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"Leave It To Beaver: Season 1" -- A Personal Review


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#1 of 103 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

David Von Pein

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Posted November 23 2005 - 10:14 AM

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


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Posted Image ***** FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE ***** Posted Image

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AT-A-GLANCE DVD STATS:

Number of Episodes -- 39.
Number of DVDs -- 3 (Dual-Sided; Dual-Layered; DVD-18).
Video Aspect Ratio -- Full Frame OAR (1.33:1).
Audio -- Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English only).
Color or B&W? -- B&W.
Any Bonus Stuff on the DVDs? -- Yes ... The LITB "Pilot" Episode ("It's A Small World").
Subtitles -- English and Spanish.
"Play All" Option Included? -- Yes.
Chapter Stops Included? -- No.
Are These Episodes Complete and Unedited? -- Yes.
Booklet Included? -- No.
DVD Distributor -- Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
DVD Release Date -- November 22, 2005.

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BEAVER'S P.Q. IS HIGH!:

The 1950s-1960s family sitcom "Leave It To Beaver" had never been made available to fans via any kind of major studio release on home video throughout all these many years of home-video formats (Beta, VHS, LD, or DVD) -- until the long-awaited date of November 22, 2005, when Universal Studios Home Entertainment released "Leave It To Beaver: The Complete First Season" on DVD.

And the first 39 "Beaver" episodes look just terrific here. The video quality for these black-and-white programs is extremely good, and the audio is very good too (by way of the very pleasant and clean-sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks that faithfully reproduce each episode's original Mono audio).

Thankfully, Universal has done a bang-up job with the digital transfers here, and these shows (which were originally photographed on film, not videotape) look and sound fabulous on these DVDs.

There is, however, a good deal of fine "film grain" contained within a lot of these episodes, but I'm assuming that is simply inherent to the type of film stock that was used for this series. The grain isn't very distracting (at least I don't have a major problem with the grain speckles that exist here). Interestingly, though, I've noticed that many scenes in these episodes don't seem to have any "grain" in them at all, while other scenes contain a lot more. The "outdoor" shots look almost grain-free.

Another very pleasing thing to me personally is the fact that all these DVDs pass the "freeze-frame test" with flying colors (i.e., when pausing or freezing an image on screen, the video doesn't "blur" at all; it stays rock-solid and clear while in "pause" mode; which, IMO, is a sign of a good film-to-DVD transfer).

All things considered, I could not be happier with the way these episodes look on these DVDs! And thus far I have no complaints about the performance of the sometimes-temperamental "DVD-18" dual-sided discs that Universal insists upon using for most of its TV-on-DVD releases. I'd prefer it if single-sided discs were used for all DVD releases (TV shows and movies alike), which would also afford the luxury of some nice artwork for each of the discs. But, the LITB episodes I have watched thus far have played perfectly all the way through on a Panasonic DVD player, with nary a hitch....and I'm not just giving you "The Business" in this regard either. Posted Image

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TIME-KEEPING DATA:

According to the stats on the packaging, the episode running times here average out to exactly 26 minutes per program (including the 40th episode in the set, the Pilot), which indicates to me that the following pleasing terms apply here: "Full"/"Complete"/"Uncut"/"Unedited"! And this is great to see, because the syndicated versions of this series that have been aired on commercial TV for decades have all had at least a few minutes sliced out of them due to commercial time restraints.

I think, however, that those time statistics on the box might be slightly too high, based on the data below. (But I'm guessing that the stats on the box include every single one of the redundant Universal Studios tags that appear before every show, because the run time of the Universal logo/fanfare is a part of the same elapsed-time track as the episodes. IMO, the counter should reset to 00:00 after the studio logo does its business. But on these discs, the time clock is not reset to zero after the logo blasts past you. So that fact no doubt drove the total run time upwards a bit right there.)

22 seconds (for logo to run) x 40 eps. = 14.67 minutes. .... Total Run Time listed on packaging = 1,040 minutes. .... When subtracting the repetitive (and annoying) Universal fanfare on each show, we get approx. 1,025 minutes for the 40 shows; which figures to an average per episode of 25.6 minutes. That should certainly = Uncut Beavers! Posted Image Posted Image

I did a "time check" for each of the seven LITB shows on Side A of Disc #1. The results made me smile (in an "uncut" and "complete" sort of fashion). Here are those run times (not counting the 22-second Universal fanfare and logo that's included at the start of every episode, which can, BTW, be quickly bypassed via the Chapter button):

"Beaver Gets 'Spelled" -- 25:48.
"Captain Jack" -- 25:48.
"The Black Eye" -- 25:49.
"The Haircut" -- 25:44.
"New Neighbors" -- 25:44.
"Brotherly Love" -- 25:37.
"Water, Anyone?" -- 25:44.

