41-02-03 Wallpapering at Midnight

STARRING: ART VAN HARVEY, BERNARDINE FLYNN AND BILL IDELSON

Mr. Erickson (the Gook's landlord) seems to have a change of heart about the upstairs' wallpaper. Instead of apes and psychedilia, this time he brings samples of beautiful, high-quality paper. And he will have the upstairs papered quickly.

However, the one putting up the paper, Noah Feeple, Mr. Erickson's son-in-law (and husband of Beulah) has a job where he gets off at 11 pm, meaning that he would have to work after midnight for probably close to a week in the Gook's bedrooms in order to get the job done.

The wallpaper is so nice, Mr. Erickson is has been nice... now this. Sade silently cries.
MIS' CROWE SAYS:
"Has some change taken place in the chemistry of Erickson’s soul? Has some inner radiance found its way to the dark recesses of Erickson’s muddy spirit?"
"No, Vic. He’s the same old landlord."
Another sordid chapter in the saga of the wallpaper. Now, Mr. Erickson has finally brought in some attractive, quality wallpaper samples — but since Sade won’t let him skimp on the materials, he has decided to attempt to skimp on the labor. He wants to hang the wallpaper himself, together with his son-in-law and daughter…at midnight. That’s the only time, apparently, that the three of them are able to get together.

This sort of bait-and-switch technique is no surprise coming from Mr. Erickson. Recall when Sade finally wrestled him into doing some house repairs…only to find out that he wanted the family to do the bulk of the labor themselves. Of course, none of this ever flies with Sade. Eventually, she always gets her way. Erickson knows this. These stunts are just delaying techniques. Erickson knows she won’t put her foot down and threaten to move out, like Mis’ Scott — or, if she does, he’ll know that it’s nothing but a bluff. But he knows that if he keeps producing unacceptable and ridiculous solutions to the problem, and puts the onus on Sade to refuse his solutions, he’ll be able to delay the work as long as possible — maybe be able to track down a good deal on wallpaper or labor and save a little money. He’s a clever one, that Erickson.

This episode — and the whole wallpaper plot arc — illustrates a key aspect of Sade’s role in the show that I keep coming back to over and over: she is completely in charge of matters of the home. She contemplates Margaret Scott’s bluff charge at Mr. Erickson and decides that she could never pull it off herself — but never is it suggested that Vic, as the male head of the household, give it a try. Never does it fall to Vic to deal with the landlord. It’s always Sade. Vic actively avoids Erickson — he declines to go into the living room in this episode because he is “always uncomfortable in [Erickson’s] presence”. Vic even refers to the project as “your upstairs” — not “our upstairs” (“You’re no closer to gettin’ your upstairs papered than ya ever were, huh?”).

Vic is such a fish out of water in these matters that he doesn’t even know how to help, and when he sees Sade becoming increasingly upset, he resorts to the most basic solution for a lady in distress that he can pull out of the depths of his reptile brain. This, of course, is no balm to Sade’s wounds, since it’s obviously just a masculine fantasy that would have no utility in her modern, civilized world, and Vic’s desperate attempt at gallantry falls upon deaf ears:
VIC: Maybe next time I see Erickson I’d best paste him one upside the snoot.
SADE: Mm.
VIC: Whatcha think?
SADE: Oh…I don’t care.
VIC: I’ll carefully grasp him by the coat collar, I’ll draw my fist way, way back, and I’ll take careful aim, and I’ll let go.
SADE: Look at these lovely, lovely wallpaper samples…
VIC: Mmm.
SADE: [voice catching] They’re so pretty…
VIC: Mmm.
Poor Vic! Poor Sade! Poor Rush, who can’t get a word in edgewise in this episode for all the serious wallpaper talk! Poor everybody!
 SEE THE SCRIPT (transcribed by Lydia Crowe)

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This is not a funny episode at all.  Instead, what this episode does is confuse us as to whether Mr. Erickson is a good guy or a bad guy. Did he get the quality material so that Sade would be faced with a hard letdown when she finds that Noah will paper the house only after midnight? Or does it show Mr. Erickson finally gives in to Sade and brings quality material and that he basically can't help the fact that Noah is only off after midnight?  The question is not answered so we must answer this ambiguous question for our individual selves.

Would Rush have said this?
Personally, I feel he gives in to her and brings quality wallpaper to appease her.  The fact that his son-in-law will get there late at night (he feels) is their problem.

However, the thing to do would be to hire someone to do it in the daytime.  Perhaps he could split that cost with the Gooks.  But hey, back to the blog - this isn't The People's Court.

Trivia:

+ If I still kept up with Rush being "radio abused" (which I discontinued after the 1937 season), this would certainly be one of the episodes I'd point to. Rush has insights on three different idioms used by his parents but instead of letting him enlighten them, each tell him they don't want to hear it. Vic is the most rude to him out of the two parents. Rush is virtually silent the entire episode.

+ Mr. Erickson's daughter Beulah is married to Noah Feeple (the first time he's been mentioned.) He is a telegraph operator and a general handyman.

+ Noah Feeple knows a bit about paper hanging but he is also adept at a bit of plumbing, carpentry and watch repair.

+ Sade called Beulah, "fat" again. She did not do that in the previous episode Beulah was on but did do that in Beulah's debut episode.

+ We find out that Mis' Scott/the Scotts also rent from Mr. Erickson. If you will recall this episode, the Donahues (before they moved) also rented from Mr. Erickson. So, we know he owns at least three houses on Virginia Avenue.

Since we know from the talk on the show that where the Gooks live is close to the High School and downtown, we can assume the property value there is pretty high -- meaning Mr. Erickson is probably a very wealthy man.

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