Family Affair Friday: Season 2, Episode 17, “A Man’s Place,” 1/8/1968

Written by: John McGreevey. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Synopsis

As our episode opens, French is shopping with the twins at one of those little markets they frequent.

No wonder they like this market--it's Family Affair green. But what's up with all those weird decanters along the wall.

No wonder they like this market–it’s Family Affair green!

A moment later, French’s life changes when he locks eyes with a stranger as they reach for the same casaba melon. Actually, it’s not a total stranger.

It's Ann Sothern!

It’s Ann Sothern!

In the Davis universe, it’s Florence Cahill, whose late husband owned French’s favorite tobacco shop. She and French hit it off, and soon he and the kids are walking her home. She mentions that she’s recently set aside her widow’s weeds and then comes right out and asks French to “share her melon.”

French, surprisingly unfazed by this forward behavior, agrees to return later for dinner.

French, surprisingly unfazed by this forward behavior, agrees to return later for a lunch date.

In response to the twins’ curiosity about Mrs. Cahill, French reminds them that he does not discuss “matters of personal concern.”

Later, he joins Florence in her apartment. Geez, green overload.

Later, he joins Florence in her apartment. Geez, green overload.

Seemingly puzzled about the nature of French’s profession, Florence probes him for details. He says he began training for the role of gentleman’s gentleman at 16 and entered service at 22.

Though you can't really tell in these screen captures, Ann Sothern gets the same soft-focus closeups Louise Latham got in the last episode. One wonders why--Sothern looks great for her age in the longer shots.

Though you can’t really tell in these screen captures, Ann Sothern gets the same soft-focus closeups Louise Latham got in the last episode. One wonders why–Sothern looks great for her age in the longer shots.

As their lunch concludes, French invites Florence to go out to dinner with him on his next night off.

On the night of their date, he gives her a tour of the Davis apartment.

On the night of their date, he gives her a tour of the Davis apartment.

Florence wonders aloud whether French wouldn’t rather have a place of his own. He notes that living with an employer is simply part of his profession.

Suddenly, things get all kinds of awkward when Bill returns to the apartment unexpectedly with his date. (If you’re wondering where the kids are on this particular evening–well, so am I.)

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French hustles off Florence off to the kitchen as though he’s a teenager who’s been caught with a girl in his room.

He even tries to keep Bill out of the kitchen and unaware of Florence’s presence.

Of course, when Bill and Florence do meet, Bill handles the encounter gracefully. I'm not sure what French was expecting.

Of course, when Bill and Florence do meet, Bill handles the encounter gracefully. I’m not sure what French was expecting.

The next day, at the market, French is still apologizing to Florence for his “distressing predicament.”

He admits to feeling like he has no place to call his own but says his current career is the only one for which he's qualified.

He admits to feeling like he has no place to call his own but says his current career is the only one for which he’s qualified.

Florence disagrees. She thinks he would do a wonderful job running a restaurant. In fact, she’s willing to invest her savings to help him get started.

Soon, French is offering his resignation to Bill, whose head-rubbing betrays the disappointment he feels.

Soon, French is offering his resignation to Bill, whose head-rubbing betrays the disappointment he feels.

The kids are also sad, of course. Cissy actually urges Bill to order French to stay. Apparently, her education skipped over the war about hundred years earlier that made such arrangements illegal.

"When you love someone, you want them to be happy," Bill reminds them.

“When you love someone, you want them to be happy,” Bill reminds the kids.

Meanwhile, French starts interviewing his potential replacements.

This guy has 14 nieces and nephews and enjoys paling around with them on trips to Battersea Park and Brighton.

This guy has 14 nieces and nephews and enjoys palling around with them on jaunts to Battersea Park and Brighton.

French isn’t impressed.

This guys believes most adults are "too little concerned with discipline" when it comes to children.

This guys believes most adults are “too little concerned with discipline” when it comes to children.

He’s much more to French’s liking and gets the nod.

Soon, French says a sad goodbye to the children.

Soon, French says a sad goodbye to the children.

When they see him again, it’s at his restaurant, Our Mr. French, which is off to a thriving start.

    Florence says French has worked like "a bearded hurricane" to get things up and running.

Florence says French has worked like “a bearded hurricane” to get things up and running. (Aww…little white gloves on Buffy. Cute.)

Cissy praises the restaurant’s decor, indicating either that she has impeccable manners or that she’s just surprised paint colors besides green exist.

