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Warner Home Video presents
The Waltons: The Complete Fifth Season (1976)

John Boy Walton: Sometimes I wonder what we did for trouble around here before I got this newspaper started.
John Walton Sr.: We managed, son. We managed.

- Richard Thomas, Ralph Waite

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: August 30, 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: Joe Conley, Ronnie Claire Edwards, John Crawford, Conrad Janis, Nora Marlowe, Victor Izay, Robert S. Woods, Robert Donner, Merle Haggard, Mary Jackson, John Karlen, Helen Kleeb, John Ritter, Jennifer Rogers, Jason Wingreen, Tom Bower, Molly Dodd, Glenn Robards, John Carter, Mariclare Costello, Cindy Eilbacher, Rachel Longaker, Eileen McDonough, Merie Earle, Lynn Hamilton, Paul Jenkins, Hal Williams, Alan Fudge, David Clarke, Michael O'Keefe, Patch Mackenzie, Donald Moffat, Billie Bird, Wilford Brimley, Linda Purl, Jean Marsh., Lew Brown, Lynn Carlin, Melody Thomas Scott
Director: various

MPAA Rating: G for nothing objectionable
Run Time: 20h:15m:40s
Release Date: May 08, 2007
UPC: 085391109716
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

"I don't think you can ever go wrong by telling the simple truth." - John Boy Walton

Warner takes us back to the simpler times and lives of the folks of Jefferson County in the Blueridge Mountains of Virginia with the fifth season of The Waltons, based on on the memoirs of Earl Hamner Jr. The format gets a new approach with episode teasers before a shortened title sequence. World events are once again featured in a few episodes, Jim Bob becomes "James Robert" and new arrivals include Rover the peacock, Dr. Curtis Willard (who will figure prominently in the Walton family), and Aimee, adopted daughter of Ike and Cora Beth Godsey.

Like previous seasons, this one is filled with the triumphs and tragedies of the Walton family and their friends, however this time those tragedies extend into the real lives of the cast, as Ellen Corby would suffer a major stroke in early 1977 necessitating her sudden departure from the show mid season, an event which would be written into the storyline in her absense. While Corby would return briefly the following year, this would be the last season that the family would be intact for more than a single episode.

1937 would bring a number of significant changes to Walton's mountain. With his printing press located in the building next to the house, John Boy would finally realise his dream with the publication of The First Edition of the Blue Ridge Chronicle, but its debut is not without controversy when Ben makes the news as a lawbreaker. Mary Ellen's aspirations as a nurse are tried when she misdiagnoses grandma's ailment in The Vigil. When his music scholorship is cancelled, Jason is forced to take on a job at the Dew Drop Inn to pay his tuition, over the objections of his mother and grandmother who consider the premise a den of sin. Tension between Olivia and John comes to a head when an outspoken evangelist arrives on the mountain intent on converting the nonbelievers in the Ralph Waite directed The Baptism.

In an attempt to enlighten his readership about current world events in The Blue Ridge Chronicle John Boy faces The Firestorm when he decides to publish excerpts of Mein Kampf. Ben and Jason's plans for a fundrasing dance are jeopardized with the arrival of a mysterious presence in the woods in The Nightwalker.

The first of the Walton children is about to leave the nest in the season's centerpiece, The Wedding, Parts 1 and 2 as the family is estatic at the news that Mary Ellen is about to wed David Spencer, but the arrival of the town's new doctor, Curtis Willard, has her second guessing her decision. Their land is a sacred heirloom, but in a move of desperation to save his newspaper, John Boy sells the meadow that bears his name, unaware of the developer's plans in The Cloudburst, causing a rift with his grandfather in the process. In Richard Thomas' first directorial effort of the season, after John Boy's accident, the last thing Olivia wants to hear is that Jim Bob is planning on entering The Great Motorcycle Race on Ike's bike, while the Gosey's anticipate the adoption of a baby. The Walton household is always open to kin, but when meddling Aunt Martha Corinne (Beulah Bondi, who would win an Emmy for her performance) comes to stay, she manages to get on everyone's nerves, until John Boy learns the importance of her visit in The Pony Cart.

