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Erin Listens (with episode recs!): Our Miss Brooks, Burns & Allen, The Great Gildersleeve October 3, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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Highlights of the previously-mentioned “burning through a ton of audio” situation.

I keep griping about these shows’ flaws, which are inevitable because 1950’s, but for the most part they’re deeply enjoyable. Time to share some more of that joy, in Fun Sample Episode Downloads form.

Our Miss Brooks:

Punny, deadpan-heavy farce about schoolteachers. If you missed the previous episode rec post (or even if you didn’t), those links still stand.

Taxi Fare (1955-06-19): Miss Brooks gets a cab ride home, doesn’t have the money to pay the driver, and tries to raise it by scaring up some of the money she’s loaned to friends and acquaintances over the years. Taking the same cab to visit some of these people might not have been the best strategy.

When they show up at Mr. Boynton’s apartment, he ends up inviting Miss Brooks to visit his parents over their vacation. Although, as he puts it, “I don’t want you to think that bringing a boyfriend to my apartment has influenced me in any way.” And we all totally believe it. Yep.

Cat Burglars (1955-08-07): There’s been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood, so Principal Conklin enlists Miss Brooks to keep an eye on his daughter while he’s out of town. Includes some lovely defending-ourselves-against-criminals slapstick. Also, this (abridged) exchange from when Mr. Boynton doesn’t quite grasp the reason Miss Brooks is breaking their date that night:

“I honestly didn’t think it would matter so much to you…”

“Oh, it doesn’t! Doesn’t matter in the least! If you’ve found some other man you’d rather go out with, go right ahead. You’ve probably met someone who’s taller, and more handsome, and with a better personality than I have…if so, good luck to you!”

“If so, who needs it?” [Audience joy.] “That is — you don’t understand, Mr. Boynton….”

“Oh, don’t try to spare my feelings! I don’t blame you for preferring to drive around in a Cadillac instead of my old heap. After all, why should a girl waste her time on a poor schoolteacher, when she can enjoy the comforts and luxuries a wealthy playboy has to offer? I couldn’t expect you to pass up cocktails and dinner and dancing at some swanky restaurant, to go out with me! …Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get a glass of milk to wash this all down.”

Sneaky Peekers (1955-08-14): Our heroine accidentally orders a copy of the wrong Rodin statue for a school cultural exhibition — instead of The Thinker, they get shipped The Kiss. You can tell this takes place before the Internet, because this is shocking, racy content…and half the cast is eager to get a look.

The Burns and Allen Show:

The character versions of George and Gracie are wonderful, but every time I read something about the actors behind them, I get all these bonus feelings. Some praise the real George had for Gracie upon her retirement: “Her lines were the toughest in the world to do. They didn’t make sense, so she had to memorize every word. It took a real actress. Every spare moment — in bed, under the hair dryer — had to be spent in learning lines.”

And here’s the thing, I hadn’t even thought about it. Because in-universe, she makes it sound so natural. Now that’s talent.

Gracie Takes Up Crime Solving (1947-03-06) and Kill The Rat (1947-03-13):

Gracie gets a little too into a detective program (The Tall Man, with Rudy and Trudy, a parody of The Thin Man‘s Nick and Nora — who were also an inspiration for Beyond Belief’s Frank and Sadie), and takes on crime-solving missions of her own. The first of these contains Gracie infiltrating “the underworld” with this flawless cover identity: “You bet I’m tough. You ever hear of Alcatraz? …I’m his sister. Gracie Catraz.”

In the second, she thinks a couple of gangsters are out to kill George, and ends up seeking out Rudy and Trudy themselves for help. Both times, Meredith Wilson (a guy so modest, he once accidentally bumped into a woman and thought “the honorable thing to do” was to marry her) gets wrapped up in the scheme, including supporting her “Gracie Catraz” identity by playing her “moll.”

Gracie Goes to New Orleans (1948-02-26): Gracie is leaving on her own for a vacation, and George’s biggest worry is that she’ll buy expensive hats while she’s there…until he gets overheard addressing a friend on the phone as “Dimples,” and word gets back to Gracie that he’s making plans with a girlfriend. Now George has to scramble to convince Gracie that he was only talking to their friend Bill Goodwin (who is a love interest for nearly every woman in town, but not for him).

“Why would anyone call him that?” “Because he’s got dimples!” “So? He’s got a head, but they don’t call him Heady! He’s got feet, but they don’t call him Tootsie! He’s got a lot of fans, and they don’t call him Fanny!”

(When George originally said “goodbye, Dimples,” Bill replied with “goodbye, Wrinkles.” It’s tough to be George.)

The Great Gildersleeve:

Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve scrambles to raise his niece and nephew, keep on good-enough terms with Judge Horace Hooker (who put them in his custody), and generally get along with the town. Oh, and support the troops as WWII kicks off in the background.

The first season (1941-42) is very plot-of-the-week, but the second one (42-43) seems to have an actual Arc, with one episode setting up plot points that get developed in the next. If this keeps up, it’ll be the most continuity of any of these comedies I’ve listened to.

Canary Won’t Sing (1941-11-30): Gildy wins a canary from a fundraiser at Birdie’s Lodge (part of her “having a life of her own outside cooking for the family” background). A good prototypical example of one episode’s worth of shenanigans — our heroes start with “how can we get this bird to sing?” and it takes them to places like “uh-oh, the police just mistook our library-book list of bird foods gets mistaken for a secret criminal code”

Wooing Amelia Hooker (1942-06-28): Gildy gets a flirtation going with Judge Hooker’s sister. The judge tries some shenanigans of his own to thwart the idea. Teenage niece Marjorie thinks the budding romance is sweet; tween nephew Leroy doesn’t see the point: “What does he want a wife for? He’s got Marge to sew on his buttons, and [Birdie] to cook for him, and Judge Hooker to fight with! What more could a guy want?”

…This was the point when I reflected that, if this series was produced today, there would be a bunch of Gildersleeve/Hooker rivalshipping. And that I am strangely okay with that.

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