Friday, May 31, 2013

Cheers: Season 3 Wrap Up



Season 3 is probably most notable for being Nicholas Colasanto’s last season as the beloved Coach. Colassanto died from heart disease in February of 1985; the last show he filmed was “Cheerio, Cheers” in November of 1984, at which time he announced his terminal illness. Reasons were given for his absence, until the last few shows of the season simply mentioned nothing. The producers aired a previously filmed cold open for the last show of the season, “Rescue Me.” The DVD set has a nice tribute to Colasanto, featuring some of Coach’s best moments.

I read online that both Rhea Perlman and Shelley Long were pregnant during this season. I figured Perlman was, as her character also become pregnant, but Long’s pregnancy was not written in to her character; producers feared it would unnecessarily open up a can of worms. The long-shot filmed sequences at the end of the season were filmed earlier, when she was not showing.

The DVD has some nice offerings, including the aforementioned tribute and a character highlight reel, but I got the biggest kick out of the “Bar Tour” feature, an interactive map revealing the stories behind various set props and the characters associated with them. Cleverly, the jukebox plays the Cheers theme, while the taps makes a pouring sound and the register rings up a sale.

Back to the season – At a full 25 episodes, this one really rounds out the cast and establishes a true ensemble feeling. Quips are quick and sharp but never at the expense of character, and the comedy is timed just perfectly – not too slow or, as in the case with all modern sitcoms, too joke-killingly fast. On to Season 4!!!


Waltons 9.10: “The Tempest”


Airdate: 2/5/81

No, not the Shakespearean play – more like Ernest Hemingway. You see, Curt is alive but not well; at first refusing to acknowledge Mary Ellen as his wife and disclaiming their marriage, he confesses to surviving Pearl Harbor but sustaining a severe injury that emasculated him. He is distancing her because he realizes he could never be a real husband to her. Add to this his semi-courtship to a local woman, someone who knows about but doesn’t mind his injury – the minute she had mentioned marriage, he put up the wall again. It takes Mary Ellen’s determined quest for answers to set things straight. In the end, a healed Curtis vows friendship with his soon to be ex-wife, and fatherhood to his son, John Curtis.

At home, Mary Ellen’s new love, Jonesy, seems to be giving up his rolling stone ways. He gets a job at Pickett’s plant, replacing Erin, who gets a job as a realtor under Corabeth’s employ. Neither has success at their jobs, so Jonesy realizes he’s perhaps better suited as a professor at Boatwright (sure, you can get that job no problem). When Mary Ellen returns, he’s waiting for her.

If there’s anything more confusing than a character who doesn’t remember his former wife at first (we all thought it was amnesia, didn’t we?) it’s having that actor played by a different person!!!  The “new Curtis” resembles his predecessor in no way whatsoever – I know he’s supposed to be a changed man but this is ridiculous! In any case, this still comes off as more of a plot contrivance than a true character. Even the writers must have known they were ripping off Hemingway – they even have him catching a huge marlin off the Florida Keys!


Waltons 9.9: “The Whirlwind”


Airdate: 1/22/81

Arlington Westcott, a new character on Waltons Mountain, picks up Jim-Bob in his car, before finding out his brakes are shot. After overturning, he is placed under the nursing care of Mary Ellen, and the two develop a whirlwind romance. At issue are his free-spirited plans of “seeing the world” (he had just gotten home from the war) contrasting her plans to continue pre-med and stay on the mountain. Ultimately, agrees to put her plans on hold and go with him, but unexpected news arrives: a woman from Florida claims to have seen Curt Willard, Mary-Ellen’s “dead” husband. Riddled with anxiety and uncertainty, she goes down to see if it really is him. To be continued…

Another milestone: Jason buys the Dew Drop Inn (with what money?), but noone seems to be on his side. Only after guilt, and seeing a drunk Jason thrown in the towel, do they help him spruce the place up – in time for a gala reopening!

