Family Affair Friday: Episode 14, Think Deep, 12/26/1966

Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series. This week’s episode is a memorable one. Before I begin, though, I wanted to point out that Kathy Garver and Johnny Whitaker, the two surviving Family Affair cast members, both celebrated a birthday yesterday. She turned 67 and he turned 53. I don’t know if they’ll ever see this blog, but if they do, I wish them all the best.

Episode 14, “Think Deep,” 12/26/1966

Written by: George Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Cissy shakes up the Davis household by instituting some new theories. She wants to rotate seating in the dining room so Uncle Bill doesn’t dominate at mealtime. She cramps Buffy’s and Jody’s fantasy life by banning imaginative stories at bedtime. She tries to get French to rebel against “a condition of servitude bordering on serfdom” and insists on calling him by his first name.

giles

French doesn’t take this well.

She also takes over some of French’s duties.

kitchen

Buffy helps Cissy prepare Uncle Bill’s “favorite meal”–steaks and chops.

donuts

The result is so bad that Buffy and Jody bring doughnuts to the table as a meal substitute–and Uncle Bill doesn’t even object.

Cissy cites someone named Julian as the authority behind her new practices. Uncle Bill and French assume Julian is a new boyfriend, but they soon discover that he’s a teacher, Julian Hill.

Visiting Julian’s classroom, Uncle Bill finds a man who is meticulous bordering on OCD.

Doing some quick mental math, he realizes that 1 prissy teacher plus 2 feisty seven-year-olds might equal a crush-demolishing meltdown. He invites Julian to dinner.

Doing some quick mental math, he realizes that 1 prissy teacher plus 2 feisty seven-year-olds might equal a crush-demolishing meltdown.

Uncle Bill invites Julian to dinner, and an excited Cissy invites her friend Gail to join them.

Together, the girls bask in Julian’s dinner erudite dinner conversation.

Together, the girls bask in Julian’s dinner erudite dinner conversation.

buffy jody

All Julian’s talk just confuses Buffy and Jody. In defense of Julian, it doesn’t take much to confuse these two. Their dinner clothes are adorable, though.

After dinner, things take a nasty turn when Buffy and Jody accidentally spill coffee on Julian, who calls them “little monsters.”

monsters

Oh, no, he didn’t!

Cissy doesn't take this well.

Cissy doesn’t take this well.

Uncle Bill helps her realize that Julian is a good teacher and a normally fallible human being—not someone whose every proclamation should be law at home.

The episode closes with Cissy telling the twins a cute story about a fish who’s trying to earn his flying license. The story captivates even French.

The episode closes with Cissy telling the twins a cute story about a fish who’s trying to earn his flying license. The story captivates even French.

Commentary

It’s great to see my second-favorite TV father figure, Robert Reed, sharing screen time with my favorite, Brian Keith. Reed really throws himself into this part; his Julian Hill is affected and compulsive but doesn’t quite enter caricature territory. I also like Uncle Bill’s talk with Cissy. Instead of leaving her with the easy takeaway—“See, Julian’s really a jerk”—he guides her to a more nuanced understanding of human foibles.

Guest Cast

Julian Hill: Robert Reed. Gail: Diane Mountford. Robert Reed, who died in 1992, was best-known for his role as Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch. His non-Brady TV series included The Defenders and Mannix. He also had roles in the miniseries Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man. Mountford would appear in several more Family Affair episodes, but her character would only be called Gail in one of them.

Cissy gets to wear my favorite of her dresses in this episode. Poor Gail gets an ugly, shapeless thing.

Cissy gets to wear my favorite of her dresses in this episode. Poor Gail gets an ugly, shapeless thing.

Notable Quotes

This is going to be the greatest emotional experience of my life.” Cissy

“With your permission, sir, I should like to see how the flying fish achieves his license.” French

Today’s Bonus Feature

Screen Life, May 1969

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Old-Time Radio Playlist: Christmas, Part 5

draft_lens18469959module153045575photo_1315361643NibleNicksThis is the fifth part of my Christmas OTR playlist. I’ll be posting more episodes each Tuesday and Thursday until Christmas.

Read parts one, two, three, and four of my Christmas playlist.

