Wally and Beaver

NEIL GENZLINGER captures something about the life of boys – at least boys on TV in the 50’s in this:

“TELEVISION was still relatively young when, on Oct. 4, 1957, CBS broadcast the perfect sitcom scene:

A second grader known as the Beaver and his older brother, Wally, ordered by their mother to take baths before going to bed, are kneeling beside a tub they have just filled. Already in their pajamas, they are fiddling in the water with their hands to make it sound as if bathing were taking place, dampening washcloths and towels to create a trail of supporting evidence. As this goes on, the Beaver, who earlier that day was given a note by his teacher to take home to his parents but has been too afraid to deliver it, asks Wally for advice: Should he open the note, to see whether he’s in trouble?

“ ’Course not; that’d be dishonest,” says Wally, who then grabs a handful of dirt and tosses it into the draining bathtub. Why the dirt? “It’ll leave a ring,” he explains to the Beaver as the boys go off to bed, unwashed.

There have perhaps been funnier sitcom scenes since, and certainly much louder, more frenetic ones. But has the craftsmanship — wonderfully believable brotherly chat as a foundation; sly incongruity laid on top — ever been bested? Doubtful.”


One thought on “Wally and Beaver

  1. Nice. That was way back, when at least some television writers, directors, and producers had some faith in the intelligence of their viewers and didn’t feel the need to spoon feed the audience the point they wanted to get across.

    The bathtub scene reminds me of the days following Halloween a few years ago, when my sons knowingly ate more than they were supposed to from their impressively large stash of candy. How did my wife and I know what they were up to? Not unlike Wally and the Beaver, they conscientiously had thrown out the wrappers in the rubbish bin in the bathroom, leaving the evidence in a readily observable location by their parents…

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