Well, hello there everyone! Sorry for the delay in posts lately, but I’ve been a little busy. So in thinking about which episode to write about next I realized that season 6 hasn’t made an appearance yet. Naturally, I thought of “Henny Penny–Straight, No Chaser” first! I had to wait a little bit, though, because it actually doesn’t seem to air that often on TV. Interestingly, after re-visiting this episode, I discovered that I was a little let down by it. But more about that later because this episode does have some fascinating fashion moments!
We start out in the kitchen with Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia at the table. Blanche is getting all hot and bothered thinking about a spring break wet t-shirt contest, and she’s wearing a bright blue blazer with epaulettes and shoulder pads. The large earrings complement the trim on the collar and the gold embellishments on her shirt. Dorothy I think looks particularly lovely here in a casual darker blue blouse with a knotted collar. Her hair is nicely styled, too. Sophia wears a plaid dress with mandarin collar. I’m pretty we’ve seen her in it before, but it’s a cute dress. Dorothy tells them about the Henny Penny play they’re doing at school to get the kids excited about reading while Sophia cruises the obits. Surprise! Blanche is listed and, even worse, it lists her age at 68! She claims a man named Chugger Dietz that she broke up with printed it to get back at her, and so begins this episode’s B storyline along with a string of very oddly named men.
In the next scene they’re in the living room, and Dorothy walks in with the mail and a letter for Sophia from her chess game by mail friend. This becomes sort of a C storyline. Frank Nann, the director of the school play, stops by to say the cast is being quarantined because one of them has the measles. Frank says they’ll have to cancel the play, but Dorothy suggests re-casting it with adults. Enter, Rose, who says she just saw a cloud shaped exactly like a cotton ball. Don’t ever change, Rose! She’s wearing a red hoodie over a yellow collared shirt, which is a color combination I wouldn’t usually think of, but it works on her. They convince Rose to play Henny Penny, Blanche agrees to play Goosey Loosey, and Dorothy is easily talked into playing Turkey Lurkey. She sings a bit of “Old Man River” from Show Boat on Sophia’s urging to prove she’s right for the part. It’s a fun scene, and it’s followed by one out on the lanai with Sophia setting up her next chess move and Blanche gets her obituary retraction in the paper. It’s printed in “itty bitty type,” though, so this battle isn’t over yet.
Next the Girls come back from rehearsal, and I’m going to let Dorothy hide in the background on this one because that brown outfit is doing her no favors. But who cares what you wear to rehearsal as long as it’s comfortable, right? I totally get it. Blanche and Rose are the standouts here. The color blocking of the solid fuchsia shirt and blue pants with the Pucci-inspired blouse is fantastic on Blanche! I love that she’s wearing leggings, too. Very on trend. Rose’s outfit surprised me not because it’s just so much seafoam green but also for the scarf. The way it’s styled seems unique for her, but it definitely seems like a hot outfit. As in, does that fabric even breathe?? Oh, also i don’t want to forget Blanche’s shoes! She wears this style pretty often, and they always remind me of the shoes that came with the original Barbie dolls.
Here’s where the episode starts to let me down, though. Rose is shocked at the actual storyline of Henny Penny! Of course we knew she was confused about it earlier, but it seemed like just another of her wacky St. Olaf stories. How could she not have known how the story really goes this whole time?? That seems a little far fetched even for Rose. And then she almost quits the play but Dorothy convinces her to stay in it because she is just so concerned about inspiring the children to read. Blanche gets to make a joke at Rose’s expense about how chickens are the stupidest birds so I suppose the scene is worth it. I guess it just seems a little like this episode is trying too hard, and the storylines just aren’t quite as natural. Blanche is probably the funniest of the whole episode, though, with all her stories about men in cod pieces and the seven dwarves “livin in the woods, needin’ a woman, all of ém with Napoleon complexes, somethin’ to prove.”
In the next scene Sophia gets a letter from Serafina with her next chess move, and Blanche gets roses and a note from Mel Bushman. Dorothy makes a funny joke about Blanche’s last name here when the delivery boy mispronounces it as “Deve-rucks,” saying it’s only pronounced that way in limericks. I swear the writers had to have had a bet about who could come up with the weirdest names by this point for all of Blanche’s suitors. But he sent her the flowers because he saw her obituary in the paper?? I think it’s best not to dwell on that joke for too long. Anyway, Blanche is wearing a hoodie with a very festive lining in some kind of jungle patchwork pattern over a cornflower blue shirt. I like how she’s folded the hood down to make a sort of collar. That’s very smart. I should also start keeping count of how many times she wears those dangling starfish earrings. She’s definitely into her jewelry in this episode, too. Sophia’s cardigan in this scene is very detailed. It’s got puffed sleeves, smocking, and eyelets! Gimme that cardigan, Sophia!! I never could quite make out the pattern on her dress, but the purple and gold colors are a nice accent to the cardigan’s emerald jewel tone. There’s also a more hunter green shade in the dress that subtly ties the whole look together.
