Talk about your hit show running out of steam. The Waltons is the perfect example of a show that outstayed its welcome. When it first took television audiences by storm in 1971, it became a cultural phenomenon. But by the show’s ninth and final year as a regular series it was 1980 and the country, the world, for that matter, had changed. It didn’t help matters that Richard Thomas had left the show, and his popular John Boy character, behind. The show’s core fans remained, but America’s love affair with The Waltons was clearly over. The show continued with 6 specials, often around holidays that brought the now scattered family back to Walton’s Mountain and our television screens. The last of these reunion films aired in 1997. They are not included in this final season set. I would expect they are awaiting their own release, much as the Columbo series has done.
John (Waite) and Olivia (Learned) Walton lived on the Walton land high atop Walton’s Mountain. The land had been in their family for generations. They shared their home with Grandpa (Geer) and Grandma (Corby) Walton and 8 children. At first we found the family in the heart of the Great Depression. They series had a Little House On The Prairie feel to it. The stories took place mostly in that small town where they all lived. The family would suffer one hardship or another and overcome weekly obstacles by sticking together as a family. As the years moved on, the series entered the World War II era and some of the boys would end up fighting in the conflict. By far the breakout character became John Boy, who was first played by and made famous by Richard Thomas. In the last season the character was covered as a recurring character by Robert Wrightman. It would never be the same.
Each episode of The Waltons is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. The color bleeds, and there’s a serious lack of definition. I know the series was originally lensed on film, and you can see a ton of specks and artifacts to prove it, but it appears this transfer comes from a video source. It looks as though it had been dubbed. Everything about this transfer is weak and reflects little to no effort to restore it.
The Dolby Digital Mono track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation.
If you need another reason to avoid the set: How about double-sided discs?
This one is strictly for the fans. Even if you were inclined to check the show out, this is not the place to start. Not only will you not really know these characters, but this is not near the best that The Waltons has been. You would be doing a disservice to start here. Of course the fans are happy to have a nearly completed collection, so that they are free to visit Walton’s Mountain whenever they please. For the rest of us, we’re happy as can be to say, for the last time, “Good night, John Boy”.