Curtis Willard still alive? Really? If nothing else displays how soapy, and desperate, the show had gotten in its last season, this would be it. Turning a poignant, memorable death into a ratings gimmick would unconscionable for any show, let alone The Waltons. It takes away a big part of Mary Ellen’s identity as well – now she’s not a widow, just an “I though I was” widow. Pretty lame.

We’re getting a lot of new, subordinate cast embers now, mostly in the form of Walton spouses/love interests –most of them will play big parts n the rest of the seasons and reunion movies. Westcott is affably portrayed by veteran actor Richard Gilliland – his and Mary Ellen’s “goodnight kiss” scene at the mill is both classy and sultry, and complemented will by a beautiful new score I’ll dub “Mary Ellen and Arlington’s Theme” (catchy, huh?). 


Wonder Woman 2.14: Screaming Javelin


Airdate: 1/20/78


A dastardly madman named Mariposa (think Hugh Hefner meets Ernst Blofeld), schemes to kidnap, one by one, the United States’ best Olympians in order to create his own dream team, and that includes a certain female who’s no slouch in the athletic department, Wonder Woman. He kidnaps Diana to lure her alter ego into his trap, but of course this backfires and all athletes are ultimately freed, including a young Russian gymnast named Nadia (hmmm, I wonder who this was based on) and her fiancé – Rick Springfield!

Ho-hum melodrama suffers from lack of clarity and credibility regarding Mariposa’s scheme (how will he attain power with a super-duper Olympic team?) and the hammy overacting by Henry Gibson in that role – an embarrassing mix of every bad guy cliché you can name, but with little to none of the entertainment value. WW’s rescue efforts could easily have been lifted from stock footage of any other episode thus far, and the continued marginalization of Steve Trevor (and odd disappearance of Joe Atkinson) leaves a void in the show, possibly suggesting that the producers are trying to make WW more of a lone hero, less a team player. More in keeping with her increasingly popular (on TV, at least) Marvel counterparts, The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider Man.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cheers 3.25: “Rescue Me”


Airdate: 5/9/85

Frasier pops the question to Diane in Italy and, after much deliberation and soul-searching, she accepts. Sam also has ambivalent feelings; he daydreams about rescuing her from the altar and starting their relationship anew, on his terms. Following his heart, he gets on the next plane to Italy; Diane tests his feelings by calling the bar to see if he’s on a plane or not. She thinks he’s there when she hears his voice, but it’s really the new answering machine he had installed.

The Sam/Diane soap opera continues… Will she marry? Will he stop her? Off-location filmed sequences abound in this entertaining season finale, which leaves the summer for Cheers fans to catch up in reruns or wait for the conclusion of this saga… as the world turns!

Funniest scene: Dian and Frasier eat at an Italian restaurant where the maitre ‘d is still mourning the loss of the head chef.

Cold open: Coach misidentifies an old ball player as a blind man, even though it’s clear he has sight. (Note: this may be filmed at an earlier time, as the actor playing Coach, by this time, may have passed.)

Norm’s opener: Norm’s already at the bar.


Waltons 9.8: “The Move”


Airdate: 1/15/81

Ben’s homecoming is tinged with apprehension: his plans to go to college for engineering on the GI Bill don’t quite accord with his father’s expectation that he will become a co-proprietor of the mill. Cindy’s father, a hard-nosed army colonel, comes to visit and assists Ben admission into a reputable university, but when John goes to see Olivia in Washington: bad news. Her TB has resurfaced, and she must go to a sanitarium in Arizona. As it is so far away, John will go with her, and has decided to sell the mill. Ben, horrified that new owners may turn it into a quantity-over-quality operation, puts his college plans on hold and takes his dad up on his offer. Meantime, Erin’s “staycation” (she had given up her gas coupons for Cindy to pick up Ben) keeps getting interrupted by a typically helpless J.D.

Olivia’s new infirmity seems to set the stage for a prolonged departure forRalph Waite (indicated by his “Good-night” at episode’s end), as well as Ben’s new role as head mill operator. It seems as though the writer’s needed something else beyond red cross volunteering to account for Olivia’s absence, especially now that the year is over. Bringing back the TB, and moving her even farther away, appears to be their solution.

