When The Waltons hit the air in 1972, producers Earl Hamner Jr., Lee Rich and the series other executives constructed the show to emphasize both the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Depression in an effort to evoke a kind of nostalgia for the recent past. Hamner, Jr. understood that while it should be obvious that the Waltons were poor, they should not be living in absolute squalor. Further, while the show would be based around traditional values and family, The Waltons would not be Father Knows Best or I Remember Mama transplanted to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia,” but instead “the continuing story of a seventeen-year old boy who wants to be a writer, growing up during the Depression in a large and loving family.”

The series was a huge ratings success and won several Emmy Awards. However, by the ninth season it was clear the show was running out of steam. Several major characters had already left the series. Michael Learned who played Olivia Walton, left the series as a regular cast member after the seventh season. Her seminal character’s abrupt disappearance was explained by Olivia’s developing tuberculosis and entering a sanitarium. For continuity’s sake, she did make occasional guest appearances until the show’s eighth season. Ralph Waite, who played John Walton Sr., would leave the show early in the ninth season, when his character moved to Arizona to be closer to Olivia at the sanitarium.
Of course, the series biggest loss came after the fifth season when Richard Thomas who played the central character of John Boy Walton, decided to leave the show. It was during the eighth season that the show’s producers made the risky decision to recast the part. Actor Robert Wrightman wasn’t terrible, he just couldn’t possibly fill Thomas’ shoes.
So with the Walton Parents stepping back and John Boy no longer the strong focus he once was, the ninth season of The Waltons found the show refocusing its commentary of the times on the remaining Walton children. In the two-hour season premiere, “Outrage” John and Harley confront prejudice first-hand during an out of town delivery. Harley is later arrested and accused of a murder that happened several years earlier. At the same time, the nation is mourning the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
This season briefly finds Ben (Eric Scott), taken as a P.O.W. by the Japanese but after two years of the Walton men being deeply involved, World War II finally comes to an end. As Mary Ellen (Judy Norton Taylor) begins to move on with a new man in her life, she learns that Curt, her husband supposedly killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor, is indeed alive. However, he is quite different from the man she remembers. In fact he tells her that he wants a divorce, leaving her free to marry again. Curt had, in fact, became impotent as a result of his war injuries and did not want to hold her to a marriage in name only.
Probably the best episodes of this season were the final two. In “The Hostage” a man is attempting to marry a girl not of legal age. Mary Ellen intervenes which leads to her being kidnapped and held in exchange for his intended wife. The series finale “The Revel” has John-Boy chasing his dream and moving to New York City funded by the advance he is counting on for the sale of his manuscript. John-Boy’s dream is soon shattered, when he learns his manuscript has been rejected. Further, he finds himself broke, robbed of a typewriter, and ready to quit writing altogether. His publisher’s secretary gives him enough money to return home and advises him to start a new book. He returns home dejected. Meanwhile, the Baldwin sisters plan a lavish ball and send out invitations to their many old friends. Most are returned because the people have all died or moved away. The Waltons save the day when they gather everyone they can find to attend the celebration. In the closing epilogue, John Boy recounts that the Baldwin’s’ zest for life would inspire him to write another book and return to New York.

The full-screen, 1.33:1 transfers for The Waltons: The Complete Ninth Season are typical of previous releases. Scratches and dirt are present on almost every episode, while colors often appear muddy or faded.
The Dolby Digital English mono audio track accurately recreates the original broadcast presentation, but there are occasional warbles in the sound. Subtitles are included.
There are no special features included.