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

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

  1. Terrific post. I completely agree with this: “Sigh–I so need to get me a French.” Me too!

  2. Orschel52 says:

    Withers and Middlebrook sure carry Britishness, class consciousness, dignified butler behavior, etc. to an extreme.

    Who is that 1960s character that David reminds you of? Looks like some sort of Santa trainee?

    • Amy says:

      Pretty close–he’s Hermie the Elf from a classic Christmas special called Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It was produced in 1964 and still airs every year. Hermie wants to be a dentist instead of making toys for Santa.

      • Orschel52 says:

        Oh! I know the Red Nosed Reindeer song, of course, but never saw the movie. Somehow, I must have missed it all these years – I’m pretty sure it is shown in Germany, too.

  3. myscoutster says:

    Uncle Bill tells Buffy and Jody the letter is from Ottawa, Canada, that’s where I live. We don’t hear our city mentioned on American television very often. This class clash is very real in Britain. I remember my Aunt telling me he neighbours would be horrified that she had coffee with the cleaning lady. And that was in the late 80’s!

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