Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 29, “The Award,” 5/2/1969

Welcome to this Easter weekend edition of Family Affair Friday! Best wishes to everyone who is celebrating the holiday.

Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

This week’s Davis family adventure opens upon a gushing Cissy.

Her facial expression in this capture just cracks me up.

Her facial expression in this capture just cracks me up.

She’s telling a friend about a brilliant and successful male of her acquaintance. Uncle Bill assumes she’s talking about a boyfriend, but when she hangs up, she tells him that he was the subject of her conversation. She’s impressed by the huge, gaudy trophy he’s received for “best achievement in construction engineering.”

Bill is irritated to learn that Buffy and Jody are attending a Punch and Judy show with Mr. French. It’s Thursday, Mr. French’s day off.

When they return, Bill gives French a talking to about letting the twins cajole him into giving up his day off.

When they return, Bill gives French a talking to about letting the twins cajole him into giving up his day off.

French shows an unusually soft side here. “They’re nice kids,” he says.

Bill agrees, but he adds that the kids shouldn't run everyone's lives. To make his point, he informs the twins that he will be too busy to read to them after dinner.

Bill agrees, but he adds that the kids shouldn’t run everyone’s lives. To make his point, he informs the twins that he will be too busy to read to them after dinner.

“You kids have got to stop thinking about yourselves all the time,” he tells them. Making himself unavailable on a day when French has already assumed extra child-care duties seems like a strange way of getting this point across. (After this conversation, French heads off to make dinner. Maybe “day off” meant something different in the ’60s than it does now.)

admiring the award

The twins take Uncle Bill’s comments in stride and head to the den to watch Captain Hippopotamus. Cissy is already in there, trying to find a home for Uncle Bill’s trophy. (The den is a good idea. The trophy won’t make the room look any worse.)

After Cissy leaves, the twins decide they will make Uncle Bill an award for being the world’s best uncle. Jody borrows some modeling clay from his friend Peter, and they get to work on the award that night.

Buffy's job is making the card, while Jody is sculpting a model of the earth. Since this is basically a big ball, it takes them a surprisingly long time to complete this project.

Buffy’s job is making the card, while Jody is sculpting a model of the earth. Since this is basically a big ball, it’s surprisingly how long it takes them to complete this project.

Of course, they have to deal with many interruptions. For example, Uncle Bill comes in to continue his lesson on consideration for others. He informs the twins that he will not be taking them to the zoo over the weekend.

Buffy and Jody are not impressed.

Buffy and Jody are not impressed.

Actually, they don’t really care. They’re just eager for him to leave so they can get back to working on their project.

The next morning, Jody is doing a lot of scratching at the breakfast table. A concerned French mentions the issue to Uncle Bill, who agrees that a trip to the pediatrician is in order. Bill’s not worried enough to take Jody himself, of course–that’s French’s job.

Their doctor's lobby is cute, but surprisingly empty. They don't even have to sit down and wait--they walk right in.

Their doctor’s lobby is cute, but surprisingly empty. They don’t even have to sit down and wait–they walk right in.

The doctor says he will have to run allergy tests on Jody. Unfortunately, he also causes a lot of trouble by suggesting that itching is frequently caused by trauma or frustration.(I can see now why his office is so empty.)

I don't think I've ever seen a doctor's office lined with old, musty books.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a doctor’s office lined with old, musty books. I’m surprised that his walls aren’t Family Affair green. They’re Jody’s room blue.

French passes along the doctor’s suggestion to Uncle Bill, who immediately decides that his refusal to take the kids to the zoo caused the rash. He reverses his decision about the outing, which dismays the twins–they want more time to work on their project.

At the zoo, Bill is perplexed--Jody is still scratching, and Buffy starts doing it, too. (I know thing were formal in 1960s, especially in big cities, but isn't Jody's suit a little much for the zoo? Even Uncle Bill ditches his tie for the occasion.)

At the zoo, Bill is perplexed–Jody is still scratching, and Buffy starts doing it, too. (I know thing were formal in 1960s, especially in big cities, but isn’t Jody’s suit a little much for the zoo? Even Uncle Bill ditches his tie for the occasion.)