P.S.: I was right about Waite – this was his last episode. Why? A credible-sounding forum post on walonswebpage.com seems to have the answer:

Ralph Waite was written out due to budgetary issues; shows become more expensive as they age, usually at the same time the ratings start to decline. Originally, season 8 was supposed to be the final one, and ended with the special "A Decade of the Waltons". CBS gave the show a somewhat unexpected renewal for season 9, but with the caveat that the producers tighten the budget. CBS was amenable to letting Ralph Waite go, with the misguided goal of making the show seem "younger". So John moved to Arizona to take care of Olivia after the first seven episodes of that final season.

The producers really didn't intend that last episode to be a finale, and I think that's one of the reasons why none of the original leads returned; they just added a little bit of wrap-up narration at the end. The producers proposed wrapping up the series with an additional 3 two-hour specials for the 1981-82 season, but CBS passed, so these specials aired on NBC. Ralph Waite was in all three, Ellen Corby was in two, and Michael Learned even returned for a brief cameo in one of them.


Waltons 9.7: “The Last Ten Days”


Airdate: 1/8/81

It looks like the end for Ben. As a POW, he is still in the “hot box” for his shenanigans, and when a Japanese captor marches him and another soldier into the hot, steamy jungles and the end of a rifle, he expects the worst. However, after news of the Japanese surrender following two terrifying “bomb attacks,” the captor hands over his rifle and has himself turned in to the occupying American forces. (Safer than having the Americans come to him!)

Other tensions run high these finals days: Elizabeth plays second fiddle to herwould-be beau’s passion for fighter planes, Cindy has Ben’s aforementioned peril on her mind, and Jason and Toni’s on-again, off-again dalliance comes to a head when Jason warns her that he’ll be shipped off yet again, but with the war over she tells him he can hide behind the war no longer, and proposes marriage. He will, after courting some more. I’ll bet, Jason!

The history lessons continue as we finally reach the end of the war with this episode. Actual radio broadcasts are used here for the announcements of the A-bomb droppings and Japanese surrender. All Walton boys safe and sound with Ben’s phone call at the end of the show, and the final dinner scene (well shot with an overhead camera angle) is truly a moment for thanks. Interesting discourse on the ethics of using atomic weaponry, between Mary Ellen, John Boy and the Godseys, show the event’s controversy, one still with us today.



Wonder Woman 2.13: Light Fingered Lady


Airdate: 1/6/78

Diana goes undercover as a ringer in a robber gang planning a huge 50-million dollar heist – her identity, at risk of being discovered numerous times, is protected by Steve the assistance of the local police. With Wonder Woman’s help, Diana proves her value to her cohorts by securing the detailed vault plans, and she plays along quite well on the day of the heist, sneaking in by hiding inside an Egyptian sarcophagus. Unfortunately, the jig’s up when she blows the whistle on them: justice and just desserts for a bunch that left her behind at the bank, proving that there is, in fact, no honor among thieves.

Suspenseful Mission Impossible-style drama has everything you’d expect from such a crime caper: a motley crew, seemingly impenetrable fortress, and even guard dogs able to be placated by WW’s special connection with animals. Scenes inside the vault tend to get a bit draggy, but refreshing to take a break from the camp and follow a more realistic adventure.

Sidelined Steve is definitely getting less screen time this season. Now he’s sort of Diana’s liaison to IADC – more of a behind the scenes man.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cheers 3.24: “The Belles of St. Clete’s”


Airdate: 5/2/85

Carla immediately recognizes an elderly woman at Cheers: Miss Dimeglio, her principal at St. Clete’s boarding school. Thoughts of revenge start to form in Carla’s mind, and she summons all her former schoolmates to plot the long-awaited attack. Trouble is, none of them think it’s her, and even if it were, none are as bloodthirsty in their desire for comeuppance. After hours, the woman returns to the bar where Carla proves it is indeed the dreaded Dimeglio, but when Sam drops by later on he sees the two playing pool; apparently Carla has decided to let bygones be bygones, but only after she had shaved off half the schoolmaster’s locks. Subplot: Cliff boasts about a torrid affair he had in Florida – the letters in question turn out to be request for stolen hotel items, but Norm has his back when he reads the letter aloud, pretending it is from a fiery female.

