Family Affair Friday(ish): Season Two, Episode 24, “His and Hers,” 2/26/1968

I apologize for my lateness with this installment. October has been a crazy month in my off-line life. I hope to get back on track this week.

Written by: Joseph Hoffman. Directed by: Charles Barton.

When Uncle Bill returns home from work, the twins invite him to a party at their school.

The party is actually an open house, and the twins are excited that their work will be on display.

The party is actually an open house, and the twins are excited that their work will be on display.

A drawing by Buffy and an arithmetic paper by Jody will have featured spots in the exhibition. The twins invite French, too, and both men decide to forgo the opening of a Van Gogh exhibit to attend the school event. (French says he places more value on an “original Buffy” than on a Van Gogh–awww.)

At school, Buffy explains that her picture shows people waiting for a "moon plane" to take off.

At school, Buffy explains that her picture shows people waiting for a “moon plane” to take off.

“Someday, flying to the moon will be as easy flying to Chicago,” Bill observes. He’s humoring her, but as a child, I really did expect that we’d be vacationing on the moon by now.

On the way to see Jody’s math paper, the Davis family runs into two of the twin’s friends.

They're another set of twins, apparently.

Jill and Timmy are another set of twins, apparently.

Their mother takes one look at Uncle Bill and suggests he join her for coffee.

Film noir actress Coleen Gray plays the mother, Margaret Williams. If I didn't know it was her, though, I never would have recognized her.

Film noir actress Coleen Gray plays the mother, Margaret Williams. If I didn’t know it was her, though, I wouldn’t have recognized her in “PTA mom” mode.

Bill and Margaret discover they’ve been living parallel lives–she has a 16-year-old daughter as well as the twins, and she’s raising her children as a single parent after losing her husband.

Margaret seems a little desperate to end her single parent status.

With apologies to Young MC, I get the feeling that Margaret’s on a mission and she’s wishin’ Bill would cure her lonely condition. Within moments of their meeting, she’s making remarks like, “Six children between us–how scary!” Down, girl.

Later, Buffy and Jody are delighted to hear that Bill and Margaret are going out to dinner together.

Like Margaret, they're already thinking about marriage and how great it would be to have Jill and Timmy as siblings.

Like Margaret, they’re already thinking about marriage. They love the idea of having Jill and Timmy as siblings.

The next morning, they grill Bill about how the date went.

"Did you hug and kiss like they do on TV?" Jody asks.

“Did you hug and kiss like they do on TV?” Jody asks.

Cissy explains that the twins are rooting for Bill to marry Margaret. Buffy asks if Jill can sleep over Saturday night, and Bill says it might be nice for all the Williams children to spend the weekend since he and Margaret are going sailing Sunday. (I don’t quite follow his thinking here.)

The mention of marriage provokes the first of several funny French faces in this episode.

The prospect of three young houseguests provokes the first of several funny French faces in this episode.

When the Williams children arrive, things get off to a great start.

Cissy is quickly sharing gossip and clothes with her counterpart, Vicky.

Cissy is quickly sharing gossip and clothes with her counterpart, Vicky.

(A quick digression: Have you ever noticed on shows like this that when teens refer to friends at school, the friends always have unlikely, antiquated names such as “Edna” and “Felix”?)

Jody, excited to have another boy around the house, shows off is Willie-Mays-signed baseball lets Timmy use his catcher's mitt.

Jody, excited to have another boy around the house, shows off his Willie-Mays-signed baseball and lets Timmy use his catcher’s mitt.

Buffy introduces Jill to Mrs. Beasley and assures Jill that the doll likes her.

The first sign of trouble appears on the horizon that evening, as Cissy and Vicky prepare for a double date. Cissy has asked her beau to provide an escort for Vicky.

When the boys arrive, Cissy is still getting ready, so Vicky heads out to the living room to meet them.

When the boys arrive, Cissy is still getting ready, so Vicky heads out to the living room to meet them.

Uh-oh.

Sure enough, Cissy's date takes an instant liking to Vicky.

Sure enough, Cissy’s date takes an instant liking to Vicky.

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Cissy is not especially pleased.

The next day, Timmy bullies Jody into violating house rules by playing catch in the living room.

Who didn't see this coming?

Who didn’t see this coming? (By the way, this vase is a “priceless royal Sevres,” according to French.)

Timmy, who threw the ball, blames the whole incident on Jody. The boys’ ensuing argument turns physical after Timmy shoves Jody. (Their fight is actually more a weird writhing session, with no blows thrown.)

The only way Jill could tick Buffy off this badly is by messing with Mrs. Beasley. But surely should wouldn’t…

Yeah, she goes there.

Oh, yeah. She goes there.

First she tries to change Mrs. Beasley’s clothes, although Buffy says Mrs. Beasley only feels comfortable undressing around her owner. (This is a cute comment, even though it’s not really possible to “undress” Mrs. Beasley.)

