Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: Charles Barton.
This is the first Family Affair episode whose original air date falls after my birth. I don’t think I was watching much TV my first few days, though.
We open in a nightclub, where a red-haired woman is singing.
Hey, it’s that lady who was on Match Game sometimes–presumably when Fannie Flagg wasn’t available.
Unlike some of Bill’s girlfriends, she shows an interest in his kids. She wants to know if Jody still likes finger-painting and Buffy still has the “funny-looking doll with the glasses.” (Bill, who has strangely specific ideas of age-appropriateness, says boys give up finger-painting around age 6, and Buffy will probably give up Mrs. Beasley at age 10.) He encourages Julie to come and visit the kids soon.
The next morning at breakfast, Bill gives Cissy an autographed copy of Julie’s latest album.
Buffy is taken with the idea of being a recording artist and asks Bill if he would be proud of her if she was a famous singer. Unwisely, he says yes. (With “I’m always proud of you” he might have saved himself some trouble.)
When the teacher does show up (for what she calls the children’s first music lesson–don’t you think they would have been having music class throughout the school year?), she announces that she’s forming a girls’ glee club.
Unfortunately, when the class starts singing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” we find out that Buffy has no skills.
In fact, she finds Buffy’s singing so offensive that she asks Buffy to step out into the hall with her for a moment. That’s never good.
Miss Cummings explains that Buffy’s singing is off-key, and that when one person sings off-key, the “harmony of the composition is destroyed.” She suggests that Buffy just move her lips while everyone else is singing.
A miserable Buffy gets through music class and, surprisingly, still tries out for the girls’ glee club after school. She’s unsuccessful, of course.
French says it’s possible; no one achieves instant perfection.
When she asks Bill if he still likes her, even though she didn’t make the glee club, he has a cute response: “Yeah. I even sort of love you.”
He tries to get her to shake off her defeat, but when she can’t, he promises to try to get her into the glee club. (That’s his second mistake in this episode.)
It’s amusing to watch Anissa Jones try to sing as badly as possible.
It’s up to Bill to break the news to Buffy.
Well, that wrapped up quickly. What do we do with the 12 minutes we have left?
Actually, Buffy is still a bit upset, as we see at school the next day when she mopes on the playground.
He tells her that he can sing, and since she’s his twin, she should be able to sing, too.
She wants Jody to sing a solo at Parents’ Night. This not only adds salt to Buffy’s wounds but upsets Jody, as well. He doesn’t want to be a “sissy” and sing with the glee club girls.
He asks French what “the child-raising books” say about such a situation. (It amuses me that French is the keeper of “the child-raising books.”)
Bill tells Jody he doesn’t have to sing, but Bill would be proud of him if he did. As needy as these kids always are for approval, it’s no surprise that Jody gives in. He doesn’t really seem to mind much, since he’s grinning by the end of the scene.
Buffy is feeling better, too. The music teacher has given her a role in the Parents’ Night concert–as page-turner at the piano.
If you asked a little kid to come up with a song about U.S. presidents on the spur of the moment, it might resemble this annoying ditty. George Washington…Thomas Jefferson….Abe-Abe-Abraham Lincoln…cherry tree…log cabin. It ends with several shrill repeats of the question “Why not me?” I was asking “Why me?” by the end.
(It would be fun to think that seven-year-old Barack Obama saw this episode when it originally aired. Unfortunately, he was living in Indonesia at the time.)
The episode ends with Buffy asking whether anyone ever made the cover of a record album by turning music pages.
This episode feels choppy, with everyone’s problems resolving more quickly and easily than they should. I suppose it was just an excuse for Johnny Whitaker to sing that dreadful song, which was released as a single.
Bill mentions Buffy’s ballet performance as Little Red Riding Hood.
We’ve heard Buffy sing before. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as her efforts in this episode.
Julie Madden: Kaye Stevens. Miss Scranton: Irene Hervey. Miss Cummings: Joan Vohs.
When I was a kid, I would see people like Kaye Stevens on game shows and wonder what they were famous for. Well, according to her 2011 obituary, Kaye Stevens “performed a solo cabaret act at some of the most celebrated clubs and showrooms in the nation, including Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and the Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room in New York City.” She often performed with the Rat Pack, and she helped Bob Hope entertain the troops in Vietnam. She also had a five-year stint on Days of Our Lives in the 1970s. Later in life, she was active in Christian ministries.
Irene Hervey was the mother of another nightclub singer, Jack Jones. Hervey appeared in feature films such as Destry Rides Again in the 1930s, then transitioned into B movies and television. She had a recurring role as Aunt Meg on Honey West. A year after this episode aired, she received an Emmy nomination for a guest appearance on My Three Sons.
I’m really sorry that Johnny Whitaker’s song from this episode isn’t on Youtube. If you really want to hear him sing, though, there’s always this.