Christmas by Injunction”

Author’s Playhouse
, December 21, 1941
“To think, that the voice of childhood has never gladdened our city…the patter of restless little feet never consecrated its streets…and nowhere in Yellowhammer are there roguish, expectant eyes ready to open wide at dawn of the enchanting day…eager, tiny hands to reach for Santa’s bewildering array of gifts…elated, childish voicings of the season’s joy.”
Story: This is based on a short story by O. Henry, with a typical surprise ending. Cherokee, a prospector who has struck gold, is planning a Christmas visit to his old friends in a mining camp called Yellowhammer. He’s bringing toys and is ready to play Santa for all the town’s kids. Sadly, the town doesn’t have any. The civic leaders try to borrow some, only to find that parents are reluctant to part with their kids at Christmas. They end up with one cynical kid and things look bleak, until Cherokee and the child discover a deeper connection than anyone imagined.
About Author’s Playhouse: This series, which dramatized literary stories, ran from 1941 to 1945.
Musical Notes: The Author’s Playhouse theme is from Rachmaninoff’s  Second Symphony; the same piece of music is the melody for Eric Carmen’s 1976 hit “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.”
My Verdict
: This is an entertaining story, and it’s stylized language works to good comic effect.

“Trimming a Tree”

The Jack Benny Program, December 24, 1944
“Those lights were so pretty–especially those two blue ones that kept flashing on and off.”
Story: Jack has an electrifying time getting ready for a Christmas Eve gathering at his house.
Musical Notes: Larry Stevens sings “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” Rochester makes one of his recurring references to “Blues in the Night.”
My Verdict
: A typically enjoyable Christmas episode, with lots of good banter among Jack, Mary, and Rochester.

“Three Wise Guys”

The Whistler, December 24, 1950
“I got a bad case of memories tonight.”
Story: Damon Runyon meets the nativity story in a tale of redemption.
My Verdict: This is an unusual story for The Whistler, but a satisfying one for Christmas eve.

“The Missing Mouse Matter”

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
“Now I have seen everything.”
Story: Johnny has to find a missing mouse who’s been insured for $5,000. Why insure a mouse? He sings!
About Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: This show about “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator” was the last drama standing when network radio came to its end in 1962. Launched in 1948, it went through several format changes and seven actors as Johnny Dollar. Bob Bailey, who plays the part here, is widely considered the best.
Musical Notes: Gulliver the mouse sings “Jingle Bells.”
My Verdict: As Christmas episodes go, this one certainly gets points for originality. The ending hits just the right whimsical note.

Other old-time radio playlists you might enjoy:
Halloween, Part 1
Halloween, Part 2

Teen ‘Zine Scene: Co-Ed, December 1959

Welcome to a new feature that will occasionally substitute for my weekly series Weird Words of Wisdom.

Readers of that series know about my interest in the teenage experience–and especially in the messages that adults have provided to teens through the years. Fueled by this interest, I have amassed a collection of vintage advice books for teens, as well as vintage teen magazines. Today, we will explore one of these magazines.

Co-Ed is a publication we’ve encountered before. Published by Scholastic from 1957 to 1985, Co-Ed targeted girls in home economics classes–both “career girls and homemakers,” as the cover states.

This 1959 Christmas issue includes an out-of-this-world mid-century gift guide; lots of holiday food, decorating, and fashion ideas; and fearless predictions about the brave new world of 1980. All this and Gay Head, too!

So park your bird-car, get comfortable in your underground burrow, cozy up to your atomic brain, and let’s dive in to Christmas 1959. We’ll start with a closer look at this magazine’s cover. Perhaps we can glean some subtle clues about its original owner.

Predictions

As we approach a new year, we all reflect on the past and wonder about the future. In 1959, Co-Ed asked both girls and boys to envision the far-away world of 1980. (They couldn’t just ask girls. They didn’t want all the predictions to focus on fashion, beauty, and child care.)