Jill responds by asserting that Mrs. Beasley has started talking to her–and expressing a preference for her over Buffy!

Needless to say, the whole family is thrilled to see the Williams kids go.

Needless to say, the whole family is thrilled to see the Williams brats go.

But when the twins ask Cissy how they can discourage Bill from marrying Margaret, she gives them her usual suck-up-your-own-feelings-and-concentrate-on-Uncle-Bill’s-happiness spiel.

Bill doesn't seem especially happy, though. Margaret is telling him how she tries to be a pal to her kids, but they really need a father.

Bill doesn’t seem happy, though. Margaret is telling him how she tries to be a pal to her kids, but they really need a father.

Bill ignores her blatant marriage hint and responds to the parenting fail implicit in her remarks.

“I’m not a pal to my kids…I’m older than them and smarter than them and more responsible than them, so I decide what’s best for them,” he says.

He also makes it clear that he will only marry when he falls in love.

His expression in this scene must make it clear, even to Margaret, that she won't be the lucky lady.

His expression in this scene must make it clear, even to Margaret, that she won’t be the lucky lady.

At home, Bill tells French that marriage is off the table. He’s nervous about how the kids will take the news, though.

They manage to bear up under the strain.

They manage to bear up under the strain.

French, too, is relieved about the bullet they’ve dodged.

"That mass of tiny creatures," he says with a shudder.

“That mass of tiny creatures,” he says with a shudder.

Commentary

Pre-dating The Brady Bunch by more than a year, this episode anticipates the comic situations that could result from a large, blended family (though Family Affair puts a darker and more realistic spin on the conflicts that might arise). Buffy and Jody’s “How do people get married?” inquiries are cute, and I love French’s dismay at the prospect of his kid load doubling.

Guest Cast

Margaret Williams: Coleen Gray. Vicky: Kay Cole. Timmy: Tony Fraser. Jill: Martine Fraser. Allan: Mickey Sholdar. Norman: George Winters.

Red River, Nightmare Alley, and The Killing are among Coleen Gray’s most memorable films. She kept busy with TV appearances from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Tony Fraser would appear twice more on Family Affair. Martine Fraser is surely his sister; they both had very short TV careers.

Kay Cole played Maggie in the original Broadway cast of A Chorus Line.

Mickey Sholdar had a regular role in the 1960s TV series The Farmer’s Daughter

Continuity Notes

Uncle Bill mentions his brother.

The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Family Affair Connections, Part 1

Source: IMDb.com

John Williams and Alfred Hitchcock. Source: IMDb.com

What connections can possibly exist between the sugary 1960s sitcom Family Affair and TV’s two creepiest anthology programs? Television actors made the rounds in the 1950s and 1960s, so perhaps its not surprising that both of Family Affair‘s lead actors and many of its recurring guest stars show up in these anthology shows. (It probably helped that both the Hitchcock show and Family Affair made good use of aging British actors.) It’s a treat, though, to see them in roles so different from the ones I spotlight each week in my Family Affair series.

I’d originally planned this post for October 2, the broadcast anniversary for both Alfred Hitchcock Presents (which debuted in 1955) and The Twilight Zone (which aired its first episode four years later). I found so many interesting connections, however, that this post took longer to prepare than I’d anticipated. Its length also required breaking it into two parts.

John Williams

John Williams is the strongest link between Family Affair and the world of Alfred Hitchcock. Williams played Nigel French in nine first-season Family Affair episodes, while Sebastian Cabot recovered from an illness. His most famous career role, however, was Chief Inspector Hubbard in Hitchcock’s film Dial M for Murder. (He originated the role on Broadway and earned a Tony award for his performance.) He also appeared in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.

Williams was obviously a Hitchcock favorite–he would appear in no fewer than 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The three-part episode “I Killed the Count” from Season 2 finds Williams in his most characteristic role as a stuffy Scotland Yard inspector. His character uncovers no shortage of suspects in a tangled murder case. The fun is in watching his exasperation build as “I killed the count” becomes an “I am Spartacus”-style refrain among people eager to confess.

(One of the suspects is played by Alan Napier, who appeared in a third-season Family Affair episode but is best known as Alfred from TV’s Batman. Nora Marlowe also has a small role in Part 3 of “I Killed the Count.” She appeared in four Family Affair episodes, as various nanny friends of Giles French. Her most memorable TV role was Flossie Brimmer on The Waltons.)

Parts two and three of “I Killed the Count” are also on Youtube and available through Netflix.

In another second-season episode, “Wet Saturday,” criminals get the best of Williams. If you’ve ever longed to see Nigel French get slapped around, this is the episode for you. Also interesting is the happy epilogue that Hitchcock tacked on in his closing comments, to counteract the downbeat on-screen ending.

