Monday, January 6, 2014

Doris Day(s) #14: “Love a Duck” (01/07/69, prod. no #8508)


Once again, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear returns with our popular Monday morning feature, Doris Day(s) – the segment that asks the question: why couldn’t more of you Nielsens people have watched N.Y.P.D. and spared us all this agony to come?


Okay, maybe I’m just a little cranky from cabin fever—which, oddly enough, fits right into today’s narrative.  As the opening credits roll, we find the Widow Martin in her sons’ room, asking her cheese-loving youngest boy, Toby (Tod Starke), where Billy (Philip Brown) is.  (Oh, sure—she’s concerned about them now…but in a couple more seasons, she won’t even remember they once roamed the Earth…)

DORIS: Where is he?
TOBY: Hi mom!  See what I made?  (He holds up a toy airplane)
DORIS: Where is Billy?
TOBY: Billy who?

“I like cheese!”

DORIS: Your brother…
TOBY: Oh…did you look in the bathroom?

Doris takes a quick look in the kids’ loo, but there is no Billy.  In the meantime, Toby is up and playing with his airplane…prompting Doris to scold him and order him back to bed.  It would appear that young William and Tobias—along with their grandfather, Laird Buckley Webb (Denver Pyle)—have a touch of the influenza and have been assigned by Dr. Mom a regimen of complete bed rest.

DORIS: Now where is Billy?
TOBY: My brother?

“I really like cheese!”

DORIS: Toby, will you stop stalling!  Billy has a fever and he should be in bed!  I wish you and your grandfather wouldn’t get sick at the same time…

Doris’ search for Billy is turning up bupkis, so she decides to apply the screws to Toby…who folds like a bad poker hand:


“But if I were you, I would look in the barn,” he tells her, giving it up like a kid who’s not accustomed to having a bully sit on his chest for long periods of time.  So Doris marches downstairs towards the barn, where she has to deal with her oldest boy, farmhand Leroy B. Semple Simpson (James Hampton).

DORIS: Is Billy in there?
LEROY: Uh…Billy who?
DORIS: My son…
LEROY: Oh!  That Billy!
DORIS: Yeah…that Billy…
LEROY: In where?
DORIS: In there!
LEROY: Oh…you mean Billy?

Oh, I’ll bet the hours just fly by on that ranch.  Doris pushes her idiot handyman aside and enters the barn, calling out his name.  Her quest for the Golden Son comes to an end when she finds him crouched behind a bale of hay, feeding a duck.

DORIS: Billy Martin…will you get back into that house!
BILLY: Trying to get Sherman to eat…


Doris melts at the sight of the poor widdle duck…but what I find so humorous about this is that the dog that she stole from the Nashes on Please Don’t Eat the Daisies is in the same shot, offering a wry commentary on Doris’ alleged animal activism.

DORIS: What’s the matter with his wing?
BILLY: I don’t know…he was like this when I found him…
DORIS: When did you find him?
BILLY: Yesterday…
DORIS: Yesterday?!!  Billy, why didn’t you tell me?
BILLY: ‘Cause you said not to bring home any more wild animals…
DORIS: I said not to trap any more wild animals…because they should be free…but this is different…

“Right, Nelson?”  Doris has the perfect solution (of course—that’s why she’s Doris Day): they’ll take Sherman the Duck up to Grandpa, who’ll diagnose what ails him, and so she tells Billy he needs to head to bed as well (she also calls Nelson, who tries to eat the bird as she’s taking it out of the barn). 


A scene shift finds Juanita the housekeeper (Naomi Stevens) and Buck sharing his bed…so I want to apologize for putting the above image in your head.  Buck examines the duck and discovers a bit of buckshot in the bird.

“Buckshot?  From a gun?” asks Juanita.  (No, from a slingshot, you silly domestic-type person.)

BUCK: Feels like there’s more in there, too…
JUANITA: You mean someone deliberately shot him?
BUCK: Out of season…
JUANITA: Aww…this ranch is sanctuary for wildlife…in all seasons, no?
BUCK: Not to poachers it’s not…

In the kids’ bedroom, Doris is instructing her brood not to set foot out of their beds or they will be standing tall before The Man.

