Spin Again Sunday: Mork & Mindy Game, 1979

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The world lost one its most beloved entertainers in 2014. The role that first brought Robin Williams into the national spotlight also catapulted him onto toy-store shelves in 1979. Mork & Mindy spawned a card game, as well as a board game. I was in fourth grade when Mork & Mindy hit the airwaves, and it wasn’t long before my classmates were wearing rainbow suspenders and trying to speak Orkan. I’m sure many of us had this game; I remember playing it, but I’m not sure whether I owned it or a friend did.

This Week’s Game: Mork & Mindy Game.

Copyright Date: 1979.

Manufacturer: Parker Brothers.

Box: A full-color photo of the title characters spreads across the whole lid. It’s strange, though, that Parker Brothers chose a shot that provides a better view of Mindy’s face than Mork’s. He was unquestionably the show’s main draw, especially for young viewers.

The back of the box provides and black-and-white photo of the game board and an explanation of the game. And this game does require quite a bit of explaining.

The back of the box features a black-and-white photo of the game board and an explanation of the game. And this game does require quite a bit of explaining.

Recommended Ages: 7 to 14.

Object: Collecting more “grebbles” than other players. These, apparently, are Orkan coins.

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Board: Against a green background, we have an oval game track in vivid shades of pink, purple, red, and orange. These spaces prominently feature Orkan words like “wump,” “splink,” and “nimnul.”

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Illustrations of Mork and Mindy surround the track, and Mork does dominate here–he shows up twice as often as Mindy. (These illustrations are pretty good as game-board art goes and much better than those on the card game I linked above.)

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A large egg labeled “Orson’s Nest Egg” fills up one corner, while the opposite corner shows six small egg-shaped spaces and a “Gleek Space.”

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Game Pieces: The game includes 50 Grebble coins, which players try to collect. As pawns, they use colored cardboard markers that slide into a plastic base. One cardboard marker has the word Gleek on it; a player who rolls a six slides it into his or her plastic base along with the regular marker.

The game also includes Mork's splinkblinker, which I'll try to explain below.

The game also includes Mork’s splinkblinker, which I’ll try to explain below.

Game Play: The grebbles start the game in Orson’s Nest Egg. Players move around the track and do a lot of splinking, which is apparently Orkan for bluffing. The player who lands on an “Everybody Splink” space drops both dice into the splinkblinker. He or she looks at the numbers showing, turns to the player on the left and announces any two numbers. The player on the left says “Kayo” if he or she believes the original player and “Shazbot” if he or she thinks the original player is lying. If the second player has guessed correctly, he or she wins two grebbles. Otherwise, the original player wins the grebbles. The splinking process repeats around the table until everyone has had a chance to guess.

Other spaces give players a chance to take grebbles from other players, to win grebbles by “making contact” with Orson, and to place a grebble in the “Grebble Up” row of eggs. A player who completes a row of at least three grebbles in the “Grebble Up” row wins them all.

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The player who roles a six and possesses the “gleek” (until another player roles a six) has his or her grebble-earning power doubled and can’t lose grebbles to other players.

When Orson’s Nest Egg is empty, the player with the most grebbles wins.

“Sound confusing? Sound exciting? Sound like daffy fun?” the box asks. Well…confusing, certainly.

My Thoughts: It seems a bit over-complicated. I’m not sure my friends and I would have made it through a whole game, but we would have had fun spouting Orkan words at each other.

Bonus Feature: If reading about the game has made you want to revisit Mork & Mindy, this Season 1 gag reel is lots of fun. Be forewarned however: There’s strong language here, and it’s not Orkan.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Happy Days

Laverne & Shirley

Charlie’s Angels

 

 

 

 

 

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 22, “A Diller, a Dollar,” 3/3/1969

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

Welcome to a new year, Family Affair fans. In the real world, the weather may be brutal and the news may be grim, but we can always escape for a few minutes into the Davis family’s sunny environs. After an epic Spanish adventure, the family has settled back into its routine and must only deal with a small domestic crisis (or, as French puts it, “one of life’s little tragedies”).

When we first look in, Bill is talking about bid and estimates with an associate named Miss Saunders.

When we first look in, Bill is talking about bids and estimates with an associate named Miss Saunders.

Why are they meeting in Bill’s den instead of in his office? Probably so that the twins can interrupt them when they return from school with their report cards.

Jody is so excited to show Bill his grades that he drops his books to the floor--an error that French quickly makes him rectify.

Jody is so excited to show Bill his grades that he drops his books to the floor–an error that French quickly makes him rectify.

Why Jody’s so eager to show off his mediocre grades is not clear. “Buffy’s the smart one,” Bill bluntly informs Miss Saunders out of the twins’ hearing. He and French make a big fuss over Jody’s grades, he adds, so that they boy doesn’t feel bad.

Sure enough, Buffy's received all A's, except for an A- in arithmetic.

Sure enough, Buffy’s received all A’s, except for an A- in arithmetic.

Random question: When did schools stop using the term arithmetic? I started school around 1973, and we always referred to that subject as math. (Although I didn’t know it before researching for this post, arithmetic refers to the branch of mathematics dealing with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.)

Jody's got sttraight C's, which French hails as an improvement over his previous performance.

Jody earned straight C’s, which French hails as an improvement over his previous performance.

Passing over Buffy’s grades quickly, Bill finds something to praise on Jody’s report card.

Jody's teacher says he is cheerful and attentive and quick to volunteer for classroom chores.

Jody’s teacher says he is cheerful and attentive and quick to volunteer for classroom chores.

That ought to take him far.

After Bill showers Jody with praise, French prepares to take the kids to the park.

Jody is hoping that his friend Peter Dunigan will be there so they can play marbles together.

Jody is hoping that his friend Peter Dunigan will be there so they can play marbles together.

Buffy is hoping Peter will be there, too, although Jody tells her she can’t play marbles with them.

In the rigidly gender-segregated world of the park, Buffy has to play hopscotch instead.

In the rigidly gender-segregated world of the park, Buffy has to play hopscotch instead.

