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The Waltons return in a new TV movie

By Francine Brokaw - Special to the Daily Herald | Nov 27, 2021

Courtesy photo

Executive Producer Sam Haskell, Ben Lawson as John Walton, Bellamy Young as Olivia Walton, Christian Finlayson as Jason Walton, Richard Thomas, Logan Shroyer as John Boy Walton, Tatum Sue Matthews as Erin Walton, Marcelle LeBlanc as Mary Ellen Walton, Samuel Goergon as Jim Bob Walton, Callaway Corrick as Elizabeth Walton, and Director Lev L. Spiro.

From September 1972 to June 1981l, families gathered around their TV sets to watch the story of one family — The Waltons. The series covered the time from the depression and World War II. Even though there were tough times, this TV family brought real families together for a cozy hour each week. Sure, they had their problems and spats, but at the heart of the show was their love, appreciation, respect and generosity for each other and for others. In 1971, a movie, “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” brought viewers the Walton family. The movie was so popular it brought about the series.

Now, 40 years since it ended, a new Walton family hits the small screen in “The Waltons’ Homecoming.” If the cast and Executive Producer Sam Haskell have anything to say about it, this movie will lead into a new series.

Richard Thomas portrayed the oldest Walton in the series, introduces the new movie and narrated it. He said, “It’s a story about human kindness and compassion and love. It’s a story about family, a family called Waltons.”

The cast and Haskell met virtually with the media to discuss the show, their past, and what they hope will be the future of this beloved family.

Right off the bat, Thomas was asked if he mentored Logan Shroyer, who takes over the role of John Boy.

“I didn’t say anything about what he should do, I just said, ‘Have a good time, have fun and make it yours.’ And he certainly did. I mean, I think it’s a beautiful achievement. I love, love his performance, but I’d be the last person in the world to give advice about, to another actor about playing a role. Because you can only be yourself and make it yours, and that he’s done a beautiful job of it. So, I’m real proud,” he said.

Fans of the series will notice the character of Ben — or at least his absence in the movie. As Haskell acknowledged, it was because of time constraints in doing a single movie. If it does become a series, the executive producer is planning on bringing back all the family members. There are also some differences between this TV movie and the original series. Namely, the grandparents do not live in the same house. And speaking of the house, the one we all know and love is no longer standing.

“It was on the backlot here at Warner Brothers and it, it no longer exists and we were shooting in Atlanta because of the tax incentives and, and the business side of the, of ‘The Waltons’ Homecoming.’ And we tried to find a house as close to it as we could that had the upstairs, because I knew I wanted to end it with the good night mamas and daddies turned into Merry Christmas, of course. And we wanted to try to honor the family,” Haskell said.

And should this film be the catalyst for a new series or spawn another movie, Haskell added, “I want to bring every original cast member in as a guest star to play a teacher or a nurse or a doctor, or I want to integrate the original cast into the series and future movie.”

“The Waltons’ Homecoming” premieres Monday on The CW. It reflects the same warm and fuzzy tones as the original series and is a good holiday family film. As they would say, “Merry Christmas, John Boy.”


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