The CW is turning back the clock on Sunday night by celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Waltons with a new Christmas special. The Waltons' Homecoming will debut on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. ET, in place of Legends of the Hidden Temple and Masters of Illusion. Homecoming features an all-new cast, although the actor who played the original John-Boy Walton, Richard Thomas, returned as the special's narrator.
Homecoming is set in 1933, during the Great Depression. At the start, the Walton family prepares for their first Christmas without John Walton Sr. (Ben Lawson), but Olivia (Bellamy Young) receives a letter that John Sr. plans to make it home after all. The family is excited, but it looks like a storm could ruin their celebration. Olivia then sends John Boy (Logan Shroyer) out into the storm to find his father, and the journey is likely to change him forever. Christian Finlayson, Tatum Sue Matthews, Samuel Goergen, Callaway Corrick, Jacinte Blankenship, Alpha Trivette, and Rebecca Koon round out the cast. Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. will make special guest appearances. The special was directed by Lev L. Spiro and written by Jim Strain.
Television audiences were introduced to the Waltons in December 1971, when The Homecoming: A Christmas Story debuted on CBS. The special was a success, and The Waltons series debuted the following year. The show was canceled in 1981, but three TV movies followed in 1982, and three more followed in the 1990s.
Although the CW's target demographic might be unaware of The Waltons, Thomas told Deadline recently that it was the perfect time to bring the characters back because they can bring families together. "Young people could see a story about older people, and older people could remember their childhood," Thomas said. "And the faith element was just – you can't really tell the story about people in that part of America in 1933 without a faith element. That was a huge part of people's lives, and it still is around the country."
The future of The Waltons in 2021 could hinge on the success of the Christmas special, just as their future depended on the 1971 special. Executive producer Sam Haskell said he is already thinking about what a new Waltons series could look like. "I want to bring every original cast member in as a guest – to play a teacher or a nurse or a doctor. I want to integrate the original cast into the series and future movies. Yes," he said.
The Waltons was created by Earl Hamner Jr. and based on his 1961 book Spencer's Mountain. The book also became a movie in 1963, starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. The Waltons is available to stream on Philio and episodes air on local MeTV stations and the Hallmark Channel.