Written by Lois Hire
The kids read a lonely hearts column about a family similar to theirs. They believe one of the parents wrote the letter and start acting extra nice to solve the problem.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
ELIZABETH CARTER (DEAR LIBBY)
(The episode begins with a shot of the girls room. Marcia, Jan and Cindy are reading the paper. Marcia finds a column that she reads to the other girls.)
Jan: Read the next one, Marcia.
Marcia: Hey, this one’s a beaut. My boyfriend Ralph says she loves me for my mind. But for my birthday he bought me a bikini. Signed, what do you think. Dear what do you think, I think the same thing you think. She and Jan laugh)
Jan: That’s what I like about Libby, she gets to the point.
Cindy: What is the point?
Marcia (to Jan): I told you she’s too young to understand yet.
Jan: it won’t be long. This kind of thing makes you grow up quick.
Cindy: Are those letters for real?
Marcia: of course. Dear Libby gets letters from people all over the country.
Jan: Come on, get to the next one.
Cindy: Yeah, get to the next one.
Marcia: Okay. Dear Libby, we have a terrible problem in my family. (She stalls at the column)
Jan: Come on, read.
Marcia: It’s just a dumb old letter. you guys look at the comics.
(The scene fades out with Marcia staring at the column and pondering what to do about it.)
(The next scene has Carol and Mike reading the rest of the paper in the living room).
Mike: Honey, do you have Section B page 5?
Carol: Well no, I thought you had it.
Mike: Maybe it got mixed up.
Carol: Marjorie Mac’s wedding was continued on that page.
Mike: I was right in the middle of a battle on a college campus.
Carol: Over what?
Mike: What’s left. Probably demanding classroom credit for rioting.
Carol: Now now, dear. Your generation gap is showing.
Mike (standing up): I’ll go out and get another paper.
(Marcia runs up to her parents)
Marcia: Dad, let me go.
Carol: Marcia, where did you come from?
Marcia; I was just passing through. I’ll get another paper.
Mike: Wait a minute, what time is it?
Marcia: I’ve already done all my homework.
Mike: But it’s dark outside.
Marcia: Not very.
(Mike calls for Greg)
Mike: Greg will go with you.
Marcia: Oh, Dad, I’m old enough.
(Greg comes into the living room)
Greg: Yeah, Dad.
Mike: Greg, I would like for you please to go with Marcia to get another paper.
Carol: there’s a page missing.
Greg: Do I have to?
Mike: Yes, you have to. (He motions for them to go)
Greg: I’ll miss the end of my show.
Marcia: It’s a rerun. I’ll tell you all about it.
(Marcia and Greg go to the closet and get their jackets)
Greg: Who did it? the butler or the doctor?
Greg: the show.
Marcia: What show?
Greg: The TV show, who killed him?
Marcia: Oh, I don’t know.
Greg: You said you’ve seen it.
Greg: What’s the matter with you?
Marcia: Keep your voice down, I had to say something.
Greg: What do you mean you had to say something?
Marcia: Because if I didn’t, Dad would have gone for the paper.
Greg: So what?
Marcia: he would’ve gotten one?
Greg: I repeat so what?
(Marcia shushes him again and takes him by the arm as they head for the door)
Mike: Marcia, close the closet door.
(Marcia closes the closet door as they go outside)
Greg; what’s going on?
Marcia: we can’t let our parents read that paper.
Greg: You figure they’re getting too old for the news?
Marcia: Listen Greg, that paper they’re looking for wasn’t lost, I took it.
Greg: You took it? You’re really weird!
Marcia: You won’t say that when you see this. Just read this.
(Marcia takes the paper out of her pocket and hands it to Greg. He finds the column and looks back at Marcia, who nods her head)
(The next scene has Marcia and Greg returning with a new paper)
Greg: Here’s your paper, Mom.
Carol: Thanks, Greg. thanks, Marcia.
Marcia: we were glad to do it, weren’t we.
Greg: oh, sure.
(They take their jackets off and put them on hangers. Mike and Carol take the paper, separate it and Carol finds an ink spot covering the column.)
Carol: Well, of all the….
Carol: This page has a big black ink spot on it.
Mike: This doesn’t seem to be a very good night for Page 5 Section B.
Greg: The printing presses must have gone haywire.
Marcia: That’s the trouble with machines, you can’t depend on them. If you ask me, they’re on their way out.
