Written by: Joseph Hoffman. Directed by: Charles Barton.
We start this episode with a familiar set-up: The kids rushing in from the park and overwhelming a busy Uncle Bill. This time, they’re babbling about a new friend they made in the park–Oliver.
No, not that Oliver. But the results will be similarly unlucky.
Oliver’s family is going away for the weekend, and the kids want to know if he can stay over. The last time his family went away, they note, Oliver got a broken heart.
Bill thinks the boy sounds “a little sensitive.”
Buffy, in a total non-sequitur, replies that Oliver is not exactly little. A distracted Bill doesn’t pick up on this odd comment and gives his permission for Oliver to stay.
(He’ll learn an important lesson here–in the future, talk to the other parents directly before issuing an invitation.)
The kids rush off to Buffy’s room, where their excitement gives way to guilt. Oliver, it seems, is a dog. The kids purposely avoided telling Bill the truth, while stopping just short of telling any actual lies. They manipulated him into agreeing to Oliver’s visit because they know Bill believes, as Jody says, “When a man gives his word, he keeps it, no matter what.”
Hmmm. They are craftier–and smarter–than they look.
Meanwhile, Bill gives French a heads-up that Oliver will be arriving soon.
When French fails to remember a child named Oliver, Bill says the kid probably goes by a nickname, like Skinny or Curly.
Soon, however, they get to meet the mysterious Oliver.
Yay–a Scotty sighting!
“This great beast is Oliver?” French cries.
(Something about the way Sebastian Cabot says the word “beast” tickles me to no end. Luckily, this is the first of four times he’ll use it in this episode.)
Bill’s not amused about the situation. He says Oliver can’t stay because it’s against building rules. (This is debatable.)
The twins move back into manipulative mode.
“We don’t mind if you don’t keep your word,” Jody sighs.
“I guess that only goes for kids,” Buffy agrees.
Does this predicament leave Bill rubbing his head?
He gives in and says he’ll convince the apartment manager to let Oliver stay for a few days.
Cissy, who has just come in, shows her usual knack for stating the obvious.
“That’s what I’d call a big dog!” she exclaims. (Oliver really is quite large. He’s downright Putin-worthy.)
That evening, the twins fret about whether Bill would still like them if he knew they tricked him.
I don’t usually like big dogs, but Oliver looks cute here.
When Bill comes in to say goodnight, it becomes obvious that Oliver hates the sound of his voice. He hustles Jody off to bed, leaving Oliver with Buffy.
She tries to reason with the dog in an attempt to improve his relationship with Bill.
French was supposed to retrieve Oliver from Buffy’s room and confine him somewhere for the night.
Whatever he tries doesn’t work, as Oliver later barges into Jody’s bed.
Jody hushes Oliver and tells him not to wake up Bill, who has a big meeting the next morning.
The, inexplicably, Jody barges into Bill’s room and wakes him up himself.
(I wouldn’t want to share a twin bed with Oliver, either, but Jody could have moved to the sofa or the girls’ room if he didn’t want to disturb his uncle.)
A lonely Oliver then tries his luck in French’s room.
“How dare you take liberties?!” French shouts, sending Oliver scurrying for the door. (I bet it’s been a long time since anyone took liberties with Mr. French.)
Oliver, of course, winds up in Bill’s room. Does Bill get a good night’s sleep?
He can’t focus on his work, so he heads home to get some rest. (If one sleepless night throws Bill so far off his game, he’s lucky he missed the newborn stage of parenting. My daughter didn’t sleep through the night for two and a half years!)
He doesn’t exactly get a warm welcome from Oliver.
Bill and French discuss the situation and brainstorm ideas for getting through another night.
French’s first idea is having the dog stuffed, but he admits that might not be practical.
With a twinkle in his eye, he offers another suggestion: “Perhaps a sleeping pill in that beast’s great mound of meat, sir?”
Bill rejects that idea, too.
Finally, French volunteers to run the dog around the park to tire him out. “He will sleep the sleep of the well-worn beast,” French promises.
After an hour and thirty-one minutes–and, I suspect, little actual running–French thinks Oliver should be sufficiently exhausted.
Oliver has other ideas, though–he spies another dog and takes off chasing it.
French feels guilty about letting Oliver get away, although Bill assures him that nothing human could hold the dog back.
Bill reports the disappearance to the proper authorities and waits by the phone for news.
Eventually, gets a call from an irate dress shop owner.
It seems that when the porter left the door open for a moment, Oliver chased a cat into the shop.
French and Bill have to head out before dawn to retrieve the dog..
The whole thing takes a predictable toll on Bill.
He tries to explain what’s been going on at home to his co-workers.
I love the looks on their faces.
At home, Buffy and Jody are running Oliver around the apartment in another attempt at tiring him.
French approves of the idea but not the noise. He tells them to exhaust Oliver “pianissimo.”
It’s too late, though. Complaints from the downstairs neighbors bring the apartment manager to door.
Comparing the Oliver’s noise to that of a horse, he orders the family to evict the dog.
Bill tells the kids Oliver will have to spend the last night before his family returns in a kennel. Of course, he nearly caves again when the twins tug at his heartstrings.
It’s up to French to make the ultimate sacrifice. “The clumsy beast seems to like me,” French sighs.
So, that night…
…Bill sleeps peacefully…
…and Buffy sleeps peacefully…
…and Jody sleeps peacefully…
…while French sits up with Oliver in a noisy, crowded kennel. Awww.
(I bet French doesn’t shirk his duties the next day, either.)
Once Oliver is home safely with his owners, the twins come clean about deceiving Uncle BIll.
They even come up with their own punishments: No dessert and no TV for a week. (French thinks the TV ban is “cruel and unusual punishment.” He’s probably sad about losing his usual quiet hour during Captain Hippopotamus.)
A stoic Bill agrees to their plan. Nervously, they ask him if he still likes them.
He responds quickly: “No.”
Ha! They didn’t see that coming.
Of course, Bill soon breaks into a laugh, giving this episode a typical hugs-and-kisses ending.
I’m glad they avoided the too obvious “I don’t like you…I love you” schtick.
This isn’t a great episode, but it’s an entertaining one, thanks mainly to Sebastian Cabot. It’s also fun to watch Bill run and cower in Oliver’s presence. It makes a nice comic contrast with Brian Keith’s usual hyper-masculine persona.
Madame Antoinette: Danielle Aubry. Policeman: David Brandon. Mr. Ross: Richard Bull. Mr. Brown: Hap Holmwood. Mr. Rogers: Vince Howard. Scotty: Karl Lukas.
Richard Bull, who makes his second of three appearances as the apartment manager, died in February at age 89.
With these glasses and this mustache, he doesn’t look much like his most famous character, Nels Oleson from Little House on the Prairie.
Vince Howard had a prolific career in television. It’s surprising that he doesn’t play the police officer here because that was by far his most typical role. For instance, he played Police Officer Vince on Emergency!