The Waltons: Season 1, Episode 23

The Townie (8 Mar. 1973)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama, Family, Romance
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 44 users  
Reviews: 1 user

John-Boy refuses to take friendship with a neighbor's sheltered daughter to the next level.



(created by) (as Earl Hamner) ,
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Episode credited cast:
Olivia Walton (as Miss Michael Learned)
Erin Walton (as Mary Elizabeth McDonough)
Eric Scott ...
David W. Harper ...
Jim-Bob Walton (as David Harper)
Earl Hamner Jr. ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Crawford ...
Theodore Albert Claypool Jr.


Rewarded for excelling in a bible-studies test, Sarah is taken to her first picture show by John-Boy, with reluctant approval of her hovering mother. Sarah is looking for a way out from under her mother's smothering attentions and sees marriage to John-Boy as the answer. John-Boy isn't ready for such a step (nor does he love Sarah), so she plots to elope with a rich boy she knows. Written by Ron Kerrigan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family | Romance




Release Date:

8 March 1973 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When John Boy and Sarah are sitting in back of the truck, riding back from the picture show, there is a man in sunglasses to the left of the screen, and appears to be riding along on the outside of the truck. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: [narration as John 'John Boy' Walton, Jr. reading from his journal] I will never forget the first time I took a girl to a motion picture show. Her name was Sarah and she lived on the other side of Waltons Mountain in a little back-woods hollow; and what happened was more astonishing to me than anything I could have imagined if I tried to write a story about such an innocent pleasure.
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Features Forbidden Heaven (1935) See more »

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User Reviews

Young folks need the right amount of freedom
18 February 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Here we feature the narrator remembering the first time he (John-Boy) ever took a girl on a date to see a motion picture. The guest star, playing John-Boy's date Sarah, is Sissy Spacek, who seemed to me to be practicing her Loretta Lynn accent already, even though it would be 7 years before she played the singer in the movie Coal Miner's Daughter.

When John-Boy arrives for the date, he is riding the back of the family truck with John driving and Jason, riding shotgun. Sarah's mother seems reluctant to let her daughter date, even though it is an afternoon date just to the movie house and they won't even be alone in the vehicle.

At the theater, Sarah is spotted by an acquaintance, a young man named Ted Claypool, who seems more interested in talking to Sarah than to his own date. In the truck en route back home, she tells John-Boy that he tried asked her out right in front of his date. She also tells John-Boy that she'd marry him right now if he just asked.

A shocked John-Boy tries to talk realistically, since they are still in high school, about his goals, but she doesn't want to hear it because she is so eager to break free of her mother's tight control. We learn that since her daddy died, her mother seems to get no joy out of life and doesn't welcome Sarah having any either.

Sarah starts seeing Ted, while telling her mother she is visiting at the Waltons', and she and John-Boy spend much time not communicating effectively, largely because she is eager for her chance to break free, while he has long-range plans. The entire Walton family is impressed with the fancy LaSalle auto that Ted drives, although the older folks realize immediately that his father gives him too much freedom.

There is plenty of tension as Ted and Sarah decide to advance their relationship—and I am not talking about an overnight date. John-Boy, while not too romantically interested in Sarah, feels responsible for trying to keep her from making a big mistake.

The minor plot deals with a duck egg that Jim-Bob nurses, and different people's ideas of what to do with a bunch of little ducks.

Any series that focuses on teenagers naturally deals with the subject of how much freedom they should be given by their parents in living their lives. It's an eternal struggle for parents to give enough freedom to let them grow, but not so much that they make mistakes that cannot easily be corrected. This episode deals with this matter, particularly with Sarah and Ted.

Sissy Spacek did a fine job, but this episode just seemed a little too basic to get a high rating from me. I guess part of it is because anyone could tell right at the start that Sarah wasn't at all the "right" girl for John-Boy. There were virtually no comedic moments and the serious drama (that I didn't spoil) seemed a bit over-the-top. I can't give it more than a 6.

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