Episode Guide:
Season 17


Please note that I have seen every episode of Lassie as listed in this guide. Therefore, although the titles and dates of these episodes have been gleaned from other sources (as cited on the contents page to this episode guide), any description and comments are mine.

Regular Cast:

Lassie's final network season was done without any regular human cast at all, setting Lassie up as a Littest Hobo-type wanderer who stepped in and helped people with their problems. The season started off with a seven-part story called, in its entirety, "The Saga of Lassie's Puppies." (The first four parts were later incorporated into a TV movie.) There were some standout episodes, including one called "Any Heart in a Storm" guest starring Canadian actress Kate Reid and another called "A Year of Sundays" featuring Noah Beery, Jr., but the series seemed to be winding down. It was not surprising that CBS chose not to renew the series option in the spring of 1971 when the prime-time access rule kicked in.

The theme song changed this year; a version of the old English song "Greensleeves" ("What Child is This?") was used.

The seventeenth season initiated a two-season practice of having no static title sequence; instead a unique title sequence was generated for each episode from a scene in the first few minutes of the story. A screencap from "Lassie's Interlude" on the Lassie Titles and Credits page illustrates this practice, as well as two examples from season eighteen; more examples of the unique title sequences are shown on the season eighteen page.

"Lassie's Interlude" (09/20/70):
Lassie, on her own now (no explanation is given), is traveling temporarily with a young man named Mark Saunders who is hiking to the coast because he's never seen the ocean. When Mark helps summer camp owners Jim and Nancy Pearson fight a fire, Lassie meets their collie Duke and stays with the Pearsons after Mark continues his journey, as seeing Lassie with Duke has convinced him she has found a permanent home. Lassie and Duke frolic like young lovers until she gets into a fight with a marauding German Shepherd; Duke tries to lead her home, but Lassie collapses by the side of a road. While Duke goes for help, Lassie is picked up by a sympathetic rancher. Mark Saunders: Rob Hughes. Jim Pearson: Skip Homeier. Nancy Pearson: Sally Fraser. Will: Robert Rockwell.
   • Note: This is the only episode where the producers actually acknowledge that somewhere out there there's actually a father to all those puppies Lassie had over the years! Mark states to the Pearsons that he calls her "Lassie," so it is not like in the initial eighteenth season episode where Ron recognizes her as a collie who once was with the forest service. Like "Lassie the Voyager," this story has a song, "The Ballad of Lassie's Puppies," that accompanies the various parts. The words are sung to the old folk ballad "The Dear Knows Who I'll Marry."
   • Note: Please see my note at "A Year of Sundays."
"The Birth" (09/27/70):
Lassie, now miles away from the Pearsons and herding sheep on the ranch belonging to her rescuer Will Thorne, and having befriended Kerry, the mute son of Will's partner John, encounters the killer dog once more after he steals a lamb from the flock and then invades her pen. Will Thorne then believes her subsequent litter of puppies was sired by the dog and takes them out to the desert to die, thinking that they too will grow up to be killers. But Lassie leaps from a window and Kerry helps her escape to find them. Kerry Holt: Michael-James Wixted. John Holt: Jack Bannon. Ellen Holt: Carolyn Kearney. Will Thorne: Robert Rockwell. Wayne: Myron Healey.
   • Note: Look! There's Ruth Martin's stove (repainted) in the Holts' kitchen! How anyone could have looked at those puppies and thought they were crossbred German Shepherds is beyond me; I've seen collie/shep crosses and they don't look anything like that.
"The Survival" (10/04/70):
Lassie and her three puppies take refuge in the desert near Rock Canyon, where she desperately seeks nourishment for the pups at a deserted ranch. She finds only water and a corncob, but luckily Kerry comes looking for them with his school lunch. When the boy is attacked by the killer dog, this time Lassie is able to fend him off. Kerry, troubled because his father wants to send him to a special school where he will learn sign language, then sneaks out of the house during the night with more food, but is reported missing. Kerry Holt: Michael-James Wixted. John Holt: Jack Bannon. Ellen Holt: Carolyn Kearney. Sergeant Hayes: Robert Foulk. Will Thorne: Robert Rockwell. Wayne: Myron Healey.
   • Note: Yes, those rocks where Lassie hides her puppies do look familiar: we are again at Vasquez Rocks, where so many of the later Timmy episodes were filmed.
