‘The Waltons’ Director Passionately Explained Why Show Wasn’t ‘Too Sweet and Square’

by Katie Maloney
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Here’s what the director of “The Waltons” thought about people who claimed the show was “too sweet.”

We often hear from all the actors who played characters in front of the cameras for “The Waltons.” But what about all the crew members who held positions behind the camera for the show? What were their experiences with “The Waltons”? During an interview in 2004, the show’s director, Robert Butler, talked about what it was like working on the set of one of the most iconic television shows of all time.

“I just liked the material an awful lot when I read it,” said Butler. “And the show was already on the air. So I didn’t do the pilot for it…So by the time I got on ‘The Waltons’, it was a series. So my challenge was to do it in seven days, so off we went.”

Butler added that there are some people who didn’t like “The Waltons” because they felt the show was too “sweet” or too “square.” But he disagrees. He believes that those are the qualities that made the show so successful.

“A part of our community and our world thinks it’s too sweet and too square. They can’t take it. They think it’s too proper. I didn’t feel that way, surprise, surprise,” said Butler. “I liked it. I thought there was an awful lot of dignity in its heart and humanity in it. And I enjoyed immensely that side of it.”

Robert Butler talks about “The Waltons”

“The Waltons” Director Said He Enjoyed Being Able to Experiment With Different Camera Sequences On the Show

Butler then talked about one specific episode titled “The Air Mail Man.”

“I mean it is so dear, the idea is so dear, that it almost makes you crack up to think of it,” said Butler.

During the episode, an airmail man has to land on Waltons Mountain because he runs out of fuel. The Waltons family is enamored by the worldly hero and they help him find fuel.

“So now we have to get this guy high octane gas and fuel again so he can get back on the road. Well, this swashbuckling airmail pilot comes into the world of the Waltons. It was just dear and wonderful,” said Butler. “And what he does is reinvigorate mom Walton as a mother and a homebody. It was just the sweetest squarest thing in the world. I really enjoyed it.”

Butler said that he even got to experiment with different camera work while on the show.

“At one point she [Olivia Walton] or maybe John-Boy is sitting in the plane and I got crane out…And as that person sitting alone in the plane begins to imagine flying…we just start to drift with that imagination and begin to move the camera and tip the camera as they imagine flying. It was a very dear sequence,” said Butler. “There were those opportunities. You never knew when you could do something kind of interesting and kind of different. Here, ‘The Waltons’ a very sweet square show gave the opportunity for a very fanciful non- airplane plane ride.”

Outsider.com