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.

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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.

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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.

 

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 12, “A Nanny for All Seasons,” 12-23-1968

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

Although it aired just before Christmas, this episode opens on a beautiful day in Central Park. Accompanying the twins, Mr. French encounters his fellow servants.

The nannies...

The nannies…

and the other gentlemen's gentlemen.

and the other gentlemen’s gentlemen.

French’s discomfort around the latter group is obvious. Withers tweaks him about his role as a “children’s supervisor” and then expresses surprise that French still considers himself primarily a gentleman’s gentleman.

It's doesn't help that he's stuck holding Jody's ice cream cone.

It’s especially hard for French to maintain his dignity while he’s stuck holding Jody’s ice cream cone.

The awkwardness continues after he sits down, as he fulfills his function as keeper of jump-ropes, baseball gloves, and other kid paraphernalia.

Mr. Hardcastle observes that children require a great deal of equipment nowadays.

Mr. Hardcastle observes that children require a great deal of equipment nowadays.

“That’s why the other nannies carry enormous handbags,” Withers quips.

Ouch.

Just then, Buffy falls down, and French has to rush to her rescue.

Just then, Buffy falls down, and French has to rush to her rescue.

Miss Faversham gives him some advice about treating skinned knees, and French gets Buffy back on her feet.

Unfortunately, he's left holding Mrs. Beasley.

Unfortunately, he’s left holding Mrs. Beasley when Buffy returns to her game.

French isn’t amused.

His frenemies find it all quite amusing.

His frenemies are, however.

Back at home, Cissy has emptied her whole closet in search of a perfect date dress.

When Buffy and Jody return, they tell her that French made them walk 10 paces ahead of him all the way home.

When Buffy and Jody return, they tell her that French made them walk 10 paces ahead of him all the way home.

They also give Cissy some advice about her dress, encouraging her to pick a blue one since blue is her favorite color. Cissy notes that her date’s favorite color is yellow. “Let him wear yellow,” Buffy replies.

French, on the other hand, refuses to offer any advice. Choosing a teenager’s clothes is neither his forte nor his responsibility, he announces coldly.

The kids are left wondering what they did to make him mad.

 

When Bill comes home, Cissy describes how French growled at her "like an old bear."

When Bill comes home, Cissy describes how French growled at her “like an old bear.”

Bill doesn’t know what’s wrong with French, but he does make a quick decision on the clothing front, choosing a green suit for Cissy.

That night, the twins present themselves to French for a bedtime story.

That night, the twins present themselves to French for a bedtime story.

French has news for them–he doesn’t read bedtime stories anymore. He suggests that the twins read to each other.

Apparently, he's never noticed that these kids have some limitations when it comes to reading.

Apparently, he’s never noticed that these kids have some limitations when it comes to reading.

After Jody makes a few attempts to sound out “abductors,” the twins agree to forgo a bedtime story completely. They ask French to tuck them in, but he’s not doing that anymore, either.

Buffy tucks Jody in herself, which is sweet.

Buffy tucks Jody in herself, which is sweet.

Then Jody realizes that Buffy has no one to tuck her in.

He feels it's his duty as a gentleman to get back up and do it himself.

He feels it’s his duty as a gentleman to get back up and do it himself.

Later, when Bill gets home, he tells French that the kids are wondering about his behavior.

Here's a conversational tip from Uncle Bill: Defuse any tension in a conversation by vigorously scratching at your ear the whole time.

Here’s a social tip from Uncle Bill: Defuse any tension in a conversation by vigorously scratching at your ear the whole time.

French says he is proud of his profession as a gentleman’s gentleman, which his father and grandfather also held. He’s “exceedingly unhappy as a nanny,” however. (I wonder if French would have liked the term “manny.” Probably not.)

He feels he has to adopt a different approach to his work, even if the kids don’t like it. Bill agrees that French should do his job in whatever way that makes him comfortable.

When we next see French, he’s entertaining a visitor–Miss Faversham.

