I apologize for my lateness with this installment. October has been a crazy month in my off-line life. I hope to get back on track this week.
Written by: Joseph Hoffman. Directed by: Charles Barton.
When Uncle Bill returns home from work, the twins invite him to a party at their school.
A drawing by Buffy and an arithmetic paper by Jody will have featured spots in the exhibition. The twins invite French, too, and both men decide to forgo the opening of a Van Gogh exhibit to attend the school event. (French says he places more value on an “original Buffy” than on a Van Gogh–awww.)
“Someday, flying to the moon will be as easy flying to Chicago,” Bill observes. He’s humoring her, but as a child, I really did expect that we’d be vacationing on the moon by now.
On the way to see Jody’s math paper, the Davis family runs into two of the twin’s friends.
Their mother takes one look at Uncle Bill and suggests he join her for coffee.
Bill and Margaret discover they’ve been living parallel lives–she has a 16-year-old daughter as well as the twins, and she’s raising her children as a single parent after losing her husband.
Later, Buffy and Jody are delighted to hear that Bill and Margaret are going out to dinner together.
The next morning, they grill Bill about how the date went.
Cissy explains that the twins are rooting for Bill to marry Margaret. Buffy asks if Jill can sleep over Saturday night, and Bill says it might be nice for all the Williams children to spend the weekend since he and Margaret are going sailing Sunday. (I don’t quite follow his thinking here.)
When the Williams children arrive, things get off to a great start.
(A quick digression: Have you ever noticed on shows like this that when teens refer to friends at school, the friends always have unlikely, antiquated names such as “Edna” and “Felix”?)
Buffy introduces Jill to Mrs. Beasley and assures Jill that the doll likes her.
The first sign of trouble appears on the horizon that evening, as Cissy and Vicky prepare for a double date. Cissy has asked her beau to provide an escort for Vicky.
The next day, Timmy bullies Jody into violating house rules by playing catch in the living room.
Timmy, who threw the ball, blames the whole incident on Jody. The boys’ ensuing argument turns physical after Timmy shoves Jody. (Their fight is actually more a weird writhing session, with no blows thrown.)
The only way Jill could tick Buffy off this badly is by messing with Mrs. Beasley. But surely should wouldn’t…
First she tries to change Mrs. Beasley’s clothes, although Buffy says Mrs. Beasley only feels comfortable undressing around her owner. (This is a cute comment, even though it’s not really possible to “undress” Mrs. Beasley.)
Jill responds by asserting that Mrs. Beasley has started talking to her–and expressing a preference for her over Buffy!
But when the twins ask Cissy how they can discourage Bill from marrying Margaret, she gives them her usual suck-up-your-own-feelings-and-concentrate-on-Uncle-Bill’s-happiness spiel.
Bill ignores her blatant marriage hint and responds to the parenting fail implicit in her remarks.
“I’m not a pal to my kids…I’m older than them and smarter than them and more responsible than them, so I decide what’s best for them,” he says.
He also makes it clear that he will only marry when he falls in love.
At home, Bill tells French that marriage is off the table. He’s nervous about how the kids will take the news, though.
French, too, is relieved about the bullet they’ve dodged.
Pre-dating The Brady Bunch by more than a year, this episode anticipates the comic situations that could result from a large, blended family (though Family Affair puts a darker and more realistic spin on the conflicts that might arise). Buffy and Jody’s “How do people get married?” inquiries are cute, and I love French’s dismay at the prospect of his kid load doubling.
Margaret Williams: Coleen Gray. Vicky: Kay Cole. Timmy: Tony Fraser. Jill: Martine Fraser. Allan: Mickey Sholdar. Norman: George Winters.
Red River, Nightmare Alley, and The Killing are among Coleen Gray’s most memorable films. She kept busy with TV appearances from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Tony Fraser would appear twice more on Family Affair. Martine Fraser is surely his sister; they both had very short TV careers.
Kay Cole played Maggie in the original Broadway cast of A Chorus Line.
Mickey Sholdar had a regular role in the 1960s TV series The Farmer’s Daughter
Uncle Bill mentions his brother.