isn’t English but picked up the accent while working in London.)

Talking with Bill, Charlies continues in a humble vein.

Two years ago, he'd never even seen the inside of such a posh apartment, he admits.

Two years ago, he’d never even seen the inside of such a posh apartment.

“Now, I’m visiting like I belong here,” he says in astonishment.

When Bill notes how quickly Charlie achieved fame, Charlie shows that he’s fully aware of a teen idol’s short shelf-life.

"I could be a has-been at 20," he laments.

“I could be a has been at 20,” he laments.

(Around this point, I start to wonder if he’s not just but humble but clinically depressed.)

When Buffy averts her eyes from their guest to avoid fainting, Charlie even admits that his manager pays to "faint" at his concerts.

When Buffy averts her eyes from their guest to avoid fainting, Charlie even admits that his manager pays girls to “faint” at his concerts.

When the twins ask him how you write a song, he says you have to start with something beautiful…

...like Cissy.

…like Cissy.

Bill’s impressed enough that he gives the couple permission to go out. Charlie asks when he should have Cissy home, and Bill says 11 o’clock since it’s a school night.

He actually gets her home one minute early, which pleases French.

Charlie actually gets Cissy home one minute early, which pleases French.

Cissy’s predictably ecstatic about her evening. Fans overran the place they’d planned to go, so Cissy and Charlie got hot dogs and sneaked into a movie theater balcony.

He’s invited her out again, to a party this time, and Bill gives his blessing.

Later, he wonders aloud to French about what Cissy will do when Charlie moves on.

Later, he wonders aloud to French about what Cissy will do when Charlie moves on.

When party night arrives, Buffy and Jody watch Cissy get ready.

They tell her they like Charlie and don't mind if she marries him.

They tell her they like Charlie and don’t mind if she marries him.

The whole family seems excited about the date.

Bill gives Cissy a pair of sparkly clip-on earrings.

Bill gives Cissy a pair of sparkly clip-on earrings.

“May I venture to say that Master Charlie is a very lucky young man?” French asks as Cissy is leaving.

You may...but it sounds a little creepy.

You may…but it sounds a little creepy.

When the doorbell rings, Buffy and Jody want to rush out and see Charlie, but Bill asks if they wouldn’t rather let Cissy have a moment alone with him.

"Not particularly," Buffy answers, which leads into this week's twin hug scene.

“Not particularly,” Buffy answers, which leads into this week’s obligatory hug.

So what does a 1969 rock star party look like?

A lot of neatly dressed people sitting around on sofas, apparently.

A lot of neatly dressed people sitting around on sofas, apparently.

Charlie gets out his guitar and announces that’s he’s written a new song. Everyone can listen, but he’ll really be singing it for Cissy.

As the party guests bob their heads and tap their feet, he launches into the ballad he wrote just for her.

As the party guests bob their heads and tap their feet, he launches into the ballad he wrote just for her.

It’s a lucky thing for him that “Cissy” rhymes with “kiss me.”

Sample lyrics: "My world is aglow/My actions must show that I'm in love."

Sample lyrics: “My world is aglow/My actions must show that I’m in love.”

Listening, Cissy looks slightly pained--probably not the expression Kathy Garver was going for, but oh-so-appropriate nonetheless.

Listening, Cissy looks slightly pained–probably not the feeling Kathy Garver was going for, but appropriate nonetheless.

(The guests' expressions crack me up, too.)

(The guests’ expressions crack me up, too.)

When we next see Cissy, she really is pained. Charlie’s moved on to Boston and hasn’t been in touch for weeks. He didn’t even send a thank-you note when she sent him some cookies that French baked.

Buffy and Jody show a surprising passive-aggressive streak, torturing Cissy with comments like "Friends usually write" and "It doesn't take long to say thank you."

Buffy and Jody show a surprising passive-aggressive streak, torturing Cissy with comments like “Friends usually write” and “It doesn’t take long to say thank you.”

A letter from Charlie does arrive later that day–a form letter.

It even has blank space to fill in whatever gift Charlie is thanking the recipient for. Ouch.

It even has blank space to fill in whatever gift Charlie is thanking the recipient for. Ouch.

Cissy is sure that Charlie never even saw her letters or he would have replied personally. Bill tries to point out gently that Charlie would have written to her if he really cared about her, but Cissy still makes excuses for him.

“I was with him for two whole evenings, and I know how much I meant to him,” she says.

As a parent, hearing that statement might make me want to pry a little deeper into what went on those evenings.

He calls his office and orders Miss Grayson to track down Charlie or his manager in Boston.

In Bill’s case, though, it spurs him to action. He calls his office and orders Miss Grayson to track down Charlie or his manager in Boston.

Miss Grayson, huh? Did Miss Lee quit because she was tired of thankless assignments like this?

They get Charlie's phone number, but Cissy can't convince his secretary to put her through.

They get Charlie’s phone number, but Cissy can’t convince Charlie’s secretary to put her through.

The most the secretary will do is offer to ship her a free copy of “Cissy, My Love.” (Apparently, Charlie is offering it free to any girl named Cissy…so basically Cissy Houston and Bobby’s dance partner from the Lawrence Welk Show?)

Bill and Cissy won't give up. Through a complicated chain of connections, Bill makes contact with Charlie and takes Cissy to Boston to see him.

Bill and Cissy won’t give up. Through a complicated chain of connections, Bill makes contact with Charlie and takes Cissy to Boston to see him.

She gets cold feet when the moment arrives, so she asks Bill to meet Charlie first and see if he’s still interested.

Charlie's as pleasant and earnest as ever, but he's clearly not pining for Cissy.

Charlie’s as pleasant and earnest as ever, but he’s clearly not pining for Cissy.

He doesn’t even seem to feel awkward about introducing Bill to Pamela, the girl he’s writing a song for now.

That's going to be a challenge. "You make my heart go wham-ela?" "Don't let this be a sham-ela?"

That’s going to be a challenge. “You make my heart go wham-ela?” “Don’t let this be a sham-ela?”

(Pamela’s last name is Grayson, which makes me think that the writer just got confused when he had Bill refer to his secretary as Miss Grayson.)

Bill has to give Cissy the bad news that she’s “not exactly the love of (Charlie’s) life.”

In addition to feeling sad, Cissy is sorry that Bill spent so much time and energy helping her through a teenage romance "that's not really important to anyone."

In addition to feeling sad, Cissy is sorry that Bill spent so much time and energy helping her through a teenage romance “that’s not really important to anyone.”

“It’s important to you,” Bill replies.

Aww.

Aww.

Fortunately, it’s easy for Bill to cheer Cissy up. Since, like him, she goes for any halfway-presentable member of the opposite sex, he just brings home the son of a visiting business associate.

He asks Cissy to show Steve around the city. It's a school night, but he says missing a little sleep won't hurt her.

Bill asks Cissy to show Steve around the city. It’s a school night, but he says missing a little sleep won’t hurt her.

(Strangely, we never get a direct look at Steve’s face. Maybe producers thought the actor looked too old for Cissy, although he’s really only a year older than the actor playing Charlie.)

In the end, everyone's happy, including Buffy and Jody.

In the end, everyone’s happy, including Buffy and Jody.

They’ve started a second-grade fan club for Charlie, and now they can wear their club buttons again without Cissy bursting into tears.

Commentary

I always love a good Cissy episode! Bill’s the ultimate fantasy father for a teenage girl–dashing, sensitive, rich, and perfectly willing to use all his resources to further Cissy’s romance with a rock star.

