Friday, May 17, 2013

Waltons 8.15: “The Unthinkable”

Airdate: 1/3/80

Ted Lupinsky, one of Jason’s recruits at Camp Rockfish, sees that it’s unlikely he could become drill sergeant because of ant-Semitism, despite Jason’s promise to nominate him. Crestfallen, he accepts Jason’s offer to stay with the Waltons for a weekend, and there teaches everyone all things Jewish. The news of his grandfather’s death still troubles him, and when Zeb’s death is mentioned in comparison, he breaks down and reveals that his grandfather was a Jew who went back to Poland and was killed by poison gas at an extermination camp. John can’t possibly believe such a thing is going on, and when he calls his senator, he is told there is no proof it’s occurring either. At the end, Lupinsky goes with the others to the mountain to pay respects for Zeb, where he recites the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

First Waltons episode of the 80s is also the first to deal with the Holocaust, as it would later be termed. This is also the best episode of the season thus far, as it balances cross-cultural comedy (courtesy Tod Susman as Lupinksky) with a gravity that never gets depressing, but is nonetheless potent. Lots f dramatic irony here, as John, representing the American status quo, doesn’t see or believe that the Holocaust is actually occurring, but Hamner’s narration tells us otherwise.

Best scene: Lupinsky describes to Ike and Corabeth what’s in a Jewish deli.

Subplot pales in comparison: Elizabeth gets all As in school, but it cramps her social style. Poor baby! 

Some salty lines in this one; examples:
Jeffrey: “Teachers pet! Teachers pet! Gonna get your panties wet!”
Lupinsky: (Answering in the affirmative) “Does a bear sleep in the woods?” (winking).

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