|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.
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 and two examples from season eighteen; more examples of the unique title sequences are shown this page and 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 Pups of Bonnie Lassie," that accompanies the various parts. The words are sung to the old folk ballad "The Dear Knows Who I'll Marry," and other verses spring up in subsequent episodes after the puppy story concludes, including "Any Heart in a Storm." It was written by episode authors Robert Schaefer and Eric Freiwald and sung by Michael Carlton Clough with guitar accompaniment.
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 (the one with the most white markings) 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. This is his last appearance on the series. 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):
- Now in the forest with her two remaining puppies, Lassie tried to impress survival skills on them since they poke their noses in everything from beetles to tortoises (she even allows a skunk to spray them), but all they want to do is play. When they take refuge from a storm in an old adobe fort, one of the pups chases a crow and is trapped high upon a battlement with no way down. Lassie pulls the old bag mattress they slept on for the puppy to leap into, but it is afraid to jump, so she must climb up to the battlement by a different route to persuade him to leap down into the bag.
Note: The story opens with Lassie protecting the puppies from a bald eagle (one of the pups has its head in the nest), but the first shot you see of Lassie is not Hey-Hey, but his father Mire, from an earlier forest ranger episode.
- "The Offering" (10/25/70):
- Lassie and her two remaining puppies arrive just as young Davey Braddock finds that his old dog Barney has passed away at a place where the boy and dog loved to fish. HThe grief-stricken boy at first ignores the collies, who shelter at the Braddock ranch, but one of the pups is especially fond of Davey and Lassie works it so that this puppy begins to become familiar with ranch work. But will Davey ever get over Barney's death? Davey: Sean Kelly. Clay Braddock: Robert Donner. Lucy Braddock: Mary Gregory.
Note: Davey names the puppy "Dusty." It's the one with a black smutch of "dust" on the back of its ruff, leaving Lassie with just one puppy, the one with a black bar on its tail. Part of this episode seems to be filmed in the same area where "Yochim's Christmas" was filmed, specifically Barney's gravesite and the hill Clay and Davey climb at the episode opening.
- "Nature's Child" (11/01/70):
- While traveling through the forest, Lassie and her remaining puppy meet Jody, a girl who can "talk to animals," as she enjoys the company of a fawn. A crow suddenly caws in panic and Jody, Lassie, and the pup follow its flight and find a young rabbit that has been injured by a fox. Jody's father, a road construction worker, who views Jody's animal talk as something imaginary, treats the little rabbit, and it is well enough to release the next day. But to his great surprise when his bulldozer tips over, trapping his foot, he sees in action Jody's animal friends alerting her. Jody Tyler: Jewel Blanch. Mr. Tyler: Med Flory.
Note: Every child should have a father like Mr. Tyler, who loves Jody unconditionally even though he doesn't believe at first that she really talks to animals. Jody states at the end of the episode that Lassie "is looking for something. When she finds it, she'll know," implying that Lassie is seeking out a new home, not wandering around like the Littlest Hobo because she enjoys it. We never do learn the puppy's sex (Jody refers to the pup as "it") and Jody does not give it a name. Filmed in the Angeles National Forest.
- "Flock of Love" (11/08/70):
- In a busy city park, Lassie befriends Tom Murphy, an elderly man whose claim that the flock of white pigeons he feeds love him is scoffed by his cynical chess opponent, who says they simply like him because he feeds them. But after Tom suffers a stroke, neither cranky George nor other friend Andy can get the pigeons to eat and they and Lassie mount vigil at the park. George reluctantly takes Lassie with him to visit Tom some days later, and by fetching the white pigeons, she makes George realize that Tom's belief is not a fantasy. Tom: Don Beddoe. George: Douglas V. Fowley. Andy: Phil Chambers. Albert the Poodle's Owner: Louise Fitch.