(Random fashion observation: It’s about time for the wardrobe department to retire Buffy’s plaid pants, which are rapidly approaching high-water territory. And the girl currently hopping must have bought her dress from the rummage sale in “Fat, Fat the Water Rat.”)

Buffy’s mind isn’t on the game, however. She’s too busy mooning over Peter. When one of her friends teases her about her “boyfriend,” Buffy doesn’t deny her interest.

Buffy's mind isn't on the game, however. She's too busy mooning over Peter.

“He’s neat,” she sighs.

The feeling isn’t mutual. When Peter passes the hopscotch group on his way to the marble game, Buffy’s friends ask him if he wants to hear a secret.

"Nah," he says.

“Nah,” he says.

Then Buffy asks him if he wants to join the hopscotch game.

"Nah," he replies, even more dismissively.

“Nah,” he replies, even more dismissively.

This, it seems, is his catchphrase–“Nah,” pronounced in an obnoxiously flat, nasal manner. I’m not sure what Buffy sees in him (but he will look pretty good in his teenage years.)

A dejected Buffy turns to French for advice.

A dejected Buffy turns to French for romantic advice, which seems like a risky move.

She wonders whether a boy saying only “Hi” and “Nah” to her is a sign that the boy hates her. French responds to her question with unexpected sensitivity, telling her that a young man might not wish to speak to a young lady with other young ladies about. He suggests that Peter might be friendlier when he is in Jody’s company.

She heads over to the marble game, but doesn't make any progress with Peter.

She heads over to the marble game, but doesn’t make any progress with Peter.

Jody takes a surprisingly strong stand against girls playing marbles, arguing that “girls are only good at arithmetic and junk.” (That’s a novel form of gender stereotyping.)

Buffy offers to help Peter with his math, but it only earns her another “Nah.”

Back at home, she turns to Cissy for advice.

Back at home, she turns to Cissy for advice.

Cissy’s got weightier matters on her mind, though–or at least on her head. She’s drying her hair in preparation for a night out with Sharon and some guy named Doug.

Buffy then makes a fatal error--she asks Sharon for advice.

Buffy then makes a fatal error–she asks Sharon for guidance.

“Boys don’t like girls who are smarter than they are,” Sharon pronounces.

"Wat'chu talkin' about, Sharon?"

“What you talkin’ ’bout, Sharon?”

Sharon adds that she lost a football player boyfriend for that very reason. (He must have really been dumb.)

Sharon tells Buffy not to worry--there are other boys out there, lots of them.

Sharon tells Buffy not to worry–there are other boys out there, lots of them.

(They really caked on Sharon’s pancake makeup this week, didn’t they?)

Buffy’s strictly a one-boy girl, however. All she can do is try to dumb herself down, and she’s successful enough to earn a note home from Miss Cummings the next day.

It seems that she and Peter scored lowest in the class on this week's spelling test.

It seems that she and Peter scored lowest in the class on this week’s spelling test.

“So what if we’re dumb–we’re happy,” she chirps to an unresponsive Peter.

At home, Bill’s puzzled by Buffy’s D- and even more puzzled when he sees she missed simple words like walk, jump, and nose.

"There's no word in the English language that has three P's in a row," he sputters about her misspelling of apple.

“There’s no word in the English language that has three P’s in a row!” he sputters in reaction to her misspelling of apple.

He and French agree that Buffy could spell those and harder words before she even started school. French suggests contacting the teacher, but Bill puts his parental instincts to work instead: He decides that Buffy lacks motivation because he praises Jody so much and ignores her outstanding work.

Meanwhile, Buffy is hanging out with the boys and trying to wangle an invitation to Peter's birthday party.

Meanwhile, Buffy is hanging out with the boys and trying to wangle an invitation to Peter’s birthday party.

It doesn’t work–Peter says the party is for boys only.

Bill pulls Buffy aside for a talk and explains that he has been wrong to ignore her achievements.

Bill pulls Buffy aside for a talk and explains that he has been wrong to ignore her achievements.

Sure that he has gotten to the heart of the problem, he misses Buffy’s cues that his praising Jody doesn’t bother her.

He assures her that he is very, very, very proud of her.

Bill assures Buffy that he is very, very, very proud of her.

The next day, however, finds Buffy purposely messing up her multiplication problems.

She even manages to miss problems so easy that Peter can solve them.

She manages to miss problems so easy that even Peter can solve them.

This allows her to ask Peter if he will help her with arithmetic. (You can guess his answer.)

At home, Bill is basking in Miss Saunders' admiration for his keen parental intuition.

At home, Bill is basking in Miss Saunders’ admiration for his keen parental intuition.

She’s also thanking him for a lovely time at dinner the night before. (You didn’t think Bill could have a purely professional relationship with an attractive woman, did you?)

His bubble bursts when French arrives to tell him that Buffy has failed her day’s arithmetic assignment.

This really throws him for a loop.

“What you talkin’ ’bout, French?”

When Cissy passes through, he seeks her advice on the situation.

She's shocked at Buffy's failure. Buffy's the smartest kid in the class, she notes.

She’s shocked at Buffy’s failure. Buffy’s the smartest kid in the class, she notes.

Miss Cummings even told her that Buffy was due to be skipped ahead a grade.

Applying his psychology skills again, Bill latches onto another explanation for Buffy's behavior.

Applying his psychology skills again, Bill latches onto another explanation for Buffy’s behavior.

Clearly, she doesn’t want to advance a grade and leave Jody behind.

Meanwhile, Buffy's in the park with treats she's prepared as a birthday present for Peter.

Meanwhile, Buffy’s in the park with treats she’s prepared as a birthday present for Peter.

When she tries to present them, though, Peter won’t accept.

If he takes them, he says, he'll feel obligated to get her a present on her birthday.

If he takes them, he says, he’ll feel obligated to get her a present on her birthday.

(Peter’s extremely rude, but you have to admit he’s scrupulous about reciprocal gift-giving.)

 

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Jody, all “bitches be crazy,” prevails on Peter to take one cookie so his sister doesn’t get mad.