Once again, Family Affair avoids the extremes that other shows might go for. Maybe it’s the years I spent watching Very Special Episodes of 1980s sitcoms, but I expect a pop star who’s so polite to adults to turn into a rape-drug-wielding monster when he gets a girl alone. Charlie is a perfectly nice guy who told Cissy right from the start how seriously she should take his attentions. It’s not his fault she didn’t listen.

Fun fact: Kathy Garver got a writing credit on "Cissy, My Love."

Kathy Garver got a writing credit on “Cissy, My Love.”

(Not sure who Richard Simon was, but Gary LeMel had an interesting career.)

Guest Cast

McGregor: Warren Berlinger. Charlie Higgins: Eddie Hodges. Pamela: Patricia Lee. Steve: Thomas Ormenyi.

Warren Berlinger, a nephew of Milton Berle, was in the original Broadway cast of Annie Get Your Gun. Later he appeared in Neil Simon’s first play, Come Blow Your Horn and both the stage and screen versions of Blue Denim. He popped up all over TV in the 1970s and 1980s. He also had Disney connections, with roles in Herbie the Love Bug and The Shaggy D.A. In 1965, he played Oscar Kilroy in a four-episode arc on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. That year, he also appeared in Billie, a ridiculous movie that I highly recommend to classic TV fans–what a cast.

Warren Berlinger

                          Warren Berlinger

Eddie Hodges also got his start on Broadway, playing Winthrop Paroo in the original cast of The Music Man. His first film role came in 1959’s A Hole in the Head; he and co-star Frank Sinatra sang “High Hopes” together. The next year, he starred in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the big screen before transitioning mostly into television roles. Like Berlinger, he appeared in Disney films–in Hodges’ case, Summer Magic and The Happiest Millionaire. He also had a modest recording career in the 1960s. You can find a lot of his songs on Youtube. You can even find a clip him performing on Swedish TV in the 1990s, and he doesn’t sound bad. In the years after this Family Affair episode, he quit show business and focused on his education, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and building a new career as a mental health counselor.

I think Thomas Ormenyi became this Tom Ormeny, who is active in Los Angeles theater and has made appearances on shows such as Gray’s Anatomy and Mad Men.

Stay tuned…

I just wanted to apologize for not updating the blog lately due to family and professional obligations. On Friday, April 10, my Family Affair series will resume on a WEEKLY basis, and I will be reviving other popular features, too. As they said back in the day, don’t touch that dial…

Wishing a happy holiday to everyone celebrating Easter this weekend,
Amy

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 24, “Speak for Yourself, Mr. French,” 3/17/1969

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Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Before we dive into this week’s episode, I wanted to alert Family Affair fans that Kathy Garver has written a memoir called Surviving Cissy. It will be published in September and is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Check it out!

We open this week in the park, as Mr. French reminds Jody about an upcoming dental appointment.

Jody hopes he'll get his with a ball in the park so his loose tooth will come out. Then the dentist won't have to pull it.

Jody hopes he’ll get hit by a ball in the park so his loose tooth will come out. Then the dentist won’t have to pull it.

French assures Jody that the dentist won’t be pulling any teeth–he’ll only be checking Jody’s bite.

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“Bite him good,” Buffy urges.

(She has a bit of a biting fixation–remember her early encounter with French?)

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That night at dinner, Bill reproves Jody for not eating his meat.

Jody claims his mouth hurts too much from the dentist, but Cissy disputes this.

The dentist only made a wax impression of Jody's teeth, she says. Any pain Jody's in is purely psychosomatic.

The dentist only made a wax impression of Jody’s teeth, she says. Any pain is purely psychosomatic.

Someone’s been paying attention in psychology class again, I see.

The word "psychosomatic" leaves the twins predictable clueless.

The word “psychosomatic” leaves the twins predictable clueless.

"It's all in your head," Cissy explains.

“It’s all in your head,” Cissy explains.

Of course it’s all in his head, Jody agrees–that’s where his teeth are. Ba-dum-bump.

Somehow, the conversation shifts to Cissy’s intention to become a nurse. That surprises Bill, who notes that she wanted to be an actress the week before. (Cissy’s very practical plan is to become a nurse, then use her nursing salary to put herself through dramatic school.)

Buffy announces that she wants to be a secretary, which finally leads us into this week’s main story.

Buffy wants to be like Miss Travers, a pretty young secretary that French met in the park that day.

Buffy wants to be like Miss Travers, a pretty young secretary that French met in the park that day.

French explains to Bill that Miss Travers recognized the twins’ names when she heard French talking to them. She’s a secretary at a construction company, and her boss is an acquaintance of Bill’s.

Well, Buffy and Jody are rather odd names, so I guess that makes sense.

Bill's attempts to recall Miss Travers to mind are amusing. Is she the one that's very short  and a little too...?

Bill’s attempts to recall Miss Travers to mind are amusing. Is she the one that’s very short and a little too…?

He gestures with his hands, ever so briefly, in the way that conveys the ampleness of the female form.

Oh no, French replies, in a slightly salacious and un-French-like way. Emily Travers is not "too" anything--she's just right.

Oh no, French replies, in a slightly salacious and un-French-like way. Emily Travers is not “too” anything–she’s just right.

Bill finally remembers her as an attractive blond with blue eyes, but French says they are aquamarine–“the limip hue one associates with tropical reefs in the Caribbean.”

Picking up on French's infatuation with Miss Travers, Cissy says she wishes a boyfriend would describe her eyes so poetically.

Picking up on French’s infatuation with Miss Travers, Cissy says she wishes a boyfriend would describe her eyes so poetically.

Buffy adds to French’s embarrassment by observing that he and Emily shook hands for a long time before parting.

“I don’t know which one was holding on,” she says. “Maybe both.”

As usual, Bill finds some amusement in French's discomfort.

As usual, Bill takes some amusement in French’s discomfort.

Next, we find ourselves back in the park, this time with the British servant contingent.

French's encounter with Emily has already become gossip fodder for them.

French’s encounter with Emily has already become gossip fodder for them.

“He’s quite crackers about the young woman,” Mr. Tyburn burbles, noting that she is half French’s age.

"Let him chase her--he'll never catch her," a smug Hardcastle says.

“Let him chase her–he’ll never catch her,” a smug Hardcastle says.

Quick to defend her friend, Miss Faversham says she heard Miss Travers was doing the chasing. Tyburn and Hardcastle decide then that Miss Travers must be frumpy–“thick glasses and flat shoes.”

After Miss Faversham leaves, French comes along and endures some teasing from his frenemies.

After Miss Faversham leaves, French comes along and endures some teasing from his frenemies.

They aren’t laughing for long, though, because the woman in question soon makes an appearance.

Well, here she is--the long-awaited Emily.

Well, here she is–the long-awaited Emily.

French and Emily walk on, leaving behind two stunned butlers.

"They say that love is blind, but this is ridiculous," Hardcastle grumbles.

“They say that love is blind, but this is ridiculous,” Hardcastle grumbles.

Later, Bill comes home to wait for a long-distance business call and encounters Cissy.

He compliments her on cute outfit.

He compliments her on a cute outfit.

(I don’t think I share his opinion.)

She’s heading off to the library to study psychology with a cute boy, Freddie. She gets insulted, though, when Bill assumes that Freddie is her main focus, rather than studying.

"Freddie is incidental," she says, none to convincingly.

“Freddie is incidental,” she says, none to convincingly.

After she leaves, it’s not long before Bill hears a knock at the door.

It's Emily, ostensibly looking for French and bearing a present for Buffy and Jody.

