Friday, June 7, 2013

Waltons 9.20: “The Lumberjack”

Airdate: 5/21/81

Paul Matthews, a local lumberjack, attempts to sell his high-quality and eco-friendly but more expensive wood to a recalcitrant Ben, to no avail – more successful is his chemistry with another Walton, Erin, who moons over him with the strongest passion this side of Ashley Longworth. There is, of course, a catch, and it comes in the form of a secret Paul had been keeping: his real name is Paul Northridge, son of the head of Northridge lumber, the Walton co-op’s main rival. When Erin meets him, she feels like a pawn used by Paul, and rushes back home. Both Paul and his dad follow her back, and Paul, trying desperately to break the shackles of his privileged lifestyle, wants to woo her back on his own.

The subplot also addresses the environment. Ike and Jim-Bob get a Geiger counter, hoping to strike it rich by finding uranium on the mountain. They do find something and have it analyzed, only to find it to be radioactive waste from a local laboratory, which processes radium for watch dials, among other things. Finding financial disappointment, they do get some solace from being lauded as heroes for uncovering a serious threat to the local air and water supply.

Two good stories, both with environmental messages just as timely now as then. The Erin situation looks like it was inspired a bit by Dallas: girl from the enemies of a big-business family falls in love with their son, who bears more than a passing resemblance to John Schneider from The Dukes of Hazzard, another then-popular CBS show. Happy ending seems to set the stage for a continuing romance between the two.

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