Mary Ellen comes home from a date with her recent love interest, David Spencer, with some sudden news: they’re getting married. John and Olivia are taken aback at first, but soon the whole family is excited about the impending nuptials. The engagement party is interrupted by a mystery guest – the new doctor (replacing Dr. Vance), a single man from a coal-mining town in West Virginia named Curt Willard. He begins his practice by ruffling more than a feather or two; it seems that his straight talk is a bit much for some of the more genteel citizens of the community, so he enlists the aid of Mary Ellen to help him with his bedside manner. Antagonists at first, they gradually develop respect for each other, which turns to love, and Mary Ellen starts having second thoughts about her engagement to David.
Curt’s past is still a bone of contention for some, even after he organizes a fundraising dance to raise money for a new clinic so folks won’t have to drive all the way to Charlottesville for emergency treatment. Immediately, he leaves town, with the clinic funds, and now everyone is more suspicious than ever, but the letter he leaves for Mary Ellen is burned by a spiteful Erin, who saw the two lovebirds kissing at the dance. When John Boy goes after Curt, he finds that the doctor had to return to the coal mining town to back up his claim that the coal mines were unsafe and hazardous; John-Boy winds up being a character witness, and Curt’s accusations are validated, his reputation cleared. He returns to Waltons’ Mountain and professes his love for Mary Ellen, and asks her hand in marriage; she accepts.
Hooray for turning what could have been a mawkish two hours worth of sentimental filler into a sharp, plot driven, fine work of entertainment (with more than a few surprises along the way). Just when you think Mary Ellen might marry that drip David, along comes Curt, quirkily played by Tom Bower, who made his Waltons debut in a different role in “The Wing Walker.” Bower brings charm and charisma, but also an idiosyncratic demeanor that reminds me of Jack Nicholson. He’s an unusual choice for a Waltons groom –that’s why I like him. Welcome aboard, Curt!
Nice stock footage from The Homecoming episode during John’s flashback. Oh,and keep your eyes peeled for Debbie Gunn, who plays Patsy Brimmer and Jim Bob’s love interest - she is a dead ringer for Kirsten Dunst! (Although sadly sans her acting ability.)