The Waltons (TV Series 1971–1981) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
38 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A breath of fresh air in 2004
Katz58 June 2004
Television has been going to the dogs over the past few years. I recently picked up the DVD set of the first season of The Waltons and have been engrossed with every episode. Each episode is like a miniature movie, with good acting and stories. And what people used to make fun of (the syrupy quality of the show) now is a welcome relief. I'd watch this over 99.9% of the junk on TV these days. One could have a field day writing about this show and comparing/contrasting it to The Sopranos. The Sopranos, a show that I enjoy equally for other reasons (I'm not counting HBO's shows as regular TV shows), is the polar opposite. That family is rich, profane, powerful, violent, confrontational, unhappy--while the Waltons are struggling (not exactly poor, despite the fact that it takes place during the Depression), wholesome, spiritual, loving, and HAPPY. The only thing I can quibble about The Waltons is the outdoor scenery. The tall mountains and pine trees are clearly in California, not Piedmont Virginia. The real Waltons mountain and home is not too far from where I live. There are signs off U.S. Route 29 directing tourists to the home, which I believe is now a museum. It may be worth a visit. All in all an excellent program. Definitely a collector's item.
57 out of 60 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Wonderful, nostalgic series of family warmth and closeness
roghache15 June 2006
This is a delightful series with wholesome values that my own family often watched together during my son's earlier growing up years. It chronicles the ongoing story of a Depression Era family living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia...often seen though the eyes of the oldest son John Boy, a budding author, who relates his family's experiences in a journal. The series follows the Walton family through both the Depression and World War II. It also portrays the career paths, courtships, & marriages of many of the children, the births of new grandchildren, and the illnesses, aging, & deaths of some of the characters.

The mother, Olivia, is a devout Baptist who must deal with an extended stay in hospital as she suffers from tuberculosis. The father, John, though perhaps a little lapsed in his own faith, runs a saw mill and is a hard working man of integrity. The couple have seven children. John Boy eventually goes off to Richmond for college, Boatwright University, and later embarks upon a journalistic career in New York. Mary Ellen, a feisty tomboy, grows up to become a nurse and marries a doctor, Curtis Willard, sent to Pearl Harbour just prior to the Japanese attack. Jason is the family's budding musician, sometimes providing lively entertainment at the local Dew Drop Inn. Ben marries at a young age the pretty Cindy, and the two are set up with charming little accommodations adjacent to the main Walton house. Erin, the pretty one with her various beaux, is employed at the local telephone switchboard and later by G.W. Haines. Jim Bob is a mechanical tinkerer, and Elizabeth the rather spoiled and generally irritating baby of the family.

Also living under the same roof are John's parents, the devilish but wise old Grandpa Zebulun and the strict & proper but feisty Grandma Esther. Years ago, it became a family chuckle that if Grandma Walton wouldn't have approved of the language, then it just wasn't acceptable! The banter between these grandparents is absolutely precious. I liked the multi generational aspects of the program with eventually four generations of Waltons. An ongoing storyline involved the stroke suffered by Grandma (and actress Ellen Corby), which restricted her movement and left her with a severe speech impediment. Also, actor Will Greer passed away, so the family was forced to grieve the loss of Grandpa.

The likable country store keeper, Ike Godsey, and his prim & snooty wife, Corabeth, appear regularly on the show. Other local characters are featured, including Yancy Tucker and a succession of various parsons (one was portrayed by actor John Ritter). Of course my favourites are the charming, elderly Baldwin sisters with their legendary Recipe inherited from their dearly departed father! Olivia and Grandma were strongly opposed to alcohol, but Grandpa would sometimes stop by at the Baldwins for a wee nip of the Recipe, actually moonshine whiskey. Some episodes also featured interactions with 'outsiders', including circus acrobats and gypsies.

Most of the individual episodes are quite engaging, and the family's interactions even during conflict show an underlying warmth. Their famous extended calls of Good Night are of course legendary! Many plot lines revolve around their various financial struggles to live a decent life during the Great Depression. The marital relationship between John & Olivia is well captured, as well as the siblings' interactions and their relationship with their parents & grandparents.

Sadly, I am not surprised that this heartwarming series is receiving a few disparaging reviews these days. Perhaps life wasn't all rosy and moral back in the 1930's with issues of poverty, racism and so forth. However, its values were generally preferable to the decaying ones of today, where materialism reigns supreme, parents & offspring alike feel entitled to their self absorbed attitude, rudeness is the norm in human interactions, the nuclear family and moral absolutes are becoming obsolete, and faith is mocked everywhere. This series represents the very antithesis of all such modern views, but thankfully, the vast majority of reviewers here still seem to appreciate it. Yes, better the Waltons than the Simpsons. My son is now a college sophomore, but admits to looking back fondly upon the series.