So I think it's safe to say that when fans view any of these 39 programs, they will probably be seeing them uncut for the first time since their original network TV airings in the late 1950s. I'm guessing that everyone who buys this DVD set will be seeing some scenes in a lot of these episodes that they had never seen previously. That fact, in and of itself, is something to look forward to via this Universal boxed set (and is kind of an "added value" item all by itself).

I'm also glad to see that these DVDs retain all of the "Previews" (or "Teasers") for these first-season "Beaver" programs. These brief preview clips were shown just prior to the opening titles and give an overview of what's coming up in that week's show. These pre-show snippets, which last about 20 to 30 seconds each, were only done for the first season. Hugh Beaumont served as "narrator" for the teasers on the first 16 episodes. For the final 23 shows of the season, however, Hugh's voice is not heard, with just an episode clip provided (sans the voice-over narration).

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A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SERIES:

"Leave It To Beaver" premiered on CBS-TV on Friday, October 4, 1957, and continued on network TV for a total of six seasons, finishing its 234-episode run in 1963. Each of the six seasons consisted of exactly 39 episodes, a hefty number by today's seasonal standards. CBS carried the show for the first season only. For the final five years, "Beaver" was a part of the ABC-TV schedule.

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The storylines used for "Beaver" were always very simple and uncomplicated, which is probably why it's so charming and appealing. No major earth-shattering disasters ever befall the Cleavers. Nobody ever gets hurt (except an occasional scraped knee), the parents (Ward and June) rarely fight about anything serious and never threaten to leave each other (like you might see on a show today), and above all, these characters really seemed to care about each other, without getting overly sappy and sentimental about it. All of these traits helped make "Leave It To Beaver" what it was each week in 1957, and what I believe it remains today: just a good, clean, fun, uncomplicated half-hour of entertaining television.

Starring Jerry Mathers as "Theodore (Beaver) Cleaver", Tony Dow as his brother "Wally", Barbara Billingsley as "June", and Hugh Beaumont as "Ward", the excellent cast of "Leave It To Beaver" was a well-chosen group in my opinion. While it's true, I suppose, that the acting was a bit on the "stiff" side on many occasions, I still think that this ensemble did quite well on this show. A sense of true believability and realism finds its way quite comfortably into each of these episodes.

Toss into this cast grouping the very funny Richard Deacon, who portrayed Ward's friend and co-worker, "Fred Rutherford", plus Ken Osmond as the ever-sarcastic "Eddie Haskell", Frank Bank as the wimpish (but always likeable) "Lumpy Rutherford", Rusty Stevens as "Larry Mondello", and all of Beaver's and Wally's other various friends, classmates, and schoolteachers, and you've got a really first-rate supporting cast of characters to build stories around.

Some of my favorite shows from this Season #1 Beaver batch include ..... "The Black Eye", "Beaver's Short Pants", "Party Invitation", "The Bank Account", "Train Trip", "The Perfect Father", "Beaver Runs Away", "Tenting Tonight", and my #1 fave from this season, "The Haircut", which has Beaver getting scalped by barber Wally in one of the funniest episodes of the whole series.

There's also the funny "Captain Jack" episode -- which was the very first show to be filmed; but was the second program to be aired. "Captain Jack" has Wally and Beaver sending away for a pet alligator, and includes the very funny scene where "Minerva" (the maid who we never see again) comes running up the basement stairs screaming "Help! A monster! There's an alligator in the basement!" .... This is followed by Ward's skeptical -- "An alligator?!" (LOL.)

"Captain Jack" also has the distinction of being the very first episode in television history to show a toilet on screen. (The "tank" portion of the Cleaver toilet is shown, not the [~gasp!~] "bowl" itself.) :-)

In fact, it was the "toilet" scene in "Captain Jack" that kept that episode from being aired by CBS as the debut show of the series in late 1957. But LITB show executives, including writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher (who authored a great number of the 234 "Beaver" programs throughout its 6-year history, including "Captain Jack"), stuck by their guns and won the "toilet battle" with CBS bigwigs, and thus "Captain Jack" (toilet scene intact) was approved for network broadcast one week later, being aired on October 11, 1957, as "Leave It To Beaver" episode #2.

And yet another winning Season-One entry is entitled simply "Lumpy Rutherford" -- where we get our first look at "Clarence Rutherford", known to most people as "Lumpy" (or "The Lump"). You'll note how Lumpy goes from being one of Wally's feared enemies to one of his best friends as the series progresses.

The thirty-nine first-season Beaver programs are assembled in their original TV "broadcast" order, and are distributed as evenly as possible on three double-sided DVDs (with 7 shows located on each disc side, except Side B of Disc 3, which has just 5 programs, including the Pilot).

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THE PILOT:

There's also a very nifty full-length bonus program located on Disc 3 of this set in the form of the original "Leave It To Beaver" Pilot episode, entitled "It's A Small World", which first aired on April 23, 1957, as an installment of the syndicated anthology TV program "Studio 57".

