“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.
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.
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.
His camp director friend shows up the next morning to claim the kids, including Cissy, who’ll be serving as a counselor.
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.
After each failed date, Bill marvels at how much the ladies in his life have changed.
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.
The peace and quiet in the Davis apartment soon becomes oppressive.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.