Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 18, “A Matter of Privacy,” 2/3/1969

For an agonizingly long time, we listen as he describes his problem--waking up with his beard in "classic disarray." He's looking for something like a woman's hairnet to keep his "hirsute adornments" in order.

Written by: Burt Styler. Directed by: Charles Barton.

This episode opens in an unusual setting–a boardroom.

A very white, male, cigarette-smoke-infused boardroom.

A very white, male, cigarette-smoke-infused boardroom.

Apparently, the guys around the table have bid on a construction project, and now they are finding out who gets it.

Bill's company bid $13,220,000, which would be the low bid...

Bill’s company bid $13,220,000, which would be the low bid…

Except Henry & Associates bid $13,218,000. We learn that this is the third time in a row that Henry has underbid Bill by a very small amount.

An associate suggests to Bill that Henry might be bugging the Davis offices.

An associate suggests to Bill that Henry might be bugging the Davis offices.

Bill has known Henry for 15 years and doesn’t want to believe he would do such a thing. Always a good sport, he heads over to congratulate Henry on getting the contract.

Meanwhile, at home, the twins are playing with their friend Norman and his new toy.

A tape recorder. Hmm...I think I might see a theme developing here.

A tape recorder. Hmm…I think I might see a theme developing here.

Norman plays back a recording of Jody talking.

Buffy wants to try singing on tape, but she can't think of a song.

Buffy wants to try singing on tape, but she can’t think of a song.

The ever-patriotic Jody doesn’t have that problem.

He happily warbles the first few lines of "My Country 'Tis of Thee"

He happily warbles the first few lines of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”

Buffy overcomes her mike fright to do a pig imitation on tape, and then Jody does a bunny imitation.

He's apparently forgotten that audio tape is not a visual medium. Oh, Jody.

He’s apparently forgotten that audio tape is not a visual medium. Oh, Jody.

The entry of French into the room gives the kids a better idea: They want to get him on tape. As Buffy says, “He has a beautiful voice…just like in a commercial.”

(I’m not sure if that’s an in-joke, but Sebastian Cabot did do some commercials.)

"Would you like to say a few words for our radio audience?" Buffy asks, and Jody helpfully explains that his voice goes in the microphone and gets recorded on tape.

“Would you like to say a few words for our radio audience?” Buffy asks, and Jody helpfully explains that French’s voice would go in the microphone and get recorded on tape.

“Jody, I understand the principles of electromagnetic recording,” French replies.

Buffy suggests that they record him reading Winnie the Pooh, so they can listen to it at bedtime if French isn’t around.

Now, that I'm pretty sure is an in-joke.

Now, THAT I’m pretty sure is an in-joke.

French reminds them that a tape recorder can’t tuck in a blanket or fluff up a pillow.

That's his way of saying, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

That’s his way of saying, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Fortunately for the kids, another victim soon breezes into the room.

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Answering a phone call from Sharon, Cissy informs her friend that she has big news…so big and private that she needs to take the call in her bedroom.

After Buffy hangs up the extension, Norman has a brainstorm.

After Buffy hangs up the extension, Norman has a brainstorm.

He thinks they should sneak the recorder into Cissy’s room and capture her conversation.

Buffy and Jody know Cissy wouldn’t like the idea, but they don’t need much convincing to go along with it.

Entering her room under the presence of retrieving Mrs. Beasley, Buffy plants the recorder.

Entering the room under the presence of retrieving Mrs. Beasley, Buffy plants the recorder.

(The image above is so classically “teenage girl”–her posture, the pink phone. I like Cissy’s side-ponytails better than the side-bow look she’s been sporting frequently this season.)

While Buffy’s there, Cissy peppers a mystified Sharon with questions about a math problem, but once Buffy leaves we get the real scoop.

It involves a boy named Roger Lund and Cissy’s attempts to attract his attention. She’d tried getting her sweater caught in his notebook (?) and even wearing “sexy stockings” (!), but nothing worked–until today. Her winning move? Dropping her tuna salad in his lap.

(It’s a good thing for the whole family that Cissy is so wholesome. Imagine the eye-opening secrets a real teenager might have been keeping in 1969.)

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That night at dinner, Bill asks Buffy and Jody how their day was, and they tell him they’ve been playing a “secret game.”

Bill says that if it’s secret, they can’t tell him about it. As a parent, I think I would pry into their “secret game,” but Bill is clearly distracted.

When Bill asks Cissy about her day, she gushes that it was "practically perfect."

When Bill asks Cissy about her day, she gushes that it was “practically perfect.”

The twins agree that it was and start filling him in on all the deets–the new boyfriend named Roger, the tuna salad caper, and all.

They sure are sly about their secret game, aren't they?

They sure are sly about their secret game, aren’t they?

Cissy’s annoyed, but she can’t pin down exactly what they did. They have French as a witness that they didn’t listen outside Cissy’s door or eavesdrop on the phone extension.

"Maybe it's ESP," Bill says, dismissing the subject.

“Maybe it’s ESP,” Bill says, dismissing the subject.

Cissy's still pissed, and I don't blame her.

Cissy’s still pissed, and I don’t blame her.

The next day, Norman and his tape recorder make another appearance.

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Norman suggests that they spy on French this time.

The twins are game. As Buffy says, “It’s fun hearing what you’re not supposed to hear.”

Unfortunately for French, they catch him in the middle of an delicate conversation.

Unfortunately for French, they catch him in the middle of a delicate conversation.

He’s telling someone about a matter that is “not easily described without embarrassment.”

Yikes.

When Bill comes home a bit later, he hears French’s voice and calls to him.

He's actually hearing French's voice on tape, coming from Jody's room. Both he and French follow the sound.

He’s actually hearing French’s voice on tape, and both he and French head toward the sound’s source.

The kids are playing back the recording they made–a recording of French attempting to order a “beard snood.”

For an agonizingly long time, we listen as he describes his problem--waking up with his beard in "classic disarray." He's looking for something like a woman's hairnet to keep his "hirsute adornments" in order.

For an agonizingly long time, we listen as he describes his problem–waking up with his beard in “classic disarray.” He’s looking for something like a woman’s hairnet to keep his “hirsute adornments” in order.

I know Bill can’t barge in and shut the tape off before it’s over because then WE wouldn’t hear it…

I think he is also, perhaps, enjoying himself a little.

…but he also seems to be enjoying this a little.

Poor French.

Poor French.

(The interplay of facial expressions between Keith and Cabot is wonderful.)

When Bill finally enters the room, he makes his feelings known.

When Bill finally enters the room, he makes his feelings known.

“He’s mad,” Buffy says.

Bill uses the old I’m-not-mad-I’m-disappointed-in-you line, and points out that they have invaded Mr. French’s privacy.

“Privacy,” Jody corrects him, pronouncing it with a short “i,” as French would.

(A cumbersome joke to explain in writing, but amusing on the screen.)

Buffy and Jody are properly abashed, but Norman is unrepentant.

He tapes his family all the time, and they think it's funny. "You people just can't take a joke," he says.

He tapes his parents all the time, and they think it’s funny. “You people just can’t take a joke,” he says.

Sassy little brat, isn’t he?

The next day, we find ourselves in Bill’s office. He has reluctantly brought in an expert to look for bugs, though he still doesn’t believe he’s being recorded.

Harris, the expert, calls this his "radio frequency indicator," which is better known in layman's terms as "a train case with it's lid removed and mounted on a stick."

Harris, the expert, calls this his “radio frequency indicator, although it appears to be a train case, with it’s lid removed and mounted on a stick.

Hilarity ensues.

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As Harris walks around the office, “detecting,” the train case lid rotates.

Props to you, prop guy!

