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


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#21 of 103 John Carr

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Posted November 25 2005 - 10:35 AM

Love this Beaver! I remember watching these shows when they were first broadcast; it brought back some great memories... I was the same age as Walley so I shared a lot of his problems with the Beav, maybe more so because I had 3 younger brothers and a baby sister!

My Dad still hates this show; me and my younger brothers were always telling him, "Why don't we have a cool dad like Walley and the Beaver!" After a while, Dad would leave the room when the theme music came on; that is, if he didn't have a cowboy show to change the channel to! Those were the days of one TV, and my Dad ruled the channel knob wiht an iron hand!

In the 80's when "Leave it to Beaver" was in syndication in the morning, I 'forced' my poor wife to tape all the episodes for me; then I'd watch them at night. While watching the new DVD, we were both surprised at how much more meat the complete shows contained. Victoria had never liked the syndicated show very much, but she's really enjoying the complete versions on this 1st season DVD set.

Highly recommended. Next to Father Knows Best, the best family sitcom of the 50's/60's! Surprisingly, the stories and acting hold up almost 50 years later! Highly recommended.


#22 of 103 Dane Marvin

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Posted November 25 2005 - 07:21 PM

The humor in this show will simply never grow old. I just don't get how did they did that, but they did. It's mind-boggling. Leave it to Beaver and The Twilight Zone will always be the two pre-70's shows that time will never forget.

#23 of 103 pitchman

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Posted November 26 2005 - 12:33 PM

I purchased a copy of this set today and the transfers are absolutely splendid! There is no denying that Leave It To Beaver: The Complete First Season looks and sounds stunning. Universal is to be commended for doing a first-rate job on the transfers...

But unfortunately, and not to thread-crap here, my copy will be going back tomorrow.

Be forewarned: If you have encountered any playback problems with the recent DVD-18 offerings from Universal, you are most likely in for more of the same here!

The first thing I did after inspecting all three of these overly fragile (IMO) discs for physical defects was to put in side two of disc 3 so I could watch the original pilot. Everything was fine for the first twelve-and-a-half minutes, when all of a sudden, the screen froze, went green, and bounced back to the episode menu. Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to hit play again. Since, as David pointed out in his very fine review, there are no chapter stops, I tried to fast-forward past the problem area. This time, however, the disc simply refused to play and bounced back to the main menu.

I removed the disc and decided to try another player. Since I had 2 Sony changers and 2 Panasonic players at the ready, I thought surely I could get the disc to play back in at least one of them. The second Sony (a SACD changer) was worse than the first and started stuttering and freezing a couple of minutes into the program.

Off to the first Panasonic changer I went. The Panny never made it to the episode itself, rather, it locked up during the Universal logo animation. The second Panasonic, an ancient A310, coughed up the disc immediately with a display that read "bad disc."

What should have been a DVD set to cherish and treasure has become yet another nightmare for me thanks to Universal's insistance on forcing these shoddy discs on an unsuspecting public. At an average street price of $40 plus, this is not a bargain basement, bare-bones release. Why does Universal insist on treating it like one?

From this point forward, whenever I see the words "Universal," "DVD-18," and "Made in Mexico" on a DVD package, I will pass. I don't care what's inside. If these discs are this problematic when they are brand new, I shudder to think what they will be like in 5 or 6 years. What is happening now with so many of the old Universal "Collector Series" discs (Apollo 13, Vertigo, etc.) may be a harbinger of things to come.

Flame off!
Gary

#24 of 103 DanFe

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Posted November 26 2005 - 01:01 PM

Gary, the pilot is the only part where I had a hangup. It was at the very end, though. Every other episode is playing ok.

#25 of 103 TravisR

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Posted November 26 2005 - 01:42 PM

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From this point forward, whenever I see the words "Universal," "DVD-18," and "Made in Mexico" on a DVD package, I will pass.


You need to call or write Universal and tell them that same thing.

#26 of 103 Jack Platt

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Posted November 26 2005 - 04:17 PM

Guys,

Play your LITB lost pilot episodes if you can please and let me know how many of you had a problem with them, Thanks!

Are you DVD owners noticing a lot of restored footage that you didn't see on TV Land or Syndication?

Jack

#27 of 103 David Von Pein

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Posted November 26 2005 - 07:34 PM

Quote:
Play your LITB lost pilot episodes if you can please and let me know how many of you had a problem with them.
I've watched my copy of the "Small World" pilot episode twice now -- and nary a hiccup to be encountered. Posted Image

Perhaps I'm blessed with the only Panasonic RP-62 "glitch-free DVD-18 playable" machine on the planet...but I've had virtually no problems with any of the DVD-18 discs from Universal.

