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

VTS_01_3.VOB_000236352

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

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

Yikes.

Yikes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The dejected twins return to their seat.

The dejected twins return to their seat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When the twins’ bus reaches Sitges, they disembark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too much like a studio lot, maybe?

The twins decided to walk on.

The twins decide to walk on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ministers help people,” Buffy notes.

Jody rings a bell, but no one answers.

Jody rings a bell, but no one answers.

The twins decide to enter the church anyway.

VTS_01_3.VOB_000085470

Looking around, they see no one at first.

Then they see something that terrifies them…

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

…a hooded figure approaching.

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

I'd be scared, too.

As the figure comes closer, their eyes grow wider.

They they take off running at quite a clip.

Then they take off running at quite a clip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awww...

Awww…

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

Guest Cast

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

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

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

Lenore Stevens was once married to actor Richard Mulligan.

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

VTS_01_2.VOB_000159773

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

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

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

 

She has lost her loose-leaf notebook.

She has lost her loose-leaf notebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not surprisingly, Cissy is bubbling the most.

Not surprisingly, Cissy is bubbling the most.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

I thought the Davis family had given up on fish.

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

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

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

Soon, Buffy and Jody are betraying signs of sleepiness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The saleslady can't understand a word he says.

The saleslady can’t understand a word he says.

“It’s incredible!” French gasps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He has, however, brought tea from New York.

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

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

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

(As if there is any doubt.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This tutoring session will take place Sunday over dinner.

This tutoring session will take place Sunday over dinner.

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

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

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

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

Soon, Cissy and Bill are off touring with Ricardo.

Soon, Cissy and Bill are off touring with Ricardo.

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

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

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

It's all rather awkward.

It’s all rather awkward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ana and Ricardo show up at the same time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uh-oh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity Notes

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

Guest Cast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 18, “A Matter of Privacy,” 2/3/1969

For an agonizingly long time, we listen as he describes his problem--waking up with his beard in "classic disarray." He's looking for something like a woman's hairnet to keep his "hirsute adornments" in order.

Written by: Burt Styler. Directed by: Charles Barton.

This episode opens in an unusual setting–a boardroom.

A very white, male, cigarette-smoke-infused boardroom.

A very white, male, cigarette-smoke-infused boardroom.

Apparently, the guys around the table have bid on a construction project, and now they are finding out who gets it.

Bill's company bid $13,220,000, which would be the low bid...

Bill’s company bid $13,220,000, which would be the low bid…

Except Henry & Associates bid $13,218,000. We learn that this is the third time in a row that Henry has underbid Bill by a very small amount.

An associate suggests to Bill that Henry might be bugging the Davis offices.

An associate suggests to Bill that Henry might be bugging the Davis offices.

Bill has known Henry for 15 years and doesn’t want to believe he would do such a thing. Always a good sport, he heads over to congratulate Henry on getting the contract.

Meanwhile, at home, the twins are playing with their friend Norman and his new toy.

A tape recorder. Hmm...I think I might see a theme developing here.

A tape recorder. Hmm…I think I might see a theme developing here.

Norman plays back a recording of Jody talking.

Buffy wants to try singing on tape, but she can't think of a song.

Buffy wants to try singing on tape, but she can’t think of a song.

The ever-patriotic Jody doesn’t have that problem.

He happily warbles the first few lines of "My Country 'Tis of Thee"

He happily warbles the first few lines of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”

Buffy overcomes her mike fright to do a pig imitation on tape, and then Jody does a bunny imitation.

He's apparently forgotten that audio tape is not a visual medium. Oh, Jody.

He’s apparently forgotten that audio tape is not a visual medium. Oh, Jody.

The entry of French into the room gives the kids a better idea: They want to get him on tape. As Buffy says, “He has a beautiful voice…just like in a commercial.”

(I’m not sure if that’s an in-joke, but Sebastian Cabot did do some commercials.)

"Would you like to say a few words for our radio audience?" Buffy asks, and Jody helpfully explains that his voice goes in the microphone and gets recorded on tape.

“Would you like to say a few words for our radio audience?” Buffy asks, and Jody helpfully explains that French’s voice would go in the microphone and get recorded on tape.

“Jody, I understand the principles of electromagnetic recording,” French replies.

Buffy suggests that they record him reading Winnie the Pooh, so they can listen to it at bedtime if French isn’t around.

Now, that I'm pretty sure is an in-joke.

Now, THAT I’m pretty sure is an in-joke.

French reminds them that a tape recorder can’t tuck in a blanket or fluff up a pillow.

That's his way of saying, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

That’s his way of saying, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Fortunately for the kids, another victim soon breezes into the room.

VTS_01_7.VOB_000341179

Answering a phone call from Sharon, Cissy informs her friend that she has big news…so big and private that she needs to take the call in her bedroom.

After Buffy hangs up the extension, Norman has a brainstorm.

After Buffy hangs up the extension, Norman has a brainstorm.

He thinks they should sneak the recorder into Cissy’s room and capture her conversation.

Buffy and Jody know Cissy wouldn’t like the idea, but they don’t need much convincing to go along with it.

Entering her room under the presence of retrieving Mrs. Beasley, Buffy plants the recorder.

Entering the room under the presence of retrieving Mrs. Beasley, Buffy plants the recorder.

(The image above is so classically “teenage girl”–her posture, the pink phone. I like Cissy’s side-ponytails better than the side-bow look she’s been sporting frequently this season.)

While Buffy’s there, Cissy peppers a mystified Sharon with questions about a math problem, but once Buffy leaves we get the real scoop.

It involves a boy named Roger Lund and Cissy’s attempts to attract his attention. She’d tried getting her sweater caught in his notebook (?) and even wearing “sexy stockings” (!), but nothing worked–until today. Her winning move? Dropping her tuna salad in his lap.

(It’s a good thing for the whole family that Cissy is so wholesome. Imagine the eye-opening secrets a real teenager might have been keeping in 1969.)

VTS_01_7.VOB_000440007

That night at dinner, Bill asks Buffy and Jody how their day was, and they tell him they’ve been playing a “secret game.”

Bill says that if it’s secret, they can’t tell him about it. As a parent, I think I would pry into their “secret game,” but Bill is clearly distracted.

When Bill asks Cissy about her day, she gushes that it was "practically perfect."

When Bill asks Cissy about her day, she gushes that it was “practically perfect.”

The twins agree that it was and start filling him in on all the deets–the new boyfriend named Roger, the tuna salad caper, and all.

They sure are sly about their secret game, aren't they?

They sure are sly about their secret game, aren’t they?

Cissy’s annoyed, but she can’t pin down exactly what they did. They have French as a witness that they didn’t listen outside Cissy’s door or eavesdrop on the phone extension.

