I apologize for my lateness in bringing you this installment of my weekly Family Affair series.
Season 1, Episode 8, “Who’s Afraid of Nural Shpeni?”
Written by: Cynthia Lindsay. Directed by: William D. Russell.
A Middle Eastern theme pervades this episode, which begins with French reading to the twins about Sinbad the Sailor.
With Uncle Bill soon to return from a project in Beirut, French decides to brush up on his Lebanese culinary skills. But a trip to Fuad’s Middle Eastern Delicacies leads to cooking lessons from Nural Shpeni and then to her family’s demands that French marry her.
Dr. Sarkis, an associate of Uncle Bill, reminds Nural’s brothers that the traditions they are relying upon to force French into marriage also demand a large dowry from them.
French is thrilled when Nural finally announces she’d rather marry Officer Chamas, the local cop on the beat.
This is the episode the Cleveland Amory mocked in his TV Guide review of Family Affair. It is pretty bad, actually. It’s always fun to see Mr. French in a state of extreme discomfort, however. And it has some other compensations.
Fuad: Nestor Paiva. Nural: Magda Harout. Alam: Henry Corden. Mohad: Peter Manahos. Policeman Chamas: Vic Tayback. Old woman: Kay Koury. Dr. Sarkis: Abraham Sofaer. Most familiar is Vic Tayback, who played Mel in the 1974 movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, as well as the subsequent TV series Alice. Nestor Paiva, who had a long career in movies, died before this episode aired. Magda Harout, on the other hand, is still alive and continued to act as recently as 2010, with an appearance on Fringe. Attention Seinfeld fans: she appeared as Stella in the 1991 episode “The Pen.” Henry Corden voiced many cartoon characters, including Fred Flintstone. He was Marcia’s boss, Mr. Haskell, in the ice cream parlor episode of The Brady Bunch.
Mr. French speaks Arabic and once worked for the Shah of Morocco. Jody is five minutes older than Buffy.
Today’s Bonus Feature
An article from TV Radio Mirror, July 1967. These fan magazine articles are not to be trusted completely, but the photos are nice. Here, you can see Johnny Whitaker’s real family.