Everyone’s favorite scene is coming up next, but I want to take a moment and talk about Sophia as the narrator. She’s downright adorable in this costume that looks like something straight out of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe from Mister Rogers, and her delight when she walks out on the stage is visible. It seems like she was so much more Estelle in that moment than Sophia. I wonder if the studio audience cheered louder when they saw her because she has a look of genuine surprise on her face, almost as if she noticed for the first time how much she was adored by fans of the show. I just love the little wave and smile that she gives the audience.
And now for the play! It’s better if we just watch the actual scene so here it is. Honestly (obviously?), it’s the best thing about the whole episode.
So Frank Nann, the director of the play and Foxy Loxy, is played by George Hearn. He’s a veteran of the stage and screen and a two time Tony Award winner! In fact, he originated the role of Albin in La Cage aux Follies on Broadway in 1983. I figured he had to be somebody because as I watched this scene again it was his performance that impressed me the most. He has a fantastic voice! It’s fun seeing him pull off such a contrast from his more subdued attitude in the earlier scene. Also, in a little six degrees of television separation moment, he was actually married to Dixie Carter in 1977! They divorced in 1979, though. I wonder if he was a friend of Bea or Rue from the stage or if he simply auditioned for the part. Either way, his talent is a perfect match for Rue, Bea, and Betty.
We need to take just a moment of appreciation for Dorothy’s costume alone.
Those feathers!! Rue shared in Golden Girls Forever that she “thought Bea looked amazing as Turkey Lurkey,” but each of the chicken costumes is truly a work of art. They were designed by Judy Evans, of course, but the IMDb page for this episode also lists three other costumers. I was hoping that Golden Girls Forever might have some more information about how they were constructed, how long it took, and what the inspiration was, but no such luck. I love how each one is so different and represents each Girl’s personality so well. In fact, each of the costumes is so amazing that it’s pretty hard to believe they were supposed to be for an elementary school play. It’s the details that make each one: Goosey Loosey’s necklace, Turkey Lurkey’s vest combo, and Henny Penny’s red comb feathers. The ankle feathers on Dorothy and Rose really make their costumes stand out. Blanche wears an ankle bracelet instead, which I think is hilarious. She’s a classy goose, after all! And I just have to wonder: if Rue kept all of her clothes from the show, did she also keep the Goosey Loosey costume? At the end of the play Rose tries to change the ending by getting the kids to clap if they want to save Henny Penny and her friends and, when they don’t, she tells them that there are monsters are under their beds. We all know that Rose does not play when she really wants to get a point across!
Meanwhile, on the next day, Sophia gets one last letter from Serafina and Dorothy comes home with the reviews of the play. It was a hit with the kids, and Dorothy reports that the library was busier than ever. Mission accomplished! The episode ends when Blanche strolls out in her Goosey Loosey costume and announces that she’s off to the Rusty Anchor for spring break. I think this probably answers the question of Rue keeping the costume!
Dorothy is wearing what I think is the third hoodie of this episode. The tan, purple, and yellow color combination is something a little different for her, and I like it! I have a sleeveless shirt that I wear to work that reminds me of the one Rose wears here. My husband called it “kind of matronly” when I bought it, but what can I say? I’m like a moth to a flame with Golden Girls inspired fashion these days! Actually, this pattern was right on trend with this past spring. Floral patterns like that were everywhere, especially on dresses. Their makeup here is also really pretty.
The writer of this episode, Tom Whedon, had been an original writer for Captain Kangaroo in the 1950’s and 60’s and later worked on The Electric Company. He wrote several episodes for The Golden Girls from season 5 on, and his background as a writer for children’s shows certainly works here. The Case of the Libertine Belle from the final season is probably his best work for the show. He also wrote the songs in the Henny Penny production.
Overall the fashion in this episode is very casual which lets the Henny Penny costumes have their well-deserved moment. Also I have to confess that I thought this episode would be a lot more fun to write about than it was. I guess I just really am a sucker for the episodes with the feels! A BuzzFeed piece from 2013 ranks this episode as the best musical performance of The Golden Girls. While it’s not my favorite, there’s no denying that the Girls in their outlandish chicken costumes is definitely one of the show’s most memorable moments.