Studio Executives #8 — A Sharp Idea (by pjb)


Summary: The Cartwrights try to come up with an episode that will cheer up their fans.

The following episodes are referenced: The Hayburner, Ponderosa Matador, The Stillness Within, The Savage, A Stranger Passed This Way, Triangle, The Wooing of Abigail Jones, A Matter of Circumstance, The Pure Truth

WC: 2,450; Rating: PG

Studio Executives Series:

The Real History of “The Crucible”
Little Joe Cartwright’s Very, Very, Very Bad Day
The Roberts Dilemma
A Ponderosa Christmas . . . Or Maybe Not
Men of the Ponderosa:  A Valentine’s Day Treat
On the Other Hand
Fake History
A Sharp Idea


Studio Executives #8 — A Sharp Idea

by pjb

 Scene: Interior. The Ponderosa.


(a knock at the door)

BEN:               It’s about time. Hop Sing, would you get that?

HOP SING:   Hop Sing always get door. Nobody else get door. Why Hop Sing always have to get door?

JAMIE:          Um, because it’s your job?

(Joe leaps over the back of the settee and grabs Hop Sing, who is brandishing a meat cleaver and yelling at Jamie in Chinese)

CANDY:        He’s a little testy these days.

ADAM:          You need to apologize.

JAMIE:          What for? He can’t kill me. It’s in my contract. Nobody can kill a Cartwright.

BEN:               Are you saying my wives all had lousy contracts?

(more knocking)

BEN:               Will somebody answer that blasted door!

HOSS:            I’ll get it. All I’ve been doing so far is sitting here. (opens the door to admit STUDIO EXECUTIVE #1, STUDIO EXECUTIVE #2, and STUDIO EXECUTIVE #3) Hey, fellas, come on in.

SE #1:             (as Joe hauls Hop Sing back to the kitchen) Everything okay here?

BEN:               Actually, Stan, it’s not.

SE #1:             Like I’ve said before, my name’s not—you know what? Never mind. What’s the problem?

ADAM:          We’ve heard from the outside world that our fans are having kind of a rough time.

SE #2:             What’s the matter?

CANDY:        We haven’t been able to get any details. We’ve sent wires, read the Territorial Enterprise, and written to Ben’s relatives back east.

HOSS:            And you know how many relatives Pa has back east.

BEN:               I hope somebody does. I certainly don’t.

JOE:               (returning from the kitchen)  Hop Sing wants to know if anybody wants coffee.

JAMIE:          I do.

JOE:               Not you. Anybody else?

BEN:               Skip the coffee. This is important.

HOP SING:   (yelling from the kitchen)  Coffee important too!

SE #3:             (yelling back)  We’d all love some coffee, Hop Sing! (in a normal voice)  We haven’t heard about any problems.

BEN:               I have a sense about these things. Our fans are unhappy, and we need to do a very special episode to make them feel better.

SE #1:             Like what?

CANDY:        That’s why we called you here. We tried to come up with something, and—well, it didn’t work very well.

JOE:               My idea was terrific!

ADAM:          An entire episode about how you lost your pants? What are the rest of us supposed to do?

HOSS:            Besides hide our eyes?

JAMIE:          We could put a tack on his chair!

CANDY:        Or rub poison ivy on his saddle.

ADAM:          (appreciatively)  You have an evil mind.

BEN:               Joseph, I said “no,” and I meant it. No matter what we come up with, you’re keeping your pants on.

(unearthly moans of grief fill the air)

HOSS:            What’s that?

JAMIE:          Joe’s fans.

JOE:               See? You’re making them feel even worse. That’s so wrong.

CANDY:        I could be the one to lose my pants.

BEN:               Nobody is losing their pants. Understand?

(more unearthly moans of grief)

SE #1:             What exactly did you have in mind, Ben?

BEN:               We figured you know more than we do about ratings and all that, so you’re in a better position to help us come up with something to brighten our fans’ days.

SE #2:             You know as much as we do. I mean, the best ratings come when somebody gets hurt or gets their heart broken.

SE #3:             Obviously, it’s best if we can work both into one episode.

ADAM:          Like that episode where I got hurt and that girl Ruth put the bandanna on my head and we fell in love. That was a great episode!

HOSS:            For you.

