Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hazel: The Early Years #4: A Matter of Principle

There are 3 big takeaways from this episode, and 2 of them are evident in the show's cold open (Is it just me, or does "cold open" feel like too modern a term to use with a 1960s sitcom?). First is whatever is going on with Don Defore's right hand. It's heavily bandaged the entire episode, and we are told that George Baxter injured it catching a line drive from Hazel.

Takeaway #2: Hazel continues to be the Babe Didrikson of her era. The series has already established her prowess at football and bowling, and now we  learn she is a whiz at baseball, too. That's not all, though! One of George's endless parade of pompous clients struggles with his golf swing in this episode until Hazel, eyeballing him for about 2 seconds, diagnoses his problem and gives him a tip that improves his game. She's an expert golfer as well!

Let's go back to George's hand, though. There are several references to the injury throughout the episode, and it seems an odd thing to just write into the story, so I believe Defore hurt himself in real life. The romantic in me likes to think he broke some dude's jaw in a bar fight.

The third big takeaway is that, while Hazel is an expert in matters of medicine, the culinary arts, and of course athletics, Mr. B really is a talented attorney. Even though the scenario that reinforces it in this episode is rather ridiculous, it's gratifying to see that Hazel does respect and appreciate Mr. Baxter's abilities. Plus he is the one who solves the big "mystery" at the heart of the story. Sometimes the show leans so far in the other direction that I love seeing some signs that George is capable of some things and Hazel does need him sometimes.

Hazel gets a parking ticket while shopping despite putting change in ("better safe than sorry") as soon as she and Harold get out of the car. She insists she is innocent, and when George sees how disturbed she is, he offers to take care of it. Only he means he'll pay for it, but she wants him to defend her in court.

So we go to court over a minor parking violation, and not only that, corporate attorney George defends Hazel before a judge against a district attorney who calls witnesses and everything. Amazingly, the judge even permits a field trip in the middle of the trial so that everyone can assemble at the scene of the "violation" for George to make his triumphant conclusions.

Why not? It's not like they have anything more important to do, I'm sure.

This is a fine episode packed with veteran actors like Vinton Hayworth as Mr. Sunderland, who would return several times in Hazel and go on to play General Schaeffer on I Dream of Jeannie;  and Lewis Martin as Judge Rosencrantz.

And, hey, is this a young Victor French telling the judge he can't do anything about the loud jackhammering outside the courtroom?

Larry Haddon (who also returned to the show in a different role years later) has a prominent role as the prosecutor determined to preserve the credibility of the local constabulary by proving Hazel deserves her citation.

Hazel's golf tips, Mr. B's acumen, and the mysterious hand injury make this a highlight of season 1!

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