Waltons, The: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD)
World War II has a profound impact on The Waltons: The Complete Seventh Season
, as does the absence of John-Boy Walton (Richard Thomas), central figure in the first six years of the popular television drama. With John-Boy offscreen, stationed in England and writing for the American "Stars and Stripes" military magazine, The Waltons
places its entire focus on the rest of the clan. One can feel a gap in the show, but The Complete Seventh Season
holds up largely because of the war's influence on storylines. Patriarch John Sr. (Ralph Waite), his wife Olivia (Michael Learned), and their large brood spend 1941 adjusting to ceaseless changes, beginning with increased demand on John's lumber mill to meet defense contract demands. With John spending more and more time off the mountain negotiating with the government like a buttoned-down businessman, operation of the Waltons' mill falls to his son Ben (Eric Scott), who has to learn what it means to be the boss of hired hands. Meanwhile, Jason (Jon Walmsley) gets closer to graduation and still makes his way by playing piano at the Dew Drop Inn. He also finds himself feeling guilty over not enlisting in the war effort, but is uncertain about whether or not he might be a conscientious objector--a position that doesn't sit well with some of the men in town.
Jim-Bob (David W. Harper) dreams (and dreams) of becoming a pilot but is too young to enlist. The laconic teen also falls in love with a girl leaning toward entering a convent--the experience is painful, to say the least. But something in Jim-Bob grows up after that and stays that way. As for the girls, Mary Ellen (Judy Norton Taylor) struggles with a full-time job as a nurse while leaving her baby at home, though none of those complications compares with the loss she endures the day Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, where her doctor husband is stationed. Erin (Mary Beth McDonough) and Elizabeth (Kami Cotler) carry on with work and school, and Grandma (Ellen Corby) gets around pretty well while suffering the long-term results of a stroke. The war affects everything on Walton's Mountain, including race relations, the clientele at the Dew Drop Inn, the employment scene. But if that's not enough change for The Complete Seventh Season, there's a whopper of a development midway through the year affecting the health and presence of Olivia in the show. There's always change on The Waltons, but none has ever been quite as extensive or sad as what happens on The Complete Seventh Season. Despite (or even because of) the withdrawal of Richard Thomas from The Waltons, there is a delicate balance between the other characters heretofore unseen. --Tom Keogh