Saturday, October 11, 2014

Television Review: LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob Gets Out-Uncled" (1957)

Hold it!  I think you're gonna like this picture....
LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob Gets Out-Uncled" (Original Air Date: 6/6/57) Starring Bob Cummings as Bob Collins, Ann B. Davis as Schultzy, Rosemary DeCamp as Margaret Collins MacDonald, Dwayne Hickman as Chuck MacDonald, Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch as Himself,  Merry Anders as Sally McClain, Elvia Allman as Mrs. Montague, Tony Montanaro Jr. as Pancho Gonzalez.  Written by Paul Henning, Shirl Gordon, Phil Shuken and Dick Wesson.  Directed by Bob Cummings.

Series overview of LOVE THAT BOB a.k.a. THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW previously published here for the one hundredth anniversary of the star's birth at this link.

After a night of his usual carousing, Bob Collins is in no shape to meet his 7 A.M. wake up call to play tennis with his nephew Chuck.  In itself, this isn't such a big deal, since Chuck has also been burning the midnight oil on the dance floor and is equally sleepy.  But Margaret is in no mood to let either her brother (Bob) or her son (Chuck) off the hook.  While Margaret is particularly infuriated with Bob, there's a greater concern on her mind: Chuck's emulation of his uncle's playboy ways.


Margaret's solution is to find a more suitable hero for Chuck to look up to: star Los Angeles Rams WR Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, who is working with local youth groups.  With Mrs. Montague as the go-between, Hirsch is pursuaded to pose as "Uncle Roy", visiting from Wisconsin.  Chuck's heretofore unseen Uncle is introduced by Margaret as a product of living healthy: "Early to bed and early to rise."  "And your girl goes out with the other guys", Bob retorts.  But will "Uncle Roy" have the last laugh and show the former Drury College standout and his nephew that "clean living" is best via athletic competition?  Or will the photographer stay on top of Chuck's list of role models?  Bob does have an ace in the hole: his tennis prowess, demonstrated most recently with a win over Pancho Gonzalez--in love sets!  Or was it love seats?


Okay, it's almost impossible to fathom today, but in 1957, college football still eclipsed the NFL in popularity and the baseball was the national pastime, reigning over both by a wide margin.  But still--how on earth could avid sports fans like Chuck and Bob not recognize the high-profile star flanker for the local Los Angeles Rams?  Schultzy, Margaret and Mrs. Montague were all instantly familiar with Hirsch and that very colorful Rams team featured the high scoring "three end" offense (Norm Van Brocklin's 554 passing yards in a single game still stands as a record!).  The Rams were popular enough locally to be the first NFL team to have all of its games televised (pre-blackout rule, that is).


To be fair, those Rams (1951 NFL Champions) had faded out of contention by 1957, with the ensuing season bringing Hirsch's Hall of Fame career to a close.  Hirsch's appearance on LOVE THAT BOB (which aired three months before the season opener) was part of the charismatic player's plan to transition into an acting career.  He had already played himself in an eponymous autobiographical film (1953's CRAZYLEGS) and a few months after this episode would co-star as the pilot in ZERO HOUR! on the big screen (if it sounds familar, yes, it's the same film that inspired AIRPLANE!).


So yes, the premise of Bob Gets Out-Uncled requires a leap of faith (like a number of LOVE THAT BOB episodes).  It's still amusing to see Bob's outrageous claims about his athletic abilities being punctured one by one.  Division II Drury College, now Drury University, is just a tad smaller than the Big Ten powerhouse Roy played for.  Speaking of which: Margaret identifies him as a Michigan alumni, while "Uncle Roy" says he played for Wisconsin, but neither Chuck nor Bob catches the discrepancy.  In fact, Elroy Hirsch actually played for both!


