The Waltons is chiefly known as a tv-series, but the Walton family is also featured in several tv-movies, and inspiration for the them comes from the 1961 novel Spencer´s Mountain and the 1963 western/drama film based on that novel.
The television movie “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” was broadcast by CBS on December 19, 1971 and received a lot of praise from the viewers. It was created with inspiration from the 1961 book Spencer´s Mountain and the 1963 film of the same name. The book was written by the novelist, television writer and producer Earl Hamner Jr., who also co-produced the tv-series and provided voice-over narration for it.
After the success with the 1971 tv movie, the CBS television network decided to create a tv-series based on the same characters. The result was The Waltons tv-series, which aired on CBS for a total of nine seasons, from September 1972 to November 1980.
Some sources indicate that CBS commissioned The Waltons for its fall 1972 schedule in response to congressional hearings on the quality of television.
The Waltons were given the timeslot Thursdays at 8 pm, which was a tough spot to have since the show had to complete with the two established and highly popular programs “The Flip Wilson Show” on NBC and “The Mod Squad” on ABC. To help promote The Waltons, CBS paid for a full-page newspaper ad which included positive reviews from TV critics.
The last episode of the tv-series aired in 1980. In 1982, CBS followed up with three television film sequels:
- A Wedding on Walton´s Mountain (aired in 1982, set in 1947)
- Mother´s Day on Walton´s Mountain (aired in 1982, set in 1947)
- A Day for Thanks on Walton´s Mountain (aired in 1982, set in 1947)
In the 1990s, another three television film sequels were broadcast by CBS:
- A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (aired in 1993, set in 1963)
- A Walton Wedding (aired in 1995, set in 1964)
- A Walton Easter (aired in 1997, set in 1969)
On November 28, 2021, The CW Television Networ aired “The Waltons: Homecoming” which was a remake of the 1971 “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story”. Just like the 1971 version, it was set in 1933. Richard Thomas – the actor who played John “John-Boy” Walton Jr. in seven season of the tv-show and in three of the TV movie sequels – provided narration for the remake. Executive producer Sam Haskell has stated that he hopes this remake will lead to a new tv-series.
Short facts about the TV-show The Waltons
Genre: Historical drama
Country of origin: USA
Original language: English
Original release: September 14, 1972 – June 4, 1981
Number of seasons: 9
Number of episodes: 221
Running time: 45-48 minutes per episode
Created by: Earl Hamner Jr.
Based on: Homecoming
Original network: CBS
Executive producers: Lee Rich, Earl Hamner Jr., Rod Peterson
Producers: Robert L. Jacks, Andy White, Rod Peterson, Claylene Jones
Production company: Lorimar Productions
Distributor: Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
Picture format: National Television System Committee (NTSC)
Audio format: Mono
Mary Elizabeth McDonough
David W. Harper
Ronnie Claire Edwards
Patricia Neal (only in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story)
Andrew Duggan (only in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story)
Voice-over narration: Earl Hamner Jr.
Composers: Jerry Goldsmith (theme music), Arthur Morton, Alexander Courage
|Season||Number of episodes||First episode||Last episode|
|1||25||September 14, 1972||April 19, 1973|
|2||25||September 13, 1973||March 14, 1974|
|3||25||September 12, 1974||March 6, 1975|
|4||25||September 11, 1975||March 4, 1976|
|5||25||September 23, 1976||March 17, 1977|
|6||26||September 15, 1977||March 30, 1978|
|7||24||September 21, 1978||March 22, 1979|
|8||24||September 20, 1979||March 13, 1980|
|9||22||November 27, 1980||June 4, 1981|
Syndication and reruns in the United States & Canada
The production company Lorimar Productions sold the distribution rights for The Waltons to Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Warner already owned the rigths to the 1963 film Spencer´s Mountain, and this deal prevented a legal dispute. (In 1989, Warner acquired the whole Lorimar company.)
Examples of channels that have broadcast reruns of The Waltons in the United States are Hallmark Drama, Hallmark Channel, MeTV, and INSP.
Examples of channels that have broadcast reruns of The Waltons in Canada are BookTelevision and Vision TV.
Broadcasting in the United Kingdom
In addition to being a big hit in the United States, The Waltons also reached a bit audience in the United Kingdom, where it was broadcast by the BBC.
- The first three seasons were broadcast on BBC2 in 1974-1976. They had the timeslot Mondays at 20:00 GMT.
- The fourth and fifth seasons were broadcast on BBC1 in 1976-1977, on Sundays at 16:10 GMT in 1976 and Tuesdays at 19:00 GMT through 1977.
- The remaining seasons were broadcast on BBC2 in 1979-1983.
BBC2 also showed the three 1982 TV movies, as a Christmas special from December 21 to December 28 in 1983.
Is The Waltons available on DVD?
All nine seasons of the tv-show and the six first TV movies have been released on DVD by Warner Home Video in Region 1.
Only seasons 1-4 have been released in Region 2, but seasons 1-9 are available on DVD for Region 4.
The CBS-produced pilot movie “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” has been released on DVD in Region 1 by Paramount Home Entertainment, but is not available for other regions.
|DVD name||Number of episodes||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
A Christmas Story
|Pilot movie||September 23, 2003||N/A||N/A|
|The Complete 1st Season||24||May 11, 2004||November 1, 2004||November 11, 2015|
|The Complete 2nd Season||24||April 26, 2005||July 3, 2006||March 9, 2016|
|The Complete 3rd Season||24||April 25, 2006||September 11, 2006||May 11, 2016|
|The Complete 4th Season||24||January 23, 2007||March 5, 2007||July 13, 2016|
|The Complete 5th Season||24||May 8, 2007||N/A||March 15, 2017|
|The Complete 6th Season||22||January 8, 2008||N/A||August 9, 2017|
|The Complete 7th Season||23||April 29, 2008||N/A||November 8, 2017|
|The Complete 8th Season||24||January 6, 2009||N/A||March 7, 2018|
|The Complete 9th Season||22||April 28, 2009||N/A||March 7, 2018|
|TV Movie Collection
(not including the 1971 movie)
|6 TV-movies||January 26, 2010||N/A||N/A|