Pretty soon, Harris hits on something.

Pretty soon, Harris hits on something.

The bug is hidden in a desk drawer’s handle.

Before they remove it, Bill sends his nemesis Henry a message.

Before they remove it, Bill sends his nemesis a message.

Saying that he must not be much of an engineering if he has to resort to such a tactic, Bill expresses pity for Henry.

He delivers that line in his usual laconic style, but he shows some fire when he rips the handle off his drawer.

He delivers that line in his usual laconic style, but he shows some fire when he rips the handle off his drawer.

That recording device is out of commission, but Norman’s is still active.

Meanwhile, at school, Norman is still toting around his tape recorder.

At school, he tries to interest Buffy and Jody in playing with it again, but they say they’re not allowed.

Norman accuses Bill of having no sense of humor, and he still denies that bugging is wrong.

“I say it’s okay with anyone as long as they don’t catch you,” Norman says, quoting his father.

(Hmm…I didn’t realize J. Edgar Hoover had a son.)

After school, in the park, Norman sees another chance to use his favorite toy.

After school, in the park, Norman sees another chance to use his favorite toy.

The victims this time are Cissy and that dreamy Roger Lund.

They have a mushy conversation, and Norman gets it all on tape.

They have a mushy conversation, and Norman gets it all on tape.

When Norman comes over later, Buffy and Jody reiterate that they can’t play spy with him anymore.

When Norman comes over later, Buffy and Jody reiterate that they can't record things with him anymore.

Norman says he just wants to play a recording for them, and they figure that would be okay.

Soon, Cissy arrives home and hears her own voice emanating from the bedroom.

Busted!

Busted!

Soon, it's a double busting...

Soon, it’s a double busting…

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…and then a rare triple busting.

We hear some embarrassing sweet talk. When the subject turns to kissing, Bill finally prepares to intervene.

Before he busts in, Buffy and Jody start reprimanding Norman themselves.

Before he busts in, Buffy and Jody start reprimanding Norman themselves.

(Thank goodness–that spares us a tedious sitcom misunderstanding, in which Buffy and Jody get punished for something they didn’t do.)

Bill, Cissy, and French continue to listen as Norman calls the twins “goody-goods” and again denies that bugging is wrong.

“If Uncle Bill says it’s wrong, it’s wrong,” the twins counter.

(That does sound rather goody-goodish.)

Norman rushes out, past his hallway audience, and calls back, “How come it’s all right for you to listen to us?”

That's a pretty good deflection in the heat of the moment, but Norman is still a sassy brat.

That’s a pretty good deflection in the heat of the moment, but Norman is still a sassy brat.

Back in Bill’s office, Harris returns to try to sell Bill some spy equipment of his own.

He claims this thing can pick up a conversation half a mile away.

He claims this thing can pick up a conversation half a mile away.

I have a feeling Harris got his training working for CONTROL. He should just install a cone of silence over Bill’s desk for sensitive conversations.

Harris says everyone is spying, but Bill refuses to join in.

Harris says everyone is spying, but Bill refuses to join in.

If spying is the price of success, he’d rather quit and return to working as a first-class welder.

That evening, Bill is still brooding about the encounter and whether he made the right decision.

That evening, Bill is still brooding about the encounter and whether he made the right decision.

It’s so obvious he did make the right decision that I can only assume he is fishing for head-pats from French. French, of course, obliges: “Integrity, sir, is never out of date.”

To Bill’s chagrin, Norman drops by again, tape-recorder in tow.

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“Enough of that,” Bill says, but Norman says he goes by his father’s rules.

Bill says that in the Davis home, the kids have to follow his rules.

Norman still tries to convince Bill that bugging is harmless and fun. He made a tape of his parents talking before he left his apartment, and he insists on playing it for everyone.

It starts out with his dad saying, “Norman’s not really such a bad kid,” and goes downhill from there. When the possibility of consulting a psychologist comes up, Bill tries to cut off the tape, but Norman prevents him.

He listens to his parents deciding how to break the news of their impending divorce to him.

He listens as his parents decide how to break the news of their impending divorce to him.

Awkward!

Awkward!

Norman rushes off, leaving his tape recorder behind.

At bedtime that night, the kids are still feeling sorry for Norman.

At bedtime that night, the kids are still feeling sorry for Norman.

The twins ask Bill how he knew that Norman would get hurt. Bill says he didn’t know, but when people do things that are wrong, someone often gets hurt.

After Bill and Jody leave the room, a comic exchange between Buffy and Cissy lightens the mood.

Buffy asks a bemused Cissy if she really dropped her tuna salad on Roger.

Buffy asks a bemused Cissy if she really dropped her tuna salad on Roger.

(Norman, meanwhile, went on to have a rich and fulfilling career with the NSA.)

Commentary

Electronic espionage was a hot-button topic in the 1960s (as it is today), but people wouldn’t know the full extent of domestic spying for a few years. The FBI’s awful COINTELPRO program came to light in 1971, and President Nixon’s White House taping system became public knowledge in 1973. (Norman’s father and Nixon were kindred spirits–Norman says his dad records every conversation in his office with the consent of the other parties.)

Wonderful Frenchisms (“hirsute adornments!”) and the train-case technology are highlights of this episode. The ending is heavy-handed, but Norman is such a jerk that his comeuppance  is satisfying.

Why did Bill even let Harris in the door for his spy-gear pitch? And why doesn’t anyone mention that bugging is illegal?

Bill's bedtime sweetness for this week--a kiss on Buffy's hand.

Bill’s bedtime sweetness for this week–a kiss on Buffy’s hand.

Notable Quotes

“You’ve just stumbled into a whole nest of squares.”–Bill

Guest Cast

Norman: Bobby Riha. Harris: Richard O’Brien. Fred: William Boyett. Mr. McGraw: Larry Thor. Roger: Russ Caldwell.

Bobby Riha had a regular role in the short-lived Debbie Reynolds Show.

Richard O’Brien’s character acting included many police officer roles, including a recurring one on S.W.A.T.

Russ Caldwell’s screen career was very brief–he has only four IMDB.com credits.

 

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 17, “Oh, to Be in England,” 1/27/1969

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Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Well, if the title didn’t give away this episode’s theme, the opening stock footage will.

Pip, pip, and cheerio! We're going to England!

Pip, pip, and cheerio! We’re going to England!

It seems that Bill is in London meeting with British and French officials about his suggested innovations for “the English Channel project.”

Wow--Bill's firm is working on the Chunnel!

Wow–Bill’s firm is working on the Chunnel!

Bill warns that that the project may hit a few snags. (That’s a understatement, considering that the real Chunnel didn’t open until 1994.)

The leaders on the project want Bill to stay in Britain for year and act as a consultant. Bill is reluctant to leave his family for so long, but the others point out that he could fly home on weekends to visit.

Later, Bill calls home to check in.

Later, Bill calls home to check in.

He lets it slip to French that he may be making his headquarters in England temporarily, which sets French off rhapsodizing about his homeland. (French isn’t excited about the Chunnel, though–he likes old-school channel crossings.)

After hanging up the phone, a wistful French sigh, "England...'oh, to be in...:"

After hanging up the phone, a wistful French sighs, “England…’oh, to be in…:”

This is the first of many British literary, theatrical, and musical references the script manages to work in.

Soon, Buffy and Jody return home from the zoo and offer French peanuts that the monkeys rejected.

Soon, Buffy and Jody return home from the zoo and offer French peanuts that the monkeys rejected.

French isn’t thrilled with the peanuts, and the twins aren’t thrilled to hear that Bill will be staying in London.

They express sympathy for Bill having to live abroad for a year.

