Spin Again Sunday: Family Affair Game (1968)

FA Remco Box

Readers of my Family Affair series should enjoy this Spin Again Sunday entry. I have already blogged about the relatively common Whitman Family Affair board game from 1971. Today, I’ll show you a much harder-to-find treasure.

Today’s Game: Family Affair Game.

Copyright Date: 1968.

Manufacturer: Remco.

Game Box: Its copy tells us this is “an exciting game for 2, 3, or 4 people” that is “based on the exciting CBS TV series.” Remco didn’t need to lay the excitement on so thick–the color photos make this box exciting enough for any Family Affair fan. We see nine cast photos, arranged scrapbook-style around the game’s title.

This image of French is my favorite.

This image of French is my favorite.

Other highlights:

A nice photo of Uncle Bill.

A nice photo of Uncle Bill.

And this one of Buffy and Jody.

And this one of Buffy and Jody.

The edges of the box also feature a photo.

The edges of the box also feature a photo.

With such a great box, it almost doesn’t matter what’s inside…but let’s take a look anyway.

FA Remco BoardGame Board: It’s minimalist depiction of Central Park is a bit of a let down. The bright colors and the drawing style are very 1960s, however.

FA Remco Board Detail 1FA Remco Board Detail 2The game’s cardboard insert is actually more interesting.

These caricatures are pretty well done, although Buffy looks a little generic.

These caricatures are cute, although Buffy looks a little generic.

And Buffy’s doll is completely unrecognizable. Maybe depicting Mrs. Beasley would have brought Remco into conflict with companies licensed to market her?

Game Pieces: The pawns depict the same caricatures that appear on the box insert.

Only Uncle Bill is missing, for reasons that will soon become clear.

Only Uncle Bill is missing, for reasons that will soon become clear.

(Incidentally, I think this artist nailed Jody’s essential derpiness.)

The cardboard caricatures slide into these plastic bases.

The cardboard caricatures slide into these plastic bases.

It’s nice that you don’t have to choose which Davis family member you want to be–each player gets to be all four characters!

Game Play: Players make a simple circuit around the board, and the first “Davis family” to reach home wins.

Uncle Bill is waiting at home for them. Don't you just love his mid-century modern chair?

Uncle Bill is waiting at home. Don’t you just love his mid-century modern chair?

When players come to a Roll Dice square on the board, they must stop and do just that. What happens next depends on the number they roll and where they are in the park. Instructions on the game’s cardboard insert spell things out:

FA Remco InstructionsBesides the “Roll Dice” squares, the board includes a few other spaces that can slow players down or speed them up on their journey to Uncle Bill.

Box Blooper: The instructions on the inside of the lid refer to Cissy as “Sissy.”

My Thoughts: The game play is not very exciting at all, box copy notwithstanding. The photos must have been quite a draw for young Family Affair fans in 1968, though–and Ebay prices show that it is still a draw for fans today.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:

Batman Game

Mork & Mindy Game

Dating Game

Family Affair Flashback: Season 3, Episode 28, “My Man the Star,” 4/14/1969

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Good news, Family Affair fans! Kathy Garver’s book Surviving Cissy is now in stock at Amazon and B&N.com. My copy has already arrived, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. After I do, I’ll be posting a review. To celebrate its release, I am also posting a special edition of Spin Again Sunday tomorrow. Family Affair fans won’t want to miss it!

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

As we reach the end of Season 3, our scene opens at the park.

I wonder how Buffy got Jody and that other boy to hold her jump rope for her.

I wonder how Buffy got Jody and that other boy to hold her jump rope for her.

As the kids play, the nanny and butler crew is having a chat–or a chinwag, as they might say.

Their topic is a recent appearance by "her majesty" on "the telly."

Their topic is a recent appearance by “her majesty” on “the telly.”

We know, we know–you’re British!

Always nostalgic, they quickly transition from talking about Queen Elizabeth II to remembering her grandmother, Mary of Teck.

Always nostalgic, they quickly transition from talking about Queen Elizabeth II to remembering her grandmother, Mary of Teck.

Queen Mary was “a symbol of strength and continuity,” Miss Faversham sighs. (I’m more used to hearing the intervening queen, the late Queen Mother, described that way, but it makes sense that Miss F would have a soft spot for her childhood queen.)

Meanwhile, some onlookers have noticed our quintessentially British servants.

Meanwhile, some onlookers have noticed our quintessentially British servants.

They are especially taken with Mr. French.

He's perfect, they say--"right down to the last whisker."

He’s perfect, they say–“right down to the last whisker.”

When they approach French, he assumes they are salesmen and dismisses them in his inimitable way.

"I would suggest that you be off, post-haste," he huffs.

“I would suggest that you be off, post-haste.”

His high-handedness only endears him to these strangers further. You see, they are movie producers, and they think French would be perfect to play Henry VIII in their upcoming film.

Mr. Hardcastle and Mrs. Marley make some dismissive comments about the producers being “in trade” and movie acting being undignified. Miss Faversham admits that French bears a resemblance to the much-married monarch, however. French utters a few “stuff and nonsense”-type demurrals, but he begins to come around when producer Fred Wallace notes the Queen has knighted many movie actors.

His other friends, also coming around, suggest that French might perform a service to Britain by giving an accurate portrayal of King Henry.

“One must sacrifice oneself in the name of one’s country,” Mrs. Marley argues. “Even one’s dignity.”

When Buffy and Jody arrive on the scene, French realizes he still has an out.

When Buffy and Jody arrive on the scene, French realizes he still has an out–his child care responsibilities will preclude any movie work.

“You’re going to pass up the chance of a lifetime to play nurse to two kids?,” Wallace’s mystified associate asks.

Of course, the kids are all for French doing the movie. They enjoy the idea of living with someone who’s “like Lassie and all the other movie stars.” (Lassie seems like an unlikely reference here, since kids their age would associate the dog with TV rather than movies.)

Mostly, they want to be able to trade French's autograph to their friends for really important things, such as bubble gum.

Mostly, they want to be able to trade French’s autograph to their friends for really important things…such as bubble gum.

Their opinion doesn’t sway French, of course, but when Hardcastle asks what Sir Walter Raleigh or Sir Francis Drake would have done, French weakens.

Back at home, Cissy becomes another enthusiastic cheerleader for French's taking the role.

Back at home, Cissy becomes another enthusiastic cheerleader for French’s taking the role.

“It’s absolutely ideal casting,” she gushes. She even wishes that she could co-star in the film as one of Henry’s wives.

Um…ew.

French admits he would find it appealing to counter farcical depictions of Henry VIII–“the throwing of chicken bones” and all that.

Making one last attempt to resist the cinema's call, French announces that his place is with the Davis family.

Making one last attempt to resist the cinema’s call, French announces that his place is with the Davis family.

Uncle Bill replies that they can spare him for awhile.

It would be a patriotic gesture, Cissy adds, reminding him that “England expects every man to…you know.”

By the time he finally gives in, French seems rather pleased with his new status as an actor.

French finally gives in–he’ll play the part and donate his salary to a British charity.

He doesn’t even pick up on any danger signals when he visits the producers’ offices, but we do.

These guys seem unfamiliar with Shakespeare, and their "wardrobe department" turns out to be a rack in the basement.

These guys seem unfamiliar with Shakespeare, and their “wardrobe department” turns out to be a rack in the basement.

(It may be the Family Affair green walls that make French feel at home and blind him to impending trouble.)

At home, Buffy and Jody are stepping up to handle household tasks that French doesn’t have time for.

You wouldn't expect Bill to hang up his own jacket or put away his own briefcase, would you?

You wouldn’t expect Bill to hang up his own jacket or put away his own briefcase, would you?

And what exactly is French doing?

Getting into character.

Getting into character.

“Is he our Mr. French?” a wide-eyed Buffy wonders.

“Used to be,” Jody replies.

Cissy thinks French looks "beautiful" and Buffy admires his "miniskirt and pantyhose."

Cissy thinks French looks “beautiful” and Buffy admires his “miniskirt and pantyhose.”

Jody adds that he now understands why men grew beards back in the day–so you could tell them from the ladies.

It's a measure of how much French is enjoying himself that this feminization doesn't faze him.

It’s a measure of how much French is enjoying himself that all this emasculation doesn’t faze him.

Later, Bill asks some gentle questions about what kind of production French is working on, since it doesn’t seem to involve a script, rehearsals, or much of a crew.

French says the picture is intended for art houses and tosses around words like "new wave" and "trans-realism."

French says the picture is intended for art houses and tosses around words like “new wave” and “trans-realism.”

He admits he doesn’t know what that last term means, though.

Bill is skeptical.

Bill remains skeptical.

So skeptical that he’s soon calling a friend with entertainment industry connections.

Herb is familiar with Fred Wallace's operation--Wallace is a "shoestring operator" who makes a feature about $2,000 or $3,000 and tries to make a small profit.

Herb is familiar with Fred Wallace’s operation–Wallace is a “shoestring operator” who makes a feature for about $1,500 or $2,000 and tries to turn a small profit.

Wallace probably cast French so he could “save beard money,” Herb adds.

Bill is worried about the final product embarrassing French. He asks Herb if there is any way to screen the film before it’s released, and Herb promises to ask around.

Meanwhile, French is basking in his friends' admiration.

Meanwhile, French is basking in his friends’ admiration.

“Once a gentleman’s gentleman, always a gentleman’s gentleman,” Hardcastle says, and the others agree that success hasn’t changed him a bit.

The women note with excitement that they have organized a premiere that will benefit the British Colonial Society. They even plan to send the Queen a print of the film!

