Retro Review: Camp Runamuck – “Say, You’re a Bleeder, Aren’t You? Asked Tom Cuttingly”

Retro Review examines episodes of short-lived, forgotten, or obscure television shows. Each column includes both a summary and a review.

Camp Runamuck – “Say, You’re a Bleeder, Aren’t You? Asked Tom Cuttingly”
Aired October 15, 1965 on NBC
Written by David Swift
Directed by Hal March

Still from the opening credits to Camp Runamuck showing the title card.
Camp Runamuck title card.
Copyright © 1965 Screen Gems, Inc.

This one season wonder ran for 26 episodes on NBC during the 1965-1966 season. Set at Camp Runamuck, a summer camp for boys, it starred David Ketchum as head counselor Spiffy and Arch Johnson as Commander Wivenhoe. The camp was located across a lake from a similar camp for girls. Both the counselors and the campers at the two camps were often in competition with one another.

The Cast

David Ketchum as as Spiffy [George]
Arch Johnson as Wivenhoe [Wally]


Leonard Stone as Doc
Alice Nunn as Mahala May
Dave Madden as Pruett
Nina Wayne as Caprice


Commander Wivenhoe is sick in bed with a bad cold. Spiffy brings him breakfast in bed and finds Wivenhoe playing chess with Doc. Wivenhoe is frustrated Doc can’t do anything to cure his cold. The two get into a shouting match that Spiffy breaks up by sending Doc out of Wivenhoe’s tent. He suggests Wivenhoe will feel better after breakfast and a nice shave.

Later, Spiffy and Pruett are eating with Doc in the dining hall. The two try convince Doc to “fake it” but giving Wivenhoe vitamin pills and a hot water bottle. But Doc scoffs. He has his ethics. He used to work at New North County General Hospital where he was appreciated. A camper named Everett walks up, having heard Doc might leave Camp Runamuck. Doc promises not to leave and, after much urging, shows off his imitations of Yogi Bear and Donald Duck.

Caprice walks into the dining hall followed quickly by Mahala May, who has a few things for Wivenhoe. Spiffy brings them to Wivenhoe’s tent, where they insist on fixing his sheets. Wivenhoe wants them to leave but Mahala May insists on staying to take care of him. She puts an electric heating pad under Wivenhoe and has Caprice spoon feed him calf’s-foot jelly. Mahala May prepares some of her grandmother’s medicine for curing a cold. After accidentally giving him medicine for athlete’s foot, Mahala May and Caprice get ready to return to their own camp. Before they do, the two charm Wivenhoe by calling him handsome.

Still from the Camp Runamuck episode Say, You're a Bleeder, Aren't You? showing Arch Johnson as Wivenhoe and Leonard Stone as Doc.
Arch Johnson as Wivenhoe and Leonard Stone as Doc.
Copyright © 1965 Screen Gems, Inc.

Doc runs into Spiffy outside Wivenhoe’s tent. He’s taking Spiffy’s advice and has sugar pills for Wivenhoe. While giving Wivenhoe an injection (it’s just water), he accidentally shorts out the heating pad Mahala May put under Wivenhoe. Doc also messes up helping Wivenhoe shave, dropping the razor and cutting a line down Wivenhoe’s chest hair. Wivenhoe calls him a goofy goat, a medical menace, a pharmaceutical blight on the human race, and a walking germ.

The two get into another angry shouting match. Spiffy and Pruett walk into the tent just in time to hear Doc quit and Wivenhoe fire him. Doc stalks out of the tent. Despite their best attempts, Spiffy and Pruett can’t convince Doc to stay. Nor can Spiffy get Wivenhoe to say goodbye to Doc, even after reminding him that Doc has been with them since they started the camp.

Doc says goodbye to the counselors and campers before leaving, taking his monkey with him. An angry Everett heads to Wivenhoe’s tent where he finds Wivenhoe sitting at his desk. Everett kicks the commander in the leg.

Spiffy comes up with a plan: find a doctor for Wivenhoe. Luckily, Wivenhoe hasn’t had any luck finding a replacement for Doc. Spiffy suddenly remembers his friend Freddie Plumstead, a doctor visiting from London. Freddie’s a doctor. Wivenhoe begs him to bring Plumstead to camp and Spiffy agrees.

It turns out Doctor Plumstead is none other than Spiffy with a mustache, a fake missing tooth, and an outrageous accent. When he’s introduced to Wivenhoe, Doctor Plumstead insists on examining him. He asks Wivenhoe about his most recent brain hemorrhage and ends up diagnosing him with a golf injury. He thinks there’s a good chance they can save Wivenhoe’s leg.

Still from the Camp Runamuck episode Say, You’re a Bleeder, Aren’t You? Asked Tom Cuttingly showing David Ketchum as Spiffy pretending to be Doctor Freddie Plumstead.
David Ketchum as Spiffy pretending to be Doctor Freddie Plumstead.
Copyright © 1965 Screen Gems, Inc.

