Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series. This week’s episode is a memorable one. Before I begin, though, I wanted to point out that Kathy Garver and Johnny Whitaker, the two surviving Family Affair cast members, both celebrated a birthday yesterday. She turned 67 and he turned 53. I don’t know if they’ll ever see this blog, but if they do, I wish them all the best.
Episode 14, “Think Deep,” 12/26/1966
Written by: George Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.
Cissy shakes up the Davis household by instituting some new theories. She wants to rotate seating in the dining room so Uncle Bill doesn’t dominate at mealtime. She cramps Buffy’s and Jody’s fantasy life by banning imaginative stories at bedtime. She tries to get French to rebel against “a condition of servitude bordering on serfdom” and insists on calling him by his first name.
She also takes over some of French’s duties.
Cissy cites someone named Julian as the authority behind her new practices. Uncle Bill and French assume Julian is a new boyfriend, but they soon discover that he’s a teacher, Julian Hill.
Visiting Julian’s classroom, Uncle Bill finds a man who is meticulous bordering on OCD.
Uncle Bill invites Julian to dinner, and an excited Cissy invites her friend Gail to join them.
After dinner, things take a nasty turn when Buffy and Jody accidentally spill coffee on Julian, who calls them “little monsters.”
Uncle Bill helps her realize that Julian is a good teacher and a normally fallible human being—not someone whose every proclamation should be law at home.
It’s great to see my second-favorite TV father figure, Robert Reed, sharing screen time with my favorite, Brian Keith. Reed really throws himself into this part; his Julian Hill is affected and compulsive but doesn’t quite enter caricature territory. I also like Uncle Bill’s talk with Cissy. Instead of leaving her with the easy takeaway—“See, Julian’s really a jerk”—he guides her to a more nuanced understanding of human foibles.
Julian Hill: Robert Reed. Gail: Diane Mountford. Robert Reed, who died in 1992, was best-known for his role as Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch. His non-Brady TV series included The Defenders and Mannix. He also had roles in the miniseries Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man. Mountford would appear in several more Family Affair episodes, but her character would only be called Gail in one of them.
This is going to be the greatest emotional experience of my life.” Cissy
“With your permission, sir, I should like to see how the flying fish achieves his license.” French
Today’s Bonus Feature
Screen Life, May 1969