Monday, May 6, 2013

Waltons 8.1: “The Home Front, Part 1”

Airdate: 9/20/79

We return to the Waltons for their 8th season to find Olivia’s returning home, and discovering many changes that have transpired in her absence. Jason is a non-com drill sergeant at Camp Rockfish, and having a tough time playing the heavy. Erin is busting her hump at Platt’s mess kit/canteen plant, but her request to be assistant manager is rebuffed because she’s a woman. Cindy is paranoid that everyone expects her to be pregnant, partially because she’s a bit fearful about the prospect herself. Aimee Godsey returns from finishing school as expected: proper, refined, and hot for Jim Bob – all to the chagrin of Elizabeth. But John has the most to deal with – as head of the draft board, he signed up young Tommy Satterfield, and coaxed him into returning to base when he went AWOL. When he dies, Tommy’s parents blame John. At the end of this episode, Tommy’s father, Calvin, shows up at the Waltons’ front door and threatens to take the life of a Walton son in exchange for his own. Grandma was smartest of all… she’s away on vacation!

The Waltons’ penultimate season premiere does what most of their double
length episodes do: feature a plot line for nearly every family member, in this case, all relating to the war effort. John’s story carries he most weight, and is used for the cliffhanger at the end of the show. Not sure why, but Parts 1 and 2 are featured separately on the DVD, though, according to the inside notes, they were originally broadcast as one two hour episode. In any case, it's much easier to digest in two installments, but the Waltons was used to those super-sized two-hour offerings, especially for season premieres.

Aimee Godsey is still played by Rachel Longaker here, albeit looking more adolescent, and Mary Ellen is quite marginalized, playing simply the cheerleader for Erin’s cause. A good season opener, strengthened by Olivia’s return – she sticks around for the next ten episodes.

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