TOBY: Can we see Sherman, Mom?
DORIS: When Grandpa gets him patched up…
BILLY: You think he’ll be all right?
DORIS: Oh, sure…Grandpa’s fixin’ him, honey…

“With olive oil and salt and pepper!  Nah, I’m just jinkin’ ya, sport…”

TOBY: What’s the matter with him?
DORIS: I don’t know…
BUCK (entering the bedroom): He was shot!


Dun-dun-DUN!  Buck explains to Doris and the kids that Yakky Doodle is riddled with buckshot, and that raises the hackles on the back of Dodo’s neck.  “I’d like to get my hands on the guy that did that,” she threatens.

BILLY: I think we know…
BUCK: Who?
DORIS: Who?
BILLY: Leroy saw him…
TOBY: Down by the lake…

“Thirty-five years old…thrice divorced…eating a steady diet of government cheese…and living in a van down by the river…er, lake…”

DORIS: Well, who is it?
BILLY: Mr. Lovey…
DORIS: Tyrone Lovey
BUCK: That figures…

Lovey…that vichyssoise  We’ll get a more formal introduction to this week’s supervillain in a sec, but for right now Buck is ready to have a come-to-Jeebus meeting with Mr. L.  Doris, however, has other ideas: “It sounds like you better get right back to bed.”  A couple of gunshots ring out, and Buck deduces that they came from the direction of the lake.  Doris takes charge of the situation, going over to the open bedroom window and summoning Leroy to get the Dodomobile (the Jeep).


LEROY (pulling up to the house): Where we goin’, Miss Martin?
DORIS: To the lake, Leroy…we’ve got business with that Tyrone Lovey!
LEROY: Right!

Insert “Theme from Batman” here.  Arriving at the lake, Leroy informs Doris: “It was right along here someplace I seen him…over there by them bushes I saw Mr. Lovey…”  The two of them disembark from the vehicle and in walking over closer to the lake they come across this:


“Be careful—there’s an old well here,” cautions Leroy.  (Sitcom foreshadowing.)

DORIS (finding something on the ground): Leroy…shotgun shells!  (She takes a sniff) It’s just been fired!

And that’s our introduction to this animal, complete with a sad trombone interlude:


Show of hands—how many of you think Doris would adopt an egg-sucking hound like this in real life?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  We don’t learn the pooch’s name until later (he answers to “Snake”) but he’s the loyal canine friend of Mr. Tyrone Lovey, who’s spotted by Doris and Leroy hauling ass through the bushes.  “Leroy,” instructs Doris, “you stay here in case he doubles back—okay?”  Climbing into the jeep, Dor fires ‘er up and gives chase…


Casa del Lovey.  (I think this place might have belonged to a relative of mine in West Virginia.)  Pulling up beside Lovey’s truck to the accompaniment of banjo music on the soundtrack, Doris notices that his radiator is about to boil over…which would indicate to the layman that ol’ Tyrone’s taken ‘er out for a spin very recently.  She marches over to the front door of his humble domicile, and after a couple of knocks, Lovey emerges from his home:


“Strother Martin!”  as they would say on radio.  Yes, Martin is the guest this week—one of the truly great character actors; a man capable of both menace (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Cool Hand Luke) and comic villainy (McLintock!, True Grit).  I know I’m exaggerating here, but for a while I was convinced that any time a TV western episode featured an out-of-the-way cantina, odds were that Strother was running it (Gunsmoke, The Guns of Will Sonnett).  This might have originated from Martin’s regular role on Hotel de Paree, a short-lived TV western from 1959 to 1960 that starred Earl Holliman and featured TDOY radio goddess Jeanette Nolan.

LOVEY: Well, if this don’t beat all!  Doris Martin!
DORIS: Yes, that’s right…
LOVEY: You know, it wasn’t more than an hour ago…I was sittin’ here, and I was thinkin’ how it’s been ages since I seen that pretty little gal…
DORIS: An hour ago, Mr. Lovey?
LOVEY: Well…give or take a couple of minutes…

On cue, Lovey’s truck radiator gives out with a whistle not unlike a teakettle…but he’s got that covered.  He hasn’t been out travelin’, gracious me no—he fires up ol’ Betsy daily to get hot water to make his tea!  “I always have a little tea about this time,” he explains, “It gives it a flavor that you wouldn’t believe!”


