Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 4, “Your Friend, Jody,” 10/14/1968

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

We open this week’s episode in one of those old-school male gyms.

Uncle Bill's sparring partner gets a bit carried away and lands a solid punch to Bill's chin.

Uncle Bill’s sparring partner gets a bit carried away and lands a solid punch to Bill’s chin.

Ruby apologizes profusely, explaining that he’s too distracted by worry to know what he’s doing.

Bill soon meets the source of the man's worry--his son, Michael.

Bill soon meets the source of the man’s worry–his son, Michael.

Is Michael sick? Is he getting into serious trouble? No…he just plays with his three sisters too much.

“It ain’t a good idea for boys to be around girls too much,” Ruby explains. (He says he found Michael playing 1, 2, 3, O’Leary with the girls, and “he wasn’t even O’Leary.” I’m not familiar with that game, but I did find a description, complete with a demonstrative video.)

Bill seems bemused by Ruby’s concerns. He’s not at all worried about his own son, who’s at home playing house with his sister. When Ruby still insists on sending Michael away to a boys’ camp, Bill recommends one run by a friend.

Bill might be more concerned than he lets on, though--when the men resume sparring, he lands an accidental punch this time.

Bill might be more concerned than he lets on, though–when the men resume sparring, he lands an accidental punch this time.

(I wonder if some 1960s viewers would have objected to a scene involving a black man delivering an unanswered punch upon a white man, even if the blow was accidental.)

At home, Bill reacts with dismay to the news that Jody is modeling an apron for dressmaker Buffy.

At home, Bill reacts with dismay to the news that Jody is modeling an apron for dressmaker Buffy.

He suggests to French that camp might do Jody some good.

French is all for it, and not just because it will lighten his work load.

French is all for it, and not just because it will lighten his work load.

In England, he says, people send their sons off to boys’ schools and camps at the earliest opportunity. There, “they indulge in all sorts of masculine activities.” (So I’ve heard.)

We get a fun Frenchism here: “Roast beef and boys’ schools–that’s what won at Waterloo and Trafalgar!”

Bill heads into the girls’ room to broach the camp issue with Jody.

"Look at me--I'm a dummy!" Jody announces to his uncle.

“Look at me–I’m a dummy!” Jody announces to his uncle.

(I’ll refrain from commenting on that one.)

When Bill tells Jody about camp, the boy is excited. He assumes, however, that his sisters will be going, too. Buffy assumes so as well and begins rhapsodizing about the pleasures of swimming and hiking.

(The kids also say they’ve never been to camp before–a major continuity error. The same actor even plays the camp director in each of these episodes.)

When Bill informs them it's a boys' camp, a dejected Buffy asks, "You mean, no girls?"

When Bill informs them it’s a boys’ camp, a dejected Buffy asks, “You mean, no girls?”

(And to think: She’s the smart twin.)

Jody is crestfallen, too, but he quickly puts on a brave face for his uncle’s benefit.

Soon, Jody's bidding a sad farewell to the family.

Soon, Jody’s bidding a sad farewell to the family.

Walking down to the lobby, where Jody’s ride is waiting, an obviously ambivalent Bill tries to suss out Jody’s true feelings. Jody continues to put up a positive front, even when he gets his first look at the kids who’ll be his cabin mates.

Not exactly happy campers.

Not exactly happy campers.

The driver assures a worried Bill that the kids’ homesickness is normal, and that they will soon be having a great time.

VTS_01_5.VOB_000010178

Bill puts Jody in the car, but he’s in a worried mood when he returns to the apartment.

Buffy’s upset, too. She’s slipped back into her “Yes, sir,” mode of communicating that always emerges in times of distress. That’s a nice touch, especially coming from writers who can’t even remember a previous camp-themed episode.

In Jody’s cabin at camp, the only repeat camper provides a discouraging report.

Allen's been to Camp Anawanda twice before, and he hates it. He says he wouldn't stay if he had a family to go home to. (His family dumps him at camp so they can visit Europe.)