Greg: Yeah, none of them seem to work right anymore. I heard about this one newspaper that printed a million copies of page 9 right on top of page 8, and left page 8 blank.
Marcia: I heard about that too.
Mike: Really, what paper was that?
(Greg and Marcia say the Chicago Sun and the Boston Post at the same time, then in vice versa order. They put their jackets in the closet)
Mike(to Carol): Is my riot readable?
Carol (looking at the paper): Mmm hmm. The wedding’s here, but there’s something else missing but I can’t think what it is.
Mike: As long as it isn’t peanuts.
Carol (laughing): I take back what I said about your generation gap.
(Greg and Marcia close the closet door and breath relief, since their parents couldn’t find the column)
(The next scene has all the kids gathered in the girls room for a meeting)
Greg (to Peter): You be the lookout.
Jan: What’s going on?
Peter: Who am I looking out for?
Greg: Our parents, dummy. Want some advice, when you grow up, don’t try to get into the F.B.I.
Marcia: Never mind the lookout, just close the door.
Greg: Now listen you guys, we got you all together because this is something important and you’re all involved. So you tell them, Marcia.
Marcia: No, you.
Greg: Well then, maybe we should just read it. I mean, maybe you should just read it.
Marcia: You’re the oldest.
Greg: But you read better.
Peter: Are you guys gonna horse around all night?
Jan: if it’s that important, then somebody read it.
Cindy: And quick, I have to burp my doll.
Marcia: All right, this is in Dear Libby’s column tonight. (She reads the column to the other kids) Dear Libby, we have a terrible problem in my family. I have three children of my own, and three additional children from a recent marriage. I had no idea three new children could cause so much trouble. Should I continue pretending to love these new children and wait until they wreck my marriage? Or should I get out now? And it’s signed Harried and Hopeless.
Bobby: What’s so important about that?
Greg: Don’t you see, Bobby, three children and three new children. This letter is about us.
Cindy: We don’t know anybody named Harry Hopeless.
Marcia: That’s Harried and Hopeless.
Peter: What makes you so sure it’s us? It could be anybody.
Greg: Sure, Anybody who has three kids, and then married somebody with three kids.
(Cut down to the living room, Carol is baffled at how quiet it is in the house)
Mike (looking over at Carol): What’s the matter?
Carol: I don’t hear anything.
Mike: What’s the matter with that?
Carol: Six kids and no noise. That’s what’s the matter with that.
(Mike looks at her in bewilderment)
Carol: I never heard such a loud silence.
Mike: Maybe they all went to bed.
Carol: Without those last minute trips to the kitchen to save off starvation until morning?
Mike: And cries in the night for water, going to bed turns every kid into a dehydrated camel.
Carol: Do you thing we should check on them?
Mike: Marcia and Greg said they would. (He makes a signal to let it go)
Carol: it’s so quiet I can’t think.
Mike: I know, I read the same sentence three times and still don’t know what it means.
Carol (about to get up): Well, I think we should check up on them.
Mike (stopping her): No, no, no. We’re gonna let sleeping children lie.
(Cut back to upstairs in the girls’ room)
Cindy: You mean somebody doesn’t love us?
Marcia: Somebody doesn’t love the new children.
Cindy: We’re not the new children, they are!
Bobby: We are not!
Greg: Now that depends on who wrote the letter.
Marcia: Right. If it’s a woman, the boys are the new children. And if it’s a man, we are.
Jan: What did Dear Libby say?
Marcia: Dear Harried and hopeless, give it a try a little while longer. It just might work.
Greg: And that’s good, because that’ll give us a chance to do something.
Peter: Like what?
Greg: Like behave ourselves, I mean, really behave ourselves.
Jan: Like act nice and do our homework and stuff?
Marcia: Yes, and keep our rooms picked up, and help around the house. And go to bed without being told.
Greg: And don’t fight with each other, be polite, and wash our hands and faces, and comb our hair.
Peter: Nobody will recognize us.
Greg: We got to do it.
Marcia: For Mom and Dad.
Cindy: Boy, keeping them married is sure going to be hard work.
(The next scene has all the kids cleaning out the garage, with Carol and Mike looking on from the family room)
Carol (to Mike): Then they washed the windows when they got home from school today, without being told.
Mike: Now they’re out there cleaning the garage.
Carol: They even weeded the garden.
Mike: Maybe we ought to take their temperatures.
(The next scene has Jan in the family room watching television. Peter came in, sat down, took the remote control to change the channel)
Jan: Hey, I was watching that!