Peter will deign to accept a cookie if Buffy agrees it’s not a birthday gift.

Buffy, to her credit, comes up with the perfect response: "Nah!"

Buffy, to her credit, comes up with the only fitting response: “Nah!”

Back at home, Buffy informs French that she has homework to do–and that she can’t stand Peter anymore.

Soon Bill corners her for a talk about skipping a grade.

Soon Bill corners her for a talk about skipping a grade.

She will still see Jody at recess and lunch, so she shouldn’t try to get bad grades on purpose, he says.

Buffy keeps turning the conversation to Peter and how much she doesn't like him.

He doesn’t understand why Buffy keeps turning the conversation to Peter and how much she dislikes him.

Bill’s fog finally clears when Buffy blurts out, “Even when I’m dumb like he is, he doesn’t like me.”

Bill learns about the advice Buffy got from Sharon and points out to her that it turned out to be bad advice.

Bill learns about the advice Buffy got from Sharon and points out that it didn’t work very well for her.

Why, his colleague Miss Saunders is actually Dr. Saunders, an accomplished engineer, and he still found her worthy of his amorous attentions.

Buffy promises that she will always do her best from now on.

She doesn't care if Peter doesn't love her. She just wants to be loved by Bill, Cissy, Jody, Mr. French--and Victor Simmons, a new boy who lives upstairs.

She doesn’t care whether Peter loves her. She just wants to be loved by Bill, Cissy, Jody, and Mr. French.

Oh–and Victor Simmons, a new boy who just moved in upstairs.

Cue some episode-ending rueful laughter for Bill.

Cue some episode-ending rueful laughter for Bill.

Commentary

I’m always prepared to do a lot of cringing when gender issues crop up on classic sitcoms. This episode’s message is pleasantly surprising, though. Only Sharon comes off looking silly, and we’ve come to expect that from her.

I’m also glad that Bill told Buffy he was proud of her grades, even if she didn’t seem to need his reassurance. Maybe I’m oversensitive about this issue because I grew up with a brother whose C’s were cause for a party, while my A’s were taken for granted.

It’s interesting how blase Bill is about Jody’s average grades–these days, a parent from Bill’s social strata would probably be getting his straight-C child evaluated for learning disorders.

An added plus for this episode: The fun of seeing familiar faces such as Sharon and Miss Cummings.

Notable Quotes

“We do not say ‘Nah'”–Mr. French

Guest Cast

Sharon James: Sherry Alberoni. Miss Cummings: Joan Vohs. Peter: Gary Tubin. Joyce: Elaine Devry. Linda: Emma Tyson. May: Lisa Gerritsen.

Lisa Gerritsen was one of the most familiar child actors on television in the 1960s and 1970s. She’s best remembered, of course, for her recurring role as Bess on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Phyllis. Her grandfather was screenwriter True Boardman. This is the first of three Family Affair appearances for Gerritsen–the second one comes in the very next episode.

Gary Dubin, making his second Family Affair appearance here, also stayed busy. He was Punky Lazaar on The Partridge Family, voiced Toulouse in Disney’s The Aristocats, and became shark food in Jaws 2.

From certain angles, Devry looks slightly Diana Rigg-ish.

From certain angles, Devry looks slightly Diana Rigg-ish.

Elaine Devry made guest appearances on such shows as Perry Mason, Dragnet 1967, and Marcus Welby, M.D. She had a small role in the 1968 Brian Keith-Doris Day movie With Six You Get Eggroll. She was also once married to Mickey Rooney…but then again, who wasn’t?

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 21, “Lost in Spain: Part 3,” 2/24/1969

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Written by: John McGreevey. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Happy holidays, everyone! This week we come to the end of Family Affair‘s classic three-parter, “Lost in Spain.” It’s not a Christmas episode, but its climactic scenes would have been perfect for one.

We begin with about four minutes of backtracking to remind us where we left off.

As you will recall, it was sorrow in the straw for Buffy and Jody.

As you will recall, it was sorrow in the straw for Buffy and Jody.

They are starting to wonder if Bill will ever find them.

In the morning, they emerge from their hiding place and peer out the barn door for signs of life.

In the morning, they emerge from their hiding place and peer out the barn door for signs of life.

They watch the farmer’s wife as she deposits a bowl of vegetables on a table and returns into the house.

Starving, they run over, grab some food, and haul butt back to the barn before the woman returns.

Starving, they run over, grab some food, and haul butt back to the barn before the woman returns.

Buffy and Jody feel bad about swiping food, but they figure that Uncle Bill can give the farmer some money later.

Their hunger has given them a new appreciation for vegetables, even raw string beans.

Their hunger has given them a new appreciation for vegetables, even raw string beans.

When the farmer enters the barn, they duck behind the haystack again.

He finds a carrot on the ground and gives one of those exaggerated TV shrugs.

He finds a carrot on the ground and gives one of those exaggerated TV shrugs.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Davis clan is standing vigil at the Sitges police station, much to the annoyance of the Sitges police.

The police aren't happy to have them there.

A frustrated Bill can’t even get in to see the captain.

The desk sergeant says they are working on many other equally important cases.

"Dammit, Jim, we're policemen, not miracle-workers!" he says (more or less).

“Dammit, Jim, we’re policemen, not miracle-workers!” he says. (More or less.)

The Civil Guard is making he thorough farm-to-farm search for the kids, he adds.

He's right about that. In fact, they are just pulling up to the Vega farm now.

He’s right about that. In fact, they are just pulling up to the Vega farm now.

Buffy and Jody have been contemplating leaving the farm to search the woods for berries like Hansel and Gretel. Hearing the approaching hoofbeats, they peek outside.

Buffy and Jody may not be the sharpest tools in this shed, but they seem to sense that Generalissimo Franco's Civil Guard is not an entirely benign force.

Buffy and Jody may not be the sharpest tools in this shed, but they seem to sense that Generalissimo Franco’s Guardia Civil is not an entirely benign force.

Maybe what tips them off is the creepy bullfighting music that accompanies the guards’ approach. In any case, they decide to stay hidden.

The guards show the Vegas a picture of the kids and ask if they've seen them.