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Jody thinks French looks “real happy” with the restaurant, but Bill doesn’t seem so sure.

Indeed, the next day, when French comes upon the children in the park, he takes exception to the way Mr. Smyser is overseeing them.

According to the twins, Smyser's maxims include "Avoid excess in all things" and "Well brought up children know their place."

According to the twins, Smyser’s maxims include “Avoid excess in all things” and “Well brought up children know their place.”

Smyser himself tells French that children are shaping up well–although “the adolescent” is proving more resistant to his methods.

Returning to the restaurant, French vents to Florence about the "tuppeny tyrant" who took his place.

Returning to the restaurant, French vents to Florence about the “tuppenny tyrant” who took his place.

Realizing that his reaction is a bit out of proportion, Florence wonders whether any replacement would please him.

"You have to go where your heart is," she tells him, noting that he can still help with menu planning and ordering for a few weeks.

“You have to go where your heart is,” she tells him, noting that he can still help with menu planning and ordering for a few weeks.

She’s enjoying the restaurant business and will try to keep the place afloat. (That may prove difficult, since a positive newspaper review mentioned the presence of “the incomparable Mr. French” as a major selling point. Oh, well–it’s not like she invested her whole life savings in it or something.)

In parting, French gets two cheek-kisses from her–that’s a lot of action by his standards.

Soon the delighted kids are celebrating French's return by demanding that he prepare their favorite foods.

Soon the delighted kids are celebrating French’s return by demanding that he prepare their favorite foods.

French, in turn, is showing his love for them by pointing out their hygienic flaws.

All’s well that ends well.

Commentary

This episode reveals the difficult social position French occupies as an adult with no real home of his own. I like the Ann Sothern character, who could have been played as a villainess trying to steal French away. She’s actually a nice lady who has his best interests at heart. You can’t even hate Smyser too much. French did choose him for his hard-line stance on child-rearing.

If this were real life, I’d worry about the dependence French has on his employer’s family and how it impedes his personal and professional growth. In 1960s TV, though, you’ll find many people willing to live asexual lives of perpetual servitude to make middle-class families happy.

Guest Cast

Florence Cahill: Ann Sothern. Mr. Smyser: Laurie Main. Mr. Tyburn: Leslie Randall. Miss Martin: Kaye Elhardt. Clerk: Ralph Manza.

Sothern appeared in B movies throughout the 1930s and starred for ten years in the Maisie series of films. Some of her more important films include Cry Havoc, Words and Music, and A Letter to Three Wives (she also had a part in a TV remake of the latter). For eight years she starred in two TV series, Private Secretary and The Ann Sothern Show, and received four Emmy nominations. She was also the voice of the title character in the series My Mother, The Car. With her last film role, in 1987’s The Whales of August, Sothern captured an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Leslie Randall, whose brief scene was a comic highlight of this episode, starred with his wife in a popular British sitcom called Joan and Leslie. He would return once more as Mr. Tyburn on Family Affair. And he’s still alive–something I’m always happy to report about any Family Affair guest star.

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Like Sebastian Cabot, Laurie Main narrated several Winnie the Pooh vehicles. He also served as the “story reader” on Disney read-along recordings. He died last year.

I always admire the tenacity of a bit player like Ralph Manza. From Perry Mason in the 1950s, through 1960s westerns, through Barney Miller and CHiPs in the 1970s, Newhart and The Golden Girls in the 1980s, and Seinfeld and Home Improvement in the 1990s, he kept right on working.He died in 2000.

Fun Facts

Our Mr. French was located on E. 54th Street. Jody has trouble tying his shoelaces. Buffy’s non-stop skipping record is 139.

Continuity Notes

Jody’s turtle gets yet another mention.

Burning Question

What are “sloppy Samuels”–the food that Buffy wants French to prepare for his homecoming celebration? Are they anything like sloppy Joes? And why would French deign to make anything that’s “sloppy?”

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Spin Again Monday: The S.W.A.T. Game (1976)

For this week’s game, we return to the more innocent 1970s, when kids had no access to violent video games–just violent board games like this.