It’s Emily, ostensibly looking for French and bearing a present for Buffy and Jody.

(The wardrobe in this scene makes it fitting that this episode first aired on St. Patrick’s Day.)

French and the kids are out, but Bill invites Emily in to talk for a few minutes.

She passes the present along to Bill and tells him how much she likes the children. Jody is "all boy," but so polite, and Buffy is adorable.

She passes the present along to Bill and tells him how much she likes the children. Jody is “all boy,” but so polite, and Buffy is adorable.

Bill deflects credit for their politeness, saying manners are French’s department.

Ignoring the reference to French, Emily gushes that she has admired Bill from a distance for years.

Ignoring the reference to French, Emily gushes that she has admired Bill from a distance for years.

He’s surprised, but she tells him how impressive it is that a busy professional like him with no parenting experience took on the job of raising three children.

Modestly, Bill says that he and French do all right with the kids.

Modestly, Bill says that he and French do all right with the kids.

(It’s nice how he considers French a co-parent.)

Sometimes, they probably need a woman’s touch around the house, Bill admits.

He's not flirting, although it may read that way on paper.

He’s not flirting, although it may read that way on paper.

“Maybe someday you’ll find just the right girl,” Emily replies.

Now, she's definitely flirting.

Now, she’s definitely flirting.

Oh, dear.

When French and the kids return, Emily is gone. The twins play with her gift, a game of quoits.

When French and the kids return, Emily is gone. The twins play with her gift, a game of quoits.

(That’s not a term I’m familiar with. I would have called it ring-toss, I guess.)

French takes a moment to talk to Bill about Emily. He asks whether Bill finds it odd that such a young and attractive girl is interested in him.

French takes a moment to talk to Bill about Emily. He asks whether Bill finds it odd that such a young and attractive girl is interested in him.

Bill assures French that many women prefer older men.

Relieved, French decided to ask Emily to accompany him to the theater for an outing with the British gang to see The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Emily enjoys the play, finding that the traditional British reserve conceals a strong romantic streak.

Emily enjoys the play, finding that the traditional British reserve conceals a strong romantic streak.

(Tyburn, for his part, faults the play for “far too much display of sentiment.”)

When French leaves to get Emily some orangeade, Emily chats with Miss Faversham.

Miss F, who's feeling protective and perhaps a bit jealous, tries to suss out Emily's feelings for French.

Miss F tries to suss out Emily’s feelings for French.

Emily says she admires his style, which must have come from being around rich and sophisticated people so much.

Miss F notes that "working among them" would be a more accurate description.

Miss F notes that “working among them” would be a more accurate description.

Nevertheless, Emily responds, French has traveled the world. She herself has been nowhere.

She wants to see the world, but not as a tourist, she explains. She wants to be one of the beautiful people--like Mr. Davis' friends.

She wants to see the world, but not as a tourist, she explains. She wants to be one of the beautiful people–like Mr. Davis’ friends.

Of course it’s not possible on a secretary’s salary, she adds.

"Well, you're young yet," Miss F observes drily, and Emily replies that she plans to make the most of it.

“Well, you’re young yet,” Miss F observes drily. Emily agrees–and says she plans to make the most of it.

Returning from the theater, Miss F meets Bill in the apartment building lobby.

She asks Bill what he thinks of Emily. Typically taciturn, he only says that she seems nice and pretty.

She asks Bill what he thinks of Emily. Typically taciturn, he only says that she seems nice and pretty.

She says she thinks French is falling in love with the girl, and Bill admits that wouldn’t surprise him.

Miss F claims that her womanly intuition gives her a bad feeling about Emily's motives.

Miss F claims that her womanly intuition gives her a bad feeling about Emily’s motives.

She’s afraid Emily doesn’t care one bit about French. “Isn’t it possible,” she asks, “that she isn’t after the gentleman’s gentleman, but after the gentleman?”

Bill finds this conversation all kinds of awkward.

Bill finds this conversation all kinds of awkward.

He seems to take it to heart, however.

Later, French returns bubbling with enthusiasm about Emily and the passion they share for Browning and Keats.

Later, French returns bubbling with enthusiasm about Emily and the passion they share for Browning and Keats.

The next day, Bill pays a visit to Emily’s office.

He tells her he feels unsure about what he wants to say and hopes he doesn't come across as a "fathead."

He tells her he feels unsure about what he wants to say and hopes he doesn’t come across as a “fathead.”

You can feel Emily’s hopes rising that he’s about to make some kind of pass.

Instead, he begins to quiz her about her feelings for French.

Instead, he quizzes her about her feelings for French.

When she’s vague, he tells her how happy French has been since meeting her. Emily wonders why that’s a bad thing.

French is way up on a cloud, Bill says. If he falls off, it will be a long drop.

Emily says she considers French her friend, like Buffy and Jody and Cissy.

Emily says she considers French her friend, like Buffy and Jody and Cissy.

(Hey, when did she meet Cissy?)

Bill says French is much more serious. He wouldn’t be surprised if he starts shopping for a ring soon. How would that make Emily feel?

“Flattered,” is all she can come up with.

When Bill asks where that leaves French, a chastened Emily says, "Nowhere, Mr. Davis."

When Bill asks where that leaves French, a chastened Emily says, “Nowhere, Mr. Davis.”

She promises she won’t let things get that far, and a relieved Bill tells her he thinks she’s okay. She says she’s not so sure.

Later, French is waiting around the park for another chance to see Emily.

Later, French is waiting around the park for another chance to see Emily.

He’s been there so long that Buffy and Jody are bored and want to leave and do their homework.

When he's just about given up, he finally sees Emily coming.

When he’s just about given up, he finally sees Emily approaching.

(She loves that green suit, doesn’t she?)

She wastes no time in telling him that she won't be seeing him again. She doesn't want to give explanations and hopes he'll accept this as final.

She wastes no time in telling him that she won’t be seeing him again. She doesn’t want to give explanations and hopes he’ll accept this as final.

Heartbroken but ever-the-gentleman, French does so.

At home, French tells Bill what happened and conjectures that Emily found someone else.

At home, French tells Bill what happened and conjectures that Emily found someone else.

Bill comforts him by saying that while it hurts now, he will soon recover.

French surprises Bill by saying that, on the contrary, he feels wonderful--he's just had the best week of his life.

French surprises Bill by saying that, on the contrary, he feels wonderful–he’s just had the best week of his life.

Commentary

This isn’t the kind of episode that would have appealed to me as a child. The kids’ roles are incidental (like Freddie), and the script’s light on humor. Surprisingly, we don’t even get many good Frenchisms. But as an adult what I most appreciate is the episode’s restraint. Other shows might have gone for melodrama, making a Emily a conniving femme fatale and having French undergo the humiliation of discovering her true motives. Instead, Emily comes across as young and misguided. Leslie Parrish’s acting in the final scene with Uncle Bill, as Emily becomes ashamed of her actions, is nicely subtle. Heather Angel also does a good job of conveying Miss F’s concern about French, along with just a touch of jealousy. (I’m on Team Fraversham, all the way!)

We get a new spin on Uncle Bill's famous head rubs this week--the one-fingered version.

We get a new spin on Uncle Bill’s famous head rubs this week–the one-fingered version.

Inconsistency Alert

Miss Faversham mentions Peter as the child she’s watching. Didn’t his family let her go?

Guest Cast
Emily Travers: Leslie Parrish. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. Mr. Tyburn: Leslie Randall. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel.

