Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 22, “Once in Love with Buffy,” 2/13/1967

Welcome to another installment of Family Affair Friday! Sorry it’s late–I’m blogging from the depths of migraine hell this weekend.

This week’s episode is an important one in the Family Affair canon. A good alternate title for it would be “Aunt Fran 2: The Nightmare Continues.”

Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Mr. French and Cissy are out, so Uncle Bill sacrifices a bowling game to stay home with Buffy and Jody.

Here he is canceling his bowling plans, explaining to his friend that he's "stuck with the kids." Ouch. Well, he didn't know Buffy was behind him.

Here he is canceling his bowling plans, explaining to his friend that he’s “stuck with the kids.” Ouch. Well, he didn’t know Buffy was behind him.

After he hangs up and begins talking to Buffy, the phone rings again.This time it’s one of his many lady friends, and he uses the expression “stuck with the kids” again.

Way to go, Uncle Bill. This time you knew she was nearby.

Way to go, Uncle Bill. This time you knew she was nearby.

(Note to Uncle Bill: You can’t really be “stuck with” your own kids. They’re kind of your responsibility.)

Uncle Bill and the twins go on to have a pleasant evening, but Uncle Bill’s words are still worrying Buffy at bedtime. Unfortunately, her insecurities make her easy prey from the evil force that blows in the next day from the mid-west.

Look, kids! It's Aunt Fran! The one who brought Buffy here and lft her because her husband couldn't get along with a 6-year-old orphan.

Look, kids! It’s Aunt Fran! The nice lady who brought Buffy here and left her because her husband couldn’t get along with a 6-year-old orphan.

Buffy's overjoyd to see her agin.

Buffy’s overjoyed to see her aunt again.

Aunt Fran tells Uncle Bill that Uncle Harold’s feelings have changed, and they both want Buffy back. Harold’s gotten a new job, they have a bigger house now, and they’ve hired “the Indiana version of Mr. French.” They’re even willing to take Cissy–isn’t that big of them? And Fran’s sister in Terre Haute will take Jody.

Of course, Uncle Bill wants the kids to stay with him, but Fran the Manipulator starts him doubting whether that’s what’s best for them. Everyday, he admits, people tell him how much better off kids are with a mother. (He must have some really rude friends.) Finally, he decides to leave it up to the kids.

Fran’s quick to work her magic on them, too.

Don't eat it, Buffy, Aunt Fran's probably put a spell on it.

Don’t eat it, Buffy, Aunt Fran’s probably put a spell on it.

She treats Buffy and Cissy to an afternoon of shopping, forbidden desserts, and mind games, convincing them that Uncle Bill would be happier without them.

The kids reluctantly agree, and Uncle Bill tries to conceal his heartbreak at their decision.

Uncle Bill and French share a sad conversation about the kids' impending departure. It would be more moving if this was the real Mr. French.

Uncle Bill and French share a sad conversation about the kids’ impending departure. It would be more moving if this was the real Mr. French.

(Note to Uncle Bill: You can often gauge kids’ attitudes through their demeanor as well as their words. If they say they want to return to Indiana, but they’re wearing expressions like those below, you may want to question them a little more.)

buffy upsetcissy upset

The next day Fran drops by the apartment with Uncle Harold.

She’s talked about his eagerness to see the kids, but he doesn’t he even want to come in. He tells Uncle Bill that he just stopped by to make sure “there are no slip-ups” with the departure plan. This guy is REALLY creepy. Is he planning to make coats out of the girls or something?

Buffy and Jody share a very sad farewell as the girls are about to leave. He gives her a self-portrait, so she won’t forget what he looks like.

Awwww.

Awwww.

At the last minute, Buffy breaks down before Uncle Bill and admits she wants to stay.

Thank God!

Thank God!

“Kids, I’d like to see anybody try to take you away,” Uncle Bill says in a voice choked with emotion.

Sniff. Okay, Uncle Bill, your earlier mistaks are forgiven.

Sniff. Okay, Uncle Bill, your earlier mistakes are forgiven.

All’s well that ends well–except for Aunt Fran.

Except for Aunt Fran, of course. Foiled again!

She even calls Buffy a crybaby for breaking down. Get on your broom and fly home, lady.

Commentary

This episode has everything–funny punchlines (Buffy gets most of them–she seems especially precocious in this episode), heartrending moments and a joyful ending.

Ooooh, do I hate Aunt Fran and, even worse, Uncle Harold! Fran’s manipulative tactics during the lunch with Cissy and Buffy were downright evil.

Not surprisingly Brian Keith brings great poignancy to the episode’s emotional ending. Johnnie Whitaker also does an impressive job generating real emotion.

