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Ep.3 - The Fighter

 
  Original Airdate: September 25, 1975
Writer: Andy White
Director: Ivan Dixon
 

Description:

 

A boxer arrives on Walton's Mountain with plans to use the winnings of a fight to help his community. Verdie Grant is shocked by his un-christian like behaviour and is appalled that Olivia would allow him to stay and train at her home.

Prologue:

  "When I was growing up during the great Depression, I often marveled at the road which connected us with the rest of the world, and which brought us friends and strangers. The road afforded us our isolation, and at the same time provided a link wth the rapidly changing cities. Here on Walton's Mountain there was a "Y" in the road, where a fateful decision was to be made by a new friend, a decision that was to involve the entire family."

Synopsis:

 

A stranger, James Trevis Clark arrives at the Mill and asks John for a job in exchange for room and board. He states that he is looking for privacy and fresh country air and is more than happy to sleep in the barn. After he puts in a hard day’s work he spends the rest of his time running, skipping rope and training. John-Boy figures that he is training as a prize fighter. Olivia and Grandma take issue with the bad example he is setting for the children. John-Boy is curious about his motivation to fight and wants to write a story about him in the Jefferson County Journal. James tells him that he is booked for a fight in Richmond in a few weeks. He needs a manager, bucket boy and corner man.

 

Verdie catches her son Jody learning to box. She states her shock that Olivia supports his activities and want nothing to do with his blood money in helping to build a church for her community. When the children get all riled up Olivia has enough and demands that he leave. John is resistant and regards him as the best worker he's ever hired. But when she overhears James preaching in the barn she has a change of heart. She learns that he plans to use the prize money to build a country church in their community.

The next day John-Boy takes him to the gym in Richmond and they learn that James has been set up to lose the match. They are physically threatened if they don't abide by the promoter’s plan who expects to make a lot of money betting on the fight. James has no intention of throwing the match. Back at home John-Boy announces that he has taken on the role as James’ manager. Concerned about their safety John and Zeb join the fighter’s team as well. The night before the match James stays up reading Bible stories that John-Boy has written. He is impressed and says that words have more power than fists.

At the match James is billed as “The Ebony Flash”. The fight is broadcast from the Richmond Arena. At the last moment his opponent The Comet Kid is replaced by the Pennsylvania State Champion Mighty Iron Mike McCoy but James decides to continue with the fight anyways. At the Walton house the boys tune the fight in on the radio and the girls sneak down to listen as well. Olivia and and Grandma join them as well. Each fighter is knocked down to the mat but James is finally knocked down for one last time. Later back home Verdie stops by to help James with his recovery. She had listened to the fight with her son Jody on the radio as well. The black community collects money to help build the church that James had hoped for.

When James sees the crowd gathered inside the rough framed church he states that maybe he didn't lose after all. He chooses to tell one of John-Boy’s Bible stories for his first sermon.

Epilogue:

 
  "That Sunday and for several months to follow, this was the only church that James was to have. When a suitable replacement was found, James Trevis Clark insisted on moving on, for as much as he longed to be in the country, he returned to the streets from which he had fled. Working with youngsters, he was to live his religion on the playgrounds he established. Hundreds of boys and girls, both black and white, would turn to James Trevis Clark for leadership."

Interesting Facts:

 
 
  • Cleavon Little played the character of Hawthorne Dooley in the pre-series TV movie to The Waltons, "The Homecoming".
  • James call Reckless the dog a girl. This is interesting to note as Reckless is assumed to be a boy until she gives birth to puppies in Season 8.

  • "Old Shep" is a song written and composed by Red Foley and Arthur Williams in 1933, about a dog Foley owned as a child.

Additional Cast:

 
 

Guest star: Cleavon Little (James Trevis Clark) with: Lynn Hamilton (Mrs. Foster), Zachary Charles (Ben Rafferty), Erin Blunt (Jody Foster), James Gammon (Zack), Russ Grieve (Ring Announcer), Martin St Judge (Church Elder), Brett Hadley (Radio Announcer), Jack Nickerson (Iron Mike), Gary McLargy (Comet Kid), Charles Picerni (Sparring Partner)

 

Music from this episode:

   
Grandpa sings "Old Shep" to Reckless the dog
Jason plays in on his guitar to the rhythm of James' skipping
Scene transition instrumental #1
Jason plays his arrangement "Tatoo Blues" on the piano
Scene transition instrumental #2
Music heard as the community works to build a church. The black community sings "Shall We Gather at the River" as they welcome James Trevis Clark to the pulpit

 


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