Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: Charles Barton.
French has just retrieved the Davis family mail and found a letter for Jody.
French thinks not, since it’s addressed to “Senor J. Davis.” Jody is excited to realize that it’s from his penpal Paco, the son of Bill’s Bolivian associate.
Jody tells French that the letter says Paco is having a nice time and the weather is good.
Jody hurries off to his room and starts to answer Paco’s letter right away.
Oooh, that’s a bad idea Buffy–Mr. Clean hasn’t invented the Magic Eraser yet! (I’m also rather surprised that Mrs. Beasley dates. Ourtime.com hasn’t been invented yet either.)
Like Paco’s picture, Jody’s is also meant to convey that he’s having a nice time and the weather is good.
“That’s Jody all right,” Bill says, adding wistfully, “at least as far as I can remember.”
His Bolivian project has apparently been a long one, but he is preparing to go home the next day. Paco and his father are staying another day and then flying to Paris.
When Senor Mendez laments the fact that the two pen pals won’t get a chance to meet, Bill has a brainstorm: He can take Paco home with him, and Senor Mendez can pick him up in New York on the way to Paris.
(Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be to make these complicated travel arrangements? Luckily, that’s never a problem in the Davis universe.)
Bill only tells the family that he’s bringing home a surprise, so they are indeed to surprised to find what Jody calls “a living surprise” at their door.
Fortunately, Bill is fairly fluent in Spanish, as we remember from the “Lost in Spain” episodes.
The writers don’t seem to remember those episodes, though.
Things get off to a good start between Paco and Jody.
Bill looks in on the boys and asks Jody if they are having trouble communicating.
At Bill’s suggestion, Jody tries to tell Paco about his turtle.
“Como?” Paco asks.
They do manage to share a nice moment right before going to bed.
The next morning, Jody wants to make up for lost time and do some bonding with Uncle Bill.
When Paco comes in and starts talking with Bill in Spanish, Jody’s mood turns glum.
For example, Paco notes that Mr. French doesn’t shave. He also says that the bridges Bill builds, though not as tall as New York skyscrapers, would seem tall to a fish.
Jody gets tired of having the jokes translated for him and leaves the room.
Jody is still acting petulant and complains that Paco won’t know how to play their games.
“All kids play the same games,” Cissy asserts confidently–and, as we shall see, wrongly.
One girl is excited to learn that he’s from South America–“farther away than New Jersey, even.” Meanwhile, Jody and his friend Peter have this conversation.
Jody: He doesn’t speak English.
Peter: That’s neat!
Jody: What’s so neat about it?
The kids get even more interested when Paco displays a toy he brought from home.
Cissy says the toy was an invention of the Incas.
Jody, refusing to even try it, says, “Who wants to play with an old toy from the inkers?”
When they say they have to take care of their dolls, Jody suggests using the dolls as bases.
Sensing that her brother is stressed, Buffy pulls him aside and reminds him that Paco’s father is coming to get him that very evening.
Back at home, he is only too happy to help Paco pack.
Senor Mendez tells Bill to send Paco back to Bolivia, but Bill won’t hear of it–four children is no more trouble than three, so he will be happy to have Paco stay on.
And, of course, Jody isn’t happy either when he hears Paco is staying.
That’s a good question and, strangely, one that Bill didn’t ask Paco’s father when they were talking on the phone. Nevertheless, Bill says it might be a week.
They have to stick together, Jody agrees, adding “Brother and sister can’t come apart.”
She introduces him to baseball–or at least playing catch.
But when Jody sees this happy scene, he feels betrayed.
She explains that she had to be nice to Paco because he was crying. Jody is unsympathetic.
Jody: Mr. French says boys don’t cry.
Buffy: Maybe they do in Bolivia.
Jody: I wouldn’t.
(It’s too bad Free to Be You and Me won’t come out for another three years. Both Jody and French need to hear this Rosey Grier song.)
Later, Jody is on the terrace feeding Dinky (or Senor Dinky, as Paco calls him–I love that!)
This is how upset Jody is: He turns down ice cream…because he needs to practice his spelling.
Strong words for Jody.
The next morning, Bill is exulting about the way the kids are getting along.
At that moment, though, Paco and Jody are actually coming to blows.
He speaks privately with Jody, who vents about how Paco has been getting all the attention. Having another boy around means no one cares about him, he pouts.
Based on his recent experiences, Jody says that he’d tell Paco’s family to pay lots of attention to Paco.
If it was reverse psychology, it works beautifully. “I don’t want him to feel not wanted. It’s a terrible feeling,” Jody says in a nice, subtle callback to the Davis kids’ traumatic experiences.
Bill orders Jody to say he’s sorry about their fight. Jody says he really is sorry about it…Paco was winning.
By the time Paco’s father does come to collect his son, the boys are getting along fine.
Jody doesn’t want Paco to leave. Senor Mendez encourages the Davises to visit them in Bolivia someday. (When Buffy asks Bill if they really can go to Bolivia, he gives one of those “Oh, maybe,” responses that are parent speak for “Don’t hold your breath.”)
Even after Paco leaves, his influence lingers–Jody ends the episode by calling his uncle “Tio Bill.”
They really should have aired this episode before the “Lost in Spain” three-parter to avoid inconsistencies about the family’s Spanish fluency.
Jody’s behavior is terrible in this episode, but it’s kind of fun to watch since it is so different from his usual unselfish demeanor. He always has taken a special pride in his father-son connection with Bill, so it makes sense that having another boy around would make him feel threatened.
Senor Mendez: Carlos Romero. Paco: Miguel Monsalve. Kathy: Lisa True Gerritsen. Peter: Randy Whipple.
All the kids are Family Affair veterans. Romero’s many TV appearance included recurring roles on Zorro, Adam-12, and Falcon Crest.