Family Affair Friday: Season 2, Episode 2, “First Love,” 9/18/1967

Welcome back to Family Affair Friday! In this week’s episode, Cissy tries to fix second-grader Buffy up with a boy in sixth grade, while Uncle Bill sexually harrasses a work associate.

Yeah, this is a pretty weird episode.

“First Love.” Aired: 9/18/1967. Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Synopsis

Our episode opens in the park, where Jody is playing football with a group of boys.

Here's a shock--Jody is actually dressed appropriately for this activity.

Here’s a shock–Jody is actually dressed appropriately for this activity!

The Barry Williamsish lad on the right is Andy, the charismatic leader of the football crowd. Andy makes a big impression on Jody–and on someone else.

Uh-oh. Are we hearing what French will later call "the first faint yappings of puppy love"?

Uh-oh. Are we hearing what French will later call “the first faint yappings of puppy love”?

While retrieving an errant football from Buffy, Andy remarks that she is “cute.” That’s a strange thing for a sixth-grade boy to say about a doll-clutching second-grade girl, so I’m going to assume he meant “cute” like a kitten or a puppy or a baby.

Buffy takes the remark differently, however. That evening, with Andy in mind, she indulges in a Cissy-style primping session.

sisterly moment

Buffy confides in Cissy about her secret crush, and they share a sweet sisterly moment.

Then things get weird: Despite knowing that her sister’s crush is in sixth grade, Cissy actively encourages Buffy to pursue this “romance.”

Meanwhile, Uncle Bill is wooing a geological consultant who just wants to discuss soil samples.

business

This gives him the chance to make lots of cringe-worthy remarks like “I know there’s a woman somewhere under that shell” while he attempts to turn every business meeting into a date.

Back at home, Buffy and Cissy convince Jody to invite Andy over to the apartment. Cissy then helps Buffy get ready for the big meeting.

Jody expresses shock at seeing Buffy "dressed up." Um, she's always dressed up, Jody. What's shocking is that turtleneck you're wearing.

Jody expresses shock at seeing Buffy “dressed up.” Um, she’s always dressed up, Jody. What’s shocking is that turtleneck you’re wearing.

When Andy arrives, Buffy almost chickens out of trying to impress him–until Cissy chides her.

"A woman has to be aggressive," Cissy says. What the?

“A woman has to be aggressive,” says Cissy, who apparently failed to notice that the woman in front of her is a little girl.

Luckily, Andy can tell the difference between a woman and a little girl, and he quickly takes an interest in the nearest thing to a woman in the Davis household–Cissy.

He starts showing off to entertain Cissy and ignores Buffy--and poor Jody, who's just trying to do some male bonding.

He starts showing off to entertain Cissy and ignores Buffy–and poor Jody, who’s just trying to do some male bonding.

Buffy doesn’t take this well.

The ensuing scene is quite a switch for Cissy--she's usually the one in the face-down position of despair.

The ensuing scene is quite a switch for Cissy–she’s usually the one in the Face-Down Position of Despair.

Uncle Bill soon has to deal with his own disappointment.

Roped into a romantic terrace dinner and unable to get Bill to focus on work, Miss Lowell finally tells him that she's engaged.

Roped into a romantic terrace dinner and unable to get Bill to focus on work, Miss Lowell finally tells him that she’s engaged.

Chagrined, Bill realizes that he should have listened to her earlier protests that she wasn’t interested. Ya think?

To his credit, he takes responsibility

To his credit, he takes responsibility instead of asking why she didn’t tell him this several non-date “dates” ago. My theory is that in the sexist 1960s work climate, she felt she had to maintain an illusion of romantic availability to get men to hire her at all. Either that or there was no fiance and she was just desperate to get Bill off her back.

(Now, personally, I wouldn’t fight too hard to discourage Uncle Bill’s advances. But, then again, I’m not Catwoman or Miss America 1955.)

After taking Miss Lowell home, Uncle Bill returns to the darkened apartment and finds a distressed Buffy on the couch. She fills him in on her crush, and they commiserate about heartache.

buffy closeup

This is a sweet scene, but it would work better if we actually saw Uncle Bill and Buffy talking together. Instead, it’s just a series of alternating closeups. Because of Brian Keith’s shortened shooting schedule, the two halves of this conversation were presumably filmed at different times.

bill closeup

Commentary

The dialogue in this episode is good. The Uncle Bill story is dated, but you have to expect such things in a show that’s almost 50 years old. The idea of Buffy having a crush is cute. The problem with this episode is the bizarre role Cissy plays. The writers could have avoided this problem so easily, too. If Cissy didn’t know Andy’s age until he showed up at the apartment, everything would make a lot more sense.

sad buffy

Anissa Jones gives a good performance here–being older than her character might have been an advantage to her, considering the subject matter. And I always love scenes where we get to see her hair down.