Answers ranged from the modest but accurate (women will increasingly wear slacks instead of skirts) to the more inventive ones here:

  • “The home will no longer be recognized as a place where children are supposed to grow up. Instead, all children will be raised in institutions as wards of the state.”
  • “There will be no United States, or Russia, or England, in 1980. Instead, everyone will live underground in ‘Moleland.’ All the governments on Earth will unite, and a single government will rule our underground world. There will be no wars on (or rather inside) Earth, because everyone will be busy defending themselves against attacks from outer space.”
  • Instead of just watching a movie “in 1980, we’ll be able to smell and feel what’s going on in the movie, too. Seats will have metal bars on each arm rest. The moviegoer will grip these bars with his hands and ‘feel’ what’s happening in the through a series of mild electric shocks. The smells will be released into the air from little casings on the film strips.”
  • “In 1980, people will have a different type of house for every season. They’ll just pick up the telephone and order a house like they now order a blouse or a shirt from a department store.”
  • “School will probably be taught by electrically controlled robots instead of by human teachers.”
  • “People will spend their vacations on the moon or one of the planets.”
  • “Cars will probably be shaped like birds, and will travel so fast that they’ll seem to be flying. Women will be able to hop on an airplane in the morning, spend the day shopping in Paris, and make the return trip in time to cook supper!”
  • “When a person wants to move to another city in 1980, he’ll probably just have to push a button and his entire house will fold up. He’ll then pack it in his helicopter, hop in, and he’ll be on his way!”
  • “I read somewhere that a person will live longer if he works for three or four years, then has a vacation for the next year. Perhaps this will be the common practice by 1980.”
  • “Encyclopedias and reference books will not be needed in 1980, because every family will have its own atomic brain. If Johnny wants to know where Egypt is, he’ll just ask the brain.”

Okay, if you replace 1980 with 2000, and atomic brain with Internet, that last one was actually pretty good. Way to go, Michael O’Connor from Oakland, California!

Co-Ed’s editors made some predictions, too, about “fabrics of the future.” They envision chemical fibers “which will shrink or grow on the wearer, so there will be no need for clothing alterations.” They also imagine clothing that adjusts to the surrounding temperature, keeping the wearer comfortable in any environment. By what date do they anticipate these innovations being available? 1970!

Other tidbits in this issue

  • Co-Ed builds international awareness by introducing readers to Maria from the Austrian Tyrol. Sample wisdom: “Austrians love to eat and Maria is no exception.”
  • Household hint: “Slip plastic bags over your hands when shaping popcorn balls.”
  • Potential career path: “Beginning registered nurses earn $3,400 to $3,600 a year…some jobs include all or some meals; others include room and all meals.”
  • Hairstyling hint: If your face is heart-shaped, “wear your hair medium to long. Wear it smooth at the temples, on top, and at the cheek bones. Choose fluff below or behind the ears, but avoid fluff at the temples.”

We close our look at this magazine with the work of our favorite teenage advice columnist, Gay Head.

gay head

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Christmas, Part 4

draft_lens18469959module153045519photo_1315346042ChildBedThis is the fourth part of my Christmas OTR playlist. I’ll be posting more episodes each Tuesday and Thursday until Christmas.

Read parts one, two, and three of my Christmas playlist.

Christmas Shopping”
Archie Andrews
, December 13, 1947

“How do I get into these things?”
Story: Pretty much every episode of this series could be summarized as “a misunderstanding that snowballs out of control.” This episode actually features several wild misunderstandings that collide at a Riverdale department store.
About Archie Andrews: This series was based on characters from Archie Comics. It obviously owes a lot to The Aldrich Family, too, though—Archie’s parents play a much bigger role in this series than they do in the comic books. Some characterizations differ from the comic books, too—this Jughead likes girls. This show is to The Aldrich Family, however, as a Disney channel sitcom is to a half-decent network family comedy. It must have succeeded with its intended audience; it ran in various forms and time slots from 1943 to 1953. The hyped-up kids in the studio audience certainly seemed to enjoy themselves.
Notable Performers: Bob Hastings, who plays Archie, went on to have a long career in television as a character actor and cartoon voice-over performer. He is the brother of Don Hastings, who played Dr. Bob Hughes on As the World Turns for half a century.
My Verdict
: I actually chuckled when I listened to this episode the first time, which is a rare experience for me with this series, or even with The Aldrich Family. My amusement stemmed from the way Veronica , and then the floorwalker, assessed Archie. Floorwalkers sure have a negative image in popular culture.