She's bowing out of the weekly poetry reading they usually attend--her employers are letting her go and she needs to devote her time to finding a new position.

She’s bowing out of the weekly poetry reading they usually attend–her employers are letting her go and she needs to devote her time to finding a new position.

French is shocked about her dismissal, but she accepts it as the lot of a nanny–the better she does her job, the sooner the children are able to function without her. She points out that French is more fortunate–when the Davis children grow up, he will still have a place with Uncle Bill.

In the park the next day, French’s peers tease him about which bench he will choose–the one with the nannies or the one with the “good lads.”

French asserts that he's merely taking a walk in the park, and the fact that Buffy and Jody have accompanied him is a matter of "supreme indifference" to him.

French asserts that he’s merely taking a walk in the park, and the fact that Buffy and Jody have accompanied him is a matter of “supreme indifference” to him.

Withers welcomes him back into the fold.

When the twins get home (winded from walking 10 paces ahead of French again), they tell Bill that French made an abrupt decision to visit Miss Faversham.

When the twins get home (winded from walking 10 paces ahead again), they tell Bill that French made an abrupt decision to visit Miss Faversham.

French finds the nanny packing her things.

She lays it on a bit thick here: "Photos of so many children...letters from the few who remember..."

“Photos of so many children…letters from the few who remember…”

He says he was worried that he wouldn’t see her again and invites her out to dinner. She says that getting to know him has been one of the greatest pleasures of her current situation.

Get a room, you two!

Before leaving for dinner, he feels Bill out about Miss Faversham and whether his employer finds her as agreeable as French himself does.

Before leaving for dinner, French feels Bill out about Miss Faversham and whether his employer finds her as agreeable as French himself does.

It’s nice to see French going out and Bill staying home with the kids for a change. (He’s reading to the twins because another book has defeated them. I’m almost 100 percent sure it’s this Whitman Tell-a-Tale book, which should be easy for third-graders.)

At dinner, French tells Miss Faversham how much he will miss her. She reveals that she’s interviewed with a new family with young children. The mother has “queer ideas about discipline” that she’s picked up from magazines, but Miss F is prepared to set her right.

He's shocked that she's willing to start over with another family and set herself up for another heartbreak.

He’s shocked that she’s willing to start over with another family and set herself up for another heartbreak.

She should have her own home and someone to look after her, he says, pointedly. And she calls him Giles. Whoa.

Miss Faversham says that it’s too late for her to change. She’s already raised more than 20 children, and someday she may raise some of their children. She obviously believes taking care of children is a special calling, and she notes that it’s one she and French share.

Returning home, French “tucks in” the sleeping twins.

 

These scenes feature the Violins of Emotional Resonance, which are usually only deployed for Uncle Bill.

These scenes feature the Violins of Emotional Resonance, which are usually only deployed for Uncle Bill.

In the park the next day, French is back to holding the twins’ things.

Showing a new appreciation for his role as caregiver, he even chooses to sit with the nannies.

Showing a new appreciation for his role as caregiver, he even chooses to sit with the nannies.

(And don’t worry, Miss F fans: We learn that she has secured a new job in the same neighborhood.)

Commentary

I like the way this episode doesn’t spell everything out for the viewer. Thoughts and motivations are murky at times. Was French thinking of proposing to Miss Faversham? Or, as a commenter on IMDB.com suggests, giving up his job so that she could have it? Did she sense what he had in mind and purposely deflect it? In any case, it’s a sweet episode, and it gives Sebastian Cabot many good Frenchisms to utter and a chance to show some range.

This episode is a little jarring after the previous one, in which French was prepared to take total responsibility for the kids. But I can fanwank that his embarrassment about taking such a demonstrative stand made him want to distance himself from the children a little bit.

Guest Cast

Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. Miss Talmadge: Nora Marlowe. Mr. Withers: Richard Peel.  Miss Alcott: Merri Wood-Taylor.

We’ve seen all the members of this British brigade before. We won’t see them all again, though: This was the final Family Affair appearance for Marlowe, Peel, and Wood-Taylor.