Later, at the apartment, the pediatrician drops by with a likely explanation for the problem–an allergy to modeling clay. It seems he’s been treating the Davises’ neighbor Peter for the same problem. (What the heck was in that clay?)

When Uncle Bill asks the twins if they’ve been playing with Peter’s modeling clay, they make an earnest denial. The doctor, however, notices something.

They're caught clay-handed.

They’re caught clay-handed.

Uncle Bill is angry and sad that the twins have lied to him for the first time. Soon, however, the twins present him with their finished award.

Uncle Bill grows misty reading the card: "To the bestest, nicest, terrificest uncle in the world."

Uncle Bill grows misty reading the card: “To the bestest, nicest, terrificest uncle in the world.”

They didn’t lie to him; they were working with the clay, not playing with it, the twins explain innocently.

Awww.

Commentary

I always enjoy shows in which parents punish kids for something that turns out to be selfless behavior–this is just like the “Father of the Year” episode of The Brady Bunch. I guess it’s my inner child that still likes to see authority figures have to eat their words.

Guest Cast

Dr. Felsom: Oliver McGowan. Miss Dana: Templeton Fox. Here’s a coincidence: McGowan was in the “Father of the Year” episode of The Brady Bunch. He’ll appear again as a doctor on Family Affair. Templeton Fox was the mother of Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch.

Notable Quotes

“Young ladies of breeding do not say ‘bopped.'”–French

This Week’s Bonus Feature

Photoplay, August 1969 (Normally, I crop out the ads, but the one atop the fourth page intrigues me so. “Delayed menstruation”? Hmm.)

 

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 28, “What Did You Do in the West, Uncle?,” 4/25/1967

Welcome to Family Affair Friday–or, as I should probably call it,  Family Affair at Whatever Point During the Weekend That I Have Time to Complete It. That’s a little unwieldy, though. I do promise that I will try to avoid being so late with future installments.

Written by: Joseph Hoffman. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Our episode opens at the Davis breakfast table, as Bill tells French about his plans for the upcoming week–he’s taking a vacation from work to spend time doing fun stuff with the kids. They’re on vacation from school, apparently. Didn’t they just have spring break a few episodes ago?

Reading the paper, Bill notices that the rodeo is in town and decides that will be the first of the week's activities. (That's some cute mid-century dinnerware on the table.)

Reading the paper, Bill notices that the rodeo is in town and decides that will be the first of the week’s activities. (Isn’t that some cute mid-century dinnerware on the table?)

Cissy quickly bails on Bill’s Week o’ Fun–she’s going to spend the week with a friend on Long Island. The twins, though, are excited about attending the rodeo.

French declines to join them; watching someone ride a bull gives him “a touch of vertigo and a wave of sympathy.” I always enjoy a great French line.

They have fun watching the show, and Bill becomes excited when he realizes that his old friend Gabe Nelson is among the performers. (I found myself wondering about the three guys behind them. Did they all come together? They seem rather subdued.)

They have fun watching the show, and Bill becomes excited when he realizes that his old friend Gabe Nelson is among the performers. (I found myself wondering about the three guys behind them. Did they all come together? They seem rather subdued.)

Bill takes the kids backstage after the show to introduce them to his friend.

The kids are thrilled to meet a "real, live cowboy," and Uncle Bill invites his friend to stay at the Davis apartment.

The kids are thrilled to meet a “real, live cowboy,” and Uncle Bill invites his friend to stay at the Davis apartment.

French is less thrilled to welcome this house guest, especially when Gabe calls him “Jeeves.”

He doesn’t care for Gabe’s culinary ventures either.

Steak isn't French's idea of a breakfast food.

Steak isn’t French’s idea of a breakfast food.

I find myself sharing French's reaction to Gabe.

I find myself sharing French’s reaction to Gabe.

The kids love him, though, especially when he gives them a “bucking bronc” experience in the living room.

This scene is fun.

This scene is fun…

...so fun that I can't choose just one image to share.

…so fun that I can’t choose just one image to share.

