I watched the Waltons yesterday, and one of the episodes was “The Abdication,” which is from its fourth season. It first appeared on TV in 1975. I’ve been waiting for this episode for a long time because it has a young Stephen Collins, who plays Eric Camden on 7th Heaven.
He was so young! I recognized him, but he was so young! I had a hard time adapting to how young he looked. The reason was probably this: I’m used to seeing him as a guy in his 40’s and 50’s. I’m also somewhat familiar with the Waltons, in the sense that I’m used to the characters. So when I see a guy I’m used to, and he’s with other people I’m used to, he looks a little out of place when he doesn’t look like I’m used to seeing him look. Does that make sense?
Let me put it this way: I have a hard time adjusting to the fact that the Waltons was made a long time ago. When I watch the Waltons, I feel like I’m a part of that time, for I share the characters’ experiences as they mature. But if I see someone from the present in the past, and he was in another show whose time I was a part of, and he looks different, then I get a little confused.
I may not make any sense. I have this reaction with some actors and not with others. I didn’t really respond this way when I saw Ned Beatty on the Waltons, probably because he was roughly that age in other things I’ve seen him in (e.g., Superman, Highway to Heaven). The same goes for John Ritter. I never saw him old, so I’m not shocked when he looks overly young. I did have that confused reaction when I saw James Cromwell on Little House on the Prairie, however.
And I’m not saying that Stephen Collins looks old. It’s just that I’ve always seen him as a daddy-figure. So watching him date Mary Ellen was a little jarring.
On this Waltons episode, Collins wasn’t exactly an Eric Camden type. He didn’t even sound like him, since he had a sophisticated British accent (or whatever it was). He usually stood up straight. There was one occasion when he displayed that bumbling, likable, Eric Camden quality, but it wasn’t often.
He also wasn’t too much like Eric Camden on a recent movie he was in: Hallmark Channel’s Every Second Counts. There, he played a rodeo rider who had a drawl. In one of the online scenes, I could kind of see Eric Camden, probably because he came across as a familiar, comforting presence who was proud of his daughter.
I’ve seen Stephen Collins in other things: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, First Wives’ Club, Babysitter’s Seduction, and Scarlett. But he didn’t make that much of an impression on me when I saw those. When I started watching 7th Heaven, and I learned that he was the sinister character on those movies, I thought, “Naah, Get outta here!”
But he had more of an Eric Camden quality on A Woman Named Jackie, where he played JFK. There, he had that bumbling, likable, approachable demeanor. I remember him being tongue-tied when he was talking to Marilyn Monroe! And I noticed this before 7th Heaven even existed!
Anyway, sorry that I ended so many sentences with a preposition. I know that Eric Camden can be a grammar freak! Have a nice day!