Peter: It’s time for the ball game.
Jan: Big deal.
Peter: It’s an important game.
Jan: Missing one dumb game won’t hurt you.
Peter: Nobody but a dumb girl would say a dumb thing like that.
Jan: If I’m dumb, you’re super dumb.
Peter: If you’re so smart, how come you’re a girl?
(Greg comes running in the room)
Greg: What’s the matter?
Jan: Peter came in and switched channels…
Peter: There’s an important game on right this minute and she was watching some dumb show….
Greg: Will you knock it off? We’re supposed to be on our best behavior.
(Carol comes in)
Carol: What’s wrong in here?
Carol: I thought I heard an argument.
Greg: That was on TV. They’re telecasting a peace conference.
(Carol gives a confused look, then turns and walks out while Greg, Peter and Jan sit down to watch television)
(Bobby and Cindy are playing checkers)
Bobby: There, I won.
Cindy: You cheated!
Bobby: I did not. Besides, you didn’t see me!
Cindy: I did too!
Bobby: You’re a sore loser!
Cindy: You’re a sore winner!
(Marcia runs in to intervene)
Marcia: Cindy! Bobby! Be quiet!
Cindy: But he cheated!
Bobby: Only once.
Marcia: Stop it, both of you! Remember!
(Mike walks in)
Mike: any trouble in here?
Marcia: No, everything’s fine.
Mike(smiling): That’s more like it.
(In the next scene, Carol goes down to the kitchen and finds Mike making a sandwich)
Carol: What are you doing here?
Mike: Well, I couldn’t sleep.
Carol: That’s a crazy sleeping pill.
Mike: Well, if I wake up in the middle of the night, at least I’ll know why. Sorry I woke you.
Carol: You didn’t, I couldn’t sleep either.
Mike: Fix you one?
Carol: Why don’t I just have half of that one.
Mike: Ok. (he goes to get a couple of glasses) I’ll pour you milk.
Carol: What’s on your mind dear?
Mike: What else, the kids.
Carol: What have they done wrong?
Mike: Nothing. (He opens the refrigerator and gets some milk) Absolutely nothing.
Carol: I know.
Mike: Every now and then I get the feeling I’m in the wrong house.
Carol: My girls never went through a phase like this before. Did the boys?
Mike: No, something is drastically wrong.
(Alice comes out of her room)
Alice: is this a top secret meeting?
Mike: Come on in. Sorry we woke you.
Alice: You didn’t. I couldn’t sleep.
Carol: there’s a lot of that going around.
Mike: Make you a sandwich?
Alice: I’ll make it, you skimp. If this is an important meeting, I’d like to introduce a subject for discussion.
Mike: Feel free.
Alice: What’s the matter with the kids?
Carol: We wish we knew.
Mike: They say anything to you?
Alice: Not a peep, but something’s bugging them.
Carol: I think I’ll just have to ask them, that’s all.
Alice: Would you do it tomorrow? if there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s a perfect kid. And six of them, yuk.
Mike: I’ll drink to that, yuk.
(Scene fades out with Mike and Carol eating their sandwich)
(The next scene has Greg and Marcia doing chore sin the backyard, Alice goes to confront them)
Alice (to Greg): Hi.
Greg: Hi, Alice.
(He notices her staring at him)
Greg: what are you doing?
Alice: Trying to find out what you’re doing.
Greg: Just raking some leaves.
Alice: You ask a foolish question, you get a foolish answer. (Pause) Can we have a little talk?
Greg: Well, uh, I really got to get this done.
(Alice walks over to see what Marcia is doing)
Alice: Hi there.
Alice: Can we have a little talk?
Marcia: Well, I’m kinda busy.
(Alice crouches down to see Marcia is doing)
Alice: Why are you trimming the lawn?
Marcia: Because it’s here, why do people climb mountains?
Alice: So far today I’m batting a thousand. Come on, I want you kids to level with me. What’s going on?
Marcia; Greg, what’s going on?
Greg: We’re gardening, that’s what’s going on.
Alice (getting up): Okay, that’s enough of small talk. Come on, you two, front and center, sit down over here. (Greg goes to join Marcia) Come on.
(Greg and Marcia sit down and Alice continues)
Alice: Keeping your rooms spotless, washing behind your ears, eating everything on your plate, that’s bad enough, but this doing chores around the house without being asked is too much. You six do-gooders are driving me right up the wall. Either you tell me what’s going on around here or I’ll tell all the kids at school how you’re behaving.