Unfortunately, Gabe begins to monopolize the kids’ time. They spend the entire next day at the rodeo with him, and Gabe asks Bill if they can stay for the evening show, as well. Neither Gabe nor the kids know that Bill had planned to take the twins to a performance of Hansel and Gretel.

(Another Good Frenchism: “The twins will enjoy Hansel and Gretel. There’s a great deal of violence in it.”)

Bill is so bummed that he returns to the office the next day, which provides our first Ted Gaynor sighting in quite a while.

As usual, Ted's role is to make Bill feel even worse about whatever problem he's enduring.

As usual, Ted’s role is to make Bill feel even worse about whatever problem he’s enduring.

Bill is determined that he and the kids will follow through with the next day’s activity–a helicopter ride over Manhattan.

The kids return from their latest trip to the rodeo in adorable costumes.

The kids return from their latest trip to the rodeo in adorable costumes–and they’re excited about their plans to visit the railroad yard with “Uncle Gabe” the next day to watch more animals arrive.

Uncle Bill swallows disappointment about yet another change in plans. Fortunately, French takes the bull by the horns, so to speak–he simply explains the situation to Gabe. Straightforward communication? What a rarity on a sit com!

Gabe and French have this conversation while French rubs Gabe's aching muscles with linament. Is this really in French's job description?!

Gabe and French have this conversation while French rubs Gabe’s aching muscles with liniment. Is this really in French’s job description?!

Gabe tries to help by telling the twins an outlandish story about Uncle Bill fighting a grizzly bear.

When they later repeat the story to Bill, he's bemused, to say the least.

When they later repeat the story to Bill, he’s bemused, to say the least.

After talking to Gabe, Bill explains to the kids that Gabe exaggerated the story in order to make Bill seem like more a hero in the kids’ eyes.

The twins are amazed that Uncle Bill felt that Gabe was replacing him in their affections. “We like Uncle Gabe. We love you,” Buffy explains in a matter-of-fact way.

At episode’s end, Uncle Bill tells French to order three tickets for a rescheduled ride over Manhattan–and four tickets for Hansel and Gretel.

The fourth ticket is for French, who had already expressed a lack of interest in attending the play. This seems a little mean on Bill’s part. At the very least, he should’ve included French in the helicopter ride, too.

Commentary

Although Gabe gets on my nerves, this is a nice episode. We’ve seen the kids deal with their insecurities about their new family situation–it’s interesting to see that Bill has insecurities, too.

Buffy and Jody are just too cute in their Western garb.

Random fashion note: I like this cute Buffy suit--I don't think we've seen it before.

Random fashion note: I like this Buffy suit–I don’t think we’ve seen it before.

Guest Cast

Gabe Nelson: John Agar. Ted Gaynor: John Hubbard.

John Agar

John Agar

John Agar jumped into the spotlight when he married Shirley Temple in 1945. His first film was Fort Apache (1948), which starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Temple. His marriage to Temple was short-lived, but he went on to appear in many movies, particularly Western and sci-fi films.

Fun Facts

When he was young and broke, before he started college, Uncle Bill worked in Montana. He has ridden a buckin’ bronc.

Continuity Notes

Uncle Bill mentions his brother.

Notable Quotes

“Well, I can fight a girl bear.”–Buffy, responding to Jody’s assertion that she can’t fight a bear because she’s a girl

 

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 27, “The Prize,” 4/10/1967

Welcome to this delayed edition of Family Affair Friday. The delivery of my new laptop has been delayed indefinitely, so I’m writing this post under difficult conditions. I hope I don’t do a ba-a-a-a-a-a-d job.

Season 1, Episode 27, “The Prize,” 4/10/1967

Written by: Henry Garson and Edmund Beloin. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

The real Mr. French is back!

At first glanc,

At first glance, he seems to have gotten a little sloppy, leaving the Crispy Flakes box on the table like that. Don’t worry–the box is actually there to inspire Buffy and Jody.

The twins are entering a Crispy Flakes contest because they want to win a houseboat (nice prize!) They have to describe why they like the cereal in 10 worlds.

Jody's

Jody’s idea: “I like Crispy Flakes because they’re good, good, good, good.”