Indeed, these Walton characters are almost like family members in many homes, including my own. My compliments to actors Ralph Waite (John), Michael Learned (Olivia), Richard Thomas (John Boy), and all the others who brought them so vividly to life. Yes, the series can be sappy at times and may not always be realistic, but it is really not overly sentimental as some claim. Rather it is a depiction of the way we should ALL treat each other and the love, closeness, concern, warmth, and often unselfish giving that should be found in ALL our homes. Pity there aren't more TV programs nowadays that give us something worthy to aspire to.
56 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Need More TV Shows Like This One
meows1112 July 2004
Both my parents are dead and gone, but where raised in the Southwest mountains of Virginia during the depression, as Baptists, they along with myself and other members of our family watched this show every week. Several of us still watch it every morning, it comes on here at 7 am, it's a great start to my day. Every episode may not be exactly as some remember, that lived during that era, but it's a lot more true to life than most of what is on TV today. It would be nice if there were shows that even came close to this one, made now. Children and grown-ups alike could benefit from acting a little more like the Waltons, than a lot of people they try to imitate from TV in this day and time.
49 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
I truely believe that this program is my all-time favorite
nelson_l13 September 2003
I truely believe that this program is my all-time favorite. I had been married two months when, on September 14, 1972, Earl Hamner Jr. came on the TV screen just prior to the first episode of "The Waltons" to explain the nature of the series. I remember well his dialogue of introduction and the episode that followed. "The Waltons" was well acted, well scripted and very down to earth and touching. I wasn't living during the Depression, but, my parents and my in-laws were and their stories and descriptions of the life back then during those trying times was exactly reinacted in the series "The Waltons". The writing and the cast are truely amazing as they literally make the characters portrayed come alive. I will always love the series, "The Waltons". I only wish they produced programs of this calibre today.
37 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Best TV Show in the 1970s
cinemaniac20028 July 2011
I watched this show while it was on television in the 1970s. Because I lived in a very urban and hectic setting, it was my solace. I would escape to this show as a psychological refuge - it really was that valuable. I didn't realize it at the time, but this show gave me a kind of hope for humanity that I've not seen on television since. The decay of the American family over the years has demonstrated that even more over time.

I used to look forward to each and every episode, fascinated by John-Boy and his writing. I always loved school and books, and found his writing exploits to be therapeutic and life-changing. It was at this time that I started writing journals. I had the good fortune to run into Richard Thomas in Hollywood after I'd read a book of his poetry. He had become a father to triplets and was very gracious when I mentioned I'd read his book. He was driving a station wagon filled with Pampers while picking up some orange juice at a market near where I lived.

Seeing this family interact among each other was a stark contrast to my own. My mother worked outside the home evenings, and it was my job to co-parent the children that she had with my step-father. As he was the antithesis of Ralph Waite's character, I believe this is part of the reason why this series had such a profound effect upon me. This is ironic, given that my step-father was old enough to be my mother's father. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that perhaps children in challenging familial situations could benefit greatly from viewing this show. Unlike the frothy Brady Bunch, this show presents how the core of a real and loving family could ideally operate.

For sure, the Depression Era setting would make most any modern child grateful for what he or she has today. Just about every earthly family situation is represented, from daily life at that time to careers, courtships, marriages, births, aging, illnesses and deaths.

The integrity of the parents and how they work together as a team is paramount to how this family survives. They also embrace the wisdom of their parents, who reside with them. Each child is nourished in a way that allows each of them to become whom they wish to be. This is the one aspect that mirrors my life, as my own mother was progressive in her thoughts about personal freedom.

The family dynamic between the grandparents is really entertaining and sweet. The program's multi-generational nature accentuates what is usually a bland and forced storyline in family dramas.

The other characters are charming, too, from the store keeper, Ike Godsey, his rather snooty wife, Corabeth, to the elderly Baldwin sisters and their racy "family recipe" (moonshine whiskey) which they inherited from their father. While the women in the Walton household are opposed to alcohol, Grandpa would sneak out to visit the Baldwins for a little refreshment. Other wandering characters in the show could include people as diverse as gypsies and circus acrobats, which always shown a sharp contrast to this family-centric show.

The core of this show is definitely the interactions among the family, whose simple structure and financial struggles during the Depression to live a decent life during the Great Depression. The communication and warmth are human qualities that many families today lack and viewing this show could benefit them as an example of what a truly caring family team looks like. Despite the fact that the story took place so long ago, the familial aspects of the show are timeless.
15 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Great show
Ripshin8 April 2004
TV Land is showing the series in sequence (for the most part), and I'm enjoying seeing it again, for only the second time. The acting is excellent, as are the production values. The terrible reunion shows of the 90s did not do justice to the series. They "messed" with the chronology, jumping ahead in time, for the sake of historical landmarks, when they should have respected the reality of the series. Granted, the last two seasons were strained, but I am currently viewing Season Six, the first without John-Boy, and it works quite well. Some complain that the series is a 70s version of the 30s/40s, but in 2004, I would not agree. I grew up in Virginia during the 60s, and I definitely feel that the series creators have adequately presented the dignity and attitude of the Southeast. Again, the reunion shows were idiotic. (Did these people never buy new appliances, or pave their driveway? The last reunion, set in 1969, was ridiculous. The characters were ten years younger than they should have been. The youngest child would have been around 41 years old, not 30.)