The guards show the Vegas a picture of the kids and ask if they’ve seen them.

After the guards leave, the Vegas are shaken by the encounter.

Methinks the Guardia Civil have a bit of a PR problem with the local farm-dwellers.

Methinks the Guardia Civil have a bit of a PR problem with the local farm-dwellers.

Carlos reassures his wife that everything is fine–after all, they answered honestly when they denied seeing the children.

Things are about to get more complicated for the Vegas, though.

This is the disturbing sight that confronts Carlos when he goes back into the barn.

This is the disturbing sight that confronts Carlos when he goes back into the barn.

Carlos quickly hauls the kids out of the hay.

After that, he isn't sure what to do with them.

After that, he isn’t sure what to do with them.

Later the kids eat while the adults look on in concern.

Buffy and Jody sense that their presence makes the Vegas uncomfortable.

Buffy and Jody sense that their presence makes the Vegas uncomfortable.

Understandably, however, they are most just happy to be eating.

When Jody asks what kind of soup Mrs. Vega gave them, Buffy replies that it's good soup.

When Jody asks what kind of soup Mrs. Vega gave them, Buffy replies that it’s good soup.

Meanwhile, the Vegas are whispering about what to do.

Carlos has an idea--he wants to send the kids packing.

Carlos has an idea–he wants to send the kids packing.

His wife is more soft-hearted.

His wife is more soft-hearted, however.

Showing that his gruffness is only skin-deep, Carlos gives in and allows his wife to bring the kids back.

Back in Sitges, everyone is still sitting around the police station.

Back in Sitges, everyone is still sitting around the police station when Ricardo enters with a distinguished-looking gentleman.

They are surprised when Ricardo enters with a distinguished-looking gentleman.

They are even more surprised when Ricardo tells them the man is his father, Francisco Torres y Fiero, Spain’s soon-to-be special envoy to the United States.

Ricardo confesses that he lied about his identity because he will be moving with his father to the U.S. soon and wanted to get to know some Americans without them knowing his father is a person of importance.

Ricardo confesses that he lied about his identity because he will be moving with his father to the U.S. soon and wanted to get to know some Americans without them knowing his father is a person of importance.

As secrets go, it’s pretty tame–and convenient–so Cissy and Bill don’t hold a grudge.

Senor Torres y Fiero pledges to help find the twins, and he is influential enough to get Col. Klink off his butt.

Senor Torres y Fiero pledges to help find the twins, and he is influential enough to get Col. Klink off his butt.

Soon, Bill is meeting with an apologetic captain.

The captain fills in on the search and says that civil guard will soon begin re-checking some areas.

The captain fills Bill in on the search and says that civil guard will soon begin re-checking some areas.

Apparently, that includes the Vega farm, where Buffy has been put to work.

Soon hoofbeats and creepy music interrupt the household chores.

Soon hoofbeats and creepy music interrupt the household chores.

The Vegas send the kids back to their hiding place.

After getting rid of the civil guard again, the Vegas ponder their next move.

After getting rid of the civil guard again, they ponder their next move.

In Sitges, a quiet moment finds French remarking that most employers would have fired him by now.

Bill reassures him that the kids could have as easily disappeared under his watch, or Cissy's.

Bill reassures him that the kids could have as easily disappeared under his watch, or Cissy’s.

Ana tries to get Bill to eat some fish and chips.

The Spanish have a saying, she tells him: "Sorrows are better with bread."

The Spanish have a saying, she tells him: “Sorrows are easier with bread.”

That seems a little glib under the circumstances, but she soon redeems herself by having an amazing brainstorm.

What if, instead of sitting around the police station, they actually went out looking for the children?

What if, instead of sitting around the police station, they actually went out looking for the children?

This being a sitcom, Uncle Bill is clearly thinking, "It's kind of crazy, but it just might work."

This being a sitcom, Uncle Bill is clearly thinking, “It’s kind of crazy, but it just might work.”

As Anna and Bill take off to re-trace the bus route, night is falling and the Vegas are realizing that Buffy and Jody have to go.

Maria thinks they can trust the priest, but Carlos won't trust anyone.

Maria thinks they can trust the local priest, but Carlos won’t trust anyone.

Thinking of the priest does give Carlos an idea, though.

Each carrying a twin, they head off into the night.

Each carrying a twin, they head off into the night.

They deposit the still-sleeping kids on pews at the church.

Fortunately, Bill and Anna soon arrive at that church.

Fortunately, Bill and Ana soon arrive at that church.

When they come upon the sacristan, Ana asks him if he’s seen the kids.

I like the authentically Catholic touches in these scenes, such as the way the Vegas genuflect when entering and leaving the church and the way Ana covers her head before entering it.

I like the authentically Catholic touches in these scenes, such as the way the Vegas genuflect when entering and leaving the church and the way Ana covers her head before entering it.

The sacristan hasn’t seen the twins, so a dejected Bill and Ana turn to leave.

Fortunately, Bill glances to his right and sees the children's sleeping forms.

Fortunately, Bill glances to his right and sees the children’s sleeping forms.

When they awaken, the kids are thrilled to see their uncle.

It's a Christmas miracle! Or at least a February sweeps miracle!

It’s a Christmas miracle! Or at least a February sweeps miracle!

The kids say they knew that Uncle Bill would find them.

Jody does wonder why it took so long, though.

Jody does wonder why it took so long, though.

You can tell the kids have had a rough time because Buffy's pigtails are mussed. I wonder how long she would have to be lost before she actually took the barrettes out.

You can tell the kids have had a rough time because Buffy’s pigtails are mussed. I wonder how long she would have to be lost before she actually took the barrettes out.

Anna Novarro shows some nice emotion in this reunion scene. It almost makes me wish Ana could join the Davis family permanently.

It’s not to be, however–when we next see the Davis family, they are back in New York, and French is fielding calls from Bill’s female admirers.

"A little bit of ??? in my life, a little bit of ??? by my side..."