“The Cave”
Escape, December 24, 1950

“If I stepped out into that sunlight, I should never be able to find my way back again.”
Story: With a flashlight he received for Christmas, a young boy explores a cave and finds an enchanted world of pirates and fair maidens.
Notable Performers: John Dehner plays Dan, looking back on his experiences in the cave. Dehner was a gifted and prolific radio actor, whose work included starring roles in Have Gun, Will Travel and Frontier Gentleman and frequent appearances on Escape and Gunsmoke. He was also a ubiquitous character actor in television. Before I got into old-time radio, I knew him only from The Doris Day Show.
My Verdict: This episode has an appealing strangeness. I have a feeling that men might especially enjoy it—the fantasy world it conjures up feels distinctly masculine.

“Fibber Misplaces Christmas Money”

Fibber McGee and Molly, December 15, 1942
“And, furthermore, I’m the dumbest, short-sightedest, dim-wittedest, stumblebummedest, empty-headedest, feather-brainedest droop that ever didn’t know enough to come in out of a tornado.”
Story: The title sums it up.
Musical Notes: The King’s Men perform “White Christmas,” which wasn’t an old standard but a young hit in 1942. Bing Crosby’s recording first topped the Billboard charts in October and spent a total of 11 weeks in the top spot that year.
Interesting History: Rationing is a major theme, as it is in many wartime Fibber episodes. As John Dunning writes, “With the exception of The Bob Hope Show, Fibber McGee and Molly was the most patriotic show on the air.”
My Verdict: As someone with the “inattentive” form of ADHD, I feel for Fibber here, both in his forgetfulness and his self-recrimination. Wallace Wimple, who appears in this episode, is one of my favorite supporting characters.

“The Hanging Cross”

Have Gun, Will Travel, December 21, 1958
“Sentiments like peace, like goodwill, like love and brotherhood, they’re just words, unless you already know what they mean.”
Story: An unpleasant rancher reclaims his son from the Pawnee chief who has raised the boy as his own. Can Paladin help avert violence between the rancher’s party and the Pawnees?
About Have Gun, Will Travel: The most unusual thing about this series is that the radio version premiered after the television series became an established hit. The TV show ran from 1957 to 1963, while the radio show ran from 1958 to 1960.
Notable Performers: This show was a starring vehicle for John Dehner. (For more about him, see “The Cave,” above.)
My Verdict: Like the other CBS “adult Westerns,” Gunsmoke and Fort Laramie, this series often explored themes of tolerance. This story is involving, although the script does make Paladin a bit more preachy than one would expect a hired gunfighter to be.

“Christmas Present”

Tales of the Texas Rangers, December 24, 1950
“Merry Christmas, fellas. Merry Christmas…and God bless you.”
Story: A down-on-his-luck bystander almost takes the rap for bank robbery, until the Rangers clear his name and give his family a merry Christmas.
About Tales of the Texas Rangers: Running from 1950 to 1952, this was a police procedural series portraying the work of the legendary Texas investigative force.
Notable Performers: Film star Joel McCrea, best remembered for his work in Westerns, headlined this series.
My Verdict: This episode has a truly heartwarming ending.

Other old-time radio playlists you might enjoy:

Edgar Allan Poe, Part 1
Edgar Allan Poe, Part 2
Till Death Do Us Part (And That Might Be Sooner Than You Think)

Spin Again Sunday: Allan Sherman’s Camp Granada Game, 1965

I’d like to wish a happy Chanukah to everyone who is celebrating it. I’m part of an interfaith family; my husband gives me presents at Christmas, and I give him presents for Chanukah. Last night, he opened this vintage board game.

My husband’s a big fan of Allan Sherman’s song parodies, so as soon I learned that this game existed I knew I would get it for him someday. It’s based on Sherman’s biggest hit, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” and, like the song, it explores the perils of summer camp.

This Week’s Game: Allan Sherman’s Camp Granada Game, 1965, Milton Bradley.

The Box: Large and lime green, the box features cute cartoon illustrations and crayon-style lettering.

