22 April 2004 | Ripshin
More good, than bad
Recently, I watched the 1995 reunion special that followed this one, "A Walton Wedding." It was quite bad, so I had little hope for this one. Originally, I had taped this special when it aired in 1993, but at that time, I had not seen the original series for ten years. Now, in 2004, I am avidly watching the old re-runs on TVLand, so the comparison is immediate.
They got the mood right here, even if the set design and costuming left a lot to be desired. And, of course, there's the time-table debacle. Choosing 1963 is ludicrous, especially when John Walton (the father) comments that Grandpa has been dead for fifteen years. Since he died in 1940/41, the year would be 1955/56. (The reason it's uncertain...between seasons six and seven of the original series, they jumped forward a year, from Spring 1940 to Fall 1941, so Grandpa's death is not exact.) Regardless, for a series that held so close to a distinct time-line, this variance is annoying. As a previous poster stated, the grandchildren should be much older, as of course, should the original kids.
It is great to see the cameos, though Aimee Godsey's character is short-changed. Plus, where's Mary Ellen's 22 year-old son, John Curtis? Obviously, everyone should be ten years older than they are portrayed.
The house interior should be more updated. The exterior is not as authentic as the original, which burned down prior to this special. It is my understanding that they rebuilt it on the same spot.
The women's costuming is fairly accurate, but the men's hairstyles are way off. I didn't get a 1963 vibe.
Storywise, I'm disappointed with John-Boy's position, and you'd have expected the Walton lumber mill to have grown in 20 years. In the old series, Elizabeth was preoccupied with detectives, so I expected a different career for her. And what's up with Walton girls and marriage? Plus, why do Walton boys marry such shrews??
But, again, this is far better than the 1995 sequel, and the final 1997 special. Maybe they'll do one more, but I bet they'll set it in 1976, or some such crazy year, and further distort the reality.
I tried to contact the guy who runs the official Walton's web site, but he wasn't very hospitable. Two years ago, there was a rumor of another special being made, but it proved false.
Again, it is great to watch the original series on TVLand. It is my memory that season eight and nine left a lot to be desired, especially after "Olivia" left, and they replaced John-Boy.