Today’s Game: The S.W.A.T. Game

Copyright Date: 1976

Manufactured By: Milton Bradley

Based Upon: The TV show S.W.A.T., which revolved around a police “special weapons and tactics” unit. Although its run barely exceeded a year*, the show spawned a number one hit song and a 2003 movie.

swat box

Game Box: The box features scenes from the TV show. Oddly, though, the box doesn’t mention that the game is based on a show. Maybe Milton Bradley hoped the game would have a shelf life that transcended the program’s run. Gun Count: 6.

swat board

Game Board: The board includes more photos from the show, plus a colorful logo and some cartoony urban settings, including a diner, a construction site, and a park. Gun count: 8.

A closer look at part of the board

A closer look at part of the board

Object: Be the first S.W.A.T. team to capture the culprit.

Game Pieces: Each player gets a truck and two matching cardboard pawns. The pawns can ride in the truck–sweet.

A yellow police car doesn't seem too authoritative.

A yellow police car doesn’t seem too authoritative.

The pawns feature sketchy line drawings of S.W.A.T. team members. Gun Count: At least two per pawn.

An all-plastic pawn is supposed to be the culprit, but my game doesn’t seem to include one. The previous owner did include some other random pawns in the box, including some castle-shaped plastic pieces that bear drawings of beefeater types.

I guess this guy could be the culprit, but he looks rather trustworthy.

I guess this guy could be the culprit, but he looks quite trustworthy.

Game Play: A spin of the wheel determines which numbered space the culprit will occupy. Each player rolls two dice–marked with the numerals 1, 2, and 3–and directs his truck around the track. Certain spaces provide entry to the board’s middle footpaths. When he lands on one of these spaces, a player can remove his team members from the truck. On his next turn, he rolls both dice and moves each of his team members by the count of one die. He captures the culprit by landing both his pawns on the red dot near the culprit’s hideout. To complicate things, the culprit changes hideouts after each game round.

Recommended Ages: 8 to 14.

Bonus Feature: Here’s the S.W.A.T. opening sequence with its memorable music. (The theme topped the Billboard Hot 100 on February 28, 1976). Gun Count: Enormous.

*Apparently, the show faced criticism for its violent content. Go figure.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Charlie’s Angels

Planet of the Apes

Dragnet

Family Affair Friday: Season 2, Episode 16, “Family Reunion,” 1/1/1968

Since yesterday was Ray Bradbury’s birthday, I will introduce this week’s Family Affair episode thusly:

Something wicked this way comes.

Something wicked this way comes.

(You might want to review Aunt Fran’s history from the Pilot and Episode 1.22 before reading further.)

Written by: Ed James. Directed by: Charles Barton.

We begin with mail call at the Davis apartment. Even Buffy and Jody receive mail.

French gives them anything marked "Resident" or "Occupant."

French gives them anything marked “Resident” or “Occupant.”

Cissy reacts with alarm to a letter she receives.

It's from Aunt Fran! A faint whiff of sulfur coming from the envelope was probably the first hint.

It’s from Aunt Fran! A faint whiff of sulfur coming from the envelope was probably the first hint.

Fran has written that she’s looking forward to seeing the children again. (“Mwah-hah-hah” is implied at the end of the sentence). The kids are relieved when Uncle BIll explains that Fran is talking about a visit, not a permanent move. It seems she’s hosting a family reunion at her home in Terre Haute and wants Bill and the kids to attend. Bill had already decide to decline because he fears the trip will stir up traumatic memories for everyone.

The kids soon convince him that they want to see the old hometown, catch up with school friends, and re-visit landmarks like "the biggest slide in the whole world."

The kids soon convince him that they want to see the old hometown, catch up with school friends, and re-visit landmarks like “the biggest slide in the whole world.”

One can travel by air from New York to Terre Haute in about two hours–or five establishing shots.

Here's the plane.

We go from the plane…

...to bustling Terre Haute international...

…to bustling Terre Haute international…

...to this sign, whose appearance must have thrilled the Chamber of Commerce...

…to this sign, whose appearance must have pleased the Chamber of Commerce…

...to glamorous downtown Terre Haute...

…to glamorous downtown Terre Haute…

...to the suburbs...

…to the suburbs…

…before arriving at Aunt Fran’s rather grand house.

Buffy points out that this is a new house--not the one where she lived with Aunt Fran and spent her time getting locked in the closet by Uncle Harold.

Buffy points out that this is a new house–not the one where she lived with Aunt Fran.

The kids seem happy to see their aunt. The presence of Family Affair green in her house probably has a calming effect on them.