Guest Cast

Lise Lowell: Lee Meriwether. Andy: Joel Davison. Nanny: Towyna Thomas.

Lee Meriwether, Miss America 1955, is well known for parts on TV series like Batman and Barnaby Jones. She played Catwoman in the 1966 Batman movie. More recently, she played Ruth Martin on All My Children. And, hey–she’s on Twitter! I’m totally following her now.

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Family Affair Friday: Season 2, Episode 1, “Birds, Bees and Buffy,” 9/11/1967

Written by: Phil Davis. Directed by: Charles Barton.

We’ve reached Season 2 of Family Affair! Let’s take a quick look around and see if anything has changed.

Well, after 30 episodes with William D. Russell, we have a new director.

Well, after 30 episodes with William D. Russell, we have a new director. Don’t expect any art-house innovations, though.

Cissy's looking prettier, I think. Her hair is flufflier or something.

Cissy’s looking prettier, I think. Her hair is fluffier.

truth

Buffy’s front teeth have finally come in. I think Uncle Bill had better set aside some money for future orthodontia.

curious

Jody’s gotten taller, sprouting past his sister’s height. It’s hard to believe that Anissa Jones was 9 at this time, while Johnnie Whitaker was not yet 8.

One thing hasn’t changed since Season 1: Buffy and Jody are still 6. They are old enough, though, to start asking some questions after they see French and his nanny friends admiring a baby in the park.

Meet Anthony Bartlow III.

Meet Anthony Bartlow III.

When Buffy and Jody ask French where babies come from, he gives them a quick brush-off. Then he and the nannies marinate silently in their embarrassment.

No sex education, please. We're British.

No sex education, please. We’re British.

Meanwhile, the twins’ friend Wendy tells them that she knows where babies come from, but she’s not allowed to repeat it. It doesn’t take her long to overcome her scruples.

The stork brings babies, Wendy announces with authority.

The stork brings babies, Wendy announces with authority.

Upon arriving at home with the twins, French informs Uncle Bill about the twins’ curiosity.

French has a very reasonable plan for handling the situation--he proposes that Bill refuse to discuss the subject with the kids, ever.

French has a very reasonable plan for handling the situation–he proposes that Bill refuse to discuss the subject with the kids, ever. Or at least until the twins are leaving for college.

Uncle Bill is no more comfortable with the subject than French. So when Buffy and Jody float Wendy’s stork theory at the dinner table, both men latch onto it.

Seriously, Uncle Bill?

Seriously, Uncle Bill?

Now, let’s face it: Buffy and Jody are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, if Season 1 is anything to go by.

But even these Einsteins can look at an encyclopedia entry about storks and doubt the story they've been told.

But even these Einsteins can look at an encyclopedia entry about storks and doubt the story they’ve been told.

Their persistent questioning drives French to consult Miss Faversham, who has more experience than he does–experience with children, I mean.

She recommends the cabbage patch story as a delightful fantasy that is "not nearly as vulnerable to logic."

She recommends the cabbage patch story as a delightful fantasy that is “not nearly as vulnerable to logic.”

The twins accept the cabbage patch story, more or less.

Unfortunately, they are also eager to share their newfound knowledge with their friend Richie.

Unfortunately, they are eager to share their newfound knowledge with their friend Richard

Eavesdropping on their conversation, Uncle Bill cringes at the twins’ avowals that the story must be true–Uncle Bill would never lie to them, they say.

Later, he gets an earful from Riche's mother, who has made the radical decision to raise her

Later, he gets an earful from Richard’s mother, who believes in giving her son–gasp!–actual facts about reproduction.

Cissy is exasperated with what she calls “plain cowardice” on Uncle Bill’s part. She gets some advice and literature from her biology teacher, and tries to persuade her uncle to have a straightforward talk with the twins.

She's fighting a losing battle. Bill can't even handle a straightforward conversation with her on this topic.

She’s fighting a losing battle. Bill can’t even handle a straightforward conversation with her on this topic.

That evening at bedtime, Bill announces that he will tell the kids the truth.

