Written by: Henry Garson and Edmund Beloin. Directed by: Charles Barton.
When we look in on the Davis family this week, Jody is getting ready to go roller skating. He’s getting ready a bit prematurely, in fact.
Buffy is going roller skating, too, with plans to teach Mrs. Beasley how to skate. First, however, the kids want to see what Cissy is doing out on the terrace. As it turns out, she’s drawing a picture of Uncle Bill–a “crack-a-ture,” as Jody calls it. The kids to want to know what all the mountains are in the picture. The “mountains,” Cissy informs them, are Uncle Bill’s muscles.
Cissy informs the kids that she’ll be displaying her work at a high school art exhibit. She’ll be including caricatures of Uncle Bill and the twins–all the members of the family.
French looks hurt, and his mood doesn’t improve when Cissy asks him to provide hors d’oeuvres for the exhibit. Cissy can tell he’s upset, but she doesn’t know why. After French and the kids leave, a perceptive Uncle Bill explains the situation.
Meanwhile, at the park, Buffy and Jody wonder why French is acting like “an old growly bear.” He feels even worse when he runs into his frenemy Withers.
In fact, they are planning a bon voyage party for him. Smithers’ employers are going to Europe and taking him with them. French admits that he hasn’t been on a trip abroad with Bill since the kids took up residence with them.
“Some of us are merely employees, and some of us are members of the family,” Withers says, twisting the knife.
Later, however, Bill gives French a private heads-up that his picture will appear in the exhibit. He even shows it to him.
Understandably, he’s in a much better mood the next day when he runs into Miss Faversham at school pick-up time. He can’t resist telling her about the exhibit and the fact that he’s included. He invites her to opening and asks her spread the word to Withers and Hardcastle.
French affects shock and horror, then tells them about crying himself to sleep every night because his childhood friends said, “Here comes Fatty,” whenever he approached.The kids are properly abashed and head off to apologize to Tony.
That’s a tip you won’t find in many parenting manuals.
While she’s waiting, Buffy happens to see the French caricature.
They’re worried that French will find the picture offensive.
She decides that she won’t display French’s picture after all. Oh, dear.
Later, Sharon stops by and asks if Cissy can go with her to The Blue Yonder that evening. Bill’s out of town until just before the exhibit, so Cissy has to seek approval from French. She doesn’t think Bill would mind, even though they’ll be out until midnight and it’s a school night.
French says no, of course, and Sharon mutters about how strict the “establishment” is in the Davis home.
Soon, the art exhibit is almost under way at last.
Cissy’s gone home to change for the opening, but French checks out her display area. Sure enough, his picture is missing. He assumes that saying no to Cissy earlier cost him his place in the exhibit. He gets on the phone to head off his friends, but he’s too late.
Luckily, Bill has arrived at home and straightened things out. Telling Cissy how much French liked her picture, he encourages her to sneak in the gallery’s back entrance and add it to her display. By the time French’s friends make their way to Cissy’s area, the picture is in place.
French is delighted, of course.
It seems Withers’ employers aren’t taking him along to Europe after all.
This is one of the best French episodes–his sadness at being excluded is poignant.
Of course, you have to overlook all the contrivances that drive the plot. For instance, why does Cissy want to surprise French with his picture, when the others posed for theirs?
Withers: Richard Peel. Mrs. Scofield: Joan Vohs. Peter: Randy Whipple. Sharon: Sherry Alberoni. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. All are Family Affair veterans, but we haven’t seen Drayton as Mr. Hardcastle since the second episode of the series. Vohs will appear most often in the third season as the twins’ teacher Miss Cummings.
Cissy’s artistic talent is a good call-back–we learned about it in season one.
Mrs. Beasley doesn’t like sea lions because they splash too much.
French’s childhood friends actually called him “Chubby”–and he liked it.
Having pronounced “Captain Hippopotamus” always perfectly and with great ease, Buffy and Jody now stumble over “caricatures”, changing the word to something like cracker chewers! I’d assume that “caricatures” isn’t so much more difficult to pronounce than “Hippopotamus”, but cracker chewer does provide a good pun for a comedy/dramedy like Family Affair, of course.