Despite rumors that The Waltons would be canceled at the end of its seventh season, the series was back on the CBS docket for season eight in the fall of 1979. Although Richard Thomas had long since exited the role of John-Boy Walton, the character was revived during this season ever so gradually and carefully (reported missing in action in WW2, John-Boy is rescued in a comatose state, remaining largely incommunicado throughout most of the year), the better to unveil a new actor, Robert Wightman, in the role. Also returning after declaring her independence from the series is Michael Learned as John-Boy's mother Olivia, though only as a recurring rather than a regular character. Having contacted TB at the end of season seven, Olivia recovers sufficiently to return home, but only long enough to take a job as an army nurse, leaving her household responsibilities in the hands of her cousin Rose Burton (Peggy Rea), who arrives at Walton Mountain with grandchildren Serena (Martha Nix) and Jeffrey (Keith Mitchell) in tow. Another cast addition takes place when Walton son Ben (Eric Scott) and his wife Cindy (Leslie Winston) have a baby daughter named Virginia. By season's end, the population in the Walton home continues to fluctuate, with all four of the Walton sons in one branch or other of the military. But with things moving so rapidly, the war should be over any minute now!