Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: Charles Barton.
Before we dive into this week’s episode, I wanted to alert Family Affair fans that Kathy Garver has written a memoir called Surviving Cissy. It will be published in September and is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Check it out!
We open this week in the park, as Mr. French reminds Jody about an upcoming dental appointment.
French assures Jody that the dentist won’t be pulling any teeth–he’ll only be checking Jody’s bite.
(She has a bit of a biting fixation–remember her early encounter with French?)
Jody claims his mouth hurts too much from the dentist, but Cissy disputes this.
Someone’s been paying attention in psychology class again, I see.
Of course it’s all in his head, Jody agrees–that’s where his teeth are. Ba-dum-bump.
Somehow, the conversation shifts to Cissy’s intention to become a nurse. That surprises Bill, who notes that she wanted to be an actress the week before. (Cissy’s very practical plan is to become a nurse, then use her nursing salary to put herself through dramatic school.)
Buffy announces that she wants to be a secretary, which finally leads us into this week’s main story.
French explains to Bill that Miss Travers recognized the twins’ names when she heard French talking to them. She’s a secretary at a construction company, and her boss is an acquaintance of Bill’s.
Well, Buffy and Jody are rather odd names, so I guess that makes sense.
He gestures with his hands, ever so briefly, in the way that conveys the ampleness of the female form.
Bill finally remembers her as an attractive blond with blue eyes, but French says they are aquamarine–“the limip hue one associates with tropical reefs in the Caribbean.”
Buffy adds to French’s embarrassment by observing that he and Emily shook hands for a long time before parting.
“I don’t know which one was holding on,” she says. “Maybe both.”
Next, we find ourselves back in the park, this time with the British servant contingent.
“He’s quite crackers about the young woman,” Mr. Tyburn burbles, noting that she is half French’s age.
Quick to defend her friend, Miss Faversham says she heard Miss Travers was doing the chasing. Tyburn and Hardcastle decide then that Miss Travers must be frumpy–“thick glasses and flat shoes.”
They aren’t laughing for long, though, because the woman in question soon makes an appearance.
French and Emily walk on, leaving behind two stunned butlers.
Later, Bill comes home to wait for a long-distance business call and encounters Cissy.
(I don’t think I share his opinion.)
She’s heading off to the library to study psychology with a cute boy, Freddie. She gets insulted, though, when Bill assumes that Freddie is her main focus, rather than studying.
After she leaves, it’s not long before Bill hears a knock at the door.
(The wardrobe in this scene makes it fitting that this episode first aired on St. Patrick’s Day.)
French and the kids are out, but Bill invites Emily in to talk for a few minutes.
Bill deflects credit for their politeness, saying manners are French’s department.
He’s surprised, but she tells him how impressive it is that a busy professional like him with no parenting experience took on the job of raising three children.
(It’s nice how he considers French a co-parent.)
Sometimes, they probably need a woman’s touch around the house, Bill admits.
“Maybe someday you’ll find just the right girl,” Emily replies.
(That’s not a term I’m familiar with. I would have called it ring-toss, I guess.)
Bill assures French that many women prefer older men.
Relieved, French decided to ask Emily to accompany him to the theater for an outing with the British gang to see The Barretts of Wimpole Street.
(Tyburn, for his part, faults the play for “far too much display of sentiment.”)
When French leaves to get Emily some orangeade, Emily chats with Miss Faversham.
Emily says she admires his style, which must have come from being around rich and sophisticated people so much.
Nevertheless, Emily responds, French has traveled the world. She herself has been nowhere.
Of course it’s not possible on a secretary’s salary, she adds.
Returning from the theater, Miss F meets Bill in the apartment building lobby.
She says she thinks French is falling in love with the girl, and Bill admits that wouldn’t surprise him.
She’s afraid Emily doesn’t care one bit about French. “Isn’t it possible,” she asks, “that she isn’t after the gentleman’s gentleman, but after the gentleman?”
He seems to take it to heart, however.
The next day, Bill pays a visit to Emily’s office.
You can feel Emily’s hopes rising that he’s about to make some kind of pass.
When she’s vague, he tells her how happy French has been since meeting her. Emily wonders why that’s a bad thing.
French is way up on a cloud, Bill says. If he falls off, it will be a long drop.
(Hey, when did she meet Cissy?)
Bill says French is much more serious. He wouldn’t be surprised if he starts shopping for a ring soon. How would that make Emily feel?
“Flattered,” is all she can come up with.
She promises she won’t let things get that far, and a relieved Bill tells her he thinks she’s okay. She says she’s not so sure.
He’s been there so long that Buffy and Jody are bored and want to leave and do their homework.
(She loves that green suit, doesn’t she?)
Heartbroken but ever-the-gentleman, French does so.
Bill comforts him by saying that while it hurts now, he will soon recover.
This isn’t the kind of episode that would have appealed to me as a child. The kids’ roles are incidental (like Freddie), and the script’s light on humor. Surprisingly, we don’t even get many good Frenchisms. But as an adult what I most appreciate is the episode’s restraint. Other shows might have gone for melodrama, making a Emily a conniving femme fatale and having French undergo the humiliation of discovering her true motives. Instead, Emily comes across as young and misguided. Leslie Parrish’s acting in the final scene with Uncle Bill, as Emily becomes ashamed of her actions, is nicely subtle. Heather Angel also does a good job of conveying Miss F’s concern about French, along with just a touch of jealousy. (I’m on Team Fraversham, all the way!)
Miss Faversham mentions Peter as the child she’s watching. Didn’t his family let her go?
Emily Travers: Leslie Parrish. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. Mr. Tyburn: Leslie Randall. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel.
Leslie Parrish was one of those promising mid-century starlets who never quite broke through to full-fledged stardom. Her most memorable film appearance was as Jocelyn Jordan in The Manchurian Candidate. She also played Daisy Mae in the 1959 musical Lil Abner. Her TV roles included three Batman appearances and the Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Later, she ended up in some B movies such as 1975’s The Giant Spider Invasion. She retired from acting in the late 1970s, around the time she married Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (They divorced 20 years later.)