In an era too often in which bathos stands in for sensibility, cynicism for truth and sleekness for professionalism, the Walton gang — both above the line and below the line — shows again how it’s done. Since its 1971 “The Homecoming” telefilm basis, the subsequent 1972-81 series and in follow-up vidpix, the characters of Earl Hamner’s Walton Mountain stands for surefire heart tugging.
Emancipated, globetrotting daughter Elizabeth (Kami Cotler) comes home to find the man she loves, Drew (Tony Becker) — thinking she has left him — is seeing someone else. And Olivia and John just want to slip away to Virginia Beach for their anniversary.
Under Bill Corcoran’s sure-handed direction, the careful plotting heads for the inevitable sentimental peaks. As Walton devotees know, sentiment’s well up, and this time, it hits with an all-encompassing wallop.
First clue comes as John-Boy recalls the past at the pond. The Waltons are invited to an Easter sunrise service, there’s a spelling bee topped by one thing after another, Ellen Corby’s back briefly as Grandma Walton, and the feeling’s just enriching. With Patrick Williams’ lulling music backing tender scenes, with superior acting in all departments, and with the Bert Dunk’s fine lensing out at the still-standing Walton house on the Warner Bros. backlot, the telefilm’s a winner. It’s formalism and it’s irresistible.