The Walton family is back for the CW’s The Waltons’ Homecoming, premiering Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. ET, and Richard Thomas — the original John Boy Walton — is celebrating the new chapter. Thomas will serve as the narrator on Homecoming while passing the baton to Logan Shroyer, 2021’s John Boy.
Thomas reflected on what the world was like when the original CBS series about faith and family aired from 1971-82 and why now is the perfect time to bring it back.
“When we did the series originally, this country, we were very split because of all the issues going on.” He said during a press Zoom chat Wednesday. “The line went right down the middle of the dinner table, a lot of the time. It was the beginning of a sort of balkanization where the demographic was split within the household. There were more televisions. So one of the great things about the show was that it brought people together. Young people could see a story about older people, and older people could remember their childhood. And the faith element was just — you can’t really tell the story about people in that part of America in 1933 without a faith element. That was a huge part of people’s lives, and it still is around the country.”
He continued, “Dramaturgically speaking, we had many stories where faith and how people acted their faith out, where their prejudices were, where the benefits were. John had one point of view about going to church, which you didn’t do. Olivia had another [point of view]. Grandpa was a pantheist, basically. It was such a big part of our storytelling and everyone had a different connection to it. So I think it’s completely valid still.”
Executive producer Sam Haskell revealed he was upfront with the CW about the importance of faith remaining an integral part of the new series.
“In my initial conversations with Mark Pedowitz, the chairman of the CW, I told him that there was going to be a faith element in this and he embraced it completely,” Haskell said. “And he feels as I do that putting faith and family and hope and joy front and center, it’s something this world needs right now. And I believe that The Waltons’ Homecoming is going to bring that to families. He and I both know that families watching something together is very rare these days. And this is the kind of program that can bring an entire family together.”
The Waltons: Homecoming is a film special set in the Depression Era and told through the eyes of John Boy, the 17-year-old eldest child of John (Ben Lawson) and Olivia Walton (Bellamy Young). His mother expects him to help her raise his sisters and brothers, and his father expects him to follow in his footsteps to help support the family, but secretly, John Boy wants to be a writer.
Times are hard enough in 1933, but to make matters worse, it looked like it was going to be the Waltons’ first Christmas without John Sr. But then Olivia receives a letter that John Sr. is planning to make it home for Christmas after all, the family is thrilled and races to prepare for his homecoming. But when a storm threatens his arrival on Christmas Eve, and John Sr. is nowhere to be found, Olivia sends John Boy out into the night to find his daddy – a journey that will change his life forever.
“We come out of Covid and we’ve all been in a world for the last few years that was quite distant,” Scandal alum Young shared. “We were in solitude. So getting to tell a story that was about family, that was kind that was gentle, was the balm that we all needed after this time of desperate solitude. But also getting to say out loud that everyone is welcome in God’s house. What a privilege to just literally say the words is the best Christmas gift ever. Really and truly.”
Haskell would love for more members of the original cast to join them if the fans enjoy and the CW greenlights more Waltons fare.
“Absolutely,” he said excitedly. “I want to bring every original cast member in as a guest — to play a teacher or a nurse or a doctor. I want to integrate the original cast into the series and future movies. Yes!”
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