"Maybe it's ESP," Bill says, dismissing the subject.

“Maybe it’s ESP,” Bill says, dismissing the subject.

Cissy's still pissed, and I don't blame her.

Cissy’s still pissed, and I don’t blame her.

The next day, Norman and his tape recorder make another appearance.

VTS_01_7.VOB_000545873

Norman suggests that they spy on French this time.

The twins are game. As Buffy says, “It’s fun hearing what you’re not supposed to hear.”

Unfortunately for French, they catch him in the middle of an delicate conversation.

Unfortunately for French, they catch him in the middle of a delicate conversation.

He’s telling someone about a matter that is “not easily described without embarrassment.”

Yikes.

When Bill comes home a bit later, he hears French’s voice and calls to him.

He's actually hearing French's voice on tape, coming from Jody's room. Both he and French follow the sound.

He’s actually hearing French’s voice on tape, and both he and French head toward the sound’s source.

The kids are playing back the recording they made–a recording of French attempting to order a “beard snood.”

For an agonizingly long time, we listen as he describes his problem--waking up with his beard in "classic disarray." He's looking for something like a woman's hairnet to keep his "hirsute adornments" in order.

For an agonizingly long time, we listen as he describes his problem–waking up with his beard in “classic disarray.” He’s looking for something like a woman’s hairnet to keep his “hirsute adornments” in order.

I know Bill can’t barge in and shut the tape off before it’s over because then WE wouldn’t hear it…

I think he is also, perhaps, enjoying himself a little.

…but he also seems to be enjoying this a little.

Poor French.

Poor French.

(The interplay of facial expressions between Keith and Cabot is wonderful.)

When Bill finally enters the room, he makes his feelings known.

When Bill finally enters the room, he makes his feelings known.

“He’s mad,” Buffy says.

Bill uses the old I’m-not-mad-I’m-disappointed-in-you line, and points out that they have invaded Mr. French’s privacy.

“Privacy,” Jody corrects him, pronouncing it with a short “i,” as French would.

(A cumbersome joke to explain in writing, but amusing on the screen.)

Buffy and Jody are properly abashed, but Norman is unrepentant.

He tapes his family all the time, and they think it's funny. "You people just can't take a joke," he says.

He tapes his parents all the time, and they think it’s funny. “You people just can’t take a joke,” he says.

Sassy little brat, isn’t he?

The next day, we find ourselves in Bill’s office. He has reluctantly brought in an expert to look for bugs, though he still doesn’t believe he’s being recorded.

Harris, the expert, calls this his "radio frequency indicator," which is better known in layman's terms as "a train case with it's lid removed and mounted on a stick."

Harris, the expert, calls this his “radio frequency indicator, although it appears to be a train case, with it’s lid removed and mounted on a stick.

Hilarity ensues.

VTS_01_7.VOB_000796949

As Harris walks around the office, “detecting,” the train case lid rotates.

Props to you, prop guy!

Pretty soon, Harris hits on something.

Pretty soon, Harris hits on something.

The bug is hidden in a desk drawer’s handle.

Before they remove it, Bill sends his nemesis Henry a message.

Before they remove it, Bill sends his nemesis a message.

Saying that he must not be much of an engineering if he has to resort to such a tactic, Bill expresses pity for Henry.

He delivers that line in his usual laconic style, but he shows some fire when he rips the handle off his drawer.

He delivers that line in his usual laconic style, but he shows some fire when he rips the handle off his drawer.

That recording device is out of commission, but Norman’s is still active.

Meanwhile, at school, Norman is still toting around his tape recorder.

At school, he tries to interest Buffy and Jody in playing with it again, but they say they’re not allowed.

Norman accuses Bill of having no sense of humor, and he still denies that bugging is wrong.

“I say it’s okay with anyone as long as they don’t catch you,” Norman says, quoting his father.

(Hmm…I didn’t realize J. Edgar Hoover had a son.)

After school, in the park, Norman sees another chance to use his favorite toy.

After school, in the park, Norman sees another chance to use his favorite toy.

The victims this time are Cissy and that dreamy Roger Lund.

They have a mushy conversation, and Norman gets it all on tape.

They have a mushy conversation, and Norman gets it all on tape.

When Norman comes over later, Buffy and Jody reiterate that they can’t play spy with him anymore.

When Norman comes over later, Buffy and Jody reiterate that they can't record things with him anymore.

Norman says he just wants to play a recording for them, and they figure that would be okay.

Soon, Cissy arrives home and hears her own voice emanating from the bedroom.

Busted!

Busted!

Soon, it's a double busting...

Soon, it’s a double busting…

VTS_01_7.VOB_001085274

…and then a rare triple busting.

We hear some embarrassing sweet talk. When the subject turns to kissing, Bill finally prepares to intervene.

Before he busts in, Buffy and Jody start reprimanding Norman themselves.

Before he busts in, Buffy and Jody start reprimanding Norman themselves.

(Thank goodness–that spares us a tedious sitcom misunderstanding, in which Buffy and Jody get punished for something they didn’t do.)

Bill, Cissy, and French continue to listen as Norman calls the twins “goody-goods” and again denies that bugging is wrong.

“If Uncle Bill says it’s wrong, it’s wrong,” the twins counter.

(That does sound rather goody-goodish.)

Norman rushes out, past his hallway audience, and calls back, “How come it’s all right for you to listen to us?”

That's a pretty good deflection in the heat of the moment, but Norman is still a sassy brat.

That’s a pretty good deflection in the heat of the moment, but Norman is still a sassy brat.

Back in Bill’s office, Harris returns to try to sell Bill some spy equipment of his own.

He claims this thing can pick up a conversation half a mile away.

He claims this thing can pick up a conversation half a mile away.

I have a feeling Harris got his training working for CONTROL. He should just install a cone of silence over Bill’s desk for sensitive conversations.

Harris says everyone is spying, but Bill refuses to join in.

Harris says everyone is spying, but Bill refuses to join in.

If spying is the price of success, he’d rather quit and return to working as a first-class welder.

That evening, Bill is still brooding about the encounter and whether he made the right decision.

That evening, Bill is still brooding about the encounter and whether he made the right decision.

It’s so obvious he did make the right decision that I can only assume he is fishing for head-pats from French. French, of course, obliges: “Integrity, sir, is never out of date.”

To Bill’s chagrin, Norman drops by again, tape-recorder in tow.

VTS_01_8.VOB_000042956

“Enough of that,” Bill says, but Norman says he goes by his father’s rules.

Bill says that in the Davis home, the kids have to follow his rules.

Norman still tries to convince Bill that bugging is harmless and fun. He made a tape of his parents talking before he left his apartment, and he insists on playing it for everyone.