Allen’s been to Camp Anawanda twice before, and he hates it. He says he wouldn’t stay if he had a family to go home to. Alas, his parents dump him at camp so they can visit Europe.

Jody is determined to make the best of things, however.

He even tries to develop a taste for calves' liver. You're a better man than I am, Jody.

He even tries to develop a taste for calf’s’ liver. You’re a better man than I am, Jody.

VTS_01_5.VOB_000246974

When Bill places a call to camp, Jody gushes about how much fun he’s having.

His postcards from camp also accentuate the positive, but Bill questions his over-working of the phrase “wonderful time.” (French’s explanation: Children have a limited vocabulary.)

Reading Jody's postcards is apparently a big event for the whole family.

Reading Jody’s postcards is apparently a big event for the whole family.

Don't you think at least Cissy might have something else to do occasionally?

Don’t you think at least Cissy might have something else to do occasionally?

When Bill meets up with Ruby at the gym again, Ruby says that Michael cried non-stop the first three days of camp. All’s well that ends well, though. Bill is glad to hear that Michael is doing better now.

Ruby agrees that the boy's much happier now--hanging out with his sisters, since he came home from camp early.

Ruby agrees that the boy’s much happier–hanging out with his sisters, since he came home from camp early.

Bill’s startled by this news, and even more startled when Michael tells him that cabin-mate Charlie also left early after crying his eyes out.

Jody didn't cry, Michael says--he "held it in."

Jody didn’t cry, Michael says–he “held it in.” (Hmm…doesn’t Jody have a sweater like that?)

The Davis family hustles up to Camp Anawanda to see how Jody is really doing.

The camp director is sure that Jody is having a ball. This guy's pretty smug considering that rate at which children are fleeing his camp.

The camp director is sure that Jody is having a ball. This guy’s pretty smug considering the rate at which children are fleeing his camp.

Jody does seem enthusiastic about everything as he shows Bill around the camp grounds.

Who wouldn't be enthusiastic about a lovely spread like this?

Who wouldn’t be enthusiastic about a lovely spread like this?

Bill finally finds a clever way to assess Jody’s true feelings. He says that after the boys’ camp ends, Camp Anawanda will be having a girls’ camp, and he plans to send Buffy.

“You wouldn’t do that to Buffy?!” Jody blurts out.

We get a sweet father-son scene as Bill assures Jody that it's okay if he comes home.

We get a sweet father-son scene as Bill assures Jody that it’s okay if he comes home.

Without directly referring to the kids’ traumatic past, he says that some kids do better being at home with their families. (Presumably for the benefit of camp-averse kids in the audience, he takes pains to say that camp is great for most kids.)

Back at home, Bill is off to the gym again.

Back at home, Bill is off to the gym again.

He and French have an amusing exchange:

Bill: Did you remember to put a fresh perspiration garment in there?
French: If you are referring to the, um, sweatshirt, sir, the answer is in the affirmative.
Bill: I didn’t think you would use that word.
French: When in Rome, sir…

Meanwhile, Jody’s helping Buffy cut out construction-paper contact lenses for Mrs. Beasley.

He jumps at the chance to go to the gym with Bill instead.

He jumps at the chance to go to the gym with Bill instead.

(I guess the writers wanted to be sure we know he’s a normal red-blooded American boy.)

Buffy, who can't understand why Jody wants to get all sweaty and dodge punches, closes the episode with one of those precocious TV-kid moments: She proclaims she'll never understand men.

Buffy, who can’t understand why Jody wants to get all sweaty and dodge punches, closes the episode with one of those precocious TV-kid moments: She proclaims she’ll never understand men.

Commentary

If you didn’t know the Davis family backstory, Bill would appear to be inventing helicopter parenting here. I believe camp was a standard experience for city kids of the twins’ social class, and kids usually do get over their homesickness. Jody does such a good job convincing everyone he loves camp that he appears to have almost convinced himself. If Bill hadn’t continued probing for his real feelings, I think Jody would have survived the camp without any lasting trauma. This episode does a good job reflecting ongoing Davis family issues–their separation anxiety and their impulse to protect one another’s feelings.