Fun Facts

Miss Faversham’s favorite poet is Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

 

Random fashion observation: When she's not wearing it, Miss Faversham's hat could function as a toilet paper roll cover.

Random fashion observation: When she’s not wearing it, Miss Faversham’s hat could function as a toilet paper roll cover.

 

 

 

 

Spin Again Sunday: Apple’s Way (1974)

apple box

Remember the TV show Apple’s Way? I do, just barely. Earl Hamner created it as a modern take on the family themes that The Waltons explored so successfully.Wikipedia tells me that the Apple family followed that 1970s dream of ditching the urban rat race and retreating to the country.

The set is the main thing that impressed me as a child: The Apples’ house had a cool interior and a working mill outside. Also, I remember one episode in which the little boy got hit by a car. At least, I think I remember that–my memory for TV details is notoriously unreliable.

The show lasted two short seasons, which was enough to launch a board game. The box seems to overstate things a bit, though, when it says, “From the popular TV show.”

Today’s Game: Apple’s Way.

Copyright Date: 1974.

Manufacturer: Milton Bradley.

Box: A photo of the cast–including Ronny Cox as the dad and Vince Van Patten as the older son–superimposed on an attention-getting hot-pink background. Kristy McNichol played the younger daughter in the second season, replacing actress Frannie Michel. A Van Patten and Kristy McNichol…yep, this is a 1970s family drama. (Thanks to commenter Matt for pointing out my mistake in the first version of this posting.)

Recommended Ages: 7 to 15.

Object: Be the first to match all your cards.

apple board

Game Board: Old-timey drawings of the mill alternate with color photos from the series.

This close-up from the board shows that the Apples had a lamb.

This close-up from the board shows that the Apples had a lamb.

They also had a dog, apparently.

They also had a dog, apparently.

And dinnerware that resembles Corelle.

And dinnerware that resembles Corelle.

Game Pieces: Players move standard plastic pawns. Green and yellow cards show the Apple family engaging in typical activities at home and in the community.

Life for the Apples was a never-ending whirlwind of excitement.

Life for the Apples was a never-ending whirlwind of excitement.

Game Play: Players get four yellow cards at the start. They move around the board and try to land on the picture spaces, where they can pick up green cards. The goal is to get green cards that match the numbers and activities on the yellow cards. Manufacturers add a few wrinkles to make things more interesting. For example, a player must announce whether he’s looking for a “Home” or “Away” card before he chooses a green card. If he gets the type of card wrong, he has to show the card to all the other players before putting it back in its pile.

My Thoughts: On the plus side, I always like a TV game that includes color photos from the show.

This isn’t the most exciting game in the world, but it does seem to match the excitement level on the show, judging from this–the most boring TV opening imaginable:

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

The Waltons

The Patty Duke Game

Happy Days

 

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 11, “Ciao, Uncle Bill,” 12-16-1968

VTS_01_6.VOB_000489582

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

Our episode opens with Buffy and Jody waiting in the lobby for the mailman.

They are waiting for a letter from Uncle Bill, who is on Rome in business.

They are expecting a letter from Uncle Bill, who is on Rome in business.

When the letter arrives, however, it seems that Bill has more than business on his mind.

Cissy reads to them about Lucianna, whose father is Bill's prospective client. Lucianna, who lives in a villa, has been showing Bill the Roman sights.

Cissy reads to them about Lucianna, whose father is Bill’s prospective client. Lucianna, who lives in a villa, has been showing Bill the Roman sights.

Cissy explains to the kids that a villa is “better than a house but not as good as a palace.” She also has to explain that Bill’s closing,  “Ciao,” means goodbye.

The twins are more worried about what Bill didn't say--anything about when he would be returning.

The twins are more worried about what Bill didn’t say–anything about when he would be returning.

Soon we get to see what’s keeping Bill in Rome.

Lucianna is one of Bill's prettier love interests, but that pile of hair on her head looks as unstable as the leaning tower of Pisa.

