Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 30, “Family Portrait,” 4/8/1968

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I hope all the Family Affair fans out there had a great holiday. As we end the year, we’ve also reached the end of the Season 2–whew! I feel like I’ve been recapping this season since 1968. Although this isn’t a holiday episode, it has a warm family feeling that seems appropriate at this time of year.

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

When we look in on Uncle Bill, he’s packing to return home after a trip to Nigeria. After a brief time in New York, he’ll be heading off to either India or Iran. (He pronounces the latter country eye-ran, with the emphasis on the first syllable.)

He pauses to look at the kids' portrait that he has kept near him on his two-month trip.

He pauses to look at the kids’ portrait that he has kept near him on his two-month trip.

Yikes, two months? Don’t you wonder how much he pays French to provide 24/7 childcare for months at a time?

Bill's co-worker reminds him to take along "Toothy"--an absolutely horrifying souvenir for the kids.

Bill’s co-worker reminds him to take along “Toothy”–an absolutely horrifying souvenir for the kids.

French takes the arrival of Toothy better than I would.

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He jokes that he once had a headmaster with “the same insincere smile.” Love those Frenchisms!

Meanwhile, Bill catches up on all he’s missed in two months.

He tells a puzzled Cissy that she looks different. Eventually, he figures out that her hair is different than it looks in the portrait he's been carrying.

He tells a puzzled Cissy that she looks different. Eventually, he figures out that her hair is different than it looks in the portrait he’s been carrying.

Duh, Uncle Bill. That photo is from early Season 1.

Bill also learns that the twins have gone through mumps, they’ve spent a weekend in the Berkshires with French, and Jody’s friend Pete has moved away. (Hmm–is this Peter, Miss Faversham’s charge?)

Also, Buffy's front teeth have finally come in.

Also, Buffy’s front teeth have finally come in.

Bill seems unhappy about missing so much time with the kids.

The next day, as he sends an associate off to Brazil, he announces his decision to stop traveling.

The next day, as he sends an associate off to Brazil, he announces his decision to stop traveling.

His colleague isn’t especially supportive, asking “You, a full-time father?”

The kids are happy to hear Bill's news, though.

The kids are happy to hear Bill’s news, though.

Buffy and Jody start preparing a list of things they want Bill to do with them. Buffy wants to visit the Statue of Liberty. (Fun fact: Mrs. Beasley is very patriotic.) Jody wants to visit a big swamp in “someplace called New Jersey.” They both want to ride the subway all day.

Only one person is underwhelmed by Bill's news.

Only one person is underwhelmed by Bill’s news.

French is especially put out when Bill takes over one of his rituals–reading Winnie the Pooh to the twins.

This is a really cute scene.

This is a really cute scene, French’s discomfort notwithstanding.

In our next scene, we meet Bill’s girlfriend-of-the-week.

Unlike some of the bimbos he brings home, Eileen is great with kids.

Unlike some of the bimbos he brings home, Eileen is great with kids.

When Jody can’t shake hands because he has a splinter in his finger, Eileen takes it out.

Oddly, you get the feeling that if Eileen hadn't come along, no one would have taken it out.

Oddly, you get the feeling that if Eileen hadn’t come along, no one would have bothered to take it out.

She also chides Uncle Bill for not taking the “underprivileged” kids to a drive-in movie, and she suggests that they all plan a picnic together.

She even gives Buffy fashion advice, convincing her that her dress would have a better line if its belt was removed.

She even gives Buffy fashion advice, convincing her that her dress would have a better line if its belt was removed.

Speaking of fashion, Cissy’s orange shift is really cute from the back, with a deep cut-out V.

I have to apologize now–due to a glitch with this DVD, I was not able to get screen captures for the rest of the episode. This is the same file location on the disc that gave me problems with Episode 27. Hopefully, as we move on to a new disc next week, this issue won’t come up again.

Soon, we see that Bill is taking his role as a hands-on parent seriously. He’s taking the twins to school, joining a PTA committee, and urging Cissy to consult him when she makes decisions, even though the decision she made on her own–buying a typewriter with her allowance–is perfectly sensible.

Bill tells French to take it easy while the family is on its picnic with Eileen. French pouts that he’s had too much free time recently. When Bills says he’s just trying to give the kids “the kind of life an ordinary family has,” French wonders if there is a place for him in a ordinary family. (I know one ordinary family that could definitely use him–he could start in the bathroom that I’m due to clean after I finish this recap.)

On the picnic, Jody argues with an obnoxious kid who doesn’t believe his uncle was a globe-trotting bridge-builder. Bill tells the boy that he used to do that kind of work, but now he works in an office. Eileen notices that Bill seems unhappy with his current role and tells him that he should stop trying to be the ideal father. “There’s no such animal,” she says, pointing out that the ideal father for Johnny Smith isn’t the ideal father for Jody Davis.

Bill takes her words to heart. When he returns home and learns that his colleague is having trouble in Brazil, he’s ready to hop on the next plane. He tells the kids that he’ll miss them, but he’ll be happy doing the work he does best. The kids say they’ll be fine as long as they have French. We close the episode with French back in his natural role as Winnie-the-Pooh narrator.

Commentary

Though Family Affair is thought of as a traditional comedy, episodes like this have a progressive message about they many different family structures that can work for kids.

Guest Cast

Eileen Moran: Pippa Scott. Tyler: Ed Deemer. Miss Lee: Betty Lynn. Ward Halsey: John Milford. Boy: Eddie Rosson.

Pippa Scott had roles in a few 1950s movies, including The Searchers and Auntie Mame, but her career mostly revolved around appearances on TV and the New York stage.

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3 thoughts on “Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 30, “Family Portrait,” 4/8/1968

  1. Orschel52 says:

    Doesn’t that picnic lake have a remarkable resemblance to the one from “The Family Outing” episode?

    I wonder whether that “all the way to Yonkers” remark has some specific (idiomatic) meaning – or has “Yonkers” just been picked randomly as a place near New York?

    Well, there’s another disillusion: Whenever I hear one of the FA cast pronounce a word I’m not sure how to pronounce, I’m all “Oh, that’s how!” Now evidently Uncle Bill did not pronounce “Iran” the way it usually is! What, then, is the “standard” pronunciation?

    Wish you a Very Happy New Year and thanks for a splendid Season 2 review!

    • Amy says:

      I think the pronunciation Bill used was common in the past. Now people tend to say eye-rahn or eer-rahn, with the syllable more on the second syllable.

      I think TV shows often referred to Yonkers because it’s a funny-sounding place near New York. That exchange made me wonder where the closest drive-in movie would have been to Manhattan. I would have guessed maybe Long Island. I wish a New York native would chime in on that. (Nowadays, it’s hard to find a drive-in movie anywhere.)

      I hope you have a happy new year, too!

  2. You make a good point about different family structures working for kids.

    Will Eileen make a return in Season 3? I’ll guess I’ll have to stay tuned…! :)

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