Monday, May 11, 2009

The Waltons, Season 9, The Final Season

One of my favorite shows of all time was The Waltons. While I had many struggles as a kid, one of the things I could look forward to in my adolescence was the hope of peace and family that was illustrated in The Waltons. From 1972 until 1981 this television series captured the hearts of multitudes of viewers. I remember watching the show at my grandparents’ house in my troubled years. I will never forget my grandfather and I getting into a rather serious argument because he had another show he wanted to watch during the times The Waltons aired. He wasn’t up for new shows and he wasn’t going to change his mind. I would recall those arguments for the rest of the time my grandfather lived because it wasn’t long after that he and my grandmother became a huge fan of the show. It was a show we would share together, and I in return shared moments of what I hoped family could be. I lived with my grandparents for good reason, and while things were far from perfect on the nights The Waltons aired, I found moments of peace in a difficult life during a difficult time.

To the delight of many, Warner Brothers recently released Season 9, The Final Season of The Waltons. This 22 episode DVD is one that will please not only those original fans of the show, but it will draw in new fans to the series. While the show finished its last season around the top 20 in the Neilson Ratings, it had previously been as high as a #2 show on network television. Some would say it may be the best family series ever. It would be hard for me to argue that particular point.

While I was pleased to revisit the last season of the Waltons, and despite the numerous cast changes over the years, there were some of the typical issues related to some of the WB releases as of late. The series while still providing a quality story line up until the end offers little new to the DVD release. There are no remastering and no special features. While the visual quality of the transfer is easy to view, it is lacking in any high quality that some may be accustomed to. What remains is quality story telling and an ability to portray the characters. While there were changes over the years with some of the characters, most of the actors were able to remain in their roles over the 9 seasons, and not only did those actors remain constant in their characters, we see some of those characters develop and progress. There is especially strength in the development of the female characters, especially the Walton daughters.

Season 9 of The Waltons starts off addressing many issues the series is noted for. This season address issues from the remnants of racism, to the growth and strength of women. We follow the family near the conclusion of World War 2 and the turmoil the family goes through, from the women back home to the sons and others who are involved in the war. The Waltons, just like in the early days of 1972, continued its subtle ways of addressing social and religious themes until the completion of the series in 1981.

The Waltons continued to use as a back drop the importance of faith in not only the rural American Family, but the lives of most Americans in the 1940’s, the time frame the series took place. One of the brilliant aspects of The Waltons, is while it is made in the 1970’s and early 1980’s the show did a fabulous job of replicating the era it is made in. I believe that is one of the things that had many individuals like my grandparents loving the show, it showed in a realistic way what life was like during depression and 1940’s during World War 2. It portrayed the strength of family and for many the importance of things like religion. It isn’t unusual to see the characters turn to their faith and to prayer when trouble comes about. You even see in this season, just like others, religious issues, specific to Christianity addressed and the characters struggle with those issues, whether it be interfaith marriage, or the struggle of how African American’s were treated by many during the time frame.

As a DVD buff, I have to admit, I continue to be disappointed at the lack of special features on many of the WB DVD’s. I loved The Waltons and so many of the themes of this television show is especially relevant today. The show has more to offer and the concluding season of The Waltons is as appropriate today as it was almost 30 years ago. Among those is again, the importance of family. We see a family that loves each other, helps each other, values parents, while at the same time, valuing the concept of serving others and pulling together resources to help each other and their neighbor out.

All of those years ago that I watched The Waltons, I realize now I wasn’t that good of a person. I sometimes wonder if I am now. I do know the value of loving others, serving and speaking up for the disadvantaged is something I learned someplace. While my faith is important to me, I can’t help but wonder if those images of my youth, before discovering my faith, weren’t somehow influenced by The Waltons. I think they were. The value of loving and serving others is something many appreciate; a review of The Waltons is a good way to rekindle some of those feelings. While there is not always good from “The good ol’ days,” sometimes we need to realize, that not all was so bad either. Remembering this classic television show is one of those things that isn’t so bad, in fact, it is pretty darned good.

While the retail price of this DVD set runs around $40, you should be able to find it at various locations for around $30 or even less. Despite the lacking of special features on the DVD, the double sided discs (which I really don’t like) it is still worthwhile because the times, the reminders and the stories are worth it. If looking for earlier seasons, you can find those for less than $20 with a little searching; now those seasons, they are really worth it. Enjoy it and until next time; “Good night John Boy.”

The following is a film clip from Sesaon 9 of The Waltons. Just click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the following link:

The following is 10 minutes from the episode The Carousel

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