CANDY:        You fell in love with a bandanna?

JOE:               You know how boring that episode was for the rest of us? All we got to do was look for you. At least, I think we did. I don’t even remember now, it was so boring.

ADAM:          We’re not trying to keep you  amused. We’re trying to make the fans happy.

CANDY:        You think an episode all about you is going to make them happy?

(mild cheering from afar)

ADAM:          See? The fans think so.

JAMIE:          (looking at his handheld device)  That was seven people.

HOSS:            How do you know?

JAMIE:          I picked up this handy-dandy little device the last time we were at the mercantile. Old Man Miller put in something called a Genius Bar, and they’ve got all sorts of stuff like this. Seriously, it’s like having the whole world in your pocket. Look at this—it shows you what people think with thumbs up and thumbs down.

SE #1:             Let me see that thing.

JAMIE:          I probably shouldn’t. I don’t think it’s supposed to exist yet.

SE #3:             Look, we all know we get the best ratings when Joe’s the one who gets hurt.

CANDY:        (to Joe)  You have some seriously weird fans.

JOE:               Forget it. Every time they shoot me or whatever, all I do is lie around and look feverish while everybody else gets to go out and do stuff. No way, Phil or Phyllis or whoever you are. There’s gotta be something better we can do.

(unearthly moans of grief)

JAMIE:          (checks his device)  Two hundred twenty.

SE #1:             Thing is, the others can get hurt or shot or whatever, but the ratings are never as good. The audience likes seeing Joe suffer.

HOSS:            I think they like watching me pick Joe up and carry him around like he’s a little kid.

ADAM:          What do you suggest? An episode where Joe can’t walk and you have to carry him all over the Ponderosa?

(mild cheering)

JAMIE:          Eighty-nine. Doesn’t sound like a keeper.

ADAM:          Besides, that not-walking thing is mine. I still have my old wheelchair in the attic.

BEN:               We don’t have an attic.

ADAM:          The basement, then.

HOSS:            We got a root cellar. Is that where you put it?

JOE:               I thought you gave it to Doc Martin.

HOSS:            Which Doc Martin?

JOE:               Whichever one we had at the time.

JAMIE:          If we have an episode where Joe gets hurt, can we use a different doctor?

SE #2:             Who?

JAMIE:          Yeah, Who.

SE #3:             Yeah what?

JAMIE:          Not What. Who.

CANDY:        What’s wrong with that kid?

HOSS:            How long have you got?

JAMIE:          (with exaggerated patience)  We can use Doctor Who.

BEN:              Who?

JAMIE:          Yeah.

SE #3  :           I don’t know—

JAMIE:          Third base!

(Yes, we know Jamie switched pop culture references at this point.)

JOE:               I have an idea!

ADAM:          It had better not involve you displaying your . . . assets.

(wild cheering)

JAMIE:          Eight hundred forty-three.

SE #1:             I need to get one of those.

BEN:               Joseph, what’s your idea?

JOE:               I forgot. Adam made me forget.

ADAM:          I made you forget? Maybe you’re losing your memory.

HOSS:            Hey, that’s my thing!

JOE:               Even if I lost my memory, I wouldn’t wear a diaper on my head!

HOSS:            I didn’t have a memory, so I forgot how stupid it looked!

CANDY:        Is it just me, or is this conversation even stranger than usual?

SE #3:             What ever happened to the coffee?

(enter ROY COFFEE)

ROY:              You mean me?

BEN:               Roy, what are you doing here?

ROY:              Me and my mustache were out riding to make sure there weren’t any miscreants around, and we saw a peculiar-looking contraption out front and came to investigate.

HOSS:            Miscreants?

ADAM:          Bad guys.

BEN:               These are the fellows from the studio. Fellows, this is Roy Coffee, our sheriff.

SE #1:             Good to see you again, Roy.

ROY:              What seems to be the problem here, gents?

SE #2:             The Cartwrights are trying to come up with something to entertain their fans.

ROY:              Well, I don’t reckon I can help you there unless you think them fans want to see a real Old West lawman putting together a posse.

(mild booing, and Roy stomps out in a huff and slams the door)

JOE:               I still think we should do the episode where I lose my pants. We can do a raffle, and the winners can help me look for them.

HOSS:            You really think your fans are gonna want you to find your pants?