"The Miracle" (10/11/70):
Sergeant Hayes, searching for the killer dog, spots Lassie and her puppies in Rock Canyon. When Kerry discovers that Will and Hayes are determined to kill the puppies, he runs to save them and is chased by a cougar. Later Lassie saves Will and Hayes from being pounced on by the creature. In the meantime Jim Pearson has showed up at the ranch searching for Lassie, but by the time Will and the Holts learn that Duke was the father of the puppies, it's almost too late. Kerry Holt: Michael-James Wixted. Jim Pearson: Skip Homeier. John Holt: Jack Bannon. Ellen Holt: Carolyn Kearney. Will Thorne: Robert Rockwell. Sergeant Hayes: Robert Foulk.
   • Note: Lassie leaves one of the puppies with Kerry, who names him "Dingaroo" after a slang word Will Thorne uses to indicate strong approval. Robert Foulk played Sheriff Miller during the run of the Timmy episodes, but he was on the series as early as 1954 in a first season Jeff episode. Jack Bannon would go on to co-star on another CBS series, Lou Grant starring Edward Asner. Bannon's father, Jim Bannon, shared a link to Lassie: he also starred in his own radio series, the long-running adventure I Love a Mystery.
"The Innocents" (10/18/70):
In this all-animal episode, Lassie teaches her two remaining puppies to survive in the wild, not an easy task in an area full of snakes and predators.
"The Offering" (10/25/70):
Lassie and her puppies meet Davey Braddock, a boy is grief-stricken by the recent death of his dog. Davey: Sean Kelly. Clay Braddock: Robert Donner. Mrs. Braddock: Mary Gregory.
   • Note: Davey names the puppy "Dusty."
"Nature's Child" (11/01/70):
While wandering the forest, Lassie and her remaining puppy meet a little girl (Jewel Blanch) who can "talk to animals." Father: Med Flory.
"Flock of Love" (11/08/70):
Lassie befriends an elderly man whose claim that the flock of birds he feeds love him is scoffed by his cynical checkers opponent. But the faithful birds will surprise them.
"Aftermath" (11/15/70):
After a forest fire, Lassie helps the wild animals displaced by the flames find new homes.
"Here Comes Glory" part 1 (11/22/70):
Lassie, poisoned by pesticides, is found by an up-and-coming race horse, Glory, and her young owner. Once well again, she befriends a newborn colt on their California thoroughbred farm—then Glory is threatened by a marauding cougar. Gary: Ronny Howard. Hank Christian, DVM: Conlan Carter. Monty: Ron Hayes. Bert Daniels: Bruce Bennett.
   • Note: Filmed at Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang, California.
"Here Comes Glory" part 2 (11/29/70):
Even Hank can't believe all his surgical skills can heal Glory's injured leg, but Monty takes a chance and has her operated on nevertheless after a pep talk from partner Bert. Then it is up to Gary and Lassie to make her well, with exercise and swim therapy. Gary: Ronny Howard. Hank Christian, DVM: Conlan Carter. Monty: Ron Hayes. Bert Daniels: Bruce Bennett.
   • Note: Filmed at Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang, California, which is the home of Monty Roberts, "The Horse Whisperer." (Not sure if the "Monty" Ron Hayes is playing is supposed to be Monty Roberts or not.)
"A Year of Sundays" (12/06/70):
Lassie and a workaholic trucker rescue a young man traveling across America to the Pacific coast while trying to live "a year of Sundays" after getting out of the Army. The trucker scoffs at Mark's idea—until the truck's brakes fail on a steep downhill run. Mark Saunders: Rob Hughes. Ramsey Harris: Noah Beery Jr. Bonnie: Angela Green.
   • Note: "Lassie's Interlude," the first part of "The Saga of Lassie's Puppies," was the season opener for this year. It was highly publicized in TV Guide and other television-oriented magazines. However, notice the character of Mark Saunders in this episode; it is the same young man Lassie is travelling with at the beginning of "Lassie's Interlude." He even tells the Pearsons that Lassie found him after he had an accident near the railroad tracks, which happens in the opening scenes of this episode, and later in "Lassie's Interlude" the Pearsons say to Mark, "I hope we haven't wasted one of your Sundays," and Mark tells Lassie "Thank you for making a couple of my Sundays special." So evidently this episode was originally meant to precede "Lassie's Interlude." The title is also a bit of a homage to Lassie's CBS timeslot from 1954 through 1971, Sunday nights at 7 p.m. EST.
"Any Heart in a Storm" (12/13/70):
Lassie takes refuge during a rainstorm in the garage of a good-hearted, lonely widow whose children have gone to college, but the woman is reluctant to let the muddy collie into her tidy house. Then the loose earth behind her house, weakened by water, begins to slide. Woman: Kate Reid.