Leslie Parrish was one of those promising mid-century starlets who never quite broke through to full-fledged stardom. Her most memorable film appearance was as Jocelyn Jordan in The Manchurian Candidate. She also played Daisy Mae in the 1959 musical Lil Abner. Her TV roles included three Batman appearances and the Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Later, she ended up in some B movies such as 1975’s The Giant Spider Invasion. She retired from acting in the late 1970s, around the time she married Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (They divorced 20 years later.)

Let's end with some Uncle Bill eye candy, just because.

Let’s end with some Uncle Bill eye candy, just because.

Everything is Gray: Five Moral Lessons from Naked City

Classic TV Detectives Blogathon bannerIn an Italian restaurant near the New York City Criminal Court Building, Detective Adam Flint is brooding about the nature of guilt.

“I deal with guilt every day, and it’s been years I thought about what it really is,” he muses to his actress fiancée Libby.

At this moment, Detective Flint has good reason to wonder. He’s in the restaurant during the lunch recess of a murder trial—the re-trial, actually, of a thief and murderer named Joseph Creeley. Detective Flint apprehended Creeley years earlier, in a violent confrontation that followed Creeley’s robbery of a jewelry store. In the course of the robbery, Creeley killed the old man who owned the store and permanently crippled his widow.

Flint is a prosecution witness in this trial, as he was in the previous one that sent Creeley to death row. But this time, Flint is hoping that the defense will prevail.

You see, shortly before Creeley’s scheduled execution, doctors found a tumor growing in the criminal’s brain. When they removed it, they also removed the past 10 years from Creeley’s memory, as well as the violent impulses that took over his life in the months leading up to the robbery.

Creeley’s defense attorney is arguing that the tumor caused that violent behavior—that the tumor, in fact, was the real murderer.

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This kind of complicated moral dilemma is a defining feature of Naked City, which began life as a half-hour series based closely on the 1948 Mark Hellinger film of the same name. John McIntire recreated Barry Fitzgerald’s role as the wise and experience Lieutenant Muldoon and dimply James Franciscus played rookie detective Jimmy Halloran.

Like the motion picture Naked City, the series filmed in New York City, largely on the city’s streets.

Critics embraced it from the beginning.

UPI’s William Ewald praised the show’s layered treatment of crime and justice: “It recognizes that not all juvenile delinquents are punks, that violence is a symptom of something out of joint, that life isn’t merely a matter of the good guys versus the bad guys. And although its plots are usually thin, sorrow and pity wash over its flesh. It faces up to the human condition, unlike slicker action shows…”

The show died after one season. Producer Herbert Leonard and frequent writer Stirling Silliphant went on to create another acclaimed series, Route 66, then got the green light to revive Naked City in an hour-long format.

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Debuting in 1960, this version starred Paul Burke as sensitive young Detective Adam Flint opposite Horace McMahon’s crusty Lieutenant Mike Parker. (Harry Bellaver played another 65th precinct officer, Detective Frank Arcaro, throughout both versions of the series.)

This version aired for three seasons, and its 1963 cancellation surprised its cast and outraged critics.

In a way, though, it seems fitting that Naked City died when it did, before the assassination of John F. Kennedy ended the brief era of idealism it represents, and before the rapid cultural shifts of the late 1960s polarized our national discourse in ways that still reverberate today.

Naked City’s vision of the human experience is as complex as the city in which its stories unfold, as varied as those 8 million people who populate it.

Since this is the Classic TV Detectives Blogathon, I prepared by focusing on the detectives themselves. This isn’t easy because Naked City does not dwell on its officers’ backstories and personal motivations. In Season One, we get occasional glimpses of Detective Halloran’s wife; she mostly waits at home and worries about him. Subsequent seasons give a more substantial role to Detective Flint’s fiancée Libby, who’s living a proto-That Girl life as an aspiring actress. Nancy Malone imbues Libby with warmth and intelligence, and she and Paul Burke make Libby and Adam a believable couple. Libby still mostly exists to be a sounding board and solace for Adam, though.

Adam and Libby in their typical attitudes--he worrying about work, she worrying about him.

Adam and Libby in their typical attitudes–he worrying about work, she worrying about him.

As I watched episodes whose events touched the show’s detectives in a more personal way than usual, I learned little about their lives but a lot about the moral vision that guides them—and, by extension, the show itself:

1. “Everything is gray.”
Those are the words that Joseph Creeley mutters as he awakens after surgery and finds a 10-year void in his memory. Struggling with the nature of guilt, Adam repeats these words during his lunch with Libby. His ability to see so many sides to an issue frustrates him, although Libby assures him it’s one of his finest qualities.

This is one of Naked City’s finest qualities, too. Its stories evoke a measure of our sympathy for nearly every character, even those we first encounter during brutal acts of violence.

Consider this 10-minute opening sequence from 1961’s “Requiem for a Sunday Afternoon.” We feel the wronged husband’s pain but can’t see the young man dragged into this situation (Burt Reynolds!) as a villain. We can even find some understanding for the wife, trapped in a marriage she never wanted.

2. When you want to know who you are, look inward.

In “Bullets Cost Too Much,” Adam endures the shifting winds of public opinion. Paying a visit to a bar that hasn’t been closing on time, he witnesses an armed robbery. A mouthy drunk gets in the thieves’ way and gets shot, while Adam sits and watches, unable to intervene without endangering other bar patrons. The thieves get away, although Adam shoots one during the escape.

The jeering crowds that gather around Adam even toss out the ultimate Cold War-era insult, comparing him to Communist security forces.

The jeering crowds that gather around Adam even toss out the ultimate Cold War-era insult, likening him to Communist security forces.

In a parallel story, the doctor brother of one of the thieves struggles with his conscience as he treats the wounded man and avoids alerting the authorities.

In the end, Adam helps capture the thieves and earns headlines as glowing as previous ones were critical.

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Libby frames both to remind Adam to rely on his own sense of integrity, rather than external assessments.

(In the show’s typically complex way, we are left to doubt whether Adam’s original judgment in the bar was correct. The doctor’s girlfriend, a sympathetic and unbiased character, tells Libby that she studied bar diagrams closely and believes that Adam could have used the element of surprise to save the drunk’s life.)

3. “Life is precious, every hour of it.”

Those are Adam’s words in the Joseph Creeley trial, as he explains why he authorized Creeley’s risky brain surgery. (Unable to decide for himself about the surgery, Creeley had given Adam his power of attorney.)

Adam’s reverence for life faces its toughest test in “Prime of Life” when Lieutenant Parker orders him to witness an execution.

As moments pass slowly in the death chamber, Adam has flashbacks to the condemned man’s crime, as well as to his own agonized soul-searching in the weeks leading up to the execution.

As moments pass slowly in the death chamber, Adam has flashbacks to the condemned man’s crime, as well as to his own agonized soul-searching in the weeks leading up to the execution.

After the execution, as Adam drives away from the prison, we are left to reflect on the words Lieutenant Parker used when tasking Adam with this duty: “That gun you carry gives you the power of life and death…maybe it’s a good thing to think about life and death.”

4. “We are all responsible for each other.”

Describing a 1958 episode about juvenile delinquency, TV critic Fred Remington described the main character’s problem as “a terrible, aching loneliness.”

Naked City rarely attaches labels or diagnoses to its criminals, but a lack of human connection seems to drive many of them.

In the first-season episode “ And a Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol,” an officer subbing for Detective Halloran on Christmas Eve gets shot during a liquor store stake-out. One thief, Marco, is captured, but he refuses to help police identify or locate his brother. Halloran is shaken and angry, but Lieutenant Muldoon takes a softer approach. When Marco learns that his brother was shot while fleeing, Marco breaks down and tells Muldoon where to find him.