The women note with excitement that they have organized a premiere that will benefit the British Colonial Society. They even plan to send the Queen a print of the film!

Uncle Bill soon gets a look at this production. (Herb made the arrangements through some wheeling and dealing with Wallace.)

Right from the title card, things don't look promising.

Right from the title card, it doesn’t look promising.

It goes downhill from there.

And it goes downhill from there.

For instance, a dance between Henry and Anne Boleyn is sped up and scored with silly music and sound effects. When Henry sings “Greensleeves” to Anne, that’s also accelerated, Chipmunks-style.

And a scene in which the King and Queen watch a performance at court...

And a scene in which the King and Queen watch a performance at court…

...becomes ridiculous when a belly-dancer is edited in as the performer.

…becomes ridiculous when a belly-dancer is edited in as the performer.

How does Bill react to all this?

Not well.

Not well.

Even Herb's experiencing a little second-hand embarrassment.

Even Herb’s experiencing a little second-hand embarrassment.

His theory is that Wallace shot a legitimate version of the Henry VIII story, didn’t like how it turned out, and then “hoked up the film.”

(The biggest hits of 1969 inlcuded Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, and True Grit. Somehow, I can’t imagine that a “hoked up” Tudor film would do well at the box office.)

Wallace disagrees, however, and resists Bill's offer to buy the film from him.

Wallace disagrees, however, and resists Bill’s offer to buy the film from him.

“I smell big money,” he says. “Your Mr. French is funny.”

He’s not sympathetic to Bill’s argument that the movie will humiliate French. And he’s incredulous that Bill is “all worked up over a butler,” though Bill says French is his friend, too. Aww…

Bill threatens to sue Wallace for fraud since French didn’t agree to star in a comedy, but Wallace points out that French’s contract didn’t include script approval.

Wallace is right, it seems to me, but Bill is also right when he says the legal process could strand the film in limbo for a while.

“Sell it to me or don’t sell, and go into court,” he says finally, making Wallace an offer he can’t refuse–$2,000.

On the night of the premiere, everyone is excited.

"Goodbye, Mr. French; hello, star of the cinema," Hardcastle crows.

“Goodbye, Mr. French; hello, star of the cinema,” Hardcastle crows.

Cissy can’t wait to tell all her friends that she knows a movie star.

She seems to be forgetting that she's already met a few.

She seems to be forgetting that she’s already met a few, like Uncle Bill’s friend who almost escorted her to a dance, and the female star Bill almost married, and…

Soon, French comes on stage and makes a stunning announcement.

The film's only existing print has been destroyed in a laboratory fire!

The film’s only existing print has been destroyed in a laboratory fire!

He notes an odd coincidence: It is June 29, the anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Globe Theater in 1613. And the fire started during a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII.”

Since the movie is unavailable, French announces that he will give readings “from that inflammable play.” He starts with Henry’s speech after the birth of Elizabeth.

Buffy and Jody don’t understand the speech, but they enjoy hearing French intone it. And, since their separation anxiety is never far from the surface, they are relieved that French won’t become a big movie star and leave the Davis home.

Cissy likes French’s reading but still wishes she could have seen the movie.

Yes, Bill agrees. That would have really been something...

Yes, Bill agrees…wouldn’t that have been something?

Commentary

As a child, I would have found this episode dull–too much of French’s friends and not enough of the kids. It’s still not really a favorite, but it has its charms: Seeing Bill’s affection for French, seeing French in his costume, and seeing Joe Flynn on Family Affair.

Bill put a high value on protecting French’s feelings–according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $2,000 in 1969 is equivalent to about $13,000 in today’s money.

Bill’s expressions during the movie screening are another highlight.

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Fun fact: French believes he resembles the Hans Holbein portrait of Henry VIII.

Workshop_of_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_-_Google_Art_Project

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What do you think?

Guest Cast

Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. Fred Wallace: Joe Flynn. Herb Donaldson: Del Moore. Mrs. Marley: Margaret Muse. Tony Brooks: Dick Patterson. Actress: Anne Travis.

Joe Flynn is fondly remembered for his role as Captain Wallace ‘Leadbottom’ Binghamton on McHale’s Navy. Like Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot, he also had a strong association with Disney: He appeared in live-action films such as The Love Bug and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and was a voice actor in The Rescuers. The latter film was released three years after his death in 1974; Flynn was only 49 when he drowned in his swimming pool after suffering a heart attack.

Margaret Muse was the third wife of silent film actor Charles Meredith. Her TV appearances included two episodes of Burke’s Law, and she had a family connection with that show’s star, Gene Barry—her son married Barry’s sister.

Dick Patterson’s 1999 obituary describes him as a “song and dance man.” He made several appearances on Broadway in musicals such as Fade Out – Fade In and Smile. As a TV guest actor, he showed up in several episodes each of Love, American Style and Here’s Lucy and two episodes of The Brian Keith Show. On film, he appeared in Grease and Grease II, the campy Village People vehicle Can’t Stop the Music (directed by Season 5 Family Affair cast member Nancy Walker), and Disney’s Strongest Man in the World (1975), in which Joe Flynn starred. (The cast also included three-time Family Affair guest star Benson Fong and Michael McGreevey, son of frequent Family Affair writer John McGreevey.)

Anne Travis’ acting career seems to have been about as successful as Anne Boleyn’s marriage to Henry VIII. As best I can tell, she was in this episode and maybe an episode of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Family Affair Flashback: Season 3, Episode 27, “Flower Power,” 4/7/1969

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Attention Family Affair fans–make sure you check out Rick’s great interview with Kathy Garver on The Classic Film and TV Cafe. And don’t forget: You can pre-order Kathy’s autobiography through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Written by: Cynthia Lindsay. Directed by: Charles Barton.

It’s appropriate that we are flashing back to a fabulous Cissy episode this week. Get ready for vinyl flower stickers, long hair, and dialogue like, “Hang loose, Uncle Bill.” That’s right–we’re about to meet some hippies!

As we look in, Cissy is primping for a date with her latest heartthrob, Garfield Schafer.

Jody tells her that her perfume smells like strawberry ice cream, an observation that doesn't thrill her.

Jody tells her that her perfume smells like strawberry ice cream, an observation that doesn’t delight her.

Everyone is delighted by the appearance of her date, however.

Everyone is thrilled by the appearance of her date, however. Garfield is such a clean-cut, respectable looking boy.

Such a clean-cut, respectable looking boy.

Garfield and Cissy tell Bill that they are going to a nearby movie theater.

“Don’t worry about Cissy,” Garfield says, unprompted and with an urgency that might have led an experienced parent to start worrying.

After the happy couple leaves, Bill, French, and twins comment approvingly about Garfield’s hair. Cissy must have been dating some less conservative guys recently; Bill says it’s often hard to tell her boyfriends from sheepdogs.

“Sheepdogs bark,” Jody notes, showing his usual command of the obvious.

Meanwhile, Garfield and Cissy aren't at a movie theater, and Cissy isn't amused.

Little do they know that Garfield has taken Cissy to a real, live hippie party in the East Village.

(Notice the flower decals on the door? We’ll be seeing a lot more of them.)

Cissy is not amused.

Known what you had in mind, wouldn’t have gone out

“If I had known what you had in mind, I wouldn’t have gone out with you,” she exclaims, primly.

Garfield tells her to quit being a drag because the party’s going to be a gas. Jo-Ann and Myra, the girls who live here, are really out of sight, he promises.

Oh, these kids and their crazy language.

Cissy finally relents and agrees to go inside. What’s the worst that could happen?

Oh, my God, someone's playing the sitar. Run, Cissy, run!

Oh, my God, someone’s playing the sitar. Run, Cissy, run!

Introducing Cissy to Myra and Jo-Ann, Garfield notes that Cissy is “strictly square but she has possibilities.”

"Your life began tonight," Jo-Ann tells Cissy.

“Your life began tonight,” Myra tells Cissy.

Oh, dear. Let’s hope these people people don’t ask her to creepy-crawl someone’s house with them.

Myra greets Cissy by saying, "The word is truth. The song is peace."

Jo-Ann greets Cissy by saying, “The word is truth. The song is peace.”

The smell in the air is, undoubtedly, weed.

Cissy notices that Garfield has left the room, and she gets quite a shock when he returns a few moments later.

"I'm living, baby!" he exclaims from beneath an unfortunate wig.

“I’m living, baby!” he exclaims from beneath an unfortunate wig.

Garfield, it seems, is a “weekend hippie.” He maintains his clean-cut image through the week to avoid family conflict, but at weekend parties, he lets his hair down.

Cissy begins to find the flower children’s lifestyle beguiling (or maybe she’s just experiencing a contact high.)

"I'm beginning to think you're normal and I'm the strange one," she says.

“I’m beginning to think you’re normal and I’m the strange one,” she says.

I’m beginning to think they’re both pretty strange.

Not as strange, though, as these East Coast Manson girls, who begin recruiting Cissy to join their family.

Not as strange, though, as these East Coast Manson girls, who begin recruiting Cissy to join their family.

“We love everybody and everybody loves us,” they say, and Cissy says her Uncle Bill espouses the same philosophy–though admittedly not in the same words.

Myra and Jo-Ann want Cissy to move in with them, even if only on the weekends.

"Do what I please, when I please from Friday to Sunday?"

“Do what I please, when I please, from Friday to Sunday?”

This idea appeals to Cissy, as it would to any teenager, and she determines to raise the issue with Uncle Bill.

First she has to confess to him that she and Garfield went to a party instead of a movie.

But first she has to confess to him that she and Garfield went to a party instead of a movie.

“It was a special party with a special kind of people,” she tells him, which brings him little comfort.