“A little Miss Atwater in my life, a little Miss Ellis by my side…”

The kids are back in school, telling their teacher and peers what they learned in Spain. Jody learned what is probably the best lesson–not to get on a bus ahead of Mr. French. The kids also learned that while people in other countries may talk differently, they are not that different deep down.

And that’s a nice message to carry us through the holiday season.

French's horizons have been broadened, too--the dinner he has prepared for the family includes churros.

French’s horizons have been broadened, too–the dinner he has prepared for the family includes churros.

See you in 2015!

Commentary

From a kid’s perspective, this three-parter was gripping and memorable. Getting lost and having to get by on your own is both a terrifying and rather exciting idea when you’re young. It’s appropriate that Buffy and Jody talk about Hansel and Gretel because this story taps into some of the same primal emotions as fairy tales.

Watching now, I do find the adults’ reactions to the situation a bit flat. Separation and loss have always been big issues on this show, so I would expect to see Bill and Cissy looking more frantic. From the director’s perspective, I’m sure it was preferable to confine everyone to a single set as much as possible, but such inaction doesn’t ring true from a man like Bill. (Contrast it, for example, with Mike and Carol Brady searching the Grand Canyon for their missing offspring: “Bobby! Cindy!”)

Too much restraint is better than over-acting, though, and I doubt the adults’ reactions detracted from the suspense young audience members felt watching these episodes or that satisfaction they took in the final reunion.

Continuity Notes

The twins mention their teacher, Miss Cummings.

Guest Cast

Francisco Torres y Fiero: George J. Lewis. Ana Vicente Casona: Anna Navarro. Carlos Vega: Nacho Galindo. Tio Dichoso: Jay Novello. Maria Vega: Rosa Turich. Lt. Playa: Valentin de Vargas. Sacristan: Julian Rivero. Ricardo: Johnny Aladdin. Captain: Tom Hernandez. Sergeant: Jose Haas.

Valentin de Vargas, who died last year, had roles in some well known movies, including Touch of Evil, Hatari, and The Magnificent Seven.

George J. Lewis’ most memorable role was probably his appearance as Don Alejandro in Walt Disney’s Zorro series. His work in films as a bit player, often uncredited, was prodigious–in 1944 alone, he appeared in approximately 20 films.

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 20, “Lost in Spain, Part 2,” 2/17/1969

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Written by: John McGreevey. Directed by: Charles Barton.

We start this episode with a brief review of previous events, which culminate with Buffy and Jody alone on a bus in Spain.

Yikes.

Yikes.

Mr. French is desperately trying to explain the situation to a woman at the bus station, but the language barrier interferes.

He's relieved to see a familiar face, Tio Dichoso, but he soon learns once again that Tio Dichoso's grasp of English is quite limited.

He’s relieved to see a familiar face, Tio Dichoso, but he realizes once again that Tio Dichoso’s grasp of English is quite limited.

Sensing French’s alarm, Dichoso hurries off to find an English-speaking friend.

Meanwhile, when the bus stops to admit a passenger, Buffy and Jody try to get assistance from the bus driver.

Meanwhile, when the bus stops to admit a passenger, Buffy and Jody try to get assistance from the driver.

He can’t speak their language, but his irritation comes through loud and clear.

The dejected twins return to their seat.

The dejected twins return to their seat.

This shot features some nice shaky camera work, which conveys both the motion of the bus and helplessness the kids feel.

Blissfully unaware of all that is happening, Bill is enjoying a Sunday afternoon with his Spanish senorita, Ana.

Blissfully unaware of all that is happening, Bill is enjoying a Sunday afternoon with his Spanish senorita, Ana.

She’s taken him to her favorite place in Barcelona, a market area where gypsies recite sappy love poetry.

Bill's Spanish comprehension is impressive--he can correctly translate such words as "murmur" and "flame" in the poem.

Bill’s Spanish comprehension is impressive–he can correctly translate such words as “murmur” and “flame.”

He says the poem–which ends with, “Love is a tear”–is very said.

Ana laughs, saying it's "very Spanish."

Laughing, Ana replies that it’s “very Spanish.”

Cissy’s also off having fun with a new love interest.

She's excited to see that this youth hangout is just like ones at home.

She’s excited to see that this youth hangout is just like ones at home.

Ricardo sees some friends but declines to join them, even though Cissy says talking with his friends would help her improve her Spanish.

Talking with his friends would also probably reveal the secret Ricardo has been keeping.

Of course, talking with his friends would also probably reveal the secret Ricardo has been keeping.

When the twins’ bus reaches Sitges, they disembark.

The driver demands their tickets and can't understand their explanation that Mr. French has the tickets.

The driver demands their tickets and can’t understand their explanation that Mr. French has them.

Instead of showing any concern for these kids, who are alone and clearly out of place, the angry driver stalks off.

Back in the marketplace, Bill is buying flowers for the "senorita hermosa."

Back in the marketplace, Bill is buying flowers for the “senorita hermosa.”

The flower seller wishes him good luck. When Ana translates the sentiment, Bill says he understood it.

Come on, Ana, he knows “murmur” and “flame”–don’t patronize him!

In the cafe, Ricardo is introducing Cissy to churros, which she soon realizes are similar to doughnuts.

Ricardo says dunking them is mandatory--"a king set the fashion."

Ricardo says dunking them is mandatory–“a king set the fashion.”

I’ve read several articles on the history of churros and haven’t come upon a reference to this. Can anyone shed any light?

Meanwhile, Buffy and Jody come upon a nun with a friendly face and hope that she can help them.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Jody see a nun with a friendly face and hope that she can help them.

She’s apparently supervising a school trip, and Buffy and Jody get swept up with the other children. Soon they are on another bus.

Realizing that the nun doesn’t speak English, Buffy says they’d better get off the before it takes them someplace else.

“It looks like we’re already someplace else,” Jody sighs.

When the bus stops, they try to get off, but this driver can't communicate with them, either.

When they try to get off, the uncomprehending bus driver orders them to their seats.

Back in San Juan, French is relieved when Tio Dichoso’s bilingual friend arrives.

French is relieved when Tio Dichoso arrives with his bilingual friend, who calls the Sitges station and learns the bus just arrived.

