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1985

Sam's Speech

Sam excitedly rounds up everyone in the children's department. "Oh, good news! Good news!" he cries, "Guess what? Ha-ha! I'm gonna be famous!" He goes on using words like amazing, and miraculous, but gives no details on the good news. Muffy pleads with him to calm down. Finally, Sam gets hold of himself. He shows them an invitation from the Royal Naval Academy for him to make a speech!

"All the captains will be there, and maybe even the admirable, admirable, admirable will be there and they're all going to be listening to ME, Samuel J. Crenshaw!"

They congratulate him, and Muffy gives him some advice on making an interesting speech. "'Cause if your speech is dull and boring, well then you'll just have people snoring!"

Sam insists his speech will not be dull and boring. But when Jeff asks what the speech will be about, Sam is stumped. He has no idea what he's going to talk about.

Later, Sam's enthusiasm has died down as he contemplates what his speech will be about. He explains that the academy trains new sailors, and he'd like to tell them something useful. "I wonder if they know how to make a liverwurst and onion sandwich. That's useful!" he says.

Jodie has been standing nearby reading the invitation all the way through, something Sam has neglected to do. She has alarming news for him. His speech is scheduled for the next night!

"Oh! Oh no! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, one hundred percent no! That's totally impossible. I will not be ready tomorrow night. I can't! I won't! At least I think I can't!"

The others try to reassure him, telling him that all he needs are the right words.

"Words, words, words, so many words!" they sing, "Different letters, put together, are how to build a word. And all of them mean something, though some may sound absurd, when you put words in a sentence, your ideas sound okay! And everyone will understand exactly what you say. Exactly what you mean to say!"


So, soon thereafter, Sam is in the stockroom, practicing his speech using Mrs. Pennypacker's desk as a lectern.

"Ladies and gentlemen. Oh - and sea captains. And you too, Admiral, sir!" Sam salutes the imaginary admiral. "Um. Today I want to talk to you about the sea. No, not just a small sea, but the ocean. It is very big, the ocean! - Oh, that's no good. They already know about the ocean. Maybe I should start with a joke! Yeah, that's it! What is worse than being seasick once?"

Mrs. Pennypacker's comes up from behind and answers, "Oh, being seasick twice!"

"Being seasick tw - oh! Mrs. P., you startled me. I thought you'd gone home." He tells her that he's giving a speech tomorrow night.

"A speech! How utterly thrilling! I love a good speech."

"Yeah so do I," says Sam, "I wish I had one."

"The most important thing about a speech," Mrs. Pennypacker tells him, "is the opening. It must be exciting, dramatic, clear and to the point!"

"Oh, I haven't got a point, either." says Sam.

So Mrs. P tells him of a trip she took with the duke and duchess of Curlicue and a "speech" the duke made telling Mrs. P, "You can't ski." It seems her luggage had been sent by mistake to the beach. Fortunately, the Baron and Baroness of Falderol saved the day by lending her their royal skis.

"They were purple."

"The Baron and Baroness were purple?" Sam asks.

Mrs. P clarifies that it was the skis that were purple and then says she made a thank you speech to thank them.

"Oh, you said thank you to the pair of purple skis." says Sam.

"No. I said thank you to the Baron and Baroness. And I actually finished that speech making a rather good point, I thought. I said - Oh take my advice, a speech must have a good ending . . ."

"Hey," says the befuddled Sam, "There's a coincidence, you said that to them, and then you said that to me, and then . . ."

Mrs. Pennypacker fixes him with a patient stare until he trails off. "I know. I said that to you. To them I said, 'Let's have a nice hot cup of tea.' "

"Boy, it seems like everybody knows the right thing to say - except me!" Sam concludes.

Later, Jeff and Jodie are wondering about Sam. Just then, he comes into the children's department and Jeff asks how the speech is going.

"Oh, not very well, but I sure did learn a lot about skis." he tells them.

Then Muffy comes in and tells everyone that she has written Sam's speech for him. Sam is very grateful and begins to read it aloud.

"Ladies and gentlemen, friends of the sea. - That's a nice beginning - Please pay attention and listen to me. Jumping giraffes, I have something to say. No time for laughs, we must change things today! It's a terrible thing that I have discovered. There's not enough cheese in the captain's big cupboard? - Whatdaya mean cheese?"

Jodie laughs gently and ruffles Muffy's hair. "Muffy, Sam can't talk to the Navy about cheese!"

Muffy explains that she wants to make sure that mice have cheese when they travel on ships.

"Oh, well, sure cheese is important to mice. But Sam's speech is supposed to be about the sea," Jodie explains.

"And Muffy," adds Jeff, "You wrote the speech in rhyme. Well, Sam hardly ever speaks in rhyme."

