I apologize for the delay in posting this installment. I had to go out of town somewhat unexpectedly last week.
Written by: Henry Garson and Edmund Beloin. Directed by: Charles Barton.
It’s breakfast time in the Davis household, but not everyone is eating.
“Oh for the days of Queen Victoria,” French sighs. How old is French?
Bill, who’s getting ready to leave for Chicago, notices Buffy’s discomfort. He tells French to keep Buffy home from school and take her to see Dr. Felsom.
Dr. Felsom gives French some bad news–Buffy’s tonsils are enlarged and will have to come out.
He stresses that it’s a minor operation, but French says no operation is minor when you’re dealing with “two bachelors unaccustomed to the care and feeding of children.”
“What a time to be a thousand miles away!” he cries. During this scene, Brian Keith yells his lines into the phone, while French talks normally. Let’s fanwank that they have a bad connection, on Bill’s side only.
Jody, meanwhile, is impressed that Buffy gets to eat as much ice cream as she wants. “I wish I had tonsils,” he says, and tries to take a look at Buffy’s.
Having rushed back from Chicago, Bill tells Dr. Felsom to find the best tonsil man in New York for Buffy’s operation. He wants to reserve a private suite for her, but the doctor convinces him that Buffy will feel more comfortable in the children’s ward.
The adults break the news to Buffy that she’s going to the hospital overnight for an operation. She doesn’t seem concerned, although everyone telling her to stay calm and praising her bravery probably makes her a little nervous.
Jody and Buffy say a sad goodbye, and he offers to let her take his turtle to the hospital. She declines, but she does take Mrs. Beasley.
Bill gets Buffy settled at the hospital and apologizes to the nurse for acting so nervous.
Ain’t that the truth.
Back at home, Jody is also complaining of a sore throat, but Bill and French assume that it’s a psychosomatic complaint brought on by Buffy’s illness.
That night at bedtime, French reads to Jody about Ali Baba, but Jody can’t concentrate. He keeps asking tonsil-related questions until French gives up on reading.
The next day, Buffy’s operation goes smoothly, and Bill gets ready to head back to Chicago.
French shows up at the hospital with Jody, who has been sent home from school because of his sore throat. Dr. Felsom takes a quick peek and pronounces Jody’s tonsils worse than Buffy’s.
He’s glad to be reunited with his sister and delighted to start on his ice-cream diet. The only thing the kids can’t understand is why Bill and Mr. French are so afraid of hospitals. The next time they have their tonsils out, Jody thinks it would be good idea to keep Bill and French in the dark about it.
Classic TV led me to believe that one day I would have my tonsils removed. I would get to eat ice cream all day. I would get to stay home from school and bask in adult attention.
It never happened. Thanks a lot, evolving medical standards.
The emotions in this episode ring true, from Jody’s feeling left out, to Bill and French’s panicky concern for Buffy, to the the way the kids sense the adults’ stress. At different points in the script, both French and Bill observe that no surgery is “minor” when it comes to children, and I would certainly agree with that as a parent. I was a mess when my daughter got tubes in her ears, and that didn’t even require an overnight stay.
Sweetness abounds in this episode. It’s touching to see how Jody worries about Buffy and misses her while they are apart. Brian Keith does his usual great job showing fatherly tenderness, especially in the scene just before Buffy’s surgery.
(I wonder if those hospital scenes were hard for Keith, who lost his 8-year-old son to pneumonia less than five years earlier.)
When an episode offers little to snark on, my eyes travel to the decor.
Dr. Felson: Oliver McGowan. Miss Jones: Carol Nugent.
Well, this is interesting. Former child actress Carol Nugent was the daughter of Carl Nugent, property master on My Three Sons. (On Family Affair, he served in that role for the pilot only.) Carol was married to Nick Adams, who starred as Johnny Yuma on the 1959-61 TV series The Rebel. Adams died of a drug overdose a week before this Family Affair episode aired. In 2002, Carol married none other than John G. Stephens, Family Affair production supervisor! (Stephens was widowed in 2001 after more than 40 years of marriage to actress Joan Vohs, whom we’ll see in our next episode.) Nugent’s son Jeb Adams had a brief acting career in the 1980s, highlighted by his role as Chris in the movie Flowers in the Attic.
Researching this family can lead you down quite a rabbit hole. Carol Nugent’s nephew, Adam Taylor, was married to Anne Lockhart. She’s the daughter of June Lockhart, a one-time Family Affair guest star. Taylor’s father was Buck Taylor and his grandfather was prolific character actor Dub Taylor; both of these men crossed professional paths with Brian Keith several times.
This is McGowan’s second of three appearances as a doctor on the show.
The script mentions Jody’s turtle and Captain Hippopotamus. We also learn that Jody and Buffy are still 6, despite being in second grade now. Time really drags in their world.