Second relatively Diane-less episode focuses this time on Carla and her schemes for revenge. Her actions are funny yet true to character, especially regarding the revenge she plots and hilarious execution of it. Best scene involves her now-grown cronies, one of who is played by Night Court’s Marsha Warfield.

Cold open and Norm’s opener (in the morning): Sam: “What brings you in this time of day?” Norm: “Same thing that always does.” Sam: “Little early for a beer.” Norm: “So put a corn flake in it.”

Waltons 9.16: “The Pursuit”


Airdate: 1/1/81


A young woman named Kathy is tracing down Jim-Bob, completely in love with him – but he feelings aren’t mutual. Evidently this was a one-night-stand before Jim Bob was to ship out overseas from Norfolk (which didn’t happen), and Kathy now claims she’s pregnant with his child. When Jim-Bob responsibly proposes marriage, Mary Ellen is dubious, and Kathy fesses up she’s not pregnant after all – and presumably couldn’t be either. Elsewhere, Jason gets reassigned to Paris to work as a musical director with Toni, and Ben defies his Japanese captors by stringing up a homemade American flag on the 4th of July.

Now here’s the Waltons episode we’ve all been waiting for – JENNIFER JASON LEIGH is a guest star, at her prime, and the world will never be the same. And could it be that Jim-Bob, a Walton boy, had premarital sex? No, probably not, but the lasciviousness of it all, paired with the other romances going on here, made the series’ last season more lurid than it had ever been before. Well, after all, it is the era of Dallas and Dynasty now. One can only wonder what Livy would’ve thought.


Again – JENNIFER JASON LEIGH? (Sorry to scream.) How in the world would gawky Jim-Bob turn her down? How could his portrayer, David W. Harper, not be “excited” during their kissing scenes? (Well, maybe he was.) Again, getting a girl with modest good looks could have made this a more credible episode. But JENNIFER JASON LEIGH?

BTW: POW subplot is taken right from The Bridge on the River Kwai. No complaints, though. It’s one of my favorite movies.


Waltons 9.5: “The Premonition”


Airdate: 12/25/80

John-Boy falls in love with Simone, a beautiful French woman, while in Paris after the German surrender. She coaxes him to write an article about the lingering threat of unexploded land mines in France, an in so doing, causes Jason’s squad to be retained in Europe for bomb-squad duty. John-Boy’s plans to stay in Paris, however, get changed when he decides to return home to Virginia after hearing that his brother Ben had been captured by the Japanese as a prisoner of war, something Cindy had premonitions about.

Another sturdy war-based set of stories – clearly the onus is on the scriptwritersto come up with story ideas after the war is half-over, but the concept of alerting the press about land mines is a unique and credible one, and creates a nail-biter of a moment when John-Boy must diffuse one (that turns out to be a dummy – both he and the mine).  Anita Jodelson is both ravishing and winsome as Chloe, and any couple that will “always have Paris” must be ill-fated, right?


At the end of this episode, Ben is still a Japanese POW, and Robert Wightman is a home and appears to be a fixated cast member as John-Boy now.

Was this really broadcast Christmas Day? Not so apropos.



Wonder Woman 2.12: The Deadly Toys


Airdate: 12/30/77


A cadre of scientists is about to pull the plug on a deadly weapons project they feel guilty about participating in, when one of them starts behaving oddly, and then melts down to a pile of circuits and gelatin! The agency head of this “XYZ Project,” an old friend of Steve’s named Dexter, works with the IADC to track down the mastermind behind this android-replacing-scientist plot, which so far has been successful twice; only Diana, who’s holding the last remaining human, Dr. Lazaar, stands between the villains and their plan to sell XYZ to foreign interests for a boatload of money. The trail leads to a Gepetto-like toymaker named Hoffman, and then back to Dexter; their plan to use a Wonder Woman andrid against the real girl herself backfires when they can’t tell the difference, and the super heroine stops them from going any further. However, at the risk of anyone else finding out about XYZ, Steve and Diana let the baddies proceed with their plan, only now they’re selling the android scientists, who could discern their project from one at a high school science fair!