The interpreter calls the Sitges station and learns the twins’ bus is there.

The driver remembers the kids, but when he and the station manager look for them, they come up empty-handed.

The driver remembers the kids, but when he and the station manager look for them, they come up empty-handed--except for the twins' picnic basket.

The belongings they left on the bus are the only trace of Buffy and Jody.

The translator breaks this alarming news to French, who insists on going to search for them himself.

“Don’t you understand?” he cries. “The children were in my charge. Mr. Davis entrusted me with their care.”

The translator breaks this alarming news to French, who insists on going to search for them himself.

It will be three hours before another bus leaves for Sitges, so the translator offers to drive French.

When we next see Buffy and Jody, some time has passed.

It's growing dark, and they have fallen asleep.

It’s growing dark, and they have fallen asleep.

When they wake up, the driver has stepped away from the bus and left them alone.

Having no idea where they are, the twins get off the bus and look for help.

Having no idea where they are, the twins get off the bus and look for help.

They try knocking on the door of a nearby building but don’t get an answer.

"I don't like this place," a nervous Buffy tells her brother. "It's too, too...you know?"

“I don’t like this place,” a nervous Buffy tells her brother. “It’s too, too…you know?”

Too much like a studio lot, maybe?

The twins decided to walk on.

The twins decide to walk on.

I guess no one ever told them that when you’re lost it’s better to stay in one place.

Back in Barcelona, Bill and Ana return from their date to find Cissy and French looking grim.

Back in Barcelona, Bill and Ana return from their date to find Cissy and French looking grim.

Cissy breaks the news that the twins are lost, and Bill is alarmed to learn that it’s been nine hours since the Sitges bus took them away.

A fearful and remorseful French says they have been the worst nine hours of his life.

A fearful and remorseful French says these have been the worst nine hours of his life.

He adds that the area around the Sitges station has been searched thoroughly.

(This scene is confusing. French does not mention that he went to Sitges himself to look for the kids. He must have done so, though, because he now has the picnic basket they left on the bus.)

A shaken Bill decides that they should notify the Barcelona police, and Ana makes the call for him.

A shaken Bill decides that they should notify the Barcelona police, and Ana makes the call for him.

As night falls, Buffy and Jody are getting tired, hungry, and even more scared.

As night falls, Buffy and Jody are getting tired, hungry, and even more scared.

When they come upon a church, they hope that perhaps a minister is inside.

“Ministers help people,” Buffy notes.

Jody rings a bell, but no one answers.

Jody rings a bell, but no one answers.

The twins decide to enter the church anyway.

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Looking around, they see no one at first.

Then they see something that terrifies them…

It seems that nothing in their church-going experiences has prepared them for the sight of this hooded figure approaching.

…a hooded figure approaching.

I don’t blame them–I’d be scared, too.

I'd be scared, too.

As the figure comes closer, their eyes grow wider.

They they take off running at quite a clip.

Then they take off running at quite a clip.

Eventually, they stop and determine that “it” isn’t following them. When Buffy asks what “it” is, Jody says he thinks it’s “something there aren’t any of.”

Unfortunately, they miss seeing that the apparition is just a man, who might have been able to help them.

Unfortunately, they miss seeing that the apparition is just a man, who might have been able to help them.

Buffy and Jody keep walking, inadvertently making their trail harder and harder for would-be rescuers to follow.

Meanwhile, an officer from the Barcelona police has shown up at Bill's place.

Meanwhile, an officer from the Barcelona police has shown up at Bill’s place.

On the plus side, this guy can speak English. On the minus side, he’s really annoying.

He discourages Bill from going to look for the kids, saying that he should leave the matter to professionals.

He discourages Bill from going to look for the kids, saying that he should leave the matter to professionals.

He cheerfully notes that lost children are not uncommon, and that a family in the countryside is probably caring for the kids and keeping them safe.

Bill tries to emphasize the situation’s urgency–these kids are only seven years old and can’t speak the language.

Geez, they’re still seven? They were six two and half years ago!

Never has one of Bill's head rubs signaled such worry and frustration.

Never has Bill had better cause for one of his head rubs.

In the countryside, Buffy and Jody’s travels bring them to a farm.

Buffy and Jody's travels bring them to a farm.

In an awkward bit of dialog, Jody recognizes a structure as a barn because he has seen a picture of one in his geography book.

Looking inside, they discover that the barn has an occupant.

Buffy wonders if cows hurt people, but Jody tells her she is thinking of bulls.

Buffy wonders if cows hurt people, but Jody tells her she is thinking of bulls.

Jody finds a place for them to sleep and tries to reassure that the barn probably only seems spooky at night.

Jody finds a place for them to sleep and tries to reassure his sister that the barn probably only seems spooky at night.

They are both sure that Uncle Bill will find them in the morning.

They day's events have left them wary enough that they hide themselves under the hay before going to sleep.

They day’s events have left them wary enough that they hide themselves under the hay before going to sleep.

When dawn breaks, the farmer’s wife enters the barn to milk the cow.

She doesn't notice the kids, who get up as soon as she leaves.

She doesn’t notice the kids, who get up as soon as she leaves.

Hungry and thirsty, they hope to get milk from the cow, but Jody doesn't know 'how to turn it on."

Hungry and thirsty, they hope to get milk from the cow, but Jody doesn’t know ‘how to turn it on.”

When they hear someone coming, the twins scurry back to their hiding place.

It's the farmer, who only stays for a minute.

It’s the farmer, who only stays for a minute.

When he leaves, it becomes clear that Buffy is at the end of her rope.

Sobbing, she wonders what will happen if Bill never finds them.

Sobbing, she wonders what will happen if Bill never finds them.

As the episode closes, Jody tries to comfort his sister.

Awww...

Awww…

I’ll offer commentary on this whole three-parter when I blog about Part 3. Look for that installment on Tuesday!

