Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hazel: The Early Years: Episode 3, Hazel Plays Nurse

All you Hazel fanfic writers hoping to see Shirley Booth in a nurse outfit, settle down. That doesn't happen in this episode--Hazel doesn't even get to wear the spiffy new dress she bought for Harold's school ceremony--but we do learn that she is "a licensed vocational nurse." It's not brain surgery, she says, but it's the best you can do with night school.

And you DO get to see Don Defore in flannel pajamas as Hazel (with an assist from the local doctor, who confirms her diagnosis) forces Mr. B to bed with that dreaded calamity known as...A COLD.

Yes, the cold is so feared that it sidelines not just George, but his most valued and most annoying client, the "steamroller" himself, none other than Howard Smith as Mr. Griffin! Yes, episode 3 features the historic debut of the semi-regular, and he's grumpy and irritable from the beginning, though at least this time there's an excuse: Poor widdle baby has a widdle cold.

To his credit, Griffin doesn't want to rest up. He wants to do work, so much so that he barrels into the Baxter household, marches upstairs, and starts going over "important papers" with attorney George...

...which leads to Hazel discovering HE'S sick and confining him as well. One of the best things about this episode is the bluster of the menfolk when confronted with Hazel's strong will. Both George and Griffin declare that if anyone thinks they're going to bed, they're crazy, followed of course by a quick cut to them in bed.

Interesting, though, that even in this first appearance, Griffin does a quasi-babyface turn, relenting on a negotiation George conducts over the phone, then telling George Hazel reminds him of his dear, old mother after putting on her wool socks (Nothing weird about any of this, friends). I kept expecting him to go ape over some homemade soup Hazel whipped up, but he only gets to share the croup kettle she got out for Mr. B, so his intense love of her cooking will be revealed in a future episode.

"Hazel Plays Nurse" is a solid effort, with plenty of patented shots of Don Defore being taken aback by what goes on around him. At the breakfast table, before being diagnosed with that devastating cold, he remarks on the "bedlam" around him, which consists of the school bus (driven by prolific character actor Norman Leavitt) picking up Harold. Whoa, total chaos!

"Spare me your so-called witticisms, Hazel."

"Oh, for crying out loud..."

The subtext of the episode, as it is throughout the series' run is the politics of the working class. Fred the milkman complains to Hazel how he has the longest route of anyone because his boss is trying to make him quit so he can give the job to his brother-in-law. Hazel manages to get a phone extension installed in the Baxters' bedroom, and she does so through her connection to Gordy, who is outside working on a telephone pole.  He's booked on a tight schedule  (by "The Man," no doubt), but he agrees to do the work pronto when Hazel threatens to withhold...bowling lessons (I TOLD you to settle down).

Harold's school presentation will feature his reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, to which I say, big deal. Oh, I am not dissing the Pledge, but why is this such an event? My kids say it every single day, yet Hazel and Dorothy are acting like Harold's recital of it is a State of the Union address. Later, with George in bed, Missy insists that Hazel attend the school event because she can't leave George alone. it's a nice gesture because she knows Hazel bought a new outfit for the occasion, but, jeez, it's YOUR son, as Hazel says in so many words. Thankfully, Hazel overrides her boss' orders--why should this be different than any other time--but I don't see why both couldn't go. George has a cold, not dengue fever.

Somewhere in an old lady's sitting room, a sofa is missing its upholstery

Finally, there's a great cold open with George bragging to Harold about his football exploits. "They used to call me End Run Baxter," he boasts. Well, when he gets Scrap Iron Burke to snap the ball to him, he goes End over Tea Kettle:

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