The kids seem happy to see their aunt. (The presence of Family Affair green in her house probably has a calming effect on them.)

Since it’s almost time for school to let out, Cissy heads off to the high school to surprise old friends, while the twins convince French to take them to their old kindergarten classroom.

Yes, Bill brought his man-servant along on this trip. His luggage isn't going to unpack itself, you know.

Yes, Bill brought his man-servant along on the trip. His luggage isn’t going to unpack itself, you know.

That leaves Bill alone with Aunt Fran, who promptly confesses that she’s sorry to see the kids looking so well-adjusted. Yep, that’s our Aunt Fran. It seems she has hopes of stealing them away. How has she progressed from ditching Buffy, to wanting the girls, to wanting all three kids? Beats me.

Uncle Bill looks uncomfortable, as anyone would in the presence of madness.

Uncle Bill just stands there looking uncomfortable.

When the kids return, they are bursting with excitement about their school visits. Cissy is anxious to get reacquainted with a boy named Harvey who has blossomed into a star athlete. Buffy and Jody saw their old kindergarten teacher, who gave them cookies.

(We get a good French-ism here: “I find it a matter of note that, in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal.”)

Out of the kids’ presence, Fran corners Bill and makes him promise that he will watch the kids over the next few days and consider whether they would be happier in Terre Haute.

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The director seems to use some kind of soft-focus filter on Louise Latham’s close-ups, which are noticeably “blurrier” than any other shots.

The next day, Cissy heads off with Harvey to explore her old stomping grounds.

She acts surprised every time she remembers something, as if it is a feat for teenager to remember a place where she lived less than two years before.

She acts surprised every time she remembers something, as if it is a feat for teenager to remember a place where she lived less than two years before.

Harvey remarks on how she has changed since leaving Indiana–she’s now a sophisticated New York woman. He asks her to join him for the junior dance, but it’s more than two weeks away. Cissy says she can’t stay that long, and she doubts Uncle Bill will let her fly back alone for the dance.

He wants her to join him for the junior prom, but it's more than two weeks away.

Wearing his default expression of puzzlement, Harvey observes that Bill must be strict.

No, Cissy replies. He just cares about her and the twins.

Cut to the twins themselves, who are showing French their old playground and that huge slide they remembered.

Sometimes our memories play tricks on us.

“If you leave a slide out in the rain, can it shrink?” Jody asks, leaving French to explain that the slide just seems smaller since the twins have grown.

Back at home, the ever-gracious Uncle Harold is grumbling about grocery prices.

VTS_01_5.VOB_000626292

He says he can remember when he couldn’t carry all the bread that thirty cents could buy. Sure doesn’t sound like a guy who’d want to add three extra mouths to his household.

Cissy asks Bill about flying back for the dance. He says no, as she expected. Aunt Fran knows an opportunity when she sees one, though.

She suggests that all the kids stay with her until the dance.

She suggests that all the kids stay with her until the dance.

The kids can attend their old schools, she says, and French and Uncle Bill can have a break.

Uh-oh. You'd think by now Bill would know how that kind of talk affects the kids. He agrees to consider the plan, though.

Uh-oh. You’d think by now Bill would know how that kind of talk affects the kids. He agrees to consider the plan, though.

That night, fear of abandonment keeps all the kids up and drives Jody into the girls’ bed. The next morning, at the breakfast table, a breakthrough occurs: The kids tell Bill their worries, and he assuages them. (This is so much better than another round of misunderstandings about whether Bill wants to keep them and whether they want to stay with him.)

Random breakfast observations: Fran looks even creepier in an apron. Also, Bill is wearing the same shirt he wore the day before.

Random breakfast observations: Fran looks even creepier when she wears an apron. Also, Bill is wearing the same shirt he wore the day before.

Bill tells Fran that he and the kids will be leaving on Sunday after the family reunion. As it turns out, even that isn’t soon enough, as bad memories begin to plague the kids.

Harvey and Cissy visit a local lake and she remarks on its beauty.

Harvey scrunches up his face in confusion once again and wonders what's so beautiful about it.

Harvey scrunches up his face in confusion once again and wonders what’s so beautiful about it.

Cissy grows wistful as she remembers picnics at the lake with her parents in the years before Buffy and Jody were born.

Kathy Garver does a good job expressing genuine emotion in this scene.

Kathy Garver does a good job expressing genuine emotion in this scene.

