It’s time to say “Good night, John Boy” for one last time — even if it’s not really John-Boy — as Warner Home Video releases the ninth and final season of family favorite, The Waltons, on DVD. The storyline, which began during the Great Depression, depicted the lives of the Walton family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, as told through the words of elder son John, Jr. (originally portrayed by Richard Thomas but replaced later in the series by Robert Wightman — although the narration was provided by creator Earl Hamner, Jr.). As the course of the series went on, the close-knit family went from struggling through the Depression and into the grip of a world at war during WWII. But, during each and every ordeal — whether it be worldwide or local — the Walton family always managed to stay afloat somehow.
By the time the ninth season rolled around, it was clear that The Waltons had lost their oomph with their television audience. Several cast members had left the series over the last couple of seasons. For instance, Richard Thomas no longer wished to portray the character of John Boy (as he had hoped to pursue some other acting endeavors), and so the character was re-cast. As is usually the case whenever a major casting change occurs on a popular TV show, the fans weren’t happy. At least, I think they were unhappy — it’s hard to say, since the show’s writing had taken such a turn for the worse that I doubt most of the original fans were still watching. Besides, there were better shows on, like Magnum P.I. and Bosom Buddies (not to mention people were more interested in finding out who shot J.R. on Dallas).
So anyway, despite the new casting and poor writing, The Waltons pressed on with their final hoorah. In this season, the war ends. The boys return home. And the bosses at CBS finally figured out they had jumped the shark a couple years prior. Thankfully, the later reunion movies would prove to be much better fare than this season.
Warner Home Video’s presentation of The Waltons – The Final Season on DVD is about on par with the previous releases. The original 1.33:1 image is littered with scratches and debris, and the colors are a bit muted at times. The only sound option is an equally unrestored mono English (with SDH subtitles and closed captioning available). No extras are included.
Suffice to say, this isn’t a must-have for fans of The Waltons, but completionists will want it in their collection. Hopefully, the made-for-TV reunion movies will see the light of day soon, as they were a lot better than this.