Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Waltons are one family who should stay in the past

Frances Burscough

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, is it? The television and film industries just keep on trying to reinvent and remake old shows from the past that were perfectly fine in the first place. Why can't they just leave well alone and move on to fresh new ideas?

This thought crossed my mind again this week as I was flicking through the Sunday papers and came across an article about the Waltons. In it there were two photographs of the famous fictional family from the Blue Ridge Mountains — one was taken in the seventies when the series was still running at its pinnacle of popularity and the second showed the surviving characters as they are now.

It was fascinating and depressing all at once. Seeing those eternal children all grown up ... nay, ageing really badly like the rest of us, was a bit like seeing the picture of Dorian Grey that had been kept hidden in the attic for decades.

For anyone of a certain age (mine) who watched the series avidly (and, let's face it, we all did in the 70s) the truth really does hurt. It is with great regret that I have to tell you that Elizabeth — the youngest of the saccharine family who, up until now has remained six years old in my mind and, frankly, I wanted her to stay that way — is actually aged 47.

Forty seven! How on earth did that happen?

She is pictured, barely recogniseable beneath that familiar shock of (greying) auburn hair complete with wrinkles, crows feet and age spots.

Meanwhile the guy who played the gormless Jim Bob — the youngest boy in the family of seven — is now an overweight antique dealer (very much like the old fella from Pawn Stars) with a goatee beard, male pattern baldness and three chins. Arghhhhh. Get them away. Don't make me look at them anymore, please I can hardly bear it.

They had all been brought together for a charity event in Los Angeles, but I have a sneaking suspicion it won't be long before there's a new series

on TV series appearing on primetime. The Waltons, Revisited. It's almost inevitable, don't you think?

Heck they've done it with so many programmes from my childhood and not a single one has excelled its predecessor.

Upstairs, Downstairs? The remake of that was like a charmless cross between Eastenders and Downton Abbey but without any of the vim and vigor of either.

Brideshead Revisited? Revisited once again in 2008 for the big screen but without the delectable double-act of the incomparable Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews or, indeed any memorable performances whatsoever.

Bewitched? That quirky sit-com in which a witch and a mortal man get married and live crazily ever after just didn't translate into a modern setting and Nicole Kidman had no magic whatsoever.

Dallas? Don't even go there...

If they do decide to dig up the Walton family from their mountain idyll of rural Virginia, I just can't see that working either.

Modern cynical viewers such as myself just wouldn't buy the saccharine sweetness of such a perfect God-fearing family. We'd have the pontificating John-Boy dismissed as a rampant gay lord, Mary-Ellen just wouldn't wash as a virginal blonde-bombshell and as for Holier-than-Thou Liv, well she'd be having an affair with Ike Godsey and Erin would be their secret love-child.

That's this weeks rant over. Goodnight Grandma, Goodnight Grandpa...

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