Meanwhile, French is taking the kids for a walk down memory lane. (You’d think Uncle Bill, who anticipated that the kids might find their visit to Terre Haute traumatic, would spend time with them himself. Hell, you’d think he’d do it just to avoid being alone with Fran.)

First they stop outside a drug store and remember going there for ice cream with their parents.

First they stop outside a drug store and remember going there for ice cream with their parents.

Then they stop outside the very toy store where Buffy got Mrs. Beasley. (As French jokes, it should be marked with a plaque.) She remembers walking down the street with her mother, who spied the doll and thought it was the cutest thing she’d ever seen. She took Buffy into the store and bought her the doll on the spot.

"It was the last thing..." Buffy says. "The very last thing..."

“It was the last thing…” Buffy says. “The very last thing…”

Outside the barber shop, Jody remembers getting his hair cut side-by-side with his dad, who would joke that Jody might need a shave in a few weeks.

More acting props: Sebastian Cabot reactions to the kids are perfect here--tender, but maintaining French's normal restraint.

More acting props: Sebastian Cabot’s reactions to the kids are perfect here–tender, while maintaining French’s characteristic restraint.

The twins decide they’ve seen enough of Terre Haute and ask French to take them back to the house.

Later, the kids beg Bill to take them home right away, and he agrees.

Later, the kids beg Bill to take them home right away, and he agrees.

Sadly, we don’t get to see Aunt Fran’s reaction to their departure. Or that of Head-Wrinkle Harvey.

Back at home, the twins are happy that their respective pets are still alive.

Back at home, the twins are happy that their respective pets are still alive.

And Bill, relieved that the whole ordeal is over, is eager for the drink that French promises to fix him.

Commentary

This episode exudes the underlying sadness that makes Family Affair so unusual. Many shows of that era featured kids who had lost a parent and then promptly forgotten that parent ever existed. I love the fact that Family Affair revisited the kids’ grief every so often. The twins’ walk with French is especially moving and well scripted, with a realistic amount of detail surrounding each memory.

Guest Cast

Fran Higer: Louise Latham. Harold Higer: Bill Zuckert. Harvey: Jim Henaghan.

Sadly, this was Latham’s last appearance as the aunt we love to hate. They should have brought her back once a year. By season five, she could have escalated to building a bunker prison for the kids in her basement.

Fun Facts

The kids’ mother had a beautiful singing voice. Buffy has a goldfish.

Continuity Notes

The entire episode refers back to the show’s origin. Also, Jody’s turtle gets another shout-out–Scotty fed it while the family was out of town.

Notable Quotes

“When you come back, you remember all the little things you thought you’d forgotten, but you haven’t…you really haven’t.”–Cissy

 A Pronunciation Digression: Terre What?

Terre Haute is pronounced Terre Hote–except on Family Affair. In early episodes, most of the actors pronounce it correctly, but Brian Keith calls it Terre Hut. By the episode, everyone was using that pronunciation. In his memoir, Family Affair Production Supervisor John G. Stephens relates a conversation he had with Brian Keith about this issue:

During the filming, Brian keeps pronouncing the town’s name “Terre Hut.” We try to get him to pronounce the name correctly. He’ll have nothing to do with that. “I’ll call it Terre Hut whether you like it or not.”

After the show airs, we receive a number of letters from Terre Haute, complaining about Brian’s pronunciation. We show him the letters, and he just says, “What the fuck do they know?”

“They live there!”

“Ah, screw ’em.”

 

 

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Vacation Time, Part 1

Summer is drawing to a close, and schools are up and running in many areas. If it’s too late for you to take a vacation, you can at least enjoy virtual travel through the magic of old-time radio.

Kew_Beach_Toronto_1934Papa Wants a Vacation”
Mama Bloom’s Brood
, Unknown Date, 1934


“All work and no play makes Jake a dull boy.”
About Mama Bloom’s Brood: This pleasant 15-minute comedy serial focuses on a Jewish family with two grown daughters.
Story: Papa doesn’t want a vacation, until Mama works on him.
Destination: Yellowstone National Park.
Wish you were there? Sure, if you can tolerate Mama’s malapropisms.

