Thursday, December 24, 2015


At Christmastime I sometimes lay aside my Genghis Khan attitude toward the world and get sentimental and past-oriented, remembering all the Christmases of my childhood and the generation of my parents and grandparents.

I watch, I confess, the 1971 pilot episode of The Waltons, the Christmas story called The Homecoming. Yes, I know. Shocking.

(Spoiler alert for you softies who might ever watch this.)

But the odd thing about this story --aside from portraying a romantic vision of a lost America in 1930's rural Virginia-- is the conflict between Momma (Patricia Neal) and John Boy (Richard Thomas) over the 17-year old boy's habit of locking the door to his bedroom.

Now anyone with half a brain might suspect what an adolescent male was doing in his bedroom at that age and why he wanted the door locked. So the mother's accusatory and suspicious persistence about it is, well, kinda creepy.

Turns out that John Boy is not doing what we all assume he was doing, but is writing. And since he is being raised for a trade, he is hiding it from his family.


Given its time, it does nod to the PC pieties about race that now suffocate us, but from the perspective of 2015, it has a quality that you can't count on anymore in drama or comedy, where it pokes fun at its characters but never holds them in contempt.

The inter-generational family solidarity, the vibrant relations of men and women as different beings, the overt religion, the connections of a rural community,--segregated but friendly-- etc. well, romantic though it be,  has a dignity that any attempt to portray a contemporary family would find almost impossible to carry off.



1 comment:

-A said...

I always thought John Boy was cute. There was always something about him and the whole series that I found subliminally sexual. I also thought his mother was a bit creepy but I saw in most characters a very strong attachment to John Boy and I think in small town and rural areas, there is always a golden boy or a cluster of golden boys (most usually who either are in the same group or make their own, rarely will there be some who cluster and some who do not) that are just plain liked and whose attention is constantly sought and appreciated. This tends to be less strong when there is a whole town of handsome young men. Where I am now, the White male population under thirty is all eye candy. Many are far too young for me and look it but, well, there isn't birth control in the water here and testosterone runs free.


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