JOE:               Of course! They’re honorable women!

(guffaws from beyond)

JAMIE:          Wow—seven hundred and thirty-two! I didn’t even know this thing had that setting!

ADAM:          I told you—what the fans really want is a musical episode.

BEN:               (brightening)  You mean like “Bonanza—the Musical”? That would be terrific! You know, I had that hit song—

CANDY:        (gesturing toward Hoss and Joe)  Um, Ben—

JAMIE:          You should let me sing. I’m a whole lot better than Hoss and Joe.

HOSS AND JOE:      We can sing!

(moderately loud booing)

JAMIE:          Five hundred thirty-eight!

SE #1:             (hastily)  Listen, fellows, I wish we could help you, but we only know how to do a few kinds of shows.

SE #3:             (ticking them off on his fingers)  Somebody gets robbed, somebody gets hurt, an injustice almost happens, somebody dies, somebody gets their heart broken, somebody learns a lesson.

BEN:               Oh, come on. We have more variety than that. What about—okay, maybe not that one, but—hold on, I know I can think of something—

ADAM:          What about the one with Abigail Jones?

SE #1:             You learned a lesson. Hoss even said so at the end.

JOE:               What about when I was blind?

ADAM:          You were blind?

JOE:               It was after you left.

CANDY:        He couldn’t find his pants then, either, but it was only because Hop Sing put them in the wrong drawer.

SE #2:             The blind episode was another lesson episode, plus Joe got hurt.

ADAM:            Gee, what a surprise.

HOSS:            What about when Joe got trampled by a horse?

BEN:               That’s a “got hurt” one. Even I know that. But what about the one where Hoss had spring fever and that nice lady gave him a tonic that helped him?

SE #1:             The bank got robbed, and Hoss was wrongfully accused, so robbery and almost-injustice.

HOSS:            I can’t believe this. We gotta have more in our saddlebags than that. Somebody, think of something!

JOE:               My episode wouldn’t involve any of those categories.

BEN:               I’m thinking you’d be learning quite a lesson, young man.

HOSS:            What about if we got that Alex Sharp fellow to come up with something? His episodes ain’t hurt or heartbroken or any of that stuff.

JOE:               You mean that stunt man who wrote about when you and Adam bought a Thoroughbred racehorse, but me and the guy from My Three Sons won the race?

BEN, HOSS, JOE:    Security!

ADAM:          No!

JOE:               You’re just a sore loser. Hoss is right—that guy writes good stuff.

HOSS:            Especially for me. Remember the one with that pretty little señorita who picked me over you two?

ADAM:          Forget it!

CANDY:        So what do you want to do? We have fans who need to be cheered up, and none of us can think of anything we haven’t done a million times.

(They all look at each other. Then. . . .)

BEN:               (with a wild look in his eye)  I’ve got it!

(The others stare at him. Then, ever so slowly, the light dawns.)

HOSS:            You mean—somebody from the Ponderosa—

ADAM:          —can fall in love—

JOE:               —and live happily ever after?

(gasps of shock from the great beyond)

CANDY:        That’s not bad!

JAMIE:          (waving his hand)  Pick me! Pick me!

BEN:               (seeing the skepticism on the SEs’ faces)  You have to admit—it’s the one thing we’ve never done.

SE #2:             Are you sure the fans would go for it?

HOSS:            Sure they would!

SE #3:             But who would we choose?

(clamoring from the great beyond, and even more clamor in the living room as everybody argues about why he should be the lucky one)

SE #1:             Oh, for Pete’s sake! Cut it out everybody!

JAMIE:          (timidly)  Um, I got an idea. I saw a movie once where they did this thing, and it worked really well.

JOE:               You saw a what?

JAMIE:          There was a lot of singing and dancing involved. There were seven brothers, and by the end, they all got married.

(The SEs exchange looks. Then, they shrug)

SE #3:             As long as we limit the solos, it should be okay.

SE #2:             The guys are always dancing at parties, so they should be able to pull that off.

SE #1:             You think we can get that many blue dresses?


ADAM:          You really don’t understand, do you?

CANDY:        No wonder there’s never been a happy-ending episode.

SE #2:             What would we call it?

