|This picture is a shot from the end of the theme song sequence, except it's flipped around|
backwards. Back row, l to r: Zeb (Grandpa), Esther (Grandma), Erin, Olivia (Mama), Jim-Bob;
Front row, l to r: Jason, John Sr (Daddy), Mary Ellen, John-Boy, Elizabeth, Ben. All those names
coming soon to a blog near you. Source.
This is obviously John-Boy's story. Earl Hamner Jr. wrote it that way, since it was really his own life story. Sometimes, though, the "our world revolves around John-Boy" bit is too much for me, so I'm kind of glad that he was written out of the show for a while (even though it was for WWII), because some of the other characters got their chance to grow and become important. The seasons with a mostly-women cast are really quite powerful, showing how life on Walton's Mountain carried on without men, as indeed it had to do around the world during WWII.
Jason is my favourite Walton, maybe because he was a little bit different from the others. The family didn't fuss over him like John-Boy but he didn't make scenes, like Ben or Jim-Bob. He just got on with being the sweet older brother of the family, quietly making his mark. According to IMDB, Jason's being a musician was written into the show specifically for Jon Walmsley, the actor, because he was a musician himself (and still is).
The character who grew the most (IMO) during the series was the one with the most room to grow-- Elizabeth. Thank goodness this was before the era of artificially advancing children's ages on TV shows, so that Elizabeth really did get to grow up with the show. Sometimes it was forced (there's one Christmas episode when her young cousin asks her to play outside and she answers, "Maybe a few years ago, but I can't now, being a young lady." Even for the 1940s, that's a bit too much self-awareness spoken aloud), but mostly it could just be seen, little by little, as the barefooted cutie tomboy transformed into a proper southern 1940s young woman.
Ultimately, it's a show about a family that comes through one storm after another still standing, which for me makes it worth watching.
Did you watch The Waltons? Do you still watch it? Do you have a favourite character?