BTW, upon re-watching the "It's A Small World" pilot episode again, I cannot help but praise its contents (PQ-wise and script-wise). I know that many people think this pilot is a total misfire/dud of a program. I couldn't disagree more strongly. It's a fine beginning to introduce us to the wholesomeness and value-oriented Cleaver gang. Plus...the cast seems to jell together from the get-go (even via the alternate actors playing Wally and Ward).

And Richard Deacon is perfect in his fairly large part in the pilot as the confused and befuddled district manager of the "Franklin Milk Company", a company that may (or may not) be having a bicycle-giveaway contest.

Harry Shearer does a first-rate job as "Frankie", kind of a substitute Eddie Haskell-like character. Harry gets in two "You're a creep" insults and one "Are you guys giving me 'The Business'?" just in this one episode alone! Posted Image

Anyway....Thought I'd chime in with my playback report on the pilot, since it was brought up specifically.

Re. the "restored footage" question -- Yes, indeed, there are at least 4 minutes per show that can be found on the DVDs that you'll never ever see in syndication (with the truncated 20- or 21-minute hacked-up prints always used for the syndicated versions).

Although, for me personally, I probably will not encounter too many minutes of previously-unseen footage, given the fact I have all of the Beaver episodes on VHS videotape two times over (save one lone stubborn episode I never got, "Beaver And Violet" from Season #3).

One "set" of LITB versions I have on VHS (taped years and years ago) have different scenes missing than a different batch of the same eps. I taped off of TV-Land in 2001. So, when put together, I think most of the 25.5 minutes of each episode is accounted for. (Save a few snippets I suppose.)

If I run across any "Oh my golly! I've never seen this scene before!" moments, I'll be sure to post them here. Posted Image (I imagine there will be a few; I haven't gone through every second of every show yet; I skipped around while researching the discs for my review above.)

P.S. Re. The Pilot --- Please note the cute subtle (adult-like) humor that writers Connelly and Mosher inject into the pilot -- eg, the "Maternity Ward" subtleness when the boys think they can collect some milk-bottle caps there. Plus the cuteness of Jerry Mathers' flirtation with Diane Brewster of the milk company ("I don't like girls much...but I like you. You don't hardly seem like a girl at all"). Posted Image

#28 of 103 DanFe

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Posted November 27 2005 - 05:17 AM

Actually, David, I think the pilot was a dud and it was because of the poor interaction between the actors who played Ward and Wally and the rest of the cast. I can say that if those two had stayed in the cast LITB would have been canceled after 6 months. The pilot is one program I won't be watching all that much.

#29 of 103 JeffT.

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Posted November 27 2005 - 06:23 AM

No matter how much people are forewarned there will still be somebody who'll say that there's "nothing wrong" with my DVD set but you can just forget about it when it comes to the Universal Studios Home Entertainment issued DVD-18s microcompressions...they suck to high heaven!

I (personally) gave up after my derisive experience with the ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON 3-disc set and (after some effort) got a full refund on my order.

Pertaining to the HITCHCOCK set to accomodate the scant 3 discs used this necessitated that some of the 39 half hour first season (1955-56) episodes had to have either the opening or closing narratives (deliberately) omitted which is defeating the (very) purpose of marketing these classic tv series in the first place. People (quite reasonably) expect the episodes to be presented complete and uncut.

It's funny that there were absolutely no complaints made here about THE MUNSTERS - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON - 3-disc set either it's a (one in a million chance) fluke on the part of the manufacturer (who finally did something right on them) or maybe because those who purchased them have yet to watch all the episodes.

This is absolutely reprehensible and Universal just can't be allowed to continue marketing defective garbage like this.

I reiterate where is Ralph Nader when he is so desperately needed?

Jeff T.

#30 of 103 David Von Pein

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Posted November 27 2005 - 08:28 AM

Quote:
Actually, David, I think the pilot was a dud...
To each his own. But I disagree completely. Upon viewing the pilot on the DVD, it's a much better episode than I remember when I saw it years ago. (Maybe I've learned to "settle" for mediocrity. Or: I'm just stuck in Beaver's world and blindly admire anything to do with this TV series.) Posted Image

#31 of 103 Greg_S_H

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Posted November 27 2005 - 09:35 AM

Or maybe you're just blinded by Diane Brewster's radiance. She has that effect on me, I know.

#32 of 103 David Von Pein

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Posted November 27 2005 - 10:26 AM

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Or maybe you're just blinded by Diane Brewster's radiance.

Yes, that's another possible explanation as well. Posted Image

To pick your brains a little bit here, Greg (and Mike Frezon, who loves "The Beav" quite obviously) -- What do you guys think of the pilot? Good? Bad? In between?

#33 of 103 Brian W.

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Posted November 27 2005 - 10:50 AM

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I had a brother like Wally, and I was an awful lot like the Beav, so it means a lot to me.


You're still like the Beav, Jeff. Posted Image

#34 of 103 Brian W.