Continuity Note

Jody still has a turtle.

Random Observation

Jody’s camp was supposed to last more than three weeks. It must be summer, so seasons in the Davis world don’t match up with real world at all.

Guest Cast

Charlie: Michael Barbera. Counselor: Robert Broyles. Allen: Ricky Cordell. Driver: John Lawrence. Ruby: Archie L. Moore. Mike: Ezekiel Williams. George Sperling: L.E. Young.

Moore, a champion prize-fighter in the 1950s, turned to acting in 1960 with a strong performance as Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Through the early 1980s he made a series of TV series appearances, mostly in boxing-themed roles like this one.

Most of this week’s guest actors are Family Affair veterans. Cordell had a memorable role as Pepino in the first-season episode “Love Me, Love Me Not.” We’ll see Barbera again next week, but his character will have a different name.

Advertisements

Spin Again Sunday: The Dating Game (1968)

dating game box

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but this game is very much in the holiday spirit.

Today’s Game: The Dating Game, 2nd Edition.

Copyright Date: 1968.

Manufactured by: Hasbro. The box also describes the company by its original name, Hassenfeld Brothers.

Recommended Ages: The box doesn’t give any. Presumably, Hasbro intended it for teens and adults–it requires two male-female couples to play.

dating game board

Game Board: The TV show logo takes center stage on a board with a groovy lavender, orange, and mustard color scheme.

Game Play: Players roll the dice and move around the track, trying to prepare for a date along the way. “Guys” and “Gals” have separate appointment cards which list the date requirements they must fulfill.

The guys get off pretty easy compared to the gals, who have to buy fur coats!

The guys get off pretty easy compared to the gals, who have to buy fur coats!

When a player lands on a Question square, he or she takes a question card and reads it aloud. The two opposite-sex players then draw Answer cards and read them aloud. The questioning player decides which answer best matches the question.

The question and answer cards definitely offer the most potential for fun in this game.

The question and answer cards definitely offer the most potential for fun in this game.

A player must match five cards with an opposite-sex player and check off all the date requirements before heading to the Make a Date square. Then, he or she can wait for an opposite-sex player to arrive. The first couple to meet at the Make a Date square wins the game.

My Thoughts: This game seems like it could be fun under the right circumstances. I’m not sure how often those circumstances–two couples sitting around with nothing better to do–would arise, however. My game is almost pristine condition, which tells me its owner didn’t play it much.

My husband thinks the "gal" on the box looks frumpy. The "guy" doesn't look like any great prize either.

My husband thinks the “gal” on the box looks frumpy. Of course, the “guy” doesn’t look like any great prize either.

Bonus Materials: My game included this flyer for “12 Reading Treats in One Big Volume.”

The Lassie cover story might qualify, but I'm not sure about some of the other titles, like "Peanuts are Not Nuts" and "The Sounds We Hear."

The Lassie cover story might qualify, but I’m not sure about some of the other titles, like “Peanuts are Not Nuts” and “The Sounds We Hear.”

And, just for fun, here is a Dating Game segment from 1968 that includes both Richard Dawson and Bill Bixby among the bachelors. A bachelorette couldn’t go wrong here–even the unknown third guy is cute!

Other Spin Again Sunday Posts you might enjoy:

The Waltons

The Flying Nun

Laverne & Shirley

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 3, “A Waltz from Vienna,” 10/7/1968

Written by: Hannibal Coons and Charles R. Marion. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Some awkwardly expository dialog in the opening scene sets the tone for this bizarre Family Affair outing.

iuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc e4r ]]]]]]t55555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555 "Oh, Karl, I've had such a marvelous time these past three months," Cissy coos to this guy we've never seen before.


“Oh, Karl, I’ve had such a marvelous time these past three months,” Cissy coos to this guy we’ve never seen before.

Cissy mentions the New York night spots they’ve visited together: The Colony, the Four Seasons, the Persian Room, and 21.