She adds that the the party-goers were doing nothing wrong, despite their “peculiar” appearance.

They’re alive and free. They’re just kids with a point of view that are blowing their minds with music, poetry, and love. Is that so wrong?

“They’re just kids with a point of view, who are blowing their minds with music, poetry, and love. Is that so wrong?” Cissy asks.

Wrong? Not necessarily. Nauseating? Yeah.

Cissy broaches the subject of moving in with the girls, just for one weekend as a trial. If he refuses, Cissy promises she won’t be angry. She knows he has her best interests at heart.

Bill, ever reasonable, agrees to meet Myra and Jo-Ann before making his decision.

Sometimes it really sucks to be a reasonable parent.

Being a reasonable parent sucks sometimes.

Soon, Cissy and Bill find themselves before that flower-bedecked door.

The decor inside, she tells him, is stark and basic and "neo-modern."

Bill’s surprised that door isn’t locked, but personal safety is for squares, apparently.

“You just walk right in. It’s complete freedom,” Cissy gushes.

When they do go in, Bill gets a good reception from Squeaky and her pal.

When they do go in, Bill gets a good reception from Myra.

“He’s cute,” she says. “Square, elderly…but cute.”

An uncomfortable Bill elicits from the girls that they have been living away from their families for two months–“two months in heaven,” according to them.

(Unfortunately, he doesn’t ask the question that would be foremost on my mind: Who’s financing their adventure in “complete freedom”?)

There’s an interruption in the awkwardness when a loud guy barges in looking for a hammer.

Jo-Ann and Myra don't know him, but he's apparently a neighbor and another member of the anti-lock club--he wants the hammer to demolish one someone has placed on his door.

Jo-Ann and Myra don’t know him, but he’s a neighbor and another member of the anti-lock club–he wants the hammer to demolish one someone has placed on his door.

(Random fashion note: Flower decals are not just for home decor, it seems.)

This neighbor is also rude. Catching sight of Bill, he says: “Man, it must be tough to outgrow your membership in the swinging generation.”

You should talk, buddy. If you can't trust anyone over 30, you definitely fall on the untrustworthy side.

You should talk, buddy. If we can’t trust anyone over 30, you definitely fall on the untrustworthy side.

Unsurprisingly, Bill decides he’s had enough of this social call.

Before going, Bill indulges in a very fast and forceful version of his usual chin rub, a move that looks amusingly like Antonin Scalia's favorite gesture.

Before going, he indulges in a very fast and forceful version of his usual chin rub, a move that looks amusingly like Antonin Scalia’s favorite gesture.

Myra and Jo-Ann tell Bill he’s welcome to stop by again…but not on weekends: “It would put out the fire to have old folks sitting around staring us.”

After leaving the apartment, Bill and Cissy discuss the hippies. Bill wonders why Myra and Jo-Ann left home, and Cissy theorizes that they were looking for more freedom and love.

Bill inquires gently whether Cissy feels she's lacking in freedom and love.

Bill inquires gently whether Cissy feels she’s lacking in freedom and love.

She assures him she doesn’t: “I just want to try something different for the experience.”

I’ve heard there was a lot of that going around in the ’60s.

Bill says he trusts Cissy and gives his approval for her psychedelic sleepover.

Surprisingly, French is pretty chill about things, too. They've given Cissy proper training and have to trust her to put it to use.

Surprisingly, French is pretty chill about things, too. They’ve given Cissy proper training, he says, and have to trust her to put it to use.

He does ask what will happen if Cissy likes the hippie life so much she wants to stay away permanently.

“Then we’ll move in and stop her cold,” Bill says, proving that he hasn’t entirely lost his mind.

French even takes a detached view of Cissy’s hippie friends arriving to pick her up for the weekend–he thinks his experience observing strange native customs while on safari with a certain Colonel Bassington will hold him in good stead.

He does take a quick glance toward their feet, however. We know how he feels about proper footwear.

He can’t resist taking a quick glance toward their feet, however. (We know he feels strongly about proper footwear.)

For their part, the flower children love French’s beard.

“It’s super hippie!” they squeal. You can imagine how much he likes that.

In their silly and spacey way, Cissy's friends also seem to like Buffy and Jody.

In their creepy, spacey way, Cissy’s friends also seem to like Buffy and Jody.

“Little people!” they exclaim when as they catch sight of the twins.

Buffy and Jody are excited, too. They think the teens are here for a costume party–a Raggedy Ann party, Buffy surmised based on the girls’ clothes.

"Do you love me?" Jo-Ann asks them.

“Do you love me?” Jo-Ann demands of the twins. In her most sensible moment ever, Buffy replies that they don’t know her.

“Let’s play so we can love each other,” Jo-Ann says. “You must love everyone in whole world.”

Yeah, that’s great advice for kids.

When Cissy is ready to go--and by ready, I mean covered in flower stickers--the hippies are engrossed in a game of jackstraws with the kids.

By the time Cissy is ready to go–and by ready I mean festooned with flower stickers–the hippies are engrossed in a game of jackstraws with the kids.

Mildly exasperated that her worldly new companions are playing childish games, Cissy tells the twins it’s bedtime.

As an aside, I had never heard of jackstraws before watching this episode. I only knew about pick-up sticks, of which jackstraws is apparently a variation. Jackstraws, quoits--were the Family Affair writers referencing unusual games, or did I have narrow game horizons?

As an aside, I had never heard of jackstraws before watching this episode. I only knew about pick-up sticks, of which jackstraws is apparently a variation.

Reluctantly, the twins leave. “I wish we were hippies,” Buffy sighs. “Then we would never have to go to bed.”

As Cissy helps to tuck Buffy in, the hippies keep playing their game.

They invite French to join them, but he says it wouldn't be proper.

They invite French to join them, but he says it wouldn’t be proper.

Mystified, the teens decide that acting like a butler is French’s bag.

“If that’s his thing, I guess he has to do it,” Myra says.

Meanwhile, Buffy is making Cissy promise that she won’t enjoy her weekend so much that she doesn’t want to come back.

While talking with Cissy about her new friends, Buffy remarks offhandedly that she's glad Uncle Bill is not a hippie.

Talking about Cissy’s friends, Buffy remarks offhandedly that she’s glad Uncle Bill is not a hippie.

“He would be so busy talking about love and being free that he wouldn’t have had time for us,” she explains.

"He doesn’t talk about love much. He lives it. I think that’s better."

“He doesn’t talk about love much. He lives it. I think that’s better.”

Anissa Jones’ delivery is guileless enough that these lines don’t hit you over the head too hard.

Methinks someone is having an epiphany.

They do smack Cissy back into reality, though.

Later, French emerges from the kitchen and is relieved to find the teenage group gone.

He asks when Cissy is coming back and Bill shocks him by saying she isn't.

He asks when Cissy is coming back and Bill shocks him by saying she isn’t.

Of course, Bill is just being a scamp. Cissy isn’t coming back because she never left.

She's safe at home, in the Quilted Robe of Conformity, and all is right with the world.

She’s safe at home, in the Quilted Robe of Conformity, and all is right with the world.

“You dig?” Bill asks French, who leaves us with the wonderful closing line, “Indeed, sir…I dig.”

Commentary

This episode is great fun. Of course, the lesson Cissy learns doesn’t bear close scrutiny: Bill certainly enjoyed lots of freedom and love before the kids came into his life, and Cissy probably could have balanced freedom and responsibility, too. But I like the conclusion anyway, probably because I have no desire to see Cissy wear flower decals ever again.

Continuity Notes

We get a reference to Sharon.

Guest Cast

Garfield: Rick Gates. Jo-Ann: Veronica Cartwright. Myra: Diane Roter. Hippie: Jamie Farr.

At this point, Jamie Farr had spent a decade making the guest appearance rounds; among the highlights were four Dick Van Dyke Show outings as a delivery boy. He was just a couple of years away from his career-defining role as M*A*S*H’s Corporal Max Klinger.

Veronica Cartwright is one of those rare child actors who went on to build a solid adult career. It probably helped that she wasn’t identified with any long-term series role (as her sister Angela was with Make Room for Daddy and Lost in Space). She did play Jemima on Daniel Boone for two years and made several appearances as Violet Rutherford on Leave it to Beaver. Even as a child, though, she seemed to have a flair for creepy material—she appeared on The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents and as Cathy in Hitchcock’s The Birds. She continued in this direction as an adult with memorable roles in Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. My fellow X-Files fans will remember her recurring role as Cassandra. The 21st century has found her on other paranormal-themed series such as Invasion, Resurrection, and Eastwick (the latter based on the 1987 film The Witches of Eastwick, in which she also appeared). Currently, she has a role on Amazon’s series Bosch.

Rick Gates was married to Cartwright at the time this episode was filmed. (They would divorce in 1972.) He made scattered screen appearances through the early 1990s, when he gave up acting.

Diane Roter played Jennifer for one season on The Virginian. According to her IMDb bio (which is exhaustive and, one suspects, self-penned), she and Kathy Garver appeared in a play together in 1972. Roter’s screen career ended around 1970, and she’s gone on to work as an acting coach and entertainment journalist.

Family Affair Flashback: Season 3, Episode 26, “The Matter of Dignity,” 3/31/1969

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I apologize for the unplanned hiatus from my Family Affair series. Health issues and a hectic day job put blogging on a back burner for a while. To increase the frequency of these posts, I am trying to cut back on their length, which has ballooned considerably since I started the series (and surely pushes into tl;dr category at times). Also, I’ve changed the series name to abandon the pretext that these posts will always appear on Fridays. I hope to bring them to you every week or two, on whatever day I get the chance.