Guest Cast

Bus Driver: Rico Alaniz. Reader: Socrates Ballis. Carlos Vega: Nacho Galindo. Bus Driver: Gilberto Galvani. Senor Las Casas: Ruben Moreno. Ana Vicente Cassona: Anna Navarro. Tio Dichoso: Jay Novello. Sacristan: Julian Rivero. Station Manager: Ben Romer. Nun: Lenore Stevens. Maria Vega: Rosa Turich. Ricardo: Johnny Aladdin.

Whew–that’s a big cast. Most of these performers made their livings playing Hispanic bit parts in movies and television, especially in Westerns.

Ruben Moreno’s most visible film role was as Dustin Hoffman’s father in Little Big Man. He worked as a director and screenwriter as well an actor and is especially well remembered as an acting coach. A former student has set up a Facebook tribute page. Some sources say Moreno was a two-time Academy Award nominee, but I am unable to verify that in the official Academy Award database.

Lenore Stevens was once married to actor Richard Mulligan.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 19, “Lost in Spain: Part 1,” 2/10/1969

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Sorry for my recent hiatus from posting. To make up for it, I hereby promise to get all three “Lost in Spain” episode summaries posted by Christmas. Some of them might even be posted on Fridays!

Written by: John McGreevey. Directed by: Charles Barton.

We open this week in the Davis living room, where Cissy is dealing with a major problem.

 

She has lost her loose-leaf notebook.

She has lost her loose-leaf notebook.

Uncle Bill tells her not to worry about it since a new semester is starting. The kids have been on a long holiday break, during which they apparently visited Connecticut.

Jody wants to take this hornets nest that he found on vacation to school.

Jody wants to take this hornets’ nest from Connecticut to school.

Bill quickly puts the kibosh on that plan, and French leads the kids in what he describes as a post-holiday ritual.

He makes them line up and parade out the door. I don't blame Cissy for rolling her eyes.

He makes them line up and parade out the door. I don’t blame Cissy for rolling her eyes.

Bill heads to work, where some potential clients coax him to take on a challenging project.

They praise the work Bill's firm did on an aqueduct in Iran and a dam in Pakistan.

They praise the work Bill’s firm did on an aqueduct in Iran and a dam in Pakistan.

The new project would require going to Spain for at least three months, and Bill is reluctant to leave the kids.

The would-be clients seem taken aback that an unmarried man has kids.

The would-be clients seem taken aback that an unmarried man has kids, so Bill has to give a quick summary of the family back-story.

The Spanish businessmen ask if Bill would take the project if they could find a way to keep the family together while it’s under way. He agrees, and they seal the deal with a handshake.

At home that evening, the kids are bubbling with news about school.

Not surprisingly, Cissy is bubbling the most.

Not surprisingly, Cissy is bubbling the most.

She has been named to the school paper staff. There’s also a new boy named Ken Dawson in her class. “Alphabetically, he can’t ignore me,” Miss Davis enthuses.

The conversation's tone changes dramatically when Bill announces that a new project might require spending three months in Barcelona.

The conversation’s tone changes dramatically when Bill announces that a new project requires spending three months in Barcelona.

The kids are sad at the thought of Bill leaving, but they understand that he should take the job if it’s an important one.

“A man has to do his job,” Jody notes.

Bill surprises them with the news that they will be accompanying him to Spain.

French is pleased to be included in the trip, but the thought of closing up the apartment and preparing for everyone's departure in one week sends him into near-hysterics.

French is pleased to be included in the trip, but the thought of closing up the apartment and preparing for everyone’s departure in one week sends him into near-hysterics.

Bill doesn’t take this dither too seriously. “It will be a big adventure for you,” he tells French in an amusingly off-hand way.

 

We next see the family arriving at the swank digs Bill's clients have secured for the family.

We next see the family arriving at the swank digs Bill’s clients have secured for the family.

French praises the house as “attractive in the Spanish manner,” and Buffy and Jody like the courtyard.

When they see the fountain, they regret not bringing their fish to live in it.

When they see the fountain, they regret not bringing their fish to live in it.

I thought the Davis family had given up on fish.

While French scurries off to the kitchen to examine the “culinary devices,” the other family members meet the tutor Bill’s clients have engaged for the kids.

Oh, dear--she's pretty. I know how Bill will be spending his non-working hours in Spain.

Oh, dear–she’s pretty. I know how Bill will be spending his non-working hours in Spain.

Soon, Buffy and Jody are betraying signs of sleepiness.

They resist taking a nap, but Ana tells them that everyone in Spain takes an afternoon siesta.

They resist taking a nap, but Ana tells them that everyone in Spain takes an afternoon siesta.

The idea of a siesta appeals to them. “It’s naps we don’t like,” Jody explains.

After they rest, the kids accompany French to an outdoor food market.

After they rest, the kids accompany French to an outdoor food market.

French wants to purchase a standing rib of beef (lean, but not too lean). He soon makes a shocking discovery, however–people in Spain speak Spanish!

The saleslady can't understand a word he says.

The saleslady can’t understand a word he says.

“It’s incredible!” French gasps.

Those annoying foreigners, always speaking their own languages in their own countries.

These annoying foreigners, always speaking their own languages in their own countries.

She runs off to get her husband, who greets French in English.

"What a joy to hear English spoken again," French sighs.

“What a joy to hear English spoken again,” French sighs.

(I’m glad French is British, so we don’t have to claim him as an ugly American.)

As it turns out, “Good afternoon, sir,” is the limit of the male clerk’s English. Giving up on the beef, French points to the lobsters in front of him.

“Cuantas?” the clerk asks, leaving French at a total loss again.

(Good grief, French, it even sounds like quantity! And what would he be asking you at this point in the transaction?)

Even “uno, dos, tres,” doesn’t ring any bells for French, until the man repeats the words while holding up the appropriate number of fingers.

French manages to obtain four lobsters, but the prospect of going through this each day daunts him.

“One will go completely crackers,” he groans. (Maybe one should have picked up a Spanish phrase book before one left New York.)

Later, Bill requests coffee, but French hasn't managed to acquire any.

Later, Bill requests coffee, but French hasn’t managed to acquire any.

He has, however, brought tea from New York.

“One is entitled to a few creature comforts when stationed in an alien land,” French tells an amused Bill.