The pilot episode is a pretty decent show too (IMO), with a good storyline (unlike a lot of series-launching pilots I've seen). It provides a very satisfactory start to the Beaver series (although I must admit that Casey Adams, who portrayed Ward Cleaver in the pilot, doesn't nearly exhibit the charm, likability, and overall greatness that Hugh Beaumont brought to the role in the actual LITB series that followed). It's fun being able to see the "genesis" of the series via the pilot, and I commend Universal Studios for including it in this collection.

Both Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers co-star in the "Small World" pilot program, but different actors were cast in the roles of Wally and Ward. Paul Sullivan played Wally; while Casey Adams (aka Max Showalter), as I mentioned above, filled Ward's shoes for the pilot only. A 13-year-old Harry Shearer (famed voice actor on "The Simpsons") also was featured in the cast of the pilot episode. You'll also be able to spy "Leave It To Beaver" veterans Richard Deacon and Diane Brewster, too (although not in the same roles that they ended up playing in the series).

Harry Shearer can be seen below (on the right) in this video capture from the "Small World" pilot (not captured from the DVD however):

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The pilot has survived in very good shape too ("PQ"-wise). The video quality looks about the same as the other episodes in this set, meaning it's quite good indeed. And it appears that the pilot is uncut/unedited as well, with a running time of 25:02.

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LET'S TALK PACKAGING:


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Universal has offered up two different packaging variants for Season One of LITB. Each version is a 3-Disc set containing the exact same disc content. You can choose the lower-priced package, which comes with a standard-style slipcase box that holds three "slim" plastic cases (one for each of the double-sided DVDs).

Or -- There's the "Limited Edition" version, which includes "Premium Packaging" in the form of a collectible "Beaver Cleaver Lunch Box". The Lunch Box is decked out in a plaid design, and there's a good-looking picture of a smiling Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver on one side of the box (although I don't think it's a "Season 1" photo of The Beav); while a pic of the whole Cleaver family resides on the other side.

It's not a "full-sized" lunch box, however (and it doesn't come with a beverage-carrying "thermos" either Posted Image). It's a mini version of the type of metal lunch box that can be seen used by Beaver in several episodes of LITB. It's made out of pretty heavy metal though, and measures 7.75 in. x 6 in., with a thickness of about 3 inches.

The Limited Lunch Box version also includes a "Cleaver Family Photo Album", which is a mini-album containing six promotional snapshots of the Cleaver clan (plus one of Eddie Haskell). The photos have a quote from the series written on the front, but no writing or captions on the back side. Each B&W pic is removable and slides into a clear plastic sleeve. The album is nice-looking and sports a thick and well-"padded" vinyl-like cover.

Most of the Lunch Box's inner space is taken up by a large piece of Styrofoam, which has a section cut out of it to hold the Photo Album in place so it doesn't rattle around loose. Not too attractive there; but I suppose it's all Universal could come up with for padding/protection.

Now the bad news re. the Lunch-Box edition ..... Unfortunately, the Lunch-Box set does not include the regular-style disc-holding case that comes with the Standard set. The discs, instead, are held in three plastic sleeves at the "beginning" of the "album". This, IMO, is not a good way to store these two-sided discs. They are being rubbed up against the album sleeves whenever they're taken out or returned to the sleeves, making them possibly prone to getting scratched more easily. (In fact, upon closely examining the three discs I received in my Lunch Box, I can see that all 3 discs do, indeed, have some small surface scratches and marks on them.)

Plus, the way the album is designed, it's a bit difficult to get the discs out without a semi-struggle. Another debit is the fact you're almost forced to handle the data sides of the discs in order to get them out of their sleeves. You cannot use my preferred method of "disc handling", which is to pick the DVD up by sticking your finger in the center hole, while never having to touch the A or B side of the disc.

Another major negative factor to the Limited Edition is the lack of any episode information anywhere. There's no ep. guide booklet, nor are the episode titles listed anyplace on the disc-holding sleeves inside the album. Not a good thing. In fact, the more I ponder this omission, the more utterly ridiculous it seems to my way of thinking. There is no way at all for owners of the Lunch-Box pack to gather episode info other than to physically place each DVD into the player and search around the Ep. Index for the episode they want to see. How silly and clumsy is that? (Especially for a supposed deluxe "Premium Packaged" item?)

Another thing that is not to be found anywhere within the Lunch Box is any printed info that gives the "DVD Specs" (e.g., Total run time, Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio, 1.33:1 video ratio, subtitle choices, etc.). There's some of that info pasted to the bottom of the Lunch Box (on the plastic wrapper), but that's not a savable item and will get tossed in the trash with the plastic wrap (I think it's actually PART OF the shrinkwrap if I recall prior to tossing it.)