Perhaps such inconsistencies are a little understandable, considering Bob Gets Out-Uncled was the 34th and final episode of LOVE THAT BOB's third season (and the show's 99th overall).  Nevertheless, this installment still provides a healthy quantity and quality of laughs.  The jokes cover familiar territory (Bob's tomcatting, Schultzy's tomboyishness, Chuck attempting to horn in on Bob's action) but the lines are even sharper than usual, with Bob's revision of Benjamin Franklin's wisdom probably being the best remembered quote from the entire series.  With Winston secured as sponsor for two more years, Paul Henning's creative team was set for the duration.  Cummings would remain the show's sole director, and Henning, Shuken, Gordon and Wesson would (in various combinations) write all 36 episodes of the ensuing 1957-58 season.


In the end, "Uncle" Roy's advice ("live clean, and get plenty of rest") has Chuck deciding to take a bath and go to bed immediately at the end of the day.  But fear not: "Uncle Roy" never returned, and Chuck would be back to emulating his real uncle in subsequent episodes.  And why shouldn't he?  Chuck is studying to be a doctor, not aspiring to be a professional athlete.  While Uncle Bob might be a windbag who gets cut down to size in sporting competition, at the end of the day he's still the one making time with the lovely Ms. McClain. 

Showing her how it's done--or Chuck?
In his 1980 classic, The Great TV Sitcom Book, Rick Mitz spotlighted Bob Gets Out-Uncled as a "typical" episode.  It isn't a quintessential installment IMO, since we're missing Joi Lansing and also lacking action at the photography studio.  But on the plus side, deadpan, earnest Hirsch does a good job and we also have lovely Merry Anders making her only LOVE THAT BOB appearance and getting her share of terrific lines. The attention to detail could be better, but Bob Gets Out-Uncled is funny nevertheless, and boosted by being of considerable historical interest.  (*** out of four)

Curiously, this well-known outing is one of 17 episodes completely missing from the imdb.com database.  It is available, along with 39 other episodes (4 per DVD) at Shokus Home Video, under the alternate title Bob Meets His Match.


DID BOB SCORE?  As suggestive as that opening scene is ("7 AM?  Honey, I gotta get home!"), I'd say he struck out the night before--after all, Bob did end up at home, fully dressed in his tux.  However I put his chances at eventually succeeding with Anders' Sally McClain at well over 50%-, as she appeared to be very receptive to his "instruction".

Monday, October 06, 2014

MAVERICK Mondays: "Holiday at Hollow Rock" (1958)





MAVERICK Mondays: Number 9






MAVERICK: "Holiday at Hollow Rock" (1958 ABC-TV/Warner Brothers) Starring James Garner as Bret Maverick, William Reynolds as Ted Blake, Emile Mayer as Colonel Taylor, Saundra Edwards as Nora Taylor, Tod Griffin as Sheriff Jesse Carson, George O'Hanlan as Morton Connors, Hugh Sanders as Jed Snyder, Don C. Harvey as Clyde, Don Kelly as Deputy Swain and Bob Steele as Billy.  Written by Howard Browne.  Directed by Richard L. Bare.

Armed with a trusty stopwatch, Bret Maverick travels to Hollow Rock, Wyoming for "the best quarter horse race in the country", held annually on the fourth of July.  Indulging in the local stud poker game, Bret discovers it to be rigged, and foils the mechanic dealer (attempting to deal from "down under").  What Bret doesn't know: the man behind the rigging is crooked Sheriff Carson, who takes revenge by beating and robbing Maverick in his hotel room.  When Bret rightly suspects Carson's deputy as one of the culprits, Maverick ends up in jail, charged with assaulting a peace officer.


For a city slicker, Maverick has some friends locally.  Among them: rich and influential Colonel Taylor, whose horse Silver King (a reference to the very first MAVERICK episode) is the reigning champion.  How influential?  Enough to spring Bret from the clink.  Since the Sheriff has his sights on Taylor's daughter Nora (and the riches that come with marrying her) he's not willing to get on the Colonel's bad side.  Bret has another local ally in Blake, a fellow poker player and horse enthusiast who feels his mare Molly can take the Independence Day prize from Taylor's prized stallion.  Seeing a chance to pay the corrupt Sheriff back and perhaps do a few good deeds in the process, Bret decides to provide surreptitious assistance to Blake (and Blake's courtship of Nora in the process).

