THE TEN BEST EPISODES OF GOMER PYLE, USMC!!!!
It always seemed (at least since the early-eighties) like some kinda classic tee-vee snobbery was in full swing when I'd hear the same people who were singing the praises of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW (especially the Barney Fife-era b&w episodes) up nose when it came to GOMER PYLE USMC. I dunno about you, but yeah, I like ANDY GRIFFITH just as much as the next old-timey tee-vee viewer (and I even swear allegiance to the color ones as much as the original b&ws which is yet another no-no), but I gotta say that I rank this GRIFFITH show spinoff just as highly and at times even higher not only to get those selfsame purists all mad, but because PYLE had a strangely L7-yet-guffaw-inducing quality about it that continues to work on that same sainted plateau of blissed-out nada that OZZIE AND HARRIET and Bushmiller-period NANCY comics do. I must admit it's pretty creepy finding out that amongst fans of earlier television trends there's such a strong distaste for the series, because I hold GOMER PYLE in such high regards, in fact have such an esteem for this unjustly-maligned program that I'd even consider it one of the all-time tee-vee classics especially when it comes to late-sixties programming, which except for syndicated reruns and a few precious network classics weren't exactly banner years for high-energy television viewing!
Anyway, here's a no-order list of my ten fave GOMER PYLE episodes, and if some of you PYLE fans (or not) have any you wanna add or delete feel free ta do so! All I gotta say is, it's gonna be a hard task to decide which are the best given the show's no-holds-barred high-quality over its four or five-year (I forget if they're including the summer reruns or not) lifespan:
1) Gomer loses the Colonel's wild daughter in a discoteque where the Frank Zappa-produced Factory (with Lowell George and other Little Feat) are playing tracks from their unreleased until the late-eighties album! Great gag where Carter mistakes a long-haired guy for the teenage gal!
2) Opie runs away from home after getting a stern licking and hides out at Camp Pendleton (probably best known for the heart-felt and serious speech that Sgt. Carter gives to a wrecked Andy Taylor at the end of the episode).
3) Sgt. Carter, Gomer and longtime character actor Keith Larsen appear on an all-marine special episode of WIN A DATE (a thinly-veiled spoof of THE DATING GAME) and Gomer gets picked by the swinging blonde despite (or perhaps because of) his flat cornball answers! (This is the episode where Gomer exclaims, after seeing good-looking Larsen enter into the "green room," the immortal line "He's even handsomer than Rock Hudson"!!!!) This one is also good because once again Frank Sutton (as Carter) gets to do his extremely funny schtick where he tries to be overly-masculine/sexy in order to impress the lass and comes off looking like a total boob in the process!
4) Gomer's part of a quilting bee with some old ladies and because he doesn't want to get "ribbed" by his fellow marines he's rather tight-lipped about his whereabouts, only telling them that he's spending Saturday afternoons with "the girls." Meanwhile, the editors of some men's magazine take photos of Gomer in various poses and airbrush in snaps of bikini-clad beauties posing alongsides him for a "marine has fun at the beach" layout. Carter sees the photos and thinks that the young femme frolickers are "the girls" Gomer has been seeing every Saturday and begs Gomer to take him along despite Gomer's protestations to the contrary. BEST PART: the look on Carter's face when the door to the house opens and he sees the old biddies Gomer's been spending his time with! (An aside, during my high school days when PYLE repeats were airing in the afternoon, this particular episode caused all of the horny boys in school to speculate that the girls in the pics were actually nude and that they only had bikinis on in order to pass the censors! I mean, I was told by some of the more, er, erotically inclined amongst my peers that sure, those curvaceous cuties had "clothes" on, but they were really buck naked! You figure that one out!)
5) Gomer eats Welsh Rarebit (which he is warned might give him nightmares) and chews out Sgt. Carter while walking in his sleep! Carter then eats some and acts all docile while walking in his sleep, a perfectly comic role reversal gag that works better than most.
6) Gomer keeps sinking the inflatable raft (either by jumping through it, firing his rifle or jabbing it with his bayonet) during navy exercises.
7) Gomer and Carter go to Las Vegas and Gomer (who wants to visit the Hoover Dam and the rocks and minerals museum while Carter anxiously awaits all the gambling and high living) gives Carter's huge winnings to the Salvation Army! (I remember this ending really upsetting a gambling-inclined peer of mine who probably couldn't sleep that night seeing Carter's jackpot being dumped into a kettle! Boy was he mad and he sure let me know it!!!)
8) Gomer and his platoon are appearing in some film and Carter keeps blowing his single line "Let's hear it for Henshaw!"
9) Carter decides to play a trick on watermelon-growing Gomer by injecting vodka into the melons (by cutting a hole in the rind, sticking the neck of an open bottle into the flesh and letting the alcohol spread throughout), only Gomer gives the tainted fruit to the Colonel's wife for her bridge party!
10) The one where Gomer and Carter are bound and gagged by criminals, hide out in the trunk of the crooks' car, and get all soaking when the trunk opens in the middle of a car wash!
Hey, if you wanna add to the list, you know where to go! (Another good one; lost Japanese boy who only speaks his native tongue has Gomer and Carter take him all over Washington DC, ultimately giving himself away during a ballgame by yelling some choice English-language epithets at the umpire...strangest scene is where the boy is returned to his residence and is greeted at the door by his sexy older sister with the two latently gay soldiers [that is, if you believe all the stories and ascribe a Batman/Robin relationship to the pair!] all of a sudden acting super-hetero before getting the door shut in their faces! Another goodie...two crooks rent out an empty lunch counter next door to a bank in order to cut a hole through the wall and break in, only thanks to Gomer's help the restaurant actually becomes a legit business! And then again I like the one where, during war games, Gomer and his not too bright partner accidently capture Sgt. Carter who angrily mutters "I am the enemy Pyle, I AM the enemy!!!!" before getting ready to kill!!! This is the one where Pyle's partner sings "Hound Dog" (as a ruse) a decade after it was a hit, making me wonder if this was some old script written a long time back adapted for the show...sorta like I always thought that the "Sunset Strip" episode of THE LUCY SHOW was really an old beatnik-era script given a few changes in order to keep up with the times!)
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