It starts out with his dad saying, “Norman’s not really such a bad kid,” and goes downhill from there. When the possibility of consulting a psychologist comes up, Bill tries to cut off the tape, but Norman prevents him.

He listens to his parents deciding how to break the news of their impending divorce to him.

He listens as his parents decide how to break the news of their impending divorce to him.

Awkward!

Awkward!

Norman rushes off, leaving his tape recorder behind.

At bedtime that night, the kids are still feeling sorry for Norman.

At bedtime that night, the kids are still feeling sorry for Norman.

The twins ask Bill how he knew that Norman would get hurt. Bill says he didn’t know, but when people do things that are wrong, someone often gets hurt.

After Bill and Jody leave the room, a comic exchange between Buffy and Cissy lightens the mood.

Buffy asks a bemused Cissy if she really dropped her tuna salad on Roger.

Buffy asks a bemused Cissy if she really dropped her tuna salad on Roger.

(Norman, meanwhile, went on to have a rich and fulfilling career with the NSA.)

Commentary

Electronic espionage was a hot-button topic in the 1960s (as it is today), but people wouldn’t know the full extent of domestic spying for a few years. The FBI’s awful COINTELPRO program came to light in 1971, and President Nixon’s White House taping system became public knowledge in 1973. (Norman’s father and Nixon were kindred spirits–Norman says his dad records every conversation in his office with the consent of the other parties.)

Wonderful Frenchisms (“hirsute adornments!”) and the train-case technology are highlights of this episode. The ending is heavy-handed, but Norman is such a jerk that his comeuppance  is satisfying.

Why did Bill even let Harris in the door for his spy-gear pitch? And why doesn’t anyone mention that bugging is illegal?

Bill's bedtime sweetness for this week--a kiss on Buffy's hand.

Bill’s bedtime sweetness for this week–a kiss on Buffy’s hand.

Notable Quotes

“You’ve just stumbled into a whole nest of squares.”–Bill

Guest Cast

Norman: Bobby Riha. Harris: Richard O’Brien. Fred: William Boyett. Mr. McGraw: Larry Thor. Roger: Russ Caldwell.

Bobby Riha had a regular role in the short-lived Debbie Reynolds Show.

Richard O’Brien’s character acting included many police officer roles, including a recurring one on S.W.A.T.

Russ Caldwell’s screen career was very brief–he has only four IMDB.com credits.

 

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 17, “Oh, to Be in England,” 1/27/1969

VTS_01_6.VOB_000382041

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

Well, if the title didn’t give away this episode’s theme, the opening stock footage will.

Pip, pip, and cheerio! We're going to England!

Pip, pip, and cheerio! We’re going to England!

It seems that Bill is in London meeting with British and French officials about his suggested innovations for “the English Channel project.”

Wow--Bill's firm is working on the Chunnel!

Wow–Bill’s firm is working on the Chunnel!

Bill warns that that the project may hit a few snags. (That’s a understatement, considering that the real Chunnel didn’t open until 1994.)

The leaders on the project want Bill to stay in Britain for year and act as a consultant. Bill is reluctant to leave his family for so long, but the others point out that he could fly home on weekends to visit.

Later, Bill calls home to check in.

Later, Bill calls home to check in.

He lets it slip to French that he may be making his headquarters in England temporarily, which sets French off rhapsodizing about his homeland. (French isn’t excited about the Chunnel, though–he likes old-school channel crossings.)

After hanging up the phone, a wistful French sigh, "England...'oh, to be in...:"

After hanging up the phone, a wistful French sighs, “England…’oh, to be in…:”

This is the first of many British literary, theatrical, and musical references the script manages to work in.

Soon, Buffy and Jody return home from the zoo and offer French peanuts that the monkeys rejected.

Soon, Buffy and Jody return home from the zoo and offer French peanuts that the monkeys rejected.

French isn’t thrilled with the peanuts, and the twins aren’t thrilled to hear that Bill will be staying in London.

They express sympathy for Bill having to live abroad for a year.

They express sympathy for Bill having to live abroad for a year.

French tells them that Bill is fortunate to be in the land that produced Chaucer, Shelley, Keats, Shakespeare…

Then he launches into the speech from Richard II that includes: "This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."

Then he launches into the speech from Richard II that includes: “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

 

His speech doesn’t do much for Buffy and Jody, but it enraptures Cissy, who has just returned from Sharon’s apartment.

Cissy's a budding thespian this week, and the mention of England starts her talking about the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Cissy’s a budding thespian this week, and the mention of England starts her talking about the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

“London has everything,” she sighs, envying Bill for having the chance to live there. (Poor Cissy, living in a theatrical backwater like New York City.)

Meanwhile, back in England, Bill is hanging out at the manor house of Batman's butler.

Meanwhile, back in England, Bill is hanging out at the manor house of Batman’s butler.

Okay, on this show his name is Wilson, and he conveniently has to vacate his manor house for about a year. Bill expresses interest in leasing it: While it’s too big for a bachelor, it will be perfect if the kids come to live in London, too.

Wilson's daughter, Pamela, seems a bit taken aback by this idea.

Wilson’s daughter, Pamela, seems taken aback by this idea.

Pamela is an actress and apparently is Bill’s squeeze while he’s in England.

Bill rushes off to phone the kids, who are thrilled at the idea of joining Bill in England.

Bill rushes off to phone the kids, who are thrilled at the idea of joining him in England.

Buffy says that Mrs. Beasley wants to meet the queen, and Bill promises to try to arrange it.

Cissy tells him about her dream of attending RADA, and he offers to enlist Pamela to help make that happen.

Jody just wants to crawl through the Channel Tunnel…he likes crawling through tunnels.

When the kids hang up the phone, Buffy and Jody start marching around and singing “London Bridge.” When French comes in, he’s excited to hear the news, too, but he tells the children they should act like gentlefolk, showing dignity and restraint.

Then he sings a bit of "London Bridge" himself as he heads to the kitchen.

Then he sings a bit of “London Bridge” himself as he heads to the kitchen.

In London, though, everyone is singing a different tune.

To everyone's disappointment, the tunnel project has been postponed.

To the officials’ disappointment, the tunnel project has been postponed.

“You’ll get the tunnel built someday, I guess,” Bill says consolingly. (Yes…but I’m not sure these guys will live to see it.)

Knowing the kids will be disappointed, too, he says he might still try to work out a stay in England for them.

At home, everyone continues to celebrate all things British.

Buffy and Jody are playing Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the park.

Buffy and Jody are playing Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the park…

...and French is reading them stories about St. George and the dragon.

…and French is reading them stories about St. George and the dragon.