“Beach House”
Baby Snooks, May 19, 1938


“A daybed’s a sofa that’s made up at night as a bed, and during the day it’s a couch, which nobody sleeps on, so a daybed is really a night bed except it’s not a bed at all.”
About Baby Snooks: Throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s, Fanny Brice played her famous Snooks character in variety show sketches like this one.
Story: Snooks wreaks havoc on the family’s vacation home.
Destination: The seashore, to Daddy’s chagrin.
Wish you were there? With Snooks? No way! She does $400 in damage at the vacation rental. That’s more than $6,000 in today’s money!

“Vacation from a Vacation”
Vic and Sade, August 15, 1944


“It’s the hot weather, as much as anything.”
Story: Uncle Fletcher is driving Sade crazy on his “vacation” at her home.
Destination: Three blocks away.
Wish You Were There? Maybe—but you’d probably need a vacation from Uncle Fletcher before long.

“Going to Grass Lake”
The Great Gildersleeve, September 2, 1945


“Why, I could be busy every minute if I wanted to…I just don’t want to.”
Story: The kids try to talk a reluctant Gildy into a weekend at the lake.
Historical Footnotes: The references to the war’s end and reconversion to a peacetime economy are interesting.
Destination: Grass Lake, obviously.
Wish You Were There?
Only if you have a burning desire to share Judge Hooker’s bed in a honeymoon cottage.

“Morgan Vacation Travel Bureau”
Henry Morgan, May 28, 1947


“Their slogan is, “Fellows are rarin’ to go on lovely Lake Schmoe.”
Story: In a series of sketches, the travel bureau one is the highlight.
About Henry Morgan: Morgan was edgy and irreverent by the standards of his time, and he drove sponsors crazy by making fun of their products.
Destination
: Lovely Camp Schmoe.
Wish You Were There? Sure–you get a great “cherce” of activities. I’d avoid the snake hunt, though.
Bonus Feature: In their tone, Morgan’s shows have always reminded me of early David Letterman, so I was excited to find this 1982 clip of Letterman interviewing Morgan.

Other Old-Time Radio playlists you might enjoy:

Halloween, Part 1

Halloween, Part 2

London Calling, Part 1

Spin Again Sunday: New Adventures of Gilligan Game (1974)

gilligan box

Today’s Game: The New Adventures of Gilligan Game

Manufactured by: Milton Bradley

Copyright Date: 1974

Game Box: Eye-catching in lime green, with all the characters represented in cartoon form. I don’t know what made cartoon Ginger’s hair go white, but I imagine life with Gilligan includes many shocking experiences.

gilligan boardGame Board: Milton Bradley called this a “set-up and play” game. It doesn’t have a board, per se; a cardboard box insert serves that function. Some of the island’s topographical features fit into the insert, giving the game a 3-D look. This adds a bit of visual interest to what is a very basic game.

Recommended Ages: The box says 6 to 12, but I can’t imagine any over 8 enjoying this—or the cartoon, for that matter.

Object: Be first back to the hut.

Game Pieces: Standard plastic pawns.

gilligan board closeupGame Play: You just move your pawn around the “island,” according to your roll of the die. If you roll a six or land on a red space, you take a yellow card and follow its rhyming instructions—for example, “My-o My-o Me/You Can Go Ahead 3.”

Background: This game was not based upon the classic 1960s sitcom but upon the less-than-classic 1970s Filmation cartoon. This cartoon’s only real virtue was that it featured voices from five of the original sitcom cast members.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Planet of the Apes Game

The Muppet Show Game

H.R. Pufnstuf Game

Family Affair Friday: Season 2, Episode 15, “Best of Breed,” 12/25/1967

Can you believe that networks used to air new episodes on Christmas night? This one isn’t even holiday-themed, although it does score high on the heart-warming scale.

Written by: Ed James. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Synopsis

Coming home from school, Buffy and Jody realize they have a stalker.

This little guy has followed them home.

This little guy has followed them home.

The twins want to take him inside, of course, but the building has a no-dogs rule.

Jody comes up with a quick solution to that problem--the rule won't apply if no one sees him going in.

Jody comes up with a quick solution to that problem–the rule won’t apply if no one sees him going in.

Buffy knows that even if they make it their apartment with the dog, they’ll still face a formidable obstacle–Mr. French.

The dog is dirty, and Mr. French doesn't like dirt.

The dog is dirty, and Mr. French doesn’t like dirt.

Undeterred, Jody wraps the dog in his jacket.

Scotty's distracted, so the kids manage to get the dog past him.

Scotty’s distracted, so the kids manage to get their bundle past him.