This lack of any episode info for the Limited Edition pack is bound to tick some fans off who also didn't get the Standard set; and let's face it, who else besides a Beaver-obsessed fan is going to buy BOTH sets? (Oh, wait, I got both...so I guess I fall into that niche, eh? Posted Image)

Prior to the 11/22/2005 release date, I had fully expected that the Lunch-Box set would simply have the standard box tucked away inside the Beaver Lunch Box. But, alas, this is not the case. And that's a bit of a disappointment in my view. But, still, to take a positive approach to this packaging thing, at least Universal is offering up a choice for customers, instead of providing ONLY an oddly-shaped disc-holding device.

While I like the Lunch Box and the photo album, I'd still recommend getting the standard set instead (due to its inclusion of a better and sturdier case to hold the actual DVDs; the "slim cases" are far better for housing the discs, IMO, than the flimsier "sleeves" that come with the Lunch-Box pack).

And, frankly, for the extra cost of a "Premium Limited Edition" set, I would have expected better packaging for the actual discs, rather than just the sleeves which are provided. After all, it's the discs themselves which are the "heart" of the collection; they deserve a better permanent home than what is provided in the Limited Edition, in my opinion. (Just doesn't make much sense to me -- Universal offers a set that they claim has "Premium Packaging"; and yet the packaging for the actual DVDs is far inferior to the non-premium alternative. Most curious indeed.)

Also -- Three of the six photos that come with the Limited Edition set are the exact pictures that can be found printed on the back covers of the three slim cases that come in the Standard LITB edition. That fact dilutes the "exclusivity" of the Limited Edition a trifle, because those same pics can be seen on the Standard packaging too.

More Packaging Notes ..... The "Standard" set's slim (clear) cases feature different photos on each case -- with just "The Beaver" on the first case, a pic of Wally and The Beav on case #2, and a family snapshot on the third one. Episode titles for each disc are shown on the back of each slim case. There are no photos (or text) printed on the inside of the slim cases, which makes things seem a bit barren and bland when you open the cases. (But at least they aren't just thrown in sleeves.) Posted Image

The Standard set's outer cardboard box is simple in nature (and color) -- pretty much just plain white (with shiny gold lettering used for the show title, which looks classy). I like this plain white design for the cover, though. It has a kind of "vanilla" look to it, befitting the very simple and "vanilla"-flavored (but always fun-to-watch) episodes contained within this all-white box. Looks nice. Simple...but nice.

One small gripe I do have with the Standard set's box is the lack of any "Season 1" notation on the spine of the box. There should at least be a "1" printed someplace on the spine to separate this set from future LITB releases. This is the very first TV-on-DVD set I've ever bought that has no season-number markings on the spine whatsoever. A curious omission.

I'm not quite sure why Universal didn't place its "Classic Television" banner across the top of this Season-One Beaver box. But no such moniker is printed on the case. Oh well. No biggie. But, IMO, if the words "Classic Television" were to ever apply to a TV show, then I think "The Beav" qualifies to be labelled as such. Posted Image

Another trivial hunk of data regarding the Standard packaging that some people might like to hear -- The plastic, black "Security Tag" in this set is affixed in a common-sense location -- it's stuck to the inside of one of the slim cases, and can be easily removed without causing any grief or cries of "Oh Sh*t, I hate these dang security thing-a-ma-jigs! I'm gonna rip the box apart!" Posted Image

Paramount seems to be the worst company for deliberately placing those darn security stickers/tags in a locale where it's harder than the dickens to get at the things and even harder to remove them without tearing the cardboard of the slipcases they insist upon attaching them to (e.g., all of the "I Love Lucy" sets, which have the tags buried inside the slipcases, which ain't good). Posted Image

One more additional note re. the Lunch-Box set -- The photo shown above of the Lunch Box is not quite the same as the final product released by Universal. The only difference is in the way "Limited Edition" appears on one side of the Lunch Box. The blue circle (oval) with "Limited Edition" printed in it is not on the box. Instead, the blue is gone entirely and just the words "Limited Edition" appear above the show title on the box. Which is too bad IMO; I like the "blue circle" version better. But this is the version of the box that was released:

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MENU INFO:

A nice, simple non-animated Menu design here. A picture of the Cleaver family is shown on the Main Menu for all discs. The LITB theme music plays on a continuous loop while the Main Menu is on screen. All other Sub-Menus are silent. Menu selections include: "Episode Index", "Languages", and a "Play All" option (plus a "Bonus Episode" Menu choice on Side B of Disc 3, for the Pilot ep.). English and Spanish subtitles are also available for all episodes (including the Pilot). When an episode is selected, an "Episode Summary" Sub-Menu is displayed, which includes a synopsis for that episode and the original airdate.

