A popular Family Drama
that aired on CBS
from 1972 to 1981, The Waltons
is about the life and trials of the eponymous family in the 1930s and '40s.
The Waltons are a large country family who run a saw mill on Walton's Mountain in rural Virginia, and the series depicts their grinding struggle to make ends meet during the The Great Depression
, and later World War II
. As initial lead character (and adult narrator) John-Boy Walton noted, they didn't have much money, but they had a lot of love and fortitude to keep the whole brood going through thick and thin.
The remarkable thing is that this series began on CBS around the same time as its notorious "rural purge" in which shows like The Beverly Hillbillies
and Green Acres
were cancelled en masse as not appealing to the desirable audience demographics from 1968 through 1973. It was expected to die a quick death like the few remaining survivors of the "rural purge" would eventually do. Instead of dying a quick death against The Mod Squad
and The Flip Wilson Show
as expected, the show soon killed them
and went on for a successful nine-year run. Some have called it the lone survivor of the "rural purge" although the show began during it, not right before it. The show and its cast also picked up several Emmy Awards and a Peabody.
Series creator Earl Hamner, Jr. based the show on his own childhood experiences, which he had previously mined for the 1961 novel Spencer's Mountain
(itself adapted as a 1963 film starring Henry Fonda
and Maureen O'Hara
). Prior to the actual series, CBS aired a Made-for-TV Movie
in 1971 called The Homecoming: A Christmas Story
, which featured Patricia Neal as Olivia Walton, Andrew Duggan as John Walton Sr., and Edgar Bergen
as Grandpa; these roles would be re-cast for the series (and the movie hadn't been intended as a pilot; a series was only proposed after the favorable critical and audience reaction to the movie).
This was the first series to come from Lorimar
Productions, which went on to produce such popular shows as Eight Is Enough
, Knots Landing
, Falcon Crest
, and half of ABC
The Waltons includes examples of the following tropes:
Good night, John-Boy; wherever you are.