We quickly learn that Karl is one of those sophisticated, European types--he tries to order an after-dinner liqueur for the two of them.

We quickly learn that Karl is one of those sophisticated, European types–he tries to order an after-dinner liqueur for the two of them.

When the waiter raises an eyebrow, Cissy quickly changes her order to an ice cream parfait, while Karl complains that Cissy is being treated like a child. Cissy points out that the legal drinking age is 18. Fun fact: New York raised the minimum age to 19 in 1983 and to 21 in 1985.

Somehow the conversation shifts to Karl’s impending return to Vienna. He just can’t bear the thought of leaving Cissy, so he takes a very reasonable course of action concerning this underage girl he’s know for three months–he proposes.

"Yes!" Cissy exclaims.

“Yes!” Cissy exclaims.

Hell-to-the-no, Uncle Bill counters.

Hell-to-the-no, Uncle Bill counters.

Bill is the voice of reason, bringing up Cissy’s tender age and the fact that she and Karl don’t know one another well. Strangely, he omits what I consider the strongest argument–that she should finish her education before she thinks about marriage.

Karl's parents are no help to Bill--they assure him that teenage marriage is the done thing in Austria. Karl's mom claims that she married at 15 and has been blissfully happy for 23 years.

Karl’s parents are no help to Bill–they assure him that teenage marriage is the done thing in Austria. Karl’s mom claims that she married at 15 and has been blissfully happy for 23 years.

So, aristocratic Austrian girls routinely married in their mid-teens in the 1940s? Okay, Frau Really-I’m-Under-40-Do-the-Math.

Bill holds firms, though, even when he later finds Cissy pouting on the terrace. He explains that while he may seen like an “an old fuddy-duddy,” marriage is a big responsibility, she’s just “in love with love,” etc.

Cissy's not buying it.

Cissy’s not buying it.

The next day, Bill’s still feeling bad about the situation.

French doesn't help by pointing out that marrying into one of "the oldest and wealthiest continental families" would be a dream come true for many girls.

French doesn’t help by pointing out that marrying into one of “the oldest and wealthiest continental families” would be a dream come true for many girls.

It’s enough to send anyone running for the cigarettes.

See the penguin logo shirt Bill is wearing. I remember my dad having golf shirts like that, so of course I had to look up the history of it.

See the penguin logo shirt Bill is wearing. I remember my dad having golf shirts like that, so of course I had to look up the history of it.

Bill still feels in his bones that this marriage is wrong for Cissy. A good Frenchism follows: “Let us trust that your bones have good judgment.”

Poor Bill can't even escape from this weird situation at work.

Poor Bill can’t even escape from this weird situation at work.

Karl’s mother drops by the office with a new plan–let “Catherine” visit their family in Vienna for three weeks to see if she would like living there.

Bill's instincts tell him this is a bad idea, and that the Viennese atmosphere will only increase Cissy's romantic frenzy.

Bill’s instincts tell him this is a bad idea, and that the Viennese atmosphere will only increase Cissy’s romantic frenzy.

He agrees to think about it, though. And while he does so, Cissy is cultivating a new mature image. As everyone knows, maturity is best expressed through…

...slinky dresses...

…slinky dresses…

...and an up-do of adultishness.

…and an up-do of adultishness! Nice Family Affair green on those salon walls. Strange, though, how Cissy’s hair has briefly turned as red as the hairdresser’s.

Strangely enough, her approach works on Bill, who agrees to let her visit Vienna.

Inexplicably, her approach works on Bill, who agrees to let her visit Vienna.

It also inspires French to describe her as “a marriageable young lady.” Um…ew. French insists that there’s no danger of Cissy and Karl eloping during the visit, though–such things just aren’t done “on the continent.”

The direction in this scene is awkward, making it really obvious that each side of the Bill-Cissy conversation was shot at different times.

The Cissy-Bill conversation here is done in a series of closeups, making it obvious that each side of the conversation was filmed at a different time. Brian Keith is probably watching a middle-aged assistant director deliver Cissy’s lines.

