“The Follies of WENN”

31 July 1998
[WENN Finds Andy Hardy] Written by
Rupert Holmes.

Directed by
Richard Shepard.
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Remember WENN celebrates its
50th Episode with "The Girls of WENN"
[A Girl Like Maple] [Eugenia belts it out...and then some] [Bettina, Warrior Princess] [Hilary, Cat Detective, slinks]

The fiftieth episode of WENN begins with a startling appearance by Betty. I mean, Betty's appearance is startling. If Betty was as much a fuddy-duddy as some claim, then this is what she would look like. Betty is so anxious to get a room in the new wing of the Barbican that she's willing to part with $26 on a dress to make her look like a spinster. (Although she might be planning to return it tomorrow.) The committee vice-chairman of the rental board will be by later in the day.

Maple takes the more direct method of renting a costume (Maple would also like to move there).

Phineas, a member of the Cleveland delegation of the Mystic Fraternal Order of Lemmings , and who has worked with Scott in a failed zeppelin service in Texas, is visiting. The CDMFOL is planning to see what a live radio broadcast looks like, take in a burlesque show and then go bar-hopping.

Luke Winthrop, the brother of the other Mr. Winthrop, continues in the Winthrop traditional insulation from society. He's unaware of Victor's return to his station in life. And to life itself.

The bank is foreclosing Winthrop's orphanage/school on Monday unless they pay $1000. In desperation, the Winthrops turn to WENN.

Phineas checks on the availability of burlesque for his Lemmings and finds there should have been more planning on their part. The Cleveland delegation will soon arrive, but local blue laws rule out stage shows on Sundays. Phineas goes so far as to offer the Crimson Follies $1000 for a private show, but they chose not to lose their license.

Since $1000 is the magic number needed by the Winthrops, Scott proposes the WENN cast put on their own burlesque show. Betty worries about the dancing and disrobing and Scott tries to distract her with the baggy pants.

Betty utters the codephrase indicating that a stressful situation has arisen and it would be better to be elsewhere: "Oh, would you look at the time."

Mr. Winthrop, desperate to save his school, thinks the idea is swell.

Scott propositions Betty, "Betty, for the benefit of higher education, would you take off your clothes."

Maple begins instructing "the girls" in basic bumping and grinding. Betty is hesitant to say the least. Hilary views it simply as another acting challenge, another skill to add to her toolbox (although she is reluctant to take instruction from Maple). Eugenia, whose passion seems to be growing more heated lately, takes to it like a duck to water.

Now that the plot is set up, the real justification for this episode begins: the songs.

Maple, the burlesque professional, is of course, excellent in her performance of "A Girl Like Me."

Scott and Jeff lighten the mood with some comedy.

Eugenia comes off very forceful as she belts out, "And Then Some."

As in earlier shows, Mr. Foley plays the drums, but now we see that Scott can tickle the ivories.

Bettina blithely tosses her seven veils, to Scott's obvious discomfort, in time with "Salome on Wry."

Apparently, this entire episode takes place on a Sunday. The committee vice-chairman arrives to interview Betty and finds her at the end of her strip-tease. (Perhaps Hilary had been in on a Sunday to perform her "Cat Detective" show.)

Hilary goes on, determined to use her acting skills to outdo Maple.

The vice-chairman, Miss Frye, is scandalized and wants Bettina, er, Betty out of the Barbican by the morning. But Luke Winthrop, having just gotten his check from Phineas, overrules her since he is the president of the review board (WENN is running overbudget on coincidences). However, she plans to appeal to the chairman, already en route.

The chairman, one Mr. Hardy, arrives shortly. Having listened to the show over the air (which had convinced authorities that real nudity was going on), he is happy to have arrived at the station. Mickey Rooney portrays Mr. Hardy, who is ready to take WENN's show to the stage. An obvious wink at Rooney's "Andy Hardy" character.

While the numbers were great, the episode felt out of kilter. It's hard to believe Scott would ask Betty to pseudo-strip for a bunch of strange men. Then the whole idea of nudity where there clearly is none is strange. Are we supposed to believe Jeff thought Hilary was naked when he described her on-air as being in her altogether? She was clearly in a dress that showed no more than some other dresses we've seen her in. It seems like we're supposed to believe Jeff's protestations, but the only thing that would make sense is if it was part of the act. At least it shows they're not afraid to experiment with the format.

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