From the "Real Neat Episode Index" (which is what it's called on the Menu to give things a genuine "Beaver Cleaver" flavor) there's an additional Sub-Menu that can be accessed, an "Episode List", which contains a listing of all the episode titles for Season 1 (on six Menu screens). .... Other Beaver-like phraseology utilized within the Menu system include the "Nifty Languages" Menu screen, plus "Episode Index Stuff", and the "Swell Episode List". About the only thing missing is a "Keen Chapter List". Posted Image

No chapter stops have been inserted for any of these programs; and that's a bit of a shame, IMO. At least a minimal number of chapter breaks would have been nice. But, what are ya gonna do? Posted Image

Four minutes and thirty seconds of ads for other Universal DVDs come into view upon load-up of Disc 1 only (and only on Side A of Disc 1); but these advertisements can quickly be skipped via the remote control. The other normal mini-annoyances of DVD start-up (e.g., the studio logo and the FBI Warnings) can also be skipped in rapid fashion, which is a plus.

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THE EPISODES:

Here now is a look at all 39 first-season LITB shows that are included within this 3-Disc DVD boxed set (the shows are arranged in "Airdate Order" on the discs, just as shown below). The original CBS-TV broadcast dates are also included in the following list, as well as some selected episode descriptions and funny quotes from some of my favorite episodes........


LEAVE IT TO BEAVER -- SEASON #1 (1957-1958):

1. "Beaver Gets 'Spelled" (First Aired: October 4, 1957) -- This very first LITB episode has little Theodore terribly upset after he's given a note to take home from school. .... Watch for the very funny (and somewhat "racy", for 1957 standards) dialogue exchange between June and Ward after June receives some flowers from Beaver's school principal that were really meant for Ward as a 'get-well' gift. June asks her hubby, suspiciously: "Who's Cornelia Rayburn, and when did she see YOU off your feet?!" Posted Image .... "Leave It To Beaver" shared its premiere date with another historic "first" -- the Russians launched the first Earth-orbiting satellite ("Sputnik 1") on the very same day, 10/4/57. It's up to you to decide which event was the most significant -- Beaver's debut or Sputnik's? ~scratching cranium~ Posted Image

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2. "Captain Jack" (October 11, 1957) -- Via a magazine ad, the boys send away for a "Genuine Florida Everglades Alligator" for $2.50. .... "You know, the little fella didn't actually bite me; he kind of 'sawed' at me!"

3. "The Black Eye" (October 18, 1957) -- "Wally, you mean to tell me that a GIRL gave Beaver that black eye? And I practically sent him over there to annihilate her!"

4. "The Haircut" (October 25, 1957) -- This is an episode filled with laugh-out-loud moments, after Beaver loses his haircut money and decides to perform the hair-trimming himself (with a little help from brother Wallace too). .... "Do you have to wear those awful caps night and day for a whole week?" ---> "That oughta do it!"

5. "New Neighbors" (November 1, 1957) -- "Dad, have you ever kissed any other married women besides mom? I guess a guy could get in a lot of trouble doing that, huh?" ---> "He sure could {smiling}."

6. "Brotherly Love" (November 8, 1957)

7. "Water, Anyone?" (November 15, 1957) -- "He's got a monopoly; he's practically operating a 'black water' market."

8. "Beaver's Crush" (November 22, 1957)

9. "The Clubhouse" (November 29, 1957)

10. "Wally's Girl Trouble" (December 6, 1957) -- This episode features Penny Jamison's hysterical scream (double meaning there) after Beaver gives Penny a toad as a gift. Penny's ear-piercing cries of anguish send Beaver running for the hills. Posted Image

11. "Beaver's Short Pants" (December 13, 1957) -- Aunt Martha's visit means nothing but misery and suffering for poor Beaver. .... "Theodore -- don't slump over your milk toast like that; you'll have curvature of the spine!" Posted Image

12. "The Perfume Salesmen" (December 27, 1957) -- The boys try to peddle 24 bottles of awful-smelling perfume. .... "It kind of smells like an old first baseman's mitt I used to have."

13. "Voodoo Magic" (January 3, 1958) -- "George {Haskell}, I just can't believe this {about the "voodoo curse" Beaver put on Eddie}. The Beaver is such a sweet little fellow. He likes everybody -- even Eddie!" .... A fabulous episode in the LITB annals. Many hilarious moments, including the June quote I just mentioned.

14. "Part-Time Genius" (January 10, 1958) -- "I think I'd like to be a garbage collector when I grow up. You don't have to wash your hands all the time, and nobody cares how you smell!" Posted Image

15. "Party Invitation" (January 17, 1958) -- Beaver is forced to attend an "all-girl" party. (God help the lad!) Posted Image

16. "Lumpy Rutherford" (January 24, 1958) -- This is the rib-tickling "Barrel Hoops" episode, with Wally & Beaver setting a "trap" for mean ol' "Lumpy" just outside his house. But Lumpy's father falls into the trap instead of "The Lump". .... June's excitedly-worried reaction to the boys' practical joke elicits another classic bit of dialogue from this great TV series --- "Ward, if my babies go to jail, it's going to be all your fault!!"

