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 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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.

Monday, September 08, 2014

MAVERICK Mondays: "The Rivals" (1959)

MAVERICK Mondays: Number 8

MAVERICK: "The Rivals" (1959 Warner Brothers/ABC-TV) Starring James Garner as Bret Maverick, Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick, Roger Moore as John Vandergelt, Pat Crowley as Lydia Lynley, Neil Hamilton as General Archibald Vandergelt, Barbara Jo Allen as Mrs. Mallaver, Dan Tobin as Lucius Benson, William Allen as Livingston, Sandra Gould as Lucy.  Directed by Leslie H. Martinson.  Written by Marion Hargrove.

Traveling by train, the Maverick brothers part ways at the Denver stop, with Bart choosing the poker games there and Bret setting his sights on greener pastures further down the track: the exclusive Great Western Hotel and Casino at Hope Springs.  As he departs, Bart wishes his brother luck, noting that "they won't let you in unless your name is Vanderbilt, Vandergelt, Stuyvesant or Astor".  Enter John, a fellow passenger who just happens to have that Vandergelt last name.  As luck would have it, John has been eavesdropping and has a business proposal for the remaining Maverick.

John proposes an identity switch with Bret in order to woo Ms. Lynley incognito.  The Vandergelt heir has had his eye on the lovely Lydia for awhile but wants to be loved for his personality instead of his money.  He's also done his homework from afar and knows that they have a lot in common: she's a fellow bookworm who prefers "peasant pride" to riches, so his financial status would actually be a severe obstacle.  The exchange will also provide Bret with $1,000 per week to bankroll his casino entry, but of course, complications ensue.  Bret develops an attraction to Lynley himself, and Vandergelt's father Archibald arrives, ready to "do business" on an arranged marriage for his son.

The author of several essential MAVERICK installments, Hargrove adapted The Rivals (at Roy Huggins' suggestion) from the classic 1775 play of the same name by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  Director Martinson once stated that Hargrove "had a bead on MAVERICK that no other writer had" and the droll dialogue is perfect for both Moore and Garner, with their crisp banter driving this very entertaining episode.  It's also amusing to see Bret Maverick interacting with the senior Vandergelt in the final act, with the General's practical statements seeming to have a more receptive audience with the money loving poker player than with his own son.

Moore's "poor rich boy" is bemused as both Bret (referring to John's "bland, stupid look") and General Vandergelt ("You'd better take it easy until you get used to it" is the General's response to "I've been thinking") get their verbal shots in, and the confident junior Vandergelt shows he can dish it out in return.  The closest he comes to losing his stoicism comes after the ruse is discovered by his intended (deadpanning that he'll "go upstairs and open a vein").  The future James Bond fits nicely into the MAVERICK universe; and his performance in The Rivals led to him being cast as Cousin Beau Maverick after Garner's departure.

Garner's Bret isn't quite as put upon in The Rivals as he is in other Hargrove classics (Gun-Shy, The Jail at Junction Flats) but still exhibits plenty of quiet frustration throughout, ending with Brother Bart creatively getting that seat in the Hope Springs poker game that Bret had been seeking since his arrival.  In Hargrove's original script, Bart's bookending cameos were written for Bret's nemesis Dandy Jim Buckley, but Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. was unavailable (his 77 SUNSET STRIP had become a smash in its first season).  Given the constant undercurrent of competition between Bret and Bart, the denouement works just as well with the change, which the author approved.

The Earl of Bartley has arrived!
With funny lines for just about everyone, including Crowley's principled ingenue and Hamilton's bullying blue blood, The Rivals doesn't have to coast on the chemistry between Garner and Moore, but it easily could have.  There's a healthy respect between two resourceful individuals underneath each witty retort.  The potential realized here by Hargrove and Martinson makes one wish that Garner and the studio could have somehow resolved their differences, since it would have been fun to see Bret, Bart and cousin Beau team up at least once.

Unfortunately, by the time Roger Moore joined MAVERICK as a member of the family, Hargrove, Douglas Heyes, Roy Huggins and Russell Hughes were all long gone from the series (Hughes passed away in 1958) and the uneven quality of the scripts for that fourth season reflected the substantial creative losses.  In fact, The Rivals ended up being Hargrove's MAVERICK swan song, a classy and hilarious high point to bow out on.


With one obstacle after another standing in his way, Bret never does make it to the poker room until it is too late, and his ruse is discovered.  Brother Bart's success in Denver is unknown, but he must not have fared too badly, since his bankroll was obviously healthy enough for an English Lord.


"Early to bed and early to rise is the curse of the working class." (Side note: Bob Collins of LOVE THAT BOB had his own variation on Benjamin Franklin's famous quote, which we will visit in the next installment of that episode guide.)


