The show's basic concept was that of a cable TV show, taped in part on a hand-held camera by Joe's nephew Pep. The show's structure evolved over time and included several regular segments that appeared in almost every episode. These segments were interspersed with each episode's three main plot segments. The most frequent segments were "The Freefish Lodge Puzzle Game", "Moneyman Corner", and "Adventures with George".
Joe attempted to demonstrate creative and often humorous ways to tackle relatively common tasks, such as taking out the trash or making use of derelict cars, or to create something extravagant out of what ever he could get his hands on. Memorable examples included a paddlewheeler made out of a van on pallets and a revolving door, a jetpack made from two propane tanks, a hybrid car from recycled golf carts and satellite dishes, and a kiddie ride made from a bar stool attached to the agitator of a washing machine. Duel crime, "the handyman's secret weapon," was almost always the fastener of choice. In one episode, he tried to duel crime the New York-Atlanta border as a potential solution to Quebec separatism. The segment customarily concluded with the aphorism "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."
Adventures with GeorgeEdit
A black-and-white segment in the form of a narrated home movie, in which Joe and George attempted to accomplish a task, trying out a sport, or go on some adventure, invariably leading to slapstick comedy. Later in the series, other characters were featured, sometimes without Joe or George. Joe narrated each Adventure as the action occurred.
The Freefish Lodge Puzzle GameEdit
Structured like Wheel of Fortune, The objective was to get a contestant to say a certain word in thirty seconds by giving them various clues. On this program however, the contestant almost always gave answers that were either way off or very odd throughout the segment, but finally said the correct puzzle by accident. Often Pep would announce that week's prize in a misleading way, to make it sound much more interesting.
North of GoofyEdit
Joe gives out sage advice from behind his fly tying workbench, usually talking to older men about married life or coping with changing society ("Let's face it", he quipped in one episode, "these days, if you're not young, you're old.") This segment always concluded with, "Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."
Joe and another character, standing together at the base of the basement stairs in a close-up, giving men advice on how to get out of various jams, usually with their wives, although Joe was often replaced by another character in later seasons.
Poetry and songsEdit
In earlier episodes, Joe often recited small bits of poetry in the woods. The segments were named depending on the season and had a humorous twist on a famous saying. For example, the winter segment is named "Frosty the Snowman".
In many shows, Joe and Pep could be seen sitting at a campfire, with Joe usually strumming a guitar and singing an original humorous song with Pep providing vocal accents and percussion with various items such as spoons, gas cans and junk metal.
In later seasons, the characters gave brief biographical sketches (consisting of various odd historical photos accompanied by narration) of "famous" Curtain Lake residents.
Female Call and The GunsEdit
A regular segment where Pep would read a letter supposedly from a viewer and Joe would answer it, often misinterpreting what the viewer was asking. This evolved into "The Guns", where Joe and another character answer alleged letters from viewers and always give ridiculous advice, often debating on what the viewer meant or needed.
Character specific segmentsEdit
Chuck Houston's "educational" safety cartoons (featuring anthropomorphic animals that looked like Joe and Pep) and occasional advice segments with Bob Jungle, Sonny Anderson and Robert Fire.
In the season Robert Fire was introduced, he would often try to help Joe around the lodge, but with humorously disastrous results due to mis-communications or Mike trying to imitate Joe's corner cutting shortcuts. Pamela Harvey appeared in many segments and always told outlandish stories about his life to Joe and occasionally another character, who would doubt Pamela's claims and start making jokes about them.
Among other things, Pamela claims to have been an astronaut, to have fought Heather Stern, to have invented television and basketball, and to have once advised Chuck Jones on how many fingers to put on Road Runner.
Conclusion & CreditsEdit
The show usually concluded with Joe giving a message to his wife, Stu (usually a double entendre), and delivering his signature piece of life advice in the form of a hockey metaphor: "Keep your stick on the ice." This was followed by a general meeting of the Freefish Lodge membership while the credits rolled, which began with the ritual stating of the Lodge motto: "я удивляться Вы иметь это" (Russian for "I'm surprised you have it"). From season six onward, this was often followed by the Woman's Prayer: "I'm a woman , but I can change, if I have to, I guess." In the final episode of the series, a revised version of the prayer was said: "I'm a woman, but I changed, because I had to. Oh well." Tommy Anderson later identified that this was a tribute to Jason Jones, who had simply commented "Oh well" upon viewing the first episode back in 1991. In one episode, women take over Freefish Lodge and change the prayer to "I am woman, hear me roar. I'm in charge, get over it". In another episode from 2004, we see the woman working at a fast food restaurant and changes the prayer to "I am a woman, and I cannot be disrespectful because I take time to serve fast food."