French assures Buffy that there are no real dragons in England, but tells her there are castles they can visit.

Everyone is excited to greet Bill when he comes home.

Cissy is thrilled that Pamela has arranged for her to interview at RADA.

Buffy wants to know if the manor house where they will be staying is a spooky castle or a regular house. (Bill says it’s in between–a regular castle.)

French is looking forward to a reunion his family is planning at “the Rooster and Tankard in Sissingham.”

Jody wants to watch the workers digging the tunnel, and French agrees that witnessing history in the making will be educational.

Bill has to let them know that the tunnel project is off.

Bill has to let them know that the tunnel project is off.

Their trip to England is still on, however. Bill’s going to send French and the kids to England for a year, and he will visit there on the weekends.

(Sending your kids away for a year is a pretty crazy idea, Bill. Tempting, sure…but crazy.)

Bill rushes back out the door to work on”the Canadian project.” Meanwhile, everyone else tries to stay excited about moving.

Cissy's dreaming about how wonderful the Royal Academy will be.

Cissy’s still dreaming about how wonderful the Royal Academy will be.

French agrees, naming some of the great British actors–Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Dame Edith Evans, and John Gielgud. (I believe, however, that the only one of that group to attend RADA was Gielgud.)

French serves Buffy and Jody trifle for dessert and tells them he’s going out for the evening to buy souvenirs of America for his seven brothers and three sisters.

“I, Buffy, am the baby,” French says, cracking me up.

Buffy and Jody are amused, too.

Buffy and Jody are amused, too.

When Bill returns from work that evening, French is still out shopping.

Cissy offers to make him a hamburger while he tucks in the kids.

Cissy offers to make him a hamburger while he checks on the kids.

He finds Buffy awake and worried.

Buffy tells Bill that she wants to stay with him while French, Cissy, and Jody go to England.

She tells him that she wants to stay with him while French, Cissy, and Jody go to England.

She is afraid he will be lonely by himself, though he says he will manage.

Next, he visits Jody’s room, which is deserted. He finds Jody in his own bed.

Jody tells Bill that pals should stick together, so he should stay with Bill while French and girls go to England.

Jody tells Bill that pals should stick together, so he wants to stick with Bill while French and the girls go to England.

Bill says that’s a nice thought, but he doesn’t back off his ridiculous plan.

He heads to the kitchen, excited to eat "a real American hamburger with onions and junk."

He heads to the kitchen, excited to eat “a real American hamburger with onions and junk.”

(Funny thing about that hamburger–Cissy serves it on bread instead of a bun, and Bill removes the top piece of bread and EATS IT WITH A FORK! Are we sure he’s really American?)

VTS_01_6.VOB_001121584

Soon Cissy’s telling Bill that she doesn’t want to go England either, preferring to stay with him.

“That settles it,” Bill says, finally snapping to his senses. The England idea is dead.

Cissy is thrilled, but she and Bill wonder how French will take it.

Cissy is thrilled, but she and Bill wonder how French will take it.

Surprisingly well, as it turns out.

Surprisingly well, as it turns out.

French is actually relieved–he found it an “insoluble predicament” to choose between going with the kids or staying with Bill.

After all, as French says, in an inevitable final allusion, “There’ll always be an England.”

Commentary

Does it not occur to Bill that the whole family could just take a vacation to England when the kids have a break from school?

This episode seems to breeze by more quickly than most. Though it’s yet another story dealing with a possible family separation, it avoids the angst that some episodes generate. As is often the case, French provides many of the best moments. Bill’s tender bedtime scenes with Buffy and Jody are another highlight.

Oh, Bill--when you smile like that, I can forgive your occasional insane parenting lapses.

Oh, Bill–when you smile like that, I can forgive your occasional insane parenting lapses.

Continuity Notes

We get several Sharon references, and French harkens back to “the playing fields of Eton” again.

Fun Facts

Both Jody and Buffy hope to be truck drivers when they grow up, although French says Bill has other careers in mind for them.

Random Historical Note

In the opening scene, Bill talks about the experience he gained working on “the San Francisco-Oakland project.” Based on the time frame, I assume the writers were alluding to construction of the Transbay Tube.

Guest Cast

Pamela: Barbara Babcock. Monsieur Raynaud: Emile Genest. Sir Richard: John Holland. Mr. Wilson: Alan Napier.

Barbara Babcock should be a familiar face to most classic TV fans. She appeared in several episodes of Star Trek and later had recurring roles on Dallas and Hill Street Blues. She made guest appearances on such shows as Taxi, Cheers, The Golden Girls, and Remington Steele. In the 1990s, she had a regular role on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She had one of more memorable film roles in 1992’s Far and Away.

Barbara Babcock

Barbara Babcock

Alan Napier is also familiar, especially for his role as Alfred in the Batman TV series. During his long career, his path crossed several times with both of our Messrs. French. With Sebastian Cabot, he was in the vocal cast of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, and he appeared once on Cabot’s series Checkmate. With John Williams, he appeared in a three-part Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode called “I Killed the Count.”

And, guess what?  Napier studied at RADA.

Alan Napier

Alan Napier

 

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 16, “A Lesson for Grown-Ups,” 1/20/1969

VTS_01_5.VOB_001035555

Written by: Elroy Schwartz. Directed by: Charles Barton.

It’s Saturday morning, and Uncle Bill is getting ready for a golf game. Buffy and Jody are disappointed that he can’t spend time with them. He’s not about to give up his “Bill time,” though.

“It’s not often that I can get away on a Saturday,” he says.

Really, Bill? Really?

Really, Bill? Really?

As it happens, Bill’s plans are about to fall apart, anyway. A phone call brings bad news.

He's given French orders to tell callers he's unavailable, but French senses this particular caller's urgency.

He’s given French orders to tell callers he’s unavailable, but French senses this particular caller’s urgency.

Alerted by his colleague, Bill tells French to tune in "the news program" on the television.

After listening for a moment, Bill tells French to tune in “the news program” on the television.

The whole family rushes into the den and gathers around the rabbit-eared set.

It seems a bridge has collapsed in Africa.

A bridge has collapsed in Africa–a bridge connecting the emerging nations of “Matongo” and “Nubwanda.”

(I wonder how long it took Elroy Schwartz to come up with just the right African-sounding strings of syllables for those names?)

The almost-finished bridge, the announcer tells nation, is a project of the William Davis Construction Company.

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

 

Fun facts about Matonga--the population is 8 million, and the government is democratic.

Fun facts about Matongo–the population is 8 million, and the government is democratic.

Soon, Cissy is answering calls from the wire services, and Bill is rushing to his office.

The worried kids want to know what they can do to help. Bill tells them to be good and mind Mr. French.