They express sympathy for Bill having to live abroad for a year.

French tells them that Bill is fortunate to be in the land that produced Chaucer, Shelley, Keats, Shakespeare…

Then he launches into the speech from Richard II that includes: "This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."

Then he launches into the speech from Richard II that includes: “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

 

His speech doesn’t do much for Buffy and Jody, but it enraptures Cissy, who has just returned from Sharon’s apartment.

Cissy's a budding thespian this week, and the mention of England starts her talking about the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Cissy’s a budding thespian this week, and the mention of England starts her talking about the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

“London has everything,” she sighs, envying Bill for having the chance to live there. (Poor Cissy, living in a theatrical backwater like New York City.)

Meanwhile, back in England, Bill is hanging out at the manor house of Batman's butler.

Meanwhile, back in England, Bill is hanging out at the manor house of Batman’s butler.

Okay, on this show his name is Wilson, and he conveniently has to vacate his manor house for about a year. Bill expresses interest in leasing it: While it’s too big for a bachelor, it will be perfect if the kids come to live in London, too.

Wilson's daughter, Pamela, seems a bit taken aback by this idea.

Wilson’s daughter, Pamela, seems taken aback by this idea.

Pamela is an actress and apparently is Bill’s squeeze while he’s in England.

Bill rushes off to phone the kids, who are thrilled at the idea of joining Bill in England.

Bill rushes off to phone the kids, who are thrilled at the idea of joining him in England.

Buffy says that Mrs. Beasley wants to meet the queen, and Bill promises to try to arrange it.

Cissy tells him about her dream of attending RADA, and he offers to enlist Pamela to help make that happen.

Jody just wants to crawl through the Channel Tunnel…he likes crawling through tunnels.

When the kids hang up the phone, Buffy and Jody start marching around and singing “London Bridge.” When French comes in, he’s excited to hear the news, too, but he tells the children they should act like gentlefolk, showing dignity and restraint.

Then he sings a bit of "London Bridge" himself as he heads to the kitchen.

Then he sings a bit of “London Bridge” himself as he heads to the kitchen.

In London, though, everyone is singing a different tune.

To everyone's disappointment, the tunnel project has been postponed.

To the officials’ disappointment, the tunnel project has been postponed.

“You’ll get the tunnel built someday, I guess,” Bill says consolingly. (Yes…but I’m not sure these guys will live to see it.)

Knowing the kids will be disappointed, too, he says he might still try to work out a stay in England for them.

At home, everyone continues to celebrate all things British.

Buffy and Jody are playing Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the park.

Buffy and Jody are playing Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the park…

...and French is reading them stories about St. George and the dragon.

…and French is reading them stories about St. George and the dragon.

French assures Buffy that there are no real dragons in England, but tells her there are castles they can visit.

Everyone is excited to greet Bill when he comes home.

Cissy is thrilled that Pamela has arranged for her to interview at RADA.

Buffy wants to know if the manor house where they will be staying is a spooky castle or a regular house. (Bill says it’s in between–a regular castle.)

French is looking forward to a reunion his family is planning at “the Rooster and Tankard in Sissingham.”

Jody wants to watch the workers digging the tunnel, and French agrees that witnessing history in the making will be educational.

Bill has to let them know that the tunnel project is off.

Bill has to let them know that the tunnel project is off.

Their trip to England is still on, however. Bill’s going to send French and the kids to England for a year, and he will visit there on the weekends.

(Sending your kids away for a year is a pretty crazy idea, Bill. Tempting, sure…but crazy.)

Bill rushes back out the door to work on”the Canadian project.” Meanwhile, everyone else tries to stay excited about moving.

Cissy's dreaming about how wonderful the Royal Academy will be.

Cissy’s still dreaming about how wonderful the Royal Academy will be.

French agrees, naming some of the great British actors–Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Dame Edith Evans, and John Gielgud. (I believe, however, that the only one of that group to attend RADA was Gielgud.)

French serves Buffy and Jody trifle for dessert and tells them he’s going out for the evening to buy souvenirs of America for his seven brothers and three sisters.

“I, Buffy, am the baby,” French says, cracking me up.

Buffy and Jody are amused, too.

Buffy and Jody are amused, too.

When Bill returns from work that evening, French is still out shopping.

Cissy offers to make him a hamburger while he tucks in the kids.

Cissy offers to make him a hamburger while he checks on the kids.

He finds Buffy awake and worried.

Buffy tells Bill that she wants to stay with him while French, Cissy, and Jody go to England.

She tells him that she wants to stay with him while French, Cissy, and Jody go to England.

She is afraid he will be lonely by himself, though he says he will manage.

Next, he visits Jody’s room, which is deserted. He finds Jody in his own bed.

Jody tells Bill that pals should stick together, so he should stay with Bill while French and girls go to England.

Jody tells Bill that pals should stick together, so he wants to stick with Bill while French and the girls go to England.

Bill says that’s a nice thought, but he doesn’t back off his ridiculous plan.

He heads to the kitchen, excited to eat "a real American hamburger with onions and junk."

He heads to the kitchen, excited to eat “a real American hamburger with onions and junk.”

(Funny thing about that hamburger–Cissy serves it on bread instead of a bun, and Bill removes the top piece of bread and EATS IT WITH A FORK! Are we sure he’s really American?)

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Soon Cissy’s telling Bill that she doesn’t want to go England either, preferring to stay with him.

“That settles it,” Bill says, finally snapping to his senses. The England idea is dead.

Cissy is thrilled, but she and Bill wonder how French will take it.

Cissy is thrilled, but she and Bill wonder how French will take it.

Surprisingly well, as it turns out.

Surprisingly well, as it turns out.

French is actually relieved–he found it an “insoluble predicament” to choose between going with the kids or staying with Bill.

After all, as French says, in an inevitable final allusion, “There’ll always be an England.”

Commentary

Does it not occur to Bill that the whole family could just take a vacation to England when the kids have a break from school?

This episode seems to breeze by more quickly than most. Though it’s yet another story dealing with a possible family separation, it avoids the angst that some episodes generate. As is often the case, French provides many of the best moments. Bill’s tender bedtime scenes with Buffy and Jody are another highlight.

Oh, Bill--when you smile like that, I can forgive your occasional insane parenting lapses.

Oh, Bill–when you smile like that, I can forgive your occasional insane parenting lapses.

Continuity Notes

We get several Sharon references, and French harkens back to “the playing fields of Eton” again.

Fun Facts

Both Jody and Buffy hope to be truck drivers when they grow up, although French says Bill has other careers in mind for them.

Random Historical Note

In the opening scene, Bill talks about the experience he gained working on “the San Francisco-Oakland project.” Based on the time frame, I assume the writers were alluding to construction of the Transbay Tube.

Guest Cast

Pamela: Barbara Babcock. Monsieur Raynaud: Emile Genest. Sir Richard: John Holland. Mr. Wilson: Alan Napier.

Barbara Babcock should be a familiar face to most classic TV fans. She appeared in several episodes of Star Trek and later had recurring roles on Dallas and Hill Street Blues. She made guest appearances on such shows as Taxi, Cheers, The Golden Girls, and Remington Steele. In the 1990s, she had a regular role on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She had one of more memorable film roles in 1992’s Far and Away.

Barbara Babcock

Barbara Babcock

Alan Napier is also familiar, especially for his role as Alfred in the Batman TV series. During his long career, his path crossed several times with both of our Messrs. French. With Sebastian Cabot, he was in the vocal cast of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, and he appeared once on Cabot’s series Checkmate. With John Williams, he appeared in a three-part Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode called “I Killed the Count.”

And, guess what?  Napier studied at RADA.