"Well, I'm sorry that my speech is cheesy. Writing speeches isn't easy!" Muffy says.

Sam really appreciates her effort, but he realizes that he must write the speech on his own. Off he goes, somewhat dejected.

"You can do it!" Jodie encourages him as he leaves.

Jeff asks Jodie if she's ever had to give a speech. She says she has, in fact, almost everyone has had to make a speech at some time in their lives.

"If people didn't talk a lot and all the words they just forgot," Muffy says, "Everything would be so quiet. Why do people never try it?"

"Sounds pretty dull to me!" says Jeff.

That reminds Jodie of a story about a town where everyone decided never to speak again and soon everyone forgot all the words they knew. As she tells the story, we see it in live action.

Into this town came a very gabby stranger (Jodie, with a ponytail and glasses) who noticed that everyone was unhappy and decided to do something about it.

"Folks it's wrong, I say it's wrong, you haven't spoken for much too long! And I find I must speak my mind and investigate this sorry state for everyone with a choice should have a say in their own voice and I'm here to tell you all to communicate!" she sings.

After considerable, rapid-fire words in their direction, the townspeople begin to sing. "Do I hear voices?" the stranger asks.

"Yes you hear voices!" the townspeople (Jeff, Muffy and Sam) sing.

"Are those voices singing out loud?"

"Yes those voices singing out loud!"

"Let's sing out louder!" says the stranger, whooping with delight. ". . . You have done so well my job is done."

"Job is done!" sing the townspeople.

"I have heard," the stranger sings.

"A miracle's ocurred!" The townspeople sing.

"Those golden words!"

"Those golden golden words!"

"And now you'll never, now you'll never stop! Stop! Stop!" With each "stop" she sings a bit higher, finally hitting a scratchy high note.

"Never never stop. Never never stop, never never stop," the townspeople sing on and on. "Stop! Stop!" cries the stranger as the scene fades.

Jodie finishes the story by saying that the people were so happy to be speaking again that they built a statue of the stranger in the town square.

Muffy is unimpressed. "Gee, that stranger sure knew how to speak. She probably could talk all week. If I was there, I would rejoice that the statute didn't have a voice!"

Meanwhile, Sam is typing his speech onto TXL's screen. He is just finishing up with "for all those who love the sea."

Now TXL offers to display the speech while he practices it. He fast forwards to the middle of the speech because that's the part he likes best, and begins speaking. In a very dull monotone he says.

"You have to be tough to handle a storm at sea."

TXL interrupts. "Wouldn't your speech sound better if you were more dramatic?"

Sam agrees and begins again. This time, he is very dramatic.

"YOU! HAVE TO BE TOUGH! TO HANDLE A STORM-AT-SEA! WHEN THE GALES BLOW..." As Sam shouts, he is drowned out by wind and water sloshing around the computer room as the closet doors open and close and a speaker broadcasts his voice singing "Yo He Ho."

"And then, and then the sea is quiet, the sea is quiet once again!" he says. Most of the special effects stop but the speaker keeps singing. "The sea is quiet once again!" he says, banging on the computer keys. "Stop stop stop stop stop stop - the sea is quiet once again!" Finally the computer room is quiet. But in his zeal to stop the racket, Sam has accidentally erased his speech.

Next we visit with the mime lady, who doesn't use words to communicate. TXL asks us to guess what word she is showing us. First she mimes being cold. Then she shows us what it looks like to be angry.

Back in the children's department, Sam is trying to reconstruct his speech with Jodie's help. "You have to be tough to handle a storm at sea." he says. "Um, when the waves blow."

Jodie stops him and reminds him that waves don't blow.

"Maybe I should say, 'when the gales blow and the waves - wave? Uh, pound! And the waves pound and the rain roars down like a . . ." he stops, realizing that rains don't roar. "The rains drop? The rains go pitter-pat? The rains beat! Yeah! Yeah! The rains beat, beat, beat, beat upon your ship." He trails off in frustration. He doesn't think he'll ever be able to memorize his speech.

Just then Muffy and Jeff come in. They have the idea of letting Sam read cue cards. They suggest that Jodie sit in the front row and flash the cards at Sam. But before they can try it, Jeff drops the cards on the floor. They gather them up, but they aren't in order anymore. So when they test out the cue cards, Sam says, "The storm suddenly stops, (ladies and gentlemen). You have to be tough to handle... tossing and turning in... a liverwurst and onion sandwich!"

Muffy begins to giggle. Jodie says the cards are a good idea, but they're just too risky. Sam will just have to memorize his speech. They encourage him to say the speech over and over again with a song.

"Here's what I advise if you have to memorize say it once, then say it over again. Say it over, say it over, say it over, then you say it over again!" Jeff and the others sing. "Just one more time!"

