Family Affair Friday: Episode 15, Hard Hat Jody, 1/2/1967

Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series. I’m glad the world didn’t end today because we have many more Family Affair episodes to re-discover together.

Episode 15, “Hard Hat Jody,” 1/2/1967.

Written by: Ted Sherdeman and Jane Klove. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Uncle Bill is worried because Jody seems to be living in a fantasy world–he thinks he’s an Indian.

French isn't too thrilled with Jody's fantasy life either.

French isn’t too thrilled with Jody’s fantasy life either.

Uncle Bill is also facing a long business trip to Japan, and, for once, he’s reluctant to leave the kids. He can only justify staying in New York if his firm lands “the Pennington project.” Unfortunately, Owen Pennington is an elusive eccentric whom Uncle Bill can’t seem to meet.

Uncle Bill decides that giving Jody a hard hat will help ground the boy in reality. Jody is delighted with the gift, and so is Buffy--she hopes it will keep Jody from "capturing" Mrs. Beasley during his Indian raids.

Uncle Bill decides that giving Jody a hard hat will help ground the boy in reality. Jody is delighted with the gift, and so is Buffy–she hopes it will keep Jody from “capturing” Mrs. Beasley during his Indian raids.

Switching the Indian headdress for a hard hat does Jody no good–he believes he’s a construction worker and even refuses to take his hat off at school because he’s “tearing down the building.” Playing on his own after school, Jody wanders onto a construction site and befriends “Owny”–actually Mr. Pennington. What a coincidence!

Mr. Pennington puts Jody to “work” on the construction site, but no one at home will believe Jody has a job. Uncle Bill gets so frustrated with Jody’s fantasies that he takes back the hard hat.

See if you can detect some subtle dismay on Jody's part.

See if you can detect some subtle dismay on Jody’s part.

Eventually, Jody brings his friend home.

VTS_01_4.VOB_000530372 (2)

Pennington quickly scopes out the situation and gives Davis and Gaynor his job so Uncle Bill can spend more time with Jody.

Commentary

A cute Jody episode with lots of warm Uncle Bill smiles, although again I find myself concerned about the twins’ state of mental health. Jody did seem out of touch with reality for a while. Brian Donlevy brings a strong presence to the under-developed role of Mr. Pennington.

This episode includes a steam-room scene that shows us more of Uncle Bill than we normally get to see. Thank goodness it was him and not French in the steam room.

This episode includes a steam-room scene that shows us more of Uncle Bill than we normally get to see. Thank goodness it was him and not French in the steam room.

Continuity notes

Uncle Bills cites the shock of the kids’ losing their parents as the source of Jody’s problem.

The tag scene is extra adorable. Jody imitates Uncle Bill, complete with a Brian-Keith-style face rub of consternation.

The tag scene is extra adorable. Jody imitates Uncle Bill, complete with a Brian-Keith-style face rub of consternation.

Fun facts

Ted Gaynor has no kids.

Burning question

Should a six-year-old really wander around Manhattan alone, even in 1967?

This is pretty much the mental image I get when I think about why a six-year-old shouldn't wander the streets alone.

This is pretty much the mental image I get when I think about why a six-year-old shouldn’t wander the streets alone.

Guest cast

Owen Pennington: Brian Donlevy. Foreman: William Boyett. Misawa: Dale Ishimoto. Brian Donlevy had a long film career. Just a few highlights include Beau Geste (he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination), The Glass Key, The Great McGinty and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. My fellow old-time radio fans will be familiar with his work in Dangerous Assignment. Boyett appeared in several other episodes of Family Affair.

Today’s Bonus Feature

This 1969 CBS publicity photo has a Christmas theme.

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5 thoughts on “Family Affair Friday: Episode 15, Hard Hat Jody, 1/2/1967

  1. It’s hard to imagine a six-year old (safely) wandering around Manhattan at any time. Heck, I don’t think I’d even do it myself, as a grown adult!

  2. Orschel52 says:

    Apart from the notorious risks of city life, there is also the risk of getting lost. I remember getting lost even in my small town at the age of six although I turned only one corner. But maybe my sense of direction was just worse than that of other kids that age.
    Anyway, in this episode French seems to have lost his gut feeling of what is right for those kids by allowing Jody to go out alone, even though “within the confines of this city block”. After all, it is not until Season 3 that Jody is allowed to go out “shopping” by himself for the first time, and even until Season 4 that the twins may go to school unaccompanied for the first time.

    • Amy says:

      There are a lot of inconsistencies over the course of the series about the twins’ limits and capabilities. I know it was necessary for this episode’s plot to have Jody meet Owny alone, but it seems like the writers could have come up with a less clumsy device.

  3. […] Japanese characters in many World War II-era movies including Wake Island (Brian Donlevy from Episode 15 starred), Flying Tigers, and God is My Co-Pilot (with Andrea King from Episode 17). Later films […]

  4. Kay says:

    I thought it was weird at the end when Uncle Bill gave Jody a near fist punch….

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