Babies come from love, he says, reminding the twins about the love their parents had for them and for each other.

Babies come from love, he says, reminding the twins about the love their parents had for them and for each other.

Cissy and the twins are moved by his comments.

Even French approves.

Even French approves.

Later, though, French has a question: Is “love” also the proper explanation to give the children about a friend’s rapidly increasing pet rabbit population?

Commentary

A sweet and funny treatment of an always awkward situation. I like the rabbit question at the end–it hints that Uncle Bill’s oblique explanation will only satisfy the kids for so long. He needs to get himself a copy of Dr. Spock, fast.

Guest Cast

Miss Pringle: Viola Harris. Miss Livingstone: Athena Lorde. Miss Graham: Pauline Drake. Richard: Randy Whipple. Wendy: Pamelyn Ferdin. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Drake, Whipple, Ferdin, and Angel all appear in multiple Family Affair episodes.

Continuity Notes

The kids’ mother and father are mentioned.

Inconsistency Alert

A visual one:

This is supposed to be Cissy's mid-town Manhattan high school!

This is supposed to be Cissy’s mid-town Manhattan high school!

Fun Facts

Infants terrify Mr. French.

Spin Again Sunday: What Shall I Be? (1972)

what shall i be box

Spin Again Sunday is back! After a long hiatus–for which I apologize–I return with a game that explores the full gamut of careers available to women–ballerina, airline stewardess, teacher, model, nurse, and actress.

Actually, by 1972, even the good people at Selchow and Righter (who also brought us The Bride Game and The Emily Post Popularity Game) realized that their game was slightly retrograde. They could have opted to redesign the whole the game, but that probably would have cost a lot of money. Instead, they reissued their 1966 game board but added this disclaimer to the inside lid:

what shall i be disclaimer

I suppose they figured that would keep Gloria Steinem off their backs.

This Week’s Game: What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls

Manufactured: 1972, Selchow & Righter

Recommended For: Girls ages 8-13

Game Board: Drawings on the board–copyright 1966–show somewhat more conservative versions of the career girls than the full color photos on the 1972 box.

what shall i be board

Game Pieces: The pawns are your basic colored plastic items. The game also involves three kinds of cards. School Cards represent the formal training needed for each career.

what shall i be cards

Players also need to collect round Subject Cards and heart-shaped Personality Cards that support their career ambitions. (As you can see, cards can also work against success in certain careers. No fat chicks need apply for stewardess!)

what shall i be cards 2Game Play: Players move around the board and collect cards according to the spaces on which they land. The first player who collects four school cards for one profession, plus two Subject Cards and two Personality Cards that support that profession wins.

My Verdict: As silly as it seems now, this game would have appealed to me when I was 8 or so. Remember those cheap toy doctor’s and nurse’s kits that you could buy anywhere? My mom was always trying to raise my consciousness by buying me the doctor one, but I always wanted the nurse version.

Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy

The Waltons

Barbie Miss Lively Livin’

Patty Duke Game

Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 30, “The Butler Method,” May 15, 1967

With this episode, we reach the end of Family Affair‘s first season! Thanks to all of you who have followed along so far. The second season includes some of my favorite episodes, so I’m excited to get it under way next week.

Written by: George Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Two threads run through this episode and come together by the end–almost.

First, a well known actor friend of Uncle Bill’s is observing French to prepare for a theatrical role.

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Second, Cissy is indecisive about her choice for a Sadie Hawkins-type dance.

Luckily for Cissy, she has a friend to help her through this crisis. Unluckily for Cissy, it's Wanda, who is even more annoying than Cissy's other friends.

Luckily for Cissy, she has a friend to help her through this crisis. Unluckily for Cissy, it’s Wanda, who is an even bigger nuisance than Cissy’s other friends.

Cissy hesitates too long in finding a date and misses out on the desirable boys. Wanda, who acts more quickly, lands a good catch.

Yes, this is definitely a work of fiction.

Yep, this is definitely a work of fiction.

Uncle Bill reminisces to his house guest about his own Sadie Hawkins experiences. Even back then, it seams, he had to fight the girls off with a stick. Sometimes he would go as far as claiming a broken leg to avoid “dancing with a giraffe.” Real nice, Bill!

In the featurette included with the Season 1 DVDs, Kathy Garver says that Brian Keith would avoid making eye contact with guest stars he didn't like. I get the feeling throughout this episode that Christopher Dark isn't a personal favorite of his.

