My Three Sons

Trivia, Quotes, Notes and Allusions

Quotes (5)

  • A Robbie Douglas classic line: "Please pass the bunsen burner!"

  • Bub: We've got an emergency, sorry Sally (Bub hangs up on Mike's telephone call) Mike: That was Charlie Bub: (Bub picks up telephone) Sorry, Charlie.

  • Aki Hara has a good line in this episode when she asks Don Grady (as Robbie)why he parts his hair on the wrong(right) side. It would be two more seasons before he makes the change to part it on the left.

  • Aki Hara has a good line in this episode when she asks Don Grady (as Robbie)why he parts his hair on the wrong(right) side. It would be two more seasons before he makes the change to part it on the left.

Notes (1224)

  • From this premiere installment, the series will continue to be broadcast on ABC on Thursday nights at 9:00-9:30pm until September 12, 1963 changing times from the start of the fourth season.

  • Whilst doing research through the Don Fedderson Productions Collection held at UCLA, I viewed via the Online Archive of California, information that astounded me; there is a 1957 episode of "A Date with the Angels" also titled 'Chip Off the old Block' which had its teleplay written by George Tibbles (along with Fran van Hartesveldt and William R. Kelsay).

  • To emphasise Frawley's continued appearance on the program as the Douglases grandfather, the final shot of the episode is of a smiling Bub. Strangely enough, this tag segment (the last scene after the final commercial break and before the closing credits) is often edited out in reruns.

  • Show business trade paper Variety labelled the show's premiere episode as "an amiable, leisurely paced family comedy," adding that "Frawley was perfectly cast as MacMurray's wry father-in-law who acted as chief cook and bottle-washer."

  • Even though Fred MacMurray had to be talked into appearing on a show he didn't want to do because of the workload, he insisted on a unique shooting plan that was to be copied by other top actors and christened "The MacMurray Method." This alone shows MacMurray's standing within the Hollywood community at the time and his clout in getting what deal he wanted. This so-called "Writer's nightmare" stipulated that all of MacMurray's scenes were to be shot in 65 non-consecutive days. For example, scenes of many episodes set in the upstairs hallway, or kitchen or living room, were all shot out of sequence over several days. All other actors had to complete their fill-in shots while MacMurray was on vacation. Through the magic of television, and some miracle film editing, viewers never knew that MacMurray and his co-stars were sometimes in scenes together that were shot perhaps weeks apart. Practically speaking, this meant the series had to stockpile at least half a season's scripts before the season ever began so that MacMurray's role could be shot during his limited work days. The repercussions of this schedule were enormous. Guest-stars often had to return months later to finish filming an episode. This was all pretty much a well kept secret for many years and was not basically publicised outside of those who worked the show. MacMurray did score a bonus during this first year when he was paid the princely sum of $125,000 for working 25 days over his agreed 65 at the rate of $5,000 per day! (This was later attributed to Director Peter Tewksbury's perfectionist attitude, and obviously the reason he was let go at the end of the first year because Don Fedderson wasn't used to losing money on producing a show). Of course, the "MacMurray Method" isn't particularly novel in its creation (it is, after all, how most feature films were and are shot, and a method probably most comfortable and familiar to the film actor MacMurray), but its introduction to TV production methods was certainly innovative at the time.

  • Composer Frank DeVol (1911-99) wrote the now-famous theme from "My Three Sons" with Fred MacMurray in mind. Aware that MacMurray had performed on the vaudeville stage as a saxophone player in a band called the California Collegians in the 1930s, he immediately decided that the lead instrument would be a sax (representing MacMurray). He added to the mix a bassoon (representing Frawley's character), and for the three kids, a toy piano playing a variation of "Chopsticks." The addition of the intentionally off key harmonica that interrupts the melody in the much longer closing theme was another reference to the kids. The ASCAP theme by DeVol was originally published by Don Michael Music Co. Inc. (BMI), and Meridian Music Corp.(BMI) Don Michael Music is a reference to the late Executive Producer Don Fedderson and his actor son Mike Minor. The company is a publishing wing of Don Fedderson Productions based in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

  • William Frawley, still under contract to Desilu Studios in April, 1960 following the end of the "I Love Lucy" ensemble was the first actor to sign with Executive Producer Don Fedderson for the series. In fan circles it has been reported that originally the series was going to star William Frawley as father to three beautiful daughters! However, Director Peter Tewksbury (1923-2003) also had previous television experience, having been a staff director on the Robert Young "Father Knows Best" series.

