Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Scrounger’s Cheapjack Christmas Special! #28: Ozzie and Harriet Pt. 3

The Other OTHER Christmas Episode: “Christmas Tree Lot”. Original Broadcast: December 18, 1957.

Tonight, David and Ricky are in a bit of a jam. Christmas is still coming and they ran out of shopping money before they got to pop’s gift. No ties this Christmas? Oh noes! What is America’s Favorite Family going to do?

One of their school friends hits on the idea of renting a lot and selling Christmas trees, which means touching the ‘rents for some seed money. Things look a little dicey for a bit, since none of the wholesalers have a ready tree supply to fill their lot. Finally David takes what turns out to be the last tree delivery of the year, but oh noes! Ricky let the lot go to somebody else, since they didn’t want to stick Wally’s folks for something they weren’t going to use. But dude, you just signed for the trees! Oh noes!

So they reforest the back yard. Lot or no lot, when you sign for trees, they gotta go somewhere.

As it turns out, neighbor Darby thinks they should check with Ed Ferguson, who owns a lot of property around and can let the boys have a vacant store. In exchange, maybe David can show his niece around town. When asked for a description, all he comes up with is that she’s got a great personality. (OH NOES!) Of course, that’s always sitcom code for “personality is all she’s got”, and of course, that’s always sitcom code for “this is a setup for a reversal later on”. The previous sentence is only a spoiler if you’ve never watched an American sitcom ever.

Pictured: the third act reversal. Not pictured: she’s wearing white gloves just to go out and about. Welcome to the sitcom 1950s.

Ozzie recommends they use some salesmanship to draw a crowd, which gives Ricky an excuse to break out the guitar. Ozzie even sings a chorus, the old ham.

These Ozzie and Harriet shows are turning out to be pleasant enough (if pleasant’s what you’re looking for in a sitcom), but I’m starting to notice a pattern in the storytelling. A small crisis pops up, a small crisis goes away. String a few of those together, wrap up your main story premise, and boom, you’ve got a show. Again, there’s no major friction, and if there are any outsized comedy gestures, they’re few enough and far between enough that I haven’t actually seen one yet. This case will obviously require some further investigation after the holidays.

(Sidebar: My “outsized comedy gestures” are what other people call “zaniness”, but I use the word “zany” with the same sense of dignity and respect that other people use the phrase “registered sex offender.” As a warning, in other words.)

Our Holiday Lesson For Today (tacked on much later in the dark of night): The obvious lesson is "Rock music can sell anything." And the lesson is so obvious that it took television another twenty-five years to fully get it.

Spot ‘Em: Parley Baer, Mayor Stoner on The Andy Griffith Show (and longtime Keebler elf), has a single scene as the Nelsons’ neighbor Darby. Oh fine, he was also Miles Dugan on The Young And The Restless in the late 1990s (like you’d expect me to know that) and was radio’s original Chester on Gunsmoke (like I’d expect you to know that…but you really should, because he was very good).

But Don’t Take My Word For it: The Internet Archive does its thing again…and still with the big ol' window that hangs off the side of my table. I'm learning to live with it. Hey, I finally figured out how to ensmallen the Flowplayer window! Yay me! I'll leave the other ones at the too-big size just to remind you how badly I suck at this.

Bonus: Just so you don't think I'm shortchanging you on Mister Teen Idol up there...

Click for the bigger version. (The things I do to draw a crowd...)

Next: The Girl in the Emporium! This was the hump entry for Ozzie and Harriet, and now we’re over it…

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