Later, Muldoon has to return to Marco’s cell to inform him that his brother died before police got to him.

Marco, shattered that his brother died alone, reaches out to the only person can—Muldoon.

Marco, shattered that his brother died alone, reaches out to the only person can—Muldoon.

(By the way, Frank Sutton plays Marco. If, like me, you know him mainly as Sergeant Carter in Gomer Pyle, his dramatic acting in this and other Naked City episodes will amaze you.)

“We are all responsible for each other,” is what Adam tells Libby after the Joseph Creeley case goes to the jury. She doubts whether she could handle the responsibility of deciding a man’s fate, but Adam argues that judging and being judged is part of our human compact.

5. There are no easy answers—and sometimes no answers at all.

Naked City doesn’t paint criminals as monsters, but it does not downplay crime’s horror. When violence erupts on this show, it is usually sudden and brutal.

The 1962 episode “A Case Study of Two Savages” has a particularly high body count. Arkansas’ Ansel Boake (Rip Torn) arrives in New York with his teenage bride and begins shooting everyone who gets in his way. This includes Detective Frank Arcaro, who merely stops to tell the youth that his license plate is loose.

This gun store owner, relishing Ansel's country bumpkin humor, has only a few seconds left to live.

This gun store owner, relishing Ansel’s country bumpkin humor, has only a few seconds left to live.

A convalescing Arcaro tells Adam to find out why the young man shot him. When police finally catch up with Ansel and kill him during a bank robbery, his wife (Tuesday Weld) can’t offer much of an answer.

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“Just for the hell of it, I guess,” she says.

Likewise, Jimmy Halloran comes up short during the first-season episode “Burst of Passion,” which concerns the kind of mass shooting we see all too often today. Jimmy’s friendly, church-going neighbor snaps, embarking on a shooting rampage. Witnesses debate the killer’s mental state, while Jimmy tracks the man down to the deserted off-season environs of Coney Island. (I love the scenery in this one.)

Halloran ends up shooting his neighbor; before dying, the man rambles semi-coherently about mankind’s failures and the need to begin again.

We’re left with narrator’s observation that sometimes there are no answers, at least not comforting ones.

We get no answers in the Joseph Creeley case, either.

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After the jury gets the case, Adam and Libby leave it and the New York Criminal Court Building behind. Due to his faith in the jury system, Adam conveys a renewed sense of peace.

My first reaction on watching this episode was annoyance that we didn’t learn the jury’s decision. Then I realized that this story’s thorny moral dilemma doesn’t lend itself to a simple answer—it is something viewers need to think through for themselves.

In the world of Naked City, asking questions is more important than finding answers.

Read more entries from the Classic TV Detectives Blogathon.

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 23, “The Young Man from Bolivia,” 3/10/1969

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Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: Charles Barton.

French has just retrieved the Davis family mail and found a letter for Jody.

It's from Bolivia, so Jody assumes it's from Uncle Bill.

It’s from Bolivia, so Jody assumes it’s from Uncle Bill.

French thinks not, since it’s addressed to “Senor J. Davis.” Jody is excited to realize that it’s from his penpal Paco, the son of Bill’s Bolivian associate.

Jody tells French that the letter says Paco is having a nice time and the weather is good.

French wonders how the boys can communicate since Jody "has trouble enough reading English."

French wonders how the boys can communicate since Jody “has trouble enough reading English.”

Ouch!

It turns out that they express themselves through pictures.

It turns out that they express themselves through pictures.

Jody hurries off to his room and starts to answer Paco’s letter right away.

While he's drawing, Buffy comes in to borrow a red crayon. It seems Mrs. Beasley is going on a date and needs some lipstick.

While he’s drawing, Buffy comes in to borrow a red crayon. It seems Mrs. Beasley is going on a date and needs some lipstick.

Oooh, that’s a bad idea Buffy–Mr. Clean hasn’t invented the Magic Eraser yet! (I’m also rather surprised that Mrs. Beasley dates. Ourtime.com hasn’t been invented yet either.)

Jody can't spare the red crayon--it's a crucial part of his "reply" to Paco.

Jody can’t spare the red crayon–it’s a crucial part of his “reply” to Paco.

Like Paco’s picture, Jody’s is also meant to convey that he’s having a nice time and the weather is good.

In our next scene, an excited Paco has received Jody's letter and is showing it to his father and Bill.

In our next scene, an excited Paco has received Jody’s letter and is showing it to his father and Bill.

“That’s Jody all right,” Bill says, adding wistfully, “at least as far as I can remember.”

His Bolivian project has apparently been a long one, but he is preparing to go home the next day. Paco and his father are staying another day and then flying to Paris.

When Senor Mendez laments the fact that the two pen pals won’t get a chance to meet, Bill has a brainstorm: He can take Paco home with him, and Senor Mendez can pick him up in New York on the way to Paris.

(Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be to make these complicated travel arrangements? Luckily, that’s never a problem in the Davis universe.)

Paco is thrilled by the opportunity to meet Jody and quickly agrees.

Paco is thrilled by the opportunity to meet Jody and quickly agrees.

Bill only tells the family that he’s bringing home a surprise, so they are indeed to surprised to find what Jody calls “a living surprise” at their door.

Bill explains introduces Paco to the kids and tells them that their guest doesn't speak any English.

Bill explains introduces Paco to the kids and tells them that their guest doesn’t speak any English.

Fortunately, Bill is fairly fluent in Spanish, as we remember from the “Lost in Spain” episodes.

The writers don’t seem to remember those episodes, though.

The writers don't seem to remember those episodes, though. The twins, who spent weeks studying the language in Spain, can't speak a single world of it.

The twins, who spent weeks studying the language in Spain, can’t speak a single world of it.

And Cissy credits her scant knowledge of Spanish to her school classes, without mentioning her experiences abroad.

Cissy credits her scant knowledge of Spanish to her school classes, without mentioning her experiences abroad.

And French can now speak at least a little Spanish, though the whole "Lost in Spain" plot hinged on his inability to do so.

And French can now speak at least a little Spanish, though the whole “Lost in Spain” plot hinged on his inability to do so.

Ay, caramba!

Things get off to a good start between Paco and Jody.

By bedtime, though, an awkward silence has settled in.

By bedtime, though, an awkward silence has settled in.

Bill looks in on the boys and asks Jody if they are having trouble communicating.

"No," Jody says. "We just don't know how to talk."

“No,” Jody says. “We just don’t know how to talk.”

At Bill’s suggestion, Jody tries to tell Paco about his turtle.

“Como?” Paco asks.

"No, his name is Dinky," a frustrated Jody replies.

“No, his name is Dinky,” a frustrated Jody replies.

They do manage to share a nice moment right before going to bed.

Paco says "Good night," and Jody says, "Buenos Noches."

Paco says “Good night,” and Jody says, “Buenas Noches.”

The next morning, Jody wants to make up for lost time and do some bonding with Uncle Bill.

They start to catch up, although Jody warns him that he probably doesn't want to hear about Jody's spelling grades.

They start to catch up, although Jody warns Bill that he probably doesn’t want to hear about Jody’s spelling grades.

When Paco comes in and starts talking with Bill in Spanish, Jody’s mood turns glum.

He feels left out as Bill laughs at Paco's amusing remarks.

He feels left out as Bill laughs at Paco’s amusing observations.