Reynolds and Edwards
"Fighting somebody is a lot easier when you can feel noble about it".  That quote is from Bret, not Pappy, and it's the theme of this often overlooked entry from MAVERICK's landmark second season.  As usual. Bret is three steps ahead of everyone else, but notably, his intended kindness goes awry at first.  Blake overestimates the hand Bret has dealt him and refuses the Colonel's offer to purchase Molly.  As it turns out, the contingency plan works even better for Bret than catching Carson in the act of attempted sabotage.  With the race still on, Maverick is able to use the ruse to obtain the evidence needed to snare his robbers.


Wonderfully gruff character actor Emile Mayer, who was so memorable as Bret's key adversary on the jury in Rope of Cards, makes a return to the series as friend instead of foe.  As was the case in Duel at Sundown, Bret's visiting an old friend and caught in the middle of a budding courtship.  Only this time the Colonel is sold on his daughter's intended while Bret knows better.  Colonel Taylor is the main surface mark for Bret's well intentioned dishonesty, but proves to be a good sport about it in the end.  Maybe a tad more understanding than you might think is plausible at first, but then, he should be relieved that Bret's interference kept the good Sheriff out of his family and brought Blake's honorable intentions to the forefront.  As a plus, the Colonel's pride in Silver King remains justified at the episode's conclusion.


Stunning model Saundra Edwards began her star-crossed acting career after being named Playboy's Playmate of the Month in March 1957 and appearing as a Modern Man covergirl.   She had a small role in Burial Ground of the Gods shortly after signing her contract with Warners in February 1958; this was her second and final MAVERICK.  For some reason, she was dubbed: that's the voice of Mrs. Roy Huggins herself, Adele Mara, reciting Edwards' lines throughout this episode.  She's stunningly beautiful here; sadly, her career would end with the shooting death of her estranged abusive husband, actor Tom Gilson (The Cactus Switch) in 1962.  She was only 24 at the time, and the ruling was a justifiable homicide, but to date she has yet to work in film or television again.

Bob Steele (L) and Emile Mayer
Look closely for long-time serial Western star Bob Steele in an adjacent jail cell, and yes, that's SHE DEMONS hero Tod Griffin as Hollow Rock's unlawful lawman.  As Bret puts it: "How do you turn a crook over to the sheriff when the sheriff's the crook?"  

Howard Browne was best known for his writing in the science fiction genre, but contributed to ten MAVERICK episodes in all, including the aforementioned Duel at Sundown (co-starring a young Clint Eastwood as Bret's adversary).  He does a nice job keeping the series' trademark humor coming while weaving this multi-layered plot, with each conflict reaching a satisfying conclusion.  Not to say that it is perfect.  For example, you'd think that a peace officer would know better than to make such a careless mistake in the denouement.  To be fair, though, Bret did note the sheriff would be "in a hurry" and we see his pre-race panic for ourselves--it's almost as explainable as the Colonel's good natured response when one ponders it.  Haste makes waste, right?   

Gratuitous pic of Saundra Edwards.  You're welcome.

HOW'D BRET DO AT POKER? 

After cracking the crooked stud game, Bret wins four hundred that we see with Aces against Queens before the first session breaks.  He wins $3600 in his followup, before he is robbed of all of it.  As an added bonus, he does quite well betting on the quarterhorse race.

WISDOM FROM PAPPY?

Referencing the dishonorable sheriff of Hollow Rock, Bret makes an exception to Pappy's advice: "If you haven't anything nice to say about a man, change the subject."  This is the second time in the episode where Bret goes against Pappy's words.  Earlier, he participates in the $100 Limit Stud game despite this proverb: "Never play in a rigged game unless you rig it yourself."