Teleplay by: Peggy Chantler Dick and John McGreevey. Story by: Peggy Chantler Dick and Douglas Dick. Directed by Charles Barton.

As we open, French is entertaining a fellow gentleman’s gentleman, Alfred Dimsdale. French’s digs impress his old friend.

"This establishment has style," he says. "It's not quite Glenmore Castle, but..."

“This establishment has style,” Dimsdale says. “It’s not quite Glenmore Castle, but…”

He also admires the way French manages the Davis children.

Especially when French opens the door to this.

Especially when French opens the door to this.

The caller’s name is Gopher Resnick, and he has come to see Cissy.

Pay particular attention to the young man's lack of footwear. Walking around the sidewalks of Manhattan in bare feet? Eww.

Pay particular attention to the young man’s lack of footwear. Walking around the sidewalks of Manhattan in bare feet? Eww.

“Whistle for the little bird, man,” Gopher orders French. “I’m ready to fly.”

Such a charmer.

“Is it possible that this Gopher proposes to escort you to a public place?” French asks when Cissy arrives on the scene.

“Is it possible that this Gopher proposes to escort you to a public place?” French asks when Cissy arrives on the scene.

No shirt, no shoes, no date with Cissy, is French’s motto.

“You got something against feet, man?” an aggrieved Gopher asks.

In response, we get an all-time great Frenchism: “Not in their proper place, no. The cradle, the seashore, or the shower.”

In response, we get an all-time great Frenchism: “Not in their proper place, no. The cradle, the seashore, or the shower.”

When Gopher asks if French is “for real,” French assures him he is as real as the Davis front door–which he then closes in his face.

Luckily, Cissy is relieved because she didn't want to go out with Gopher anyway.

Cissy is relieved because she didn’t want to go out with Gopher anyway.

I would have lost all respect for her if she felt otherwise.

Alfred leaves soon after Gopher, but not before meeting Bill and letting him know that he's looking for a position in New York.

Alfred leaves soon after Gopher, but not before meeting Bill and letting him know that he’s looking for a position in New York.

We next see Bill in his office, where he has apparently acquired a new secretary.

Or, judging by her robotic manner of speaking, he has built one.

Or, judging by the secretary’s robotic manner of speaking, built one.

She gives him his mail, which includes this shocking missive:

Oh, my.

At home, Bill shows the letter to French.

French apologizes to Bill, but Bill says there's no need--the letter is obviously the work of a "sick mind."

French apologizes to Bill, but Bill says there’s no need–the letter is obviously the work of a “sick mind.”

The sick mind is soon at work again.

This time Cissy is the recipient of its ravings.

This time Cissy is the recipient of its ravings.

She heads straight to Uncle Bill, who informs her about the letter he received.

Cissy has a hunch about the culprit.

Cissy has a hunch about the culprit.

She thinks the shoeless wonder felt disrespected by French and is trying to get him fired.

Nobody puts Gopher in a corner, I guess.

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Cissy heads to what is obviously the hippie section of Central Park.

But Gopher has only a vague recollection of French as “the cat with the beaver and the hangup about shoes.”

He’s been preoccupied thinking about his new girlfriend, Jenny.

She's a better match for him than Cissy would be, certainly.

She’s a better match for him than Cissy would be, certainly.

Meanwhile, Bill is putting his number one suspect to the test.

He offers Dimsdale French's position, adding that rumors from England have persuaded him to dismiss French.

He offers Dimsdale French’s position, adding that rumors from England have persuaded him to dismiss French.

Dimsdale urges Bill to ignore rumors and turns down the job–he only like children from a distance and wants to work for an uncomplicated bachelor.

That let’s him off the hook.

At home, Jody gets the mail and lets Buffy open an unaddressed, unstamped letter. Cissy enters the room as Buffy is reading it.

When Buffy asks her what "set his cap" means, Cissy reacts with such shock that you'd think Buffy asked her to explain "throbbing member" or something.

When Buffy asks her what “set his cap” means, Cissy reacts with such shock that you’d think Buffy asked her to explain “throbbing member” or something.

This third letter is more detailed in its accusations.

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Showing the letter to French, Cissy bubbles with anger about the person spreading lies.

To her surprise, French says the message is true.

To her surprise, French says the message is true.

Lord Glenmore did dismiss him with cause. He was lucky that Bill hired him shortly thereafter on the basis of an interview, without checking references.

Cissy's opinion of French takes such a nosedive that she doesn't want him to take the twins to the park--she insists on taking them herself.

Cissy’s opinion of French takes such a nosedive that she doesn’t want him to take the twins to the park–she insists on taking them herself.

Just how young is she imagining that “Lord Glenmore’s young daughter” was?

At the park, she runs into Miss Faversham and Alfred Dimdale's sister Alice, another nanny.

At the park, she runs into Miss Faversham and Alfred Dimdale’s sister Alice, another nanny.

When they ask where French is, Cissy says she’s going to be taking more responsibility for the children.

(As a knitter myself, I watched this scene closely to see if Heather Angel is actually knitting. She’s doing something with the needles, but it looks awkward.)

At home, Cissy pours her heart out to Bill.

At home, Cissy pours her heart out to Bill.

“What kind of man is Mr. French?” she wonders.

Bill replies that French is intelligent and honest, and that there has to be more to the Glenmore story than it seems.

They get interrupted by the twins, who have sensed how worried Bill and Cissy are.

They get interrupted by the twins, who have sensed how worried French, Bill and Cissy are.

They are tired of being told that nothing is wrong.

Bill says that three people worrying is enough for one family, so they should let the older people handle it. The twins agree and secure Bill’s promise to tell them when it’s time to start worrying.

Bill goes to see French and listens as his French confirms again that the letter is true. When French offers to quit, Bill goes into mock-annoyed mode.

"Don't start talking about leaving!" he grumbles.

“Don’t start talking about leaving!” he grumbles.

He lets French know that he still doesn’t believe the letter writer. French, who is obviously moved by him employer’s faith in him, says that is his privilege.

Bill then joins a still-brooding Cissy for another conversation.

She feels like there are two Mr. Frenches, and she wishes he would prove that the good French they've known all along is the real one.

She feels like there are two Mr. Frenches. She wishes French would prove that the good one  they’ve known all along is the real one.

That’s exactly what French won’t do, Bill says:”If he has to prove himself to keep your respect, your respect isn’t worth anything to him.”

Chastened, Cissy finds French and apologizes to him.

She thanks him for being the kind of person he is--and for being "very tolerant of emotional teenage girls."

She thanks him for being the kind of person he is–and for being “very tolerant of emotional teenage girls.”

Now that French feels trusted, he’s willing to tell Bill and Cissy the whole story.

Lord Glenmore’s shy and overprotected daughter Evelyn had hardly any contact with men. She enjoyed talking to French about books and eventually believed herself to be in love with him.

"I was younger then and my figure a bit trimmer," he explains sheepishly.

“I was younger then and my figure a bit trimmer,” he explains sheepishly.

He and Lord Glenmore were afraid that if French merely quit, Evelyn would continue to pine for him. Instead, they cooked up a story that French was a married cad scheming to extort money from his employer.

Things turned out okay for Evelyn, who is now happily married with a lovely family.

That rules her out. So who wrote the letters?

French says he's known all along that it was Alice Dimsdale.

French says he’s known all along it was Alice Dimsdale.

Alice probably feels it’s her duty to protect Cissy and the children, he says.

The next day, French is back on park duty.

When Alice expresses surprise that he's still taking care of the children, he returns her letters.

When Alice expresses surprise that he’s still taking care of the children, he returns her letters with thanks.

“They served a purpose–oh, not necessarily the one you had in mind,” he crows.

Then he joins a beaming Miss F to share what he calls "in every way, an exceptional day."

Then he joins a beaming Miss F to share what he calls “in every way, an exceptional day.”

Aww.

Commentary

This episode fills in a crucial hole in French’s back story–how he made his way from a British castle to a New York bachelor pad.

A mystery is always fun, although I feel confused about Alice’s motives. French’s explanation that she was protecting the children makes it sound like she doesn’t know the true story. His confrontation of her in the park, however, suggests that he ascribes malice to her actions. I suppose the details don’t matter, since this episode is really about French’s need to feel trusted by the Davis family.

I enjoy the scene where Buffy and Jody express frustration when no one will tell them what’s wrong. It’s realistic for kids to pick up on tension, and Bill handles the situation well.

There’s a slight oddity in the final park scene–Buffy, Jody and French talk about a game Jody invented called “I Know.” It seems to be a followup to an earlier conversation, one we didn’t see.

Even by their standards, the twins seem overdressed. Buffy looks like she's going to see a performance of The Nutcracker.

Also even by their standards, the twins are overdressed. Buffy looks like she’s going to a performance of The Nutcracker.

Guest Cast

Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Miss Grayson: Annette Cabot. Alfred Dimsdale: David Montresor. Alice Dimsdale: Irene Tedrow. Gopher: Gary Tigerman.

According to a bio of Irene Tedrow, “Her features grew more severe with age, which ultimately typed her as puritanical meddlers and no-nonsense matrons.”

She was certainly playing to type as Alice.

She was certainly playing to type as Alice.

Before TV, she was active in radio, with a regular role on Meet Corliss Archer and frequent appearances on such shows as Suspense, Family Theater, and Crime Classics. She worked steadily in television throughout the 1980s; her more memorable appearances include playing Aunt Martha on an episode of Leave it to Beaver—and reprising the role in twice on the 1980s comeback series—and attending two of Mary’s disastrous parties as Congresswoman Margaret Geddes on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She had a recurring role as Mrs. Elkins on Dennis the Menace. She appeared once on Sebastian Cabot’s earlier series Checkmate and crossed professional paths with Brian Keith in The Parent Trap (her role was tiny and uncredited) and Centennial.

