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HTF DVD REVIEW: My Three Sons: The First Season, Volume Two

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#1 of 60 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted January 16 2009 - 08:06 AM

My Three Sons: The First Season , Volume Two
Directed by Peter Tewksbury

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1961
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 461 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 42.99

Release Date: January 20, 2009
Review Date: January 16, 2009

The Series


My Three Sons had one of the longest runs of any situation comedy in American television history, twelve years, but watching it now, at least the episodes of its first season, it’s a bit hard to figure out why. It’s a perfectly pleasant, mildly amusing domestic comedy featuring a houseful of five males coping as best they can without a woman around the house. There is usually no major drama; the biggest problems revolve around who’s taking whom to the dance or how that neighbor’s baby got into the back of the family station wagon, and the comedy, such as it is, involves mix-ups and misunderstandings that can all be worked out in basically twenty-five less-than-exciting minutes. The cast is amiable to be sure, but this is one show from the Golden Age that just doesn’t measure up to the best comedy work being done during the years of its run.

Widower Steve Douglas (Fred MacMurray) has three sons: high school senior Mike (Tim Considine), ninth grader Robbie (Don Grady), and youngest son Chip (Stanley Livingstone). As cook, housekeeper, and household referee is Steve’s father-in-law Bub (William Frawley). Together, they cope with their middle class existence in a house too small for the growing boys, the sons’ involvement with the neighborhood girls, and the usual sitcom hijinks the writers concoct for the boys (including building a hi-fi on the sly for a girl friend, dating two girls at one time, painting a neighbor‘s fence, quitting and rejoining the baseball team, looking around for a missing frog).

At the time, Fred MacMurray was still active making theatrical films (some for Disney which this series most definitely resembles), so his lack of presence in major portions of many episodes is understandable. The focus of the series is definitely on the three young men and on the cantankerous Bub who wants more discipline in the house but doesn’t go out of his way to assure that it happens. Occasionally, however, the writers do try something different. “Small Adventure” involves an unexploded stick of dynamite that the family dog Tramp brings home and the family narrowly misses setting it off all day long (not the usual sitcom nonsense, and the laugh track is silent for most of the episode). “Soap-Box Derby” offers parallel stories of Robbie’s working on a car for the race with Steve’s working on a new missile guidance system and both displaying their results simultaneously.

MacMurray and Frawley’s long show business careers were capped by their work on this series, and the three sons of the title continued to make appearances once the series was over though none ever reached any higher pinnacles than their work in this show. A few guest stars make memorable appearances, however. An impossibly young Beau Bridges is one of Mike’s staff sports reporters on the high school newspaper. Former Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge shows up as a high school femme fatale with eyes for Robbie. Veteran Arthur Hunnicutt drops by as a man offering pony rides for the kids.

Here are the eighteen episodes contained on the three discs that make up volume two of the first season:

1 - Organization Women
2 - Other People’s Houses
3 - The Delinquent
4 - Man in a Trench Coat
5 - Deadline
6 - The Lostling
7 - Off-Key
8 - Small Adventure
9 - Soap-Box Derby
10 - Unite or Sink
11 - The Wiley Method
12 - The National Pastime
13 - The Croaker
14 - The Musician (a very similar theme to “Other People’s Houses”)
15 - The Horseless Saddle
16 - Trial by Separation
17 - The Sunday Drive
18 - Fire Watch (a standout showcase for Tim Considine; my favorite episode in the set)

Video Quality


The program’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is replicated here in these new transfers. The show may be almost fifty years old, but these transfers look pretty sensational. The grayscale is solid and contrast is perfection with the resultant picture very sharp and filled with detail. Sure, there are occasional dirt specks, but not nearly as many as one might expect for so old a series, and though there is no anamorphic enhancement, there are only minor instances of aliasing. Each episode is divided into 5 chapters.

Audio Quality


The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is typical of its era. The dialog, music, sound effects, and laugh track are all found in the center channel as decoded by Dolby Prologic. No digital artifacts mar the listening experience of this slightly above average encode.

Special Features


There are no special features with this set.

In Conclusion

3/5 (not an average)

My Three Sons finished its freshman year ranking as the thirteenth most popular series on the air, an impressive rank for a mostly nondescript show. Compared to its fellow freshman stable mate The Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons can’t compare in either humor or pathos. On its own, however, it’s mildly pleasant, and the completion of its season one episodes will undoubtedly delight fans of the program.

Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 60 OFFLINE   jdee28



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Posted January 17 2009 - 04:22 PM

Is the music replaced again or are the soundtracks all the originals?

#3 of 60 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted January 18 2009 - 01:42 AM

There is a note on the case (in teeny, tiny print) that the music has been changed. Not being familiar with the music in the original show, I didn't notice a thing, but fans will undoubtedly be disappointed.

#4 of 60 OFFLINE   LeoA



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Posted January 18 2009 - 02:17 PM

Has anyone that is familiar enough with this show to really review it watched this yet? Myself and I'm sure a lot of others would love to know if the audio has been butchered again like with the volume 1 release. Thanks

#5 of 60 OFFLINE   Gary OS

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Posted January 18 2009 - 02:32 PM

You can take it to the bank that this second volume will be exactly like the first one - filled with yukky, uninspiring, juvenile Heyes substitutions. If you hated the first volume because of the music (like I did) then you will hate the second. Guarantee you that nothing changed. Gary "there wasn't enough time in between releases for CBS/P to have replaced the Heyes score with the original again" O.
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#6 of 60 OFFLINE   Carabimero



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Posted January 18 2009 - 02:56 PM

CBS/Paramount is entrenched with a massive new library of Heyes (and his ilk) abominations. It's been reported that they have spent several thousand dollars acruing a new music library. Expect to see the wretched music subsititution more frequently in certain upcoming releases.