In the featurette included with the Season 1 DVDs, Kathy Garver says that Brian Keith would avoid making eye contact with guest stars he didn’t like. I get the feeling throughout this episode that Christopher Dark isn’t a personal favorite of his.

When Cissy finally stoops so low as calling her last-resort boy, Virgil, he has to decline: It seems he has a broken leg.

Cissy takes this news about as well as a careful viewer of Season 1 would expect.

Cissy takes this news about as well as a careful viewer of Season 1 would expect.

Believing that Virgil is lying, Cissy takes to moping around the apartment.

Wanda helps Cissy's funk along by showing off her own dress for the dance and offering to tell Cissy all about the fun she'll be missing.

Wanda helps Cissy’s funk along by showing off her own dress for the dance and offering to tell Cissy all about the fun she’ll be missing.

French thinks that Uncle Bill should offer to escort Cissy to the dance, and Bill does so.

Cissy has the good sense to realize that showing up at a dance with your uncle is worse than not showing up at all.

Cissy declines. She has the good sense to realize that showing up at a dance with your uncle is worse than not showing up at all.

Eventually, another answer to the problem dawns on Uncle Bill–he asks his celebrity friend to escort her.

Cissy surprises everyone by turning the actor down. He's way too old--or, she puts it, she's way too young.

Cissy surprises everyone by turning the actor down. He’s way too old–or, she puts it, she’s way too young.

Uncle Bill finds his friend's discomfort rather amusing.

Uncle Bill finds his friend’s discomfort rather amusing.

Just then, Virgil appears at the Davis door with a very real broken leg and a doctor’s permission to attend the dance anyway.

That night, Cissy and Virgil are all smiles as they head off for the dance. Apparently, Cissy has forgotten that she didn't want to ask Virgil in the first place.

That night, Cissy and Virgil are all smiles as they head off for the dance. Apparently, Cissy has forgotten that she didn’t want to ask Virgil in the first place.

As you can see, the twins don’t figure much in this episode’s plot. They do have a cute running gag, however.

At the beginning of the episode, they leave their school books on the hall table.

In response, they receive an intense French glare.

In response, they receive an intense French glare.

He's yelling at us with his eyes, Buffy whispers to Jody, just before the kids scoop the books up.

“He’s yelling at us with his eyes,” Buffy whispers to Jody, just before the kids scoop the books up.

Later, Cissy and Wanda leave their books on the table, and French fails to react.

Buffy and Jody are quick to point out the injustice of this.

Buffy and Jody are quick to point out the injustice.

Near the end of the episode, they let themselves in after school and observe that French is nowhere to be seen.

For a few seconds, they glory in their freedom.

For a few seconds, they glory in their freedom.

Then their own sense of responsibility kicks in, and they pick the books up.

Then their own sense of responsibility kicks in, and they pick the books up.

French is amusing when he describes his efforts to keep the twins happy while Wanda sleeps over with Cissy for two nights. He manages to convince an exiled Buffy to play “hotel” in Jody’s room the first night, but by the second night his game of “castle” fails to keep the peace.

Commentary

This episode seems to head in a very predictable direction.The “date-with-a-middle-aged celebrity” idea is the kind of thing that usually makes sense to everyone in old sitcoms, even though it would be make for a very strange occurrence in real life. Cissy’s refusal to go out with the movie star saves this episode.

Also, it's always nice to see Cissy prettied up for a big date.

Also, it’s always nice to see Cissy prettied up for a big date.

Guest Cast

Orson: Christopher Dark. Virgil: Patrick Moore. Wanda: Lynette Winter. Patrick Moore would appear one more time on Family Affair, and then vanish from the world of screen acting forever. Christopher Dark’s TV appearances include many westerns and two episodes of The Rogues, in which John Williams–the other Mr. French–had a regular role. Winter is familiar from her role as best friend LaRue in the series Gidget and as Henrietta Plout on Petticoat Junction. She also had a small part in The Parent Trap, but she didn’t share any screen time with Brian Keith.

Winter's character in this episode is supposed to be annoying--and, boy, does she nail it.

Winter’s character in this episode is supposed to be annoying–and, boy, does she nail it.

Fun Facts

French isn’t a movie buff. He only likes to watch Sir Laurence Olivier in Hamlet and color footage of the coronation. Oh, French.

Burning Question

Isn’t a fake broken leg a particularly lame excuse? You would have to keep the ruse up at school for a fairly long time.
Also, if Bill was so popular, why did he once have to take his aunt as his date to a track meet?