The Rivals was one Marion Hargrove's finest efforts, ambitiously tackling the highbrow source material with ample sprinkling of the writer's dark sense of humor.   An absolute hoot from beginning to end, with funny lines for almost everyone ("What Vandergelt conscience?" from Hamilton is one of my favorites) and Jack Kelly getting one of his biggest laughs of the entire series with barely sixty seconds of screen time.  Without question the very best MAVERICK episode featuring future regular Roger Moore, The Rivals is virtually flawless.  (**** 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.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Television Review: LOVE THAT BOB - "Bob Goes Birdwatching" (1958)

LOVE THAT BOB: "Bob Goes Birdwatching" (Original Air Date: 3/25/58) Starring Bob Cummings as Bob Collins, Ann B. Davis as Schultzy, Rosemary deCamp as Margaret Collins, John Archer as Bill Lear, Nancy Kulp as Pamela Livingstone, Patricia Cutts as Cecily, Joi Lansing as Shirley Swanson, Dwayne Hickman as Chuck Collins, Charles Coburn as "Sir Humphrey Mallard".  Written by Paul Henning, Shirl Gordon 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 in 2008 at this link.

Ace photographer Bob Collins has an in-studio beach layout with Shirley Swanson and several other models that will probably stretch into the evening hours.  Work must come before play, but two of Bob's friends have other ideas: scientist Bill Lear and birdwatcher Pamela Livingstone.  Lear wants Bob to leave the office and photograph UFO's.  Lear's a believer, Bob isn't, and Bob turns him down--nodding to Shirley, Bob states that he "prefers a dish to a saucer".

As for beanpole ornithologist Pamela Livingstone, she doubts Bob will resist the opportunity to photograph a rare and endangered bird, and is prepared to use her feminine wiles to entice him.  While the future Miss Jane Hathaway has little success in that regard, her chances improve once Bob sees the picture she's brought along from her last outing:

That's Pamela, the nesting birdie......and the Pamela's veddy British birder friend Cecily.  Three guesses why Bob is suddenly interested, and the first two don't count.

Worth a thousand words, eh Bob?
True, Bob already has a sure thing right there in the photography studio, but getting strange is the name of the game on LOVE THAT BOB.  Bobby Boy smoothly gets Cecily's number and the game is afoot, but is he up for every obstacle he's going to face?

In Bob Goes Birdwatching, Bob Collins meets the female version of himself.  Cecily appears to fall for Collins at first sight, though we find out it isn't that difficult to pique her interest.  Her body language indicates that she's charmed by the photographer, but she appears to forget all about him once she meets Bill Lear--at least initially.  It's clear from Pamela's stories about Cecily that she "gets around" at least as much as Bob does.  She appears from our vantage point to be a perfect match for TV's biggest horndog. 

Bill Lear first appeared as a would-be suitor for Margaret in Bob Meets Bill Lear, but his social ineptitude is almost painful this time.  He appears to have a chance of his own with Cecily at first, but proceeds to blow it as he tells her all about Bob's past escapades--things he thinks will make her "downright hate him".  Of course these stories have the opposite effect.  By episode's end, Lear is embarrassingly reduced to spiteful cock blocking alongside Miss Livingstone. Best known for starring in DESTINATION MOON (1950), John Archer made multiple appearances as Lear during the final two seasons of LOVE THAT BOB.

Patricia Cutts
Charming Patricia Cutts was a blonde beauty who made the rounds of episodic television throughout the Fifties and Sixties. The daughter of British silent era director Graham Cutts, she was probably best known for the 1959 horror classic THE TINGLER.  Ms. Cutts suffered from bipolar syndrome, and sadly committed suicide at age 48 with an overdose of barbituates.

Every fourth season episode of LOVE THAT BOB was written by the team of Paul Henning, Shirl Gordon and Dick Wesson, and the quality of their scripts stayed impressively consistent when one considers they produced 36 episodes during that 1957-58 season.  They even found a little time to give us the lowdown on the UFO craze of the late Fifties, with Collins noting that the Air Force has had an explanation for "98 percent" of the reported sightings.  "What about the other two percent?" is Lear's counter.

Cummings and Coburn
Bob Goes Birdwatching is marred only by a resolution that will be lost on modern audiences, with Charles Coburn appearing as the elusive Sir Humphrey Mallard--or is he?  Nicknamed "The Monocle from Georgia", Coburn co-starred with Cummings numerous times during the height of Robert's film stardom (PRINCESS O'ROURKE, THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES, KING'S ROW).  The studio audience applauds Coburn wildly: the long-time theatre actor made his film debut at age 60(!) in 1937 and won an Academy Award for 1943's THE MORE THE MERRIER.  Coburn is far from a household name today, and the then fairly recent past history between the two actors is too obscure of an in-joke now.  A spry eighty-one at the time, Georgia native Coburn was often thought to be British.  Widower Coburn remarried the following year (bride Winnifred was forty years his junior) and continued acting in films until his death in 1961.

LOVE THAT BOB is a series often accused of sexism-- with some justification, though it should be noted that Shirley Gordon co-wrote over half of the show's 173 episodes.  Refreshingly, in Bob Goes Birdwatching we have a beautiful female guest star who is just as sexually liberated as playboy Bob Collins--pretty progressive for 50's TV.  Let's just say that I'd love to know who wrote what for this installment.  Nancy Kulp is a hoot as always, and Cummings does double duty again as director and keeps things light and brisk throughout.  The denouement will fall flat for 21st century viewers, and the "special guest star" surely doesn't look like he could keep up with Cecily.  At least, not with performance enhancing drugs still forty years away.  That said, a sub-par ending isn't nearly enough to spoil a very funny half hour.  ***1/2 out of four.

DID BOB SCORE?  No, but it is a damned admirable effort of clearing every hurdle--except one.