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THE DONNA REED SHOW: SEASON 5


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#141 of 219 OFFLINE   Ron Lee Green

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Posted February 14 2014 - 02:14 PM

I also wonder why Sony is reluctant to license out the Donna Reed Show to MPI.

The only thing I can think of is that Sony has attempted to go into the DVR on demand route like Warner Archive. They released some obscure series like Ghost Story/Circle of Fear, Born Free, Bridget Loves Bernie, and Charlie's Angels season five this way. I wonder if it was profitable for them? Maybe they got their own plans for Donna Reed?  I was hoping they would eventually release the Farmer's Daughter, too! I would rather have MPI release it but DVR on demand is better than nothing at all.


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#142 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted February 20 2014 - 01:30 PM

Donna Reed discovers Bob Crane behind her curtains! lol.. This is an ABC Television Network promotional photo in 1963 for the 'Sixth Season' of "The Donna Reed Show."

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#143 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted March 11 2014 - 11:25 AM

"The Donna Reed Show" Happy 'Fifth Season' Cast Photo!

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#144 of 219 OFFLINE   HunterMan

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Posted March 11 2014 - 07:33 PM

Nice Picture...but any more word on a Season 6 yet?


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#145 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted March 12 2014 - 04:39 PM

Hello Drew!

I am very sorry, but there is nothing new to report as yet.

Rest assured, if there was anything to report, I would be on this page letting all of you in on it!

Please keep praying everyone! This is the very time in which your continued prayers of support are so greatly needed!!

Thank you so much!!!

#146 of 219 OFFLINE   swan4022

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Posted March 21 2014 - 04:57 PM

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I've been watching, for the first time in 15-20 years, the first episodes of Season 5. What a treat. The writers of these episodes (Paul West, Barbara Hammer, etc.) and the directors (Jeffrey Hayden, Gene Nelson etc.) had a way of combining "light humor" peppered by the occasional big laugh, which usually leads up to a moment of genuine pathos and humanity. Even the folks who controlled the laugh track were masters at what they were doing--mixing in light titters at exactly the right moments.

 

"Mrs. Stone & Dr. Hyde" is a perfect example of how well this whole balance is achieved, and it's a pleasure to experience a show that was never cynical about showing its humanity, either, never shied away from imbuing its characters with humility and grace. There is an extremely moving moment in "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary," when Mary admits to Donna the reason she's decided to move back home instead of live in a college dorm, that wrought tears for me last night, knowing how much the actors themselves continued to behave as a "family" long after the show ended, and also feeling my own nostalgia for long-gone opportunities to have what Mary calls "real friendships" with my own parents.

 

These episodes firmly establish "the importance of a family staying together," as read by Donna from Jeff's letter in "Mr. Nice Guy." And, of course the series' musical composers created some perfect touches to accompany these sentiments, such as when Donna reads aloud Jeff's letter, or when Mary and Donna have their warm talk in the kitchen. These episodes also give me newfound gratitude for all four actors' abilities: There's a brilliant moment when Shelley Fabares hitches her breath just before asking Donna what's for dinner, that you can tell shows the real emotion they were feeling while they performed that scene. And it's absolutely heartbreaking when Donna welcomes her back home saying, "We've been waiting for you."

 

The cinematography in the episodes is incredible: the mixture of close-ups and long shots, varied lighting, and unique camera angles (such as when the Stones are figuring out how to help the child who has been brought into the clinic in "Dr. Hyde") make these episodes seem more like short Cinema, and not "just TV." 

 

Incidentally, I recently noticed that Gert Anderson was the Director of Photography on The Donna Reed Show, and I had been seeing that name often at the end of my other favorite shows, Mission: Impossible, and Mannix. What a cool discovery!

 

I see that "My Dad" is next up and I'll admit that gives me a few pangs, remembering how strong this episode is, and how unapologetic it is about allowing its male characters show their emotions.

 

I first became a fan of The Donna Reed Show in the late 80s airings on Nickelodeon, when the network showed very little else other than public domain films. Some people say that watching these old television shows is like "comfort food," and I must say re-watching this whole series, especially these episodes of the fifth season, has been extremely nourishing to the soul. 