Gary Tigerman’s screen career was short—Oggo the Caveboy on Lost in Space was probably his best role—but his life has gone in interesting directions. He served jail time for refusing to serve in Vietnam, and after his release he got involved in music and songwriting and later wrote a sci-fi novel, The Orion Project.

David Montresor didn’t have much of a screen career. His most intriguing credit is the 1960 Italian-made sci-fi film Space Man, a.k.a. Assignment Outer Space.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 25, “The Flip Side,” March 25, 1969

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Written by: Roy Kammerman. Directed by: Charles Barton.

We open with a TV show within a TV show.

This guy is singing a song with lyrics that include, "I never shave or comb my hair, but I do think of her."

We’re watching a guy sing a song with lyrics that include, “I never shave or comb my hair, but I do think of her.”

(Interestingly, this actor had a minor hit years earlier with a song called “Ain’t Gonna Wash for a Week.” Hygiene was an issue for him, apparently.)

So, why are we watching him?

Because Cissy and this guy with a beard are sitting in a Family-Affair-green office and watching him.

Because Cissy and the singer’s bearded manager are sitting in a Family-Affair-green office and watching him, too.

Cissy has somehow got the chance to interview the teen heartthrob for her high school newspaper.

When Charlie enters the room, Cissy compliments him on his TV performance. He jokes that his band hit a few clinkers but the audience probably just thought it was a modern arrangement.

As we will see throughout this episode, Charlie is the world's most self-effacing pop star.

As we will see throughout this episode, Charlie is the world’s most self-effacing pop star.

He’s also straightforward when interviewed.

Our budding Rona Barrett leads off by asking him if he's in love.

Our budding Rona Barrett leads off by asking him if he’s in love.

Yes, he says, “with whatever girl I’m talking to at the moment.”

The full implications of this remark go whizzing right past Cissy's head, especially when he adds that she's pretty.

The full implications of this remark go whizzing right over Cissy’s head, especially when he adds that she’s pretty.

Back at home, the twins are building a block tower, and Buffy's predicting that it will fall if it get's any taller.

Back at home, the twins are building a block tower, and Buffy’s predicting that it will fall if it gets any taller.

Jody disagrees, but Buffy turns out to be correct, proving once again that she’s the brains in this duo.

"You weakened the lateral resistance," Uncle Bill observes to Jody.

“You weakened the lateral resistance,” Uncle Bill observes to Jody.

Sigh–I love it when he talks physics.

A euphoric Cissy breezes in and starts squeeing about Charlie.

A euphoric Cissy breezes in and starts squeeing about Charlie.

Bill and the twins don’t know who Charlie is. With an eye roll, Cissy informs them that he’s the only Charlie in the world–Charlie Higgins of Charlie and the Unsung Heroes.

That rings a bell for Buffy--she's familiar with his song "Let's Go Swinging in My Yellow Submarine with a Purple Balloon."

That rings a bell for Buffy–she’s familiar with his song “Let’s Go Swinging in My Yellow Submarine with a Purple Balloon.”

Cissy tells Bill that Charlie asked her out for a date. Bill asks if this isn’t rather sudden, but she assures him that it’s a great honor to get an invitation from Charlie Higgins. He then asks if Charlie isn’t a little “sophisticated” for her, but she insists he’s sweet and shy.

Brian Keith adopts some great facial expressions in this scene.

I love Brian Keith’s facial expressions in this scene.

Cissy goes on to say that 19 girls fainted when Charlie played Madison Square Garden.

"If you like him, I'll like him," Bill says, though he slips in a "Maybe" under his breath.

“If you like him, I’ll like him,” Bill says, though he slips in a “Maybe” under his breath.

After Cissy leaves, Buffy announces that she’d like to skip her teenage years–she doesn’t want to be so excitable.

A cute line, but it causes me a painful wince thinking about Anissa Jones' future.

A cute line, but it makes me wince when I think about Anissa Jones’ future.

When Charlie shows up, his dress and manners are so conservative that even French can’t find fault.

When Charlie shows up, his dress and manners are so conservative that even French can't find fault with him.

“Hey, you sound English,” Charlie says, adding in his disarming style. “That’s kind of what we speak back in St. Louis but not really.”

(French gives a weird response: “I spent several years in Mayfair in service.” Makes it sound like he isn’t English but picked up the accent while working in London.)

Talking with Bill, Charlies continues in a humble vein.

Two years ago, he'd never even seen the inside of such a posh apartment, he admits.

Two years ago, he’d never even seen the inside of such a posh apartment.

“Now, I’m visiting like I belong here,” he says in astonishment.

When Bill notes how quickly Charlie achieved fame, Charlie shows that he’s fully aware of a teen idol’s short shelf-life.

"I could be a has-been at 20," he laments.

“I could be a has been at 20,” he laments.

(Around this point, I start to wonder if he’s not just but humble but clinically depressed.)

When Buffy averts her eyes from their guest to avoid fainting, Charlie even admits that his manager pays to "faint" at his concerts.

When Buffy averts her eyes from their guest to avoid fainting, Charlie even admits that his manager pays girls to “faint” at his concerts.

When the twins ask him how you write a song, he says you have to start with something beautiful…

...like Cissy.

…like Cissy.

Bill’s impressed enough that he gives the couple permission to go out. Charlie asks when he should have Cissy home, and Bill says 11 o’clock since it’s a school night.

He actually gets her home one minute early, which pleases French.

Charlie actually gets Cissy home one minute early, which pleases French.

Cissy’s predictably ecstatic about her evening. Fans overran the place they’d planned to go, so Cissy and Charlie got hot dogs and sneaked into a movie theater balcony.

He’s invited her out again, to a party this time, and Bill gives his blessing.

Later, he wonders aloud to French about what Cissy will do when Charlie moves on.

Later, he wonders aloud to French about what Cissy will do when Charlie moves on.

When party night arrives, Buffy and Jody watch Cissy get ready.

They tell her they like Charlie and don't mind if she marries him.

They tell her they like Charlie and don’t mind if she marries him.

The whole family seems excited about the date.

Bill gives Cissy a pair of sparkly clip-on earrings.

Bill gives Cissy a pair of sparkly clip-on earrings.

“May I venture to say that Master Charlie is a very lucky young man?” French asks as Cissy is leaving.

You may...but it sounds a little creepy.

You may…but it sounds a little creepy.

When the doorbell rings, Buffy and Jody want to rush out and see Charlie, but Bill asks if they wouldn’t rather let Cissy have a moment alone with him.

"Not particularly," Buffy answers, which leads into this week's twin hug scene.

“Not particularly,” Buffy answers, which leads into this week’s obligatory hug.

So what does a 1969 rock star party look like?

A lot of neatly dressed people sitting around on sofas, apparently.

A lot of neatly dressed people sitting around on sofas, apparently.

Charlie gets out his guitar and announces that’s he’s written a new song. Everyone can listen, but he’ll really be singing it for Cissy.

As the party guests bob their heads and tap their feet, he launches into the ballad he wrote just for her.

As the party guests bob their heads and tap their feet, he launches into the ballad he wrote just for her.

It’s a lucky thing for him that “Cissy” rhymes with “kiss me.”

Sample lyrics: "My world is aglow/My actions must show that I'm in love."

Sample lyrics: “My world is aglow/My actions must show that I’m in love.”

Listening, Cissy looks slightly pained--probably not the expression Kathy Garver was going for, but oh-so-appropriate nonetheless.

Listening, Cissy looks slightly pained–probably not the feeling Kathy Garver was going for, but appropriate nonetheless.

(The guests' expressions crack me up, too.)

(The guests’ expressions crack me up, too.)

When we next see Cissy, she really is pained. Charlie’s moved on to Boston and hasn’t been in touch for weeks. He didn’t even send a thank-you note when she sent him some cookies that French baked.

Buffy and Jody show a surprising passive-aggressive streak, torturing Cissy with comments like "Friends usually write" and "It doesn't take long to say thank you."

Buffy and Jody show a surprising passive-aggressive streak, torturing Cissy with comments like “Friends usually write” and “It doesn’t take long to say thank you.”

A letter from Charlie does arrive later that day–a form letter.

It even has blank space to fill in whatever gift Charlie is thanking the recipient for. Ouch.

It even has blank space to fill in whatever gift Charlie is thanking the recipient for. Ouch.

Cissy is sure that Charlie never even saw her letters or he would have replied personally. Bill tries to point out gently that Charlie would have written to her if he really cared about her, but Cissy still makes excuses for him.

“I was with him for two whole evenings, and I know how much I meant to him,” she says.

As a parent, hearing that statement might make me want to pry a little deeper into what went on those evenings.

He calls his office and orders Miss Grayson to track down Charlie or his manager in Boston.

In Bill’s case, though, it spurs him to action. He calls his office and orders Miss Grayson to track down Charlie or his manager in Boston.

Miss Grayson, huh? Did Miss Lee quit because she was tired of thankless assignments like this?

They get Charlie's phone number, but Cissy can't convince his secretary to put her through.

They get Charlie’s phone number, but Cissy can’t convince Charlie’s secretary to put her through.

The most the secretary will do is offer to ship her a free copy of “Cissy, My Love.” (Apparently, Charlie is offering it free to any girl named Cissy…so basically Cissy Houston and Bobby’s dance partner from the Lawrence Welk Show?)

Bill and Cissy won't give up. Through a complicated chain of connections, Bill makes contact with Charlie and takes Cissy to Boston to see him.

