This is a warm and wonderful episode that spotlights the fabulous Aunt Bee. Aunt Bee is diligently trying to save money, when Clara tells her about a wonderful new butcher in town--but you have to buy a whole half of beef--150 lbs of it. Watching her deal with her broken down freezer is fabulous. Having Gomer try to fix the freezer when he doesn't even what a freezer really is is hysterical! The message of this episode is universal and timeless--that a bargain isn't always the best deal in town. Whether it's 1964 or 2005--the same message applies!
In this episode, we see Aunt Bee scrimping and saving to save a dollar. At first you wonder why she is being such a bargin hunter (since this is the only episode I can remember her like this), but then then, as the episode wears on, there are some points of the episode that I found entertaining. Such as Aunt Bee and Opie pulling along the wagonful of frozen beef, taking it to Mr. Foley's butcher shop to store it while she tries to figure out a solution to keep it from defrosting while trying to fix the freezer at home. Another part of the episode that I like was when Gomer came over to fix the broken freezer. He may be a competent mechanic and can fix cars very good, but I found it pretty funny that Opie knew more what to do to fix the freezer than Gomer. In all, I thought that this was an alright episode. I guess the moral of the story was that what seems to be a great deal doesn't have the best quality, as some of the hijinxs of the episodes show.
Despite a plot centered on a caricaturish Bea, I give this episode a C+ for a generally comfortable feel and a (mostly) sensible, well-written plot with an actual solution. Along the ride, we have an appearance by Gomer, some memorable lines ("call the man!;" "It's anti-freeze or sump'm!" / "It's tear gas!;" "150 pounds of TOUGH beef!;" "Aw, it's nothing; just Aunt Bea and Opie pulling a wagon being followed by a bunch of dogs...I'll call ya back!!"), and what I think is our only look at the Taylor's back porch with outside freezer. What is most fascinating for me here however, is Bea, with her "reasoning" and behavior.
Aunt Bea was generally portrayed as a sometimes-naive but basically very dignified Older Woman of an Older Time. Exceptions to this were usually pretty glaring, and together make up what I call the "Ninny-fication of Aunt Bea," a process that reached it's peak (or low point) in the color Chinese restaurant episode. In "Bargain Day," Bea Taylor, otherwise a master of home economics, inexplicably gets the idea that bargain-priced food from an unknown source simply MUST BE of higher quality than full-priced food from a long-time known source. She goes on to reason that Andy MUST SHARE that notion; and that Andy MUST KNOW that she has purchased bargain meat; and thus that Andy SHOULD FIND that meat better than any before; and thus finally that when Andy comments that he finds the meat to be less than stellar, he MUST BE only saying that to deliberately insult and hurt her. That utter illogic, leading to her self-pitying response/eruption toward Andy ("Don't eat it if you don't want it! ...Throw it out!") seems to me to be that of a certified Ninny. Bea's Redemption was still to come.
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