17. "The Paper Route" (January 31, 1958)

18. "Child Care" (February 7, 1958) -- It's yet another funny predicament for Wally & The Beav, when the boys are called upon to baby-sit while Ward and June go to a party. The boys have to call the fire department to extract young "Puddin'" from the bathroom she's managed to lock herself into. .... "I want to see Mary Jane!!"

19. "The Bank Account" (February 14, 1958) -- This one's a real heart-tugger, as Wally and Beaver surprise their father with a very special gift.

20. "Lonesome Beaver" (February 28, 1958)

21. "Cleaning Up Beaver" (March 7, 1958)

22. "The Perfect Father" (March 14, 1958) -- "Oh, for Pete sake! I just put it up {the basketball backboard} for them to fool around with; I didn't think they were going to put a micrometer on it!" --- The early-season shows feature several "Ward tantrums", with this being one such funny example. Hugh Beaumont, as Ward Cleaver, was a "perfect father" choice for this TV series, if ya ask me. Posted Image

23. "Beaver And Poncho" (March 21, 1958) -- Another "lump-in-your-throat" type of episode, with Beaver adopting the cutest little Chihuahua dog for a few days. .... "Wally says he's a bald-headed Mexican."

24. "The State Vs. Beaver" (March 26, 1958)

25. "The Broken Window" (April 2, 1958)

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26. "Train Trip" (April 9, 1958)

27. "My Brother's Girl" (April 16, 1958) -- "As a woman, I'm very proud of Mary Ellen! Why, if we women waited until you men were good and ready to settle down and raise families, this whole continent of America would be nothing but buffaloes, jack-rabbits, and grizzly bears!!" --- June gets in some good wisecracks of her own upon occasion (as can be seen here). Posted Image

28. "Next-Door Indians" (April 23, 1958)

29. "Tenting Tonight" (April 30, 1958) -- The boys' 6-hour-long session at the movie theater sparks some quintessential angry "Ward-isms" in this episode. ... "You spent over six hours today sitting in that stuffy movie theater!!" ---> "Yeah, they sure give ya a lot for your 35 cents, don't they?"

30. "Music Lesson" (May 7, 1958)

31. "New Doctor" (May 14, 1958)

32. "Beaver's Old Friend" (May 21, 1958)

33. "Wally's Job" (May 28, 1958) -- The non-complex story lines continue (with more funny results) in this episode about, quite simply, painting the family garbage cans.

34. "Beaver's Bad Day" (June 4, 1958) -- Again, here we have another example of a super-simple premise (Beaver rips his pants; *egads*!), which rises to a very funny level in the hands of this adept cast. Ward's angry reaction when he thinks Beaver is feeding him a tall tale is a highlight here.

35. "Boarding School" (June 11, 1958)

36. "Beaver And Henry" (June 18, 1958) -- "I hardly think that 'Henry' is the proper name for a rabbit in HER condition." Posted Image

37. "Beaver Runs Away" (June 25, 1958) -- Another fine example of a LITB ep. that combines comedy with a healthy dose of sentimentality as well. Beaver drills two holes in the garage wall, which, naturally, displeases Ward quite a bit. Beaver decides to pack up and leave home after a run-in with his dad. The final scene here is quite touching and realistically portrayed.

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38. "Beaver's Guest" (July 2, 1958) -- Beaver's best pal, Larry Mondello, stays overnight at the Cleaver abode. His visit is marred by a fight with Beaver and Larry's middle-of-the-night stomach ache that keeps the whole house awake half the night. .... "Oh, the way that boy ate! It was like watching a mongoose! I don't think I've ever seen anyone eat ketchup on corn before."

39. "Cat Out Of The Bag" (July 16, 1958) -- Season 1 ends with the boys getting into still more hot water when they lose the neighbor's cat that they're supposed to be looking after. .... "Gee, dad, you're always saying I'm old enough to take care of 'The Beaver'. It shouldn't matter just because the cat is worth something." Posted Image

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CLOSING CLEAVER COMMENTS:

"Leave It To Beaver" is an American institution. Although extremely simple and unsophisticated in nature, the show never fails to entertain. And the entertainment value of the series' very first season is increased many times over thanks to the high quality of these DVDs.