Note: This was filmed near a Palm Avenue, which seems to be in West Hollywood or Hacienda Heights. The pigeons were trained by Ray Berwick, who would later supply "Fred" the cockatoo to the series Baretta. Loved George complaining about how he can't go to the movies anymore because he doesn't understand them: "the sad ones are funny and the funny ones are sad." He blames it on his age; I blame it on the 70s. :-)
- "Aftermath" (11/15/70):
- A careless smoker starts a forest fire, displacing a squirrel, a rabbit, and a bluebird, and orphans a baby goat whose mother is killed by a fallen tree. Lassie arrives in the burned area just as the four animals are returning to their burnt-out homes. Lassie quickly leads the bluebird and squirrel to new homes across the road where it is still green and lush, but first must rescue the kid after it tumbles off a boulder and then must save the rabbit from a hawk before she can take the bunny to its new home and leave the kid with a small herd of deer.
Note: Apparently Lassie has to lead all these animals to new homes because they don't have the brains to cross the road and look for new places to live. Just to make the very apt point, one of the first things consumed in the fire is a Smokey the Bear "Only you can prevent forest fires" sign. The scene where pickup trucks full of men arrive at the base station for the fire is taken from "A Time for Courage."
- "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 Gary. Once well again, she becomes a fixture at Gary's home where his father trains race horses and befriends a newborn coltthen Glory is threatened by a marauding cougar and badly injures her right foreleg. 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 intended to be Monty Roberts or not.)
- "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 schedules surgery on the filly nevertheless after a pep talk from his partner Bert. Then it is up to Gary and Lassie to make her well, with exercise and swim therapy. But Glory must pass one last test: a real "start from the gate" as if she was on the racetrack. 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.
- "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, who's been putting off a trip to Hawaii with his wife in order to "leave his kids something," scoffs at Mark's ideauntil the truck's brakes fail on a steep downhill run. Mark Saunders: Rob Hughes. Ramsey Harris: Noah Beery Jr.
Bonnie: Angela Green.
Trivia: Harris' wife is named Peggy. The cafè they stop at is called the "Hob Nob" and Harris works for Federal Companies, which appears to be a real trucking company.
Note: "Lassie's Interlude," the first part of "The Saga of Lassie's Puppies," was the season opener for Lassie's final network 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 whom 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 intended to precede "Lassie's Interlude." Networks often choose a different episode to begin a series' television season if they think another episode will "show" better: for instance, the Star Trek pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was pushed to a later date and "The Man Trap" was shown as the first episode of that series instead. The title "A Year of Sundays" 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 severe 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; when Lassie tries to warn her, the woman bars her out because she is covered in mud. Woman: Kate Reid.
Note: Lassie leaves at the end of course, accompanied by the "Bonnie Lassie" theme, and finds a little bedraggled terrier to keep her new human friend company. Canadian actress Kate Reid was very busy on U.S. television after her appearance in the Universal thriller The Andromeda Strain, including co-starring on an episode of Columbo. In the pilot for the U.S. series The Good Life, she played opposite her Andromeda co-star David Wayne, but the role in the resulting series was played by Hermione Baddeley.
- "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" (still a common term before the home computer age; the computer operators were also known as "computers"). 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 treads carefully upstream and across a dangerous gorge after swimming out to help rescue two campers, Tommy and Bob Carroll, who left their father to try out a new raft and were swept downstream on the rapids, the collie having guided their raft to shore. Once she finds help, however, she and forest ranger Bill must find the boys, who are also heading upstream back to their camp, with Bob's arm broken and Tommy eventually trapped at the top of a boulder. Mr. Carroll: Robert Patten. Bill: Don Eitner. Mike: Scott Perry. Tommy: Robert Ferrel. Bob: Danny Madrid.
Trivia: The ranger headquarters in this episode is the Lobo Ranger Station.
Note: Lassie seems to be still recognized by forest rangers; so why is she running loose? When the question of who Lassie belongs to arises, the forest ranger replies, "I guess you could say to everyone who needs her." At the end of the episode, the "Bonnie Lassie" theme plays, so I guess they are going on the notion that she is searching for something.
- "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 appearanceperhaps his lastfor 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 penchant for trouble: he falls into 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, but is actually the house that will be later used for the Holden ranch house.
Here's a novelty: one of the credit sequences from season 17 that includes the "Campbell kid" logo.
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