The Waltons

Season 4 Episode 1

The Sermon

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Sep 11, 1975 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
25 votes
  • The Preacher Man

    A decent start to the new season, with plenty of recurring characters and a good ol' family feel. Everybody seems chipper this week, particularly John, who can't stop smiling throughout the episode. Perhaps Ralph already knows he has next week off.

    Matthew and Rosemarys' honeymoon ensures that both John-boy and Olivia get a challenge. Of the two stories this week, John-boy's is far more fleshed out. The standout scene has to be when Esther is showing John-boy her version of the sermon. Although it's pure comedy, both actors keep a completely straight face, even when Esther bangs her fist so hard on the desk that her notes go flying. I was already on the floor by this point.

    It goes without saying that John-boy's sermon will be based on his family, though it still takes him the whole episode to write it. That said, I did like the way he used his kin to make the point that we each find God in our own way. Nicely done. I was less impressed by the picnic scene, although I guess it served its purpose.

    Olivia's story is less well developed. In truth, her stint as a teacher could have been an episode in itself. Instead, we see a brief argument between Mary Ellen and Martha Rose then watch Jim Bob looking out of the window in detention. Her next classroom assignment, in 'The Emergence', will be far more involved.

    This is the first time we hear John and Olivia talk at any length about their proposed house on the mountain. It never gets built, of course, but it's taken from the original novel so I'm totally letting them off.

    Pick of the bunch: John Walton (Ralph Waite)

    Alternate title: The Substitute

    Score: 9.0

  • Lots of tongue and cheek, normally not found on the series infiltrates this episode.

    This episode works best as a series of moments. John-Boy is asked to write a sermon so naturally he gets consults from everyone. The funniest is Grandma trying to instill into John Boy the importance of bringing the point home. Ellen Corbet is in her finest moment rising above the obvious comedy to add both cander and sweetness to the situation. Richard Thomas simply sits there as the straightman and it is a delight to watch. The other subplot, far less effective, is Olivia teaching school. The cliche's run high and the situations never really develop. In the end, the sermon by John-Boy is more of an attempt not to insult or hurt anyone in the process ensuring himself and everyone there that he listened to them all. The end is a family picnic giving the cast an excuse to film outdoors instead of a set.