Ep.16 - The Threshold

  Original Airdate: April 2, 1981
Writer: Scott Hamner
Director: Herbert Hirschman


  Rose is challenged by Zuleika Dunbar for the attention of Stanley's eye. John-Boy struggles to find the right message to write about to convince the University to spport the creation of a Television Studies Program which he will teach.


  "The post-war world was an era of innovation; we stood upon the threshold of a new age which was ruled by sudden change. Technical advancements in medicine, science and electronics had a profound effect on the way we lived and thought. None of us dreamed how deeply we would be affected by those advancements even though we were close by when it all began."



John-Boy visit’s Dean Beck at Boatwright University. He is broke and is looking for work so that he can continue working on his novel. He hopes to teach English but there are no opportunities open in that department. The Dean shows John-Boy a television that is broadcasting a closed circuit play that is being filmed by some students down the hall. He hopes to convince the school trustees that TV is the future and that they should be teaching a class in it the following semester but he doesn’t believe he will be able to convince them. John-Boy asks if he can try and teach the class as well. As they wrap up their conversation Jim-Bob can be seen on the screen making faces at the camera after the scene from the play finishes. He came with John-Boy for the drive.

Jim-Bob picks up some parts to build a TV from an engineering student.

John-Boy works on a script for a newscast but his siblings feel that TV should be more exciting. He is frustrated that everyone has a different opinion about what it should be. He ends up writing a drama and shows it to Dean Beck at the University. The Dean feels that the Trustees will be expecting something more classical and academic that can demonstrate the educational value of television. John-Boy tries again. He writes a script that features the nine muses of Greek mythology to represent the different aspects that television can be used for. He asks his sisters to read different parts but they can’t stop laughing at the idea. Jim-Bob listens from the kitchen table while working on the wiring of his TV project. He causes a short circuit and gets a shock and blows the fuses to the house. His siblings help him back on his feet but he is more determined than ever to get the TV working.

John-Boy continues to work on his script. John Curtis comes out to the porch and wants John-Boy to read him a story. Even though he has to be at the University in an hour to present his message to the school trustees via television he takes the time to read from his story book anyways. This gives him the inspiration on the message he presents in his TV address.

Jim-Bob completes his TV but only gets static on the picture tube. Jason helps him to run an antennae wire from the top of the mountain down to the house. A number of members of the community get caught up in the excitement. They all gather around Jim-Bob’s TV to watch John-Boy’s speech.

Secondary Story:


Rose and Stanley Perkins walk to the Godsey store and are almost run down by a car driving erratically past them. It is driven by Zuleika Dunbar who runs the boarding house. At the store she eyes up Stanley and begins to chat him up. She talks him into reluctantly teaching her some driving lessons and she insults Rose about her weight.

Rose begins a mission to lose weight so that she can buy a dress she likes that Corabeth has for sale. She won’t let Zuleika get the better of her. At breakfast she passes on the normal offerings and eats a light meal. She has plans to sit up with Stanley that evening and becomes concerned when he is late. Zuleika arrives with him after her driving lesson. She had gotten the car stuck in mud and it took the better part of the day before Stanley could free himself to get to the Walton house. Rose is quite upset by the situation and suggests that they carry on their way and call it a night.

Zuleika stops by the Walton house looking for Jim-Bob to fix her car. Rose gives it a try and purposely switches her distribution cables. The car starts up fine at first but then begins to backfire. Zuleika eventually walks back to see Rose and complains about how she made things worse. She wants to get the car fixed so that she can continue her lessons with Stanley. She then decides to ask him for a ride to a meeting she has that evening. Rose tries her best to keep them apart but Zuleika is very cunning. Stanley stops by to reaffirm his affection for Rose but Rose says he is welcome to his scheming hussey. She passes out while doing chores around the house. She has been starving herself. Mary Ellen and Erin hatch a plan to sew a dress like the one Rose likes at Ike’s store. They present the gift to Rose and she is so excited to try it on. The girls tell Rose to come model the dress in the living room when she is ready and that there is another surprise waiting for her as well. Stanley Perkins hands her a bouquet of flowers and says that she has no need to change herself on account of him. She has always been the apple of his eye.


  "The Board of Trustees did decide to develop a Television Department at Boatwright. Not only did it enable me to complete my book but it was a turning point in my career as a writer. Television became the most awesome tool in mass communication ever to be developed, and all our lives on and off Waltons Mountain were never to be the same."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • This episode was written by show creator Earl Hamner's son Scott who would also write the final episode of the series.
  • Ivor Francis who plays the role of Dean Beck previously played Prof. Hoadley in "The Breakdown" (s4-ep6)
  • Dean Beck’s first name is Raymond.
  • During the closing "Goodnights" Elizabeth asks John-Boy about appearing on T.V. When she asks what the title would be if he could create a television show of his own he replies, "I don't know, since I write best about this family, I guess I'd call it The Waltons."

Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Peggy Rea (Rose), Robert Wightman (John-Boy), Michael and Marshall Reed (John Curtis), Leslie Winston (Cindy Walton), William Schallert (Stanley Perkins), Pearl Shear (Zuleika Dunbar), Ivor Francis (Dean Beck), Mindy Dow (Urbania), Colleen Casey (Melpomene), Karen Louise Scott (Erato), Young Boy (Jonathon Woodward)

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