Ep.7 - The System

  Original Airdate: October 24, 1974
Writer: Jeb Rosebrook
Director: Harry Harris


  "When I was growing up on Walton's Mountain, the word "honor" was hardly ever used, but its meaning was well understood. Honorable behavior was something that was expected in my family. Therefore, I found it strange when like every other freshman at school I was told that honor was a tradition, and that the heart of it was to be found in a system that governed our lives as students, and one that if ignored could end our days as members of the student body."



John-Boy is asked to help tudor a fellow scholarship student, Tom Povich who may fail his upcoming exam. Tom is on a football scholarship but must keep his grades above a "C" or he will lose his scholarship. John-Boy invites him to stay with his family while they study. At home the family gets into a game of touch football before dinner. John-Boy and Tom study for their test that evening and the following day. During the exam though John-Boy sees Tom looking at another student's paper. He is compelled by the honor system to report Tom.


A hearing is set and John-Boy chooses to represent him. At the hearing John-Boy make an impassioned plea to reduce Tom's sentence to a minor offence which will prevent his expulsion from school. He states that Tom comes from a mining family where the highest grade achieved prior to Tom was a Grade 6 education. Tom desires to be a lawyer and to go back to his hometown to represent the miners interests. He argues that Tom is pressured on both sides to have good grades and to excel at football both of which he needs to keep his performance up to keep his scholarship. In addition he has a 5:30am job shovelling coal in the furnaces at the college residence. Tom himself states that he knew the answer to the question he cheated on and only in a moment of self doubt did he question himself. John-Boy asks the council to not let a momentary lapse in judgement destroy what he believes is an honorable dream. Tom's father arrives to be at the hearing as well. Initially it was his thought to take Tom out of school but he now feels that Tom belongs in school. Although Tom is charged as guilty of cheating the council decides to reduce his charge to a minor offence and he is only expelled for one week.

Secondary Story:

  Ben is looking for some privacy but Jason keeps trying to figure out what he is up to. He catches him in the smoke house smoking cigarettes. Jason tells Grandpa about Ben's smoking and Grandpa makes a plan to keep him from taking up the habit. He takes Ben fishing and makes him smoke until he gets sick.


  "The experience with Tom Povich was one of many I was to encounter as my horizons widened beyond Walton's Mounain. They were to expand my own vision, and increase my understanding of what I'd already been taught from the time I'd been a child. And while I was a college man, and my horizons were expanding, it was still a comfort and a strength to return each night to that house, and to go to sleep to the sound of those voices whispering goodnight."

Additional Cast:


Richard Masur (Tom Povich), Jacques Aubuchon (Victor Povich), Dennis Redfield (Council President), Tom Lacy (Dr. Emory), Don Matheson (Coach), Glen Gordon (Faculty member), Tim Haldeman (Townsend), Stuart Taylor (Council member), Barbara Litsky (Council Secretary)

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