Upstairs, they sneak past French and head straight for the luxurious Davis bathtub. After the dog’s bath, Buffy observes, he will smell good and everyone will like him better.

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Jody: “Better than what?”
Buffy: “Better than if he didn’t smell good.”

Unfortunately, the dog escapes from tub before his bath is over. He heads straight for the living room and a close encounter of the French kind.

French accepts the dog's presence with the equanimity we've come to expect from him.

French accepts the dog’s presence with the equanimity we’ve come to expect from him.

“You will capture it and evict it post-haste,” he orders. Meanwhile the dog–which the kids have given the very creative name “Puppy”–is holed up in a cupboard.

Aww. I'm more of a cat person, but he is a cute little guy.

Aww. I’m more of a cat person, but he is a cute little guy.

Uncle Bill arrives on the scene, and the twins lobby to keep the dog.

Bill says his lease forbids dogs, so Puppy has to go.

Bill says his lease forbids dogs, so Puppy has to go.

When the kids point out that an upstairs neighbor has a French poodle, Mr. French explains that dog is a champion with an impeccable pedigree. As a good, red-blooded American, Bill objects to dog snobbery, but he doesn’t feel he can challenge apartment policy.

French is tasked with removing the dog, and his body language in this scene is an episode highlight.

French is tasked with removing the dog, and his body language in this scene is an episode highlight.

Puppy gets the last laugh, though.

He follows French back into the building, the elevator, and apartment.

He sneaks back into the building, the elevator, and apartment under the nose of an implausibly oblivious French.

Meanwhile, in a threadbare subplot, Cissy is dealing with snobbery, too. A high school social club, the Marvels, has selected her for membership. They won’t accept her underprivileged friend Ingrid, though.

Ingrid's mother--gasp!--takes in laundry. That explains why Ingrid looks so ashamed.

Ingrid’s mother–gasp!–takes in laundry.

Cissy complains to Uncle Bill about the Marvels. As a social club, he says, they have a right to accept or reject people as they please. He admires Cissy’s conviction, however.

Perhaps that's why his attitude toward Puppy softens when he realizes the dog has returned.

Perhaps that’s why his attitude toward Puppy softens when he realizes the dog has returned.

He agrees to approach the apartment manager about keeping the dog and to let the kids entertain Puppy in the meantime.

Taking their friend for a walk, the kids meet up with the building's French poodle.

Taking their friend for a walk, the kids meet up with the building’s French poodle.

The snooty kid walking the poodle says his name is Monsieur Cherbourg and he has earned 12 blue ribbons. He also responds to French commands.

The kids still don’t understand why Monsieur Cherbourg has a higher status than Puppy. French decides that taking them to a dog show will enlighten them on the importance of good breeding.

What follows is a tedious display of dog show stock footage.

What follows is a tedious montage of dog show stock footage.

The kids aren’t impressed, but the experience does inspire them to teach Puppy a few tricks.

Their approach is to demonstrate sitting and lying down for Puppy.

Their approach is to demonstrate sitting and lying down for Puppy.

They have limited success, but it doesn’t really matter. They return home only to learn from Uncle Bill that the apartment manager has vetoed Puppy as a tenant.

Bill promises to find a good home for Puppy.

Bill promises to find a good home for Puppy.

Once again, though, Cissy’s example gives him a change of heart.

She has invited several friends home--all Marvels rejects. They've decided to start their own club.

She has invited several friends home–all Marvels rejects. They’ve decided to start their own club.

Bill gets his secretary on the phone and tells her to make arrangements for him to host a dog show in the park. (I’ll bet that assignment made her day.) This dog show will welcome non-pedigreed pups, and real kennel club judges will preside.

All these dogs and kids must have made for a fun day for Anissa Jones and Johnnie Whitaker--and a long day for director Charles Barton.

Director Charles Barton must have loved dealing with all these dogs and kids on the set.

At the show, Bill tells French that he’s hoping Puppy will win a prize, which will give Bill more leverage with the apartment manager. French is surprised that Bill didn’t fix the contest outright.

Puppy succeeds on his own merits, though, winning Best of Breed in the Schnauzer/Poodle/Pekinese/Chihuahua categories and the overall championship.

Puppy succeeds on his own merits, though, winning Best of Breed in the Schnauzer/Poodle/Pekinese/Chihuahua categories and the overall championship.