"Ma, the children have minds of their own." - John Walton Sr.

With her children growing up and everything changing around her, Olivia is hoping this will be a year to remember and The Best Christmas the family has ever had, but things don't always work out as planned. While John Boy finds himself roped into the election of a new sheriff, Grandpa discovers one of the many treasures the mountain wilderness holds—a wild horse—but in an age where anything and everything can and will be exploited, what is the price of freedom for The Last Mustang?

The Walton women face challenges as Olivia's boredom leads to a regretable decision, and Grandma's stubborness it brought to the fore when she confronts a rival organist at church in The Rebellion. There's no clowning around as Elizabeth's nightmares are cause for alarm when the circus comes to town in The Ferris Wheel, while Ben feels he is coming up short. The return to Walton's Mountain of Erin's first love, forestry student Chad Marshall, has the second eldest Walton daughter planning her wedding, with or without her family's blessing (The Elopement), then Grandpa is out of sorts when Grandma fall suddenly ill, while John's new office job may be the financial break he's been looking for, but only if he can put up with his new boss in John's Crossroad, directed by Richard Thomas.

As a chapter in her life closes with her graduation from high school, Erin is distraught that unlike many of her siblings, she has no plans for her future (The Career Girl) and when Grandam urges John Boy to salute the locals during an Honor Day for World War I vets, Sherriff Bridges does not want to be The Hero. John Boy wins the journalism assignment of a lifetime for his writing—being on hand to cover the arrival of the first transatlantic crossing of the German airship Hindenburg, but he, like everyone else is not prepared for The Inferno that follows. Grandpa's nose gets out of joint when John Boy begins publishing excerpts from his novel in the Blue Ridge Chronicle and Jason experiences the effects of The Heartbreaker when Curtis' recently estranged and very aloof sister arrives on Walton's Mountain in this Ralph Waite directed episode. The Long Night sees Grandpa bannished from seeing Esther at the hospital after his outbursts, and finding a new companion in a younger woman—the Godsey's new daughter.

In The Hiding Place, Upstairs, Downstairs creator, Jean Marsh, guest stars as a Baldwin cousin visiting from Germany, who doesn't react well to John Boy's inquisitions—meanwhile Jason's plans to enlist in the National Guard do not sit well with his mother. Tired of his lack of achievment, Ben becomes The Go-Getter when he takes a job as a used car salesman, but his slick sales pitch overlooks some serious deficiencies in the vehicles he's peddling. The final installment sets up the next season with The Achievement. When convinced to submit his novel, John Boy heads to New York city when he fears his manuscript has been lost en route to a potential publisher.

This collection of episodes retains the quality of programming established over the first four seasons, telling the story of this tightly knit family through drama and humor. Each of the children continue to forge their identities, while the adults deal with the trying times and changing fabric of life on the mountain. The cast are wonderful, bringing these characters to life in all their splendor and quirkiness, and in what had become a tradition for the series, Will Geer, Ellen Corby and Michael Learned would all receive Emmy nominations for their performances, however for the first time since the show premiered none would claim the award.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is very good aside from some minor print defects such as flecks and dust. Colors are well saturated and balanced, flesh tones are natural. Contrast is a bit strong, although this is normal for this series. There is a bit of interlacing evident in a few episodes. Easily as good as any other season if not better.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The mono audio soundtrack is clear and well presented, with a full sound quality, and minimal excess sibilance and no major defects to report. Nothing to complain about here.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Like previous season, the 5 disc set comes in double thinpaks, with episode synopses and credits on the packaging. Each disc has a "play all" feature and episode menu. Internal chapter stops are provided.

There are no additional extras.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Highlighted by outstanding performances by the entire cast, the legacy of The Waltons continues in its fifth season, as the first Walton child marries, and John Boy begins his publishing career. All the warmth and character which established the series as one of the finest dramas ever produced is again encapsulated in this twenty four episode collection, and once again gets my highest recommendation. They just don't make shows like this anymore.


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