For example, Paco notes that Mr. French doesn’t shave. He also says that the bridges Bill builds, though not as tall as New York skyscrapers, would seem tall to a fish.

Jody gets tired of having the jokes translated for him and leaves the room.

Later, Cissy takes the three kids to the park.

Later, Cissy takes the three kids to the park.

Jody is still acting petulant and complains that Paco won’t know how to play their games.

“All kids play the same games,” Cissy asserts confidently–and, as we shall see, wrongly.

Paco's an interesting novelty to the twins' friends, who soon gather around.

Paco’s an interesting novelty to the twins’ friends, who soon gather around.

One girl is excited to learn that he’s from South America–“farther away than New Jersey, even.” Meanwhile, Jody and his friend Peter have this conversation.

Jody: He doesn’t speak English.
Peter: That’s neat!
Jody: What’s so neat about it?

I think Jody might have a future in Republican politics.

I think Jody might have a future in Republican politics.

The kids get even more interested when Paco displays a toy he brought from home.

Peter wants to play with it, though Jody tries to drag him away.

Peter wants to play with it, though Jody tries to drag him away.

Cissy says the toy was an invention of the Incas.

Cissy says the toy was an invention of the Incas, which Bess Lindstrom here interprets as "inkers."

Bess Lindstrom, here, interprets that as “inkers.” She was much smarter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Jody, refusing to even try it, says, “Who wants to play with an old toy from the inkers?”

With nothing else to do, he tries to interest Buffy and her friends in a game of baseball.

With nothing else to do, he tries to interest Buffy and her friends in a game of baseball.

When they say they have to take care of their dolls, Jody suggests using the dolls as bases.

Oh, no, he didn't!

Oh, no, he didn’t!

Sensing that her brother is stressed, Buffy pulls him aside and reminds him that Paco’s father is coming to get him that very evening.

"Good!" Jody exclaims.

“Good!” Jody exclaims.

Back at home, he is only too happy to help Paco pack.

Don't get too excited, Jody. Paco's dad has just called Bill to explain that he will be delayed.

Don’t get too excited, Jody. Paco’s dad has just called Bill to explain that he will be delayed.

Senor Mendez tells Bill to send Paco back to Bolivia, but Bill won’t hear of it–four children is no more trouble than three, so he will be happy to have Paco stay on.

Paco isn't happy about this news. Talking to his father, his face goes from this...

Paco isn’t happy about this news. Talking to his father, his face goes from this…

...to this.

…to this.

And, of course, Jody isn’t happy either when he hears Paco is staying.

"How long?" he asks his uncle.

“For how many days?” he asks his uncle.

That’s a good question and, strangely, one that Bill didn’t ask Paco’s father when they were talking on the phone. Nevertheless, Bill says it might be a week.

Later, while the twins are getting a snack, Buffy pledges her loyalty to Jody.

Later, while the twins are getting a snack, Buffy pledges her loyalty to a downhearted Jody.

They have to stick together, Jody agrees, adding “Brother and sister can’t come apart.”

But when Buffy takes cookies in to Paco and finds him crying, she can't help trying to cheer him up.

But when Buffy takes cookies to Paco and finds him crying, she can’t help trying to cheer him up.

She introduces him to baseball–or at least playing catch.

She introduces him to the game of baseball--or at least playing catch.

Paco catches on quickly and begins to enjoy himself.

But when Jody sees this happy scene, he feels betrayed.

Et tu, Buffy?

Et tu, Buffy?

She explains that she had to be nice to Paco because he was crying. Jody is unsympathetic.

Jody: Mr. French says boys don’t cry.
Buffy: Maybe they do in Bolivia.
Jody: I wouldn’t.

(It’s too bad Free to Be You and Me won’t come out for another three years. Both Jody and French need to hear this Rosey Grier song.)

Later, Jody is on the terrace feeding Dinky (or Senor Dinky, as Paco calls him–I love that!)

Uncle Bill stops by with Paco and offers to take both boys out for ice cream.

Uncle Bill stops by with Paco and offers to take both boys out for ice cream.

This is how upset Jody is: He turns down ice cream…because he needs to practice his spelling.

As Bill and Paco walk away and Paco calls, "Adios," Jody mutters, "Adios, yourself."

As Bill and Paco walk away and Paco calls, “Adios,” Jody mutters, “Adios, yourself.”

Strong words for Jody.

Then, he nuzzles Dinky. Eww!

Then, he nuzzles Dinky. Eww!

The next morning, Bill is exulting about the way the kids are getting along.

There's an international language of children, French agrees. They understand each other instinctively.

There’s an international language of children, French agrees. They understand each other instinctively.

At that moment, though, Paco and Jody are actually coming to blows.

Hearing the noise, Bill rushes in to break up the fight.

Hearing the noise, Bill rushes in to break up the fight.

He speaks privately with Jody, who vents about how Paco has been getting all the attention. Having another boy around means no one cares about him, he pouts.

Bill chides him for feeling sorry for himself and asks him what he would do if he was in Bolivia with Paco's family.

Bill chides him for feeling sorry for himself and asks him what he would do if he was in Bolivia with Paco’s family.

Based on his recent experiences, Jody says that he’d tell Paco’s family to pay lots of attention to Paco.

Using what I hope is reverse psychology, Bill offers to send Paco home right away.

Using what I hope is reverse psychology, Bill offers to send Paco home right away.

If it was reverse psychology, it works beautifully. “I don’t want him to feel not wanted. It’s a terrible feeling,” Jody says in a nice, subtle callback to the Davis kids’ traumatic experiences.

Bill orders Jody to say he’s sorry about their fight. Jody says he really is sorry about it…Paco was winning.

Cue bemused laughter.

Cue bemused laughter.

By the time Paco’s father does come to collect his son, the boys are getting along fine.

Jody calls Paco his amigo, and Paco calls Jody his friend. They even exchange gifts.

Jody calls Paco his amigo, and Paco calls Jody his friend. They even exchange gifts.

Jody doesn’t want Paco to leave. Senor Mendez encourages the Davises to visit them in Bolivia someday. (When Buffy asks Bill if they really can go to Bolivia, he gives one of those “Oh, maybe,” responses that are parent speak for “Don’t hold your breath.”)

Even after Paco leaves, his influence lingers–Jody ends the episode by calling his uncle “Tio Bill.”

Commentary

They really should have aired this episode before the “Lost in Spain” three-parter to avoid inconsistencies about the family’s Spanish fluency.

Jody’s behavior is terrible in this episode, but it’s kind of fun to watch since it is so different from his usual unselfish demeanor. He always has taken a special pride in his father-son connection with Bill, so it makes sense that having another boy around would make him feel threatened.

Guest Cast

Senor Mendez: Carlos Romero. Paco: Miguel Monsalve. Kathy: Lisa True Gerritsen. Peter: Randy Whipple.
All the kids are Family Affair veterans. Romero’s many TV appearance included recurring roles on Zorro, Adam-12, and Falcon Crest.

Spin Again Sunday: Mork & Mindy Game, 1979

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The world lost one its most beloved entertainers in 2014. The role that first brought Robin Williams into the national spotlight also catapulted him onto toy-store shelves in 1979. Mork & Mindy spawned a card game, as well as a board game. I was in fourth grade when Mork & Mindy hit the airwaves, and it wasn’t long before my classmates were wearing rainbow suspenders and trying to speak Orkan. I’m sure many of us had this game; I remember playing it, but I’m not sure whether I owned it or a friend did.

This Week’s Game: Mork & Mindy Game.

