Monday, October 23, 2023

Life with Lucy: Lucy and the Guard Goose



Joan Crawford's estranged daughter Christina once remarked that she did not know if Trog was Joan's last film but that if wasn't, it should have been. Mother of the Bride was the final Life with Lucy episode broadcast, and as such it ended Lucille Ball's disastrous fourth television series on a high note. Had it ended with Lucy and the Guard Goose, one of the five "lost" episodes, it would have sunk Ball's reputation to where it would never have recovered. While none of the Life with Lucy episodes had been good save for Mother of the Bride, Lucy and the Guard Goose was just beyond awful, a total fiasco from opening to closing that is simply cringe inducing. 

The M&B Hardware Store has been robbed. Co-owner Curtis McGibbon (Gale Gordon) does not want to spend money on a security system. Co-owner Lucy Barker (Lucille Ball), who inadvertently caused the situation by leaving the key in a visible key stone, first suggests a guard dog and then a guard goose. Somehow, Curtis goes along with this, only to end up being held hostage by Oliver the Guard Goose. Lucy's efforts to rescue Curtis ends up with her also being held prisoner by the honking horror until in frustration, Curtis throws something at Oliver.

Worried that he killed him, they take Oliver home, where they find to their relief that Oliver is not dead. He, however, is still terrorizing the McGibbon family. Even police officer Sergeant Green (Charles Levin) is no match for Oliver the Goose. Ultimately, Lucy outwits the goose by imitating a goose herself, drawing him out of the house.

Lucy and the Guard Goose is such an embarrassment from the word "go" that one watches more in sadness than horror. The entire idea of a "guard goose" might have sounded funny, but one asks, "Why a guard goose"? Lucy tries to rationalize it by saying that geese are naturally aggressive, but it still sound stupid. Curtis may have been wildly cheap, but even he might have considered that a burglar alarm would have been a better investment than a literal guard goose. He could have hired a security guard or invested in better locks, but a guard goose?

As a side note, I figure the hardware store should have been insured for robbery, so the theft of power tools would not have been the disaster the episode portrayed. 

Perhaps it is not unexpected that we do not see Oliver being bonkers in Lucy and the Guard Goose. We have maybe one shot of him when he strolls into M&B Hardware, but for the rest of the episode all we hear is his honking. While I do not think it would have been fun to see any animal harmed, I empathize with Curtis' frustration and anger at being held prisoner by a rampaging bird. To be fair, why did he ask Lucy to help him? He's pretty much has had contempt for Lucy, with reason, but why trust the person who caused the problems to help solve them?

Lucy and the Guard Goose is not helped by the performances. Of particular note is Ann Dusenberry as Margo Barker McGibbon. For reasons unknown, her running gag is retelling her oddball dreams. The episode starts with her talking about a dream where she dances the tango with Tip O'Neill (the then-Speaker of the House). When she gathers with her family as they face the crisis of the out-of-control goose, she decides this is the perfect time to tell of her newest dream.

"I was having this great dream. Mick Jagger came over and wanted me to join his group, but I said, "Mick, you can't always get what you want". I did a literal eye roll at this line. I figure that she did her best with such an awful line, but her performance is particularly atrocious. It really was just awful. Awful. Awful. Awful. There was an almost unhinged manner to it, hurried and desperate. It is as if she knew all of this was truly horrendous and was desperate to get out of it. 

There was just nothing in Lucy and the Guard Goose. The performances were all bad, even Ball and Gordon, who so far have been the only good things in Life with Lucy. I think they too did their best, particularly an agile Ball who had the ability to move like a goose. That, however, oddly draws from a similar moment from I Love Lucy almost thirty years prior except they were baby chicks. 

Lucy and the Guard Goose is shockingly bad. The public was spared a stunningly bad Life with Lucy episode. Perhaps after seeing it, the network executives decided to cancel Life with Lucy rather than watch Lucille Ball be so humiliated by this dreck. 


Next (Unaired) Episode: Lucy and Curtis Are Up a Tree

No comments:

Post a Comment

Views are always welcome, but I would ask that no vulgarity be used. Any posts that contain foul language or are bigoted in any way will not be posted.
Thank you.