12/2006 NOTE: The current Walton's home set is NOT the original - just check with the studio.
15 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
For the television "snobs" who just don't get it
jchristie1117-121 October 2004
I can't help but be amazed at the few individuals who feel compelled to give negative reviews to this totally entertaining television show. It's one thing to accurately note that the quality of some specific episodes weren't up to the normally high standard that had been set by the vast majority, but it's a different matter completely when someone who obviously either hasn't watched any episodes, or who is basing their opinion of the entire series on one or two specific episodes, takes the time to run the series down. In virtually every case of someone taking the time to run down "The Waltons", it is obvious from their comments that either they have never seen it, they haven't seen enough of it, or they just "don't get it". "The Waltons" is fictional entertainment based loosely on the Hamner family's experiences during the thirties and forties (framed mostly against the Great Depression and WWII). It was almost never overly sentimental or "soppy" and most who have viewed the series agree that it was generally extremely well acted, written, and produced. There were very few exceptions. My wife and I raised three kids in the seventies and eighties, and "The Waltons" was, and is, universally loved and (still) viewed by all of us. The characters are almost like members of our family... and the love, devotion, and family values displayed on that series, became an integral part of the life lessons we chose to make a high priority in the raising of our own children.

The standards generally set for kids today is worlds away from those of just a generation ago, and it's not hard to see why those who were, and are, being raised without benefit of a strong family ethic might see "The Waltons" as somewhat "simple" and overly sentimental. Thankfully, these people are still in the minority. Most people still "get it" and we are forever grateful to the people who were involved in any way with the production of this wonderful television show for giving all of us a standard to which we might aspire even as society in general continues to degrade and cheapen the concept of a nuclear family at every opportunity.

To those who haven't tried it... I suggest that you do so while it is still available. I'm sure that somewhere some group of "new thinkers" is trying to outlaw shows like "The Waltons" for the very reasons that it became so monumentally popular in the first place. As a country, our standards, morals, and sense of family values is being eroded every day... we parents are very much aware of how hard it is today to instill a sense of right and wrong in our children. "The Waltons" made the "medicine" go down in the easiest and most effective way... as an integral part of an extremely entertaining TV show that everyone in the family could/can view without a worry that the wrong values might be represented in a positive light. I've seen the entire series multiple times (except the "reunion specials) and I've never seen an exception to that statement. Again,I invite the "snobs" out there to take a look... or even a second look... the vast majority knows what I know... that a very pleasant surprise awaits you if you'll just give "The Waltons" a chance.

