The Waltons Returns for a Thanksgiving Special

Beloved 1970s drama The Waltons returns for another update in this Thanksgiving special

Home for the holidays

Actor Richard Thomas, who still expresses “gratitude for the quality” of the classic 1970s drama that launched his career, is back as narrator (voicing his character John-Boy’s adult self) for A Waltons Thanksgiving. In the new film, the approach of the holiday—and the local Harvest Festival Fair—in Depression-ravaged 1934 affects various family members, as patriarch John Sr. (Teddy Sears) finds a new way to provide for his family, wife and mother Olivia (Bellamy Young) opens up more, and the young John-Boy (Logan Shroyer) gets a lesson in responsibility. A Waltons ThanksgivingThe CW“There was talk about doing another special, depending on how the first one went,” Thomas recalls of making The Waltons’ Homecoming in 2021. “That first one went really well and had great viewership, so they green-lit this Thanksgiving show. I read and liked the script very much, and what I’ve seen of the finished film looks very beautiful.” 

Thomas had actually hoped to serve as narrator of the old Waltons show (which still runs most days on MeTV), but that task went to creator Earl Hamner, Jr., who for all intents and purposes was the real-life John-Boy. Now, Thomas likes having that job: “I feel so connected to the material, I know what it feels like to do that character, and reading the narration just feels very natural to me.” A Waltons ThanksgivingThe CW“What it did for me career-wise goes without saying,” Thomas previously said of The Waltons on its 50th birthday, “or maybe it doesn’t go without saying. The [original] cast was able to put so much love and commitment into those characters, we created something that is still vital. It still has something to say. And it’s extraordinary to have been part of a piece of work that is still speaking to audiences a half-century later.” 

Seen in recent years on such shows as Ozark, Billions and The Americans, Thomas did his contributions for A Waltons Thanksgiving—including, as with The Waltons’ Homecoming, an on-camera appearance—while also playing attorney Atticus Finch in a national stage tour of To Kill a Mockingbird, which he will continue until this July. A Waltons ThanksgivingThe CW“It’s been great,” the actor says. “It’s challenging for a lot of reasons, the travelling and being in hotel rooms for months and figuring out where to eat… all the mundane stuff of day-to-day life, but it’s so great to take a play around the country, and especially this play. Most people know these characters, and the reception has been very warm, so it’s very fulfilling. I’m enjoying it enormously.” 

A Waltons Thanksgiving premieres Sunday November 20 on The CW