Attention classic TV fans: Don’t Miss Me-TV’s Summer of Classic TV Blogathon, starting July 15! All week long, a large collection of bloggers will be sharing their thoughts about great shows on Me-TV’s schedule, including That Girl, Bewitched, The Odd Couple, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and many more. (Of course, I’m particularly interested in the bloggers who will be turning their attention to Family Affair.) I’ll be posting my entry, a look at Leave it to Beaver from Ward Cleaver’s perspective, on July 19.
Now, on to Family Affair…
Written by: Hannibal Coons (Seriously? Apparently so, although his real first name was Stanley.) and Harry Winkler. Directed by: Charles Barton.
This week’s episode opens as Uncle Bill prepares for a date, blissfully unaware of all the trouble that’s about to rain down on him.
That trouble begins innocently enough, when Jody requests help with a bridge he’s designing for school. Revealing that he’s learned his lesson about such projects, Bill first seeks assurance that parents are allowed to help.
Jody resents Buffy’s intrusion, while Buffy finds Uncle Bill less than enthralled with her news. (In fairness to him, it’s been established that he hates ballet.)
Neither kids has to worry about it for long, as Bill soon shoos them from the room in preparation for his date.
“At Uncle Bill’s age,” the kids observe, “men are just more interested in pretty ladies than in little kids.” Ouch.
“I’m glad you’re not a man,” she tells the doll. “At least I have one friend.” Ouch again.
Cissy overhears Buffy’s comments and gets that concerned look on her face–that look usually bodes ill for Uncle Bill.
Uncle Bill agrees to do so, but when Cissy changes the subject to her latest boyfriend, Bill pleads exhaustion and heads for bed. Great–now all the kids are frustrated.
By the way, doesn’t the girls’ room look much more spacious than usual?
Soon, Jody enters with a request for more bridge assistance, but Bill keeps his focus on Buffy, especially when he learns that the TV producer she’ll be auditioning for is a friend of his.
At school the next day, Ronny Bartlett questions why he hasn’t been able to meet Uncle Bill yet.
Cissy promises that she’ll make the introduction after school, but it turns out to be a chaotic afternoon at the Davis apartment.
In Bill’s absence, French has tried to help Jody with the bridge and made a royal mess of it.
Before he can offer much help, Bill has another obligation–taking Buffy to her audition.
Bill takes a dejected Buffy home, where he finds an equally dejected Jody, as well as Cissy waiting with a nervous Ronny.
Cissy springs upon Bill the news that she and Ronny are going steady and planning marriage in a few years. Now, from my study of old teen advice books, I know that parents considered “going steady” a fast train to nookie-ville, which explains Bill’s harsh reaction.
Cissy takes this development in the calm fashion that any teenage girl would.
By this time, Uncle Bill feels like the challenges of parenting have defeated him (and I’m feeling glad that I have only one child).
Bill seizes on this theory with enthusiasm and calls all the kids into the living for for a talking-to.
These conflicts would arise in a real family situation, especially when the time Uncle Bill spends at home is so limited. I began the episode feeling sorry for the kids and ended it feeling sorry for Bill. It’s nice to see the kids have to take responsibility for their own behavior at the end.
Ronny Bartlett: Gregg Fedderson. Miss Peterson: Olga Kaya. Ballet Mother: Katey Barrett. Alicia: Kellie Flanagan. Secretary: Charlotte Askins. Eric Langley: Del Moore.
Moore’s career included a regular role on Bachelor Father–a show with a premise similar to Family Affair‘s–and a part in 1963’s The Nutty Professor.
Uncle Bill once built a bridge over the Amazon.
“I do it better with my costume on–all fluffy and buttercuppy.”–Buffy, practicing her buttercup dance.