John Christie

("Thumbs-down TVLand" and "Thumbs-up Hallmark Channel"
81 out of 96 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Ironies of Ironies
Brian Washington20 February 2003
This was one of the most popular series on CBS in the mid-1970's and it is one of the most ironic. This show came one year after CBS's infamous purge of all of its rural comedies. In 1971 hugely popular shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Mayberry RFD, Green Acres, He Haw and The Ed Sullivan show were all canceled because of the perception that they didn't appeal to urban dwellers or young people. Ironically all these shows were still in the top-10 at the time they were canceled. The next year The Waltons debuted and quickly became one of the most popular shows in the network's history, it even was responsible, in part, for the cancellation of the hugely popular Flip Wilson Show on NBC. I wonder how Fred Silverman, the man responsible for the purge, felt after this show became a hit.
28 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
The Best Family Show to Hit The Airwaves in Its Time
garyldibert2 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The year was 1972 when this show hit the air wave on CBS September 14 as a weekly series. The Waltons was based on a large close-knit family living in rural Virginia during the Depression. The Creator Earl Hamner Jr. based the series on his own childhood, which he previously fictionalized in his novel, "Spencer's Mountain". The Waltons debuted on with Richard Thomas playing the role of John Boy Walton. In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, during the Great Depression, the Walton family makes its small income from its saw mill on Walton's Mountain. The story is told through the eyes of John Boy, who wants to be a novelist, goes to college, and eventually fulfills his dream. The saga follows the family through depression and war, and through growing up, school, courtship, marriage, employment, birth, aging, illness and death. This is the true story of the Waltons. The show takes place during the Depression and then during World War II. The other case members were as followed Ralph Waite played the role of John Walton Sr. Michael Learned played the role Oliva Walton, Judy Norton Taylor played the role of Marry Ellen, Jon Walmsley played the role of Jason Walton, Mary Beth McDonough played the role of Erin Walton, Eric Scott played the role of Ben Walton, David Harper played the role of Jim Bob Walton, Kami Cotler played the role of Elizabeth Walton, Will Greer played the role Grandpa and Ellen Corby played the role of Grandma. Other original characters included Joe Conley as general store owner, Ike Godsey, John Crawford as Sheriff Ep Bridges, Mariclare Costello as schoolteacher Miss Rosemary Hunter and Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson as eccentric sisters-- Mamie and Emily Baldwin, respectively. The Waltons' first season brought critical acclaim and several awards. Both Richard Thomas and Michael Learned took home Best Actor Emmys, Ellen Corby was awarded the Best Supporting Actress honor and the series was given the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. The show also earned Emmys for writing and editing in addition to receiving the prestigious Peabody award. The series entered the top-ten in its second season and finished second that year to All in the Family. The show remained in the top twenty for the next few seasons and received several more Emmys, including two more for both Michael Learned and Ellen Corby and a Best Supporting Actor award for Will Geer. In all, The Waltons received 37 Emmy nominations and took home 13 of the golden statuettes. Three reunion movies have been produced in the 1990s for CBS. "A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion" (1993), "A Walton Wedding" (1995) and "A Walton Easter" (1997) all feature the original cast with the exception of the late Will Geer. The series opened in the fall of September 1972 with the first episode titled The Foundling. A six-year old deaf and dumb girl is abandoned on the Walton's doorstep. With loving care they teach her to "talk" with sign language. But their kindness to the foundling causes a family crisis. Elizabeth, playing hide-and-seek with the deaf and dumb girl Holly, runs into an old abandoned shack and hides inside an empty trunk, but the lid falls shut and locks itself. Holly sees what has happened and runs to get help but is picked up by her father who doesn't understand sign language and takes her away. John and the family pursue and Holly then tells them by sign language what has occurred, and Elizabeth is rescued in time. Holly's parents now realize that their little girl is not retarded and are now able to communicate with her. Based on the feelings of love this show gave I give it 9 weasel stars.
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
The Walton's series is the best show ever on TV
sara_jang15 January 2005
The Walton's series and specials really helped so many people to realize that real families do exist and that one can create the love and caring in their own lives that we saw lived on the screen. My family was a good family, but did not have the love and warmth that the Walton's did. But because of the effect the series had on me, I was able to marry and have children, and raise them to have that bond and that love that I did not know was possible until I saw The Walton's. The acting was wonderful and I watch anything that stars Richard Thomas. He can play an evil man just as realistically as the well-loved John Boy,
17 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
qljsystems9 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In the UK, the Waltons was a regular TV feature that marked out the 1970s decade, and - while its story lines contained the contemporary issue of its production time, and sometimes with a grain or two of excessive schmaltz - it remains to this day a remarkable achievement in TV history. I have to admit that my prejudices were foremost in my mind when my Brazilian wife requested me to buy the first four series boxed-set DVDs, and I advised her that I'd buy the first series only to see if she appreciated it before purchasing any more. But I was wrong. She consumed the series and, before long, I was hooked too. Nothing on TV today or or since the Waltons has ever portrayed loving, united and supportive family as courageously as the Waltons. If only I appreciated this when I was a teenager and the series came to a close in the very early 80's. By then, the world and his wife had enough of the Waltons and it was an idea that had outlived its usefulness, giving rise to a number of made-for-TV movies that were generally plot-less and nostalgic. Who would've ever guessed that in a matter of a few decades, after moral decay and worsening family values and a hefty back-catalogue of many TV series that espoused dysfunction and moral ambiguity, that the Waltons would arise like the phoenix from the ashes to entertain families around the world and educate us all in what a loving and united family looks like.

There are several comments that denounce the Waltons, because of its unrealistic portrayal of the Great Depression. They have a point - but nobody really knows how Virginian farming-community families lived during the Great Depression, because all we have are the novels and newspaper reports that focus on the drama and tragedy. In truth, the Waltons indeed do seem to be saved financially at the ninth hour by some act of compassion or sacrifice. But this is the whole point of the show. Unlike today's self-centered, egotistical, morally ambiguous solutions popularized by today's TV shows, the Waltons wasn't about portraying the Great Depression realistically, but about portraying wholesome family life. Sure, maybe such a family is a myth, but it's one worth aspiring to.

However, we mustn't forget that The Waltons depicted not only the Depression but also the struggle to survive for farming communities during the War Years, when the US industrialized. This is often overlooked, but is worth mentioning as it provides a backdrop of a historically important developments in US history. The Waltons simply portrays a world and time that has disappeared.

Every episode is jam-packed with heart and compassion and the Waltons overcome their ordeals through respect and understanding.

It's worth pointing out to the 'realists' out there that the show's pilot is a much more authentic portrayal of the Great Depression, centering around the theme of John Walton returning home through the ice and snow from Richmond to spend Christmas with his family. In that pilot episode, John-Boy and the children are acted by the same cast, however Olivia Walton and John Walton are played by different actors. Throughout the 90-minute screenplay, John-Boy is shown to be wracked by self-doubt and fears for his father's safe return in time for Christmas. The children are lost and forlorn and toil through the wintry conditions. Olivia Walton is haggard, nervy and verging on mental collapse - her character is portrayed as dark and regretful and morose. The entire pilot episode jars the soul and fails to unite as seamlessly as the subsequent series did. It took guts and vision to the producers and sponsors to back the series on the basis of that pilot, and real insight to re-cast Olivia and John Walton and polish up the scripts to focus on functional rather than dysfunctional family life.