Bill and Cissy won’t give up. Through a complicated chain of connections, Bill makes contact with Charlie and takes Cissy to Boston to see him.

She gets cold feet when the moment arrives, so she asks Bill to meet Charlie first and see if he’s still interested.

Charlie's as pleasant and earnest as ever, but he's clearly not pining for Cissy.

Charlie’s as pleasant and earnest as ever, but he’s clearly not pining for Cissy.

He doesn’t even seem to feel awkward about introducing Bill to Pamela, the girl he’s writing a song for now.

That's going to be a challenge. "You make my heart go wham-ela?" "Don't let this be a sham-ela?"

That’s going to be a challenge. “You make my heart go wham-ela?” “Don’t let this be a sham-ela?”

(Pamela’s last name is Grayson, which makes me think that the writer just got confused when he had Bill refer to his secretary as Miss Grayson.)

Bill has to give Cissy the bad news that she’s “not exactly the love of (Charlie’s) life.”

In addition to feeling sad, Cissy is sorry that Bill spent so much time and energy helping her through a teenage romance "that's not really important to anyone."

In addition to feeling sad, Cissy is sorry that Bill spent so much time and energy helping her through a teenage romance “that’s not really important to anyone.”

“It’s important to you,” Bill replies.

Aww.

Aww.

Fortunately, it’s easy for Bill to cheer Cissy up. Since, like him, she goes for any halfway-presentable member of the opposite sex, he just brings home the son of a visiting business associate.

He asks Cissy to show Steve around the city. It's a school night, but he says missing a little sleep won't hurt her.

Bill asks Cissy to show Steve around the city. It’s a school night, but he says missing a little sleep won’t hurt her.

(Strangely, we never get a direct look at Steve’s face. Maybe producers thought the actor looked too old for Cissy, although he’s really only a year older than the actor playing Charlie.)

In the end, everyone's happy, including Buffy and Jody.

In the end, everyone’s happy, including Buffy and Jody.

They’ve started a second-grade fan club for Charlie, and now they can wear their club buttons again without Cissy bursting into tears.

Commentary

I always love a good Cissy episode! Bill’s the ultimate fantasy father for a teenage girl–dashing, sensitive, rich, and perfectly willing to use all his resources to further Cissy’s romance with a rock star.

Once again, Family Affair avoids the extremes that other shows might go for. Maybe it’s the years I spent watching Very Special Episodes of 1980s sitcoms, but I expect a pop star who’s so polite to adults to turn into a rape-drug-wielding monster when he gets a girl alone. Charlie is a perfectly nice guy who told Cissy right from the start how seriously she should take his attentions. It’s not his fault she didn’t listen.

Fun fact: Kathy Garver got a writing credit on "Cissy, My Love."

Kathy Garver got a writing credit on “Cissy, My Love.”

(Not sure who Richard Simon was, but Gary LeMel had an interesting career.)

Guest Cast

McGregor: Warren Berlinger. Charlie Higgins: Eddie Hodges. Pamela: Patricia Lee. Steve: Thomas Ormenyi.

Warren Berlinger, a nephew of Milton Berle, was in the original Broadway cast of Annie Get Your Gun. Later he appeared in Neil Simon’s first play, Come Blow Your Horn and both the stage and screen versions of Blue Denim. He popped up all over TV in the 1970s and 1980s. He also had Disney connections, with roles in Herbie the Love Bug and The Shaggy D.A. In 1965, he played Oscar Kilroy in a four-episode arc on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. That year, he also appeared in Billie, a ridiculous movie that I highly recommend to classic TV fans–what a cast.

Warren Berlinger

                          Warren Berlinger

Eddie Hodges also got his start on Broadway, playing Winthrop Paroo in the original cast of The Music Man. His first film role came in 1959’s A Hole in the Head; he and co-star Frank Sinatra sang “High Hopes” together. The next year, he starred in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the big screen before transitioning mostly into television roles. Like Berlinger, he appeared in Disney films–in Hodges’ case, Summer Magic and The Happiest Millionaire. He also had a modest recording career in the 1960s. You can find a lot of his songs on Youtube. You can even find a clip him performing on Swedish TV in the 1990s, and he doesn’t sound bad. In the years after this Family Affair episode, he quit show business and focused on his education, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and building a new career as a mental health counselor.

I think Thomas Ormenyi became this Tom Ormeny, who is active in Los Angeles theater and has made appearances on shows such as Gray’s Anatomy and Mad Men.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 24, “Speak for Yourself, Mr. French,” 3/17/1969

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

Before we dive into this week’s episode, I wanted to alert Family Affair fans that Kathy Garver has written a memoir called Surviving Cissy. It will be published in September and is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Check it out!

We open this week in the park, as Mr. French reminds Jody about an upcoming dental appointment.

Jody hopes he'll get his with a ball in the park so his loose tooth will come out. Then the dentist won't have to pull it.

Jody hopes he’ll get hit by a ball in the park so his loose tooth will come out. Then the dentist won’t have to pull it.

French assures Jody that the dentist won’t be pulling any teeth–he’ll only be checking Jody’s bite.

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“Bite him good,” Buffy urges.

(She has a bit of a biting fixation–remember her early encounter with French?)

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That night at dinner, Bill reproves Jody for not eating his meat.

Jody claims his mouth hurts too much from the dentist, but Cissy disputes this.

The dentist only made a wax impression of Jody's teeth, she says. Any pain Jody's in is purely psychosomatic.

The dentist only made a wax impression of Jody’s teeth, she says. Any pain is purely psychosomatic.

Someone’s been paying attention in psychology class again, I see.

The word "psychosomatic" leaves the twins predictable clueless.

The word “psychosomatic” leaves the twins predictable clueless.

"It's all in your head," Cissy explains.

“It’s all in your head,” Cissy explains.

Of course it’s all in his head, Jody agrees–that’s where his teeth are. Ba-dum-bump.

Somehow, the conversation shifts to Cissy’s intention to become a nurse. That surprises Bill, who notes that she wanted to be an actress the week before. (Cissy’s very practical plan is to become a nurse, then use her nursing salary to put herself through dramatic school.)

Buffy announces that she wants to be a secretary, which finally leads us into this week’s main story.

Buffy wants to be like Miss Travers, a pretty young secretary that French met in the park that day.

Buffy wants to be like Miss Travers, a pretty young secretary that French met in the park that day.

French explains to Bill that Miss Travers recognized the twins’ names when she heard French talking to them. She’s a secretary at a construction company, and her boss is an acquaintance of Bill’s.

Well, Buffy and Jody are rather odd names, so I guess that makes sense.

Bill's attempts to recall Miss Travers to mind are amusing. Is she the one that's very short  and a little too...?

Bill’s attempts to recall Miss Travers to mind are amusing. Is she the one that’s very short and a little too…?

He gestures with his hands, ever so briefly, in the way that conveys the ampleness of the female form.

Oh no, French replies, in a slightly salacious and un-French-like way. Emily Travers is not "too" anything--she's just right.

Oh no, French replies, in a slightly salacious and un-French-like way. Emily Travers is not “too” anything–she’s just right.

Bill finally remembers her as an attractive blond with blue eyes, but French says they are aquamarine–“the limip hue one associates with tropical reefs in the Caribbean.”

Picking up on French's infatuation with Miss Travers, Cissy says she wishes a boyfriend would describe her eyes so poetically.

Picking up on French’s infatuation with Miss Travers, Cissy says she wishes a boyfriend would describe her eyes so poetically.

Buffy adds to French’s embarrassment by observing that he and Emily shook hands for a long time before parting.

“I don’t know which one was holding on,” she says. “Maybe both.”

As usual, Bill finds some amusement in French's discomfort.

As usual, Bill takes some amusement in French’s discomfort.

Next, we find ourselves back in the park, this time with the British servant contingent.

French's encounter with Emily has already become gossip fodder for them.

French’s encounter with Emily has already become gossip fodder for them.

“He’s quite crackers about the young woman,” Mr. Tyburn burbles, noting that she is half French’s age.

"Let him chase her--he'll never catch her," a smug Hardcastle says.

“Let him chase her–he’ll never catch her,” a smug Hardcastle says.

Quick to defend her friend, Miss Faversham says she heard Miss Travers was doing the chasing. Tyburn and Hardcastle decide then that Miss Travers must be frumpy–“thick glasses and flat shoes.”

After Miss Faversham leaves, French comes along and endures some teasing from his frenemies.

After Miss Faversham leaves, French comes along and endures some teasing from his frenemies.

They aren’t laughing for long, though, because the woman in question soon makes an appearance.

Well, here she is--the long-awaited Emily.

Well, here she is–the long-awaited Emily.

French and Emily walk on, leaving behind two stunned butlers.

"They say that love is blind, but this is ridiculous," Hardcastle grumbles.

“They say that love is blind, but this is ridiculous,” Hardcastle grumbles.

Later, Bill comes home to wait for a long-distance business call and encounters Cissy.

He compliments her on cute outfit.

He compliments her on a cute outfit.

(I don’t think I share his opinion.)

She’s heading off to the library to study psychology with a cute boy, Freddie. She gets insulted, though, when Bill assumes that Freddie is her main focus, rather than studying.

"Freddie is incidental," she says, none to convincingly.

“Freddie is incidental,” she says, none to convincingly.

After she leaves, it’s not long before Bill hears a knock at the door.

It's Emily, ostensibly looking for French and bearing a present for Buffy and Jody.

It’s Emily, ostensibly looking for French and bearing a present for Buffy and Jody.

(The wardrobe in this scene makes it fitting that this episode first aired on St. Patrick’s Day.)

French and the kids are out, but Bill invites Emily in to talk for a few minutes.