The worried kids want to know what they can do to help. Bill tells them to be good and mind Mr. French.

At the office, Bill learns that only one person was injured–Clark McAlister, who has been supervising the construction project. It’s feared that McAlister’s back may be broken.

Bill shows admirable concern for his employee. He tells his underlings to charter a plane to bring McAlister back to New York and to find the injured may the best orthopedic doctor available.

Bill shows admirable concern for his employee. He tells his underlings to charter a plane to bring McAlister back to New York and to find the injured man the best orthopedic doctor available.

Bill also learns about rumors going around that blame the collapse on the use of shoddy materials. Bill, who trusts McAlister’s integrity, decides to fly to D.C. and speak to Matongo’s ambassador in person.

As he's going out the door, this guy reminds him that the company is on the hook for any losses, but Bill isn't.

As Bill is going out the door, this guy reminds him that the company is on the hook for any losses, but Bill isn’t personally responsible.

Glasses Guy will continue to advocate evading personal responsibility throughout the episode, so we can be pretty sure he’s a lawyer.

Bill tells the ambassador that his company will cooperate fully with Matongo's investigation and will also launch an internal one.

Bill tells the ambassador that his company will cooperate fully with Matongo’s investigation and will also launch an internal one.

Bill emphasizes the he doesn’t believe his employees cut corners, but he promises to cover the disaster’s full cost if the company is found liable.

The ambassador appreciates the fact that Bill came to see him in person.

The ambassador appreciates the fact that Bill came to see him in person.

(The ambassador’s office introduces a recurring color scheme in this episode–red and blue. It also conveys some subtle hints in case you forget where Matongo is located. Elephant, gazelle, zebra-skin rug…Africa!)

Back at home, Bill's lawyer is the bearer of bad news. The company's insurance won't cover a penny of the losses if the builders used sub-standard materials.

Back at home, Glasses Guy is the bearer of bad news. The company’s insurance won’t cover a penny of the losses if the builders used sub-standard materials.

If that happens, Bill pledges, he will cover the losses out of his personal assets. He sticks to this position even when Glasses Guy tells him it will cost him everything he has.

(Discussion question: How rich do we think Uncle Bill is? We know he’s “lives-in-a-nice-Manhattan-apartment-with-a fulltime-manservant” rich. But I’m surprised that he’s “able to-cover-the-cost-of-a-bridge-collapse-out-of-his-personal-assets” rich.)

After Glasses Guy leaves, French and the kids return from grocery shopping.

After Glasses Guy leaves, French and the kids return from grocery shopping.

French reprimands Jody for closing the door with his foot. C’mon, French–the kid’s hands are full!

Everyone soon learns that the family faces bigger problems than improper door-closing.

Everyone soon learns that the family faces bigger problems than improper door-closing.

Bill lets them know that they may soon lose everything they have, including their apartment.

(Dumping this on them before the investigation is even completed? Smooth move, Uncle Bill. I mean, it’s not like these kids have any ongoing issues with trauma and loss, right?)

All three kids insist that they won’t mind moving, as long as the family stays together.

Jody adds that he doesn’t need a whole room for himself. If they get a smaller apartment, he can sleep with Mr. French. This earns one of French’s patented horrified looks, which provides the best laugh in this mostly-serious episode.

 

They are pretty much pleading for reassurance.

The kids just want reassurance that they won’t be sent away.

Bill answers them with a hug.

Bill answers them with a hug.

(Judging by upcoming scenes, he really should have used words instead.)

Soon Bill gets word that McAlister is back in New York, so he rushes to the hospital to visit him.

Soon Bill gets word that McAlister is back in New York, so he rushes to the hospital to visit him.

McAlister says the bridge showed no signs of stress before it suddenly collapsed. The local workers are not to blame for the incident, he adds. They are they best crew he’s ever had.

Bill tells him to concentrate on getting well and informs him that he is flying a specialist in from Johns Hopkins.

After leaving the room, Bill talks briefly with McAlister's daughter.

After leaving the room, Bill talks briefly with McAlister’s daughter.

She tells Bill that no one blames him for her dad’s condition. Then she hints around that her dad would be relieved if he didn’t have to worry about her college costs.

(Poor Bill’s on a fast track to the fat-fat-the-water-rat side of town.)

Back at home, the kids are still worried, and French isn’t exactly reassuring.

The family faces some "quite awesome possibilities," he says.

The family faces some “quite awesome possibilities,” he says.

And he doesn’t mean it in the “Totally awesome!” sense.

The kids just want to know that they won’t be shipped back to Aunt Fran, but French says that children need a suitable, stable environment.

“If a family is a family, it doesn’t get sent away all the time,” Buffy insists.

"Quite," is the only response a visibly moved French can get out.

“Quite,” is the only response a visibly moved French can get out.

The next morning, Cissy announces to the twins that she is going to get a job to help the family stay together. Jody says he will run errands to make money and suggests to Buffy that she try babysitting. After all, she likes babies–or at least dolls.

Jody says he will run errands for money suggests to Buffy that she try babysitting. After all, she likes babies--or at least dolls.

There’s that color scheme again–red and blue.

Soon we see Jody helping people carry their groceries.

Soon we see Jody helping people carry their groceries.

Meanwhile, Buffy takes up dog-walking.

We see her walking a poodle...

We see her walking a poodle…

(Notice: Red and blue dress.)

...and a beagle...

…and a beagle…

...and then we see a great dane walking her.

…and then we see a great dane walking her.

The kids also sell their prized possessions.

Jody takes only $2 and a $1 IOU for his baseball signed by Mickey Mantle.

Jody takes only $2 and a $1 IOU for his baseball signed by Mickey Mantle.

Buffy gets 36 cents for a belt made from gum wrappers.

Buffy gets 36 cents for a belt made from gum wrappers.

That’s probably a fair price for the belt, but Jody’s going to regret his transaction someday. (Here’s a ball from the same era that went for over $700 at auction.)

At work, Glasses Guy is trying to get Bil to protect at least some of his personal assets.

At work, Glasses Guy is still trying to get Bill to protect at least some of his personal assets.

Bill won’t hear of it. He’d rather lose everything than sacrifice his integrity. When Glasses Guy asks about the kids, Bill says they took him for better or worse.

(If only he had made his intentions to keep family together this clear when he was talking to the kids.)

At home that night, French fills Bill in about the fund-raising the kids have been doing.

At home that night, French fills Bill in about the fund-raising the children have been doing.

The kids present him with their earnings to date, which amounts to about $6.

“When a family faces troubles together, they’re not so hard,” Buffy says.

At a loss for words, he assures them that their efforts will appreciated.

At a loss for words, Bill manages to let them know that he appreciates their efforts.