Fun holiday offering has a lil’ for everyone: taut plot, colorful characters, and gleeful camp, courtesy a supporting cast of wind-up toys and trinkets (the kind you’d probably find in a old curiosity shop’s attic) and Frank Gorshin, whose performance as the Riddler on the 60s Batman series help set the standard for camp on TV. Two highlights: the opening in which the aforementioned scientist literally has a meltdown (and the effects aren’t bad, relatively speaking), and the climax, in which WW battles her android doppelganger, using the pre-digital technique of shooting over-the-shoulder and using obscured-face stand-ins.

A good side entry if you’re planning a Demonic Toys movie marathon.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cheers 3.23: “The Bartender’s Tale”


Airdate: 4/18/85

Diane’s absence requires Sam to hire a new barmaid, but his choices, long on looks but short on experience, get nixed by Carla’s overrule. Only one, a hardy, strapping woman named Lillian, looking like she came from an 18th century Irish pub, makes the cut, and even hot-blooded Sam comes around, admiring her waitressing skills and understanding of the fact that there will be no romantic entanglements to make the working situation awkward. That is until he meets her daughter, Carolyn, a lingerie model with a fondness for nude beaches – Sam behaves himself to a point, and begs Carla to change her mind about quitting if he dates the comely lass. Carla will give in only if Lillian approves, but Lillian mistakes Sam’s interest in her daughter for that of herself. It all gets straightened out and Sam’s ready for Carolyn, who happens to hate sex since her mother killed her father with a heart attack of passion.

Diane has only one scene (in an Italian hotel), leaving Sam to do the heavy comedic lifting here, which he does quite admirably (with a heavy assist from the muse of John Ritter). Scatological hijinks, if done well, always make me laugh, and Sam’s self-control, and subsequent lack of it, help make this one of my favorite episodes. Lillian is a terrific guest character (she’s still employed at the end, so I presume we’ll see her again), and her monologue establishing her credentials and scenes of leading the barflies in carousing song are true highlights.

Cold open: Cliff can’t get over the fact that Carla makes more than he does when tips are included; Norm reasons that it makes sense, since he “could go up to three days without mail.”

Norm’s opener: Norm’s already at the bar.


Waltons 9.4: “The Triumph”


Airdate: 12/18/80

Jason’s army unit gets a new soldier, Private Willis, a shy man whose timidity earns him a reputation for cowardice. He explains to Jason that he had seen the horrors of war but froze up, and has had dread feelings of fear ever since. Despite exhoratins by the other men to ditch him, Jason keeps him on. When they arrive at an abandoned town, news arrives of the Nazi surrender, but a young German sniper in the second story of a church doesn’t believe the news – Jason and Willis, who speaks German – try to coax the man down, with Willis showing fearlessness by dropping his weapons to gain the sniper’s trust. On the homefront, the Godseys are being prosecuted by the rations board for giving away merchandise without collecting stamps.

VE Day is depicted here with the first combat-based episode of the series. Thecentral story, somewhat borrowed from The Red Badge of Courage, is simply told, suspenseful, and ultimately moving. Gritty Jason is a far cry from his piano-playing alter ego. And Jim Bob, on leave from his Air Force training in Virginia, is trying to get home, dispute being guided, circuitously, by a local farmer played by black character actor Davis Roberts (Good Times, Sanford and Son). Private Willis is well played by Mark McClure, but not that Marc McClure (Superman, Back to the Future).

As this is VE Day, the setting date for this episode is May 8th, 1945.


Waltons 9.3: “The Pledge”


Airdate: 12/4/80

Mary Ellen (the “Medicine Woman” of Waltons Mountain) notices that Sweet Billy isn’t looking well lately. When he collapses, she brings him to Charlottesville Hospital, where he dies. Feeling powerless to have helped him because she is not a doctor, she enrolls in a premed program at Boatwright College, only to be told no females will be allowed. The dean of admissions changes his tune when she returns with a more rehearsed entreaty, and now she’s on her way.

