Can you believe that networks used to air new episodes on Christmas night? This one isn’t even holiday-themed, although it does score high on the heart-warming scale.
Written by: Ed James. Directed by: Charles Barton.
Coming home from school, Buffy and Jody realize they have a stalker.
The twins want to take him inside, of course, but the building has a no-dogs rule.
Buffy knows that even if they make it their apartment with the dog, they’ll still face a formidable obstacle–Mr. French.
Undeterred, Jody wraps the dog in his jacket.
Upstairs, they sneak past French and head straight for the luxurious Davis bathtub. After the dog’s bath, Buffy observes, he will smell good and everyone will like him better.
Unfortunately, the dog escapes from tub before his bath is over. He heads straight for the living room and a close encounter of the French kind.
“You will capture it and evict it post-haste,” he orders. Meanwhile the dog–which the kids have given the very creative name “Puppy”–is holed up in a cupboard.
Uncle Bill arrives on the scene, and the twins lobby to keep the dog.
When the kids point out that an upstairs neighbor has a French poodle, Mr. French explains that dog is a champion with an impeccable pedigree. As a good, red-blooded American, Bill objects to dog snobbery, but he doesn’t feel he can challenge apartment policy.
Puppy gets the last laugh, though.
Meanwhile, in a threadbare subplot, Cissy is dealing with snobbery, too. A high school social club, the Marvels, has selected her for membership. They won’t accept her underprivileged friend Ingrid, though.
Cissy complains to Uncle Bill about the Marvels. As a social club, he says, they have a right to accept or reject people as they please. He admires Cissy’s conviction, however.
He agrees to approach the apartment manager about keeping the dog and to let the kids entertain Puppy in the meantime.
The snooty kid walking the poodle says his name is Monsieur Cherbourg and he has earned 12 blue ribbons. He also responds to French commands.
The kids still don’t understand why Monsieur Cherbourg has a higher status than Puppy. French decides that taking them to a dog show will enlighten them on the importance of good breeding.
The kids aren’t impressed, but the experience does inspire them to teach Puppy a few tricks.
They have limited success, but it doesn’t really matter. They return home only to learn from Uncle Bill that the apartment manager has vetoed Puppy as a tenant.
Once again, though, Cissy’s example gives him a change of heart.
Bill gets his secretary on the phone and tells her to make arrangements for him to host a dog show in the park. (I’ll bet that assignment made her day.) This dog show will welcome non-pedigreed pups, and real kennel club judges will preside.
At the show, Bill tells French that he’s hoping Puppy will win a prize, which will give Bill more leverage with the apartment manager. French is surprised that Bill didn’t fix the contest outright.
French wonders why Puppy won in three categories (four, actually), then laughs when he realizes that Puppy is “a little bit of each.”
Returning to the apartment building, the kids inform Snooty Poodle Girl that Puppy is a champion.
Next, the family confronts the apartment manager. When he tries to differentiate between Puppy’s champion status and the poodle’s, Bill dares him to explain the difference to the kids.
(He’ll soon have his hands full dealing with other tenants’ ersatz pet show winners, I suspect.)
Buffy and Jody are thrilled that they get to keep Puppy.
The episode ends by driving home the point that all dogs are the same under the fur.
This episode isn’t deep, but it has plenty of cuteness going on. The disturbing thing is that we will never see Puppy again. Best case scenario: He went to live in Connecticut with Rosie the horse. Worse case scenario: He took a Mrs.-Beasley-style swan dive off the terrace.
We get a Scotty sighting and a Miss Lee mention.
Lewis: Richard Bull. Girl: Kym Karath. Mrs. Hobson: Gerry Lock. Scotty: Karl Lukas. Judge: Larry Thor. Ingrid: Terry Burnham.
Bull is best known for playing the beleaguered Nels Oleson on Little House on the Prairie.
Karath makes her second of three Family Affair appearances.
Lock kept acting at least through the early 2000s, mostly in parts like “Old Woman” and “Little Old Lady.”
This Week’s Bonus Feature
This week, I’m presenting another Family Affair collectible–a lunchbox from 1969, manufactured by King Seeley Thermos.