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Intricately plotted, highly entertaining episode that was somehow left out of Columbia House's VHS series, one of only two Bret episodes not to make the cut (the first season's Black Fire, also written by Browne, was the other).  Once you've seen Holiday at Hollow Rock, the oversight is noticeable.  It's easy to root for Bret when he's battling a corrupt lawman (and his self-interest coincides with the common good), Mayer is always a delight, and Edwards is one of the most stunning female guest stars in the series.  Holiday at Hollow Rock isn't nearly as well known as Browne's Duel at Sundown but the script is arguably just as solid.  Perhaps everything is tied up a bit too neatly, but this isn't enough of a defect to spoil perhaps the most underrated Bret solo outing.  (***1/2 out of four)

MAVERICK currently airs daily at 1 PM Central/2 PM Eastern without commercial interruption on Encore Westerns, and at 10 AM Central/11 AM Eastern on COZI TV.

Friday, September 19, 2014

F TROOP Fridays: "The Courtship of Wrangler Jane" (1966)






F TROOP Fridays: Number Six







F TROOP: "The Courtship of Wrangler Jane" (Season One, Episode 23; Original Air Date 2/22/66) Starring Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, Ken Berry, Melody Patterson, Frank de Kova, Don Diamond, James Hampton, Bob Steele, John Mitchum, Joe Brooks, Rachel Romen, Ben Frommer. Directed by Gene Reynolds.  Written by Arthur Julian.

Sergeant O'Rourke (Tucker) and Corporal Agarn (Storch) are arriving at the Hekawi camp for a business meeting with his partners in Enterprise, Chief Wild Eagle (DeKova) and Assistant Chief Crazy Cat (Diamond).  They are led to a literally smoking tepee by a pointing Smokey Bear (Ben Frommer).

Ben "blink and you'll miss him" Frommer at right
Frommer can be seen (or more accurately, glimpsed) in 52 different F TROOP installments, but he has no lines here and is uncredited.  That's par for the course for Mr. Frommer, who only had a speaking part in four of those 52.  PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and SCARFACE were among his big screen appearances, and Frommer's F TROOP character was also called Papa Bear and Happy Bear in some episodes.


O'Rourke initially thinks the tepee is on fire, but learns that the smoke is coming from Wild Eagle's new steam room.  Crazy Cat points out that Wild Eagle needs the sauna to relieve his "tired old bones", and would likely be in the "happy hunting ground" without it.  Which leads one to wonder why Crazy Cat doesn't sabotage the thing......


Wild Eagle informs the Sarge that the price for a steam is 15 cents, something that hypochondriac Agarn is more than willing to pay to "open up pores" and let the poison out of his system.


The PC police certainly can't claim that the Hekawis are exploited by their business partners.  On the contrary, the 50/50 split on souvenirs and whiskey sales is referenced in virtually every show, and O'Rourke Enterprises does not have a hand in everything, either. This is the second Wild Eagle business venture in six F TROOP Fridays (so far) shown to be completely independent of his partners (the Playbrave Club was seen in LT. O'ROURKE, FRONT AND CENTER).  So ye F TROOP detractors who are offended by what's on the surface should take note: dig a little deeper, and you'll find that things were actually downright progressive at Fort Courage.

(I know, I know.  This ain't Speaker's Corner.  Back to the show.)

O'Rourke learns that this "steam room" isn't the result of a natural hot spring (86 Proof or not) but is in fact just a fire in a pit with rocks over it.  ("What you want for fifteen cents, Yellowstone Park?"  is Wild Eagle's defensive response.)  All it took to set up was one day to dig a pit.  Six feet, "just like when you're burying someone" Crazy Cat helpfully describes.  We can already see the wheels turning in the Sarge's head.


Once he's safely out of the steam room and the Chief's earshot, a time honored tradition takes root: the knockoff.  "We have a steam room of our own", O'Rourke explains--"we just ain't built it yet".  O'Rourke elaborates that the location will be their trusty NCO Club. (Nagging Question # 1: Where will you put all the whiskey and souvenirs once it's built?  You couldn't risk them being seen by anyone outside the business, right?)

