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Introductions to The Waltons
There have been a lot of great television show introductions produced over the years. Some of my favorites include:
"The Andy Griffith Show," with its simple fishing scene and whistling tune.
"Hawaii Five-0," with its riveting montage and the classic "rolling surf" scene.
"Friends," with its exuberant clips and memorable tune (perhaps a little too memorable?)
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Above: Composer Jerry Goldsmith
What makes a good introduction? Certainly a catchy tune and an interesting setting, something that makes you want to stick around and watch the show. In my opinion, one of the very best and most memorable introductions ever made was for The Waltons, showing John Walton bringing home a new radio, taking it out of his Model T truck, and carrying it up to the porch.
Much of the credit belongs to songwriter Jerry Goldsmith who penned the popular and catchy Waltons theme song. Goldsmith, born in 1929, is a prolific and talented songwriter who scored the music for numerous films including Patton, Star Trek I, and Alien, along with several television shows, such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Room 222, Barnaby Jones, and the Star Trek Voyager and Next Generation series.
Come to think of it, The Waltons theme song sounded a lot like the song to Room 222 (for some reason, I've remembered the Room 222 theme song after all these years, not that anyone else remembers the song, let alone the show). Anyway, among all of Jerry's songs, I think The Waltons theme was definitely the best.
The Waltons Introductions
It's been 30 years since I saw the series, but as I recall from watching The Waltons back in the 1970s, two main introductions were used during the show's nine seasons:
There were variations of each introduction. As I recall, during the first season or so, The Waltons had a long introduction with John bringing home the radio, which was shortened around the second season. Then the sepia montage was used starting, I believe, in the third season.
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Above: The "radio" introduction.
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Above: The "sepia" introduction.
The sepia montage introduction was used for many years, but frankly, I don't remember if they kept using it all the way through the ninth and final season in 1981. That's because I stopped watching The Waltons after about the sixth season.
To be honest, after six seasons, with Will Geer now gone, John-Boy in New York, and Ellen Corby doddering around the house after her stroke (and pulling at my heartstrings), I couldn't bear to watch the show anymore. Plus, I was now going to college, so my Thursday nights were filled with more erudite pursuits -- like eating pizza and drinking beer.
What I can't remember, though, was which introduction was used during which season. Unfortunately, watching the recent Waltons reruns on The Hallmark Channel hasn't helped any. That's because the folks at Hallmark use whatever introduction they feel like, including a long "radio" introduction (1 minute, 27 seconds) on some of the first season episodes, a shorter "radio" introduction (57 seconds) on other first season episodes, and the "sepia montage" introduction for the second season. To further confuse the matter, Hallmark uses a "long sepia montage" (54 seconds) for some episodes and a "short sepia montage" (a paltry and very rushed 41 seconds) for others.
Confusing? You bet.
Because the Hallmark reruns aren't any help, and because the entire series hasn't come out yet on DVD, I had to scratch my head and try to remember which introduction was used for each season. I might be wrong (and let me know if I am), but as I recall from 30 years ago, there were three Waltons introductions used:
During the first season, a long introduction (1 minute, 27 seconds) was used showing John bringing home a new radio.
During the second season, a shorter version (57 seconds) of John bringing home the radio was used.
During the third season and all subsequent years, the sepia montage (54 seconds) was used.
Frankly, I never liked the "sepia montage" introduction and remember being disappointed in 1974 when it was used for the first time (since it was 1974, the phrase I actually used was, "What a bummer.") Why didn't they keep using the "radio" introduction, which I really liked? Probably because the kids were growing up and it would've looked weird to have a 3-foot tall Jim Bob in the Introduction, and then see a 6-foot tall Jim Bob in the series.
This is probably more than anyone would want to know about the Waltons introductions, but if you've waded all the way through this lengthy discussion, you'll be delighted to know that I put together three pages depicting the Waltons introductions, including photos and audio clips. You can check them out by clicking below.
The current page is shown in bold.