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Posted November 27 2005 - 11:08 AM

Thank you for the fantastic review, David VP. I've been waiting for Beaver for a long time. It's one of my favorite shows ever. The moment in "The Haircut" where Beaver's getting yelled at for cutting his hair, and June interrupts -- "Excuse me" -- and puts the stocking cap back on Beaver's head makes me laugh every I think about it, even though I haven't seen the episode in probably 20 years.

I hope in future releases they will include some of the cast commercials. Only one I've seen is the Purina Dog Chow commercial, but I know that was later in the series. They ran it in syndication, at the end of the show. Beaver is babysitting Miss Landers' dog while she's away on vacation, and she's giving him instructions at her house. "Ggggee, Miss Landers, that's Purina Dog Chow!" "Yes, Beaver -- the eager eater's dog food." I've been wanting to see that again ever since I first saw it back in the late '70s.

#35 of 103 Mike Frezon

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Posted November 27 2005 - 11:23 AM

Quote:
To pick your brains a little bit here, Greg (and Mike Frezon, who loves "The Beav" quite obviously) -- What do you guys think of the pilot? Good? Bad? In between?


Damn you, Dave!!! I can't tell you until after Christmas! The wait's gonna be tough enough without you constantly reminding me about it! Posted Image

BTW, count me among those blinded by Diane Brewster's radiance. 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!


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


#36 of 103 David Von Pein

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Posted November 27 2005 - 12:43 PM

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Damn you, Dave!!! I can't tell you until after Christmas! The wait's gonna be tough enough without you constantly reminding me about it!
Oh, that's right. I forgot, Mike. Sorry. You've got the DVD; and yet...you DON'T have it yet. (Or somethin' like that there. None of my business anyway. Posted Image)

Anyhow, even sans the DVD, you still possibly could have seen the pilot show at some point in your life. It aired several years ago on some channel around here, I know, because my brother has a VHS taped copy (not nice & pristine & unedited like the beautiful 25-minute DVD version, however).

But, I take it that you (Mike) have not ever seen the pilot previously. Sorry if I teased you unmercifully. Posted Image

#37 of 103 David Von Pein

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Posted November 27 2005 - 01:20 PM

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I hope in future releases they will include some of the cast commercials. Only one I've seen is the Purina Dog Chow commercial....Beaver is babysitting Miss Landers' dog while she's away on vacation, and she's giving him instructions at her house. "Ggggee, Miss Landers, that's Purina Dog Chow!"...
Yes. I think I might have that ad on a VHS tape full of commercials. I know there's a "Beaver" one on there somewhere.

#38 of 103 Greg_S_H

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Posted November 27 2005 - 01:30 PM

I'm in the same boat as Mike. I may not wait until Christmas, but I don't have it right now. I saw the pilot a long, long time ago, but I don't remember enough to comment. I do remember the other Ward was totally suave in his smoking jacket. Posted Image

#39 of 103 David Von Pein

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Posted November 27 2005 - 02:00 PM

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I do remember the other Ward was totally suave in his smoking jacket.
For the sake of 100% accuracy, Ward (Casey Adams) is never seen wearing a "smoking jacket" in the pilot. You might be thinking of his nice-looking bathrobe in one scene. Has a nice "sheen" to it. (I've always wanted a robe similar to that; can't find one.) Posted Image

Speaking of "Ward's clothing" -- Here's an interesting little gaffe I noticed while watching the "Small World" pilot:

In the next-to-last scene (when Ward is seated in a chair reading a newspaper), Ward/Casey is wearing a completely different suit when the camera toggles between a medium-wide shot of Ward and one close-up of him. In the close-up shot, the suit is a much-darker one than the suit coat we see in the other shot.

And I know exactly where this "goof" came from (shot-wise), too. In the opening scene of the pilot episode (while June is on the phone trying to track down "The Beaver", who is late getting home from dancing school*), there's a close-up shot of Ward sitting in his chair reading the paper. What they've done is insert a portion of that earlier dark-suited close-up into the scene at the end of the episode. Only problem being: Ward's not wearing that dark suit for most of that last scene. Posted Image

Funny the things that can be noticed, huh? Posted Image

* = That "trying to track down The Beaver" remark made me think of this "anomaly" (sort of) that runs throughout the entire LITB series in fact --- In the pilot (and other first-year LITB eps.), 7-year-old Theodore is permitted to wander the Mayfield streets all alone after dark, and Ward & June don't seem to mind this in the least. But, in later years, when Beaver is now 12 years old, Beav is not even allowed to simply STAY IN HIS OWN HOUSE without the aid of a baby-sitter (played by the comely Barbara Parkins Posted Image). A rather uneven trend in the series, I've always thought.

#40 of 103 Mike Frezon

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Posted November 27 2005 - 03:57 PM

Okay, David. I'd say you are starting to over-think this whole thing! Posted Image

Less than a month until I get me some Beaver! :b

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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