Nobody needs reminding of how terrible the Great Depression was or how the evil banks exploited the poor and desperate. We have enough reminders about these facts today. And it's probably a sad fact that even the cast of the show had family-lives that were poor reflections of those they played in the Waltons. Even so, what people need is to see something good and praiseworthy and beautiful, something they can aspire to, rather than earthy, visceral and pessimistic. Nobody created the Waltons to address the sins of the Depression, but to deliver a show about a family where every member of the family is loved, not just by the fictional characters, but also by the viewers. I have to confess it is amazing how at home I feel when I watch an episode and how familiar the Waltons feel to me, almost as if they're extended family to me. Perhaps this is the real genius of the show and why there are so many faithful followers of the show who visit conventions, Waltons Mountain (in California!), and write to the cast and plead for more reunion TV appearances. Sure, I see the odd moment of schmaltz or social commentary, but I recognize it and ignore it in favour of the wholesome values the show espouses.

The Waltons is a gem of TV production that - like good wine - had to stand for a few years before it matured into the product that many value. It deserves to be remembered, re-watched and applauded in the annals of good TV for the sake of generations yet to come. Buy it while you can and cherish it. Future generations will probably become parents who believe that Desperate Housewives, the Sopranos, Confessions of a Call Girl, Six Feet Under, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Cold Case are family-friendly, wholesome productions.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A all time favorite TV program for families
sueleigh14 September 1999
I started in the 70's as a young girl watching The Waltons, and now I have a family that values this all time TV program. My family is not fully The Walton's lifestyle (times have changed), but I (a mom) value the family circle The Waltons TV program provides my family. The togetherness of happy and tough times for The Waltons, gives me hope still to this day, that you can work through anything and still go on. The joy of family support is there in this TV show, and much love, which you don't see on TV today. The Waltons have grandma, grandpa to run to for love and all there sisters and brothers jump in to help one other. What more can you ask for in a TV program for families? I and my family watch The Waltons as much as I can, more so I do, because I like to see others happy and getting along. All the actors and actress do a outstanding job in this TV program and have a wonderful TV setting to do it on. The mountains and a large family, there is so much to be involved in, such as picnic dinners, fishing, walking to the small store, community activities. Keep running those Waltons TV shows, because I will be tuned in.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
The best TV Show ever made!
Bob-3932 March 1999
This is my favorite show! I have my own Top 100 TV Shows and this show is #1. I don't know exactly what it is about this show that attracts me to it so much. I love it though. I have every show's name memorized. Some of my favorite characters are Leslie Winston as Cindy Brunson Walton, Lisa Harrison as Toni Hazelton Walton, Mary Beth McDonough as Erin Walton Northridge, Kami Cotler as Elizabeth Walton, Jon Walmsley as Jason Walton, Will Geer as Zebulon "Grandpa" Walton, Robert Donner as Yancy Tucker, Merie Earle as Maude Gormley, David W. Harper as James Robert "Jim Bob" Walton, Eric Scott as Ben Walton, and Ellen Corby as Esther "Grandma" Walton. I loved all of the characters even the ones I did not mention.
18 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Not the Typical Glamorous People on Television, Honest Look at Depression Era Life
classicalsteve15 February 2014
In the entertainment industry today, most casting directors want the extraordinary looks first, and then if that's present, the acting skills are then evaluated. The Walton's television series of the 1970's was an extraordinary exception. Almost none of the cast had the looks of the typical 1970's to early 1980's television stars like, Jacqueline Smith, Lee Majors, Joan Collins or Farrah Fawcett. Seeing an old woman with her granddaughter sitting at the family table and preparing beans for the family meal is something which will never be seen again on American television in the foreseeable future. They say grace at meals, and they attend the local protestant church. (Interestingly, European television shows portray more "ordinary" people.)

The Waltons are middle-class people living during the Great Depression in the 1930's. Their clothes are ordinary and even drab. The women wear very little makeup, and they drive average cars from the period. They live in a humble two-story house with small bedrooms, a kitchen and eating area. Occasionally they listen to the radio dramas at night. They don't wear furs or silk, drive in Cadillacs, and reside in a large luxury manor whose entryway is larger than most people's apartments. This was probably the most honest portrayal of a middle class family ever to air on television. The characters of the show engage in regular work: preparing meals, chopping down trees, and buying goods at the local general store. Within this show were interesting stories often centered on some kind of stranger staying with the Waltons during the course of an episode.