Greg (flustered): Alice, you wouldn’t!
Alice: Wouldn’t I. I’ll fink out to every kid under 15 I can find. now for the last time, tell me what’s behind all this.
Marcia: Well, it’s on account of Mom and Dad.
Alice: This involves your mother and father and you haven’t discussed it with them yet? (They both shake their heads no) You two are pretty unfair to your folks. Raking the leaves and trimming the lawn won’t help but talking things over with them might.
Marcia (to Greg): Maybe she’s right, let’s tell them.
Greg: Okay, you tell Mom and I’ll tell Dad. Come on.
(Marcia and Greg get up and walk towards the house)
Alice: Say, I’m not the prying type so I won’t ask you what the problem is but you want any practice telling them I’m a very good listener. (Greg and Marcia keep waking) Practice makes perfect!
(The next scene has Marcia talking to Carol in the girls room)
Carol: And you think the letter is about us?
Marcia: Well, how many families are there with three old children and three new ds.children?
Carol: I don’t know, but I’m glad you finally showed me the letter.
(Cut into the boys room with Mike and Greg)
Mike: Dear Libby?
Greg: Well, yeah, she’s that lady who gives advice in the newspaper.
Mike: And you thought this letter was about us?
Greg: Well, sure, Dad. what else could we think.
Mike: Oh, Greg, don’t you know there are any number of families with children from previous marriages?
Greg: But not with three kids apiece.
(Mike looks at Greg with an concerned look while we cut back to the girls room)
Carol: But I thought we were getting along so well.
Marcia: We are.
Carol: Then how could you think I would write such a letter?
Marcia: Mom, we didn’t say you wrote it.
(Carol has a surprised look on her face . Cut back to the boys’ room)
Mike: And even if we did, I wouldn’t try to solve the problem by writing to Dear Libby
Greg: Dad, the letter didn’t say Harried and Hopeless was a man.
(Mike gives same the same look of wonder)
(The next scene has Carol entering the kitchen with the letter in her hand)
Alice: You look terrible.
Carol: I have a right to.
Alice: Let me get you a cup of coffee.
Carol (going to sit down): Thanks.
Alice: I take it you had that talk with the kids.
(Alice sets the coffee cup down in front of Carol)
Alice: Maybe I’d better have a cup of coffee too. (She pours coffee into Carol’s cup) Fire when ready.
Carol: Well, you know Dear Libby’s column.
Alice (sitting down) Oh yeah, I never miss it.
Carol: Well, you missed this one. (She shows Alice the letter) Read the second letter.
(Alice takes a look at the column)
Alice: How about that, she has three kids and he has three kids. Just (Pause) like……
Alice: You mean the kids saw this and thought…
Carol: They thought if they behaved themselves, Harried and Hopeless would stay married.
Alice: Crazy kids.
Carol: You got to admit there are quite a few coincidences between the family in the letter and ours.
Alice: About 110%.
Carol: Right. (Pause) Alice…, you have known Mr. Brady a lot longer than I have. You don’t suppose…
Alice (indignant): Don’t be silly! Mr. Brady would never do a thing like that.
Carol: I didn’t think so.
Alice: He would never write a letter like that in a million years.
Carol: Alice, you don’t know how much I appreciate this. Of course you’re right.
(Carol gets up from her chair to go back upstairs)
Alice: You bet I am! You don’t work for a man all these years and not know what kind of man he is. Mr. Brady right that letter, Ha!
Carol: Thank you, Alice.
(Next scene has Alice vacuuming Mike’s den. Mike walks in with a new newspaper)
Mike: Alice, you know that column in the paper called Dear Libby?
Alice: I have heard of it.
Mike: Yeah, read that second letter. That’s yesterday’s paper, I got another copy.
Alice: Hmmm. Interesting.
Mike: You think that applies to us?
Mike: Yeah, Harried and Hopeless has three children and married someone with three children.
Alice: Three and three, I’d have to say that’s pretty close. Yep, that’s what I have to say, all right.
Mike: Alice, you think Carol could’ve written that letter?
Alice: Mrs. Brady? (Pause) Why, Mrs. Brady wouldn’t write a letter like that in a million years, a billion years!
Mike: Why, I guess not.
Alice (irate): I’m surprised you could have thought such a thing.
Mike: Well, I… that’s it, men don’t understand women.
