Good night, John-Boy! Wake up and Smell the Inconsistencies

Late at night, insomnia creeps out of the the woodwork like a hulking mutant cockroach, but I have found something that helps without leaving me feeling dragged out the next day: I put a DVD in the player and watch a few episodes of old TV shows. Like hearing a beloved, familiar bedtime story, the old shows relax me and stifle the busy thoughts racing through my mind.

In our collection we have five seasons of The Waltons–every episode until John-Boy trots off to New York City to seek his fortune as a writer. I love that show, but by watching the episodes so often, I have discovered a lot of little unnoticed details. Here are some of them:

  • Grease shines on Mary Ellen’s chin, cheeks and lips at nearly every meal. Maybe she never knew how to use a napkin?
  • Outside, the space between the corner of the house and the window is about 12 to 18 inches. Inside the house, that same space occupies a large corner shelf and an old upright piano.
  • No matter what happens to anyone — friend, family, or stranger — the entire clan swarms in from all over the farm to surround, watch and listen with avid interest to whatever is going on, no matter how private.
  • Reckless, the dog, changes gender a couple of times.
  • Chance, the cow, dies, but has a miraculous resurrection by the next episode and survives well to the end of the series.
  • Blue, the white mule, apparently has a complete body transplant a couple of times.
  • After fire destroys the entire upper half of the house, the attic and all its contents remain untouched.
  • Erin runs like a chicken after a grasshopper.
  • A particular dress – black with gazelles standing on peaks – is worn by a couple of different guest stars in two different episodes, then shows up in nearly every episode after that on various extras in the background.
  • The shed magically grows from a tiny tool shed into a small house.
  • The church changes shape a couple of times
  • The school burns to the ground, but shows up exactly the same in episodes that follow.
  • Mama Walton gets her hair cut and permed, but by the next week, it has completely grown out and is in its usual fashion.
  • Daddy Walton’s favorite expression seems to be “Easy! Easy!
  • Miss Michael Learned must never have done any household chores or sewing in her life, because she peels potatoes like a three-year-old, and thrust straight pins into clothes without reason or measuring.
  • Every year the house inside seems to get bigger.
  • Dean Beck, at the university, had many body transplants. In fact, he never had the same body twice. Poor man.
  • After the four-years-long hoopla about getting John-boy prepared, enrolled and into college, they never had an episode about his final year or his graduation. Maybe he dropped out.
  • In watching a made-for-TV movie, the viewer might wonder if Mary Ellen ought to be investigated: whatever happened to her little boy, John Curtis? She has two other kids, Clay and Katie, but John Curtis has completely disappeared, and is never mentioned.
  • For a large, poor family in the Great Depression, they surely had a nice house with plenty of “extras.”

That’s probably enough nitpicking for now. You might think I don’t like the show, but I do. It’s still one of my all-time favorite programs. This just proves that if you watch a show more than a couple of time, you’re going to find flaws. Oh dear. Imperfection. Who’d a-thunk it??

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