Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series.
Episode 17, “All Around the Town” 1/16/1967
Written by: Douglas Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.
Ted Gaynor and his wife are leaving on a cruise, and Uncle Bill, the Davis children and Mr. French are all seeing them off.
While French and Cissy are elsewhere, Buffy and Jody hear Uncle Bill inviting “everyone” to dinner. He is talking to some clients who have joined him at the Gaynors’ bon voyage gathering, but the twins assume that the invitation includes them.
“Uncle Bill said everybody,” Buffy notes. “We’re everybody, just smaller.”
They run off to tell French and Cissy that they’ll be leaving the ship with Uncle Bill. This news delights French and Cissy–he wants to meet Miss Faversham for a poetry reading and she wants to attend a Velvet Vultures concert with Freddy.
After French and Cissy leave the ship, Buffy and Jody quickly realize that Uncle Bill has departed, too. Disembarking alone, they watch the ship sail away and then ponder their next move.
Thinking of a story in which Abraham Lincoln walked three miles to give back a nickel, the twins determine to find the money’s owner. Two exceptionally naive six-year-olds wandering around lower Manhattan waving money–no potential for trouble here.
Luckily, as the ship was pulling away from the dock, Mrs. Gaynor spotted Buffy and Jody standing alone. Eventually, she convinces her skeptical husband to contact Bill and check on the kids.
Over a three-hour period, Uncle Bill tries to call home but gets no answer.
Finally, he calls Scotty the doorman and learns the French returned from the ship alone and then left the apartment again at 3:30.
(Here’s what I don’t get–French must have left the ship by around 3 p.m. at the latest. Didn’t it seem odd to him that Uncle Bill was going to “dinner” at that hour?)
Uncle Bill calls the police.
At last, the kids meet a kindly stranger who helps them find their apartment.
Somehow, the twins do make it home, to everyone’s relief. Buffy offers her benefactor the $20, and Uncle Bill encourages the reluctant man to take it as a reward. He also promises the man, who is a stone mason, future work opportunities.
Implausibilities and inconsistencies aside, this is a favorite episode of mine. It’s scary to watch Buffy and Jody wandering the big city on their own. It’s also touching to watch Jody comforting a scared Buffy.
Jose: Harry Davis. Ted Gaynor: John Hubbard. Mrs. Florence Gaynor: Andrea King. Scotty: Karl Lukas. Policeman: Vic Tayback. Frenchman: George Dega. Frenchwoman: Danielle Aubry. Chestnut Man: Jack Tesler. Mr. Carvallo: Rodolfo Hoyos. Mr. Gonzales: Gerardo de Cordovia. Mr. Goya: Saverio Lo Medico. Chinese Chef: Tommy Lee. Delivery Man: Harold Fong. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Whew! That’s a huge guest cast, with a lot of ethnic diversity.
Vic Tayback’s policeman from Episode 8 returns. We also get Scotty, Ted Gaynor, the Velvet Vultures, a Freddy mention, and a (fuzzy) reference to the Davis address.
“Maybe New York is a foreign country.”–Jody, after he tries to communicate with a French couple in the park.
(Actually, New York was like a foreign country to me when I watched this show as a kid. Episodes like this fascinated me because they gave me a glimpse, admittedly distorted, of how city kids lived.)
Today’s Bonus Feature
TV Guide, May 31, 1969