The next day, he visits McAlister at the hospital again and hears some good news.

The expert from Johns Hopkins has predicted a full recovery.

The expert from Johns Hopkins has predicted a full recovery.

(Red and blue again. And some good, old Family Affair green.)

While he’s at the hospital, Bill takes a call from work. The ambassador wants Bill to see him right away.

In D.C., Bill gets more good news. The collapse was not his company's fault.

In D.C., Bill gets more good news. The collapse was not his company’s fault.

It seems that enemies of Matongo’s government sabotaged the project. But now, Matongo’s people are more determined than ever to see that bridge is completed.

Brian Keith does a great job portraying Bill's profound relief.

Brian Keith does a great job portraying Bill’s profound relief.

Bill says they can talk about re-building soon, but first he has to take care of some family problems–including buying back a baseball and a gum-wrapper belt.

The kids are happy to get their treasures back.

The kids are happy to get their treasures back.

And everyone is thrilled that another threat to their family unity has been averted.

Bill says they can keep the apartment and adds that French will still be able to live with them.

Bill says they can keep the apartment and adds that French will still be able to live with them.

“There was never any question,” French replies.

Awww. (And, again–red and blue!)

Commentary

This episode is unusual, with its minimal jokes and its emphasis on business matters. I like it: Scenarios that threaten the family’s solidarity always make for compelling episodes, and Brian Keith’s non-verbal acting is excellent, especially in the final scene with the ambassador.

The show takes pains to present Bill as the most benevolent kind of capitalist imaginable–he treats his employees well, pays for their health care himself when they are injured on the job, and stakes his entire fortune on his company’s integrity.

Continuity Notes

We get references to Sharon and Aunt Fran. Jody’s signed baseball has been mentioned before, too.

Guest Cast

Mr. McAlister: Horace McMahon. Barbara: Maura McGiveney. Ambassador: Davis Roberts. Hank: John Alvin. Mel: William Boyett. Nurse: Ila Britton.

This is Ila Britton’s last of four brief Family Affair appearances.

Character actor McMahon made a film and TV career out of playing what his IMDb bio describes as “assorted New York characters – thugs, cabbies, henchmen, bouncers.” This episode was his last on-screen appearance; he died less than three years after it aired.

British actress Maura McGiveney was the daughter of vaudeville “quick-change artist” Owen McGiveney. Shortly after this episode aired, she appeared in the cast of one of TV’s biggest bombs—ABC’s one-episode wonder Turn-On.

Davis Roberts worked regularly as a TV character actor right up until his death in 1993.

William Boyett seemed to specialize in playing policemen and judges throughout his prolific career as a character actor. He had regular roles on Adam-12 and the 1950s cop show Highway Patrol. He also made frequent appearances on both the 1950s and 1960s versions of Dragnet. This is his first of six appearances on Family Affair.

Family Affair Friday: Season 3, Episode 15, “A Family Group,” 1/13/1969

VTS_01_4.VOB_000769505

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

This week, we open in the living room, where Jody is confessing to some problems at school.

His teacher has written Bill a note complaining about Jody's penmanship. Unfortunately, Bill can't read the teacher's handwriting.

His teacher has written Bill a note complaining about Jody’s penmanship. Unfortunately, Bill can’t read the teacher’s handwriting.

Soon, Cissy breezes in.

Why she's dressed like a stewardess, I can't say.

Why she’s dressed like a stewardess, I can’t say.

She has exciting news–Dana Mason, the daughter of two Broadway stars, is attending Cissy’s school. Cissy wants to invite Dana over to spend the night, and Bill gives his approval.

Dana finds the accommodations in Cissy's room "quaint."

Dana finds the accommodations in Cissy’s room “quaint.”

An avid name-dropper, she’s quick to tell Cissy about her Uncle Larry–Laurence Olivier. She adds that she just calls him Larry now that she’s grown. This inspires an impressionable Cissy to drop the “uncle” from Uncle Bill throughout this episode.

(I wish that Dana would have told Cissy that bows are childish.)

When Dana meets French and realizes he's British, she asks him if he knows any of her family's British friends--Larry, Rex, Noel, Alec, and Sarah?

When Dana meets French and realizes he’s British, she asks him if he knows any of her family’s British friends–Larry, Rex, Noel, Alec, and Sarah?

A bemused French replies that it depends which Larry, Rex, Noel, Alec, and Sarah she means.

(I know which Larry, Rex, Noel, and Alec she means, but I’m drawing a blank on Sarah. Can anyone help me out?)

When Bill comes home, Dana tries out her name-dropping on him, too. When she tells him that she passed up a chance to attend a party at Truman’s, he thinks she’s talking about Harry Truman. She has to make it clear that she’s talking about Truman Capote. (She pronounces his last name as if it rhymes with connote.) Bill is similarly clueless about her reference to Lee. (Lee Radziwill, Jackie O’s sister.)

It's clear that Bill finds Dana as insufferable as I do.

It’s clear that Bill finds Dana as insufferable as I do.

Meanwhile, Buffy is preparing for a role in a school play. It's Robin Hood, and she's playing a tree in Sherwood Forest.

Meanwhile, Buffy is preparing for a role in a school play. It’s Robin Hood, and she’s playing a tree in Sherwood Forest.

Dana tries to give Buffy some tips about method acting, then disparages the whole idea of school plays as unimportant and dull.

The Davises and French assure Buffy that they are excited about her play and wouldn’t miss it for the world.

This show of family togetherness seems to make an impression on Dana.

In bed that night, she tells Cissy about the way her family struggled before her parents found fame.

In bed that night, she tells Cissy about the way her family struggled before her parents found fame.

They were so poor that for awhile the whole family lived in a dressing room at a dingy theater where the Masons were performing.

Cissy thinks that must have been awful.

But it's clear that Dana considers those times her family's happiest.

But it’s clear that Dana considers those times her family’s happiest.

She asks Cissy if she can stay at the Davis apartment for a few more days. Her parents are always frazzled when they are appearing in a play, she notes, and they would be relieved to have her out of the way. Cissy is excited to have her glamorous friend extend her visit.

Pretty soon, however, Bill and French are ready for the visit to end.

Pretty soon, however, Bill and French are ready for the visit to end.

Prevailing on Dana to help Buffy rehearse, Bill has a private talk with Cissy.

He's perplexed about Dana's family and why they don't seem concerned about her staying for days on end with strangers.

He’s perplexed about Dana’s family and why they don’t seem concerned about her staying for days on end with strangers.

“You just don’t understand the jet set, Bill,” Cissy says.

“I guess I don’t, Catherine,” Bill replies.

(On paper, it doesn’t look like much, but Brian Keith’s delivery makes this exchange amusing.)