Alan Napier

Alan Napier

 

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 16, “A Lesson for Grown-Ups,” 1/20/1969

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Written by: Elroy Schwartz. Directed by: Charles Barton.

It’s Saturday morning, and Uncle Bill is getting ready for a golf game. Buffy and Jody are disappointed that he can’t spend time with them. He’s not about to give up his “Bill time,” though.

“It’s not often that I can get away on a Saturday,” he says.

Really, Bill? Really?

Really, Bill? Really?

As it happens, Bill’s plans are about to fall apart, anyway. A phone call brings bad news.

He's given French orders to tell callers he's unavailable, but French senses this particular caller's urgency.

He’s given French orders to tell callers he’s unavailable, but French senses this particular caller’s urgency.

Alerted by his colleague, Bill tells French to tune in "the news program" on the television.

After listening for a moment, Bill tells French to tune in “the news program” on the television.

The whole family rushes into the den and gathers around the rabbit-eared set.

It seems a bridge has collapsed in Africa.

A bridge has collapsed in Africa–a bridge connecting the emerging nations of “Matongo” and “Nubwanda.”

(I wonder how long it took Elroy Schwartz to come up with just the right African-sounding strings of syllables for those names?)

The almost-finished bridge, the announcer tells nation, is a project of the William Davis Construction Company.

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

 

Fun facts about Matonga--the population is 8 million, and the government is democratic.

Fun facts about Matongo–the population is 8 million, and the government is democratic.

Soon, Cissy is answering calls from the wire services, and Bill is rushing to his office.

The worried kids want to know what they can do to help. Bill tells them to be good and mind Mr. French.

The worried kids want to know what they can do to help. Bill tells them to be good and mind Mr. French.

At the office, Bill learns that only one person was injured–Clark McAlister, who has been supervising the construction project. It’s feared that McAlister’s back may be broken.

Bill shows admirable concern for his employee. He tells his underlings to charter a plane to bring McAlister back to New York and to find the injured may the best orthopedic doctor available.

Bill shows admirable concern for his employee. He tells his underlings to charter a plane to bring McAlister back to New York and to find the injured man the best orthopedic doctor available.

Bill also learns about rumors going around that blame the collapse on the use of shoddy materials. Bill, who trusts McAlister’s integrity, decides to fly to D.C. and speak to Matongo’s ambassador in person.

As he's going out the door, this guy reminds him that the company is on the hook for any losses, but Bill isn't.

As Bill is going out the door, this guy reminds him that the company is on the hook for any losses, but Bill isn’t personally responsible.

Glasses Guy will continue to advocate evading personal responsibility throughout the episode, so we can be pretty sure he’s a lawyer.

Bill tells the ambassador that his company will cooperate fully with Matongo's investigation and will also launch an internal one.

Bill tells the ambassador that his company will cooperate fully with Matongo’s investigation and will also launch an internal one.

Bill emphasizes the he doesn’t believe his employees cut corners, but he promises to cover the disaster’s full cost if the company is found liable.

The ambassador appreciates the fact that Bill came to see him in person.

The ambassador appreciates the fact that Bill came to see him in person.

(The ambassador’s office introduces a recurring color scheme in this episode–red and blue. It also conveys some subtle hints in case you forget where Matongo is located. Elephant, gazelle, zebra-skin rug…Africa!)

Back at home, Bill's lawyer is the bearer of bad news. The company's insurance won't cover a penny of the losses if the builders used sub-standard materials.

Back at home, Glasses Guy is the bearer of bad news. The company’s insurance won’t cover a penny of the losses if the builders used sub-standard materials.

If that happens, Bill pledges, he will cover the losses out of his personal assets. He sticks to this position even when Glasses Guy tells him it will cost him everything he has.

(Discussion question: How rich do we think Uncle Bill is? We know he’s “lives-in-a-nice-Manhattan-apartment-with-a fulltime-manservant” rich. But I’m surprised that he’s “able to-cover-the-cost-of-a-bridge-collapse-out-of-his-personal-assets” rich.)

After Glasses Guy leaves, French and the kids return from grocery shopping.

After Glasses Guy leaves, French and the kids return from grocery shopping.

French reprimands Jody for closing the door with his foot. C’mon, French–the kid’s hands are full!

Everyone soon learns that the family faces bigger problems than improper door-closing.

Everyone soon learns that the family faces bigger problems than improper door-closing.

Bill lets them know that they may soon lose everything they have, including their apartment.

(Dumping this on them before the investigation is even completed? Smooth move, Uncle Bill. I mean, it’s not like these kids have any ongoing issues with trauma and loss, right?)

All three kids insist that they won’t mind moving, as long as the family stays together.

Jody adds that he doesn’t need a whole room for himself. If they get a smaller apartment, he can sleep with Mr. French. This earns one of French’s patented horrified looks, which provides the best laugh in this mostly-serious episode.

 

They are pretty much pleading for reassurance.

The kids just want reassurance that they won’t be sent away.

Bill answers them with a hug.

Bill answers them with a hug.

(Judging by upcoming scenes, he really should have used words instead.)

Soon Bill gets word that McAlister is back in New York, so he rushes to the hospital to visit him.

Soon Bill gets word that McAlister is back in New York, so he rushes to the hospital to visit him.

McAlister says the bridge showed no signs of stress before it suddenly collapsed. The local workers are not to blame for the incident, he adds. They are they best crew he’s ever had.

Bill tells him to concentrate on getting well and informs him that he is flying a specialist in from Johns Hopkins.

After leaving the room, Bill talks briefly with McAlister's daughter.

After leaving the room, Bill talks briefly with McAlister’s daughter.

She tells Bill that no one blames him for her dad’s condition. Then she hints around that her dad would be relieved if he didn’t have to worry about her college costs.

(Poor Bill’s on a fast track to the fat-fat-the-water-rat side of town.)

Back at home, the kids are still worried, and French isn’t exactly reassuring.

The family faces some "quite awesome possibilities," he says.

The family faces some “quite awesome possibilities,” he says.

And he doesn’t mean it in the “Totally awesome!” sense.

The kids just want to know that they won’t be shipped back to Aunt Fran, but French says that children need a suitable, stable environment.

“If a family is a family, it doesn’t get sent away all the time,” Buffy insists.

"Quite," is the only response a visibly moved French can get out.

“Quite,” is the only response a visibly moved French can get out.

The next morning, Cissy announces to the twins that she is going to get a job to help the family stay together. Jody says he will run errands to make money and suggests to Buffy that she try babysitting. After all, she likes babies–or at least dolls.

Jody says he will run errands for money suggests to Buffy that she try babysitting. After all, she likes babies--or at least dolls.

There’s that color scheme again–red and blue.

Soon we see Jody helping people carry their groceries.

Soon we see Jody helping people carry their groceries.

Meanwhile, Buffy takes up dog-walking.

We see her walking a poodle...

We see her walking a poodle…

(Notice: Red and blue dress.)

...and a beagle...

…and a beagle…

...and then we see a great dane walking her.

…and then we see a great dane walking her.

The kids also sell their prized possessions.

Jody takes only $2 and a $1 IOU for his baseball signed by Mickey Mantle.

Jody takes only $2 and a $1 IOU for his baseball signed by Mickey Mantle.

Buffy gets 36 cents for a belt made from gum wrappers.

Buffy gets 36 cents for a belt made from gum wrappers.

That’s probably a fair price for the belt, but Jody’s going to regret his transaction someday. (Here’s a ball from the same era that went for over $700 at auction.)

At work, Glasses Guy is trying to get Bil to protect at least some of his personal assets.

At work, Glasses Guy is still trying to get Bill to protect at least some of his personal assets.

