The Golden Girls: Henny Penny — Straight, No Chaser vs. I Love Lucy: The Operetta

A classic romantic operetta vs. a classic children’s musical! And let me just say, this was a TOUGH matchup.

In I Love Lucy, Ethel and Lucy write an operetta for their women’s club because Lucy (as treasurer) has so badly managed their finances that they desperately need to fundraise without spending any money. The show starts off really well. We get to see Ethel as the ingenue, which is nice because the show frequently forced Vivian Vance into a frumpy look, and its great to hear her show off both her lyric and coloratura soprano styles.

Ricky play the romantic lead and Lucy plays the “queen of the gypsies” whose solo song is drowned out by a chorus of much better singers — much to Lucy’s chagrin. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the full production because Lucy paid for all the costumes and set pieces with a post-dated cheque. Annnd everything gets repossessed mid-production. That said, the set pieces are truly beautiful and we do get to hear some of the wonderful music as composed by series composer Eliot Daniel. I would almost have awarded I Love Lucy the point for costumes…but…The Golden Girls knocked it out of the park on this one.

I mean SERIOUSLY just look at the detailed feather work here, people!

Henny Penny - Straight, No Chaser (1991)
Now, there is some nice choreography in “The Operetta,” but “Henny Penny–Straight No Chaser” has our girls doing some excellent goose, turkey, and chicken walking in heels. The music is cute, but it’s all one song. So there was really no competition from The Golden Girls on the music front and I Love Lucy easily won that point. I also gave The Golden Girls the point for the plot because we do in fact see a full story. Who knows what Lucy would have shown us, but of course, everything was re-possessed.

This was a close matchup, but The Golden Girls won with three points over I Love Lucy‘s two. Here’s a snippet of the winning production production:

Very Special Winner: The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls: All Bets are Off

You know what I find most bizarre about this episode? Oh hold on, maybe you need to know a little about the plot first. Okay, so Rose is learning to paint but she doesn’t know what a horse looks like (from memory). So she bugs Dorothy to take her to the racetrack. Dorothy resists and then finally obliges.

Then Sophia flips out at Dorothy for going to the track because it turns out that she had a debilitating gambling problem fifteen years earlier. And now she has fallen off the wagon!! (Are you allowed to use that phrase for non-alcohol problems? Like maybe she fell off the race-horse-pulled-wagon?)

Anyway, here’s what I find really odd about this. Remember that time the GG’s donated a jacket to charity with Dorothy’s winning lottery ticket still in the pocket? Yeah, that happened a full season before this episode and no one was pissed about her gambling then.

So it must be some kind of race-track-only gambling addiction. Fine. Things get pretty bad when she is so preoccupied by betting on the horsies, that she reschedules a job interview due to “car trouble” and then misses the rescheduled interview entirely.

But the worst part is when she manipulates poor, naive Rose into handing over her debit card, so that Sophia can “have an operation.” Only Dorothy feels guilty about this, and yells at Rose for allowing herself to be taken advantage of. But this is one of those times when Rose is surprisingly savvy, and knows Dorothy’s angle. She’s was trying to reverse-psychology her into not robbing her, and it works. Then Dorothy goes to gambling rehab and we never hear of this ever again.

Very Special Lesson: Give an addict unlimited access to your cash, and they’ll realize the error of their ways immediately.