Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Family Affair

Do any of you remember the 60’s TV program called Family Affair? As a kid, it was one of my favorites because it was mostly about two kids, Buffy and Jody, who got to live in New York City.

The basic premise was that Buffy and Jody, six-year-old twins, and their teenage sister, Cissy, were orphaned and got to live with their Uncle Bill at his big Upper-East side apartment in New York City. Uncle Bill, a middle-aged bachelor, was employed as a civil service engineer so he hired an English butler, Mr. French, to help care for the kids.

Even as a kid, I knew there was something “not quite right” with this picture.

First of all, everyone in the household had their own bedrooms. Five of them. There’s just no way a single civil service engineer could afford a five-bedroom apartment (it had a balcony, too) on the Upper East side of New York City. And employ an English butler. And provide him with room and board. Maybe Jackie Onassis could, but not Uncle Bill. No way.

I was seven years old and saw the holes in that scenario. Uncle Bill obviously had something else going on the side.

Buffy and Jody bugged me a lot. Pretty much all they did in every episode was to scurry from one room to the next. They could never just walk from here to there. It was always scurry-scurry-scurry!

One of them would usually exhibit a fear of abandonment. Mr. French would relay this to Uncle Bill who would allay their fears with a couple of words or tuck them into bed. That story-line pretty much comprised 90 percent of the episodes.

Buffy had this doll named Mrs. Beasley that she was way too attached to. The kid obviously had problems but nothing was ever done about it. That doll needed to get shoved down the trash chute and Buffy into analysis.

Pretty much the only thing we ever saw teenaged Cissy doing was letting boys carry her books home from school in every episode. She was such a slut.
They had this olive-green Trimline telephone in the den that was sooo cool. You know, one of those modern kinds with the dial in the receiver. We had your basic black desk model. I was just obsessed with that super-cool Trimline phone with the dial in the receiver.
God, that was fascinating!

Uncle Bill was always dating glamorous, middle-aged women who he met through work. He was definitely a hound dog. His hound-doggedness was obviously why he needed Mr. French around to do all the parenting.

Mr. French was such a caricature of a pompous English butler. He’d come to Uncle Bill with a line like, “I daresay, Master Davis, Miss Buffy seems to have conveyed an implicit desire for an item, I believe them to be called, ‘fish sticks’ to be serviced for luncheon today. Shall I grant Miss Buffy’s unusual request?”

Uncle Bill would answer with little more than a positive or negative grunt.

Mr. French didn’t have any romantic interests. My guess is that after the kids were tucked into bed, he’d high-tail it down to the West Village to a leather bar called “The Bear Hole” or something like that. You know how those pompous English butlers are.

I can still remember the opening credits to Family Affair. It was this happy-sounding accordion music with a kaleidoscopic image in the background. We had a black-and-white television and I remember visiting my cousins in Dallas who had a color TV.
Wow! The opening credits to Family Affair in color just blew my mind!

Years later, the actress who played Buffy, Anissa Jones, died of a drug overdose at the age of 18. Found in her system were cocaine, PCP, Quaalude, and Seconal. The kid could definitely party.

See? I told you Mrs. Beasley should have been thrown down that trash chute.

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At 1:00 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I always liked Mr. French. Funny thing is, I didn't like anything else about that show. Those kids annoyed the frak out of me.

And Mrs. Beasley was the ugliest doll ever.


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