Thursday, May 23, 2013

Waltons 8.23: “The Valediction”

Airdate: 3/13/80

Jim Bob is about to graduate high-school, ad replacement teacher Corabeth, and the rest of the Waltons, want him to be valedictorian. Initially apprehensive, he considers bombing his exam so he won’t have a chance, but later reconsiders. Meanwhile, the Allies have invaded Normandy, and the final push to Berlin is on. War fever is running high, so Jim Bob announces that all four male graduates, including himself, have enlisted in the army. Now he, John-Boy, Jason and Ben will be shipped off to fight in both theaters of the war, while the Walton womenfolk will be waiting patiently, and nervously, at home.

Not sure how big a part the show’s sagging ratings played in the decision to focus the next season nearly entirely on the war, but that is certainly where the show is heading. Emotional departures aplenty here, most poignantly that of Ben and Cindy, whose final scene involving a camera is quite tearful. Jim-Bob’s surprise announcement at graduation is sure flag waving, but it reminded me of the same kind of scene in All Quiet on the Western Front, a decidedly antiwar novel. Something tells me The Waltons won’t be changing its political stripes anytime soon.

Ellen Corby comes back as Grandma for the graduation scene. With the exception of the retrospective special, this is her last episode of the series. Olivia, presumably, is there in spirit.

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