Sunday, June 20, 2021

Dennis The Menace: "Father's Day for Mr. Wilson"

Premiered June 18, 1961. 

It's Father's Day and Dennis Mitchell (Jay North) has spent the day celebrating with his father Henry (Herbert Anderson).  Dennis has given his father a hat as a present and served him his favorite meal, "hot dogs and three kinds of ice cream (which also "just happens" to be Dennis' favorite meal!)."  

That evening, the Mitchells host their neighbors, Mr. George Wilson (Joseph Kearns) and his wife Martha (Sylvia Field) for dinner.  Mr. Wilson is worried about a pending lawsuit involving his dog Fremont.  The pooch bit a neighbor known as "Old Man Hatch" and Wilson fears hew will be forced to pay for Hatch's injuries.  However, Dennis witnessed the biting and says Fremont was kicked by Hatch, which led to the biting.  Mr. Wilson realizes that he'll need Dennis' help to get out of the lawsuit.  

The Mitchells feel bad for Mr. Wilson, who has no children and hasn't experienced the joys of Father's Day.  Dennis decides he will make the following day a special Father's Day for Mr. Wilson.

The boy wakes up Wilson the next morning at the crack of dawn and wishes him a Happy Father's Day. He presents Mr. Wilson with same he gave to his father.

Dennis says he will stay with Mr. Wilson every minute of the day.  They have breakfast together, Dennis gets Wilson a pipe (filled with tobacco...and grass) and gets him the morning paper, ripping it in the process.  

Mr. Wilson wants to dismiss Dennis, but his wife reminds him that Dennis is his key to winning the dog-biting lawsuit.  

Will Mr. Wilson survive his first Father's Day?  Can Dennis help Mr. Wilson win his lawsuit?  

J.A. Morris' says:

Dennis The Menace was a series I watched frequently back when it was featured regularly on Nickelodeon's Nick At Nite block, but this was the first time I'd watched the show in years.

"Father's Day for Mr. Wilson" is a fairly typical episode of Dennis The Menace.  Dennis unintentionally does something that gets under Mr. Wilson's skin and hijinks ensue.  Except in this case, Father's Day sets all the action in motion.  It's basically fun episode, Dennis' Father's Day gestures are sweet and Jay North makes them feel believable.  He genuinely sympathizes with Mr. Wilson and wants him to know how it feels to celebrate Father's Day.  

There is a nice scene where Mr. Wilson reads the "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip to Dennis and provides the barks for Annie's dog Sandy.  It's a nice showcase of Joseph Kearns' talents and he seems to be enjoying himself.  To modern audiences, this scenes might feel sort of "meta," since it features characters adapted from a comic strip reading a comic strip!

I won't spoil the ending of "Father's Day For Mr. Wilson" and tell you what happens with Old Man Hatch's dog-biting lawsuit.  I will say that the Wilsons' dog Fremont is cute, so dog lovers of all ages will probably appreciate that.  

I also enjoyed this episode because, let's face it, there aren't many Father's Day episodes.  This is probably due to the fact that Father's Day takes place in June, when most TV seasons have ended.  This episode actually aired on Father's Day in 1961.  So I'm always happy to discover any Father's Day episodes.  

While it's mostly harmless fun, like most episodes of 1950s/early-60s sitcoms, the storyline isn't particularly deep.

If you've ever been a fan of Dennis Mitchell's adventures in the funny papers or its live action adaptation, you'll enjoy "Father's Day For Mr. Wilson."  

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 Father's Day neckties.

RigbyMel says:

Like J.A. Morris, I was familiar with the Dennis the Menace tv series because of its inclusion in the Nick at Nite programming block back in the mid-1980s.  

"Father's Day for Mr. Wilson" is a cute episode of this rather innocuous sitcom from the late 1950s/early 1960s.     

Both Henry and Mr. Wilson are pretty tolerant (although Mr. Wilson's movtivation is a touch more self-interested)  of Dennis's tender ministrations - including a terrible hat (which at least is a bit different than a necktie, so points to Dennis for creativity!), since they realize that his efforts come from a place of love and admiration.   

Viewers today may find that Joseph Kearns, who played Mr. Wilson, sounds a bit familiar.  This is likely because he also provided the voice for the Doorknob in the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland

This is a sweet episode of a series and an enjoyable (rare) Father's Day TV sitcom episode.  

RigbyMel's rating: 

3 Father's Day neckties.