LOVEY: Are you sure that you won’t join me?
DORIS: I didn’t come here for tea, Mr. Lovey…are you trying to tell me that you didn’t drive this truck back here from our place?
LOVEY: Oh…shoot, ma’am…I wouldn’t take this old thing out on the road…it ain’t safe…look at them tires… (He kicks the tires) The only thing that I use this for is to start it up every day to boil my tea…why, are you sure that you won’t join me?

Doris is going to take a pass on the offer of tea, and with that Lovey goes about his business…but she’s not willing to let him off the hook that easy; she knows he’s been poaching, he’s just too crafty to come clean.

DORIS: Somebody’s been shooting ducks at our ranch…
LOVEY (feigning shock): No!
DORIS (imitating him): Yes!
LOVEY: Well, hearing that just made me lose my appetite for tea… (He tosses the kettle into a metal can)
DORIS: Mr. Lovey…that somebody was you!
LOVEY: Missy…you can’t believe old Tyrone Lovey would shoot one of our little feathered friends…
DORIS: Leroy B. Simpson saw you yesterday!  A little while ago, I saw your dog there!
LOVEY: Snake?
DORIS: Snake!


“Are you sure it wasn’t some other animal who looks like Snake?” Lovey asks her.  “There is no other animal that looks like Snake!” Doris retorts.  Well, she’s got him there…and the fact that Snake has a few duck feathers in his mouth does not speak well for Tyrone’s innocence.  (“Have you been at my pillow again?”)

Doris warns him that the next time he fires a gun on Rancho Webb, she’ll have him arrested for trespassing.  As she drives off, Martin’s Lovey has a beauty of a line: “I never would have bought this dog if I’d knowed that he was a pillow eater!”  And with that, it’s time for Ralston-Purina to pay a few bills.

Back at the ranch, Leroy has been doing some thinking.  (Be afraid…be very afraid.)

LEROY: I know how we can nab that ol’ Tyrone Lovey…
DORIS: You do? How?
LEROY: All we gotta do is get him to confess…
DORIS: Leroy, I know that

“I’m warning you, Dobbs!”

DORIS: …but he’s not going to confess to poaching
LEROY: Not to you maybe…but…if we could get someone into his confidence…somebody just a little smarter than he is…
DORIS: Who?
LEROY: Me!

Yeah, I think we’re going to have to throw in the towel and bring this fight to a halt.  Leroy explains to Doris that he could be “like an undercover agent”—sort of a Maxwell Not-So-Smart, if I were to push it.

DORIS: And do what?
LEROY: Well, in that line of work, ma’am…we don’t like to divulge our plans…

“Well,” she tells Leroy, “whatever they are they’re not going to work—‘cause Tyrone Lovey is just too smart.”  And the following scene demonstrates that in a battle of wits between Tyrone and Leroy, our beloved farmhand is clearly outmatched.  Leroy tells Tyrone that he’s left the employ of the Webb family because they “was just too mean”—prompting Tyrone to respond with a line that I laughed at due to Strother’s delivery: “Tell me…what are your plans now that you won’t be workin’ for them cruel people no more?”


I’m just going to focus on the highlights here because Leroy, but Strother plays this one very sly; the entire time he’s jawing with Leroy he gnaws on what is clearly a duck leg and helps himself to a slash of corn squeezin’s every now and then.

LEROY: Excuse me, Mr. Lovey, but…ain’t that a duck leg you’re eatin’ on?
LOVEY: Mm-hmm…it is…but this bird…died a natural death…
LEROY: You didn’t shoot him?
LOVEY: Perish the thought, boy…of course not…
LEROY: Would you wanna tell me how that bird met its end?
LOVEY: Well, that is a sad story, Leroy…brace yourself…you see…there I was…walkin’ along Otter Creek…admirin’ the beauties of nature…when I heard this quack…and there he was…big, fat…juicy…Mr. Mallard…

Transcribing this really doesn’t do it justice, because all the while Martin is giving this spiel that duck leg he’s sucking and caressing really sends it home.