"Gentle Dawn" (01/10/71):
Lassie and an injured mother linnet, who was stunned by a car while foraging for food on a road, bring together a lonely man and woman; in caring for the injured creature, they also learn to open themselves to each other. Tom Wade: Robert Sampson. Sandy Warner: Linda Meiklejohn.
   • Trivia: Tom's a night fry cook at a diner, Sandy is a "data computer." Her canary's name is Leroy.
"Lassie's Busy Day" (01/17/71):
The ring-tailed cat Lassie saves from a bobcat becomes the hunter after he goes after a grouse's nest along with a grey fox; next, a horned owl's nest is threatened by an opossum. After Lassie deals with the possum, she enlists the grey fox's help to rescue a burrowing owl from a ferret. Then the bobcat returns to stalk the horned owl's nest.
   • Note: The shots of the owl hen and her chicks, and the bobcat and possum threatening them are previously-used scenes from "The Protectors."
"The River" (01/24/71):
Lassie makes her way upstream after helping rescue two campers who left their father to try out a new raft and were swept downstream on the rapids. Once she finds help, however, she must find the boys, who are also heading upstream. With Robert Patten, Don Eitner, Scott Perry, Robert Ferrel, and Danny Madrid.
   • Note: When the question of who Lassie belongs to arises, the forest ranger replies, "Oh, I guess to everyone who needs her."
"Other Pastures, Other Fences" (01/31/71):
A boy restless with his rural life and chafing under the "no trespassing" signs of their territorial neighbor wishes to strike out to "follow his star"—stealing the neighbor's mare to do so. Cullen: Kevin Brodie. Father: Russell Thorson. Baird: Karl Swenson.
"The Awakening" (02/07/71):
Teenage Patty, reluctantly having left the city for a summer in the country with her aunt, has an inauspicious beginning: she's poisoned by arsenic in the well. Her aunt finds the source of the problem in an old mine, but is then trapped when the floor collapses, so Lassie must find Patty, who's just about to leave. Katherine: Joan Tompkins. Patty: Brooke Bundy.
"Troubled Waters" (02/21/71):
Lassie and her new pal, a mutt named Skipper, are getting along just fine with Reed and Johnny, a couple of guys they befriended on the beach, until John discovers Reed is "the law," a harbormaster, and walks out. But he finds he needs "the law" later on when he "borrows" a for-sale cabin cruiser and takes Lassie and Skipper along for the ride. Reed Adams: Aron Kincaid. John Tanner: Frank Webb.
   • Note: Another appearance—perhaps his last—for Spike. Oh, boy, this one just reeks of "with it" seventies slang: "pad," "dig," "groovy," "rap," "get it on," "continue the dialog."
"For the Love of Lassie" (a.k.a. "Well of Love") part 1 (02/28/71):
Lassie returns to visit the Braddock ranch where she left one of her puppies with young Davey, and while she is playing with Dusty, falls down a hidden well. Oxygen is running out in the well, and the Braddocks race to dig down to her with the help of some old friends of Lassie that they happen to meet on the road. Davey: Sean Kelly. Clay Braddock: Robert Donner. Mrs. Braddock: Mary Gregory. Bert Daniels: Bruce Bennett.
   • Note: Bert is forced to turn back when lightning (out of a clear blue sky) fells a tree on the road in front of him. The implication is that God is helping to rescue Lassie.
"For the Love of Lassie" (a.k.a. "Well of Love") part 2 (03/07/71):
People who have been helped by Lassie (the couple from "Gentle Dawn," who are now married and on their honeymoon, and Bert from Flag is Up Farms) must now join together to rescue her from the well she has fallen into. They get oxygen down to her, but digging her out will take much longer. Davey: Sean Kelly. Clay Braddock: Robert Donner. Mrs. Braddock: Mary Gregory. Bert Daniels: Bruce Bennett. Tom Wade: Robert Sampson. Sandy Wade: Linda Meiklejohn.
   • Note: When the series was syndicated in the mid-70s, this two-parter and "The Offering" were stitched together into a Lassie movie called Well of Love. Since portions of "Well of Love" are flashbacks from "The Offering," the movie version is slightly repetitive.
"Sneakers" (03/21/71):
Lassie acquires a companion, a small grey kitten with a talent for trouble: he falls in a lake, catches the attention of an owl, gets his head caught in picnicker trash, and finally is charged by a pig. Finally they are trapped between an angry bear and a hungry bobcat, with their only way out a rickety bridge.
   • Note: Lassie finally drops the kitten off at a house that looks suspiciously like the one used on The Waltons.

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