Kathryn Givney, who plays the murderer's mother in this episode, was Mrs. Allenby in the memorable first-season Family Affair episode "The Thursday Man."

Kathryn Givney, who plays the murderer’s mother in this episode, was Mrs. Allenby in the memorable first-season Family Affair episode “The Thursday Man.”

Williams also made one appearance on The Twilight Zone, in an hour-long episode called “The Bard.” This isn’t a great episode; it strives too hard for hipness as it satirizes TV hackery. Williams’ turn as William Shakespeare is amusing, though. Who else could imbue the words Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with so much contempt merely by enunciating each consonant deliberately? The rest of the cast provides plenty of interest, too. It includes future movie star Burt Reynolds and future Dyna Girl Judy Strangis.

Brian Keith

Brian Keith never appeared on The Twilight Zone, but he did appear on five episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (including one after the show’s 1962 expansion and re-titling as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour). The most interesting for Family Affair fans is probably “Cell 227,” in which Keith portrays a condemned prisoner. The script is a bit preachy and lacks the typical Hitchcock atmosphere, though the ending provides a suitably grim “gotcha.” Keith gives his usual strong performance, and it’s a major departure from Uncle Bill.

Liam Sullivan, who appeared in one Season Three episode of Family Affair, plays a priest here. Frank Nelson, an annoying neighbor in two memorable Family Affair episodes (“Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You?” and “Ballerina Buffy”), has a more sympathetic role as a lawyer fighting to save Keith’s character.

Keith himself plays a crusading lawyer in “The Test.” His courtroom tactics are questionable, but there’s a method to his madness. This one has a thought-provoking, ambiguous ending.

Sebastian Cabot

Sebastian Cabot appears in the first-season Twilight Zone episode “Nice Place to Visit.” As the spiritual guide of a recently deceased thug, he’s Giles-French-like throughout most of the episode. The ending twist, while predictable, shows him in a very different light.

Cabot also appeared in one Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, Season One’s “A Bullet for Baldwin.” He’s Baldwin, and the episode’s opening events suggest that Cabot’s appearance will be brief. As you might expect on this show, things are more complicated than they seem.

(An extra treat for me in this episode is the presence of John Qualen, who played Earl Williams in my very favorite movie, His Girl Friday. Too bad he never appeared on Family Affair.)

Ida Lupino

Legendary actress and director Ida Lupino appeared as French’s old flame Maudie Marchwood in two Family Affair episodes. She appeared in one Twilight Zone episode, Season One’s “Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine.” The paranormal twist in this one comes too late to add much interest to the story of a fading actress living in the past. Lupino is always interesting, but this script doesn’t do her any favors; it reads like her character is 70, while Lupino was just over 40 when this aired!

(Lupino directed the much better Twilight Zone episode “The Masks.”)

Alice Frost, who appeared in the memorable Family Affair episode “The Candy Striper,” also appears here and gets to do some good screaming.

Paul Hartman

A first-season Family Affair guest star, Hartman appeared on three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

You remember him--he sold Buffy and Jody a broken down horse.

You remember him–he sold Buffy and Jody a broken down horse.

On The Twilight Zone, he played a police sergeant in the second-season episode “Back There,” a time-travel yarn involving Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Nora Marlowe shows up again here. (Also of interest to classic TV fans: This episode stars Russell Johnson, the professor from Gilligan’s Island.)

The full episode doesn’t seem to be on Youtube, but you can watch it through Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Louise Latham

Louise Latham launched her screen career in Hitchcock’s Marnie as the title character’s mother.

On Family Affair, of course, she was Aunt Fran--a character who cast a longer shadow than her three appearances would suggest.

On Family Affair, of course, she was Aunt Fran–a character who cast a longer shadow than her three appearances would suggest.

She made one appearance on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and it was a good one. “An Unlocked Window” has everything–a spooky house, a violent storm, and a serial killer on the loose. Latham gives a showy performance as a housekeeper who progresses from merely annoying to drunken and deranged. The episode’s ending doesn’t completely surprise, but it does pack a punch. (Bonus for my fellow cat lovers: A nice-looking tabby gets plenty of screen time.)

Another connection involving this episode: Stanley Cortez served as director of photography here, as well as on the first two episodes of Family Affair. A veteran cinematographer, Cortez had worked on such movies as The Magnificent Ambersons and Night of the Hunter.

Heather Angel

Surprisingly, Heather Angel never appeared on the Hitchcock series. She would have been well suited for various British dowager parts, and she did have small parts in two Hitchcock films, Suspicion and Lifeboat.

On Family Affair, Angel played Miss Faversham in a whopping 18 episodes.

On Family Affair, Angel played Miss Faversham in a whopping 18 episodes–many more than any other recurring cast member.

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