LEROY: In the lake?
LOVEY: Up in a tree…
LEROY: Well…what was a mallard doin’ up in a tree?
LOVEY (motioning for him to come closer): Leroy…I think he’s drunk
LEROY: Drunk?
LOVEY: Mm-hmm…he was staggerin’ around on this here branch and he was quackin’ his fool head off…
LEROY (musing): Drunken duck…
LOVEY: Yes, sir!  Well…I thought if I could get him down, I could maybe pour some hot coffee into him and…you know…sober him up…and…oh, Leroy…
LEROY: Well, what happened?
LOVEY: Before I could get to him…he fell off the branch and broke his neck…
LEROY (welling up): Mr. Lovey…that’s the saddest story I’ve ever heard…
LOVEY: You got to learn to accept these tragedies…Lord giveth…Lord snatcheth away…

Tyrone makes special note of the lateness of the hour, and remarks that there are cows “probably bellering to be milked.”  Leroy, who really sucks at this Double-Naught Spy business, excuses himself (Buck will skin him alive if he doesn’t get his chores done) and leaves Lovey to continue rocking in his chair, nibbling at his dinner and having another slash from the jug.


Back at the Webb Estates, the boys are trying to encourage Sherman the Duck to eat, and the camera pans over to Buck, who’s in bed and pouring himself a teaspoon of medicine from a bottle.  He swallows it and braces himself for the nasty taste…but to his surprise, it’s not bad and he pours himself another spoonful.  (Nice bit of pantomime here from Pyle.)

TOBY: Grandpa, look—he’s eating!
BUCK: Good!  If I get any hungrier, I’ll fight him for that food…
BILLY: Grandpa…do you think Mr. Lovey will keep shooting our ducks?
BUCK: Well, I hope not…we’re gonna find some way to stop him…

Doris’ voice can be heard in the hallway calling the kids to bed, and though the boys are nervous about Sherman, Buck assures him that he and Nelson will look after the duck (though the way that dog jumped on Doris out in the barn in an earlier scene I’d be a little worried).  The scene then shifts to Doris putting her young’uns to bed…

BILLY: Sherman’s getting better, ain’t he, Mom?
DORIS: Isn’t he…
TOBY: Isn’t he what?
DORIS: Isn’t he getting better…
BILLY: That’s what I asked…

“Third base!”

TOBY: Mom…
DORIS: What?
TOBY: Billy says that you said we can’t keep the duck because it’s too wild
DORIS: That’s not what I said at all!  I said that all wild creatures should be free…whether they fly in the air or burrow in the ground…or whatever they do, they should be free…and you know that they can’t find freedom in many places…but…on Grandpa’s ranch, they have it…and that’s the way we want to keep it…okay?

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ less to lose, kids.  Well, Juanita comes in with a last call for fruit juice (if we had some champagne, it could be mimosa time) and the kids start to bitch about not having anything to eat (feed a cold, starve a fever)—which does not bode well for that duck down the hall.  Then Buck comes into the bedroom, having done some skulling in the sanctity of his boudoir.

BUCK: Now…if Tyrone Lovey believes what you said about calling the sheriff…he’s gonna get as many ducks as he can as fast as he can—right?
DORIS: Probably, yes…
BUCK: So why don’t I go down to the lake while it’s still dark to wait for him to show up?
DORIS: You can’t do that—you’ll get pneumonia!  (To Juanita) Listen to that…
BUCK: What are we gonna do about Tyrone?

Buck might not be able to leave the confines of his quarters…but that doesn’t mean Doris can’t leave the house, and since it’s her damn sitcom she’s going to be the heroine this week.  There’s a brief scene where Doris arises at the butt-crack of dawn…


…nice ensemble, Dor…and she finds Juanita in the kitchen, preparing a thermos of coffee.  Pouring Doris a cup, Juanita declares “As soon as you finish, I’m going back to bed”—which means there won’t be any of these “breakfast preparation” shenanigans like in last week’s episode.  Doris demonstrates for Juanita a duck call that she purchased from some homophobic bigot with a reality TV show, and in the next scene, she’s back at her spot at the lake, lying in wait for her nemesis.  Lovey, with Snake in tow, arrives shortly thereafter and having bought the same Duck Commander, the two of them trade calls back-and-forth until…


…gosh!  Who could have foreseen that happening?