Agarn points out another obvious problem, that even Captain Parmenter (Berry) would get suspicious of a constant parade of troopers and townspeople lined up outside the NCO Club in towels.  Thus setting the plot in motion....

Captain Parmenter is way too important to the Sarge's business to ever get rid of ("O'Rourke Enterprises needs Great White Pigeon") but he would nevertheless be even more beneficial if he lived off the post.  And he would--if he was a married officer.   O'Rourke notes that this would give them 12 hours a day to pursue ventures without a watchful (so to speak) eye of supervision.  Agarn, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, needs it spelled out:  "We are gonna play Cupid, stupid!"


Okay, three guesses where this is leading, and the first two don't count.  That's right, O'Rourke and Agarn pay a visit to Wrangler Jane (Patterson) in her general store.  "Janey, would you like to get married?" is Agarn's icebreaker, and an omen of things to follow.


Jane is naturally skeptical of this sudden interest in her romantic life.  "Wilton hasn't said anything to me about gettin' married.  And I don't think he's said anything about it to you, either!"  In the face of such skepticism, Agarn must elaborate--the Captain talks in his sleep.  Must be loud, since he's in seperate quarters, right?  Wrong--the Corporal hears him "because I'm walking in my sleep!"

According to Agarn, "I want to marry Jane--but I'm too shy to ask her" is the Captain's oft repeated somniloquy.  Shaky as the presentation may be, Wrangler Jane wants to believe it, which is half the battle.   She shows the non-coms her intended wedding dress--which she's selling for half price, having lost hope that Wilton will ever propose.  If that doesn't get your tear ducts going, it does have the onion effect on one Randolph Agarn.


O'Rourke persuades Janey to let the old matchmakers have a crack at this, tearing up the "For Sale" sign.  Meanwhile, in the Captain's office, Parmenter is struggling to open that desk drawer again when O'Rourke and Agarn report.  WD-40 was invented just 87 years too late for Wilton, as we can see this coming a mile away:


Prompting Corporal Agarn to remark, "you know, Captain, this never would have happened if you were married!"  Subtlety, thy name is not Randolph Agarn.  O'Rourke clarifies that if he was married, he would have been having lunch at home.  Agarn: "Off the post!"


Personal questions about the Captain's preferences regarding children quickly follow, with comparisons to Jane's views on the same.  With the Captain wondering aloud how this conversation got to Janie "all of a sudden", Agarn takes another step by invoking one of Wilton's heroes.  "George Washington never would have made it through Valley Forge if he hadn't lived off the post with Martha!"


O'Rourke and Agarn, two guys who are single, continue to list all the positives of married life, and the Captain appears to be liking what he hears.  Right on cue, a "surprise" visitor arrives: Wrangler Jane, wearing a homemade dress and holding a hot apple pie.  Or is that a hot dress and a homemade apple pie?  You decide.


What happens next is another in the long tradition of F TROOP writers slipping one past the censors.   While Standards and Practices at ABC managed to stop Wild Eagle's tribe from being named the Fukawis(!) they failed to catch Agarn's Canadian cousin being named Lucky Pierre in the second season opener, The Singing Mountie.   Well, they're about to miss another one:

Marveling over the quality of Jane's apple pie, the men encourage the Captain to try a piece, but he declines, stating: "My taste runs to gooseberry."  A popular Philadelphia dessert at the time, perhaps?  I found no evidence of that, but: "Gooseberry Bush" was widely used 19th century slang for a woman's pubic hairCombine that knowledge with the look on Wilton's face as he says this right in front of Miss Thrift:


That doesn't look like an innocent expression if you ask me!  Is the Captain subtly sending Janie a message here?  Perhaps that shy, hard-to-get routine is just that, an act?

