ENTRY 1221 | February
you probably know, "it's a wrap" is what movie directors
yell to indicate that the filming of a scene is finally finished.
I chose it for this bit of blather to indicate this is a wrapup of
some topics left hanging and perhaps some miscellany that may occur
to me while writing, bits that aren't worth a whole Jonal entry.
Corby) and John-Boy
Waltons (to end a thread that has run through these blogs
from some time early last year): I have finally apparently watched
all of the episodes in the INSP network's archive, but have no way
of knowing how many if any episodes that originally aired on CBS may
be missing from INSP's vault. The show continues to run on the network
and I continue recording the episodes, but it has been weeks now since
there has been one I did not remember seeing earlier (often it takes
half a show before that dawns on me, however; don't you hate when
for the questions I raised earlier, I finally learned how John-Boy
became the editor and publisher of the Blue Ridge weekly newspaper
(its original owner, whom John-Boy is working for as a reporter, decides
to leave the area quickly and sells the paper and the press to John-Boy).
But I never did have confirmed whether John-Boy actually graduated
from Boatwight University or dropped out to move to New York and write
novels. Perhaps Richard Thomas's departure from the cast (as John-Boy,
the narrator of the stories) was so sudden that the show's writers
were unable to create an episode about his college graduation.
learned from other websites about the show that there were a number
of inconsistencies in things said from one show and one season to
another, and I think an inconsistency I've discovered relates to a
fact I mentioned earlier. In comparing Waltons Mountain with my home
village of Belsano, I said both had two Protestant churches, and Waltons
Mountain's churches were a Methodist one and a Baptist one. But later
episodes seem to indicate that the Baptist Church is the only one
also noticed that the Baldwin Sisters called themselves Episcopalians
(or Anglicans, my memory is not sharp enough to be sure on that detail;
at any rate they're two names for the same thing in Virginia) but
later they are regular attenders of the Baptist Church, despite the
fact that they are the local moonshiners and the Baptist Church is
often described both in real life and the show as anti-alcohol. Of
course the show makes out like the sisters are unaware that "the
recipe" they produce and dispense is moonshine; they think it's
strictly "medicinal," though everyone else in town knows
the truth. And though they seem to use quite a bit of their own medicine,
I don't recall seeing them becoming tipsy, though some of the men
characters do from time to time.
Thomas was the first major cast member to leave the show, followed
by Michael Learned (the mother, Olivia Walton), and eventually Ralph
Waite (the father, John Walton). The doctor-husband of Mary Ellen
Walton, Curtis Williard, was actually played by two different actors
in separate seasons (as was John-Boy's character), and the actress
who played "Aunt Rose," the major character introduced in
later seasons to replace Olivia, originally appeared in the series
as another, relatively minor character, one not related to the Waltons.
of each season of The Waltons are available through a variety
of online sources and stores. Click
here for more information.
Wind At My Back: I said earlier I would do a Jonal entry on
this show, but this will have to suffice instead. In many episodes
this strikes me as one of the most nearly perfect shows I've ever
followed, though as a social phenomenon it had much less impact than
The Waltons and therefore did not get my vote as "best
show ever." But part of my prejudice toward this show is that
it is set in a small mining town (in upper Ontario) and the resemblances
between the mining towns I know bestVintondale where I was born
and Nanty Glo where I came of age through my Journal columnare
many. Even some of the charactersespecially May Bailey, the
owner of the mine and the founder with her late husband of the town
of New Bedfordstrongly remind me of people I knew in Nanty Glo.
It originally aired on Canadian television and has been shown in this
country only over a succession of cable channels, which accounts for
its limited social impact.
The Waltons, The Wind At My Back is set during the Great Depression,
and coping through hardship is a constant theme, but unlike The
Waltons it takes several seasons worth of shows before "religion"
becomes a major topic. But once it does, it has more conflict than
that in The Waltons and its treatment, with the central family
being Catholic but the inlawsMay Bailey in particularbeing
Presbyterian. In one episode May's eldest grandson admits to being
interested in becoming a priest, to which May responds by disinheriting
him. But despite this harsh side to May's character, she is more generally
both wise and good-hearted and the show's main theme may be her redemption
through many ups and downs.
Bailey brothers, Henry ("Fat") and Hub in season two.
grandson, Hub ("Hubert"), at age 16 or 17 at that point
in the series's development, along with his younger brother, "Fat"
(Henry), then 14, are the show's greatest delight, as the episodes
trace their relationship, their lives in the town and the school,
and their growing pains. My favorite episode is one in which the town
boys gather at the railroad trestle just outside town to dare each
other to jump down into the river far below, the local rite of passage.
Also in that episode, Hub is pressed into sitting up overnight with
the body of a classmate who tragically died.
the Canadian network abruptly cancelled the series, causing many of
its loose ends to remain untied. A Christmas movie set after Hub is
in college (and has decided not to become a priest) tried to bring
it all together, but unfortunately it raised more questions than it
answered (May Bailey's absense from that final episode being the major
one). But this is the best small-town series I think I've ever watched,
and (appropriately, since it's set in Ontario) it has the best winter
scenes in any television series, both of which (the small town and
the snow and slush) make it worth your catching when you can.
The Waltons it is, still at this writing, rerunning on INSP,
the Inspiration network. DVDs of the series are available through
Netflix, Amazon, and other outlets. Check
the production company website linked here for information on when
the series is being offered and how to order DVDs direct from the
Webmaster Jon Kennedy