She passes the present along to Bill and tells him how much she likes the children. Jody is "all boy," but so polite, and Buffy is adorable.

She passes the present along to Bill and tells him how much she likes the children. Jody is “all boy,” but so polite, and Buffy is adorable.

Bill deflects credit for their politeness, saying manners are French’s department.

Ignoring the reference to French, Emily gushes that she has admired Bill from a distance for years.

Ignoring the reference to French, Emily gushes that she has admired Bill from a distance for years.

He’s surprised, but she tells him how impressive it is that a busy professional like him with no parenting experience took on the job of raising three children.

Modestly, Bill says that he and French do all right with the kids.

Modestly, Bill says that he and French do all right with the kids.

(It’s nice how he considers French a co-parent.)

Sometimes, they probably need a woman’s touch around the house, Bill admits.

He's not flirting, although it may read that way on paper.

He’s not flirting, although it may read that way on paper.

“Maybe someday you’ll find just the right girl,” Emily replies.

Now, she's definitely flirting.

Now, she’s definitely flirting.

Oh, dear.

When French and the kids return, Emily is gone. The twins play with her gift, a game of quoits.

When French and the kids return, Emily is gone. The twins play with her gift, a game of quoits.

(That’s not a term I’m familiar with. I would have called it ring-toss, I guess.)

French takes a moment to talk to Bill about Emily. He asks whether Bill finds it odd that such a young and attractive girl is interested in him.

French takes a moment to talk to Bill about Emily. He asks whether Bill finds it odd that such a young and attractive girl is interested in him.

Bill assures French that many women prefer older men.

Relieved, French decided to ask Emily to accompany him to the theater for an outing with the British gang to see The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Emily enjoys the play, finding that the traditional British reserve conceals a strong romantic streak.

Emily enjoys the play, finding that the traditional British reserve conceals a strong romantic streak.

(Tyburn, for his part, faults the play for “far too much display of sentiment.”)

When French leaves to get Emily some orangeade, Emily chats with Miss Faversham.

Miss F, who's feeling protective and perhaps a bit jealous, tries to suss out Emily's feelings for French.

Miss F tries to suss out Emily’s feelings for French.

Emily says she admires his style, which must have come from being around rich and sophisticated people so much.

Miss F notes that "working among them" would be a more accurate description.

Miss F notes that “working among them” would be a more accurate description.

Nevertheless, Emily responds, French has traveled the world. She herself has been nowhere.

She wants to see the world, but not as a tourist, she explains. She wants to be one of the beautiful people--like Mr. Davis' friends.

She wants to see the world, but not as a tourist, she explains. She wants to be one of the beautiful people–like Mr. Davis’ friends.

Of course it’s not possible on a secretary’s salary, she adds.

"Well, you're young yet," Miss F observes drily, and Emily replies that she plans to make the most of it.

“Well, you’re young yet,” Miss F observes drily. Emily agrees–and says she plans to make the most of it.

Returning from the theater, Miss F meets Bill in the apartment building lobby.

She asks Bill what he thinks of Emily. Typically taciturn, he only says that she seems nice and pretty.

She asks Bill what he thinks of Emily. Typically taciturn, he only says that she seems nice and pretty.

She says she thinks French is falling in love with the girl, and Bill admits that wouldn’t surprise him.

Miss F claims that her womanly intuition gives her a bad feeling about Emily's motives.

Miss F claims that her womanly intuition gives her a bad feeling about Emily’s motives.

She’s afraid Emily doesn’t care one bit about French. “Isn’t it possible,” she asks, “that she isn’t after the gentleman’s gentleman, but after the gentleman?”

Bill finds this conversation all kinds of awkward.

Bill finds this conversation all kinds of awkward.

He seems to take it to heart, however.

Later, French returns bubbling with enthusiasm about Emily and the passion they share for Browning and Keats.

Later, French returns bubbling with enthusiasm about Emily and the passion they share for Browning and Keats.

The next day, Bill pays a visit to Emily’s office.

He tells her he feels unsure about what he wants to say and hopes he doesn't come across as a "fathead."

He tells her he feels unsure about what he wants to say and hopes he doesn’t come across as a “fathead.”

You can feel Emily’s hopes rising that he’s about to make some kind of pass.

Instead, he begins to quiz her about her feelings for French.

Instead, he quizzes her about her feelings for French.

When she’s vague, he tells her how happy French has been since meeting her. Emily wonders why that’s a bad thing.

French is way up on a cloud, Bill says. If he falls off, it will be a long drop.

Emily says she considers French her friend, like Buffy and Jody and Cissy.

Emily says she considers French her friend, like Buffy and Jody and Cissy.

(Hey, when did she meet Cissy?)

Bill says French is much more serious. He wouldn’t be surprised if he starts shopping for a ring soon. How would that make Emily feel?

“Flattered,” is all she can come up with.

When Bill asks where that leaves French, a chastened Emily says, "Nowhere, Mr. Davis."

When Bill asks where that leaves French, a chastened Emily says, “Nowhere, Mr. Davis.”

She promises she won’t let things get that far, and a relieved Bill tells her he thinks she’s okay. She says she’s not so sure.

Later, French is waiting around the park for another chance to see Emily.

Later, French is waiting around the park for another chance to see Emily.

He’s been there so long that Buffy and Jody are bored and want to leave and do their homework.

When he's just about given up, he finally sees Emily coming.

When he’s just about given up, he finally sees Emily approaching.

(She loves that green suit, doesn’t she?)

She wastes no time in telling him that she won't be seeing him again. She doesn't want to give explanations and hopes he'll accept this as final.

She wastes no time in telling him that she won’t be seeing him again. She doesn’t want to give explanations and hopes he’ll accept this as final.

Heartbroken but ever-the-gentleman, French does so.

At home, French tells Bill what happened and conjectures that Emily found someone else.

At home, French tells Bill what happened and conjectures that Emily found someone else.

Bill comforts him by saying that while it hurts now, he will soon recover.

French surprises Bill by saying that, on the contrary, he feels wonderful--he's just had the best week of his life.

French surprises Bill by saying that, on the contrary, he feels wonderful–he’s just had the best week of his life.

Commentary

This isn’t the kind of episode that would have appealed to me as a child. The kids’ roles are incidental (like Freddie), and the script’s light on humor. Surprisingly, we don’t even get many good Frenchisms. But as an adult what I most appreciate is the episode’s restraint. Other shows might have gone for melodrama, making a Emily a conniving femme fatale and having French undergo the humiliation of discovering her true motives. Instead, Emily comes across as young and misguided. Leslie Parrish’s acting in the final scene with Uncle Bill, as Emily becomes ashamed of her actions, is nicely subtle. Heather Angel also does a good job of conveying Miss F’s concern about French, along with just a touch of jealousy. (I’m on Team Fraversham, all the way!)

We get a new spin on Uncle Bill's famous head rubs this week--the one-fingered version.

We get a new spin on Uncle Bill’s famous head rubs this week–the one-fingered version.

Inconsistency Alert

Miss Faversham mentions Peter as the child she’s watching. Didn’t his family let her go?

Guest Cast
Emily Travers: Leslie Parrish. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. Mr. Tyburn: Leslie Randall. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel.

Leslie Parrish was one of those promising mid-century starlets who never quite broke through to full-fledged stardom. Her most memorable film appearance was as Jocelyn Jordan in The Manchurian Candidate. She also played Daisy Mae in the 1959 musical Lil Abner. Her TV roles included three Batman appearances and the Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Later, she ended up in some B movies such as 1975’s The Giant Spider Invasion. She retired from acting in the late 1970s, around the time she married Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (They divorced 20 years later.)

Let's end with some Uncle Bill eye candy, just because.

Let’s end with some Uncle Bill eye candy, just because.

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 23, “The Young Man from Bolivia,” 3/10/1969

VTS_01_6.VOB_001036532

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

French has just retrieved the Davis family mail and found a letter for Jody.

It's from Bolivia, so Jody assumes it's from Uncle Bill.

It’s from Bolivia, so Jody assumes it’s from Uncle Bill.

French thinks not, since it’s addressed to “Senor J. Davis.” Jody is excited to realize that it’s from his penpal Paco, the son of Bill’s Bolivian associate.

Jody tells French that the letter says Paco is having a nice time and the weather is good.

French wonders how the boys can communicate since Jody "has trouble enough reading English."

French wonders how the boys can communicate since Jody “has trouble enough reading English.”

Ouch!

It turns out that they express themselves through pictures.

It turns out that they express themselves through pictures.

Jody hurries off to his room and starts to answer Paco’s letter right away.

While he's drawing, Buffy comes in to borrow a red crayon. It seems Mrs. Beasley is going on a date and needs some lipstick.

While he’s drawing, Buffy comes in to borrow a red crayon. It seems Mrs. Beasley is going on a date and needs some lipstick.

Oooh, that’s a bad idea Buffy–Mr. Clean hasn’t invented the Magic Eraser yet! (I’m also rather surprised that Mrs. Beasley dates. Ourtime.com hasn’t been invented yet either.)

Jody can't spare the red crayon--it's a crucial part of his "reply" to Paco.

Jody can’t spare the red crayon–it’s a crucial part of his “reply” to Paco.

Like Paco’s picture, Jody’s is also meant to convey that he’s having a nice time and the weather is good.

In our next scene, an excited Paco has received Jody's letter and is showing it to his father and Bill.

In our next scene, an excited Paco has received Jody’s letter and is showing it to his father and Bill.

“That’s Jody all right,” Bill says, adding wistfully, “at least as far as I can remember.”

His Bolivian project has apparently been a long one, but he is preparing to go home the next day. Paco and his father are staying another day and then flying to Paris.