Bill won’t hear of it. He’d rather lose everything than sacrifice his integrity. When Glasses Guy asks about the kids, Bill says they took him for better or worse.

(If only he had made his intentions to keep family together this clear when he was talking to the kids.)

At home that night, French fills Bill in about the fund-raising the kids have been doing.

At home that night, French fills Bill in about the fund-raising the children have been doing.

The kids present him with their earnings to date, which amounts to about $6.

“When a family faces troubles together, they’re not so hard,” Buffy says.

At a loss for words, he assures them that their efforts will appreciated.

At a loss for words, Bill manages to let them know that he appreciates their efforts.

The next day, he visits McAlister at the hospital again and hears some good news.

The expert from Johns Hopkins has predicted a full recovery.

The expert from Johns Hopkins has predicted a full recovery.

(Red and blue again. And some good, old Family Affair green.)

While he’s at the hospital, Bill takes a call from work. The ambassador wants Bill to see him right away.

In D.C., Bill gets more good news. The collapse was not his company's fault.

In D.C., Bill gets more good news. The collapse was not his company’s fault.

It seems that enemies of Matongo’s government sabotaged the project. But now, Matongo’s people are more determined than ever to see that bridge is completed.

Brian Keith does a great job portraying Bill's profound relief.

Brian Keith does a great job portraying Bill’s profound relief.

Bill says they can talk about re-building soon, but first he has to take care of some family problems–including buying back a baseball and a gum-wrapper belt.

The kids are happy to get their treasures back.

The kids are happy to get their treasures back.

And everyone is thrilled that another threat to their family unity has been averted.

Bill says they can keep the apartment and adds that French will still be able to live with them.

Bill says they can keep the apartment and adds that French will still be able to live with them.

“There was never any question,” French replies.

Awww. (And, again–red and blue!)

Commentary

This episode is unusual, with its minimal jokes and its emphasis on business matters. I like it: Scenarios that threaten the family’s solidarity always make for compelling episodes, and Brian Keith’s non-verbal acting is excellent, especially in the final scene with the ambassador.

The show takes pains to present Bill as the most benevolent kind of capitalist imaginable–he treats his employees well, pays for their health care himself when they are injured on the job, and stakes his entire fortune on his company’s integrity.

Continuity Notes

We get references to Sharon and Aunt Fran. Jody’s signed baseball has been mentioned before, too.

Guest Cast

Mr. McAlister: Horace McMahon. Barbara: Maura McGiveney. Ambassador: Davis Roberts. Hank: John Alvin. Mel: William Boyett. Nurse: Ila Britton.

This is Ila Britton’s last of four brief Family Affair appearances.

Character actor McMahon made a film and TV career out of playing what his IMDb bio describes as “assorted New York characters – thugs, cabbies, henchmen, bouncers.” This episode was his last on-screen appearance; he died less than three years after it aired.

British actress Maura McGiveney was the daughter of vaudeville “quick-change artist” Owen McGiveney. Shortly after this episode aired, she appeared in the cast of one of TV’s biggest bombs—ABC’s one-episode wonder Turn-On.

Davis Roberts worked regularly as a TV character actor right up until his death in 1993.

William Boyett seemed to specialize in playing policemen and judges throughout his prolific career as a character actor. He had regular roles on Adam-12 and the 1950s cop show Highway Patrol. He also made frequent appearances on both the 1950s and 1960s versions of Dragnet. This is his first of six appearances on Family Affair.

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 15, “A Family Group,” 1/13/1969

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Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: Charles Barton.

This week, we open in the living room, where Jody is confessing to some problems at school.

His teacher has written Bill a note complaining about Jody's penmanship. Unfortunately, Bill can't read the teacher's handwriting.

His teacher has written Bill a note complaining about Jody’s penmanship. Unfortunately, Bill can’t read the teacher’s handwriting.

Soon, Cissy breezes in.

Why she's dressed like a stewardess, I can't say.

Why she’s dressed like a stewardess, I can’t say.

She has exciting news–Dana Mason, the daughter of two Broadway stars, is attending Cissy’s school. Cissy wants to invite Dana over to spend the night, and Bill gives his approval.

Dana finds the accommodations in Cissy's room "quaint."

Dana finds the accommodations in Cissy’s room “quaint.”

An avid name-dropper, she’s quick to tell Cissy about her Uncle Larry–Laurence Olivier. She adds that she just calls him Larry now that she’s grown. This inspires an impressionable Cissy to drop the “uncle” from Uncle Bill throughout this episode.

(I wish that Dana would have told Cissy that bows are childish.)

When Dana meets French and realizes he's British, she asks him if he knows any of her family's British friends--Larry, Rex, Noel, Alec, and Sarah?

When Dana meets French and realizes he’s British, she asks him if he knows any of her family’s British friends–Larry, Rex, Noel, Alec, and Sarah?

A bemused French replies that it depends which Larry, Rex, Noel, Alec, and Sarah she means.

(I know which Larry, Rex, Noel, and Alec she means, but I’m drawing a blank on Sarah. Can anyone help me out?)

When Bill comes home, Dana tries out her name-dropping on him, too. When she tells him that she passed up a chance to attend a party at Truman’s, he thinks she’s talking about Harry Truman. She has to make it clear that she’s talking about Truman Capote. (She pronounces his last name as if it rhymes with connote.) Bill is similarly clueless about her reference to Lee. (Lee Radziwill, Jackie O’s sister.)

It's clear that Bill finds Dana as insufferable as I do.

It’s clear that Bill finds Dana as insufferable as I do.

Meanwhile, Buffy is preparing for a role in a school play. It's Robin Hood, and she's playing a tree in Sherwood Forest.

Meanwhile, Buffy is preparing for a role in a school play. It’s Robin Hood, and she’s playing a tree in Sherwood Forest.

Dana tries to give Buffy some tips about method acting, then disparages the whole idea of school plays as unimportant and dull.

The Davises and French assure Buffy that they are excited about her play and wouldn’t miss it for the world.

This show of family togetherness seems to make an impression on Dana.

In bed that night, she tells Cissy about the way her family struggled before her parents found fame.

In bed that night, she tells Cissy about the way her family struggled before her parents found fame.

They were so poor that for awhile the whole family lived in a dressing room at a dingy theater where the Masons were performing.

Cissy thinks that must have been awful.

But it's clear that Dana considers those times her family's happiest.

But it’s clear that Dana considers those times her family’s happiest.

She asks Cissy if she can stay at the Davis apartment for a few more days. Her parents are always frazzled when they are appearing in a play, she notes, and they would be relieved to have her out of the way. Cissy is excited to have her glamorous friend extend her visit.

Pretty soon, however, Bill and French are ready for the visit to end.

Pretty soon, however, Bill and French are ready for the visit to end.

Prevailing on Dana to help Buffy rehearse, Bill has a private talk with Cissy.

He's perplexed about Dana's family and why they don't seem concerned about her staying for days on end with strangers.

He’s perplexed about Dana’s family and why they don’t seem concerned about her staying for days on end with strangers.

“You just don’t understand the jet set, Bill,” Cissy says.

“I guess I don’t, Catherine,” Bill replies.

(On paper, it doesn’t look like much, but Brian Keith’s delivery makes this exchange amusing.)

At breakfast the next day, Bill pressures Dana to give him her parents' phone number.

At breakfast the next day, Bill pressures Dana to give him her parents’ phone number.

(What is up with that wall decor behind them?!)

She has to admit that her parents don’t know where she is. They have recently separated, and each of them thinks she’s staying with the other.

Cissy asks Dana why she didn't confide in her.

Cissy asks Dana why she didn’t confide in her.

