Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 21, “Lost in Spain: Part 3,” 2/24/1969

Written by: John McGreevey. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Happy holidays, everyone! This week we come to the end of Family Affair‘s classic three-parter, “Lost in Spain.” It’s not a Christmas episode, but its climactic scenes would have been perfect for one.

We begin with about four minutes of backtracking to remind us where we left off.

As you will recall, it was sorrow in the straw for Buffy and Jody.

As you will recall, it was sorrow in the straw for Buffy and Jody.

They are starting to wonder if Bill will ever find them.

In the morning, they emerge from their hiding place and peer out the barn door for signs of life.

In the morning, they emerge from their hiding place and peer out the barn door for signs of life.

They watch the farmer’s wife as she deposits a bowl of vegetables on a table and returns into the house.

Starving, they run over, grab some food, and haul butt back to the barn before the woman returns.

Starving, they run over, grab some food, and haul butt back to the barn before the woman returns.

Buffy and Jody feel bad about swiping food, but they figure that Uncle Bill can give the farmer some money later.

Their hunger has given them a new appreciation for vegetables, even raw string beans.

Their hunger has given them a new appreciation for vegetables, even raw string beans.

When the farmer enters the barn, they duck behind the haystack again.

He finds a carrot on the ground and gives one of those exaggerated TV shrugs.

He finds a carrot on the ground and gives one of those exaggerated TV shrugs.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Davis clan is standing vigil at the Sitges police station, much to the annoyance of the Sitges police.

The police aren't happy to have them there.

A frustrated Bill can’t even get in to see the captain.

The desk sergeant says they are working on many other equally important cases.

"Dammit, Jim, we're policemen, not miracle-workers!" he says (more or less).

“Dammit, Jim, we’re policemen, not miracle-workers!” he says. (More or less.)

The Civil Guard is making he thorough farm-to-farm search for the kids, he adds.

He's right about that. In fact, they are just pulling up to the Vega farm now.

He’s right about that. In fact, they are just pulling up to the Vega farm now.

Buffy and Jody have been contemplating leaving the farm to search the woods for berries like Hansel and Gretel. Hearing the approaching hoofbeats, they peek outside.

Buffy and Jody may not be the sharpest tools in this shed, but they seem to sense that Generalissimo Franco's Civil Guard is not an entirely benign force.

Buffy and Jody may not be the sharpest tools in this shed, but they seem to sense that Generalissimo Franco’s Guardia Civil is not an entirely benign force.

Maybe what tips them off is the creepy bullfighting music that accompanies the guards’ approach. In any case, they decide to stay hidden.

The guards show the Vegas a picture of the kids and ask if they've seen them.

The guards show the Vegas a picture of the kids and ask if they’ve seen them.

After the guards leave, the Vegas are shaken by the encounter.

Methinks the Guardia Civil have a bit of a PR problem with the local farm-dwellers.

Methinks the Guardia Civil have a bit of a PR problem with the local farm-dwellers.

Carlos reassures his wife that everything is fine–after all, they answered honestly when they denied seeing the children.

Things are about to get more complicated for the Vegas, though.

This is the disturbing sight that confronts Carlos when he goes back into the barn.

This is the disturbing sight that confronts Carlos when he goes back into the barn.

Carlos quickly hauls the kids out of the hay.

After that, he isn't sure what to do with them.

After that, he isn’t sure what to do with them.

Later the kids eat while the adults look on in concern.

Buffy and Jody sense that their presence makes the Vegas uncomfortable.

Buffy and Jody sense that their presence makes the Vegas uncomfortable.

Understandably, however, they are most just happy to be eating.

When Jody asks what kind of soup Mrs. Vega gave them, Buffy replies that it's good soup.

When Jody asks what kind of soup Mrs. Vega gave them, Buffy replies that it’s good soup.

Meanwhile, the Vegas are whispering about what to do.

Carlos has an idea--he wants to send the kids packing.

Carlos has an idea–he wants to send the kids packing.

His wife is more soft-hearted.

His wife is more soft-hearted, however.

Showing that his gruffness is only skin-deep, Carlos gives in and allows his wife to bring the kids back.

Back in Sitges, everyone is still sitting around the police station.

Back in Sitges, everyone is still sitting around the police station when Ricardo enters with a distinguished-looking gentleman.

They are surprised when Ricardo enters with a distinguished-looking gentleman.

They are even more surprised when Ricardo tells them the man is his father, Francisco Torres y Fiero, Spain’s soon-to-be special envoy to the United States.

Ricardo confesses that he lied about his identity because he will be moving with his father to the U.S. soon and wanted to get to know some Americans without them knowing his father is a person of importance.

Ricardo confesses that he lied about his identity because he will be moving with his father to the U.S. soon and wanted to get to know some Americans without them knowing his father is a person of importance.

As secrets go, it’s pretty tame–and convenient–so Cissy and Bill don’t hold a grudge.

Senor Torres y Fiero pledges to help find the twins, and he is influential enough to get Col. Klink off his butt.

Senor Torres y Fiero pledges to help find the twins, and he is influential enough to get Col. Klink off his butt.

Soon, Bill is meeting with an apologetic captain.

The captain fills in on the search and says that civil guard will soon begin re-checking some areas.

The captain fills Bill in on the search and says that civil guard will soon begin re-checking some areas.

Apparently, that includes the Vega farm, where Buffy has been put to work.

Soon hoofbeats and creepy music interrupt the household chores.