Jody: “When we grow up, we’ll find some way to be together, so no one can keep moving us around.”

There are some nice little moments in the script, from Buffy’s remark that Mrs. Beasley “stays with me, because she loves me” to Cissy’s complete nonchalance upon learning that Jody plans to give Mr. French a dead goldfish as a farewell present. (He ends up giving it to Buffy instead. “I’d rather you had it,” he tells her. “I think Mr. French would rather I had it, too,” she observes.)

Guest Cast

Fran Higer: Louise Latham. Harold Higer: Bill Zuckert. Latham reprises her role from the pilot. Zuckert’s last part before his death in 1997 was a small one in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Continuity Notes

The whole episode, obviously, revisits the events of the pilot.

Fun Facts

Jody mentions a turtle–he must have replaced the one that died.

Notable Quotes

Buffy, on seeing a movie: “It’s just like TV, only you don’t have to go out tomorrow and buy something”

Buffy, on New York: “Even when you’ve got nothing to do, there’s lots to do.” ‘

The twins, returning from a cultural outing with French:

Jody: “We learned it’s okay not to wear clothes”

Buffy: “Only if you live in a museum.”

This Week’s Bonus Feature

TV and Movie Screen, December 1967–probably the silliest Family Affair magazine cover ever. Within, we learn that Kathy Garver “shuns beatnik attitudes and habits.”

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12 thoughts on “Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 22, “Once in Love with Buffy,” 2/13/1967

  1. Orschel52 says:

    Your posts are always just so very great, and this one is simply brilliant! You do a really great job every week. Thank you very, very much.

    A very poignant episode which you brilliantly commented on. I fully agree to everything you said and share your contempt of Fran and Harold. Brian Keith and the kids are at their very best in this episode: Brian Keith wonderfully expresses sadness and heartbreak, Anissa Jones is brilliant at showing her emotions and making her body language contradict her words, and also Johnny Whitaker’s acting is very good here.

    • Amy says:

      I’m glad you liked the post. I tried to take extra care with this one, since I do think it’s a special episode. Thanks for taking time to comment–your interest motivates me to keep going with this series!

      • Orschel52 says:

        It IS a very special episode. One of those that never fail to touch my heart.
        I’m not just interested in your posts, I love them and look forward to them every week. Keep going!!!

  2. Tina says:

    This is my favorite Family Affair episode!!!! We can see the special relationship between the kids and Brian Keith: the three of them are very moving. Thanks for this beautiful weekly post…

  3. maedez says:

    Top-notch, as always!

  4. This post made me a little verklempt.

  5. Ron says:

    Just had to post that I enjoy reading your commentary on these episodes. They are very funny and make me laugh out loud sometimes. You should write a book on the show!

    • Amy says:

      Thanks for commenting–I’m glad you enjoy my Family Affair posts!

      If any publishers are out there reading and want to offer me a contract, I’m more than game! : )

  6. Keith Hunter says:

    Your analysis is excellent. I was 9 years old when I saw episode when it originally aired. I loved it but felt a little sorry for Aunt Fran. Now seeing it 46 years later, I have zero sympathy for Aunt Fran. She was a the worst kind of manipulator. Her motivation is not real clear either. Did she have guilt over dumping Buffy in New York in the pilot? Her chastising Buffy for crying was almost verbally abusive, and she cooked her own goose with it.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks for taking time to comment!

      Aunt Fran is a strange character, for sure. She goes from not wanting Buffy to wanting to take both the girls; then, in an upcoming season 2 episode, she tries to get all three kids. My only theory is that creepy Uncle Harold wanted the tax deductions.

      • Keith Hunter says:

        I remember the second season episode. Back in Terre Haute for a family reunion, and Bill and the kid leave early I think. I also recall a fifth season episode where the family goes back to Terre Haute but I don’t think Aunt Fran was in it. Louise Latham was a very good actress and went on to have a long career in TV and is retired, but I will always remember her as Aunt Fran.

  7. Darren says:

    Greetings. I watched a few of Family Affair and rediscovering it on You Tube. I watched this particular episode and it made me shed a tear of what poor little Buffy might have thought as it must’ve been easy for a little girl to take big words that are not a big deal to adults and feel very sensitive. The characters of Buffy, Jody, and Cindy are all terrific to touch the lives of ‘Uncle Bill.’ This was a great episode. I sure didn’t want Aunt Fran and that mean old Uncle Harold taking the kids away. To see Jody open up like that to Buffy and also to hug her made me happy that brother and sister loved each other. I got no sympathy for Fran the way she left little Buffy behind, but it was good that Jody and Cindy came along.

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