Now we visit with the mime lady again. She is miming that she's playing baseball. She's the pitcher, and she's chomping on gum as she throws to the batter. Unfortunately, it appears he's hit a home run. The mime is so startled that she swallows her gum.

The time has arrived. Sam and Muffy are backstage at the Naval Academy, both looking very nautical. Sam is wearing his uniform, and Muffy is wearing a sailor dress and cap. Sam is very, very nervous to begin with, but things get worse when Muffy takes a look at the audience and then tells Sam, "I thought all sailors were tall. Those boys and girls are very small."

"What! Boys and girls - they're not supposed to be boys and girls, they're supposed to be grown up sailors!" Sam peers out through the curtain himself and sure enough, the whole auditorium is filled with children. When he returns he almost runs into a beautifully dressed Jodie who is returning with a glass of water, in case Sam's throat gets dry during the speech.

Sam is in a panic. "That audience!" he gasps to Jodie, "They're not grown up. They're all li - lit - lit -" unable to get it out, he tries to demonstrate with gestures. But Jodie has already found out. It turns out the meeting is for all the children of the sailors of the naval academy.

Sam feels doomed. His speech is for grown-ups. The kids, he fears, will never like his speech.

"Oh-oh sure they will, Sam," Jodie says, trying to comfort him. "I - I just think you should talk about something else - well, just in case. Um - Why don't you tell them funny stories about yourself?"

"I don't know any funny stories Jodie!" Sam says.

Just then the announcer (who sounds just like TXL) introduces Sam.

"I can't! I can't!" he says. But Jodie encourages him to just "be himself." She crosses her fingers as he goes out on stage.

Sam shows not a hint of nervousness as he talks to the kids.

"It's me, Sam Crenshaw! You know what I like most about being a sailor? Singin'! Yeah, that's right, singin'! Yeah 'cause when you're at sea, well, lots of time there wasn't anything else to do but sing. And my favorite sea song was called "Yo He Ho," and I thought we might all sing it together." Then he begins singing.

"Singin' yo he ho sail across the ocean blue singin' yo he ho, I'm-a comin' home to you!" The kids all join in, singing beautifully. Sam calls for another chorus. One youngster gets so excited she is jumping up and down as she sings.

We fade out and now we're back at the store, with Jeff, Jodie, Muffy and Sam singing the song again as they describe the evening to Jeff.

"And as the end of the song drew near," Muffy tells him, "The audience gave Sam a cheer!"

"That's wonderful Sam." says Jeff.

"Oh, he was a big hit." Jodie says. "After the song, Sam made a wonderful speech and told funny stories about being a sailor."

"And you know, Jeff, I even told them about how to make a liverwurst and onion sandwich and they liked that they thought that was good!"

"Oh, they all thought he was terrific! Afterwards the Admiral came backstage to thank Sam personally."

That's how Muffy got to meet the Admiral, and put in her own request. "And he promised me, when I said please, that every ship would carry cheese. So if I ever went to sea, there'd be plenty of cheese for little ol' me!"

Everyone laughs.

"Aw, Sam," says Jodie, "We are so proud of you! You made a great speech."

"Well, you know, Jodie," says Sam, "I realize now that makin' speeches isn't really all that hard - as long as you know what you wanna say, and you use the right words."

"Words words , so many words!" they all sing about the wonder of words once again, ending with, "when you put words in a sentence, your ideas sound okay. And everyone will understand exactly what you say. Exactly what you mean to say!"


Quizzes:

  • A hippo is giving a speech. From the looks on the other animals' faces, is the speech exciting or boring? (Most of the animals look very bored). Which one is having a good time? (The rabbit. Under his downturned ears, he has a headphone through which he is listening to music).
  • Which barnyard animal says gobble, gobble?

Nursery Rhyme:

  • The girl in the lane that couldn't speak plain said gobble.

Notes:

  • Jodie's story about the stranger who teaches a town to talk again is really amusing, partially because of the way Nerene Virgin plays the stranger. With her horn rimmed glasses and her effusive personality, she is nothing like Jodie.  She is more like a broad spoof of everyone's favorite (or least favorite) elementary school teacher. It's hard to describe. The story has the feel of the musical "The Music Man," especially when Jodie gets up on the town stage, reminiscent of Harold Hill singing "Trouble" to the folks of River City, Iowa. Jeff, Sam and Muffy look delightfully nerdy in their glasses and outdated clothes.
  • I suspect that the scene of the children singing "Yo He Ho" came from a live performance of Today's Special, though I'm not sure about the footage of Sam, which may or may not actually be from a live performance. One of the little girls points to the stage and you can read her lips, she is saying, "That's Sam!" when she sees him. This may explain why we don't hear "Yo He Ho" in the special episode "Live on Stage," as perhaps it was extracted to form the basis for "Sam's Speech."
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