Looks like Janie's heard the term before....
Nah, don't get your hopes up, Jane.  He seems completely oblivious to all these attempts to woo him and turns his attention right back to that damn drawer, ignoring all of Wrangler's attributes and efforts.  After further difficulty, he opens it again and gives himself a shiner in the process.  Whether it's due to the hard-sell of being married (and yes, Agarn--off the post) or embarrassment, he beats a hasty retreat to the carpenter with the warped wood, leaving the displeased trio in his wake.


Agarn is befuddled.  (What else is new?)  "I don't understand--you look pretty, Janie!  For a girl."  Hmm.  Corporal, with comments like that, I'm beginning to understand just why Betty Lou broke off that seven year engagement.

Before Miss Thrift can put the wedding dress back on the sales rack, O'Rourke has another idea that just might get a rise out of Wilton: the jealousy angle, with Agarn doing the courting.  In case you couldn't guess from Randolph's prior comment, neither seems to pleased with the idea, causing O'Rourke to admonish them.  "You two are havin' a lover's quarrel and you ain't even in love yet!"


The greater good appeals to both of them, with Wrangler happy to try this if it will wake Wilton up.  And Agarn? "All I care about is seeing you two kids find a lifetime of happiness---off the post!"  And it's off to Act Two, where the revised scheme will go into action.


The next morning after reveille, Wrangler Jane again arrives in a dress, carrying a basket.  Parmenter is pleased, until he learns that she's brought breakfast for Corporal Agarn.  Homemade flapjacks, topped with homemade maple syrup, with a side of homemade sausage and a jug of homemade coffee to wash it all down.  And she brought it in her "homemade basket"!

Go Randolph....go Randolph.....
Randolph commences with his morning nourishment (all allowed by regulations, as O'Rourke helpfully covers), wiping the smile completely off the Captain's face.  The Sarge consoles him by pointing out how smooth "that lucky dog" Agarn is, causing Wilton to suddenly lose that appetite for breakfast.


Captain Parmenter's aggravation continues at lunchtime, since it appears Corporal Agarn's newfound preoccupation with Jane and her home cooking is causing him to neglect his duties.  Posting a guard in the lookout tower is Agarn's responsibility.  But O'Rourke is able to diffuse the situation, pointing out that the Corporal has merely decided to take a hands-on approach to his duties.  Showing further dedication, he's actually working through lunch.  Sort of.


"Everything's clear up here!"  If I were Corporal Agarn, I'd be worried that the increasingly nauseated Parmenter might fire the cannon right now, but like any good officer, Wilton keeps his composure.  Next, dinner time rolls around, and O'Rourke informs the dismayed Captain that the Corporal still isn't dining in the mess hall.  Instead, Jane and Agarn have set up a picnic--on the Captain's porch.


The evening menu?  Homemade fried chicken, homemade biscuits, homemade apple butter, and homemade carrots (raised in Jane's garden).  After dinner, Mr. Agarn plans to take his lady out to pick wildflowers.  "At night?" the Captain asks.


"Yes.  That's what makes it...so wild."  Agarn, if you were this silver tongued around Betty Lou, she never would have ditched you for Clarence the horse car conductor.  What follows is this installment's most memorable setpiece, parodying the tavern meal in TOM JONES (1963) that doubles as sexual foreplay.  How voracious are the appetites?



If you think that last screencap is too suggestive, well, hey, I could have shown you this one:


Oh wait, I just did.  Never mind.

Parmenter has now reached two conclusions.  One, Corporal Agarn isn't exactly a smooth eater, and two, it's time for a change of scenery.  Not just by closing the window to his porch, either.  The Captain plans to file an application for transfer.


Wilton starts listing his reasons, feeling a Jane ("I mean, strain") and a climate with a little more Jane ("I mean, rain").  It's all got him ready to catch the next Jane--er, train.


Now, wait a minute! O'Rourke Enterprises needs great white pigeon!  But Sergeant O'Rourke is surprisingly unalarmed by the Captain's sudden desire to leave.  While he gently tries to get the Captain to open up on any hidden reasons for the pending departure, Morgan maintains an "everything is under control" look, so one can only assume that this is part of the master plan.  Right down to the going away party for the Captain at the Fort Courage saloon.