The Board: The board introduces you to all of Camp Granada’s “attractions,” from Cruddy Creek to Quicksand Beach to the Bawl Park.

Each player sets up a bunk house near the board.

The Object: “To be the first player to collect 3 icky animals and go home by driving the bus out the exit gate.”

Game Play: For once, I have someone to help me explain:

Players set up the game by placing an icky animal on each red space. You start the game with 3 icky animal cards. Bus cards direct you where to go on the board, and you collect whatever icky animal is waiting for you. You can only drive the bus home after you’ve collected the specific animals on your cards. You hide your cards and your animals in your bunk house, so other players don’t know what you’re looking for. In certain situations, players can steal each other’s animals. If the bus’ radiator falls out during a player’s turn, that turn is over.

Fatal Flaw: My daughter loved the sticky rubber animals in this game, and she couldn’t wait play. We had fun, but the bus is a huge pain—it’s almost impossible to keep the radiator from popping out every two seconds. The manufacturers knew this was a problem: The rules include “Special Advice from Allan Sherman” about keeping the wheels straight. The rules also allow for beginning players to have 2 or 3 “free” breakdowns in each turn.

My Thoughts: This is a clever game with lots of cute details. It’s too bad the bus doesn’t work well, but we found ways to work around the problem.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Barbie Miss Lively Livin’, 1970

Addams Family Card Game, 1965

Dr. Kildare Game, 1962

Family Affair Friday(ish): Episode 13, The Thursday Man, 12/12/1966

I apologize for the lateness of this week’s entry in my Family Affair series.

Episode 13, “The Thursday Man,” 12/12/1966

Written by: Edmund Hartmann (the show’s executive producer). Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Cissy’s attempt at a composition about Mr. French leads her to the conclusion that people are truly unknowable (rather a pessimistic thought for a TV teen).

At least Cissy's classmates find her composition interesting.Well, maybe that one in the front left does.

At least Cissy’s classmates find her composition interesting.
Well, maybe that one in the front left does.

Her teacher challenges her to find out more about Mr. French, and Cissy begins a great deal of snooping.

withers

All she gets from French’s frenemy Withers is a description of French as “opinionated, stubborn, aloof, difficult, and stiff-necked.” Oh, and apparently French becomes unhinged if you mention “Old Bertie.”

So what does Cissy do next? Confront Mr. French about Old Bertie, of course.

French's reaction is painful to behold. You'd think this might stop Cissy, but no...

French’s reaction is painful to behold. You’d think this might stop Cissy, but no…

She really crosses the line by pretending to check his credit references with an old lady he secretly visits every Thursday. When Cissy confesses her true identity, Mrs. Allenby tells her the sad truth: Mr. French was once in love with a girl who died in the London blitz.

And “Old Bertie,” a name that provokes a strong reaction in French? It’s a stuffed dog he won for his girl and the only trace of her he found after the blitz. Cissy vows to keep the secret and refrain from violating the privacy of others.

Old Bertie

Old Bertie

Commentary

It’s painful to watch Cissy nosing around in the life of someone who so clearly values privacy (and what kind of teacher would turn a student into a junior Kitty Kelly?).

The teacher in question. Between her and the teacher we'll meet next week, I'm wondering if public school was such a good idea.

The teacher in question. Between her and the teacher we’ll meet next week, I’m wondering if public school was such a good idea.

Sebastian Cabot does a wonderful job conveying hurt and indignation when Cissy confronts him with the name “Old Bertie.” Cissy really goes over the line by pumping Mrs. Allenby for information, but watching her realize that she really would rather not have known the sad truth is gratifying.

Cissy and Mrs. Allenby.

Cissy and Mrs. Allenby

It’s wonderful to get some back-story on Mr. French, and a scene between him and Old Bertie and Buffy and Mrs. Beasley is sweet.

Guest Cast

Mrs. Allenby: Kathryn Givney. Freddy: Eugene Martin. Withers: Richard Peel. Mrs. Mariani: Lillian Adams. Miss Elliot: Ila Britton. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel.

Fun Facts

Mr. French was born in the West End of London. His father and grandfather were both butlers. He has worked for Uncle Bill for nine years–they met when Uncle Bill was working on a project in London. Mr. French’s first name is Giles, and his day off is Thursday.