At breakfast the next day, Bill pressures Dana to give him her parents' phone number.

At breakfast the next day, Bill pressures Dana to give him her parents’ phone number.

(What is up with that wall decor behind them?!)

She has to admit that her parents don’t know where she is. They have recently separated, and each of them thinks she’s staying with the other.

Cissy asks Dana why she didn't confide in her.

Cissy asks Dana why she didn’t confide in her.

“Would you understand what it’s like to be divided up between your mother and your father, like a polite note they keep packing back and forth?” Dana asks.

Cissy looks confused. She is probably wondering why Dana hasn't noticed that she doesn't have parents.

Cissy looks confused. She is probably wondering why Dana hasn’t noticed that she doesn’t have parents.

Dana says she enjoyed staying with the Davises because they are a real family, the kind the Masons used to be.

She takes off before Bill can contact her parents.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Jody are just happy that the meal-time outburst resulted in plenty of leftovers for them.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Jody are just happy that the meal-time outburst resulted in plenty of leftovers for them.

Later, Dana’s frantic parents arrive to find their daughter gone.

When they ask Cissy where Dana could be, Cissy remembers her comments about the dingy theater.

When they ask Cissy where Dana could be, Cissy remembers her comments about the dingy theater.

The Masons are shocked that Dana thinks of those struggling days as her best times.

They rush off to the theater with Bill and Cissy.

As Cissy suspected, Dana is brooding in the Masons' old dressing room.

As Cissy suspected, Dana is brooding in the Masons’ old dressing room.

She’s delighted to see that both her parents have come for her–she thinks it means they are getting back together.

Her parents explain that while they both lover her, they no longer love each other. They are going through with their divorce.

Her parents explain that while they both love her, they no longer love each other. They are going through with their divorce.

Mr. Mason says the three of them will have to find a new way to be a family.

When Dana is still dejected, Cissy steps in with some words of wisdom.

When Dana is still dejected, Cissy steps in with some words of wisdom.

Being a real family isn’t about having your mother and father together, she says, pointing out to the oblivious Dana that she herself is an orphan.

“Being a real family has to do with somebody loving you…and, especially, with you loving them back,” Cissy says, as the violins swell.

That comforts Dana, and she walks off into the sunset with her parents, never to be seen again. (Thank God!)

When we next see the Davis family, everyone is celebrating a successful performance by Buffy.

She even received flowers from a secret admirer.

She even received flowers from a secret admirer.

She makes a show of pretending that she doesn’t know they came from her family.

(I like Cissy’s outfit here, scarf, purse, and all.)

Commentary

Dana is supposed to be annoying and affected, and Lori Martin certainly puts those qualities across. The character has a nails-on-blackboard effect on me that makes this episode difficult to watch.

The closing message is a good one and must have been especially important for kids to hear in 1969, when divorce rates were soaring. (Brian Keith went through a divorce himself that year.) The reactions to Cissy’s use of “Bill” are amusing, and Buffy as a tree definitely amps up this episode’s cuteness quotient.

Unanswered Questions

Why would the daughter of jet-setters be attending a public high school?

Since the Masons were working together, wouldn’t one of them have asked the other how Dana was doing at some point?

Guest Cast

Dana Mason: Lori Martin. Richard Mason: Liam Sullivan. Lois Mason: Kathleen Crowley.

Lori Martin was experienced young actress. She was best known for her appearance in 1962’s Cape Fear and for a starring role in a TV-series version of National Velvet. Martin, who retired from acting not long after this episode aired, died in 2010.

Crowley and Sullivan

Crowley and Sullivan

Liam Sullivan made many TV guest appearances, including memorable ones on Star Trek (“Plato’s Stepchildren”) and The Twilight Zone (“The Silence”).

 

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 14, “To Love with Buffy,” 1/6/1969

VTS_01_2.VOB_000649258

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

Before I begin, I must apologize profusely for my delay in bringing you this installment of my Family Affair series. It resulted from a combination of issues–technical, medical, and practical–that are too boring to describe in detail. I think things are back on track now, and I will be able to blog about Family Affair at least every other week.

VTS_01_2.VOB_000343034

We find the Davis family in the living room, where Bill is practicing putting. Buffy and Jody are trying to find Puerto Rico on the map. Suprisingly, they do.

Not so surprisingly, they think it looks so small that Bill could hit a golf ball all the way across it.

VTS_01_2.VOB_000380203

Yes, Bill is getting ready to take another trip. He’s going to deliver a speech to an industry group, but golf and fishing also seem to be on itinerary.

Jody waxes sentimental about the trips he and Bill have taken together.

 

Realizing that Buffy has no similar stories to share, Cissy sports her concerned face.

Realizing that Buffy has no similar stories to share, Cissy sports her concerned face.

After Jody runs downstairs to talk to his stickball teammates, Buffy asks outright if she can go with him on fishing trip someday.

This is how hopeful Buffy looks.

This is how hopeful Buffy looks.

This is how excited Bill looks as he says, "Yeah, maybe."

This is how excited Bill looks as he says, “Yeah, maybe.”

Oh, Uncle Bill.

He compounds his jerkiness by saying that little girls shouldn’t do rugged things. They should play with dolls instead.

Cissy stalks off to her room, and a resigned Buffy takes Mrs. Beasley out on the terrace for a tea party.

Moments later, Cissy shows Bill an essay Buffy wrote for school.

Moments later, Cissy shows Bill an essay Buffy wrote for school.

It’s about a trip to Lake Placid with Uncle Bill. She tells the story from her point of view, even though she wasn’t really on the trip.

“That is the best time I ever had, when Uncle Bill and I went away together just the two of us,” the essay concludes.

Aww.

Bill quickly comes to the conclusion that he should take Buffy with him to Puerto Rico for a long weekend. Good thing airplane reservations are so flexible in the Davises’ world.

Buffy is thrilled to hear the news.

Buffy is thrilled to hear the news.

French and Bill wonder if Jody will be jealous that Buffy gets to go and he doesn’t.

In his usual good-natured way, though, Jody is delighted for his sister.

In his usual good-natured way, though, Jody is delighted for his sister.

Well, everyone is happy. What could possibly go wrong?

We get a slight hint when French announces that he’s packed Bill’s white and plaid (yikes!) dinner jackets. He wants Bill to be prepared for “tropical moonlight.”

Bill denies that he has such things in mind, but let's face it: French always knows best.

Bill denies that he has such things in mind, but let’s face it: French always knows best.

Bill and Buffy take a late flight, and Buffy is sleeping when they get to Puerto Rico.

Bill's wide awake, though, especially when he meets Gail.

Bill’s wide awake, though, especially when he meets Gail.