Uncle Bill leaves to spend a couple of days working in Tampa, and that Crispy Flakes is must be one efficient outlet because they name their winners before he gets back!

The hairi

The hairiest man alive calls the Davis household to announce that Buffy and Jody won a prize. (Seriously, check out that arm. Ewwww.)

Unfortunately, they didn’t win the houseboat. Actually, they have the choice of two prizes–an encyclopedia set or a baby lamb. Now, no adult would choose the baby lamb, and no child would choose the encyclopedia set. I’m sure the Crispy Flakes people will insist on talking to a parent about this choice.

Well,

Or not.

Next thing you know, there’s a delivery man at the door.

Oh

Oh, how I missed those Cabotian reactions.

Jody and Buffy fall in love with the lamb, of course. I don’t blame them–it’s adorable!

i

Poor French is left to consider practical matters, like where and how to keep the lamb.

Uncle Bill, reached by phone, doesn’t offer French much guidance. It’s easy to take things like lambs in stride when you’re hundreds of miles away.

By the way, his

By the way, his Tampa work space looks a lot like every other out-of-town work site he’s visited.

Buffy and Jody name the lamb Snowball and do their best to take care of it. An old-school wooden playpen, borrowed from Miss Faversham, becomes its new home.

When Uncle Bill returns to New York, he tells French that he plans to donate the lamb to the Children’s Zoo. His first attempt at breaking the news to Buffy and Jody fails, however.

Bu

“We’re going to take care of him forever and ever,” Buffy says. “Just like you take care of us,” Jody adds.

Well, it would take a strong man to overcome such cuteness.

A slight

May I digress from the plot for a second? Would it be so difficult for Uncle Bill to carry his own suitcase to his room when he returns from Tampa? French has been up to his neck with kids and lambs, for God’s sake.

That night, it becomes apparent that the Snowball situation is unworkable. Left on the terrace, a lonely Snowball engages in some pitiful bleating.

Poor Snowball.

Poor Snowball.

The

Uncle Bill’s neighbors are not exactly sympathetic to the lamb’s plight–or the Davises’.

The only thing that quiets Snowball is the reassuring presence of Mr. French. Guess who has to sleep on the terrace?

Here's

Here’s French, questioning his life choices. Bill couldn’t have brought him a pillow and blanket? He’s going to wake up with wicker marks on his face.

The next morning, Buffy and Jody take Snowball for a walk before anyone else gets up. I did wonder where Snowball was, um, relieving himself. But I also wonder whether two six-year-olds should be wandering the streets of Manhattan with only a lamb for protection.

They

They don’t even have the lamb for long. “Snowball runned away,” as Buffy says during one of her stupider moments.

Uncle Bill becomes concerned when the kids are still gone after two hours. He gets a call from the Humane Society, which picked up Snowball in the park. The dejected twins return to the apartment a few minutes later, but they are glad to hear that Snowball has been found.

Uncl

Uncle Bill takes the kids to see Snowball at the very Family-Affair-green Humane Society. Now, how and why the Humane Society has that little farmyard set-up in the middle of their floor, I can’t imagine.

Uncle Bill tells the kids how lonely Snowball has been for other lambs, and he gently guides them into embracing the Children’s Zoo ideas as their own. His parenting skills are really growing!

Commentary

I love the lamb and the tender way Buffy and Jody care for it. Buffy even gives Snowball Mrs. Beasley’s blanket to sleep with. It’s also fun to see Sebastian Cabot again.

He

He’s barely accepted his role as a nanny–he’s far from ready to be a “lamb nanny.”

Guest Cast

George: William Kendis. Mrs. Mayfield: Jenifer Lea. Mr. Fisk: Olan Soule. Mr. Smith: Paul Kent. Messenger Boy: Robert Broyles. Secretary: Annette Cabot. Kent had a recurring role as Carter on TJ Hooker and appeared in many TV movies, including Helter Skelter. He also had a part in Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn.

olan soule

In the world of television, Olan Soule appeared in everything…absolutely everything. Trust me.