The character at the heart of the show was John-Boy Walton (played by Richard Thomas), loosely based on the series' writer-creator Earl Hamner. John-Boy is an aspiring writer, and at the beginning of each episode, the voice of Earl Hamner tells the story of the Waltons as if looking back to his past. The Waltons was loosely based on Hamner's experiences growing up in depression-ear Virginia. Other characters of note are John Walton Sr. (Ralph Waite), Olivia Walton (Michael Learned), Grandpa (Will Geer), Grandma (Ellen Corby), and John-Boy's brothers and sisters.

Other supporting characters lived around the town, such as Ike Godsey and his wife at the General store, and two spinster sisters who are the wealthiest of the locals. The Waltons and their surrounding community are Protestant Christians who frown on things like alcohol, even though most likely the story is set just after Prohibition. Every once in awhile, Grandpa, my favorite character of the show, would spike lemonade with a "secret formula" and then plead innocence when it was found out. One Walton trademark which kind of entered into the American lexicon is the voice-overs which occur at the end of each episode where the characters speak about what they experienced, a bit like the ending jokes of many television westerns and even Star Trek. The voice-overs always occurred with a birds-eye view of the Waltons' house at night with a couple of the windows still lit. Then after all the good-nights were said, the light in the windows would dim. (I remember seeing a Mad Magazine spoof of Star Trek with an illustration of the hull of the ship, and the captions read: "Good night Captain. Good night Mr Spock. Good night John-Boy.")

One of the few television series which portrays a family dealing with the real issues of family life in the 1930's. Not glamorous, not beautiful, but very real. If you're interested in seeing something of substance, try the Waltons. However, if you wish to see a production which takes you to fantasy-land, like Charlies's Angels, best look elsewhere.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Negative Comments over the Years
bozey4511 June 2008
One of the most air-headed comments over the years has been "This series does not in anyway depict the average depression era family." I heard this comment just recently by a talk show host talking about 70's TV shows. Well, duh!, it depicts the depression era family of Earl Hamner the show's creator and has nothing to do with "the average depression era American family." How even some supposed TV critics came up with that for a reason to be negative against the show has always puzzled me. The show was as I understand it true to life for the area around Schuyler, VA., the home of Earl Hamner. A couple of the characters on the show were composites of his actual siblings (he had one more sibling than the Waltons). A special that aired in the late 1970's united his real brothers and sisters with their TV counterparts. The program is hugely successful worldwide and I'm glad that most comments are by and large supportive of the show and always have been save for that few who can't get their facts straight.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Timeless Television
Roddy-84 July 1999
As a child, I remembered watching this programme and enjoying it for the simple stories and the beautiful scenery. Now, as I watch the repeats, I realise what really good actors these people were. They were so good, I still think it was all real. I cried today as I watched the episode called "The Parting". It is the one where Olivia discovers she has TB and leaves for the hospital. The scene where she says goodbye to the family was heartbreaking. Ellen Corby, struggling against the effects of her stroke, still produces an absolutely moving performance and Ralph Waite and Michael Lerned were terrific. I cannot get enough of this series and I doubt if there will ever be anything like it on TV again. Rest in Peace Ellen Corby and Will Geer. God bless the rest of the Waltons and their friends and neighbours.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
The sweetest show out there
nerdygirl25 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Being a teenager today, and seeing the choices of TV shows out there for me, I'm glad my mother instilled in me at a young age a love for the Waltons. Re-runs of the show most every night as we ate dinner. I grew up about 2 hours away from Schylur,VA., which is the town Walton's Mountain is based on some what. Now, I have no knack for telling what kind of trees are being used and whether or not they are found in that area. I'm not a scenery kind of girl, stories and plots interest me the most. I grew up in a family about as far away from the Walton's as you could get. So, i guess part of it's appeal is that it is a way of escape. But however much of an escape from my crazy family the show is, it wasn't always a perfect family. They had their problems. In one episode, Grandma and Grandpa even separate for a while, don't remember which season it was in. What ever problems there were, were always solved in one hour, maybe two, for the bigger problems.

Any way, it's sweet, yes, it can be sappy at times, some of the acting is a little stilted, but over all, a 8/10. I'm proud to say that one of my gifts for my 18th Birthday was the 1st season on DVD and for my Christmas last year, I received a behind the scenes book, titled "Good Night, John-Boy". And when I next get some spending money, i will buy season 2, and I hope that eventually the whole series will be out on DVD. Because, one day, when I have children, I'd like to share this special series with them.