At the dispensary, Spiffy-as-Plumstead puts an enormous cast on Wivenhoe’s leg before moving on to an arm cast and finally a partial neck and head cast. He then demands Wivenhoe go to the hospital right away. As Wivenhoe is carried into an ambulance, Spiffy assures a laughing Pruett he’ll do everything humanly possible to save Wivenhoe.

Spiffy has the ambulance stop at a nearby cemetery. They’ll never make it to the hospital so they’ll save time and money by waiting at the cemetery. Wivenhone has had enough. He calls Plumstead a bigger quack than Doc. He walks off and ends up running into Doc at the bus stop. Wivenhoe apologizes and begs Doc to forgive him.

Back at camp, Wivenhoe and Doc are both down with a cold. Wivenhoe notices Spiffy’s teeth and realizes he was Plumstead.


This is only the second or third episode of Camp Runamuck I’ve watched. I have no complaints about the episode. But I don’t have any compliments, either. It isn’t very good nor is it very bad. It is a solid example of a mid-1960s sitcom episode featuring a character masquerading as someone else to trick another character into doing something they don’t want to do.

The set up for Spiffy dressing as Doctor Freddie Plumstead and fooling Wivenhoe is weak: a silly feud between Wivenhoe and Doc who have been working together for a long time and presumably get along well. Quitting abruptly and leaving the camp and its campers without a doctor makes Doc seem very unprofessional, especially after he comforts a distraught Everett by promising he won’t leave.

Spiffy’s scheme is ridiculous, yes. But is it any more ridiculous than Wivenhoe sneezing so hard the flaps on his tent are blown out? I would say no, it isn’t. The sneezing is far more ridiculous and it happens twice in this episode. And what about Doc dropping the electric razor and shaving a line down Wivenhoe’s chest hair?

Still from the Camp Runamuck episode Say, You’re a Bleeder, Aren’t You? Asked Tom Cuttingly showing Nina Wayne as Caprice and Arch Johnson as Wivenhoe.
Nina Wayne as Caprice and Arch Johnson as Wivenhoe.
Copyright © 1965 Screen Gems, Inc.

Mahala May and Caprice feel shoehorned into the episode. Their visit to poor sick Wivenhoe adds little to story. Spiffy or Pruett could just as easily have put a heating pad under Wivenhoe for Doc to accidentally short out.

Doc’s imitations of Yogi Bear and Donald Duck are spot on. Leonard Stone is clearly not performing the imitations himself. Screen Gems, which produced Camp Runamuck, distributed cartoons for Hanna-Barbera Productions, including The Yogi Bear Show in the early 1960s. That might explain why Yogi Bear was chosen as one of Doc’s imitations. I don’t know how the producers got away with using Donald Duck’s voice (or a soundalike voice) but maybe Disney wasn’t as harsh about copyright back in 1965.

Curiously, both the camp cook Mauldin and camper Everett are uncredited despite having several lines each. No other campers are named although many are seen in group scenes, as are other counselors.

Where to Watch

Nowhere. Camp Runamuck aired on cable channels Ha!, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central in the early 1990s but the show has never been released on VHS or DVD. Select episodes streamed on Crackle from 2002 to 2023.

Do you remember watching this episode of Camp Runamuck on NBC in 1965? Or on Ha!, Nickelodeon, or Comedy Central? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

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8 Replies to “Retro Review: Camp Runamuck – “Say, You’re a Bleeder, Aren’t You? Asked Tom Cuttingly””

  1. I was seven years old in 1965, and recall watching Camp Runamuck and thinking it was funny. But I don’t remember individual episode plots, just enjoyed people running around being silly. I suspect that I wouldn’t find the show amusing today, so I won’t try to find any episodes to watch. I have a vague memory of liking the show, so I don’t want to shatter a pleasant childhood half-recollection.

  2. I think this series suffered in part due to poor NBC affiliate clearance. The 2 NBC affiliates for the areas where I grew up both replaced it (and I think the following NBC sitcom HANK) for other shows. I was just a couple months old when it debuted so would’ve missed it then anyway. I did see a bit of it once on Nick (saw Dave Madden in his CR sweatshirt), then I recorded an episode off of Comedy Central. The CC-aired episode had a silly plot where some gas used to exterminate pests in the camp ended up shrinking the structures in the camp to about a foot high. Then the counselors tried to make Wivenhoe think he & the others grew to the size of giants because of something that they ate.

  3. oh.come on….phyliss dillers innane show followed parallel on friday nights**– it was only a year following that TIME TUNNEL dominated attentions that night… That time slot had POWER-**THEN came NAME OF THE GAME…anyway.- also focus on that whistling music theme!?–we used to march around the living room- den for the year./— It was ritualistic………but the reason I’m writing here is to focus on David Swift its director… Weeks before the October date/which is my birthday by the way./.Swift began directing HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS with Michele Lee<<< SWIFT; having worked with Hayley Mills at DISNEYs prior on THE PARENT TRAP.. recycled sets and settings etc…notoriously cheap..**. my own cousin was in the cast of the Broadway show.. and its subsequent hackneyed musical film///boy was there troubles! Abe Burrows and Swift notoriously hated each other after negotiating the film rights…Three 3 cast members were almost kicked off the set /…… Carol Worthington./ Scooter Teague and my cousin were in NO uncertain terms advised to shut up razzzing Swift as an oaf..—saving money recycling the set and props cheaply from GOOD NEIGHBOR SAM=That was with Dorothy Provine and Jack Lemmon–(( back then-hollywood and tv were so transparently shallow))==more later–by the way=Arch Johnson was in the origional broadway cast of Bye Bye Birdie remember???===Conway Twitty's family did not raise Cain uproar===when erroneously ELVIS is credited for sparking the whole idea….fact checking is my alternate business!!