Lucianna is one of Bill’s prettier love interests, but that pile of hair on her head looks as unstable as the leaning tower of Pisa.

She and Bill engage in some flirty back-and-forth about whether he really has to leave Italy so soon.

It's enough to disgust the beleaguered waiter, and I don't enjoy it much, either.

It’s enough to disgust the beleaguered waiter, and I don’t enjoy it much, either.

Back at home, the twins overhear French making inquiries about a valet job in another household.

In typical Davis fashion, they assume the worst instead of sticking around to ask questions.

In typical Davis fashion, they assume the worst instead of sticking around to ask questions.

This is the episode's Retreat of Sadness number one.

This is the episode’s first Retreat of Sadness.

They try to tell Cissy their concerns that Bill will decide to marry and stay in Rome.

Cissy's head is full of her new boyfriend, Ken, and she can only blather on about how romantic a double wedding in Rome would be.

Cissy’s head is full of her new boyfriend, Ken, and she can only blather on about how romantic a double wedding in Rome would be.

Jody raises that possibility that Ken won’t propose, especially if he ever sees Cissy in curlers. He also points out that Cissy is very young.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” Cissy responds.

Retreat of Sadness number two.

Retreat of Sadness number two.

Back in Rome, Bill and Lucianna are getting closer.

He worries about their age difference and their short acquaintance, but she assures him that she knows what she wants.

He worries about their age difference and their short acquaintance, but she assures him that she knows what she wants.

That night, both Buffy and Jody are kept awake by fear–fear that Bill will stay in Rome and leave them behind. While Cissy is marrying and picking rosebuds, they will be split up again and parceled out to other relatives–this time for good.

Jody promises to take care of Buffy, a theme that always tugs at my heartstrings.

Jody promises to take care of Buffy, a theme that always tugs at my heartstrings.

Buffy is more realistic, saying that the adults won’t let him.

Luckily, Cissy comes along and sees how upset the kids are.

Luckily, Cissy comes along and sees how upset the kids are.

She assures them that Bill will be coming back in a few days.

"If you don't believe me, ask Mr. French," she adds.

“If you don’t believe me, ask Mr. French,” she adds.

Of course, the kids run off to ask him right away.

He's just a little startled

He’s delighted to see them.

French, too, tries to reassure the kids. The job he was inquiring about was for a friend, he tells them.

When the twins bring up Cissy's impending marriage, she asks where they ever got such an idea.

When the twins bring up Cissy’s impending marriage, she asks where they ever got such an idea.

Yes, Cissy, I wonder.

The next morning, everyone is excited when a cable from Bill arrives.

The next morning, everyone is excited when a cable from Bill arrives.

They expect him to announce when he’s coming home, but instead their fears are realized: Bill is getting married and planning to live in Rome.

Retreat of Sadness number three.

Retreat of Sadness number three.

That afternoon, before the twins get home from school, Bill reaches Cissy by phone.

Heading off to a party with Lucianna's friends, he's a bit short with her.

Heading off to a party with Lucianna’s friends, he’s a bit short with her.

He urges French to start learning Italian so he can manage Lucianna’s household staff.

He doesn't say anything about the kids coming to Italy, however.

He doesn’t say anything about the kids coming to Italy, however.

French and the twins return to find a despondent Cissy, who is convinced Bill is really abandoning them.

French does his best to convince the kids that Bill meant for all of them to go.

French does his best to convince the kids that Bill meant for all of them to go.

He even offers to–gasp!–call Bill and ask him a direct question about the situation. Cissy, however, advises against it.

Eventually, the kids get French to consider the possibility that Bill’s new wife won’t want them around.

French say, in that case, he won’t be going either.

“You mean right away?” Buffy asks.

“I mean at all,” he says, firmly.

He is prepared to take full responsibility for the children himself.

“I won’t see you divided among relatives like so many pieces of Yorkshire pudding!” he cries.

