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TV episode review: The Waltons "The Romance"

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The Waltons "The Romance" (Season 3 Episode 5)
reviewed by JMW

This episode starts when John Boy sees his mother sketching out on Walton’s Mountain. Impressed by her talent, he urges her to take art lessons at the high school in Charlottesville. She protests, cant afford it – he points out its free; no time – he points out only one evening a week. Her final argument is she has no way to get there, and he tells her he will teach her to drive.

The family is a bit stunned by this news, all except John, who remembers that she always like to paint, and sees it in light of the time he decided to go off on a fishing trip, and now she’s the one in need of a change.

Finally Olivia has her license and goes into town for the art class, taught by a young teacher named Joshua Williams (Selby). He is a pleasant, soft spoken, polite young man, and we soon start to see that although his behaviour is perfectly proper, he is developing an affection for Olivia. She on the other hand, only sees friendship and someone new to talk to and learn about things far removed from her everyday life.
Things come to a head when, after an all day trip to a museum with other students, they return from Richmond to Charlottesville. Joshua is walking Olivia to her car then suddenly kisses her. She is shocked and surprised, and apparently so is he. Olivia decides that she doesn't want to go back to class, since although she knew he was attracted to her, she didn't think it would go farther. John is concerned, but clearly knows he has nothing to fear. He urges her to see Joshua again and settle things personally. She is thinking about it, but the decision is taken out of her hands when Joshua comes to the house the next day to see her (beginning his rather awkward visit by sitting on her knitting).

They speak in polite generalities, but Olivia tells him quite gently that she loves the life she has; yes, she wonders sometimes how things could have been different if she made different choices, but she is content in trading that for what she has now. Joshua accepts this, and apologizes for his impulsive action. John comes in and meets Joshua, who asked him very politely if he would object if Mrs. Walton continued on with the classes. John, secure in his wife and in the knowledge that this is a decent man who will take this no farther, agrees, and Joshua drives off.

This is a wonderful episode, well plotted and true to the established characters of The Waltons. Both the writer and the director, Ivan Dixon (better known as the actor who played Kinchloe on Hogan's Heroes) did a fine job. Selby's character fits plausibly into this background, and as an actor he melts right into the character of this shy, soft spoken young teacher who suddenly finds himself in love with his new pupil. A good amount of the time he has no lines, and establishes character and the fact that he is in love with Olivia simply with facial expressions, and a look in his eyes as he observes her. Very nicely understated, and true to the 1930's setting.

And an amusing side note on the screen caps. The airdate for this episode was 10/10/74, or a few years after Dark Shadows went off the air. Yet from the screen caps (and part of this may have been the way the role needed to be played) he seems many years younger. Or, as a friend and I said nearly simultaneously in IM after I showed her some shots "I wonder if he was still being carded when this was filmed?"

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