Soon hoofbeats and creepy music interrupt the household chores.

The Vegas send the kids back to their hiding place.

After getting rid of the civil guard again, the Vegas ponder their next move.

After getting rid of the civil guard again, they ponder their next move.

In Sitges, a quiet moment finds French remarking that most employers would have fired him by now.

Bill reassures him that the kids could have as easily disappeared under his watch, or Cissy's.

Bill reassures him that the kids could have as easily disappeared under his watch, or Cissy’s.

Ana tries to get Bill to eat some fish and chips.

The Spanish have a saying, she tells him: "Sorrows are better with bread."

The Spanish have a saying, she tells him: “Sorrows are easier with bread.”

That seems a little glib under the circumstances, but she soon redeems herself by having an amazing brainstorm.

What if, instead of sitting around the police station, they actually went out looking for the children?

What if, instead of sitting around the police station, they actually went out looking for the children?

This being a sitcom, Uncle Bill is clearly thinking, "It's kind of crazy, but it just might work."

This being a sitcom, Uncle Bill is clearly thinking, “It’s kind of crazy, but it just might work.”

As Anna and Bill take off to re-trace the bus route, night is falling and the Vegas are realizing that Buffy and Jody have to go.

Maria thinks they can trust the priest, but Carlos won't trust anyone.

Maria thinks they can trust the local priest, but Carlos won’t trust anyone.

Thinking of the priest does give Carlos an idea, though.

Each carrying a twin, they head off into the night.

Each carrying a twin, they head off into the night.

They deposit the still-sleeping kids on pews at the church.

Fortunately, Bill and Anna soon arrive at that church.

Fortunately, Bill and Ana soon arrive at that church.

When they come upon the sacristan, Ana asks him if he’s seen the kids.

I like the authentically Catholic touches in these scenes, such as the way the Vegas genuflect when entering and leaving the church and the way Ana covers her head before entering it.

I like the authentically Catholic touches in these scenes, such as the way the Vegas genuflect when entering and leaving the church and the way Ana covers her head before entering it.

The sacristan hasn’t seen the twins, so a dejected Bill and Ana turn to leave.

Fortunately, Bill glances to his right and sees the children's sleeping forms.

Fortunately, Bill glances to his right and sees the children’s sleeping forms.

When they awaken, the kids are thrilled to see their uncle.

It's a Christmas miracle! Or at least a February sweeps miracle!

It’s a Christmas miracle! Or at least a February sweeps miracle!

The kids say they knew that Uncle Bill would find them.

Jody does wonder why it took so long, though.

Jody does wonder why it took so long, though.

You can tell the kids have had a rough time because Buffy's pigtails are mussed. I wonder how long she would have to be lost before she actually took the barrettes out.

You can tell the kids have had a rough time because Buffy’s pigtails are mussed. I wonder how long she would have to be lost before she actually took the barrettes out.

Anna Novarro shows some nice emotion in this reunion scene. It almost makes me wish Ana could join the Davis family permanently.

It’s not to be, however–when we next see the Davis family, they are back in New York, and French is fielding calls from Bill’s female admirers.

"A little bit of ??? in my life, a little bit of ??? by my side..."

“A little Miss Atwater in my life, a little Miss Ellis by my side…”

The kids are back in school, telling their teacher and peers what they learned in Spain. Jody learned what is probably the best lesson–not to get on a bus ahead of Mr. French. The kids also learned that while people in other countries may talk differently, they are not that different deep down.

And that’s a nice message to carry us through the holiday season.

French's horizons have been broadened, too--the dinner he has prepared for the family includes churros.

French’s horizons have been broadened, too–the dinner he has prepared for the family includes churros.

See you in 2015!

Commentary

From a kid’s perspective, this three-parter was gripping and memorable. Getting lost and having to get by on your own is both a terrifying and rather exciting idea when you’re young. It’s appropriate that Buffy and Jody talk about Hansel and Gretel because this story taps into some of the same primal emotions as fairy tales.

Watching now, I do find the adults’ reactions to the situation a bit flat. Separation and loss have always been big issues on this show, so I would expect to see Bill and Cissy looking more frantic. From the director’s perspective, I’m sure it was preferable to confine everyone to a single set as much as possible, but such inaction doesn’t ring true from a man like Bill. (Contrast it, for example, with Mike and Carol Brady searching the Grand Canyon for their missing offspring: “Bobby! Cindy!”)

Too much restraint is better than over-acting, though, and I doubt the adults’ reactions detracted from the suspense young audience members felt watching these episodes or that satisfaction they took in the final reunion.

Continuity Notes

The twins mention their teacher, Miss Cummings.

Guest Cast

Francisco Torres y Fiero: George J. Lewis. Ana Vicente Casona: Anna Navarro. Carlos Vega: Nacho Galindo. Tio Dichoso: Jay Novello. Maria Vega: Rosa Turich. Lt. Playa: Valentin de Vargas. Sacristan: Julian Rivero. Ricardo: Johnny Aladdin. Captain: Tom Hernandez. Sergeant: Jose Haas.

Valentin de Vargas, who died last year, had roles in some well known movies, including Touch of Evil, Hatari, and The Magnificent Seven.

George J. Lewis’ most memorable role was probably his appearance as Don Alejandro in Walt Disney’s Zorro series. His work in films as a bit player, often uncredited, was prodigious–in 1944 alone, he appeared in approximately 20 films.

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