The Donna Reed Show

Season 4 Episode 38

The Father Image

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jun 07, 1962 on ABC

Episode Recap

After completing an operating, Dr. Stone receives a pep talk before having to talk to the parents of his latest surgery patient.  The surgeon says Dr. Stone conveys intelligence, being capable, and maturity.  He is what every doctor would love to be, "the perfect father image."  While the words help, Dr. Stone he still has to tell the parents their child might not survive and we won't know for at least 4 more hours.  The parents express their own confidence to Dr. Stone, but it doesn't help Dr. Stone (as he returns home) worry less over the next 4 hours.

Meanwhile at home his own children are both going through major milestones on the same day.  Mary is graduating and is ranked second in her class; Jeff is taking his driving test and already three of his classmates failed their first attempt.  They each need their father.  Jeff needs a assurance he'll pass by having his father help him prepare.  Mary needs to know he'll be there for her and to fix the broken heel of her shoes.

Once home, though, Dr. Stone is anything but the perfect father and Mrs. Stone recognizes it.  Trying to be both a good husband and father, Dr. Stone does all he can to help Jeff and Mary, while also reassure his wife everything is OK.  Yet, every time the phone rings Dr. Stone jumps to answer it, fearful it means bad news from the hospital.  On one of these calls, though, it is Mary who gets fearful news.  The class valedictorian is sick and won't be able to give her speech.  It will be up to Mary to give the speech and she only has the afternoon to learn it.

Now both Jeff and Mary need their father to help them prepare for an important (and for Mary a very public) lifetime event.  They each fill their own needs over rides the other and that they should get their father's attention and support.  Dr. Stone's mind, though, is still back at the hospital on his patient and her parents.  We see this through his eyes, as he images what is going on there.  He insists, though, to everyone at home nothing is wrong and he works to help Mary and Jeff, while continuing to reassure his wife.

It is Mrs. Stone who take the bull by the horns, though, by calling the surgeon.  As she is both a doctor's wife and a nurse, the surgeon feels comfortable telling her what is up and knowing the details will stop with her.  Discovering what is on her husband's mind, she pulls the children aside and tells them about their father's worry.  She helps them see what is going on with their father by giving them perspective on how he must be feeling and worrying about the life and possible death of a little girl. Yet at the same time, he wouldn't ever share this burden with his family.

The episode ends with Jeff driving the family to Mary's graduation.  Mary is riding shotgun with their parents in the backseat.  When Dr. Stone decides to get frisky with his wife (by kissing her), he says, "I say old man would you mind turning up the rear view mirror."  Jeff replies that it isn't legal and quotes the section, article, and paragraph of the law.