On the war front: John Boy celebrates Jason’s birthday with goodies from home: a gingerbread cake and the Baldwins’ recipe, mailed with the help of an Erin-smitten transport clerk. Another cute subplot involves Corabeth baking a cake for a young solder by mailed request from the soldier’s mother.

Mary Ellen, proto-feminist that she is, presages the single-working mother with her unpopular decision to pursuse higher education while raising her infant son. By now, this was fast becoming a reality in the nascent workforce climate of the early 80’s. Conservative John not too happy, but he’ll just wait and see!

Interesting score here – more flute flourishes, fewer strings.



Wonder Woman 2.11: Mind Stealers From Outer Space Part Two


Airdate: 12/9/77

Diana gets out of her sticky scrape with Sardor when Andros rescues her, but the Skrill escape and now they’ve got a list of all the best minds in the country – and they’re on the warpath. Andros’ appeal to the planetary council to extend his deadline is denied, so he and WW prepare the UN for the council’s solution: “decontamination,” which will rid the earth of Skrill but drive approximately 2 million humans to madness. When Andros’ mind is seized, WW has had enough – she finds the location of the Skrill hideout, busts some heads, destroys Sardor and gets Andros back. He sends the Skrill back to prison… and once again invites WW to live with him – in peace. Of course, she declines the offer.

Sufficient wrap-up isn’t quite as nail-biting as its predecessor, but still good,cheesy fun. Special effects certainly quite dated by today’s standards, but an earnestness and passion for the material truly carries it. Only main demerit: none-too-seamless inclusion of stock footage, especially the scene where the building is destroyed – obviously a filmed detonation. I’m sure his looked cheap even when it aired.



Monday, May 27, 2013

Cheers 3.22: “Cheerio, Cheers”


Airdate: 4/11/85

Frasier has been named Visiting Scholar at the U. of Bologna in Italy and wants Diane to come with. Initially reluctant to accept because of lingering, ambivalent feelings for Sam, she ultimately agrees, but her tearful goodbye to her former lover turns into passionate kissing. Before things get too hot and heavy, however, she reconsiders and rethinks – what is this, the beginning of something or a one-night affair? As Diane leaves Sam, potentially for good, she tells her that if she wants a solid future, go with Frasier; if she wants “a day at a time,” call.

Diane bids bon voyage to Cheers… for good? Episode ends with her phone call to the bar from Europe, and despite some traces of passion between her and Sam, her absence looks to be a multi-episode affair (pun intended). Sam Simon wrote this one a la Charles brothers, and the climactic kiss certainly adds a new wrinkle to the relationship from hell that just won’t stay there. Highlight: faithless Carla drops to her knees and belts “I Believe” upon hearing the news of Diane’s departure.

Coach is back after a several-episode absence. More on this in the season wrap-up.

Cold open: Down in the mouth Carla is advised to cheer up by Cliff, who reminds her of Job. Coach tells her she should be happy to have a Job, then informs Cliff that it’s pronounced “job.”

Norm’s opener: Norm’s already at the bar.


Waltons 9.2: “The Outrage, Part 2”


Airdate: 11/27/80

Conclusion to part 1 above finds John on a mission to clear Harley’s name. After getting arrested for harboring a fugitive, he decides there must be a higher power who can help: the president. Knowing that F.D.R. is in Warm Springs, Georgia, he treks down to the deep South and takes his appeal directly to the chief executive himself, who ultimately grants a pardon... shortly before his death from a cerebral hemorrhage. The Waltons go to Charlottesville to watch the funeral train go back, in the show’s final scene.

Meantime Jason is located, Corabeth and Ike mend their tussle, and Elizabeth runs back to Drew, whom she neglected in favor of her horse, which she injured while riding and needed to be put down – by Cindy, who shows her tough side when her sisters were too squeamish.

