Becoming Donna Reed

Season 1: Episode 9 – Dough Re Mi


The episode opens with Donna in Alex’s office. She explains that she has jus been named chairwoman of the hospital’s fundraising committee. She has an idea that will raise the hospital $2500 for a children’s room. Before she can explain her idea, Jeff enters and asks his parents for money so the Bobcats, his football team, can buy a new tackling dummy. Donna and Alex tell Jeff to be resourceful and raise the money. Jeff exits

Donna then tells Alex her idea. Anton Duvall, a famous concert pianist, has moved to town for some well needed rest and relaxation, she will find a way to be introduced to him and convince him to play a benefit concert. Alex seems skeptical because in a news story on Duvall it was clear he came to town to relax.

Mary is practicing piano when Donna is visit by Lydia, her nemesis who directed her in the play in episode two. Donna asks Mary to go practice at her friend’s house. Lydia had proposed that the fundraiser be another play and comes to make it clear that she hopes Donna fails. Motivated by her irritation with Lydia, Donna gets on the phone and starts making calls. Each call becomes more depressing than the last as it becomes clear she will find no one to introduce her to Monsieur Duvall.

Meanwhile Jeff is meeting with the Bobcats to plan their fundraiser. Their meeting is interrupted when a lovely French girl, Antoinette, comes to visit Jeff. Its clear she has a crush on him and is not used to taking no for an answer. She waits at the Stone house with Jeff for her dad to pick her up. She flirts with Jeff and asks him to dinner. Her dad comes and she tells Jeff he is a great piano player. Jeff asks him if he plays rock n’ roll. He said he usually plays Chopin but his daughter convinces him to play some rock on the Stones piano. Soon the house fills with rollicking piano and Donna, who is still on the phone trying to find a way to meet Duvall, yells at them to be quiet. Monsieur Duvall and his daughter depart and Jeff goes in to see his mother.

When Donna learns who was playing piano she shocked. Then Lydia returns to say she had a fender-bender with Duvall and he was not interested in playing a concert. Jeff says he’ll go have dinner with Antoinette and see if he can persuade Duvall. Alex tells him if he can convince Duvall to play then Alex will buy the Bobcats their tackling dummy.

Jeff gets all dressed up for his date and the family fawns over him. Over dinner with Antoinette he lays on the charm; she is clearly smitten. Monsieur Duvall comes in and Jeff promises he’ll take Antoinette on dates, to the big dance, make her a Bobcat, and even marry her if Duvall plays the concert. Duvall is unconvinced until his daughter  becomes involved, then he is helpless to resist.

Lydia is visiting Donna when Jeff, Antoinette, and Mr. Duvall come to share the news. Donna is overjoyed and Lydia is envious. The concert is a success and the Duvalls become friends with the Stones. Jeff confesses to how he accomplished the amazing feat and Donna shows her appreciation.


Good intentions don’t get the job done.


Donna had a big idea that she foolhardily proposed  before she knew she could pull it off. I can’t criticize her for this. There are too many great ideas that get stifled because we worry about how to pull them off. There are no great accomplishments without great ideas.

However, one can also become stuck when they are all good ideas and no follow through. We need good ideas and we need people who turn good ideas into reality. Sometimes we can’t do it all ourselves, we need to call for back-up. One may question the wisdom of essentially selling your 14 year old son into an arranged marriage to secure a pianist to play a benefit. To some that may seem extreme, even immoral, they have a point, but this is TV and its not real. Its a hyperbole: an intentional exaggeration to make a point. The point here is sometimes we need to sacrifice a bit of ourselves for the greater good.

This lesson is very poignant when applied to charity work, but it is applicable in a wide variety of life and domestic tasks of varying levels of importance. For instance, I have found that merely wishing my toilet bowl clean does not actually make it so. No, I need to bleach and brush and scour that baby. I am also finding this to be true in my job search. Simply hoping I get a great new job has yet to yield one. I must get creative and come up with some new ways to find the job I want, then I must actually go carry out the ideas.

Truthfully, I am feeling a little overwhelmed on the job front. Until I lost the title of teacher, I had no idea how much of my identity was tied-up in that word. It was such a clear and understandable title. When asked, “What do you do?” it was so nice to say, “I’m a teacher.” It’s a response that is easy to understand and it lends one an instant air of respectability. My current response, “Uh, I am working part time at an after school program and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.” is simply not as satisfying and it makes me sound rather flighty. It’s also true.

I was never one of those people who imagined I’d teach for my entire work-life. In fact, when I first began teaching I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted at all. I grew into teaching and, over the twelve years I did it, I became quite good at it. In fact, last year was probably my most successful and rewarding year in the classroom. Isn’t there some mantra about always going out on top?

I haven’t decided that I will never teach again and I haven’t decided that I will. When we first moved it was really a timing issue, school was already starting here and most positions were full. There just wasn’t a lot of demand. Now as I look at openings, the ones that appeal to me are most often outside of education, often in fields I have little or no experience in. I feel it’s time for a change, but I am just not sure what shape that change will take.

Plan of Action

I must move forward. I will apply to jobs I think will be rewarding and I will seek training that will help me to be marketable in those fields. There must be a community college is San Francisco right? I will not sell the cats to pay for classes. Sorry Donna, even for the sake of a great story, there are some lines I will not cross.