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Warner Home Video presents
The Waltons: The Complete Fourth Season (1975/1976)

"As with most families everywhere, on Walton's Mountain we were faced with all kinds of troubles, large and small, some growing out of personal weaknesses, others thrust on us by our changing world. Mostly, when trouble struck we drew together, united against a common enemy, and came out of the struggle closer than before. But one year my family suffered a loss that rather than bringing us closer to one another, scattered us, and threatened to destroy the fabric of our lives."
- Narrator (Earl Hamner)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: March 09, 2007

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: Mariclare Costello, Cindy Eilbacher, Mary Jackson, Helen Kleeb, Nora Marlowe, Joe Conley, John Ritter, Ronnie Claire Edwards, George Wallace, Erin Blunt, Basil Hoffman, Tim Haldeman, Zachary Charles, James Gammon, Lynn Hamilton, Lynn Carlin, Richard McKenzie, Jay Robinson, Tom Bower, Lee Purcell, Rance Howard, Michael O'Keefe, Tammi Bula, Jackie Earle Haley, Morgan Paull, Bruce Davison, Brian Avery, Stephen Collins, James Karen, John Crawford, Richard Hatch, Wilford Brimley, Robert Donner, David Clarke, Kathleen Quinlan
Director: Ralph Waite, Richard Thomas, Ivan Dixon, Harry Harris, various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 20h:32m:12s
Release Date: January 23, 2007
UPC: 085391108849
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

One of the finest family dramas ever created for television returns as Warner brings all twenty four episodes of the fourth season of The Waltons to DVD in this five DVD set. Based on the memoirs of author and narrator Earl Hamner Jr., the series continues the story of a large family living in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia during the 1930s, as told throught the eyes of eldest son John Boy. Both Ralph Waite and Richard Thomas take turns behind the camera directing a pair of episodes each, while Michael Learned and Ellen Corby would take Emmy's for their performances.

The year is 1936, and there are events shaping in Europe which will change the course of history. Likewise, on Walton's Mountain, the year will bring changes, both tragic and endearing as the Walton family faces their own inner struggles as the children grow and stretch their wings. Many strangers and former acquaintances will cross their paths, each leaving an indellible impression on the household.

In the season opener, The Sermon, when Reverend Fordwick (John Ritter) takes time off for his honeymoon with new wife, school teacher, Miss Hunter (Mariclare Costello), apprehension runs high as John Boy is delegated with delivering the church services while Olivia is called to serve as substitute teacher.

John Boy's heart strings are pulled as he falls for a aerial dare devil in The Wing Walker, and the return of his high school sweetheart (The Emergence) brings unexpected news. The season finale, The Collision, introduces another young woman whose ambitions may take John Boy far away from home as a foreign correspondent. When a movie crew arrives on Walton's Mountain, John Boy's talents are recognized at the expense of his mentor, Porter Sims (Richard McKenzie - The Abdication), while a boy genius learns some lessons in sociability when John Boy is encouraged to give him a taste of family life (The Genius). In The Boondoggle tension arises when a WPA writer arrives on Walton's mountain, whom John Boy introduces to the Baldwin sisters over Grandpa's objections, but their family recipe isn't the only thing the writer uncovers. John Boy's reticence over his responsibility as The Big Brother comes to bear whan a runaway has the household enchanted.

Concern grows in the family as Jason's musical ambitions stretch his ability to cope with all his responsibilities (The Breakdown). Feeling unappreciated, Ben leaves home and winds up working for a rival mill in competition for a lucrative contract (The Intruders), and when Jim-Bob investigates the idea that he was adopted he stumbles on The Secret about his birth. Her future is on the line when Mary Ellen takes an entrance exam in The Nurse, but she is dead set against Grandma's enthusiastic plans for her traditional coming out celebration (The Quilting).

Conflict rears its head when the eldest Walton daughters vye for the attentions of a forestry student in The Competition, and Zeb and Esther are at odds over the fate of a decrepit landmark slated for demolition (The House). Reunions bring aprehension as John faces feelings of inadequacy on the eve of his twenty-fifth high school reunion (The Prophecy), and Zeb is reluctant to attend a get together of his fabled comrades from the days of the Rough Riders.

Kin are always welcome at the Waltons, where Olivia's recently widowed niece (whose wedding was central to the third season's The Shiveree) shares her bereavement with the family in The Loss while cousin Vera (Lindsay V. Jones, first introduced in The Conflict), has separated from her husband (Richard Hatch) in The Estrangement.

The season centerpiece is the two-part The Burn Out which finds the Walton family members dispersed to friends and neighbors in the wake of a fire that destroys their home—a tragedy has a profound effect on the entire family. John Boy and Grandpa both suspect their actions caused the blaze, Erin vows a life of humility after her actions during the escape, while Elizabeth fears that her adoration of the things she loves is the cause for their destruction.

The fourth season also introduces a new member to the Walton farm, Myrtle the goat (courtesy of neighbor, Maude Gormley, who features in a couple of episodes), and sets John Boy up as a newspaper publisher.

The cast continue to deliver exceptional performances, once again cementing the chemistry of this television family. Although Hamner's portrayal of life during the 1930s is somewhat romanticized, the writing too remains of a consistently high standard, allowing for many quieter moments which add to the realism of the characters and their situations, but there are lapses of excessive melodrama to be found, such as in the Ellen Corby penned The Search where Olivia, Elizabeth and Jim Bob get lost in the woods following a car accident, only to have matters made worse with encounters with a bear and a thunder storm. Still, despite a few lesser installments, The Waltons retains the atmosphere that gives it its timeles quality.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Those who own the first three seasons will find few surprises in this set when it comes to image quality, which is quite good overall, despite a fair number of minor source imperfections such as scratches or dust specs. Colors are generally well saturated, although hue is somewhat shifted in places. Like previous seasons, source quality varies by episode, and a few open with non original credits (titled The Best of The Waltons).

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is clean for the most part, with no major distractions. Dialogue is easy to discern, and apart from some occasional hiss the soundtrack is free of distortions or other anomalies.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Packaging: Thinpak
5 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: DVD-18

Extras Review: There are no supplements for this release.

There is a "play all" feature, plus individual episode selection, with six chapters per episode. The five disc set is boxed, with three Thinpak cases inside, each featuring episode credits (writer, director) and airdates along with a brief synopsis.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

The fourth season of The Waltons continues to deliver the quality family entertainment that has made it an enduring favorite. Recommended.


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