When Senor Mendez laments the fact that the two pen pals won’t get a chance to meet, Bill has a brainstorm: He can take Paco home with him, and Senor Mendez can pick him up in New York on the way to Paris.

(Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be to make these complicated travel arrangements? Luckily, that’s never a problem in the Davis universe.)

Paco is thrilled by the opportunity to meet Jody and quickly agrees.

Paco is thrilled by the opportunity to meet Jody and quickly agrees.

Bill only tells the family that he’s bringing home a surprise, so they are indeed to surprised to find what Jody calls “a living surprise” at their door.

Bill explains introduces Paco to the kids and tells them that their guest doesn't speak any English.

Bill explains introduces Paco to the kids and tells them that their guest doesn’t speak any English.

Fortunately, Bill is fairly fluent in Spanish, as we remember from the “Lost in Spain” episodes.

The writers don’t seem to remember those episodes, though.

The writers don't seem to remember those episodes, though. The twins, who spent weeks studying the language in Spain, can't speak a single world of it.

The twins, who spent weeks studying the language in Spain, can’t speak a single world of it.

And Cissy credits her scant knowledge of Spanish to her school classes, without mentioning her experiences abroad.

Cissy credits her scant knowledge of Spanish to her school classes, without mentioning her experiences abroad.

And French can now speak at least a little Spanish, though the whole "Lost in Spain" plot hinged on his inability to do so.

And French can now speak at least a little Spanish, though the whole “Lost in Spain” plot hinged on his inability to do so.

Ay, caramba!

Things get off to a good start between Paco and Jody.

By bedtime, though, an awkward silence has settled in.

By bedtime, though, an awkward silence has settled in.

Bill looks in on the boys and asks Jody if they are having trouble communicating.

"No," Jody says. "We just don't know how to talk."

“No,” Jody says. “We just don’t know how to talk.”

At Bill’s suggestion, Jody tries to tell Paco about his turtle.

“Como?” Paco asks.

"No, his name is Dinky," a frustrated Jody replies.

“No, his name is Dinky,” a frustrated Jody replies.

They do manage to share a nice moment right before going to bed.

Paco says "Good night," and Jody says, "Buenos Noches."

Paco says “Good night,” and Jody says, “Buenas Noches.”

The next morning, Jody wants to make up for lost time and do some bonding with Uncle Bill.

They start to catch up, although Jody warns him that he probably doesn't want to hear about Jody's spelling grades.

They start to catch up, although Jody warns Bill that he probably doesn’t want to hear about Jody’s spelling grades.

When Paco comes in and starts talking with Bill in Spanish, Jody’s mood turns glum.

He feels left out as Bill laughs at Paco's amusing remarks.

He feels left out as Bill laughs at Paco’s amusing observations.

For example, Paco notes that Mr. French doesn’t shave. He also says that the bridges Bill builds, though not as tall as New York skyscrapers, would seem tall to a fish.

Jody gets tired of having the jokes translated for him and leaves the room.

Later, Cissy takes the three kids to the park.

Later, Cissy takes the three kids to the park.

Jody is still acting petulant and complains that Paco won’t know how to play their games.

“All kids play the same games,” Cissy asserts confidently–and, as we shall see, wrongly.

Paco's an interesting novelty to the twins' friends, who soon gather around.

Paco’s an interesting novelty to the twins’ friends, who soon gather around.

One girl is excited to learn that he’s from South America–“farther away than New Jersey, even.” Meanwhile, Jody and his friend Peter have this conversation.

Jody: He doesn’t speak English.
Peter: That’s neat!
Jody: What’s so neat about it?

I think Jody might have a future in Republican politics.

I think Jody might have a future in Republican politics.

The kids get even more interested when Paco displays a toy he brought from home.

Peter wants to play with it, though Jody tries to drag him away.

Peter wants to play with it, though Jody tries to drag him away.

Cissy says the toy was an invention of the Incas.

Cissy says the toy was an invention of the Incas, which Bess Lindstrom here interprets as "inkers."

Bess Lindstrom, here, interprets that as “inkers.” She was much smarter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Jody, refusing to even try it, says, “Who wants to play with an old toy from the inkers?”

With nothing else to do, he tries to interest Buffy and her friends in a game of baseball.

With nothing else to do, he tries to interest Buffy and her friends in a game of baseball.

When they say they have to take care of their dolls, Jody suggests using the dolls as bases.

Oh, no, he didn't!

Oh, no, he didn’t!

Sensing that her brother is stressed, Buffy pulls him aside and reminds him that Paco’s father is coming to get him that very evening.

"Good!" Jody exclaims.

“Good!” Jody exclaims.

Back at home, he is only too happy to help Paco pack.

Don't get too excited, Jody. Paco's dad has just called Bill to explain that he will be delayed.

Don’t get too excited, Jody. Paco’s dad has just called Bill to explain that he will be delayed.

Senor Mendez tells Bill to send Paco back to Bolivia, but Bill won’t hear of it–four children is no more trouble than three, so he will be happy to have Paco stay on.

Paco isn't happy about this news. Talking to his father, his face goes from this...

Paco isn’t happy about this news. Talking to his father, his face goes from this…

...to this.

…to this.

And, of course, Jody isn’t happy either when he hears Paco is staying.

"How long?" he asks his uncle.

“For how many days?” he asks his uncle.

That’s a good question and, strangely, one that Bill didn’t ask Paco’s father when they were talking on the phone. Nevertheless, Bill says it might be a week.

Later, while the twins are getting a snack, Buffy pledges her loyalty to Jody.

Later, while the twins are getting a snack, Buffy pledges her loyalty to a downhearted Jody.

They have to stick together, Jody agrees, adding “Brother and sister can’t come apart.”

But when Buffy takes cookies in to Paco and finds him crying, she can't help trying to cheer him up.

But when Buffy takes cookies to Paco and finds him crying, she can’t help trying to cheer him up.

She introduces him to baseball–or at least playing catch.

She introduces him to the game of baseball--or at least playing catch.

Paco catches on quickly and begins to enjoy himself.

But when Jody sees this happy scene, he feels betrayed.

Et tu, Buffy?

Et tu, Buffy?

She explains that she had to be nice to Paco because he was crying. Jody is unsympathetic.

Jody: Mr. French says boys don’t cry.
Buffy: Maybe they do in Bolivia.
Jody: I wouldn’t.

(It’s too bad Free to Be You and Me won’t come out for another three years. Both Jody and French need to hear this Rosey Grier song.)

Later, Jody is on the terrace feeding Dinky (or Senor Dinky, as Paco calls him–I love that!)

Uncle Bill stops by with Paco and offers to take both boys out for ice cream.

Uncle Bill stops by with Paco and offers to take both boys out for ice cream.

This is how upset Jody is: He turns down ice cream…because he needs to practice his spelling.

As Bill and Paco walk away and Paco calls, "Adios," Jody mutters, "Adios, yourself."

As Bill and Paco walk away and Paco calls, “Adios,” Jody mutters, “Adios, yourself.”

Strong words for Jody.

Then, he nuzzles Dinky. Eww!

Then, he nuzzles Dinky. Eww!

The next morning, Bill is exulting about the way the kids are getting along.

There's an international language of children, French agrees. They understand each other instinctively.

There’s an international language of children, French agrees. They understand each other instinctively.

At that moment, though, Paco and Jody are actually coming to blows.

Hearing the noise, Bill rushes in to break up the fight.

Hearing the noise, Bill rushes in to break up the fight.

He speaks privately with Jody, who vents about how Paco has been getting all the attention. Having another boy around means no one cares about him, he pouts.

Bill chides him for feeling sorry for himself and asks him what he would do if he was in Bolivia with Paco's family.

Bill chides him for feeling sorry for himself and asks him what he would do if he was in Bolivia with Paco’s family.

Based on his recent experiences, Jody says that he’d tell Paco’s family to pay lots of attention to Paco.

Using what I hope is reverse psychology, Bill offers to send Paco home right away.

Using what I hope is reverse psychology, Bill offers to send Paco home right away.

If it was reverse psychology, it works beautifully. “I don’t want him to feel not wanted. It’s a terrible feeling,” Jody says in a nice, subtle callback to the Davis kids’ traumatic experiences.

Bill orders Jody to say he’s sorry about their fight. Jody says he really is sorry about it…Paco was winning.

Cue bemused laughter.

Cue bemused laughter.

By the time Paco’s father does come to collect his son, the boys are getting along fine.

Jody calls Paco his amigo, and Paco calls Jody his friend. They even exchange gifts.

Jody calls Paco his amigo, and Paco calls Jody his friend. They even exchange gifts.

Jody doesn’t want Paco to leave. Senor Mendez encourages the Davises to visit them in Bolivia someday. (When Buffy asks Bill if they really can go to Bolivia, he gives one of those “Oh, maybe,” responses that are parent speak for “Don’t hold your breath.”)

Even after Paco leaves, his influence lingers–Jody ends the episode by calling his uncle “Tio Bill.”

Commentary

They really should have aired this episode before the “Lost in Spain” three-parter to avoid inconsistencies about the family’s Spanish fluency.

Jody’s behavior is terrible in this episode, but it’s kind of fun to watch since it is so different from his usual unselfish demeanor. He always has taken a special pride in his father-son connection with Bill, so it makes sense that having another boy around would make him feel threatened.

Guest Cast

Senor Mendez: Carlos Romero. Paco: Miguel Monsalve. Kathy: Lisa True Gerritsen. Peter: Randy Whipple.
All the kids are Family Affair veterans. Romero’s many TV appearance included recurring roles on Zorro, Adam-12, and Falcon Crest.