French wonders why Puppy won in three categories (four, actually), then laughs when he realizes that Puppy is “a little bit of each.”

Returning to the apartment building, the kids inform Snooty Poodle Girl that Puppy is a champion.

Her mind is completely blown.

Her mind is completely blown.

Next, the family confronts the apartment manager. When he tries to differentiate between Puppy’s champion status and the poodle’s, Bill dares him to explain the difference to the kids.

Showing the weak will that plague his marriage to Harriet Oleson, the apartment manager caves.

Showing the weak will that plague his marriage to Harriet Oleson, the apartment manager caves.

(He’ll soon have his hands full dealing with other tenants’ ersatz pet show winners, I suspect.)

Buffy and Jody are thrilled that they get to keep Puppy.

The episode ends by driving home the point that all dogs are the same under the fur.

VTS_01_4.VOB_000970653

Together, Puppy and Monsieur Cherbourd bark at a cat they spy through the lobby windows.

Commentary

This episode isn’t deep, but it has plenty of cuteness going on. The disturbing thing is that we will never see Puppy again. Best case scenario: He went to live in Connecticut with Rosie the horse. Worse case scenario: He took a Mrs.-Beasley-style swan dive off the terrace.

Continuity Notes

We get a Scotty sighting and a Miss Lee mention.

Guest Cast

Lewis: Richard Bull. Girl: Kym Karath. Mrs. Hobson: Gerry Lock. Scotty: Karl Lukas. Judge: Larry Thor. Ingrid: Terry Burnham.

Bull is best known for playing the beleaguered Nels Oleson on Little House on the Prairie.

Karath makes her second of three Family Affair appearances.

Lock kept acting at least through the early 2000s, mostly in parts like “Old Woman” and “Little Old Lady.”

This Week’s Bonus Feature

This week, I’m presenting another Family Affair collectible–a lunchbox from 1969, manufactured by King Seeley Thermos.

The front of the lunchbox features a birthday party scene. The party, with balloons, cake, and presents, is for Mrs. Beasley. That's not weird at all.

The front of the lunchbox features a birthday party scene. The party–with balloons, cake, and presents–is for Mrs. Beasley. That’s not weird at all.

The thermos displays the same scene.

The thermos displays the same scene.

The reverse side of the lunchbox shows Buffy and Jody playing in the park.

The reverse side of the lunchbox shows Buffy and Jody playing in the park. The picnickers in the background are probably Cissy and Uncle Bill, although the male figure isn’t remotely recognizable.

One side of the box shows Buffy, Mrs. Beasley, and Uncle Bill.

One side of the box shows Buffy, Mrs. Beasley, and Uncle Bill.

The bottom shows Buffy and Jody.

The bottom shows Buffy and Jody–hanging out under a bed?

This side is the worst. Buffy looks like a transvestite midget, and Cissy looks crazed. Worst of all, it reminds me of their musical number from two weeks ago.

This side is the worst. Buffy looks like a transvestite midget, and Cissy looks crazed. Worst of all, it reminds me of their musical number from two weeks ago.

One-Year Blog Anniversary

“Memory’s a freakish bank/

Where embarrassing treasures/

Still draw interest

Marge Piercy

When I published my first post on this blog one year ago, I talked about the sudden thrill a remembered moment can provide.

I’d hoped to inspire nostalgic recollections from my readers, and I have been so pleased and honored by your responses. To all my commenters, especially those who write regularly, I offer my deepest thanks. Reflecting on how thoughtful and encouraging you have been this year makes me as misty-eyed as Uncle Bill in a violin-drenched scene with Buffy and Jody.

Over the past year, I’ve learned many things:

  • If you write a blog post that involves a father spanking his grown daughter, you are sure to get at least one hit a day on that post, from someone who probably ends up quite disappointed.
  • Blogging is a continual learning experience. For instance, it took me about 50 weeks to figure out what “pingbacks” are.
  • Blogging is hard work. My appreciation for my favorite bloggers (like those on my Treasured Links page) has soared as I realized the effort they make, week after week.

You know the expression, “His eyes are bigger than his stomach”? Well, when it comes to blogging, my ideas far outpace my available time. There’s a positive side to that, though—it means I still have a lot that I’m bursting to share with you in the months ahead.

To make sure you don’t miss any upcoming goodness, you can connect with Embarrassing Treasures in several ways:

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Thank you again for your support!