4.25 Old Tree


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Original Air Date: May 24, 1993 • Production number: 77625
Written by: Diane Frolov and Robin GreenDirected by: Michael Fresco

Chris: What is it about genus arboretum that socks us in the figurative solar plexus? We see a logging truck go cruising down the road, stacked with a bunch of those fresh-cut giants, we feel like we lost a brother. Next thing you know, we're in The Brick, we're flopping money down on the bar. Wood. We're under a roof. Wood. We're walking the floors. Wood. Grabbing a pool cue. That's wood. Our friends in the forest carry a set of luggage from the mythical baggage carousel. Tree of life, tree of knowledge, family tree, Budda's Bodhi tree. Page one of life, in the beginning. Genesis 3:22. Adam and Eve. They're kicking back in the garden of Eden and boom, they get an eviction notice. Why is that? "Lest they should also take of the tree of life, eat and live forever." A definitive Yahweh no-no. Bo good to yourself Cicely, go out and plant a wet one on a tree.

Log line (1): When an old tree considered to be a Cicely historical landmark appears to by dying, Joel dons a tree doctor's hat and gives his prognosis.
Synopsis (1):

When an old tree called Ootockalockatuvik, or Old Vicky, appears to be on its last legs, the folks of Cicely treat it as though they were losing the town matriarch. Only Maurice is thrilled, because the dying tree has been preventing him from building a storehouse for his tractors. The townspeople enlist Joel, who knows nothing about botany, to determine the fate of the tree. His prognosis is that it has a fatal disease and, with that news, Maurice levels Vicky. In the aftermath, however, Maurice finds that he misses the sight of her and plants a new tree.

Meanwhile, Maggie struggles to stop the destructive patterns in her and Joel's relationship. Unfortunately, Joel is unnerved by her goodwill and physically hurts himself every time she is nice to him. For the sake of his health, they find a middle ground in which she is not excessively nice and he tries to limit his hurtful sarcasm.

Shelly, on the other hand, has lost her gift for gab, replaced by uncontrollable singing. While she assumes it is simply because she's happy, Joel is concerned that it may be a medical problem. With the thought that something may be physically wrong with her, Shelly no longer revels in he crooning and refuses to say anything. Holling finally convinces her to sing again as he joins her in a chorus of love.

(Production Bible):

An old tree, affectionately named Ootockalockatuvik, or Old Vicky becomes the focus of the town after her health is called into question. Maurice requests that Joel, as the town doctor, make a prognosis. After kvetching for days about the inappropriateness of his role as designated town horticulturist, Joel concludes that the tree is diseased. The tree is torn down; members of the town offer a eulogy at the Brick; Maurice feels a sense of loss and plants a new tree.

Shelly wakes up one morning with a "Song in her Bod"; she can't stop singing. She treats the bar to a full-blown musical number. Holling's initial bemused delight quickly evaporates after several days of warbling. Joel is concerned over Shelly's bizarre condition, and Shelly clams up after she begins to feel like a freak. Shelly sings a tender lullaby to her unborn baby, plaintively asking "How can you love a mom who can't gab or chatter?" Holling comforts Shelly by joining her in a duet and promising to say by her side.

Maggie kills Joel with kindness - when she's nice to him, he injures himself. Joel begs her to be her usual rude self.

Guest stars (9): Ivory Springer - Ralph P. Martin
Walt - Moultrie Patten
(Note music listed is from the original TV airings. The music on the DVD may differ.)

[Help! I need names of some of these tunes from the original airings - email me.]

Theme from A Summer Place - Percy Faith
[While Marilyn packs for her trip.] (Danke, Volker!)

Incomplete on the Moose Guide - instrumentals may be David Schwartz's music.

• Instrumental?
[Joel and Ed play golf.]

Stud of All Studs Stand-Up Wife - cast: "Shelly"

• Instrumental?
[Ruth-Anne, Maurice and Ed discuss Old Vicky in Ruth-Anne's store.]

• Instrumental?
[Chris on the air, talking about trees.]

The Snake - cast: "Shelly" (See bottom of this page for more info on this song.)

There's Just No Getting Over You - cast: "Shelly"

Tangerine - cast: "Shelly"

• Instrumental?
[Chris on the air, talking about Vicky.]

Jolie Louise - Daniel Lanois (also found on the Northern Exposure: Music from the Television Series)
[Town members remember Old Vicky; Joel and Holling talk about Shelly's singing.]

• Your Mama Can Only Sing - cast: "Shelly"

• Turn, Turn, Turn - The Byrds
[Ending - after Maurice has planted new tree.]

Shelly’s Earrings:

Music Notes ["Gotta Sing" - Shelly comes down to the bar singing.]
Snakes [during Snake Song with Maggie.]
Gold Dangly Things (bars with balls on the ends) [Joel sees Shelly in office. Note: This scene shows earrings, then no earrings, then earrings again. Oops!]

Ed’s T-shirts: *This is a new list I am starting. Please email me additions.
Things I Own From This Episode: Joel's green linen button-down shirt (wears almost the whole episode.)

Additional Notes :

According to location manager, Dan Dusek: the filming location for the tree was located on the other side of the Cascades from Roslyn (aka "Cicely") near the town of Sultan, WA.

Original plan was to make the entire episode a musical. Both Cynthia Geary and John Cullum are trained singers (but not the rest of the cast).

Shelly's song lyrics can be found here - Stud of All Studs Stand-Up Wife, Snake Song (Take Me in Tender Woman) and Your Mama Can Only Sing.

Information on the Snake Song:
(originally posted on alt.tv.northern-exp by Danny Moses) While Al Wilson did have a hit with "The Snake," it was originally written and performed by Oscar Brown, Jr. It can be found on his Columbia LP CL 2025 called, "Oscar Brown Jr. Tells It Like it Is", released in 1963.  The song has also been recorded by numerous other artists including Johnny Rivers, the previously mentioned Al Wilson, Tex and the Horseheads, etc.

Oscar Brown, Jr. was a famous jazz/blues singer in the '60s and can still be found performing today.  He performed in Washington, DC with his daughter Maggie Brown on Valentine's Day this past February to commemorate Black History Month. The Snake and one of his other songs, Signifying Monkey, got a lot of airplay back in their time according to people in rec.music.bluenote.blues.

Footnotes and additional research

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