Thursday, April 18, 2013

Waltons 7.5: “The Obsession”

Airdate: 10/19/78

Mary Ellen will graduate from nursing school if she passes her finals; to this end she starts popping uppers and downers – with predictably disastrous results. When she sinks to breaking into the cabinet of her own office for more pills, she crawls back to the family for help, who stay awake with until she goes to sleep- without sedatives. Meanwhile Sissy has had enough of Yancy’s grungy, Podunk lifestyle, and considers a divorce. Legal-eagle wannabe Elizabeth thinks she can handle the case, but she is secretly using her wiles to bring the two back together again.

Drug abuse/addiction was fast becoming a hot-button topic by the late-seventies (see the TV Trope “Drugs Are Bad”), particularly as a warning to the Afterschool Special set, which included myself. The Waltons climbs on board, delicately addressing the highs, lows and withdrawal period as simply and obliquely as you’d expect from such a wholesome clan (although rival Little House on the Prairie would cover the territory more graphically in an episode five years later). In the end, Mary Ellen is a registered nurse, which makes her happy because she can now be with her hubby who is about to be stationed at… Pearl Harbor. Doh!

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