Notable Quotes

Cissy: “It kind of scares me…I mean, trying to get personal with Mr. French.”

Cissy: “Maybe men aren’t as inquisitive as women.” Uncle Bill: “Maybe we respect each other’s privacy, too.”

Today’s Bonus Feature

An article about Sebastian Cabot from Photoplay, October 1967.

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Christmas, Part 3

draft_lens18469959module153045563photo_1315359699JollyI’ve been sick the past two days, which has put me behind on my blogging schedule. This is the third part of my Christmas OTR playlist.

This week, Family Affair Friday will appear on Saturday.

Read part one and part two of my Christmas playlist.

“First Song—Let it Snow”

Dinah Shore Chevrolet Show, December 22, 1954

“First Song—Sleigh Ride”

Dinah Shore Chevrolet Show, December 24, 1954

“Even though the snow may be artificial out here in Hollywood, the sentiment isn’t at all.”

About the Dinah Shore Chevrolet Show: Popular singer Dinah Shore was a fixture on radio throughout the 1940s; according to the Digital Deli Too, she headlined six different shows. The television era brought her even greater fame. The Dinah Shore Show, sponsored by Chevrolet, premiered in 1951 as a 15-minute, twice-a-week program and became an instant hit. From 1953 to 1955, the Dinah Shore Chevrolet Show also aired on radio.
Musical Notes: Songs on the first show include “Let it Snow,” a Rodgers and Hammerstein song called “Happy Christmas, Little Friend,” and the pop standard “Teach Me Tonight.” The second show is all Christmas—besides “Sleigh Ride,” it includes “Silver Bells” and a medley of religious Christmas carols. (I wonder if Shore, who was Jewish, felt strange singing those.
My Verdict: I like the 15-minute length of these—it allows for several songs but limits the cheesy variety show comedy banter.

“’Twas the Night Before Christmas”

The Great Gildersleeve, December 24, 1944

“The only excuse for the kind of suffering that’s going on, all over the world, is if we can make sure it never happens again…Let’s sing the way we used to when we were at home together, and let’s hope that before so very long, all the peoples of the world will be able to join in with us.”
About The Great Gildersleeve: This show, built around a character first heard on Fibber McGee and Molly, was the first successful spinoff. It ran from 1941 to 1957.
Story: December 23rd finds Gildy blue. He’s expecting to be the subject of a breach of promise suit, and he thinks his frenemy Judge Hooker will be handling the case against him. When the judge tells him there’s no case, Gildy is finally ready to celebrate Christmas with family, friends, and his two favorite flames.
Musical Notes: The cast sings “Joy to the World,” then Harold Peary breaks, um, whatever you would call the fourth wall in radio, and invites the studio and radio audience to join in.
My Verdict: Maybe my sinus infection is making me sappy, but I got teary listening to the closing speech and song.

“Christmas Shopping for Perfume and a Necktie,” December 17, 1939

The Jack Benny Program

“You walked in, Sugarfoot. Nobody dragged you.”

Story: usual in the Jell-o era, things ramble a bit before Jack and Mary head out to do Jack’s Christmas shopping.
Celebrity Name Droppings: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
Jell-o Hell No Suggestion of the Week: Lemon Jell-o with stewed figs and whipped cream.
My Verdict: I think most fans prefer the more polished Lucky Strike shows, but I love the freewheeling Jell-o era. The shopping trip has some fun supporting characters, and jokes about Mary’s history with the May Company are always welcome.

“Christmas for Carole”

Suspense, December 21, 1950

“You asked for this, kid. Now do as you’re told.”

Story: A bank teller’s pregnant wife is having complications and needs full-time nursing care. Unable to afford it, the teller decides to take a one- time trip into the criminal world.
Notable Performers: Singer Dennis Day, best known as a member of the Jack Benny cast, gives a good dramatic performance. Suspense often enabled actors to stretch their range in this way.
Musical Notes: You don’t think you’ll get through this without Day singing do you? He performs “The First Noel.”
My Verdict: The story keeps you guessing, and although everything works out a little too neatly in the end, you can forgive such things at Christmas.