"The Big Valley" Judgement in Heaven (TV Episode 1965) - Plot Summary Poster

(TV Series)



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  • Jarrod arranges for the girlfriend of a murderous outlaw to be released from jail so she can spend Christmas with the Barkley family. The family has mixed feelings about sharing the holidays with her. She's a wildcat and, with her boyfriend still on the loose, she defiantly vows to re-join him at the first opportunity, causing chaos in the Barkley household.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • This was a Christmas episode, but don't let that deter you from watching a fine episode which is not the typical maudlin Christmas fare for a television show aired around Christmas. This show is not the typical sentimental fare of its genre. Jarrod is appointed the public defender for captured bad girl Maybelle Williams (Lynn Loring), the teenage or so girlfriend of "desperado" Billy Joe Gaines (Nicolas Surovy) who is wanted and on the loose. Jarrod persuades Judge Parker (Ned Wever) to release Maybelle into Jarrod's custody while she awaits trial, which is around Christmas time. Maybelle's alleged crime is minor (possession of stolen items) and although the judge is reluctant to release her because of her association with Billy Joe and her fairly redneck attitude toward life in general, he relents and Jarrod takes her to the Barkley ranch for the Christmas holidays. He does make Jarrod a bet (a box of fine cigars) that she will take off and rejoin her trash boyfriend and his gang. Jarrod gives her the benefit of the doubt regarding her innate character as does sister Audra (Linda Evans). Maybelle begins to fall for Jarrod--and there seems some reciprocity on his part, but it is quite understated. Loser boyfriend Billy Joe shows up to claim what he considers his property and she goes off with him. Jarrod then thinks that the Judge was right ("I have seen a hundred girls like her") and delivers the box of cigars to him--but wait the show is not yet over! This one was written by Mel Goldberg, not William Sydney Porter, but the ending made this viewer wonder if it was not based on an O. Henry story. This is a good, well written, acted and directed show that is worth watching any time of year.

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