Episode 5 - The Changeling

(26 October 1978)
Writer: Robert Pirosh.
Director: Lawrence Dobkin.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"The approach of a birthday in our family has always been a time of excitement and joy. But there was one notable exception. On Elizabeth's thirteenth birthday it seemed that she wasn't quite sure whether she wanted the clock to turn forward or backward"


Elizabeth is overwhelmed with the conflict of staying a little girl and growing into a woman. While on the front porch, the family discusses her moods. Olivia says Elizabeth has been the most mysterious of all her children. As Elizabeth secretly listens, a vase sitting above the fireplace falls to the floor. Without an explanation, John and Olivia look to Elizabeth who is unaware how it broke.


Jason auditions for a radio station that is looking for someone trustworthy to appeal to all ages. They decide on a format where Jason provides advice for the lovelorn. Jason begins his first broadcast saying, ‘Good evening everyone, this is your Cousin George, the man you turn to when you hit a bump on the rocky road of love.’ The family listens to the program with John saying, “It’s corny enough to be a hit”. When Elizabeth asks what Jason means by ‘forbidden love’ the family laughs at her. Suddenly, the telephone rings but no one is there. Elizabeth then walks upstairs where her hair is blown and a picture frame suddenly drops down. When Elizabeth looks into the mirror her image mysteriously becomes clouded over.


Corabeth is also listening to Cousin George on the radio. Afterwards, she writes a letter asking help for a ‘lady of breeding’ to improve her husband in the area of culture. After the broadcast, Erin runs downstairs to congratulate Jason. Jason says that if the series is a success he will be on the radio three times a week but otherwise will be out a job. Alone in the bedroom Elizabeth again feels the wind blow her hair. Then, she sees a stone as it flies through the open window and lands on the floor. When she approaches, it suddenly skids across the floor. Elizabeth screams and the family rushes to her aid. But no stone is found on the floor. In the morning John finds rocks outside Elizabeth’s window and a repairman is summoned to check the telephone. There is nothing wrong but, again, the telephone rings with no one answering.


Jason receives good response from the listeners and is hired by the radio station. Jason learns, however, that he will be answering the letters and writing his own scripts. Without much experience in solving problems of the heart Jason turns to Erin and Mary Ellen for help.


John approaches Elizabeth trying to understand what is bothering her. She admits not knowing who she is anymore. He helps to calm her fears about entering puberty. But as the family listens to Cousin George, Ben mentions that when Elizabeth enters the room static overcomes the radio, and clears up when she leaves. Jason reads ‘Dear Frustrated’ and suggests she expose her husband to poetry and the better things in life. As its author, Corabeth begins playing classical music in the store. She also explains to Ike that the cause of Elizabeth’s problems could be a poltergeist, a mischievous ghost that appears when children are present. Ike tells Olivia, Mary Ellen, and Elizabeth about the belief in ghosts and spirits.


Elizabeth decides to have a party for her thirteenth birthday. Olivia suggests an overnight party on the night before her birthday. While signing up for a music appreciation class, Ike runs into Jason at the Kleinberg Conservatory of Music. Not knowing about Jason’s job, Ike badmouths Cousin George for suggesting he improve himself. Jason recommends that he just refuse what Corabeth wants him to do. Ike says concessions are often necessary to make a marriage work.


Olivia returns from the library after selecting books on poltergeist. Research suggests that strange things often happen to twelve to fourteen year old children with fearfulness about growing up. As Elizabeth attempts to sleep she sees her Raggedy Ann doll change positions. She is scared and hides under the covers.


Corabeth forces Ike to read Romeo and Juliet but, luckily, it becomes time to listen to Cousin George. On this show, however, Jason is unsure about his advice. He finally admits he’s just a country boy with hardly any experience in love. His program is cancelled but the family is proud he admitted his shortcoming and Ike returns to his Detective magazine.


At the party, Olivia and John remain upstairs while Elizabeth, Aimee, and the other girls play games in the living room. Aimee decides to tell a ghost story but Elizabeth does not like haunted houses. Before Aimee can begin the lights go out unexpectedly. Then the piano begins to play by itself, the wind blows inside the house, and a chair floats in the air. When the girls scream the family run downstairs. The men try to close the windows while the women calm the girls. Olivia tells Elizabeth only she can stop what is happening by releasing her emotions. She finally admits being scared of growing up and seeing her parents grow old and die. When Olivia reassures her they will be alive for a long time, the house returns to normal.


"Elizabeth's birthday came and went, and none of the strange things that had been happening ever happened again. Were there really poltergeists in the house? Scientists are still looking for answers to questions like that. All we know is that we never found any other explanation"


Jim Bob: Dear Cousin George, I'm goin' to be married next week.
Curt: Congratulations.
Jim Bob: My bride's mother wants to come along on the honeymoon.
Jason: Better find out first if she snores.
Erin: Oh PS, I forgot to mention I'm a midget in a circus, and the man who proposed to me is the giant. Signed Undecided.
Jason: Goodnight Undecided....
Erin: Goodnight Cousin George!
Elizabeth: Goodnight everyone.
(everyone): Goodnight Elizabeth.



Elizabeth’s Raggedy Ann doll is named Katie.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Aimee Godsey (Rachel Longaker); Mr. Larkin (Russ Marin); Denby (Patrick Gorman); Telephone Repairman (John Perryman); First Girl (Kathy Ritzke); Second Girl (Kelly Louise Lynn); John Curtis (Michael and Marshall Reed)