Gripes against the Lunch-Box packaging notwithstanding, the first season of LITB on DVD is unquestionably a mandatory purchase for fans of that TV series. And I think it's safe to say even that ever-perfect of all moms, June Cleaver, would be more than happy to give this DVD collection her very own (and much sought-after) "Cleaver Seal Of Approval". Posted Image

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Post-Script ---

To those who can't seem to get enough Beaver (er, sorry Posted Image), you might also be interested in this book, entitled "The World According To Beaver". It's a dandy little paperback that would go nicely next to the LITB Season-One DVD compilation. And, if you like Beaver Trivia and funny quotes from the show and stuff like that there, you can check out my review for that book at the link provided. A list of "Wally's Babes" is included in my essay there, which naturally includes a reference to the lovely "Julie Foster". Posted Image Posted Image

Posted Image Posted Image

#2 of 103 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted November 23 2005 - 01:08 PM

I use your same method with sleeves--bend it out in order to get a finger in the center hole. I hate sleeves for CDs, and I'm sure I'd hate it even more for these fairly fragile discs. As much as I like the concept of the lunch box, I'm going to just go standard. You're right that it's ultimately what's on the discs that counts--not the packaging.

Thanks for the in-depth review.

#3 of 103 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted November 23 2005 - 02:54 PM

David: I believe you forgot to supply details on the thickness of the clear plastic used to seal the sets!

Wow! When you told me that you would review this set...and that it would NOT be an "official" HTF review...but a "labor of love"...it is clear to see you knew what was coming.

This qualifies as "release of the year" for me. I grew up with the Cleavers (in syndication, mind you! Posted Image )...and the values represented on this show are very much a part of my life and the way I've tried to raise my kids. As corny as some of these plots may seem to some, there is an underpinning of honesty and respect that is interwoven throughout the series and form the centerpiece of the trials and tribulations of raising children and of being a child.

Kudos to Universal for releasing this set. Kudos to David VP for a most detailed and informative review. And, here's hoping for subsequent seasons to be released forthwith.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#4 of 103 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted November 23 2005 - 03:16 PM

Thanks Mike (and Greg).

Re. the shrinkwrap thickness -- I believe the Lunch-Box wrap is 0.000003975 inches thick, and the cost of each hunk o' wrap = $0.000000000086 per hunk. Posted Image

Oh yes...maybe I should have mentioned the fact that the Lunch Box is, indeed, fully shrinkwrapped. They didn't just slap a piece of Scotch tape over the Lunch Box latch to try and prevent theft (like that would have helped, huh?). Posted Image In fact, my Lunch-Box copy came not only tightly shrinkwrapped, but Amazon also placed it inside its own little plastic bag besides. (See...they know how to treat their Beavers with respect.) Posted Image

Some baby-boomer's kids might very well get a big kick out of this lunch box (when empty). (That is, if you didn't really care about housing the DVD "album" in there.)

I remember when I was a young-un, I just loved to play with empty boxes and stuff like that there (for some reason). It'd make a good crayola box. Or a box to hold baseball cards, which is exactly what I used to put in my metal lunch boxes similar in design to this one from Universal; and then I tossed 'em all out years ago -- lunch boxes, now-valuable early 1970s Topps baseball cards, and all. What a dope I was for doing THAT! ~bangs head on desk~ Posted Image

Or....here's a brainstorm .... the box could even hold a --- lunch! Not a six-course meal; but there's enough room in there for an average-sized noontime meal I'd say.

Another "BTW"/Addendum ..... There's a message on the back cover of the Standard LITB box that says to go to www.leaveittobeaverdvd.com to receive an update by e-mail regarding future LITB DVD releases (and you can sign up to be notified of many other Universal TV-DVD releases too). That site is pretty cool too. Well-designed. It's part of the Universal website.

But the main point of mentioning this is: I'd say that blurb that they bothered to place on the box re. potential future LITB releases bodes well for Season 2 (and beyond) of the series seeing the light of DVD day. (Hope so anyway.)

Although, that could just be wishful-thinking on my part. But I actually have no doubt in my mind that all 6 LITB seasons will eventually find their way onto DVD season compilations. Just a gut feeling. Now all I have to do is sweat it out (oops...in deference to June Cleaver's sensibilities, I should have said "Perspire it out"). Posted Image

EDIT -- Just noticed an error on the slim cases of the Standard LITB set. A web address is listed on the back of each of the cases (www.leaveittobeaver.com); but it's the incorrect address. It should have "DVD" after the LITB portion of the URL, because that other URL doesn't exist. So, Universal is advertising a website on the three cases that takes the consumer nowhere at all. The address, however, is listed correctly as www.leaveittobeaverDVD.com on the back of the slipcase (as previously mentioned). 10-4? 10-4. Roger-Wilco. KMG-365.

Gotta run -- Aunt Martha's making her famous egg plant for dinner. Yum!! Posted Image

#5 of 103 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted November 23 2005 - 03:35 PM

Quote:
Aunt Martha's making her famous egg plant for dinner. Yum!!


