Family Affair: The Complete Series Movie Review
The show, sort of an all-white Diff'rent Strokes, finds successful New York engineer Bill Davis (Brian Keith) volunteering to adopt the three orphaned children of his suddenly deceased sister. Teenage Sissy (Kathy Garver) and adorable young twins Buffy (Anissa Jones) and Jody (Johnny Whitaker) arrive from Terre Haute, Indiana and quickly settle in at Uncle Bill's sprawling apartment, a lovely home managed by his "gentlemen's gentleman" (what we would call a butler), Mr. French (Sebastian Cabot).
The fun, such as it is, mainly revolves around the twins getting into minor mischief and frustrating Mr. French's attempts to run his household like a stately English manor. Uncle Bill comes and goes saying little and mumbling when he does, sometimes delivering little homilies to explain life lessons to the young ones. Everyone learns patience and cooperation, and we all doze off until the next episode. To be frank, the only really entertaining part of all this is Johnny Whitaker's speech impediment, which renders "Uncle Bill" as "Unco Beo" and "Mr. French" as "Mistuh Fwench." Ha.
As the years go by, Buffy and Jody grow up and become increasingly less adorable, while Sissy drifts through her teenage years like a young Jackie Kennedy, painstakingly matching her pillbox hats with her shoes and completely ignoring the groovy social revolution of the '60s which must be happening on the sidewalk right outside Uncle Bill's apartment. She is such a square.
And as for Mrs. Beasley: Buffy's doll, a little old lady with glasses, is a fixture on the show. It figures into several episodes (Mrs. Beasley gets lost, etc.) and became a top seller in real life for several years, even after the show went off the air. In the end, Mrs. B. was more successful that Anissa Jones herself, who, as child stars sometimes do, died of a drug overdose at the age of 18, putting a sad coda on the long but unmemorable run of the show, a sitcom so sleepy that even the laugh track seems to be on Ambien.
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