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#147 of 219 OFFLINE   HunterMan

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Posted March 21 2014 - 09:53 PM

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I've been watching, for the first time in 15-20 years, the first episodes of Season 5. What a treat. The writers of these episodes (Paul West, Barbara Hammer, etc.) and the directors (Jeffrey Hayden, Gene Nelson etc.) had a way of combining "light humor" peppered by the occasional big laugh, which usually leads up to a moment of genuine pathos and humanity. Even the folks who controlled the laugh track were masters at what they were doing--mixing in light titters at exactly the right moments.

 

"Mrs. Stone & Dr. Hyde" is a perfect example of how well this whole balance is achieved, and it's a pleasure to experience a show that was never cynical about showing its humanity, either, never shied away from imbuing its characters with humility and grace. There is an extremely moving moment in "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary," when Mary admits to Donna the reason she's decided to move back home instead of live in a college dorm, that wrought tears for me last night, knowing how much the actors themselves continued to behave as a "family" long after the show ended, and also feeling my own nostalgia for long-gone opportunities to have what Mary calls "real friendships" with my own parents.

 

These episodes firmly establish "the importance of a family staying together," as read by Donna from Jeff's letter in "Mr. Nice Guy." And, of course the series' musical composers created some perfect touches to accompany these sentiments, such as when Donna reads aloud Jeff's letter, or when Mary and Donna have their warm talk in the kitchen. These episodes also give me newfound gratitude for all four actors' abilities: There's a brilliant moment when Shelley Fabares hitches her breath just before asking Donna what's for dinner, that you can tell shows the real emotion they were feeling while they performed that scene. And it's absolutely heartbreaking when Donna welcomes her back home saying, "We've been waiting for you."

 

The cinematography in the episodes is incredible: the mixture of close-ups and long shots, varied lighting, and unique camera angles (such as when the Stones are figuring out how to help the child who has been brought into the clinic in "Dr. Hyde") make these episodes seem more like short Cinema, and not "just TV." 

 

Incidentally, I recently noticed that Gert Anderson was the Director of Photography on The Donna Reed Show, and I had been seeing that name often at the end of my other favorite shows, Mission: Impossible, and Mannix. What a cool discovery!

 

I see that "My Dad" is next up and I'll admit that gives me a few pangs, remembering how strong this episode is, and how unapologetic it is about allowing its male characters show their emotions.

 

I first became a fan of The Donna Reed Show in the late 80s airings on Nickelodeon, when the network showed very little else other than public domain films. Some people say that watching these old television shows is like "comfort food," and I must say re-watching this whole series, especially these episodes of the fifth season, has been extremely nourishing to the soul. 

 

Swan4022,

 

Like you, I too grew up watching "Donna Reed Show" on Nick-at-Nite in the 80's. Even though it originally was part of my parent's childhood...it was also a big part of mine (thanks to NIck-at-Nite).  :)  You gave a very beautiful, heart-touching, and very true summary & description of the show's fifth season--and I think a lot of it fits for the other seasons as well. Thank you, and I don't think I could have stated it any better! :D :thumbs-up-smiley:


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#148 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted April 12 2014 - 06:05 PM

The good news is: There is nothing bad to report, and the bad news is: They're still trying to negotiate a deal with Sony Pictures with minimal progress. Some softening up is still needed in regards to a gal named Karen. So if you care to pray for her to soften up, then please do so!

 

I am not free to come on here and talk about the release of Season 6 like I was with Season 4! Everything is more hush hush this time around.

I'm sorry, that I don't have better news to report at this time! :(



#149 of 219 OFFLINE   Kasey

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Posted April 13 2014 - 07:33 AM

Sony should just relent and give those last 3 seasons to MPI. That way, MPI can release them individually and also go back and re-do the seasons Virgil put out and repackage everything in a Complete Series set the way they did with Here's Lucy, Family Affair and Doris Day.


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#150 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted April 15 2014 - 02:37 PM

Beautiful photo taken in between the filming of a 'Fourth Season' episode from "The Donna Reed Show" entitled, "Just One of Those Days"

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#151 of 219 OFFLINE   ChrisALM

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Posted April 15 2014 - 03:19 PM

That photo looks like it was made at Myers Lake from TAGS.

