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Plot Arcs

Each episode told its own story, but The Great Gildersleeve was partially serialized as well.

"The Great Gildersleeve" in tears?  Yes, Hal Peary is shedding droplets of joy at his return to the air today over WMAQ with Niece Marjorie (laurene Tuttle) and Nephew Leroy (Walter Tetley)The Mystery Baby was one of the "Plot Arcs" used by writer John Whedon to provide continuity between episodes. In contrast to the usual sit-com practice of resolving the situation in 30 minutes, a major plot point is introduced in one episode, and may not be fully resolved for several episodes. The situation will be part of the plot the weekly episodes until it is resolved, though the weekly episodes stand as their own stories. The Plot Arc technique has also been used with great success by Whedon's grandson, Josh Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse.

The Mystery Baby is found by Gildy after a day of shopping in the first episode of the 1948-49 season. There is no sign of the parents, so the baby has to go home with Gildersleeve, where she wins the hearts of everyone in the community. Dealing with the baby fills the first few episodes of the season, but as the season progresses she is only mentioned in passing, until the sixteenth episode. By now Gildersleeve has made up his mind and rearranged his life to adopt the baby, but on the Christmas Eve episode the Baby is reunited with her father, and we learn of the sad and dramatic circumstances that lead him to leave her in Gildy's car.

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The Mystery Baby made a terrific opportunity for the sponsor Kraft Foods.[REF] It becomes a comic point that the Baby doesn't have a name, so the audience was asked to submit names. The entries were actually part of a contest in which Kraft gave away four 1949 Fords over the course of five weeks.

Win a 49 FordThe next season starts with Gildy writing a song that can be published if he can find a good title for it. This time Kraft puts up cash as a prize, totaling $50,000, with four weekly 1st prizes of $1000 each, and an additional $5000 for the grand prize winner whose song title is finally chosen. Of course Gildy finds an occasion to sing the song in each of the next few episodes. As well as using it to woe his new flame, Nurse Milford. The song is filled with sap and sentiment, and showcases not only the vocal talents of Hal Peary, but the closeness and support Gildy receives from his friends, The Jolly Boys.

Listeners of the program will recognize several situations that carry over several episodes that become a story of their own. These not only draw listeners back week after week, but give the town of Summerfield an extra realism to a place that many people know but doesn't really exist.

Great Gildersleeve