The Waltons

Season 3 Episode 10

The Marathon

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Nov 07, 1974 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
40 votes
  • Twisting the Night Away

    This is different. You wouldn't think an episode based on a dozen couples dancing in a grimy village hall would work, but it's actually rather engaging.

    The dance marathon itself is absolutely brutal, with the organisers yelling and shouting at the contestants as if they're inmates in a concentration camp, complete with an air raid siren to start and end the dances. What starts out as light-hearted fun ends up as a horrible slog, and by the time John-boy quits, his fellow contestants are wandering the dancefloor like ghosts. Helen and Spanky (yes, really!) are good value, and Spanky's collapse comes as a genuine surprise, so points to the writers for that.

    The marathon couldn't have come at a worse time for Olivia, who fears she is losing John-boy to his college friends. As ever, John supports his son's decision, but that doesn't stop Olivia taking out her anxiety on the rest of the family.

    There's no Jason this week, although Jon Walmsley still appears in the credits. The remaining children, led by Ben, build their own radio and listen in on John-boy's dance. It's nicely acted, but it does feel very bolted on. Would have been better to have seen them involved in the main plot somehow.

  • An impressive episode where art overtakes drama and leaves you thinking.

    This episode explores the world of art vs. story telling and it is brilliant. The dance senario is entirely a metaphor for the examination of our purpose in life. John-Boy is really the supporting character. The main characters are the dancers -- a set of people trying to find their way in life. There is an amazing visual moment where the camera pans into the room showing the tired and lost musicians and then pans into the dancers, exhausted and lost in their own lives. Director Ralph Senensky completely understood the importance of that scene. One of my favorite lines is John-Boy's dance partner where she states "I want to be above the clouds looking down". It is a metaphor for our own desires to rise above ourselves and everyone else around us thinking that will somehow free us. My only disapointment was the ending where John-Boy somehow realizes this is not the way to find his life course and resolves to himself that in family we find our own focus in life. It would have been much better leaving it ambiguous and without resolution but that's TV.
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