Family Affair Friday: Episode 14, Think Deep, 12/26/1966

Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series. This week’s episode is a memorable one. Before I begin, though, I wanted to point out that Kathy Garver and Johnny Whitaker, the two surviving Family Affair cast members, both celebrated a birthday yesterday. She turned 67 and he turned 53. I don’t know if they’ll ever see this blog, but if they do, I wish them all the best.

Episode 14, “Think Deep,” 12/26/1966

Written by: George Tibbles. Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Cissy shakes up the Davis household by instituting some new theories. She wants to rotate seating in the dining room so Uncle Bill doesn’t dominate at mealtime. She cramps Buffy’s and Jody’s fantasy life by banning imaginative stories at bedtime. She tries to get French to rebel against “a condition of servitude bordering on serfdom” and insists on calling him by his first name.

giles

French doesn’t take this well.

She also takes over some of French’s duties.

kitchen

Buffy helps Cissy prepare Uncle Bill’s “favorite meal”–steaks and chops.

donuts

The result is so bad that Buffy and Jody bring doughnuts to the table as a meal substitute–and Uncle Bill doesn’t even object.

Cissy cites someone named Julian as the authority behind her new practices. Uncle Bill and French assume Julian is a new boyfriend, but they soon discover that he’s a teacher, Julian Hill.

Visiting Julian’s classroom, Uncle Bill finds a man who is meticulous bordering on OCD.

Doing some quick mental math, he realizes that 1 prissy teacher plus 2 feisty seven-year-olds might equal a crush-demolishing meltdown. He invites Julian to dinner.

Doing some quick mental math, he realizes that 1 prissy teacher plus 2 feisty seven-year-olds might equal a crush-demolishing meltdown.

Uncle Bill invites Julian to dinner, and an excited Cissy invites her friend Gail to join them.

Together, the girls bask in Julian’s dinner erudite dinner conversation.

Together, the girls bask in Julian’s dinner erudite dinner conversation.

buffy jody

All Julian’s talk just confuses Buffy and Jody. In defense of Julian, it doesn’t take much to confuse these two. Their dinner clothes are adorable, though.

After dinner, things take a nasty turn when Buffy and Jody accidentally spill coffee on Julian, who calls them “little monsters.”

monsters

Oh, no, he didn’t!

Cissy doesn't take this well.

Cissy doesn’t take this well.

Uncle Bill helps her realize that Julian is a good teacher and a normally fallible human being—not someone whose every proclamation should be law at home.

The episode closes with Cissy telling the twins a cute story about a fish who’s trying to earn his flying license. The story captivates even French.

The episode closes with Cissy telling the twins a cute story about a fish who’s trying to earn his flying license. The story captivates even French.

Commentary

It’s great to see my second-favorite TV father figure, Robert Reed, sharing screen time with my favorite, Brian Keith. Reed really throws himself into this part; his Julian Hill is affected and compulsive but doesn’t quite enter caricature territory. I also like Uncle Bill’s talk with Cissy. Instead of leaving her with the easy takeaway—“See, Julian’s really a jerk”—he guides her to a more nuanced understanding of human foibles.

Guest Cast

Julian Hill: Robert Reed. Gail: Diane Mountford. Robert Reed, who died in 1992, was best-known for his role as Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch. His non-Brady TV series included The Defenders and Mannix. He also had roles in the miniseries Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man. Mountford would appear in several more Family Affair episodes, but her character would only be called Gail in one of them.

Cissy gets to wear my favorite of her dresses in this episode. Poor Gail gets an ugly, shapeless thing.

Cissy gets to wear my favorite of her dresses in this episode. Poor Gail gets an ugly, shapeless thing.

Notable Quotes

This is going to be the greatest emotional experience of my life.” Cissy

“With your permission, sir, I should like to see how the flying fish achieves his license.” French

Today’s Bonus Feature

Screen Life, May 1969