He also voiced Batman in several animated series, including Superfriends; recurring Family Affair guest star Sherry Alberoni voiced Wendy in that series.

Annette Cabot is the daughter of Sebastian Cabot.

Annette Cabot, playing the Wolfman’s secretary, is the daughter of Sebastian Cabot.

Continuity Notes

Cissy refers to the Velvet Vultures. (She calls them “the epitome of folk jazz.”)

Technical Difficulties: Please Stand By

One reason I haven’t posted much in recent weeks is that my laptop has been slowly dying. It’s about ready for last rites now, which is forcing me to postpone this week’s Family Affair Friday entry. My new laptop is supposed to be in stock at Best Buy tomorrow–if so, I hope to post both Family Affair Friday and a new Spin Again Sunday by tomorrow night. Thanks for your patience.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 1, Episode 26, “All Nephews Are Created Equal,” 3/27/1967

Sorry that this week’s installment of my Family Affair series is a bit late. Our episode this weeks concerns a cultural clash, with the cultures involved being swinging-’60s-British-youth-sanitized-for-family television and Mr. French’s weird Downton-Abbey-throwback lifestyle.

Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

As we look in on the Davis family, Uncle Bill is leaving again, this time for a short trip to San Francisco.

To his credit, he looks genuinesly pained

To his credit, he looks pained to be leaving the kids this time, and he comments that they have turned him into a homebody.

As the kids leave for school, Cissy mentions that Mr. French will be picking up his nephew at the airport later.

French, meanwhile, has

French, meanwhile, has Bill’s suitcase packed, his airline tickets ready, and a list of recommended San Francisco eateries prepared. Sigh–I so need to get me a French.

From French, Bill learns that nephew David is visiting New York on his way to live in California as an exchange student. (David is the son of Algernon French. I wonder how many French brothers exist?) When Bill mentions that David and Cissy might hit it off, French recoils from the idea.

“One of the very first rules my father laid down when my brothers and I went into service was that undue familiarity doomed the relationship between master and servant,” he notes.

Understandably uncomfortable with this language, Bill prefers to think of him and French as people who “work together.” He accepts French’s views on the subject, however, quoting his own father as saying, “Don’t argue with a man who has his mind made up.”

Later when French

Later, French shows David around the apartment and points out the “extraordinary” view of the Manhattan skyline. (And, extraordinary it surely is, with that painted look and all.)

David offends his uncle’s servile sensibilities by calling the apartment “a splashy pad” and speculating about how much “lolly” Bill makes.

Then he really upsets the old guy with the news that he won't

Then he really upsets the old guy with the news that he won’t be following in the French “gentleman’s gentleman” tradition.

He’s passing on a cushy career working six long days a week, living in one cramped room, wearing uncomfortable uniforms, and submitting completely to another person’s wishes? What other kind of career could possibly tempt him?

David wants to be a dentist!

David wants to be a dentist!

Hmm…forsaking centuries of tradition for a career in dentistry? What other 1960s character does David remind me of?

Oh, yeah. And, ahir aside,

Oh, yeah.

When the kids come home from school, Cissy and David take an immediate liking to each other.

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

Soon they’re comparing notes on sports, and Cissy is inviting him to an American football game. (In the spring?)

David and Cissy have a good time

David and Cissy’s rapport is obvious later when they meet in the park.

Unfortunately, French’s butler friends are there to witness this meeting.

Shock and awe.

Shock and awe. (By the way, didn’t Withers leave his job and move to Connecticut? Has his marriage broken up already?)

David shares a meal with the family, and it’s clear that they all like him.

Buffy even asks him to fix Mrs. Beasley's teeth when he's a dentisty.

Buffy even asks David to fix Mrs. Beasley’s teeth. When Jody observes that Mrs. Beasley doesn’t have any teeth, Buffy says David can provide some–and then Mrs. Beasley might talk with a British accent.

French continues to stew, however, especially after Cissy’s friend Sharon arrives with tickets to a jazz festival. She invites Cissy and David to accompany her and her boyfriend.

The return of Sharon.

The return of Sharon. She seems nicer here than in her last appearance, but if I were Cissy, I’d keep an eye on her with David.