Which the Sarge informs him will be a combination affair, simultaneous with Corporal Agarn's bachelor party.


(Nagging Question # 2: Why does the second banner read Good-Bye Corporal Agarn?  He isn't going anywhere, he's just getting married to Jane, and he isn't even moving Off The Post, since he's not an officer!)

Anyway, it's time for the toasts, and the Captain makes the classy move of toasting the man who has bested him for Jane's hand.  Only no one can find him.


Oh, wait, there he is.  "Agarn, we're toastin' you!"

"Thanks, Fellas!"
Captain Wilton Parmenter has finally had enough, and a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.  No, violence isn't on the agenda, even if he is the Scourge of the West.  But with Randolph getting so randy on the eve of the wedding, it is time to have a man to man talk with this scoundrel who is toying with Wrangler Jane's emotions. 


"Just get me to the church on time!" the Corporal assures his commander.  (Arthur Julian really liked quoting song lyrics in his teleplays.  Something for fans to listen for, since he authored nearly half of the show's episodes.)

"Corporal Agarn, you're a cad!"


Aw, now that hurt, Captain.  O'Rourke rushes over and encourages the Captain to tell Janie what he now knows.  As luck would have it, she arrives on cue, just in time for Parmenter to assert himself and show some fiery emotion.  "I forbid you to marry that man!"


Inside, the Sarge congratulates Agarn on his perfect performance, and outside, Captain Wilton Parmenter and Jane Angelica Thrift reconcile.  But not in the way that O'Rourke and Agarn were shooting for--she doesn't want to get her man by tricking him.  She's ready to let him go, but the newly appreciative Captain isn't leaving.


Wilton tears up his transfer papers, and while there's no marriage proposal coming just yet, Jane does accept his invitation to pick a few wild flowers at night.  Oh, that Agarn!  What a smoothie!  A man can learn a few things about courtship from him, huh, Captain?


Then again, maybe not.

In the coda, they may not have that marriage they wanted just yet, but O'Rourke is ready to move forward on that steam room anyway.  However, Agarn forgot to turn off the boiler after testing it, and....


You know, O'Rourke Enterprises is really going to need to find alternate storage for the whiskey and souvenirs if they expect to stay in business.

BETTER DRINKING GAME FOR THIS ONE: "OFF THE POST" OR "HOMEMADE"?:

It's really close through the end of Act One, but "Homemade" wins this one going away in the second half once the phony courtship takes over for the real one.  If you use both as cues to imbibe, you'll be intoxicated faster than you can say Wrangler Train.

PC, OR NOT PC?

Not much that's objectionable here, though you might want cringe when Corporal Agarn declares that Janie is cheaper to keep than a horse. 

WILD OLD HEKAWI SAYING:

No kernels of wisdom this time dispensed during the lone scene at the village.


NUMBER OF TIMES O'ROURKE COULD HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH TREASON:

A remarkably treason-free outing for Season One, leading me to wonder how many episodes had no traitorous acts by O'Rourke and no Wise Old Hekawi Sayings.  That number has to be in the low single digits.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

This is the best of the show's forays into the titular courtship, which likely would have lasted as long as the Major Nelson-Jeannie pre-nuptial romance on I Dream of Jeannie if F TROOP hadn't prematurely succumbed to the cheapskate ways of Warner Brothers.  A fine showcase for Melody Patterson (who for once gets to wear a dress for much of the episode) and you'll be scraping yourself off the floor after the Tom Jones homage.  Great fun that even provides a little warmth without letting heart get in the way of hilarity, a flaw that fatally damaged Marriage, Fort Courage Style when this premise was revisited during the second season. (**** out of four) 


F TROOP currently airs on Me-TV for a full hour each Wednesday night at 10 PM ET/9 PM CT.