Great memories from two great shows wrapped into one photo.

Ah - those were the days. :)


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#152 of 219 OFFLINE   swan4022

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Posted April 16 2014 - 07:15 PM

Last night, I watched the S5 episode "Man to Man." This is another of those episodes that catches you by surprise with its genuine sentiments. Most of the episode is played as light comedy, but the scene between Carl Betz and Paul Petersen is played so convincingly it almost hurts; Jeff's remorse is expressed with such sincerity that you're almost transported back to teenage times when you took advantage of a parent's goodwill, and Alex's commentary about fathers and sons seems even more relevant today than it must have been at the time.

 

There is so much to admire from beginning to end: the way the story is set up by Mary's incrimination of Jeff's plans (and the costume designers were making sure Shelley wore some snappy outfits this season!); the unique camera angles and lighting that works so well especially as father and son have their heart-to-heart talk in the deeper part of the woods; the nicely timed physical comedy early on (particularly, by Smitty) and tender musical score that accompanies the emotions later; all add up to a sense of warmth that very few shows manage to evoke on such a consistent basis. 


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#153 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted April 18 2014 - 05:04 AM

I had thought you might like to know, that "Me-TV" is now joining the cause to help get the last three seasons of "The Donna Reed Show" released from Sony Pictures.


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#154 of 219 OFFLINE   JoelA

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Posted April 18 2014 - 05:57 AM

I thought you might like to know, that "MeTV" is now joining the cause to help get the last three seasons of "The Donna Reed Show" released from Sony Pictures.

 

Thanks for the update. This is such a great show. I, as many others on this forum, got hooked on this series when it ran on Nick at Nite in the late 80's. I still have my Donna Reed watch from Nick. :)


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#155 of 219 OFFLINE   Kasey

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Posted April 18 2014 - 06:29 AM

I thought you might like to know, that "MeTV" is now joining the cause to help get the last three seasons of "The Donna Reed Show" released from Sony Pictures.

I just hope Sony doesn't jack up the asking price if they think they've got a suddenly-hot property on their hands.


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#156 of 219 ONLINE   The Obsolete Man

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Posted April 18 2014 - 09:00 AM

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I just hope Sony doesn't jack up the asking price if they think they've got a suddenly-hot property on their hands.

 

I would think they're smart enough to realize the three seasons they hold have two uses... DVD releases through MPI (or whomever), and syndication airings on an outlet like MeTV, and that's it.

 

If they want to hold people up for horrible amounts of money, MeTV can just pick up some other old show, MPI won't license the show for DVD, and Sony will make no money at all on it.


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#157 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted April 18 2014 - 11:00 AM

Thanks for the update. This is such a great show. I, as many others on this forum, got hooked on this series when it ran on Nick at Nite in the late 80's. I still have my Donna Reed watch from Nick. :)

 

You're Welcome, JoelA! I still have my Donna Reed watch too! :thumbs-up-smiley:


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#158 of 219 OFFLINE   Greg2356

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Posted May 20 2014 - 04:26 PM

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While we're still waiting for word on the possible release of (Season 6) in regards to "The Donna Reed Show," I came across this article by Tony Sclafani written in December 2011, with comments by Mary Owen, which concerns the release of Season 4. I had thought perhaps some of you may not have seen this previously and would be interested in it.

 

All good sitcom episodes have happy endings. So it stands to reason that the uncertainty over whether there would ever be a DVD release of the seldom-seen fourth season of The Donna Reed Show resolved itself like an episode of the show – cheerfully. The Donna Reed Show: Season Four – The Lost Episodes will be released through MPI Home Video Dec. 20, after having been originally slated for a Mother’s Day release earlier in the year.

One reason for the release is the enthusiasm of the show’s fans, which include two generations of viewers: those who followed it during its initial airing (1958-66) and those who discovered it in its decade-long run on Nick at Nite (1985-94). Both generations lobbied for the release of the fourth season, voicing their complaints on message boards and launching a campaign called “Bring The Donna Reed Show Season Four to DVD” on Facebook (the page is now deleted, but a related YouTube video survives).

