Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Waltons 5.16: “John’s Crossroad”

Airdate: 1/20/77

Hard pressed for work, John takes on government work in Charlottesville, but finds getting used to a stuffy office job to very difficult. The boss, Mr. Morgan, is a strict, pedantic martinet who won’t even allow a window to be open! A fellow worker, 20 years on the job, is tired and frustrated, waiting out his tenure only to get his pension, and pining for the days when the job used to be more fun. Finally, John’s is pushed too far, and quits his job, observing that he could no longer be a “caged animal” for the rest of his life.

One of my favorite episodes dealing with a great theme: the sterility and oppressiveness of the business world. It’s all too real to me, having had similar jobs; don’t we all know people like the ones in this office, lifelessly existing just to receive a paycheck, tolerating treatment no one would ordinarily go through? The final scene of the office story, the aforementioned co-worker looking around after John’s abrupt departure, then, in an act of small rebellion, going over to open a window, is right up there with Jack Lemmon tossing away the potted palm in Mister Roberts.

Subplot ok, about the boys getting too old to go along with Zeb to do outdoor stuff and Elizabeth being the only volunteer left. Olivia, in a rare act of insensitivity, scolds Zeb for treating the girl too much like a boy. Note to producers (if this were written back then): get a second-unit to shoot NEW STOCK FOOTAGE. All the stuff you use looks like it came from a 50s educational film!!

Grandma’s absence (since “The Rebellion”) is finally explained in this episode: she has an indeterminate illness, and is awaiting tests at the hospital in Charlottesville. In real life actress Ellen Corby suffered a serious stroke, and will not be featured for the rest of the season.

Milestone: Olivia has a, presumably alcoholic, drink at the Dew Drop Inn: an Orange Squeeze.

Only the second Waltons episode with a title not starting with “The.”

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