Whew! After a stressful week, it’s a relief to turn my attention to the Davis family and my weekly Family Affair series. I hope it provides a pleasant distraction for you, too.
Episode 18, “One for the Little Boy” 1/23/1967
Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: William D. Russell.
A lot of unusual things happen in this episode:
- Buffy and Cissy wear slacks.
- We see stock footage of a baseball game.
- A doorman who’s not Scotty appears.
- Someone pronounces “Terre Haute” correctly.
The most notable event in this episode, though, comes at the very start. Mr. French receives a summons from her Majesty to serve the royal family during a tour of Commonwealth capitals. (If he’s that connected, why is working for an engineer in New York, anyway?)
They don’t have to worry long about how they’ll survive with him—another Mr. French soon shows up to take his place. (In real life, Sebastian Cabot was ill.)
Instead, this episode revolves around Jody. Spending most of his time with Cissy and Buffy has left him looking for some male bonding. And let’s face it, neither Mr. French is helpful when you want to play catch.
Ted Gaynor helps Bill realize that Jody needs some father-son time.
Bill invites Jody to join him and Ted at a baseball game. Jody is thrilled to go, but the adults around him block his view of the action. Eventually, he falls asleep, missing Uncle Bill’s foul-ball catch.
Next, Bill plans a weekend fishing trip with Jody, but work threatens to interfere. When he hears that Buffy and Cissy are both inviting friends over on Saturday, Uncle Bill takes pity on Jody. He brings the boy along on his business trip to Rochester (Rock-chester, according to Jody) and plans to take him fishing when his work’s done.
Everything on the trip goes wrong—Bill’s work drags on, the camper he’s rented for the fishing trip breaks down, and then they learn the lake where they’re headed has dried up.
Jody keeps saying he doesn’t mind, but Uncle Bill thinks he’s just too polite to confess his disappointment. Finally, Jody explains that just spending time with Uncle Bill made the trip enjoyable for him.
An Uncle Bill-and-Jody episode always warms the heart. Although Jody-centered, this episode has fun Buffy moments.
She also exhibits realistic annoyance at Jody’s temporary monopoly on Uncle Bill.
Overall, this script abounds in cute lines. (For example, when Uncle Bill asks Jody how he can eat cereal without milk, Jody replies that you just have to chew harder.)
Mr. Nigel French: John Williams. Ted Gaynor: John Hubbard. Proprietress: Katey Barrett. Doorman: David Brandon.
John Williams isn’t exactly a member of the guest cast. During his nine-episode tenure on the show, he takes over Sebastian Cabot’s spot in the credits (Which seems a little odd, actually.) Williams is an impressive fill-in. He had a long and distinguished career that was closely associated with director Alfred Hitchcock. His most memorable role was Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder. (He had won a Tony for playing the same role on Broadway.) He also appeared in To Catch a Thief and in several episodes of TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Brandon would appear in several more Family Affair episodes.
Terre Haute, of course. Scotty is mentioned, though not seen. The presence of another doorman is explained–he’s the nighttime guy.
Notable Quotes: “Basically, I’m a cricket man.” Nigel French. “That’s okay, I like caterpillars.” Jody
“Sisters are always doing sister stuff.” Jody
TV Guide, April 22, 1967
This article includes a bit about the health problems that led to Sebastian Cabot’s nine-episode hiatus from the series.