Was Aunt Martha the "sweater aunt", the "pajamas aunt" or, the "umbrella aunt"? Posted Image

I had the lunchbox in my hands tonight at Best Buy. As I told you before, however, I'm just not into the collectible things (although I certainly have my share of collections!). Maybe I should say I'm not into collecting any MORE things! Anyway...the lunchbox looked VERY neat. But, my season one has been forwarded to Santa...who, if I stay a good boy and don't be giving anyone "the business", will deliver it to me on Christmas Day. Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#6 of 103 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted November 23 2005 - 03:41 PM

Holy Mackerel, Mike! You mean you're not getting a set now?! From your obvious love of the show, I thought you'd be getting one (or two) on release day. Posted Image

#7 of 103 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted November 23 2005 - 03:42 PM

Oh, I forgot -- Aunt Martha was (is) the boys' "Umbrella Aunt".

"If you'd like, I'll even have the boys meet her at the airport carrying their umbrellas." -- Ward Cleaver

#8 of 103 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted November 23 2005 - 03:52 PM

Quote:
Holy Mackerel, Mike! You mean you're not getting a set now?! From your obvious love of the show, I thought you'd be getting one (or two) on release day.


Oh, I got one alright. Its just been put in escrow...at the North Pole. If I don't give Violet Rutherford a black eye or anything, I think the old man'll come through. You don't suppose she really drinks gutter water...do you?

Quote:
Oh, I forgot -- Aunt Martha was (is) the boys' "Umbrella Aunt".


You win our trivia contest prize tonight, David! A beautiful lady's slip! Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#9 of 103 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted November 23 2005 - 04:00 PM

Quote:
You win our trivia contest prize tonight, David! A beautiful lady's slip!
Just as long as it's not a $180 accordian. I can't handle those repair bills anymore.

#10 of 103 OFFLINE   DanFe

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Posted November 23 2005 - 08:12 PM

My family is watching the first disk right now and all I can say is humor like this never goes out of style. My two boys (11 and 14) are both laughing and rolling on the floor with this.

#11 of 103 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted November 23 2005 - 08:45 PM

Quote:
My family is watching the first disk right now and all I can say is humor like this never goes out of style. My two boys (11 and 14) are both laughing and rolling on the floor with this.
From Rensselaer, N.Y., to central Indiana, to Honolulu, Hawaii .... the Cleavers live on.

(I feel a case of the 'weepies' coming on...excuse me...) Posted Image

#12 of 103 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted November 23 2005 - 09:14 PM

And they will in north central Texas, when I pick up my copy.

#13 of 103 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted November 23 2005 - 09:25 PM

Greg -- I was going to include your locality, too, in my last post -- except I had no idea where "The Tau'ri" is located. (Is it in the region of "The Mayfield U.S.A." perhaps?) Posted Image

#14 of 103 OFFLINE   Brad Nilsson

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Posted November 24 2005 - 02:30 AM

This is great, the anticipation is killing me. Mine copy is also being held in trust by Santa.

#15 of 103 OFFLINE   James RD

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Posted November 24 2005 - 02:33 AM

Thanks, David! Great review of one of my favorite shows. Posted Image

#16 of 103 OFFLINE   DanFe

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Posted November 24 2005 - 04:17 AM

David,

A year ago you could have said Japan, since we were living there for 10 years. As it is, my youngest son told me he likes LITB, TAGS, and The Waltons in that order but he doesn't like Gilligan's Isle as much. What was it that people said about those old shows and the crap that's on today? Posted Image

#17 of 103 OFFLINE   Jefferson

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Posted November 24 2005 - 04:17 AM

I think this show is vastly underrated for its brilliant writing.
Despite being locked in the 50's in many regards, the storylines hold up beautifully.

It saddens me that so many of my friends dislike this show...but, i had a brother like wally,
and i was an awful lot like the Beav, so it means a lot to me.

#18 of 103 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted November 24 2005 - 04:27 AM

Quote:
Greg -- I was going to include your locality, too, in my last post -- except I had no idea where "The Tau'ri" is located. (Is it in the region of "The Mayfield U.S.A." perhaps?)

It encompasses Mayfield. It is the Goa'uld term for the Earth, from the TV series Stargate: SG-1. Posted Image

#19 of 103 OFFLINE   Jeffrey Nelson

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Posted November 24 2005 - 06:54 AM

Great review, David. I'll be picking this up for sure. The standard version, though, not the "collectible" version. When these silly studios learn to just put the standard keepcase/slimcase version inside their fancy tin instead of a lame digipak or plastic holder or whatever other crapness they end up using, then I'll be more apt to shell out the extra $$ for the extra goodies. I didn't buy the tin of KING KONG for the exact same reason.

#20 of 103 OFFLINE   pitchman

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Posted November 25 2005 - 12:21 AM

Thanks for the great review, David! I am very interested in this set, but I see that Universal has again opted for DVD-18 discs. Is this set prone to the playback problems that have plagued other recent Universal DVD-18 offerings? I went through 3 copies of the Hammer Horror series and was never able to obtain a "glitch-free" set. I know you indicated that the set played fine for you, but I was wondering in everyone else has had equally good luck.
Gary


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