#7 of 60 OFFLINE   Jim B.

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Posted January 19 2009 - 06:24 AM

You say fans will be delighted then you say fans will be disappointed, which is it? How can you be a reviewer and not notice the music ? You do not have to be familiar with the shows original music, you merely need to listen to tell the difference between a orchestra playing beautifully arranged pleasing pretty melodies with complex harmonies, and a digital synthesizer playing sparsely arranged nondescript odd melodies with no harmony, and bizzare sound effects. But you did not notice a thing but us "fans" will "undoubtedly" be disappointed. Why, because we are just complainers?

#8 of 60 OFFLINE   TravisR


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Posted January 19 2009 - 07:11 AM

Where did he say that? I think you have a right to be mad about the situation but don't direct your anger against a reviewer.

#9 of 60 OFFLINE   Elena S

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Posted January 19 2009 - 08:33 AM

Reviewers should not review if they're not familiar with the original product. There's no way to be accurate.

#10 of 60 OFFLINE   Jim B.

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Posted January 19 2009 - 10:14 AM

MattH, what about deleted scenes? How many episodes have been edited? Is the epilogue present in the episode "The Musician" ?

#11 of 60 OFFLINE   TravisR


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Posted January 19 2009 - 10:33 AM

That's ridiculous. You could be an encyclopedia of TV and not catch an edit. I think a reviewer should note when they aren't familiar with a series but that doesn't disqualify them from writing a review of the product.

#12 of 60 OFFLINE   Bill Parisho

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Posted January 19 2009 - 10:47 AM

"You don't have to know how to lay an egg to smell a bad one" IF CBS/PARAMOUNT HAS SCREWED UP Volume TWO LIKE THEY DID Volume ONE, THEY WILL NOT GET MY MONEY! IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT! BILL PARISHO

#13 of 60 OFFLINE   Jim B.

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Posted January 19 2009 - 11:02 AM

You will just have to wait until an "undoubtably disappointed fan" watches it and reports. Not one pre-release (or post release) "official" review disclosed the Fugitve or M3S's score removal. So these reviews are not worth much, most everything MattH. wrote can be found on the back of the box or in the studios product description.

#14 of 60 OFFLINE   Steve...O



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Posted January 19 2009 - 12:24 PM

Thanks, Matt for the review! In my opinion, the criticism of Matt in this thread is unwarranted. S1 of MTS was never widely syndicated and the Nick at Nite airings were years ago. There is no frame of reference for most modern reviewers to notice every edit/change. It is not reasonable to expect every vintage series to be reviewed by someone intimately familiar with all the details. In fact I often like the "fresh" approach taken by someone who isn't emotionally invested in the material. Let's not forget that the HTF reviewers all do this for free and on their own time. I appreciate their hard work regardless if I agree with all of their conclusions or not. As for this release, this is a definite pass for me due to the undisclosed rescoring. Had the score been left alone it would have been a definite buy as this was always one of my favorite sitcoms.
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#15 of 60 OFFLINE   Joe Lugoff

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Posted January 19 2009 - 01:51 PM

I think anyone having the self-confidence to be a reviewer should know more (a lot more) than the average person about whatever it is he's reviewing. In the case of a TV series, a reviewer should be able to tell, at sight, whether a show is on film or tape, for instance. Similarly, one should be able to tell if music has the sound of the period in which the show was made. In the case of the music substitutions for MY THREE SONS, it's clear there's nothing "1960-61" about the music -- first of all, it's a synthesizer making the bizarre sounds, and secondly, the sound quality is different from the sound quality of the rest of the show!

#16 of 60 OFFLINE   Stephen Bowie

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Posted January 19 2009 - 05:26 PM

Agreed, it's not fair to insist every reviewer to be expert in every subject he or she takes on. But, the fact that the music problems with My Three Sons were discussed widely in the same "publication" (i.e., the HTF) which later ran a review of this product that didn't address the issue at all (either positively or negatively), is in my opinion troubling. You don't expect a reporter to know everything about everything, but you hope he reads his own paper. Fortunately the HTF has its corps of citizen journalists ready to append corrections, which isn't the case with some other DVD review sites.

#17 of 60 OFFLINE   Carabimero



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Posted January 19 2009 - 06:56 PM

There's no reason why a reviewer's work shouldn't be open to the same praise or critique as the artist's work he or she reviews. It goes with the territory. Having said that, one of the main reasons I've survived 21 years in this business is that about 12 years ago I stopped reading my reviews--good or bad. It's not that hard to avoid them unless someone calls to ask me if I saw a certain review, but most of my friends know not to do that. I figure if I'm going to believe the good, I have to believe the bad, so better not to see any of it and just do my thing.




#18 of 60 OFFLINE   Doug^Ch


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Posted January 20 2009 - 12:45 AM

I'll be picking this set up regardless of the music changes - as a matter of fact its on its way now, because my friends it is the only way I'll ever be able to see it. It is a compromise that I'm willing to make, and if enough people are willing, maybe the studio will keep releasing the series.

#19 of 60 OFFLINE   Bill Parisho

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Posted January 20 2009 - 01:03 AM

I appreciate your dedication to a show, despite the music changes, but I see it the other way: If enough people are willing to NOT buy the series, maybe the studios will stop ruining shows such as My Three Sons, WKRP In Cincinnati, and The Fugitive.

#20 of 60 OFFLINE   Jim B.

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Posted January 20 2009 - 03:07 AM

Are you John McCain? Is that you here on the HTF!? I do not understand people who think like this. I am disgusted that a product like this is released. It has deprived many people of experienceing the great show that M3S was. I hope no more of these are released. Thanks to people who do buy this despite the changes we may never see the real show again. It may show up in syndication without its music just like The Fugitive has.

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