“Would you understand what it’s like to be divided up between your mother and your father, like a polite note they keep packing back and forth?” Dana asks.

Cissy looks confused. She is probably wondering why Dana hasn't noticed that she doesn't have parents.

Cissy looks confused. She is probably wondering why Dana hasn’t noticed that she doesn’t have parents.

Dana says she enjoyed staying with the Davises because they are a real family, the kind the Masons used to be.

She takes off before Bill can contact her parents.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Jody are just happy that the meal-time outburst resulted in plenty of leftovers for them.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Jody are just happy that the meal-time outburst resulted in plenty of leftovers for them.

Later, Dana’s frantic parents arrive to find their daughter gone.

When they ask Cissy where Dana could be, Cissy remembers her comments about the dingy theater.

When they ask Cissy where Dana could be, Cissy remembers her comments about the dingy theater.

The Masons are shocked that Dana thinks of those struggling days as her best times.

They rush off to the theater with Bill and Cissy.

As Cissy suspected, Dana is brooding in the Masons' old dressing room.

As Cissy suspected, Dana is brooding in the Masons’ old dressing room.

She’s delighted to see that both her parents have come for her–she thinks it means they are getting back together.

Her parents explain that while they both lover her, they no longer love each other. They are going through with their divorce.

Her parents explain that while they both love her, they no longer love each other. They are going through with their divorce.

Mr. Mason says the three of them will have to find a new way to be a family.

When Dana is still dejected, Cissy steps in with some words of wisdom.

When Dana is still dejected, Cissy steps in with some words of wisdom.

Being a real family isn’t about having your mother and father together, she says, pointing out to the oblivious Dana that she herself is an orphan.

“Being a real family has to do with somebody loving you…and, especially, with you loving them back,” Cissy says, as the violins swell.

That comforts Dana, and she walks off into the sunset with her parents, never to be seen again. (Thank God!)

When we next see the Davis family, everyone is celebrating a successful performance by Buffy.

She even received flowers from a secret admirer.

She even received flowers from a secret admirer.

She makes a show of pretending that she doesn’t know they came from her family.

(I like Cissy’s outfit here, scarf, purse, and all.)

Commentary

Dana is supposed to be annoying and affected, and Lori Martin certainly puts those qualities across. The character has a nails-on-blackboard effect on me that makes this episode difficult to watch.

The closing message is a good one and must have been especially important for kids to hear in 1969, when divorce rates were soaring. (Brian Keith went through a divorce himself that year.) The reactions to Cissy’s use of “Bill” are amusing, and Buffy as a tree definitely amps up this episode’s cuteness quotient.

Unanswered Questions

Why would the daughter of jet-setters be attending a public high school?

Since the Masons were working together, wouldn’t one of them have asked the other how Dana was doing at some point?

Guest Cast

Dana Mason: Lori Martin. Richard Mason: Liam Sullivan. Lois Mason: Kathleen Crowley.

Lori Martin was experienced young actress. She was best known for her appearance in 1962’s Cape Fear and for a starring role in a TV-series version of National Velvet. Martin, who retired from acting not long after this episode aired, died in 2010.

Crowley and Sullivan

Crowley and Sullivan

Liam Sullivan made many TV guest appearances, including memorable ones on Star Trek (“Plato’s Stepchildren”) and The Twilight Zone (“The Silence”).

 

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 14, “To Love with Buffy,” 1/6/1969

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Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Before I begin, I must apologize profusely for my delay in bringing you this installment of my Family Affair series. It resulted from a combination of issues–technical, medical, and practical–that are too boring to describe in detail. I think things are back on track now, and I will be able to blog about Family Affair at least every other week.

VTS_01_2.VOB_000343034

We find the Davis family in the living room, where Bill is practicing putting. Buffy and Jody are trying to find Puerto Rico on the map. Suprisingly, they do.

Not so surprisingly, they think it looks so small that Bill could hit a golf ball all the way across it.

VTS_01_2.VOB_000380203

Yes, Bill is getting ready to take another trip. He’s going to deliver a speech to an industry group, but golf and fishing also seem to be on itinerary.

Jody waxes sentimental about the trips he and Bill have taken together.

 

Realizing that Buffy has no similar stories to share, Cissy sports her concerned face.

Realizing that Buffy has no similar stories to share, Cissy sports her concerned face.

After Jody runs downstairs to talk to his stickball teammates, Buffy asks outright if she can go with him on fishing trip someday.

This is how hopeful Buffy looks.

This is how hopeful Buffy looks.

This is how excited Bill looks as he says, "Yeah, maybe."

This is how excited Bill looks as he says, “Yeah, maybe.”

Oh, Uncle Bill.

He compounds his jerkiness by saying that little girls shouldn’t do rugged things. They should play with dolls instead.

Cissy stalks off to her room, and a resigned Buffy takes Mrs. Beasley out on the terrace for a tea party.

Moments later, Cissy shows Bill an essay Buffy wrote for school.

Moments later, Cissy shows Bill an essay Buffy wrote for school.

It’s about a trip to Lake Placid with Uncle Bill. She tells the story from her point of view, even though she wasn’t really on the trip.

“That is the best time I ever had, when Uncle Bill and I went away together just the two of us,” the essay concludes.

Aww.

Bill quickly comes to the conclusion that he should take Buffy with him to Puerto Rico for a long weekend. Good thing airplane reservations are so flexible in the Davises’ world.

Buffy is thrilled to hear the news.

Buffy is thrilled to hear the news.

French and Bill wonder if Jody will be jealous that Buffy gets to go and he doesn’t.

In his usual good-natured way, though, Jody is delighted for his sister.

In his usual good-natured way, though, Jody is delighted for his sister.

Well, everyone is happy. What could possibly go wrong?

We get a slight hint when French announces that he’s packed Bill’s white and plaid (yikes!) dinner jackets. He wants Bill to be prepared for “tropical moonlight.”

Bill denies that he has such things in mind, but let's face it: French always knows best.

Bill denies that he has such things in mind, but let’s face it: French always knows best.

Bill and Buffy take a late flight, and Buffy is sleeping when they get to Puerto Rico.

Bill's wide awake, though, especially when he meets Gail.

Bill’s wide awake, though, especially when he meets Gail.

Gail is a writer for Corporation Magazine, which sounds like a scintillating read. She’s there to cover Bill’s speech, and she can’t wait to “interview him,” if you know what I mean.

Bill's associate thinks Bill should get a hotel babysitter for Buffy and head straight for the lounge.

Bill’s associate thinks Bill should get a hotel babysitter for Buffy and head straight for the lounge.

Showing some sensitivity, Bill decides that wouldn’t make for a good start to Buffy’s special trip.

Random fashion note: Buffy’s coat and gloves are adorable in this scene.

Meanwhile, at home, Cissy's got a dating dilemma of her own.

Meanwhile, at home, Cissy’s got a dating dilemma of her own.

Cissy has a date lined up for the next night with the “suave..sophisticated” Marvin Bradbury. That’s a problem because, at the same time, Mr. French is going out with Miss Faversham. (Yay!)

Cissy either has to cancel her date or take Jody along. I wonder which option she would prefer?

This is how Jody looks when he realizes he's going on the date.

This is how Jody looks when he realizes he’s going on the date.

On their way to breakfast the next morning, Bill and Buffy meet the director of the hotel kids’ program.

She'd be only too happy to take Buffy off his hands for breakfast, as well as a full day of activities.

She’d be only too happy to take Buffy off his hands for breakfast, as well as a full day of activities.

(I thought such kids’ programs were a more recent development. I guess my family just didn’t stay at classy enough hotels back in the day. No child-care services at HoJos!)