DORIS: Are you all right?
LOVEY: it’s the end, Missy…there’s no feelin’ in my body…I’m done for…
DORIS: Well, that’s terrible, Mr. Lovey…look…just don’t go away…I’ll call the sheriff!
LOVEY: No…no…wait…there’s no sense alarmin’ folks until we’re sure…hey…hey…the feelin’ is beginnin’ to come back…hey!  Why, this is a miracle!

Well, this scene pretty much plays out the way you think it does—Tyrone tries to explain feebly why Doris has caught him on the property, and she’s not buying the bullsh*t.  She’s also not going to let him up until it puts the lotion on its skin—or else it gets the hose again.  (If Stacia thinks she’s got a monopoly on Silence of the Lambs jokes, she’s got another think coming.)


LOVEY: You know, it’s…always a pleasure talkin’ to ya, but…couldn’t we do it up on top?  It’s kind of wet down here and…that numb feelin’ is startin’ to come back…
DORIS: Well…I’m not lifting a finger to help you until we get this thing settled…
LOVEY: Well, just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it!
DORIS: I want your word…that you’ll never shoot anything again on our land…
LOVEY: Heck, Missy…if that’s all you want…you can start by gettin’ me up out of here…I promise you—you’ll never catch me again!


Actually, this sequence with Doris looking down at Tyrone in the well would work a little better if we didn’t see her shadow on the patently obvious backdrop.  “You drive a hard bargain, Missy,” Tyrone finally acquiesces and he gives Doris his word that the poaching will cease and desist.  She’s able to pull him out of the well with a rope that just happens to be handily by (either the writer, Jerry Devine, got lazy or they’ve had this problem in that area before…in which case they should have boarded that damn thing up before a kid falls into it and a family makes out like bandits with a lawsuit).


LOVEY (climbing out of the well): I’m all wet!
DORIS: You’re doing good, Mr. Lovey!  (She helps him to the surface)
LOVEY (sneezing): Well, doggone…on top of everything else, I’m catchin’ cold!
DORIS: Ohhhh…
LOVEY (sneezing again): I gotta fix me a pot of hot soup…
DORIS: Mr. Lovey…if one of our chickens winds up in your pot…
LOVEY: Oh no, Missy…after all you put me through, I’m a dedicated vegetarian… (He shakes hands with Doris)

“That is…unless you’ve got some rule against shooting carrots,” he adds as he heads back towards his truck.  Doris gives out with another one of her adorable laughs.


For all intents and purposes, that should have been the end to this episode…but it’s not; and since the coda is particularly lame (Buck and Leroy are working on the tractor when Buck spots a flock of ducks overhead; the kids are then encouraged to let Sherman loose to fly with his feathered brethren and sistren) I’ll just finish on my own by saying that Strother Martin’s Tyrone Lovey will make a return appearance to The Doris Day Show in a later episode, “The Clock.”  (I don’t mean to disparage Martin, who classes up anything he’s in—but he’s fighting a losing battle here, particularly since he has very little with which to work.)

“The Clock” will appear after our next episode—one of the stronger ones of the show’s first season entitled “Let Them Out of the Nest.”  It’s particularly relevant because of three of the episode’s guest stars, two of them appeared in Mayberry R.F.D. episodes…and one of them was a former resident of television’s favorite small town back in The Andy Griffith Show days.  Join me next time, won’t you?

4 comments:

hobbyfan said...

Uh, Ivan, my assumption was that NYPD, airing on ABC, was on a different night.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Uh, Ivan, my assumption was that NYPD, airing on ABC, was on a different night.

The Doris Day Show was on Tuesday nights in its first season...then moved to Mondays in season 2 (it aired after Mayberry RFD):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968%E2%80%9369_United_States_network_television_schedule

grouchomarxist said...

Strother Martin is rather like Donald Pleasance: whatever dreck they may appear in, you know at least their character will be believable and interesting.

Martin and Denver Pyle appeared together four years earlier, btw, in what's got to be one of the most tragic and grimly ironic Gunsmoke episodes ever: No Hands.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Martin and Denver Pyle appeared together four years earlier, btw, in what's got to be one of the most tragic and grimly ironic Gunsmoke episodes ever: No Hands.

And I can't believe I didn't mention that one. That's one of my favorite episodes.