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Ep.18 - The Gift

 
  Original Airdate: January 24, 1974
Story: Ray Goldup and Jack Hanrahan
Teleplay:Carol Eva McKeand
Director:Ralph Senensky

Prologue:

 
  "Living on Walton's Mountain we were always in touch with the motion of life. Growth and change, loss and gain, were natural and were expected. We saw the green leaves turn to gold and then fall to the ground, crumpled and grey. But all of us knew that when spring came again life would renew itself. But one summer we were faced with an unexpected kind of change that made us all wonder if the future was really a thing to look forward to."

 

Synopsis:

  John-Boy, Jason and their friend Seth are fishing for dinner. Seth wants to make a recorder because he desires to learn every instrument possible. The family finish eating a dinner of catfish with Seth and his mother for company. They gather around the radio to listen to Seth's father Red Turner perform at the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. He announces on the radio that he'll be home to see his family in 2 weeks.
  Early the next morning the boys head up the mountain to get a Apple tree branch to carve a recorder. Seth collapses from exhaustion and Dr. McIvors informs his mother Wilma that Seth has leukaemia and is incurable. Jason takes the news very hard and initially blocks out his pain by aggressively strumming his guitar. Later he avoids having contact with Seth. John-Boy stops by Seth's house to return his recorder and carving tools after leaving them behind on the Walton's porch. Red returns home just as John-Boy is about to leave. He brings his son a 10 gallon hat and cowboy suit. The excitement of his arrival doesn't last long as Seth's condition becomes known. Red decides to take Seth and his wife touring on the road so that they can continue being a family together for Seth's remaining days. Jason continues to avoid Seth but John-Boy brings him the finished recorder and Grandpa gives Jason comfort and words of wisdom to cope with his feelings. Before Seth leaves Walton's Mountain he reunites with Jason to teach him how to play the recorder.

Epilogue:

 
  "As time went on there were other occasions that necessitated our grieving, and I often think that this early brush with total loss made us better able to face those which were to come after."

Episode Notes and Interesting Facts:

 
 
  • When Red Turner returns in "The Comeback" (s4-ep24) he is played by country star Merle Haggard.
  • Dr. McIvors (Rance Howard) the doctor who examines Seth Turner (Ron Howard) are in fact real life father and son.
  • Guest star Ron Howard had already made television history playing the character of Opie Taylor for 8 years in The Andy Griffith Show. He made his Richie Cunningham debut on Happy Days only 9 days before the airing of this episode. Ron would go on to have a stellar career in Hollywood making blockbuster films.
  • Ron's Happy Day's co-star and TV sister Erin Moran will appear in "The Song" (s3-ep22)
  • Director Ralph Senensky reports that the series usually shot their night scenes as Day for Night. You can read his memories of directing this episode and others HERE.

Additional Cast:

 
 

Guest Stars: Ron Howard (Seth), Pat Quinn (Wilma Turner), Ken Swofford (Red Turner) with: Rance Howard (Dr. McIvors), Joe Conley (Ike Godsey)



 

Music from this episode:

   
Red Turner plays on the Grand Ole' Oprey
Red Turner and his bandmates play in the car as he arrives home from touring
Jason strums his guitar
Jason plays "Beautiful Dreamer" on the recorder that Seth made for him

 


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