Bill mystifies the lady by preferring to eat breakfast alone with Buffy. He also wants to arrange a special activity for just the two of them. Mrs. Robinson suggests a burro trip to the old silver mines.

At breakfast, Buffy is radiantly happy to have Bill's full attention.

At breakfast, Buffy is radiantly happy to have Bill’s full attention.

Random fashion note: Isn’t Buffy’s outfit a little strange for a tropical climate?

She doesn't have his full attention for long, though.

She doesn’t have his full attention for long, though.

Buffy tells Gail that she’s pretty and then launches into a completely guileless recitation on all the pretty girls Bill knows–so many that he sometimes gets them mixed up. Bill’s discomfort is amusing to behold.

Gail wants Bill to join her for golf, but he keeps his commitment to Buffy.

Back at home, Marvin Bradbury has big plans for his date with Cissy.

Back at home, Marvin Bradbury has big plans for his date with Cissy.

He’s arranged for a gypsy violinist and “wine”–actually, grape juice in a wine decanter.

Cissy has neglected to warn him ahead of time that it will be a dinner for three, not two.

This is what Marvin looks like when he meets Jody.

This is what Marvin looks like when he meets Jody.

Things go downhill from there, when Jody asks the violinist to play “Turkey in the Straw.”

Jody also ruins Marvin’s attempt to look cool while tasting the “wine.”

"It's a sound little thing, somewhat on the fruity side," Marvin says.

“It’s a sound little thing, somewhat on the fruity side,” Marvin says. (I’ll refrain from making the joke that comes to mind here.)

Jody points out that it’s fruity because it’s grape juice.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, Buffy and Bill are going to dinner together.

Mrs. Robinson invites Buffy to play bingo with the other children.

When they come upon Mrs. Robinson in the lobby, she invites Buffy to play bingo after dinner with the other children.

When Buffy says she’d like to play, Bill says he’ll come along, too. Again, Mrs. Robinson is mystified by a parent who wants to spend time with their child.

(By the way, if you are wondering how Bill is able to achieve Buffy’s signature hairstyle on his own, the writers have anticipated this nitpick. They have him say it took “trial and error.”)

At dinner, though, it's clear that Bill's distracted.

At dinner, though, it’s clear that Bill’s distracted.

This is how Buffy looks as she raves to Bill about her dessert.

This is how Buffy looks as she raves to Bill about her dessert.

This is how Bill looks as he stares toward Gail's table and grunts minimal responses to Buffy's comments.

This is how Bill looks as he stares toward Gail’s table and grunts minimal responses to Buffy’s comments.

This is how Buffy looks when she realizes Bill isn't paying any attention.

This is how Buffy looks when she realizes Bill isn’t paying any attention.

Letting Bill off the hook, she tells him that she wants to go play bingo without him.

“Sometimes kids should be with kids, and grown-ups should be with grown-ups,” she says.

She even turns down Bill's request for a dance and encourages him to dance with Gail instead.

She even turns down Bill’s request for a dance and encourages him to dance with Gail instead.

Back at home, Marvin has taken Cissy and Jody home–apparently, he barely slowed down the car long enough to let them out.

Cissy and Jody have a good laugh about the situation as "Turkey in the Straw" swells up in the background.

Cissy and Jody have a good laugh about the situation as “Turkey in the Straw” swells up in the background.

Commentary

Bill doesn’t come off well in this episode, from his casual sexism to his inability to leave one skirt unchased. (It’s only a long weekend, for God’s sake!) “Sometimes kids should be with kids and grownups should be with grownups” is a sensible observation, but I wish Buffy had come to that conclusion on her own. She might have become tired of dressing up and being quiet, for instance. Instead, it’s obvious that she’s just trying make the obviously-checked out Uncle Bill happy.

The performances are good, however. Brian Keith has some nice non-verbal business, which I’m sure he improvised.

The playful ear tugging in this scene is a good example.

The playful ear tugging in this scene is a good example.

Anissa Jones just beams in her scenes with Keith.

The Cissy-Jody subplot is mildly amusing, and I enjoy their laughter at the end.

Guest Cast

Hotel Clerk: Aladdin. Frank: Barry Cahill. Gail Ryder: Sue Casey. Mrs. Robinson: Patience Cleveland. Marvin: Gregg Fedderson. Mrs. Rodriguez: Carmen D’Antonio. Waiter: Pepe Hern. Maitre d’: Lou Krugman. Steve Jackson: Kenneth Tobey.

Aladdin played the violin on The Lawrence Welk Show. The same year this episode aired, he appeared in a memorable run of My Three Sons episodes leading up to Steve and Barbara’s wedding.

Cahill was married to Rachel Ames (who played Audrey on General Hospital for 50 years). He died in 2012.

Casey was mostly a Hollywood bit player, but she achieved some cult fame in the 1965 film The Beach Girls and The Monster.

This is Fedderson’s second appearance as a Cissy love interest. The next time we see him, he’ll be starting a string of 11 episodes as her steady boyfriend Gregg.

Tobey was a prolific and well regarded character actor. He appeared in The Thing from Another World and many other science fiction films. Other films in which he appeared include Angel Eyes, Billy Jack, and Airplane! In the 1950s, he had his own television adventure series, The Whirlybirds. He had recurring roles in I, Spy and Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett series. Tobey died in 2002.

 

Spin Again Sunday: The Muppet Show Game (1977)

muppet show 1977 box

Almost two years ago,  I featured a 1979 Muppet Show game. Today’s version, from 1977, is special to me because I actually owned it as a child. (I probably received it as a gift for my ninth birthday.)

Today’s Game: The Muppet Show Game

Copyright Date: 1977.

Manufacturer: Parker Brothers.

Box: A colorful photographic array of Muppets and a large Muppet Show logo must have made this eye-catching in the toy aisle.

Recommended Ages: 7 to 14.

muppet show 1977 board

Board: It is meant to resemble a stage, with dressing rooms at the bottom and footlights at the top. Most squares are blank floor spaces, but others identify starting and stopping points for various “sets.”

This is a "set" for Veterinarian Hospital.

This is a “set” for Veterinarian Hospital.

Various Muppets (including my daughter’s favorite, Janice)  show up in illustrated form at the very top of the game board. This illustration is similar to the one on the 1979 game box.

muppet show 1977 pawns

Pawns: These feature double-sided photographs of eight characters. They make up color-coded teams, and each player manipulates both members of his or her team.

Object: Getting your two pawns, plus the color-coded set associated with them, from their starting spots on the board to their ending spots near the footlights.

muppet show 1977 board closeup

Here you can see dressing rooms, where characters start the game, as well as two starting points for sets.

This close-up shows ending spots for several characters and sets.

The photo above shows ending points for several characters and sets.

Game Play: A Muppet Show “script” guides players on their journey.

muppet show 1977 spinner

First, they use this double spinner to determine their act and scene numbers.

muppet show 1977 script

Then, they look that combination up in this script, which tells them how many spaces they can move either their set or one of their Muppets. They can move forward, backwards, sideways, and–if specifically told to do so–diagonally. Occasionally, they get a chance to move another player’s Muppet. They can also try to block other players with their own Muppets.

My Thoughts: This is a simple game, but the character pawns and unique way of moving them makes it fun to play.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Bewitched

Family Affair

The Bride Game

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 13, “Family Plan,” 12/30/1968

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Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: Charles Barton.

To set the scene for this episode, we open with ample ski resort footage.

Winter has finally arrived somewhere in the vicinity of New York I guess.

Winter has finally arrived somewhere in the vicinity of New York, I guess.

Inside the ski lodge, Bill is sipping cocoa with his latest squeeze.