When French learns that David has invited Cissy to help see him off at the airport the next day, he can’t contain his feelings anymore.

He pressures David to retract the invitation.

He pressures David to retract the invitation. Random decor note: I wouldn’t mind having that lamp, as a kitschy kind of piece.

David’s sudden, unexplained change of heart saddens Cissy.

Seeing her reaction, French admists that he was

Seeing her reaction, French admits that he told David to dis-invite her.

Cissy's angry, but luckily Uncle Bill has tr

Cissy’s angry, but luckily Uncle Bill has returned home and is ready to set things right.

He gently reminds French that the generation gap is universal, and that teens don’t always accept their elders’ ideas: “You can live your own life, but you can’t live theirs.”

French relents and tells Cissy to change clothes for the airport–her “slack ensemble” is hardly correct for such an occasion.

In the episode’s tag, Buffy and Jody examine a letter just delivered for Uncle Bill.

The twins, whose IQs fluctuate wildly from week to week, have app

The twins, whose IQs fluctuate wildly from week to week, have apparently been beaten by the stupid stick again–they can’t even sound out Canada.

As it turns out, the letter is from Mr. Giles French, who announces his imminent return to the Davis household.

The kids are thrilled,

The kids are thrilled. “Neato-bosso!” Buffy exclaims, in what the writers must have considered a plausible bit of kid-slang. Apparently, they didn’t know any children.

They are sad to think of Nigel French leaving, however. Jody suggests moving himself into Uncle Bill’s room to make room for both Frenches. Surprisingly, Uncle Bill rejects this idea.

it all evens out

Well, it all evens out, as Buffy notes: “We get one Mr. French, and we lose one Mr. French.”

Commentary

I think this kind of episode premise appeals to kids. It’s always fun to see adult pretensions punctured, as young people strike a blow for egalitarianism. It also plays to the idealized American notion of rising above class differences.

Guest Cast

David: Martin Horsey. Withers: Richard Peel. Middlebrook: Maurice Dallimore. Sharon: Sherry Alberoni.

Martin Horsey played the Artful Dodger in the original London production of Oliver! This is former Mouseketeer Sherry Alberoni’s second appearance on Family Affair. Maurice Dallimore played a butler (named Faversham!) in an episode of Petticoat Junction.

Fun Facts

Uncle Bill disliked school when he was the twins’ age.

Random fashion note: Jody wears this shirt a LOT.

Random fashion note: Jody wears this shirt a LOT.

Continuity Notes

Cissy mentions the Velvet Vultures and Terre Haute.

Today’s Bonus Feature

A short gossip item from TV Radio Mirror, April 1970.

TV Radio Mirror April 1970

Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 25, “The Way It Was,” 3/20/1967

“The Way It Was,” 3/20/1967. Written by: George Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Welcome to another installment of Family Affair Friday!

As our episode opens, Bill Davis is bringing a lot of work home with him.

French knows that working from home is a bad idea--the kids have just started their spring break.

French knows that working from home is a bad idea–the kids have just started their spring break.

Bill expresses confidence in French’s ability to keep the kids quiet. French’s doubts prove well founded, however. Soon Buffy and Jody are blaring the TV.

Cissy, meanwhile, is getting lots of phone calls and listening to the generically bouncy instrumental music that passes for rock and roll in 1960s sitcoms.

Cissy, meanwhile, is getting many phone calls and listening to the generically bouncy instrumental music that passes for rock and roll in 1960s sitcoms.

In fact, the kids are so unruly that at one point French has to tell a ping-pong-raquet-wielding Jody, “You will be in dire straits if you touch your sister with that weapon.”

Keep in mind: This is only the first evening of the kids’ vacation.

When an old friend of Bill’s calls to recruit the kids for a one-week spring break camp, Bill needs no convincing.

Soon he's gazing dreamily into space as he contemplates a kid-free week.

Soon he’s gazing dreamily into space as he contemplates a kid-free week.

His camp director friend shows up the next morning to claim the kids, including Cissy, who’ll be serving as a counselor.