2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
The Great Depression Doesn't Get Any Better
cutterccbaxter14 January 2005
This show is about a large rural family during the Great Depression and WW II set in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When the show starts out most of the kids in the family don't wear shoes. The episodes with Richard Thomas as John Boy Walton are the strongest. He plays the oldest of the Walton children, who wants to eventually leave the family home so he can become a writer who wears shoes. Eventually Richard Thomas leaves the series presumably because he was tired of people coming up to him on the street and saying, "Aren't you, John Boy?" After Richard Thomas' departure the series loses its focus a bit, but the kids end up wearing shoes more often. Eventually most of the adult figures of the Walton household vanish under somewhat mysterious circumstances and the kids have the whole house and mountain to themselves. At this point they are wearing shoes all the time. The last episode has them throwing a giant party featuring ten kegs of beer and an unlimited supply of the Baldwin sister's recipe. Okay, The Walton kids would never throw a kegger, but it is still a warmly entertaining show to watch, especially during the shoeless years.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Gag me with a spoon
heckles27 August 2002
I recently turned on an episode of 'The Waltons,' as I have recently moved to southern West Virginia and wanted to see how the show's fictionalized presentation stacked up against the real thing. I watched one episode; if that episode is any indication, this show was goddawful tripe.

The most minor offense is that the show was obviously filmed in a California backlot, not in the Virginia/West Virginia mountains. More significant is that the cast looks too well fed and groomed to seem Depression era people - you can almost hear the director tell them to take off their shoes and walk barefoot to school, in order to make these 1970s people look impoverished.

Allow me to recount the plot of the episode. John-Boy has barely scraped together $2.30 for a new pair of 'britches' to wear to the dance with some girl he had set his eyes on. (Isn't the Walton family Baptist?)

Meanwhile Grandpa discovers an injured seagull on his property and fixes up a cage to nurse it back to health. -Would a real time-pressed subsistence farmer do this? Engage in this bit of creature sentimentality when he slices the throats of pigs every October to keep his family fed? No, he'd wack the bird with a shovel and throw it on a compost pile.

And best of all, an elderly Scottish widow asks John-Boy over to repair her car - seems she wants to go to the seashore. J-B repairs it, while a doctor counsels the woman not to attempt to drive long distance. Here I catch on what's going to happen: Oh-oh, John Boy. Run away from this woman, fast, or kiss your dance goodbye.

Sure enough, she hornswaggles him into driving her to the shore instead of attending the dance. The General Store doesn't mind taking back the purchased britches- even after they had been altered. J-B and the widow head off, to the coast and back in one day, although I wouldn't try that now and the area's roads were often unpaved back then. (Can't have J-B and the widow out overnight.) J-B uses the refunded $2.30 to by lobster to simulate the widow's honeymoon dinner, which leaves her with a happy glow. Lesson: young people should ignore their sex drives and focus on pleasing the elderly, no matter how irrational their demands may be. Should I mention that the widow has a fatal heart attack right after this excursion? In the last scene, Grandpa sets the aforementioned seagull free. It's a symbol of the widow's spirit, get it? GET IT?

I have to mentioned this show's politics, only because Bush Sr. in 1991 mentioned this show as what Americans really want to see, as opposed to 'The Simpsons'. It was apparently based on the idea that what America nowadays needs to hear in the 'we were poor back then, but we were moral.'

Balderdash. If there ever was a moral golden age in America, it wasn't the early '30s. Banks foreclosing on farmers weren't conveying any kind of moral lesson except the mercilessness of capital. The legions of tramps left legions of wives and children behind. For every John Dillinger and Bonnie Parker, there were a thousand people you haven't heard of who looked for the solution to want outside the law.

Contrary to the theme of the show, poverty doesn't make a society more moral. Poverty just sucks.
15 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Thank you to the Cast Crew and families for this series
catnipper404 June 2018
It takes a great cast of actors along with their knowledgeable crew to make a series like this. While these people are putting in the hours to create our entertainment, their families are sacrificing the time they could spend with them, so I thank them as well.

God Bless everyone involved. I enjoyed watching the series on Thursday nights while re-copying my English composition for class on Friday. It was easy to do this while John-Boy was writing in his journal; I wonder how many other people remember doing the same thing.

While many of the episodes stand out, The Last Ten Days is very emotional. The early scenes of The Return when John-Boy surprises his mother makes you want to hold your breath along with everyone on screen. To learn about the Great Depression and World War II, watch The Waltons.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Brilliant family drama...Remembering The Waltons on its 45th anniversary
raysond5 May 2018
This was one of the most successful family prime time dramas that came ever out of the 1970's that was a powerhouse within itself dominating the ratings for the entire nine seasons it was on the air becoming one of CBS' great Thursday night lineup of shows during its run. Interesting point about this premiered one year after CBS' infamous purge of all its rural comedies and other shows that were canceled in favor of a more progressive urban audience. The next year The Waltons exploded out of nowhere becoming one of the most popular shows in television history. Created by Earl Hamner,Jr. who also served as the narrator of the series as well as the executive producer along with Philip Caprice and Lee Rich under there production company Lorimar Productions. The series was based on the 1963 theatrical feature "Spencer's Mountain" that was written by Earl Hamner, Jr.