Realizing that he is prepared to take responsibility for them, Buffy cries, “Hooray!” (I do, too. This is a great moment, one of the best in the series.)

 

VTS_01_6.VOB_000797856

Jody immediately starts calling his bemused would-be guardian by a new name: “Uncle French.”

Meanwhile, in Rome, Lucianna is pressing Bill to set a date and start planning the wedding.

In Rome, Lucianna is pressing Bill to set a date and start planning the wedding.

She’s delighted that he plans to bring the kids over for the ceremony.

It will be lovely to get to know them, she says, even if it will only be for a short time.

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

Bill says he thought it went without saying that the kids would live with them.

When Bill won't back down, Lucianna says that she will probably regret this moment in the future.

Soon, it’s clear that neither one of them will budge on this issue.

Back at home, French is making practical plans for supporting the children. The rent is paid on their apartment until the end of the year, he notes. He decides to investigate the valet job opening for himself.

His inability to live in with his potential employer is a deal-breaker, however.

His inability to live in with his potential employer is a deal-breaker, however.

While French looks for work, Cissy and the kids take over some of his domestic duties.

"I'm glad Uncle French is still part of the family," Buffy notes, "but it was nice when he was the clean-up part."

“I’m glad Uncle French is still part of the family,” Buffy notes, “but it was nice when he was the clean-up part.”

French won’t let Cissy quit school to take a job selling hosiery, but Jody does take on a new responsibility.

He takes up dog-sitting, while Buffy tries to help French economize by making her own cupcakes.

He takes up dog-sitting, while Buffy tries to help French economize by making her own cupcakes.

A knock at the door soon changes everything.

Uncle Bill is back!

Uncle Bill is back!

That night, the twins express how worried they were about the family splitting up.

Bill reassures them that it will never happen.

Bill reassures them that it will never happen.

“Well, ciao, everybody,” Bill says, sending the twins back into a panic that he’s saying goodbye again.

French and Cissy explain that ciao, like aloha, can mean hello as well as goodbye.

"Well, say aloha, or say ciao, but don't ever say goodbye," Buffy says.

“Well, say aloha, or say ciao, but don’t ever say goodbye,” Buffy says.

Aww.

Commentary

Episodes that threaten the Davis family unit are always moving, and this is no exception. The commitment that “Uncle French” shows for the children is especially sweet.

It’s interesting to realize that this episode had some parallels to Brian Keith’s own life. In 1969, he would divorce his long-time wife Judith Landon and marry a much younger woman. Victoria Young was, in fact, five years younger than the actress who played Lucianna here.

Parts of this episode also remind of The Parent Trap, with Lucianna in the role of Vicky.

Fun coincidence: Bill and Lucianna eat at Cafe Martinelli. Martinelli's was the parents' special restaurant in The Parent Trap.

Fun coincidence: Bill and Lucianna eat at Caffe Martinelli. Martinelli’s was the parents’ special restaurant in The Parent Trap.

Maybe Lucianna should have tried Vicky’s “Swiss boarding school” plan.

This episode also foreshadows Executive Producer Don Fedderson’s next series. To Rome with Love, which would premier in 1969, starred John Forsythe as a single father raising three girls in Rome. Anissa Jones, Johnnie Whitaker, and Sebastian Cabot would all appear as their Family Affair characters in one 1970 episode of that series. Brioni Farrell, who plays Lucianna here, also appeared in one episode of To Rome with Love.

Inconsistency Alert

This episode’s big dog scares Cissy, but Oliver didn’t. Maybe all the other tension this week increased her anxiety.

Notable Quotes

“Jody, when you’re in love, curlers don’t matter.”–Cissy

“Sometimes I get the feeling that Italy is just one big sidewalk cafe.”–Bill

Guest Cast

Lucianna: Brioni Farrell. Mr. Foster: Gus Edwards. Waiter: Ralph Lanza.

Greek actress Brioni Farrell had a low-key but steady television career through the 1990s.

Edwards would appear once more on Family Affair as the mailman.