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Warner Home Video presents
The Waltons: The Complete Second Season (1973/1974)

"I am carried back again to those Depression years on Walton's Mountain, and the sound of those voices from the past."
- Narrator (Earle Hamner Jr.)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: April 26, 2005

Stars: Richard Thomas, Michael Learned, Ralph Waite, Jon Walmsley, Judy Norton-Taylor, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott, David W. Harper, Kami Cotler, Ellen Corby, Will Geer, Earl Hamner Jr.
Other Stars: Victor Izay, Sissy Spacek, John Ritter, Tami Bula, Linda Watkins, Hal Williams, Lynn Hamilton, Erin Blunt, Cindy Eilbacher, Michael McGreevey, Catherine Burns, Mariclare Costello, Paul Michael Glaser, Nora Marlowe, Ron Howard, Victor French
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 20h:40m:27s
Release Date: April 26, 2005
UPC: 012569681392
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BB D+

DVD Review

One of the most beloved family dramas of all time returns with the second season of The Waltons, which, through the eyes of its eldest son, John Boy, tells the story of a family living against the backdrop of the mountain that bears their name during the Depression, in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.

The second season continues in the style established in its inaugural run, while introducing new opening and closing credits, featuring a montage of sepiatone images, along with a revised version of Jerry Goldsmith's memorable title theme. The cast is a little older, but not so much so that the youngest members of the Walton household, Jim Bob and Elizabeth, aren't still very cute, however their presence is limited through most of the episodes. Blue, the mule, also makes his first appearance.

Remaining the show's principal focus, John Boy faces a number of challenges during this season, which test his character and his maturity. He must balance his own desires with the needs of others when he has to chose between going to a dance or helping an older woman fulfill one of her final desires (The Journey) or attending his graduation in a new suit (The Graduation) when a family crisis arises. He has his hands full when his friend Sarah (Sissy Spacek) returns—pregnant, and hiding out at an abandoned farm (The Odyssey). Morality and justice come into question in The Chicken Thief, when John Boy's witnessing of a crime escalates into a far more serious affair, and his aspirations as a writer take a serious blow when an arrogant substitute teacher is critical of his work. John Boy also learns to stand up to for his rights when an employer reneges on a business deal in The Car. His life is further complicated by his emotional development, whether it be his rocky relationship with the flighty Marcia Woolery, or coming to terms with jealousy when his teacher and mentor, Miss Hunter (Mariclare Costello) attracts the attentions of another man (John Ritter as Reverend Fordwick).

Perhaps the most notable installment this season is the Emmy winning (Joanna Lee, Outstanding Writing in a Drama) two-part, The Thanksgiving, where an accident at the mill threatens John Boy's ability to take his college entrance exams, while also burdoning his father with guilt over his negligence with the machinery. John Walton Sr.'s character is further revealed in The Thief when the family bread winner is accused of stealing, but refuses to defend himself, and The Heritage which finds him pondering the sale of the family estate when a realtor (Noah Beery of The Rockford Files) makes an offer that would relieve his family's financial woes in the difficult Depression years.

Grandma and grandpa get into a major spat in the Ellen Corby penned, The Separation, which is fun for a little mutual jealousy between the senior Waltons. The Awakening sees the pair facing the reality of their aging, as grandma's 68th birthday approaches, while Mary Ellen confronts her first experience with womanhood. A birthday is also the reason Olivia finds herself questioning her decisions in life in The Air Mail Man, when Starky and Hutch star Paul Michael Glasser makes an appearance as a downed flyboy. In The Cradle, Olivia discovers she is pregnant, which sparks jubilant reactions from the Walton clan except for Elizabeth, who fears she will no longer be loved as the baby of the family.

Ralf Waite directs a trio of episodes in this season—in The Fawn, John Boy gets a job as a rent collector against his father's advice, and Erin is forced to decide the fate of a wayward fawn; The Ghost Story finds the children entranced by a Ouija board; and The Five Foot Shelf in which a travelling salesman convinces Olivia to buy a book collection, even though the family can't afford it.

While each story tends to focus on individuals, what affects one in the Walton family affects them all. Life's lessons are learned through experience, and with three generations under the roof, there is a wealth of support and understanding, even when there are differences of opinion in how matters are best settled. Central to The Waltons is the strength of family and community. While the hardships of the Depression years took their toll, the members of this household had each other to rely on, and despite their differences and petty conflicts, they were a family, in a time when that meant something. Given today's society, it is hard to imagine that a time like this ever existed, and in witnessing these stories, there is a sense of loss of the kind of communities that once were.

This series remains a very special one, with a quality that transcends the passage of time. For me, watching The Waltons is like returning home. It is a warm and comforting environment, where one is surrounded by people and places we genuinely care about.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is dependent on the episode, but ranges from fair to very good. In the better episodes, the look is slightly soft, but natural, with good color saturation and contrast, and the image doesn't look artificially enhanced. I have no complaints here.

On the poorer side, which affects a handful of episodes, the transfer is overly contrasted, and has a hard, unnatural appearance, with some ringing in places, abundant grain, and aliasing. There is a fair amount of minor to moderate source debris, and a few major rips. There is the odd jump cut here and there, but I can't say with certainty whether this is original or not. It would have been nice to have the whole set up to the same standard, and I can forgive the source defects, but some of the edge enhancement is far too blatent. Fortunately, this is the exception rather than the norm.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is respectable throughout, though like the video varies in technical quality from episode to episode, though not to the same extreme. Differences are most evident in the opening theme, which can sound brittle to muddied. The episodes themselves fare better, with a generally even tonal balance, with clear dialogue, but there is some harshness and distortion on certain episodes, which may or may not be due to the original recordings.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French with remote access
Packaging: Digipak
5 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There are no special features to speak of. Menus remain simple and easy to navigate, and include a "play all" feature. There are six chapter stops, including one immediately following the opening credits, within each episode, with the exception of The Thanksgiving Story which has eight.

The set comes in a boxed, Digipack case, which houses the five discs, and also contains credits and a brief synopsis for each episode.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Its second season reaffirms The Waltons as one of the finest family dramas ever produced. The ensemble cast continues to deliver solid performances, and the stories offer a wealth of both entertainment and strong family values. While some of the technical presentation has room for improvement, it can not diminish the timeless quality of this wonderful series. Highly recommended.

 


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