Had this been an episode of the show, Reed’s fictional daughter, Mary Stone, would have probably played into the plot. But in this real life drama, it was Reed’s actual daughter, Mary Owen, who saved the day by making it her priority to make sure the fourth season of the show got released.

“It’s been a huge learning curve for me,” Owen says by phone from her home in New York. “But I feel it’s really important — I consider the show part of our American heritage and think it’s really important to keep the DVD releases going.”

To understand why the fourth season’s DVD release was delayed for over a year, some back story is in order.

First, it’s been up to Owen and her siblings to see that the show made it to DVD, since the rights to the show (or at least the first five seasons) are owned by them personally, not a media conglomerate. Owen’s mother and father (Tony Owen), who co-produced the show, had entered into a distribution agreement with the show’s production company, Screen Gems, way back in the 1960s. Since this was before DVDs or even VCR tapes were invented, there was no thought that there would be much of a market for the show in the distant future, so Screen Gems gave the show’s rights back to the family starting in 2003.

“When my parents died, we found out the show’s rights reverted back to us (children),” Owen explains. “I’m sure in their minds not only had they moved on, but probably never thought The Donna Reed Show would ever see the light of day again.”

For the first three seasons, Owen chose Allied Arts Alliance America (which became Virgil Films Entertainment) to put out the DVDs. “We signed up with them and we were really excited and the president is a huge fan of my mother’s career,” she says.

But she found she needed to change companies when producing the fourth season on DVD posed a challenge. Since the season had never been syndicated as part of the Nick at Night package, the episodes were disorganized and sometimes had to be pieced back together. Of course, it was the very fact that this season hadn’t been broadcast since the early 1970s that had fans of the show wanting to see it.

Why did Nick at Nite decide never to broadcast the fourth season (as well as the sixth and seventh)?

“I think because the show had a total of 275 episodes, they just didn’t want that much volume,” Owen says. “So somebody just made a decision to snip here and there and chose to broadcast mostly seasons 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8.”

After the release of the shows’ third season on DVD in 2009, “the market started tumbling down and putting out the fourth season was going to prove to be expensive because of the lack of syndication,” Owen says. So she chose to go with MPI Home Video which, she says, “has more experience with classic television.

“Season Four was never transferred to tape, so the digitizing is all from the original 35 millimeter stock,” Owen explains. “And there were a lot of missing end credits because of the way the original show ran. Originally it had a lot of sponsors and there were product placements in the end credits as well as in the intros. So it’s been a matter of finding the pieces and putting them all back together.”

Matching the various end credits to the right episodes became, she says, “kind of like a Sherlock Holmes investigation but luckily everything was found. MPI was incredible at finding everything. We’re so lucky — a lot of older shows weren’t that well cared for and a lot of stuff is missing.”

According to Owen, a DVD set for the show’s fifth season is already being planned and should be much easier to assemble since most of those episodes were syndicated. Sony holds the rights to the final three seasons of the show and Owen isn’t certain about whether those will come out on DVD.

But the fourth season DVD set, which contains 39 episodes spread over five discs, should be enough to keep fans occupied for a while. The episode that is likely to receive the most attention is Donna’s Prima Donna, which has Mary Stone forsaking college to start a singing career and debuting the song “Johnny Angel” on national television. The song, as released on the Colpix Records label, became a number one hit for Shelley Fabares, who starred as Mary.

The season four DVD package, Owen says, is also the first to feature bonus material, which will come in the form of interviews with both Fabares and Stu Phillips, the latter of whom founded the Colpix label, produced “Johnny Angel,” and then went on to work on another show that heavily featured pop music, “The Monkees.”

The season also featured a plethora of guest stars, including James Darren (another Colpix artist), Cloris Leachman, John Astin, Swoozie Kurtz and baseball great Don Drysdale.

To celebrate the launch of the new DVD set, MPI organized a reunion and tribute program featuring some of the show’s surviving actors (Reed passed away in 1986). The event was held Dec. 6 in Los Angeles’ Paley Center and was attended by Fabares, co-star Paul Petersen, Darren and Phillips.