Copyright Date: 1979.

Manufacturer: Parker Brothers.

Box: A full-color photo of the title characters spreads across the whole lid. It’s strange, though, that Parker Brothers chose a shot that provides a better view of Mindy’s face than Mork’s. He was unquestionably the show’s main draw, especially for young viewers.

The back of the box provides and black-and-white photo of the game board and an explanation of the game. And this game does require quite a bit of explaining.

The back of the box features a black-and-white photo of the game board and an explanation of the game. And this game does require quite a bit of explaining.

Recommended Ages: 7 to 14.

Object: Collecting more “grebbles” than other players. These, apparently, are Orkan coins.

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Board: Against a green background, we have an oval game track in vivid shades of pink, purple, red, and orange. These spaces prominently feature Orkan words like “wump,” “splink,” and “nimnul.”

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Illustrations of Mork and Mindy surround the track, and Mork does dominate here–he shows up twice as often as Mindy. (These illustrations are pretty good as game-board art goes and much better than those on the card game I linked above.)

morkmindyboardcloseup

A large egg labeled “Orson’s Nest Egg” fills up one corner, while the opposite corner shows six small egg-shaped spaces and a “Gleek Space.”

morkmindypieces

Game Pieces: The game includes 50 Grebble coins, which players try to collect. As pawns, they use colored cardboard markers that slide into a plastic base. One cardboard marker has the word Gleek on it; a player who rolls a six slides it into his or her plastic base along with the regular marker.

The game also includes Mork's splinkblinker, which I'll try to explain below.

The game also includes Mork’s splinkblinker, which I’ll try to explain below.

Game Play: The grebbles start the game in Orson’s Nest Egg. Players move around the track and do a lot of splinking, which is apparently Orkan for bluffing. The player who lands on an “Everybody Splink” space drops both dice into the splinkblinker. He or she looks at the numbers showing, turns to the player on the left and announces any two numbers. The player on the left says “Kayo” if he or she believes the original player and “Shazbot” if he or she thinks the original player is lying. If the second player has guessed correctly, he or she wins two grebbles. Otherwise, the original player wins the grebbles. The splinking process repeats around the table until everyone has had a chance to guess.

Other spaces give players a chance to take grebbles from other players, to win grebbles by “making contact” with Orson, and to place a grebble in the “Grebble Up” row of eggs. A player who completes a row of at least three grebbles in the “Grebble Up” row wins them all.

morkmindyboardcloseup3

The player who roles a six and possesses the “gleek” (until another player roles a six) has his or her grebble-earning power doubled and can’t lose grebbles to other players.

When Orson’s Nest Egg is empty, the player with the most grebbles wins.

“Sound confusing? Sound exciting? Sound like daffy fun?” the box asks. Well…confusing, certainly.

My Thoughts: It seems a bit over-complicated. I’m not sure my friends and I would have made it through a whole game, but we would have had fun spouting Orkan words at each other.

Bonus Feature: If reading about the game has made you want to revisit Mork & Mindy, this Season 1 gag reel is lots of fun. Be forewarned however: There’s strong language here, and it’s not Orkan.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Happy Days

Laverne & Shirley

Charlie’s Angels

 

 

 

 

 

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 22, “A Diller, a Dollar,” 3/3/1969

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Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Welcome to a new year, Family Affair fans. In the real world, the weather may be brutal and the news may be grim, but we can always escape for a few minutes into the Davis family’s sunny environs. After an epic Spanish adventure, the family has settled back into its routine and must only deal with a small domestic crisis (or, as French puts it, “one of life’s little tragedies”).

When we first look in, Bill is talking about bid and estimates with an associate named Miss Saunders.

When we first look in, Bill is talking about bids and estimates with an associate named Miss Saunders.

Why are they meeting in Bill’s den instead of in his office? Probably so that the twins can interrupt them when they return from school with their report cards.

Jody is so excited to show Bill his grades that he drops his books to the floor--an error that French quickly makes him rectify.

Jody is so excited to show Bill his grades that he drops his books to the floor–an error that French quickly makes him rectify.

Why Jody’s so eager to show off his mediocre grades is not clear. “Buffy’s the smart one,” Bill bluntly informs Miss Saunders out of the twins’ hearing. He and French make a big fuss over Jody’s grades, he adds, so that they boy doesn’t feel bad.

Sure enough, Buffy's received all A's, except for an A- in arithmetic.

Sure enough, Buffy’s received all A’s, except for an A- in arithmetic.

Random question: When did schools stop using the term arithmetic? I started school around 1973, and we always referred to that subject as math. (Although I didn’t know it before researching for this post, arithmetic refers to the branch of mathematics dealing with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.)

Jody's got sttraight C's, which French hails as an improvement over his previous performance.

Jody earned straight C’s, which French hails as an improvement over his previous performance.

Passing over Buffy’s grades quickly, Bill finds something to praise on Jody’s report card.

Jody's teacher says he is cheerful and attentive and quick to volunteer for classroom chores.

Jody’s teacher says he is cheerful and attentive and quick to volunteer for classroom chores.

That ought to take him far.

After Bill showers Jody with praise, French prepares to take the kids to the park.

Jody is hoping that his friend Peter Dunigan will be there so they can play marbles together.

Jody is hoping that his friend Peter Dunigan will be there so they can play marbles together.

Buffy is hoping Peter will be there, too, although Jody tells her she can’t play marbles with them.

In the rigidly gender-segregated world of the park, Buffy has to play hopscotch instead.

In the rigidly gender-segregated world of the park, Buffy has to play hopscotch instead.

(Random fashion observation: It’s about time for the wardrobe department to retire Buffy’s plaid pants, which are rapidly approaching high-water territory. And the girl currently hopping must have bought her dress from the rummage sale in “Fat, Fat the Water Rat.”)

Buffy’s mind isn’t on the game, however. She’s too busy mooning over Peter. When one of her friends teases her about her “boyfriend,” Buffy doesn’t deny her interest.

Buffy's mind isn't on the game, however. She's too busy mooning over Peter.

“He’s neat,” she sighs.

The feeling isn’t mutual. When Peter passes the hopscotch group on his way to the marble game, Buffy’s friends ask him if he wants to hear a secret.

"Nah," he says.

“Nah,” he says.

Then Buffy asks him if he wants to join the hopscotch game.

"Nah," he replies, even more dismissively.

“Nah,” he replies, even more dismissively.

This, it seems, is his catchphrase–“Nah,” pronounced in an obnoxiously flat, nasal manner. I’m not sure what Buffy sees in him (but he will look pretty good in his teenage years.)

A dejected Buffy turns to French for advice.

A dejected Buffy turns to French for romantic advice, which seems like a risky move.

She wonders whether a boy saying only “Hi” and “Nah” to her is a sign that the boy hates her. French responds to her question with unexpected sensitivity, telling her that a young man might not wish to speak to a young lady with other young ladies about. He suggests that Peter might be friendlier when he is in Jody’s company.

She heads over to the marble game, but doesn't make any progress with Peter.

She heads over to the marble game, but doesn’t make any progress with Peter.

Jody takes a surprisingly strong stand against girls playing marbles, arguing that “girls are only good at arithmetic and junk.” (That’s a novel form of gender stereotyping.)

Buffy offers to help Peter with his math, but it only earns her another “Nah.”

Back at home, she turns to Cissy for advice.

Back at home, she turns to Cissy for advice.

Cissy’s got weightier matters on her mind, though–or at least on her head. She’s drying her hair in preparation for a night out with Sharon and some guy named Doug.