JAMIE:          Let’s see. We got Pa, Adam, Hoss, Joe, me—if we count Candy as family, we can call it “Six Brides for Six Cartwrights”!

(incredibly loud booing, wailing, moaning, sounds of glass breaking, and rioting)

SE #3:             What the—

JAMIE:          Eight hundred, nine hundred, twelve hundred, two thousand, ten thousand—holy crap! They broke my device!

ADAM:          Sounds as if somebody doesn’t like the idea of all of us living happily ever after.

JOE:               Doggone it. I was so looking forward to getting—

BEN:              Joseph!

JOE:               Married! I was gonna say “married”!

SE #1:             I guess the fans prefer it when you’re heartbroken and hurt and learning lessons.

SE #3:             Kind of a sadistic lot, aren’t they?

BEN:               Of course not. They’re every bit as kind-hearted as—well as everybody involved in this show.

(evil guffaws from beyond)

ADAM:          (to Jamie, who’s staring despondently at his device)  I thought that thing was broken.

(Jamie shrugs. Cut to KITCHEN, where Hop Sing sits with his iPad, tapping on the screen and muttering)

HOP SING:   Six brides, huh. No bride for Hop Sing, no bride for anybody. Hop Sing write new episode, use same pen name as before so nobody know. Episode funny and romantic, just like matador episode. This time, everybody but Hop Sing get nasty stomach flu just as beautiful lady come to town, she fall in love with Hop Sing, family make much puking and wailing, beautiful lady and Hop Sing make much whoopee. . . .

(Closeup of iPad screen bearing these words: “A Bride for Hop Sing,” by Alex Sharp)


Unfortunately, “A Bride for Hop Sing” never aired. Joe found out that Alex Sharp, who had supposedly written “The Hayburner” and “Ponderosa Matador,” really was just a stunt man, and he was letting Hop Sing use his name in exchange for five percent of the residuals. When Joe tried to use this information to blackmail Hop Sing into writing a special episode where Joe and three lusty, bosomy women were stranded for weeks in a remote mountain cabin, Hop Sing was so incensed that he used all his Hayburner money to buy fifty pairs of pants for Joe so he could never, ever convince anybody to do an episode where he lost his pants.

Other Stories by this Author


Author: pjb

Still human.

12 thoughts on “Studio Executives #8 — A Sharp Idea (by pjb)

  1. One never knows what’s going to happen when the SE’s come to see the Cartwrights, and this one brought a world of laughter. Got to love Jamie’s little device. Frankly I think Hop Sing pretty well covered five of the six episode types all by himself, so I think the Cartwrights ought to keep a close eye on him. They never seem to learn not to tick him off.

    1. I know, right? You’d think they’d figure out that Hop Sing controls a whole lot more than just the food!
      So glad you enjoyed the story, AC1830! Thanks for letting me know!

  2. What a hoot! Loved the “voices from afar,” although I felt sorry for poor Roy and his mustache huffing off to the honeywagon. Thanks for the laughs, PJB.

    1. Poor Roy! His mustache was undoubtedly very sad at not being included in the special episode.
      Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Cheaux! Thanks!

  3. Joe, there’s no way you were going to say that; you and everybody else knows it!

    Love it, love it, love it! PJB just keep them coming.

    1. Thanks, Maria! Joe’s idea would definitely appeal to a certain segment of the audience :-D. Too bad Ben has veto power!

  4. The execs are busy again. It’s all about ratings and profit, and I’m not sure that asking the Cs for ideas is the best way to go. They seem to have different ideas on what makes the show work. If they asked us … I’m sure we could give them an answer!

    1. You just want to cast your vote for the ep where Joe loses his pants, don’t you? 😀

      Glad you liked the story. Thanks so much for your help, Pat!

  5. Pjb you have excelled yourselves. This is the funniest thing I’ve read in ages and got me strange looks from the family as I laughed out loud all the way through. So many things I could name to illustrate the brilliance, but I can’t because of spoilers. Thank you for this amazing bit of cheer. Just what I needed.
    P.S. What a spoilsport Hop Sing is.

    1. Thanks so much, June!

      You can’t really blame Hop Sing. Who knew he was such a busy guy? 😉

      In any case, so happy to hear the story provided you with a laugh in these tough times. That means the Cs did exactly what they set out to do, even if the story worked out better for you than for them!

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