  • In between shooting the Pilot and the second episode, Tim Considine was cast in the movie "Sunrise at Campobello" as one of the sons of Franklin Roosevelt. He was bleached blonde for the role, and had to go back to his normal dark color so all of his new scenes would match those of the Pilot. So much for being a blonde!

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Trivia (33)

  • Background trivia and Production information for this entire episode guide for "My Three Sons" was Written by Geoff Brown, Editor.

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  • Series star Fred MacMurray occasionally excercised his top billing power (and half ownership in show) by trying to shape the scripts which were more often than not, already written well in advance. For this episode, Production Manager John Stephens recalls that in any given episode according to Fred, everything had to be completely accurate (read: believable) or he did not want to do it. In one particular scene in this episode, Mike's girlfriend is enamored of his father Steve. The next day in his office, Steve gets a phone call from this girl. Immediately MacMurray halted filming and said "Get John Stephens down here!" MacMurray explained that it would not be plausible to have the girl call Steve at the office - how would she know the number or even where he worked for that matter? Production Manager Stephens had to fully explain the logic behind this plot development. It is assumed that because he isn't at the studio for every scene being filmed, the girl would simply have asked Mike where her father worked. It usually satisfied Fred MacMurray if a logical explanation was provided to him. He felt this way because if a scene had no logic for the story to build to, then the show would ultimately lose credibility with the audience if they felt that they were somehow being manipulated.

  • The music for this episode was scored by Arthur Morton.

  • This episode may well mark the first "appearance" of Sally Ann Morrison, when Bub references her name, mistakenly thinking that Mike is talking to her on the phone.

  • As in Episode # 57 from the second season when he was lecturing Robbie, ex-thespian Bub reminds Chip with the same line that "There are no small parts, just small actors!"

  • In one of his earliest roles, (and the first of two different M3S characters) we see a young, pre-Star Trek's Sulu, George Takei.

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Allusions (8)

  • Bub's mock apology to Charlie is a reference to the early 60s catch-phrase, lamented to Charlie the Tuna, the cartoon mascot of the ridiculously popular Star-Kist Tuna commercials.

  • The title of this episode is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's famous short story 'The Tell-tale Heart.'

  • This title is borrowed from the hit Bette Davis film of 1942, "The Man Who Came to Dinner." The TV series 'Frasier' had a similarly titled episode in its eleventh (and final) season called 'The Ann Who Came to Dinner.'

  • Obviously, the title recalls the origins of the well-known music group The Beatles. Guest character Paul is automatically assumed by Chip and his band to be a musician, just because he's from Liverpool. But, interestingly, Paul is a folk musician and not an amped-up rocker, reflecting current trends in popular music at the time the episode was produced. Another allusion to the Beatles is mentioned at the end of the narrative when Chip tells Paul that they need four players for the competition (a reference to the Fab Four).

  • Apple Annie is the name of a popular Damon Runyon character from a Frank Capra film in 1933 called 'Lady for a Day' with celebrated character actress May Robson in the role of Annie. Capra revisited the character and story in 1961's 'Pocketful of Miracles' but this time Bette Davis took on the role of Annie. Also, Lucille Ball borrowed the old Runyon plot for an episode of her third sitcom 'Here's Lucy' which was entitled 'Dirty Gertie' in 1972.

  • This title is an allusion to Betty Friedan's book on feminism known as 'The Feminine Mystique' which was published in the late 1960s. Interestingly, Katie is seen bringing groceries home in this episode and later serving drinks to the guys outside. So while headwriter George Tibbles knows about feminism, he doesn't actually let the lead female character on the series be empowered unless she is functioning as a domestic housewife.

  • Notice the scenes with Ernie, Shorty and Gordon waging warfare in the neighborhood with sophisticated looking water guns. This is an allusion to the fact that the Vietnam conflict was occurring at the time these episodes were made and American boys were encouraged to think like warriors.

  • This title is an allusion to the famous European film 'The Bicycle Thief' by Italian director Vittorio DeSica.