“The Ghost of WENN”

6 December 1997
[Cranberry Juice] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Jill Mitwell.
MAIN Season Three Episodes: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17

Once again, we're given a day and date that's a mismatch. In this case, we have two. We're told that 13 August, 1931 was a Friday as well as 13 August, 1941. They were a Thursday and a Wednesday, respectively. I'm starting to wonder if WENN's Pearl Harbor is going to take place on Friday, 7 December, 1941 or maybe Sunday, 8 December, 1941.

That's not the only thing odd about the date. From "Rodney Walks Through 'Nothing Up My Sleeve' ": "We've had episodes where events were mentioned that could be dated, but I think this may be the first time an episode has been nailed down by the statement of the date: 27 July, 1941. Last year's 'Christmas in the Airwaves' episode occurs around 25 December, 1940. There were 7 episodes that followed during season 2. The season ender and several of the early episodes seemed to take place within days of each other. The fifth episode seems to take place around late May. So I would guess we could put the season opener sometime within April, say. Since we're arriving at the half-way mark of the season, we can put a rate of about 3.5 months of WENN time for 2 months of airing time (17 weeks is almost exactly 4 months). This rate seems to be dead on for an early December ending, WENN time. I do these calculations because I HAD BEEN THINKING THAT RUPERT MIGHT TRY TO GET TWO SEASONS IN BEFORE 7 DEC 41 [emphasis new] since things will change so radically then. The time before that date has been described by Rupert as a "cosy time" and starting the series in 1939, past the worst part of the Depression and before our entry in WWII, was purposely chosen by him for the pre-war qualities. However, he at least got 17 episodes to play with instead of the 13 each for the first two seasons."

Since then, we've had Gertie state that the genesis of her play, "Rendezvous in Rabat" was wondering where Scott might have ended up had he not returned to WENN (sometime in March? April?). Then she went on to state that she had been working on the play for seven months, placing "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece" around November, perhaps.

Suddenly we're yanked back to August! I'm not sure what to make of it. I believe the episodes may have been filmed out of order. I tend to think that "In the WENN Small Hours..." and "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece" may have been filmed back-to-back (to meet the schedules of Hugh O'Gorman and John Bedford Lloyd) with "Pen" to be aired, perhaps, as the next-to-last episode. "The Ghost of WENN" certainly seems like it was planned to air in the last 7 days of October. Since I'm speculating wildly, perhaps "Ghost" and others got held up in post-production, necessitating the placement of the already completed "Pen" earlier in the schedule. Whatever, this kind of "keeping us guessing" isn't very satisfying.

The show opens with Hilary getting an award and regaling the audience for quite some time with her acceptance. It's as if she's stunned that they really like her. I wonder how many others were nominated for the quite small, I expect, category of "Best Leading Lady on a Daily [radio] Drama Originating in Pittsburgh."

Knowing the ending, I would've thought Eugenia and Maple (who can barely keep a straight face) help lead Betty to her decision to redo the play. They certainly know where her ideals are: "That's just how Victor Comstock used to do things."

As the radio begins, the game is afoot. Hilary's hearing phantom voices and Mackie is back to the cravenly coward (at least regarding the supernatural) we know and love.

The power and phone problems remind us of a day when such things were not as reliable as they are today. Even in the sixties, you could expect power outages more frequently in connection with thunderstorms than we generally experience today.

Betty and Hilary (the only one at the station with one "L") try to fathom the riddle of the hung dead albatross/cranberry jelly. An excellent example of finding meaning where we can. But then finding meaning where none was meant is perhaps the definition of "art". However, art is not found, only a meaningless symbolic metaphor.

In Studio A, we're finally reaching the dread page thirteen. Maple has no qualms urging Mackie to continue on to page 13. But once, the power goes, Mr. Foley slips out. When Eugenia notices, she asks voice quivering in terror, "Hey...gang...? Has anyone noticed that Mr. Foley...hasn't said a word?"

Stranded in the hallway as Betty searches for batteries, it's Hilary's turn to utter the phrase, "Betty, Betty, Betty...Betty."

Somehow, Hilary, who has displayed a good grasp of science and mathematics through the season, conceives the idea of a seance to investigate the haunting with. This sequence manages to refer to Victor's secret visit to WENN twice, including Betty almost blurting out that Victor's alive! One would have thought that she's been on her guard after her first slip while listening to "Jonathan Arnold."

Hilary's made some progress since Grace Cavendish's visit showed her how utterly oblivious she's been to her co-workers (she even remembered the full name "Tom Eldridge"). But she hasn't included C. J. in her mind as one of the regulars. C. J. decides to confront Hilary straight on about it. Well...not quite straight on. In fact, kind of roundabout. But at least he addressed it instead of just complaining when Hilary wasn't around. With his increasing visibility on the show I wonder whether he'll be in the opening credits next season.

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