This is the part that's the hardest--taking the kids away from their parents,"

“This is the part that’s the hardest–taking the kids away from their parents,” the camp director says, as French and Bill struggle to suppress their glee.

Uncle Bill, of course, doesn’t plan to spend his whole week working. He’s anxious to get his date on. It’s amusing how averse all his old girlfriends are to domestic life. As he begins to miss the kids more and more, he subjects a series of women to dull parental bragging.

The first date endures photos.

His first date endures photos.

He foists a Cissy composition on date number 2.

He foists a Cissy composition on date number 2.

Date number thre flees after Bill starts showing her Jody's trouphies.

Date number three flees after Bill starts showing her Jody’s trophies.

After each failed date, Bill marvels at how much the ladies in his life have changed.

The kids are having fun at camp, but Buffy is struggling over a letter to Uncle Bill. She's just not sure what she should say.

The kids are having fun at camp, but Buffy is struggling over a letter to Uncle Bill. She’s just not sure what she should say.

As the week goes on, Bill and French become increasingly concerned at the silence from camp. A camp, incidentally, that doesn’t have a phone. I think Bill has good reason for concern, especially since he didn’t research this camp in any way before packing off the kids.

For one thing, the camp seems to have placed 6-year-old Buffy in a tent by herself.

For one thing, the camp seems to have placed 6-year-old Buffy in a tent by herself.

The peace and quiet in the Davis apartment soon becomes oppressive.

Uncle Bill is reduced to wandering into the girls room and cuddling Mrs. Beasley.

Uncle Bill is reduced to wandering into the girls room and cuddling Mrs. Beasley.

Mrs. Beasley! French and Bill get a simultaneous brainstorm–taking the doll to Buffy would be a good pretense for visiting camp and making sure the kids are okay.

Just as they’re ready to head to camp, however, the kids make a surprise return.

Yes, their camp let them leave early without informing their

Yes, the camp let some of its campers leave early without informing their families that it would be doing so. I can see why the camp director has to call old friends up one by one to recruit customers.

When Bill asks the kids why they didn’t write, they note that they didn’t receive any letters. Chagrined, Bill and French realize that they spent so much time worrying that they forgot to write.

pancakes

Everyone is happy to be back together. Now, bring on the breakfast.

Commentary

Uncle Bill’s early excitement about sending the kids away is pretty funny, if uncharacteristic. So is the kids’ pre-camp bad behavior, which is so over the top that I don’t really blame Bill for jumping at the camp opportunity, despite the kids’ history of separation anxiety and abandonment fears. Well, I don’t blame him too much.

We also get an interesting peek into Uncle Bill’s social life. Apparently, Giles French has aided him in many seductions by preparing midnight suppers and playing music that each woman thinks of as “our song.”

Each woman

Each woman gushes about the details the French remembered. Bill fails to inform them that it’s a different French who’s setting the mood for romance now.

French has some enjoyably droll lines, such as, “Conversation ensues when one plants one’s person upon a park bench.”

In one scene, Bill and his date argue about the characterization of a child in the play they just saw. Bill feels that the seven-year-old character has been portrayed as excessively infantile. Coming from a Family Affair writer, this dialog is ironic.

a pretense for visiting

I think it’s a healthy sign that Buffy left Mrs. Beasley at home. (Buffy’s explanation: Mrs. Beasley hates tents).

Guest Cast

Olivia: Julie Parrish. Marie: Lynn Borden. Laurie: Anabel Garth. Norman Brailey: L.E. Young. Julie Parrish, who died in 2003, worked steadily through the 1990s. She played Joan, Nat’s wife, on Beverly Hills, 90210. Her older work included appearing in the classic two-part Star Trek episode “The Menagerie” and the film The Nutty Professor (1963). In 1967, she starred in a one-season sitcom called Good Morning, World, which has actually been released on DVD. (Ronnie Schell, Billy DeWolfe, and Goldie Hawn for $10.99? Yeah, that’s going on my wish list.)

Borden was in the cast of the 1978 miniseries Centennial, in which Brian Keith also appeared. She played Barbara Baxter in the final season of Hazel.