The Waltons’ Homecoming whet audience’s appetite for more of the TV family, none more so than Richard Thomas himself. Thomas appeared in The CW movie introducing and narrating it. Producers hope it is the first of many Waltons TV movies, or maybe the introduction to a whole new series with this cast portraying the family. Thomas concurs he would love to see them continue.
Thomas was on a Zoom panel with The Waltons’ Homecoming cast members Bellamy Young, Ben Lawson, Logan Shroyer and Marcelle LeBlanc. Thomas and executive producer Sam Haskell discussed what Thomas hopes to see from The CW’s Waltons. The Waltons’ Homecoming is now streaming on The CW.
Richard Thomas asks for more after ‘The Waltons’ Homecoming’
50 years after he began playing John Boy Walton, Thomas is now at the appropriate age to look back. Granted, looking back on The Waltons still takes them back to the 1930s. Thomas hopes The Waltons’ Homecoming is only the beginning.
“I want to see y’all do more stories, because you’re all so great,” Thomas said. “I mean, the family, the chemistry, what you all have, what you do. I want to see y’all do more things and take it down the road and see where you go in it, because you’ve just made a family. And I want to see more of your family telling these stories. I can see all you carrying that down the road and I just look forward to it.”
Haskell said that Thomas was instrumental in getting the estate of Earl Hamner, Jr. to sign off on The Waltons’ Homecoming. The original series was based on Hamner’s book Spencer Mountain, based on his own childhood.
“The doors were open quite easily, but there were a lot of conversations that had to take place to assure the family on the estate of Earl Hamner that we were going to honor his work and do this in a way that would please the family,” Haskell said. “And, in my mind, please the original Waltons family, which is why I wanted Richard involved with this because he’s so integral in keeping up with all the original cast members. I just believe that it made it easy for me to get started, but we did have a little bit of a journey to get there. And the journey has ended beautifully and they’re all so happy, and that makes me happy.”
Why Richard Thomas loves the new Waltons
Thomas acknowledged that the new cast of The Waltons’ Homecoming made it their own. That’s why he sees more life in this new incarnation beyond the first TV movie.
“One of the great things about differences between an original and a new version, the little differences, different people, different point of view about things, certain things, different narrative changes, and the places, the store, the new house, those differences make it alive again,” Thomas said. “They make it new again. It’s not a museum piece. It wouldn’t do a service to any of y’all to have to just sort of do a carbon copy. I think the differences wake people up to it as a new event and a new experience. And I think that I love that, I embraced those when I saw it.”
Richard Thomas says the time is right for this family again
The Waltons ran from 1972 – 1981 and reunited for several TV movies. Nearly 50 years later, Thomas said it’s the right time for the family to return with this new cast portraying them.
“The time is right for it again, and I think it will happen again,” Thomas said. “It set a lot of precedents, our show. One of them was that John Boy was a very different kind of model for a male leading man in an American television series, the inwardness of John Boy, his delicacy of sensibility. These were very, very new character qualities for a male character at the center of a beautiful ensemble.”
Thomas also saw a trend in extended families on television after The Waltons. It’s time for that to come full circle with more Waltons on The CW.
“Also the extended family thing, we have a legacy that people don’t talk about very often,” Thomas said. “After The Waltons, you had some of these wonderful cop shows with extended families, and you began to have all these large casts with stories that came out about all the different characters in the long form. And I think The Waltons was part of that development. You know, if you look for a precursor, maybe it’s Bonanza, I don’t know. But the extended family was a very important contribution and I think we’re still seeing it in series now.”