(Mike leaves the den while Alice resumes vacuuming)
(In the next scene, Carol comes into the living room, goes over to one of the chairs and starts pondering. Mike comes out of the den)
Mike: What are you doing?
Carol: Oh, I was just wondering if the chairs would look better facing the fireplace.
Mike: Well, let’s see.
(They move the chairs in the direction of the fireplace)
Carol: I really couldn’t blame you if you had written that letter.
Mike: What letter?
Carol: The one to Dear Libby.
Mike: Oh, that letter. (He finishes moving the chairs) Oh well, let’s see. How do you like the chairs like this?
Carol: The tables have to go the other way.
Mike: I couldn’t blame you if you had written it either.
Carol: I’d totally understand if you had.
Mike: So do I.
Carol: I guess the end table has to go over there. (They move the table and lamp that’s on the table) After all, it can’t be easy for one to adjust to a whole new family.
Mike: Not for some people.
Carol: You think he would’ve confided in his new…
Mike: or her…
Mike: Yeah, you think so.
Carol: In fact, I think it would be a good idea to talk the whole thing over right now. That is, if he had anything to say.
Mike: Or she.
Carol: You know something?
Carol: I hate the room this way.
Mike: So do I
(In the next scene, Mike is in his den sitting at his draft board and Carol comes in to talk to him)
Mike: Oh, hi honey.
Carol: Mike, we’ve always been honest with each other and it’s silly to beat around the bush about something that might be very important.
Carol: So here goes. I didn’t write that letter to Dear Libby. I’m perfectly happy with my three new sons and my wonderful new husband.
(Carol and Mike share a big hug)
Mike: I didn’t write that letter either, and I adore my wife and my three new daughters.
(They give each other a big kiss)
Carol: What a relief, now how are we going to convince the kids?
Mike: Well, they’re watching a television show now, as soon as it’s over, we’ll talk to them.
Carol: Oh, good.
(Alice and the kids are watching a western on the television in the living room. Mike and Carol join them)
Cindy: Should me and Kitty get worried now, Alice?
Alice: Nah, the sheriff should be around any second.
(The doorbell rings)
Mike: Don’t get up, Alice. I’ll get it.
Carol: I’ll get it, dear.
Mike: I’ll race you for it.
9they open the door and Dear Libby is at the door)
Libby: Mr. and Mrs. Brady?
Mike and Carol: Yes.
Libby: You don’t know me, I’m Elizabeth Carter. Most people refer to me as Dear Libby. I write a column.
Carol: You certainly do, what a surprise! It’s nice to meet you, won’t you come in and meet my fam….
(All the kids and Alice go into hiding. However, Cindy reaches for her doll from behind the chair)
Carol: Won’t you come in.
Libby: The fact is, I never make calls to the homes of people who write to me, but this was such an unusual case, I felt that it was justified.
Carol: Well, we’re very glad to have to have you here.
Libby: Recently, I printed a letter in my column written by someone called Harried and Hopeless. Since then, I received seven letters from the same address begging me to review the name and address of the writer. It seems that the original letter was causing a great deal of confusion in this similar household. So I dropped by to meet Kitty Karry-All (Cindy comes out form hiding), Feeling Awful (Bobby), Desperately Worried (Marcia), Down In The Mouth (Peter), Real Frantic (Jan), Guilt complex (Greg). Oh, and there’s one more, Innocent Bystander (Alice, coming out from the kitchen).
Libby: You’d all be happy to know that the original letter from Harried and Hopeless came from Kingston, Illinois 2,000 miles away.
(All the kids rejoice and run up to the parents. Mike goes and picks up Cindy)
Cindy: I’m sure glad we’re not Harry Hopeless.
(The scene fades out and the epilogue comes on. Carol and Mike are in their bedroom)
Mike: Imagine all the kids writing to Dear Libby.
Carol; Alice, too.
Mike: Obviously, that letter in the column wasn’t written by either one of us.
Carol: Well, I don’t suppose you thought for a minute that I was Harry Hopeless.
Mike; Me? Are you kidding? I know you wouldn’t do a thing like that.
(Carol hands Mike a letter she found that he wrote)
Mike: Well, maybe I did write to Dear Libby like the kids did but I never would have mailed it.
(Carol reaches into the end table drawer and retrieves a letter she wrote)
Carol: I didn’t mail mine either.
(Carola nd Mike give each other one last hug and kiss and the scene fades out)