Buffy then makes a fatal error--she asks Sharon for advice.

Buffy then makes a fatal error–she asks Sharon for guidance.

“Boys don’t like girls who are smarter than they are,” Sharon pronounces.

"Wat'chu talkin' about, Sharon?"

“What you talkin’ ’bout, Sharon?”

Sharon adds that she lost a football player boyfriend for that very reason. (He must have really been dumb.)

Sharon tells Buffy not to worry--there are other boys out there, lots of them.

Sharon tells Buffy not to worry–there are other boys out there, lots of them.

(They really caked on Sharon’s pancake makeup this week, didn’t they?)

Buffy’s strictly a one-boy girl, however. All she can do is try to dumb herself down, and she’s successful enough to earn a note home from Miss Cummings the next day.

It seems that she and Peter scored lowest in the class on this week's spelling test.

It seems that she and Peter scored lowest in the class on this week’s spelling test.

“So what if we’re dumb–we’re happy,” she chirps to an unresponsive Peter.

At home, Bill’s puzzled by Buffy’s D- and even more puzzled when he sees she missed simple words like walk, jump, and nose.

"There's no word in the English language that has three P's in a row," he sputters about her misspelling of apple.

“There’s no word in the English language that has three P’s in a row!” he sputters in reaction to her misspelling of apple.

He and French agree that Buffy could spell those and harder words before she even started school. French suggests contacting the teacher, but Bill puts his parental instincts to work instead: He decides that Buffy lacks motivation because he praises Jody so much and ignores her outstanding work.

Meanwhile, Buffy is hanging out with the boys and trying to wangle an invitation to Peter's birthday party.

Meanwhile, Buffy is hanging out with the boys and trying to wangle an invitation to Peter’s birthday party.

It doesn’t work–Peter says the party is for boys only.

Bill pulls Buffy aside for a talk and explains that he has been wrong to ignore her achievements.

Bill pulls Buffy aside for a talk and explains that he has been wrong to ignore her achievements.

Sure that he has gotten to the heart of the problem, he misses Buffy’s cues that his praising Jody doesn’t bother her.

He assures her that he is very, very, very proud of her.

Bill assures Buffy that he is very, very, very proud of her.

The next day, however, finds Buffy purposely messing up her multiplication problems.

She even manages to miss problems so easy that Peter can solve them.

She manages to miss problems so easy that even Peter can solve them.

This allows her to ask Peter if he will help her with arithmetic. (You can guess his answer.)

At home, Bill is basking in Miss Saunders' admiration for his keen parental intuition.

At home, Bill is basking in Miss Saunders’ admiration for his keen parental intuition.

She’s also thanking him for a lovely time at dinner the night before. (You didn’t think Bill could have a purely professional relationship with an attractive woman, did you?)

His bubble bursts when French arrives to tell him that Buffy has failed her day’s arithmetic assignment.

This really throws him for a loop.

“What you talkin’ ’bout, French?”

When Cissy passes through, he seeks her advice on the situation.

She's shocked at Buffy's failure. Buffy's the smartest kid in the class, she notes.

She’s shocked at Buffy’s failure. Buffy’s the smartest kid in the class, she notes.

Miss Cummings even told her that Buffy was due to be skipped ahead a grade.

Applying his psychology skills again, Bill latches onto another explanation for Buffy's behavior.

Applying his psychology skills again, Bill latches onto another explanation for Buffy’s behavior.

Clearly, she doesn’t want to advance a grade and leave Jody behind.

Meanwhile, Buffy's in the park with treats she's prepared as a birthday present for Peter.

Meanwhile, Buffy’s in the park with treats she’s prepared as a birthday present for Peter.

When she tries to present them, though, Peter won’t accept.

If he takes them, he says, he'll feel obligated to get her a present on her birthday.

If he takes them, he says, he’ll feel obligated to get her a present on her birthday.

(Peter’s extremely rude, but you have to admit he’s scrupulous about reciprocal gift-giving.)

 

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Jody, all “bitches be crazy,” prevails on Peter to take one cookie so his sister doesn’t get mad.

Peter will deign to accept a cookie if Buffy agrees it’s not a birthday gift.

Buffy, to her credit, comes up with the perfect response: "Nah!"

Buffy, to her credit, comes up with the only fitting response: “Nah!”

Back at home, Buffy informs French that she has homework to do–and that she can’t stand Peter anymore.

Soon Bill corners her for a talk about skipping a grade.

Soon Bill corners her for a talk about skipping a grade.

She will still see Jody at recess and lunch, so she shouldn’t try to get bad grades on purpose, he says.

Buffy keeps turning the conversation to Peter and how much she doesn't like him.

He doesn’t understand why Buffy keeps turning the conversation to Peter and how much she dislikes him.

Bill’s fog finally clears when Buffy blurts out, “Even when I’m dumb like he is, he doesn’t like me.”

Bill learns about the advice Buffy got from Sharon and points out to her that it turned out to be bad advice.

Bill learns about the advice Buffy got from Sharon and points out that it didn’t work very well for her.

Why, his colleague Miss Saunders is actually Dr. Saunders, an accomplished engineer, and he still found her worthy of his amorous attentions.

Buffy promises that she will always do her best from now on.

She doesn't care if Peter doesn't love her. She just wants to be loved by Bill, Cissy, Jody, Mr. French--and Victor Simmons, a new boy who lives upstairs.

She doesn’t care whether Peter loves her. She just wants to be loved by Bill, Cissy, Jody, and Mr. French.

Oh–and Victor Simmons, a new boy who just moved in upstairs.

Cue some episode-ending rueful laughter for Bill.

Cue some episode-ending rueful laughter for Bill.

Commentary

I’m always prepared to do a lot of cringing when gender issues crop up on classic sitcoms. This episode’s message is pleasantly surprising, though. Only Sharon comes off looking silly, and we’ve come to expect that from her.

I’m also glad that Bill told Buffy he was proud of her grades, even if she didn’t seem to need his reassurance. Maybe I’m oversensitive about this issue because I grew up with a brother whose C’s were cause for a party, while my A’s were taken for granted.

It’s interesting how blase Bill is about Jody’s average grades–these days, a parent from Bill’s social strata would probably be getting his straight-C child evaluated for learning disorders.

An added plus for this episode: The fun of seeing familiar faces such as Sharon and Miss Cummings.

Notable Quotes

“We do not say ‘Nah'”–Mr. French

Guest Cast

Sharon James: Sherry Alberoni. Miss Cummings: Joan Vohs. Peter: Gary Tubin. Joyce: Elaine Devry. Linda: Emma Tyson. May: Lisa Gerritsen.

Lisa Gerritsen was one of the most familiar child actors on television in the 1960s and 1970s. She’s best remembered, of course, for her recurring role as Bess on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Phyllis. Her grandfather was screenwriter True Boardman. This is the first of three Family Affair appearances for Gerritsen–the second one comes in the very next episode.

Gary Dubin, making his second Family Affair appearance here, also stayed busy. He was Punky Lazaar on The Partridge Family, voiced Toulouse in Disney’s The Aristocats, and became shark food in Jaws 2.

From certain angles, Devry looks slightly Diana Rigg-ish.

From certain angles, Devry looks slightly Diana Rigg-ish.

Elaine Devry made guest appearances on such shows as Perry Mason, Dragnet 1967, and Marcus Welby, M.D. She had a small role in the 1968 Brian Keith-Doris Day movie With Six You Get Eggroll. She was also once married to Mickey Rooney…but then again, who wasn’t?