Gail is a writer for Corporation Magazine, which sounds like a scintillating read. She’s there to cover Bill’s speech, and she can’t wait to “interview him,” if you know what I mean.

Bill's associate thinks Bill should get a hotel babysitter for Buffy and head straight for the lounge.

Bill’s associate thinks Bill should get a hotel babysitter for Buffy and head straight for the lounge.

Showing some sensitivity, Bill decides that wouldn’t make for a good start to Buffy’s special trip.

Random fashion note: Buffy’s coat and gloves are adorable in this scene.

Meanwhile, at home, Cissy's got a dating dilemma of her own.

Meanwhile, at home, Cissy’s got a dating dilemma of her own.

Cissy has a date lined up for the next night with the “suave..sophisticated” Marvin Bradbury. That’s a problem because, at the same time, Mr. French is going out with Miss Faversham. (Yay!)

Cissy either has to cancel her date or take Jody along. I wonder which option she would prefer?

This is how Jody looks when he realizes he's going on the date.

This is how Jody looks when he realizes he’s going on the date.

On their way to breakfast the next morning, Bill and Buffy meet the director of the hotel kids’ program.

She'd be only too happy to take Buffy off his hands for breakfast, as well as a full day of activities.

She’d be only too happy to take Buffy off his hands for breakfast, as well as a full day of activities.

(I thought such kids’ programs were a more recent development. I guess my family just didn’t stay at classy enough hotels back in the day. No child-care services at HoJos!)

Bill mystifies the lady by preferring to eat breakfast alone with Buffy. He also wants to arrange a special activity for just the two of them. Mrs. Robinson suggests a burro trip to the old silver mines.

At breakfast, Buffy is radiantly happy to have Bill's full attention.

At breakfast, Buffy is radiantly happy to have Bill’s full attention.

Random fashion note: Isn’t Buffy’s outfit a little strange for a tropical climate?

She doesn't have his full attention for long, though.

She doesn’t have his full attention for long, though.

Buffy tells Gail that she’s pretty and then launches into a completely guileless recitation on all the pretty girls Bill knows–so many that he sometimes gets them mixed up. Bill’s discomfort is amusing to behold.

Gail wants Bill to join her for golf, but he keeps his commitment to Buffy.

Back at home, Marvin Bradbury has big plans for his date with Cissy.

Back at home, Marvin Bradbury has big plans for his date with Cissy.

He’s arranged for a gypsy violinist and “wine”–actually, grape juice in a wine decanter.

Cissy has neglected to warn him ahead of time that it will be a dinner for three, not two.

This is what Marvin looks like when he meets Jody.

This is what Marvin looks like when he meets Jody.

Things go downhill from there, when Jody asks the violinist to play “Turkey in the Straw.”

Jody also ruins Marvin’s attempt to look cool while tasting the “wine.”

"It's a sound little thing, somewhat on the fruity side," Marvin says.

“It’s a sound little thing, somewhat on the fruity side,” Marvin says. (I’ll refrain from making the joke that comes to mind here.)

Jody points out that it’s fruity because it’s grape juice.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, Buffy and Bill are going to dinner together.

Mrs. Robinson invites Buffy to play bingo with the other children.

When they come upon Mrs. Robinson in the lobby, she invites Buffy to play bingo after dinner with the other children.

When Buffy says she’d like to play, Bill says he’ll come along, too. Again, Mrs. Robinson is mystified by a parent who wants to spend time with their child.

(By the way, if you are wondering how Bill is able to achieve Buffy’s signature hairstyle on his own, the writers have anticipated this nitpick. They have him say it took “trial and error.”)

At dinner, though, it's clear that Bill's distracted.

At dinner, though, it’s clear that Bill’s distracted.

This is how Buffy looks as she raves to Bill about her dessert.

This is how Buffy looks as she raves to Bill about her dessert.

This is how Bill looks as he stares toward Gail's table and grunts minimal responses to Buffy's comments.

This is how Bill looks as he stares toward Gail’s table and grunts minimal responses to Buffy’s comments.

This is how Buffy looks when she realizes Bill isn't paying any attention.

This is how Buffy looks when she realizes Bill isn’t paying any attention.

Letting Bill off the hook, she tells him that she wants to go play bingo without him.

“Sometimes kids should be with kids, and grown-ups should be with grown-ups,” she says.

She even turns down Bill's request for a dance and encourages him to dance with Gail instead.

She even turns down Bill’s request for a dance and encourages him to dance with Gail instead.

Back at home, Marvin has taken Cissy and Jody home–apparently, he barely slowed down the car long enough to let them out.

Cissy and Jody have a good laugh about the situation as "Turkey in the Straw" swells up in the background.

Cissy and Jody have a good laugh about the situation as “Turkey in the Straw” swells up in the background.

Commentary

Bill doesn’t come off well in this episode, from his casual sexism to his inability to leave one skirt unchased. (It’s only a long weekend, for God’s sake!) “Sometimes kids should be with kids and grownups should be with grownups” is a sensible observation, but I wish Buffy had come to that conclusion on her own. She might have become tired of dressing up and being quiet, for instance. Instead, it’s obvious that she’s just trying make the obviously-checked out Uncle Bill happy.

The performances are good, however. Brian Keith has some nice non-verbal business, which I’m sure he improvised.

The playful ear tugging in this scene is a good example.

The playful ear tugging in this scene is a good example.

Anissa Jones just beams in her scenes with Keith.

The Cissy-Jody subplot is mildly amusing, and I enjoy their laughter at the end.

Guest Cast

Hotel Clerk: Aladdin. Frank: Barry Cahill. Gail Ryder: Sue Casey. Mrs. Robinson: Patience Cleveland. Marvin: Gregg Fedderson. Mrs. Rodriguez: Carmen D’Antonio. Waiter: Pepe Hern. Maitre d’: Lou Krugman. Steve Jackson: Kenneth Tobey.

Aladdin played the violin on The Lawrence Welk Show. The same year this episode aired, he appeared in a memorable run of My Three Sons episodes leading up to Steve and Barbara’s wedding.

Cahill was married to Rachel Ames (who played Audrey on General Hospital for 50 years). He died in 2012.

Casey was mostly a Hollywood bit player, but she achieved some cult fame in the 1965 film The Beach Girls and The Monster.

This is Fedderson’s second appearance as a Cissy love interest. The next time we see him, he’ll be starting a string of 11 episodes as her steady boyfriend Gregg.

Tobey was a prolific and well regarded character actor. He appeared in The Thing from Another World and many other science fiction films. Other films in which he appeared include Angel Eyes, Billy Jack, and Airplane! In the 1950s, he had his own television adventure series, The Whirlybirds. He had recurring roles in I, Spy and Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett series. Tobey died in 2002.