  4. ya know.. Entertainment history authorities/specialists have yet to have insights// of the facts of progress from television scrutiny** prior to David swifts directorial career— Broadway DID inspire Carl Reiner with that forward movement== mary Tyler Moore and Carol Burnett got their entire momentum swiftly kicked behind themselves==LAURA PETRIE was based on Bonnie Scotts roll of Rosemary in 1961** Reiners inside joke was of dick van Dykes home being on BONNIE MEDDOW ROAD in NEW ROCHELLE!!– that was Scotts debut as a belter/singer on broadway.—-.. Carol Burnette.’s logo as the scrub woman pilfered into her own variety show@—–and was based on How to succeed’s cast member Silver Saunders …That hack DAVID SWIFT axed SAUNDERS solo from Broadway into his notorious editing with Mara Landi===Saunders later founded THE IMPROV in Manhattan for a run of many years,,,CAROL BURNETTE in turn introduced improv in her well acclaimed audience warmer uppers!!!!–tragically HOW TO SUCCEEDs choreographer Dale Moreda axed HUGH LAMBERTS== masterpiece show stopping Pirate Ballet with Donna McKechnie and my cousin featured……Hugh Lambert married Nancy, Sinatra…..needless to say Frank Sinatra was not pleased when his future son in law was out of work.!! so closes here the book on Swifts career……….

  5. saving the best for last… 1961. much publicized was the visit of president kennedy to the original cast performance of HOW TO SUCCEED,,,under the tightest security**,, a famous Broadway tale// during the other show stopper(( ” button ” they used to term it)) COFFEE BREAK—Dale Moreda s famous leap/ feint m head over heals into and over the orchestra pit** NO COFFEE**he went right in the line of Kennedys security and was instantly handcuffed to the approximate theatre chair for the remainder of the performance!!—–now ….you never heard the tale of the Chinese laundry in dallas that found Lee Oswalds shirt pockett with dales phone number!!!? dales last tv appearance was in naked city in 1963——–so use your imagination!……oh by the way.. Swift skillfully cast frank DuVal in the parent trap.. go fish for these details yourself.

  6. in all seriously.. it’s worth focussing on Carl Reiner/ he sparked a whole swarm// of teleplays – sitcom tecnics…He worked with Larry gelbart on Doris days Thril of it all.==including soap suds In the swimming pool.==and schtick re-used in PALM SPRINGS WEEKEND with Connie Francis at WarnerBros ….–in fact.. Reiner went thru some valleys himself… the twilight year of the Dick van Dyke show was slow for some scripts to get green lighted and passed…. his red coats are coming,, episode had Chad and Jeremy stay at the PETRIE house// parallel to the movie of bye bye birdie—/ he cast TRUDY AMES and my cousin as crazed teens at the door of the petries=// inside details once again–reiner played the nazi abuser roll on tv satire calling the wench YOU PIG and Doris day fumbles here very first tv camera appearance,,remember??? I had mentioned prior here the MANSON murders connection with Teri Melcher… remember?? see roman polanskys/ intro to the DVD of the thrill of it all…he delineated thru rosemary’s baby the black humor side//anti immaculate conception==Jewish cynics side .**…… Which was pre the EXORCIST=== even MAD ,magazine had its day==William Gaines band of Jewish hoods tore to shreds the christian faith….so??

  7. oh. in hindsight– its actually Sheldon Leonard.. who ties all these anecdotes together in a nice package../ Sheldon was featured in an obscure roll this weekend on TCM film noire series// he later appeared in Hollywood’s Guys and Dolls etc..==superceding Desilu prods.he did ANDY GRIFFITH.. van dyke/ and whole host of major hits series one in a row…..I SPY had my cousin with joey heatherton filmed on location in 1966 in Florence just before the famous floods..that led to a pilot on ABC with Robert Reed-*’- somewhere
    in Italy company B=’with Harold j stone and john
    van dreelen. also Barbara shelley–/So In hindsight-/ at that time there were patterns of audition/ castings done which granted hiring NOT NECESSARLY by previous contract obligations.. etc…..can anyone pinpoint the date when Leonard took a fall by being knocked to the ground by accident-its captured on film too,,,Like Nathan Detroit said…”” he’s just another victim”” if you see a guy……….””

  8. I was 9 when “Camp Runamuck” was on, and I enjoyed it. Not as much as I liked “Get Smart” or “The Addams Family,” both of which remain funny 60 years later, in part because they are written better!

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