Watching the “lost” episodes again on DVD left a big impression on Owen. “There are some poignant and subtly dramatic moments that are impressive and just make me think that it’s time again for ‘The Donna Reed Show,’” she says. “There are so many gentle lessons and great images about the American family, which I feel is not currently in the best condition.”

The Donna Reed Show’s depiction of the American family is what it’s best remembered for, and likely the reason viewers from two separate generations made it a hit. When the show started, it centered around the adventures of the four-member Stone family, which included Donna (played by Reed), her physician husband Alex (Carl Betz), their teenage daughter Mary and their precocious pre-adolescent son Jeff (Paul Petersen).

As the show progressed, that formula would be altered, with Paul Petersen’s younger sister Patty becoming a cast member when Fabares left the show. But it was the family-centric thrust of the show that attracted its initial flurry of viewers, who probably saw it was a reflection of their own lives when it originally aired.

Scroll ahead twenty years to the Generation Xers who rediscovered it in reruns, and you’d probably find they saw the show as an expression of what they would have liked their family lives to be like: harmonious, with an intact family unit and parents that actually cared and gave good advice to the kids.

The show’s purported “wholesomeness” drew its share of criticism over the years, as Donna Reed came to symbolize the stereotypical 1950s suburban housewife, with all the cultural baggage that comes with that image. Although there’s some truth to that, the show was never that simplistic. The dynamic between the characters was more believable than that of most other shows of its era, and it sometimes dealt with real life issues, albeit gently. Once in a while the show even tackled risky subjects like drug abuse, which was the central theme of the eighth season episode The Big League Shock.

The show was actually proto-feminist in some respects. Not only did it bear the name of its star, it was partly developed by Reed and invariably showed Reed’s character as being the backbone of the family – solving the problems, keeping things running. And while the show’s initial opening segment did picture Reed’s character as the standard “happy housewife” seeing her family off as they go out the door in the morning, later seasons showed her leaving for work as well.

That sounds like subversion of the norm of the 1950s and 1960s rather than the norm itself. All of which may have endeared it to its second generation audience, which was able to see the show as nostalgic, but not embarrassingly so.

“It’s been frustrating for me, especially when I was in college because the ’70s wave of feminism considered what she represented in the show to be pretty bad,” Owen says. “I felt like they were missing the fact that she was way ahead of her time. They had it completely wrong.

“My mother grew up on a farm,” she continues, “and in those days the work was equally divided between men and women. I don’t think my mother was consciously a feminist, but I think she naturally felt having worked early in her life and been part of the MGM film system that women were just as capable as men.”

By the time the show started, Reed was also a veteran film actress who had won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in “From Here to Eternity.” She and producer/husband Tony Owen had heavy input into the creative process of the show throughout the show’s run.

“Her creative input can be seen by the way the show was run,” Owen says. “Ida Lupino directed a couple of episodes and Barbara Avedon cut her teeth there, writing and directing episodes, and she went on to create (the 1980s female detective show) ‘Cagney & Lacey.’”

Some of the above issues might be familiar to viewers of more modern television, since they were raised in an early “Gilmore Girls” episode, That Damn Donna Reed. In fact, the small town world of Hilldale depicted on “The Donna Reed Show” isn’t so far removed from the town of Stars Hollow where “Gilmore Girls” took place – only there’s less irony and fewer references to pop culture.

“I think Donna Stone was a very modern character,” Owen says. “Within each episode she kind of went outside the boundaries of being a 1950s stay at home mom. And by the end of each episode she kind of comes back to that role. But I think she’s got a very modern quality, which is why it was so popular on "Nick at Nite.”


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#159 of 219 OFFLINE   BobO'Link

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Posted May 20 2014 - 05:14 PM

Thanks for sharing Greg!  That's a very nice article! :)



#160 of 219 OFFLINE   swan4022

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Posted May 20 2014 - 05:40 PM

Agreed, thanks for the article. I recently watched "Big Sixteen," written by Barbara Avedon, and it's another one of those gems that combines light humor, nice comedic timing, and then genuine sentiment toward the end. A lot of her episodes are quite good, and her stories often echo what is described in the article as "proto-feminist" ideas; I didn't realize she went on to create Cagney & Lacey!


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