When French leaves, Cissy tries to find out if Bill finds Ana attractive.

When French leaves, Cissy tries to find out if Bill finds Ana attractive.

(As if there is any doubt.)

Bill’s not the only one turning on the irresistible Davis charm in Spain, though.

Just then, a delivery man arrives at the door with flowers for Senorita Davis.

Just then, a delivery man arrives at the door with flowers for Senorita Davis.

He says they are from a secret admirer, and he insists on handing them directly to Cissy.

She's delighted, of course, but Bill wonders why the delivery guy is hanging around for so long.

She’s delighted, of course, but Bill wonders why Ricardo is hanging around for so long.

Ricardo says that the Davis family should have a guide to show them around Barcelona.

“If I ever need one, I guess I can get one,” replies Bill, who is full of dismissive quips this week.

Ricardo offers his services, though he dodges a question about his experience. He’s lived in Barcelona his whole life, he says, and he can show them the Museum of Fine Art, the Archaeology Museum, the Picasso Gallery, the zoo, the aquarium, the Passeig de Gracia for shopping, Montserrat, and more.

(This is making me want to go to Barcelona.)

Bill, who has figured out that Ricardo is Cissy’s “secret admirer,” agrees that the pair can do some sight-seeing–as long as Bill goes with them.

Neither Bill nor Cissy seems to notice how much trouble Ricardo has supplying his last name when they ask.

Hmm...I think we've got a little mystery developing here.

Hmm…I think we’ve got a little mystery developing here.

After Ricardo leaves, Cissy gushes about how good looking her suitor is.

The scent of romance in the air apparently inspires Bill to make his move on the kids' tutor.

The scent of romance in the air soon inspires Bill to make his move on the kids’ tutor.

He asks if she can help him brush up on his Spanish.

This tutoring session will take place Sunday over dinner.

This tutoring session will take place Sunday over dinner.

As she is heading out the door, Ana runs into Ricardo.

She recognizes him and knows that the last name he gave the Davises is false.

She recognizes him and knows the last name he gave the Davises is false.

He assures her that he has a good reason for lying and secures her promise to keep his secret.

Soon, Cissy and Bill are off touring with Ricardo.

Soon, Cissy and Bill are off touring with Ricardo.

As they visit a museum and a cathedral, Ricardo recites facts that he’s obviously memorized.

A group with an official tour guide follows them from place to place, reciting the same language.

An official tour guide follows them from place to place, reciting the same language to her group.

It's all rather awkward.

It’s all rather awkward.

Over lunch, Cissy asks if all the guides learn from same tour book. Ricardo admits that it seems to be true.

Bill, in dismissive mode again, notes that the book was printed in New York.

Bill, in dismissive mode again, notes that the book was printed in New York.

Ricardo wants them to give him another chance as a tour guide on Sunday. Bill will be busy with Ana, but he gives Cissy permission to go without him.

On Sunday morning, as Bill and Cissy lounge around before their dates, French prepares to take the twins on an outing.

On Sunday morning, as Bill and Cissy lounge around before their dates, French prepares to take the twins on an outing.

They are going to the beach at Sitges, which is about an hour’s bus ride away.

(I guess a plaid suit is French’s version of cabana-wear.)

Ana and Ricardo show up at the same time.

Ana and Ricardo show up at the same time, and Ricardo makes sure that he and Cissy will be heading in the opposite direction from the older couple.

As Bill and Ana prepare to leave, he notes that the twins are in capable hands with French.

He wouldn't be so calm if he knew what was really happening.

He wouldn’t be so calm if he knew what was really happening.

The trip to Sitges requires a bus change, and Buffy forgets Mrs. Beasley on the first bus.

French tells the kids to get on the Sitges bus while he runs back to get the doll.

French tells the kids to get on the Sitges bus while he runs back to get the doll.

Uh-oh.

Before he can get back to the Sitges bus, it takes off with the kids inside.

Before he can get back to the Sitges bus, it takes off with the kids inside.

His inability to speak any Spanish makes it hard for him to explain his problem to anyone at the bus station.

I wonder what this lady makes of a portly English gentleman waving a creepy-looking doll around.

I wonder what this lady makes of a portly English gentleman waving a creepy-looking doll around.

We end this episode in suspense about the twins’ fate.

And we see the episode title on screen--that's a rarity.

Continuity Notes

Bill mentions his brother. Jody mentions his friend Pete. We also get several references to Jody’s penchant for pet turtles.

Guest Cast

Tio Dichoso: Jay Novello. Senor Cabra: Roberto Iglesias. Ana Vicente Cassona: Anna Navarro. Senor Valgo: Alberto Morin. Clerk: Tina Menard. Girl Guide: Maria Grimm. Bus Driver: Saverio LoMedico. Ricardo: Johnny Aladdin.

Anna Navarro gets special billing here, but her career of TV appearances and small film roles (including one in Alfred Hitchcock’s Topaz) is similar to that of many other Family Affair guest actors. One of her more notable TV distinctions is that she played Ponch’s mother on CHIPs. Navarro’s real-life daughter has written a nice remembrance about her.

Jay Novello’s long television career included a recurring role as Mayor Lugatto on McHale’s Navy, as well as several appearances on I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show.

Maria Grimm really got around the Don Fedderson shows. In addition to this Family Affair appearance, she showed up on My Three Sons, To Rome, With Love, and The Smith Family. In the 1970s, she appeared on Villa Alegre, a bilingual kids show on PBS.

Johnny Aladdin--as mysterious as the character he plays in this episode.

Johnny Aladdin–as mysterious as the character he plays in this episode.

I haven’t been able to find out anything about the Johnny Aladdin who appeared in this episode. Online sources seem to mix him up with either a musician born in 1914 or a magician born in 1919. Neither identity seems likely, unless he was very well preserved in 1969. Johnny Aladdin, actor, did appear in the memorable Dragnet episode “The LSD Story”–he played the artist eating paint off his paintbrush.

Saverio LoMedico’s previous Family Affair appearance came in another episode about the twins getting lost.

 

 

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