The Waltons

Season 3 Episode 5

The Runaway

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Oct 03, 1974 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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out of 10
40 votes
  • The School Pet

    A rather unlikely story with some even less likely coincidences, but some very fine acting indeed, particularly from David Harper, who handles his first starring role brilliantly.

    Yes, the runaway in question is Jim Bob. Having been teased relentlessly for bringing a guinea pig home from school, he decides to leave home when the creature expires unexpectedly. Despite the serious theme, the whole thing is rather lighthearted, with the family viewing his departure more as an inconvenience than anything else.

    Thanks to David's excellent performance, it's hard not to feel sorry for Jim Bob. Ben and Jason are pretty merciless in their teasing, and the wee lad looks very hurt indeed. I loved that he kept running away from John-boy and I laughed out loud at the scene in the recruiting office. Great writing and lovely acting.

    John-boy gets a subplot in which he misses going to a guest lecture with a girl named Amy. This fails on account of two ridiculous coincidences. Firstly, John-boy *just happens* to bump into the guest lecturer when he is in the cafe with Jim Bob, then he *just happens* to bump into Amy on campus as his family is driving off. Watch it and you'll see what I mean.

    I'm not sure if it's intentional, but Jim Bob does seem to get short shrift compared to his siblings. When Elizabeth went missing in the opening episode, there was a full-on manhunt. Here, John is more concerned about fulfilling an order. Jim Bob sums it up perfectly when he signs his leaving note: "One of your children, Jim Bob Walton".

    Out of interest, Jim Bob gives his date of birth as 13th June 1924 while at the recruiting office. This would make him only ten years old when the episode takes place, despite David Harper being almost thirteen at the time. An earlier date of birth will be given in 'The Secret'.

    Pick of the bunch: Jim Bob Walton (David Harper)

    Alternate title: The Search

    Score: 9.6