Fairly good resolution to part 1 is a bit undone by the melodramatic, and ghoulish, plot thread involving Elizabeth’s horse. Not sure that Cindy hoisting that rifle and blowing a horse’s brains out means she can milk the cows like a true country girl, but hey, it's The Waltons.  The pardon John gets at the end is also a bit of a deux ex machina, but the depiction of F.D.R.’s death is handled with the appropriate gravitas and sensitivity. The traditional family goodnights are exchanged with John’s, and the show’s final, line: “Good night, Mr. President.”

Waltons 9.1: “The Outrage, Part 1”


Airdate: 11/27/80

While in an out-of-town café, Harley foster is IDed as a man named Tyrone, who is an escaped convict from the South doing time for murder. John is outraged when Sheriff Bridges comes and investigates whether or not they one and the same, but Harley confesses that he is indeed the escapee – but that his charge was entirely self defense against a drunk white man who slipped and hit his head on a tire rim. The episode ends as John vows to set the matter straight and asks Bridges for one extra day before he arrests Harley.

Meanwhile, overseas: Ben is a Seabee in the Pacific, disgruntled at having to take orders from a by-the-books CPO; Jim-Bob is presumably training for the Air Force, somewhere in Virginia; and John-Boy is still writing for the Stars and Stripes in Paris, trying to locate Jason, who is somewhere south of Paris. Corabeth resolves to be a good say-at-home hausfrau, as she believes that’s what Ike wants, and Cindy resents her sisters-in-law doing all the manual labor because they feel she’s too dainty.

Excellent 9th season opener does a good job keeping up with the Walton in boys in their new locations while telling an engaging tale with strong social significance. The Fosters, Harley, Josh and especially Verdie, have been solid supporting players on the show for many years now, and it’s good to see them still, up until the end of the series.

Ad-lib alert: watch for the scene with John and John Curtis, whose baby-talk includes “Pat,” which John improvs as the woman “at the farm down the road.”

New opening credits are still fairly boring – all children are now listed individually over a sepia mountain backdrop, and the Godsey’s have their own listing over the general store – but Ralph Waite is still the only one with his picture!

This is listed as a two-parter, but again was originally broadcast as a two-hour episode. The airdate for this show was 11/27/80 – the reason for its late airing was the writers’ strike, which postponed all series for the 1980-81 season.

Casting curio: Bewitched’s Dick Sergeant plays the Naval CPO who has it out for Ben.



Wonder Woman 2.10: Mind Stealers From Outer Space Part One


Airdate: 12/2/77

Andros returns, and this time he’s got bigger fish to fry – or should I say, skrill to fry. That’s the name of a deadly, invasive alien species that have arrived on earth to steal human, a valuable black-market commodity in the rest of the galaxy. Once again, Andros is at odds with the rest of his council, who give him a time limit of 6 days to TCB. Lucklily, he enlists the help of Steve and Wonder Woman; the three of them track down a couple of college students used as Skrill host bodies, and discover that the pernicious intruders are able to store minds in small egg-type devices, which is where the feale student’s mind is being kept. Part One closes with a real threat – the Skrill plant “catnip” in Diana’s apartment to lure Sardor, a big badass alien ogre, to kill her, and thus Wonder Woman, whom they figured out are the same person..

Not what you think.
More crazy interstellar hijinks revisits Andros (from the “Judgment from OuterSpace two-parter), who is now played by a much younger and better looking Dack Rambo. Again he is distrusted by his colleagues and has to go it alone. (Why don’t they listen to this guy – wasn’t he right last time?) The Star Wars influence is clearly evident here, given the show’s two-part format, increased budget for special effects, and the all-too-obvious modeling of the masked, dark-caped, Sardor after Darth Vader. There’s also a bit of the then-just released Close Encounters in here too, especially in the first half when the distrustful authorities cordon off a whole tract of acreage to “investigate” the aliens.


But all told, a good intro to what promises to be a crazy showdown. Given the superhero nature and campy tone of the show, it’s good to see WW face off against some threatening villains for a change.


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