Michelle is apparently quite a snow bunny. She honed her skills, she says, while living in Norway.

Michelle is quite a snow bunny. She honed her skills, she says, while spending time in Norway.

Before committing to a man, she adds, she has to “see how he slaloms.” That sounds like a euphemism to me.

Bill’s a less experienced skier, but he’s game.

They head back out onto the slopes like this.

They head back out onto the slopes like this.

Unfortunately, they return like this.

Unfortunately, they return like this.

Michelle blames herself for Bill’s accident. “It was the worst moment of my life when I saw you heading for that tree,” she says.

"It wasn't so good for me either," Bill replies.

“It wasn’t so good for me either,” Bill replies.

It’s nice to see he can handle a broken leg without losing his trademark laconic wit.

Back at home, the Davis family gathers around Bill.

He invites them to sign his cast, a practice he explains is an old American custom.

He invites the kids to sign his cast, a practice he explains is an old American custom.

Is it really just an American thing? And how does Bill know that? And why does he feel the need to explain it to Buffy and Jody, as if they are visitors to these shores? Anyway, I think it’s cute that French signs, too.

The kids are a bit surprised to see that someone else got to sign first.

The kids are a bit surprised to see that someone else got to sign first.

I wonder if that is really Brian Keith’s foot. Considering Keith’s abbreviated shooting schedule, it is probably a stand-in foot.

The kids are eager to nurse Bill back to health and pledge that they will drop all their other activities to do so.

Jody makes a valiant attempt to include school in the activities they sacrifice, but Bill doesn’t go for that. The kids promise, though, that they will spend every free minute at home.

French is delighted by this turn of events.

French is delighted by this turn of events.

Later, Michelle stops by to check on Bill.

Her flower arrangement is garish, but I love her whole ensemble: the coat, the gloves, the purse and the dress underneath.

Her flower arrangement is garish, but I love her whole ensemble: the coat, the gloves, the purse, and the dress underneath.

Wait…why is she carrying that suitcase?

We learn why when she announces that she's moving in to care for Bill.

We learn why when she announces that she’s moving in to care for Bill.

Well, that’s a bit pushy, isn’t it?

The kids don't react well to this idea.

The kids don’t react well to her idea.

Neither does Bill, for that matter.

Neither does Bill, for that matter.

It takes quite a bit of convincing on his part to dissuade Michelle from her plan. She’s unfazed as he enumerates the logistical problems, but she reluctantly accepts the idea that her taking over Bill’s care might hurt the kids’ feelings.

In the following days, the kids devote themselves to Bill.

Jody reads him a "Dick and Jane" level story about a boy and his duck.

Jody reads him a “Dick and Jane”-level story about a boy and his duck.

This is a bit of a struggle for Jody, even though he’s in third grade.

It's also a struggle for Bill to listen to without dozing off.

It’s also a struggle for Bill to listen to without dozing off.

When French stops by to check on him, Bill insists he stay and listen to the story, too.

French couldn't be happier. He supplies the answer to "What did the duck say?" with a delightfully deadpan, "Quack, quack."

French couldn’t be happier. He supplies the answer to “What did the duck say?” with a delightfully deadpan, “Quack, quack.”

Meanwhile, Buffy wakes Bill every 15 minutes to give him his "pills"--actually candy.

Meanwhile, Buffy wakes Bill every 15 minutes to give him his “pills”–actually candy.

When Bill says he’s getting a stomachache from all the candy, Buffy cheerfully announces that she will give him candy stomachache pills.

We don't find out where Buffy got this adorable nurse outfit. Halloween costume? I would have loved to have one like it.

We don’t find out where Buffy got this adorable nurse outfit. Halloween costume? I would have loved to have one like it.

Cissy gets her own chance for some role-play, as she assumes secretarial duties.

While Buffy plays nurse, Cissy plays secretary. Bill dictates an important letter to a prospective client.

To her, Bill dictates an important letter to a prospective client.

If you are wondering why Bill didn’t just dictate the letter to Miss Lee over the phone…well, Bill will soon be wondering that himself.

Meanwhile, Buffy gives Bill a manicure, which involves stabbing him in the knuckles with her scissors.

Meanwhile, Buffy gives Bill a manicure, which involves stabbing him in the knuckles with her scissors.

Frighteningly, she promises to help him shave later.

Bill also gets to hear Jody read another literary masterpiece, "There's a Mouse in My House."

Bill also gets to hear Jody read another literary masterpiece, “There’s a Mouse in My House.”

Later, French brings him a telegram from his prospective client.

The client has accepted Bill's bid of $350,000.

The client has accepted Bill’s bid of $350,000.

In response to this seemingly good news, he bellows for Cissy.

In response to this seemingly good news, he bellows for Cissy.

He makes her get her notes and double-check his bid. It was actually $530,000, which she transposed in typing the letter.

Oopsy.

Oopsy.

At least Bill admits that he should have checked over the letter before he signed it. Ya think?

For fans of Brian Keith's head rubs, this episode is epic.

For fans of Brian Keith’s head rubs, this episode is epic.

The next day, the kids return from school to see that French has taken matters into his own hands.

He's posted visiting hours of 6-8 p.m.

He’s posted visiting hours of 6-8 p.m.

Pulling the kids aside for a private chat, he convinces them that leaving Bill alone is what's best for him.

Pulling the kids aside for a private chat, he convinces them that leaving Bill alone is what’s best for him.

When Bill hears about French’s plan, however, he seems disappointed that the kids gave up caring for him without a fight.

A surprisingly needy Bill decides to move Michelle in for full-time care after all.

A surprisingly needy Bill decides to move Michelle in for full-time care after all.

Meeting his need for round-the-clock attention soon wears on Michelle, however.

She can't fulfill his request for more pillows because she's just done her nails.

She doesn’t want to read him engineering journals, and she can’t fulfill his request for more pillows because she’s just done her nails.

She can, however, dial the phone to make dinner plans with a certain Carl.

She can, however, dial the phone to make dinner plans with a certain Carl.

Later, Michelle returns from shopping to find that the doctor has moved Bill into the living room.

There, they have a talk about how relationships sometimes falter when people spend more time together.

There, they have a talk about how relationships sometimes falter when people spend more time together.

“It’s easy to live with the things you like about somebody, but I guess it’s getting to live with those things you don’t like that makes for those happy marriages,” Bill observes.

Both Bill and Michelle are happy to have dodged a bullet. She says she wouldn’t have wanted to spend her whole life catering to him, and he says he would expect more from a wife than doing her nails and shopping all the time.

Michelle also says that being around the kids convinced her that she isn’t ready for parenthood. I wish we could have seen their encounters!

Soon, Bill is on the mend and wearing a "walking cast."

Soon, Bill is on the mend and wearing a “walking cast.”

He tells French to let the kids start caring for him again.

"A man can always use a little tender loving care," he says.

“A man can always use a little tender loving care,” he says.

Commentary

An episode that involves the whole Davis family is always welcome. This one has a lot of amusing non-verbal reactions from Bill and French. I also like that Michelle isn’t portrayed as a villain. She and Bill simply have different temperaments, and they are both okay with that.

Guest Cast

Michelle Reid: Nancy Kovack.

Kovack’s mini-bio on IMDb.com is interesting: “A native of Flint, Michigan, Nancy Kovack was a student at the University of Michigan at 15, a radio deejay at 16, a college graduate at 19 and the holder of eight beauty titles by 20.” She made five appearances on Bewitched, including three as Darrin’s first fiancee, Sheila Sommers. A 1969 guest appearance on Mannix earned her an Emmy nomination. That same year, she married conductor Zubin Mehta, and they are still together today. I guess they have one of those happy marriages Bill was talking about.