Hey, remember the two little kids on this show? What were their names? Tubby and Toby?

It's a measure of this episode's strangeness that we don't see the twins until we're about three-quarters of the way through, as Cissy prepares to take her updo Alp-ward.

It’s a measure of this episode’s strangeness that we don’t see the twins until we’re about three-quarters of the way through, as Cissy prepares to take her updo across the pond.

The twins are sad to see her go and afraid she’ll forget what they look like.

That night, they're so lonely that they pile in with Bill. While he looks amusingly exasperated, the twins have a cute conversation about marriage. (Jody pledges himself to the single life.)

That night, they’re so lonely that they pile in with Bill. While he looks amusingly exasperated, the twins have a cute conversation about marriage. (Jody pledges himself to the single life.)

Meanwhile…

Cue the Strauss and the stock footage! We're going to Austria!

Cue the Strauss and the stock footage! We’re going to Austria!

Karl's parents have a nice little shack there.

Karl’s parents have a nice little shack there.

They also have about a hundred middle-aged friends who have come to gawk at “Catherine.”

I do like Cissy's evening gown in this scene.

I do like Cissy’s evening gown in this scene.

While the young xouple begins a waltz, Karl’s parents tell everyone how they’re longing to welcome Cissy to the family.

Cissy's nice enough, but I don't really get where they're coming from. Aren't there any young women in Austria?

Cissy’s nice enough, but I don’t really get where they’re coming from. Aren’t there any young women in Austria?

Soon Karl and his “liebchen” are visiting cafes and spouting dialog that’s even more nauseating than before.

"It's like living in a fairy tale," Cissy gushes. Karl says they can make the fairy tale come true if they marry right away.

“It’s like living in a fairy tale,” Cissy gushes. Karl says they can make the fairy tale come true if they marry right away.

Cissy’s game, but Bill says no over the phone. Undeterred, Karl thinks they should elope to Innsbruck.

I thought they didn't do such things in Europe, Mr. Continental Smarty-Pants.

I thought they didn’t do such things in Europe, Mr. Continental Smarty-Pants.

Cissy soon starts having second thoughts, though, for no apparent reason other than the episode’s impending end.

Suddenly, she agrees with Uncle Bill--she's just in love with "a little girl's idea of love."

Suddenly, she agrees with Uncle Bill–she’s just in love with “a little girl’s idea of love.”

Auf Wiedersehen, Karl.

Back at home, Buffy and Jody are still moping about missing their sister. French, who’s making Cissy’s favorite dessert, tells them that if they close their eyes and wish for her to walk in the door, it might happen.

It's an old Gaelic legend, according to our favorite font of questionable European knowledge.

It’s an old Gaelic legend, according to our favorite font of questionable European knowledge.

Of course, Cissy does stroll through the front door at exactly that moment–no one in New York ever gets delayed by traffic or anything.

Everyone's relieved that this weird interlude has come to an end.

Everyone’s relieved that this weird interlude has come to an end–including me.

And Cissy, showing her can-do American spirit, lines up a date with the grocery delivery boy before her jet-lag even wears off.

Commentary

There are good episodes of Family Affair, and there are bad episodes of Family Affair. Fortunately, there are also so-bad-they’re-good episodes of Family Affair, like this one. The whole thing is so surreal that it should have ultimately been revealed as a dream, preferably Buffy’s dream. “A little girl’s idea of love,” indeed. It certainly doesn’t seem like anything a teenager in 1968 would fantasize about.

It’s romantic atmosphere does make it seem fitting as we approach Valentine’s Day.

Guest Cast

Waiter: Jan Arvan. Guest: Charlotte Boerner. Hairdresser: Ila Britton. Friedrick Krug: Karl Bruck. Saleswoman: Annette Cabot. Karl Krug: Mark de Vries. Johnny Archer: Hank Jones. Anna Krug: Eva Szorenyi.

The guest cast is authentically European–the actor who plays Karl’s father was actually born in Vienna.

Annette Cabot, Sebastian Cabot’s daughter, made her second of five appearances in this episode.