Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waltons 1.7: The Sinner

Airdate: 10/26/72

Matthew Fordwick, a young, somewhat fanatical reverend, arrives at Walton’s Mountain with Miss Prissom (appropriately named!), a missionary he hopes to impress so he can work with her in Asia. The Waltons agree to put Matthew up for a few days, but his fire and brimstone approach to preaching doesn’t always sit well with John’s religious skepticism. When the reverend pays a visit to the Baldwin sisters, and gets drunk on their “recipe,” he is shunned and ostracized by the townsfolk as a sinner, and considers leaving the ministry. John and John Boy go with him to the service and remind everyone to “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I really enjoyed this one, particularly for its subtext of the nature of sin (as examined by John Boy) and the different ways one can approach religion (as shown through John and Olivia’s disparate viewpoints). The story is borrowed from one of the subplots of Spencer’s Mountain in which Wally Cox plays the new minister, who also gets drunk and hypocritically derided.

As most people know by now, John Ritter got his big break playing Reverent Matthew, and his performance (and final speech in particular) was so well received he appeared in future episodes. Another rising star alert: Richard Donner as Yancy, who later played the role of Exidor, Mork’s looney, schizophrenic friend on Mork and Mindy. 

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