Originally aired as a pilot made for television movie titled "The Homecoming: A Waltons Christmas Story" that aired as a CBS Special Movie Presentation on December 19,1971 that starred Patricia O'Neal and Andrew Duggan that became a surprise hit winning both the Golden Globe and the Emmy for Best Original Program and Best Actress Category. On the strength and the commercial success of that television pilot, CBS gave the green light for a weekly series that premiered on September 14, 1972 and ran for nine seasons and 221 episodes until the final episode of the series on June 4, 1981. When it premiered in 1972, The Waltons exploded out of the gate dethroning the widely popular "The Flip Wilson Show" which was the top rated show on television. The result was a series within its nine season run won numerous Golden Globes for Best Television Series and the Prime Time Emmy twice for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Outstanding writing and Outstanding Drama Series.

The Waltons was a family oriented show that started during the Great Depression and throughout the series ended with the family facing World War II. This series was on the same level as another family oriented show that contained "no violence", "no swearing", and "no adult content".

Several veteran directors ranging from Harry Harris, Phillip Leacock, Lawrence Dobkin, Ralph Senensky, Lee Phillips, Bob Sweeney, Vincent Sherman, Robert Butler, Bernard McEveety, Ivan Dixon, Stan Lathan, and Earl Bellamy along with fantastic writers from Kathleen Hite, Paul Savage, John McGreevey, and William Welch, Dan Ullman, D.C. Fontana, and Earl Hamner, Jr. contribute to some of the great episodes this series produced not to mention here big name guest stars that came on board each week.

After CBS canceled this critically acclaimed series in the spring of 1981 six made for TV-movies based on "The Waltons" were produced for NBC and CBS between February 22, 1982 until April 27, 1997. Produced by Lorimar Productions which was the same company that brought you "Dallas", "Knots Landing", "Eight Is Enough", and "Family Matters".
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Running & Walking...The Waltons.
Culburn16 October 2014
I watched an episode where John is discovering that life is moving fast, "running" as it were. His 25th High School Reunion is taking place and he is not comfortable with the reality. This is an episode about running & walking thru life and the affect that one person has on so many others. It's a stunning piece of television as in the end it is John who is amazed that it is he who was & is the "boy most likely to succeed." And it is he who is "graveled" to silence as his classmate cites him painstakingly and at length about 25 years of running and walking and of life and lives.

Television can be so brilliant and here it is.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Good show, good acting. I still like it.
azahora1 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I remember watching The Waltons in the 90's when I was little. I recently started watching it again and I still like it. Sometimes they remind me of my family.I like how everything doesn't have any easy answer. Everything's not all black and white. The mom and dad are cute together and the grandparents are too even though grandma is always scolding grandpa. I think John Walton is one of the best TV dads because hes not stereotypical or one-dimensional. He's good, kind, hard working guy. Perhaps I'm biased because John-Boy is and always has been my favorite character. But the earlier seasons are infinitely better. I don't really understand how they could get away with continuing the show after Richard Thomas left because I thought John-Boy was the main character. Somethings missing after Richard Thomas left and no one can take his place. I feel like everyone is kind of waiting around for John-Boy to come back. In some episodes it seems like they make an attempt to have Jason take his place but it just doesn't work. Maybe they should have ended the series after Richard Thomas left. They definitely shouldn't have tried to have someone else play John-Boy. Don't get me wrong, it's not that there weren't any good episodes without John-Boy there just weren't as many great ones. As afore mentioned, John-Boy is my favorite character. I love his artistic personality and that he loves reading and poetry too (and not just to attract girls). He's a sweet, intelligent, caring guy (Why don't I ever meet anyone like that?). Pretty awesome character. He sure has a lot of girl friends which isn't that hard to understand. But I don't understand why it never works out because he's a nice guy. I always thought he was cute, and I get made fun of for this, but I still do. Anyways, good show and for the most part, I don't think it's sappy like some reviewers have said.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Wonderful family series, whatever the naysayers say
giffey-117 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have watched this series for many years, and was so glad to see it again on the INSP Network, who is running all nine seasons, as well as the fact that they produced a new "looking back" special, co-written by Mary McDonough (Erin).

This series was never as corny or sappy as many reviewers would have you believe. The children were refreshingly normal, and all the parts were extremely well acted. The story of a family in rural America, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, it showed how the family coped with the Depression of the 1930's and how the world changed with the advent of WWII, mainly as seen through the eyes of the oldest child, the son John Walton Jr. (In my opinion, the ONLY problem was his nickname John-boy. Couldn't they have called him Jack, or Junior or some other nickname that in a big city in the real world, would have gotten him beat up in school?) John wanted to be a writer, and he showed a depth and maturity far beyond his years. He depicted his family as real people with real problems, but with much love and faith. I love the series, but I must admit that I like the later seasons, as I do with any series where children start on the show. To me the children become more interesting as they grow and start to interact with the world around them. All of the children were talented and were truly actors, not just children trained to react, as so many children are today. If you enjoy this show, I also recommend what I consider the Canadian version, a series called Wind At My Back, which tells of a family in small town Canada during the depression, also on the INSP network.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews