Thursday, April 4, 2013

Waltons 6.5: “The Seashore”

Airdate: 10/20/77

The Baldwin sisters need their seashore house fixed up to house the military, as it is now the spring of 1940 and France is just about to fall to the Nazis. John takes the job, and brings the entire family along for help, but when they get to the cottage it appears inhabited. Enter a young English girl named Lisa, who explains that she’d been attending William and Mary but “needed the seashore.” She, of course, is allowed to stay (the Waltons’ hospitality extends beyond the boundaries of Jefferson County), but the family, particularly Jason, detects skeletons in her closet. When the two go out paddling in the ocean, they are
picked up by the Coast Guard, who suspects a hint of German in Lisa’s English accent. It turns out many are looking for her – heightened vigilance for all foreigners prompts a G-man to force her to return home, to England. She does return, bout only after revealing her heartbreaking past: her father had just been killed in the battle of Dunkirk, and staying in school reminded her of the tragedy all too painfully.

Change in scenery breathes a bit of life into a John Boy-less (and, realistically, Mary Ellen-less) season that needs a bit more time to adjust to his absence. The show is more conscious of weaving war-related storylines into the family drama, and, given the quick thrust into 1940 so soon, the show’s writers are eager to continue doing so. Guest star Vickery Turner is charmingly offbeat as Lisa, but the aloofness of her character also tends to distance her from the audience. In the end, the requisite breakdown scene she gives us feels predictable (she telegraphed it earlier in a scene with Elizabeth) and a bit cool.

Well, there’s still 5 years of war left, and 4 seasons of Waltons!

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