THE TROUBLE WITH AMY / IS THERE ANY MAN HERE?

 

 

Trouble With Amy: First Shown January 25th 1970

Amy Wilder is an elderly widow who fills her house with all manner of wild animals, including a skunk names Harriet. When a property developer wants to buy some of her land she refuses his offer so he tried to have her declared senile and put in an institution.

 

 

Is There Any Man Here?: First Shown February 8th 1970

Jennifer Carlise, a woman engineer, arrives in Virginia City. She says she is there to check up on a project but in fact she has left her fiancé at the altar in San Francisco. Jennifer makes up her mind to marry Ben but then her jilted groom comes to find her and warns he will ruin Ben if Jennifer doesn’t return to San Francisco with him.

 

 

These are both Ben-centred episodes in which he relates to two very different women, in the first as a friend and in the second as a would-be fiancée.

Amy (of the title) Wilder is an elderly widow who takes in a great variety of sick and injured animals and who becomes the target of unscrupulous land barons who want her property.

Jo Van Fleet (Ellen Dobbs from "The Stillness Within") gives an absolutely marvellous performance as Amy bringing out the courage, kindness, independence and eccentricity of the compassionate widow.
She interacts beautifully with Ben/Lorne and is one of those guest stars who deserves their screen time. Her performance is so professional and you really feel, as in "Stillness" that she is giving her all.

There are some delightful scenes for example where her sister comes on a visit and Amy decides to take her to the saloon in VC! Amy is taken to court by a greedy land developer who wants her declared senile and hence buy her land. In the court room scene Jo Van Fleet's silent acting is a tour de force. While Ben gives evidence on her behalf she gives him such a range of knowing, mischievous and touching expressions without speaking a word.

Amy wins the day to live her life as she wishes and to care for her animals. Today we would call her home an animal sanctuary.

Ben sums it up beautifully when he says that eccentricity and senility are not the same thing. I think that we have all known an Amy or two and the world is the richer for them.


In "Is There Any Man here?" Mariette Hartley gives a fine performance as Jennifer Carlisle, potentially Ben's fourth wife, but this is a script which doesn't "gel" overall. Jennifer has jilted her cold-blooded banker fiancé Tuttle Ames (Tuttle???) and comes to the Ponderosa with thoughts of marrying Ben.

As the daughter of a friend of Ben's she had known Ben in her childhood but now relates to him as an adult.

Now this could have been an interesting exploration of Jennifer confusing affection for a kindly Ben from the past to an adult romance. The problem is that Ben decides that he actually does want to marry her and I found that plain daft!!!!! There is nothing convincing about this and I felt like Hoss and Joe who, when given the news seemed a mixture of mildly pleased and slightly amused.

Of course the jilted Tuttle arrives in VC threatening to undermine Ben's businesses by undercutting him if Jennifer marries Ben. Now no-one is going to do that to the Cartwrights who would surely win the day! However the threat is a necessary ploy to get Jennifer to give up Ben and luckily she ditches Tuttle too. Burr DeBenning is abysmally bad as Tuttle, wooden and posing in his acting style. In fact he is on a par with Steven Geray in "The Dowry" except that he lacks a long dressing gown to pose in LOL!!

If there had been a decent script and direction this could have been a good episode as Mariette Hartley and Lorne (of course) give of their best.

The parts that I actually enjoyed most were Jennifer's arrival at the Ponderosa where she has some really amusing and also kindly interactions with Hop Sing and there are super views of the Great Room as Jennifer explores what she hopes will be her future home.

So I would say don't miss "The Trouble with Amy" as it is a wonderful and unusual Bonanza episode. I would also say find a chore to do while you watch "Is There Any Man Here?"

Hilary

 

 

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