Packed with 39 episodes this show has a lot more going on (even today) than people give it credit for.
I wish there had been some featurettes, commentary tracks and other bonus materials on this 3 disk DVD set.
Leave It To Beaver - The Complete First Season is one of my favorite shows of all time. In fact, my top 4 favorite TV shows of all time are (in no particular order) Leave It To Beaver, The Brady Bunch, All In The Family and The Andy Griffith Show. So imagine my sheer elation when I was flipping through the pages of Home Media Retailing some months back and discovered that this great show was finally going to be coming out on DVD. I know that a lot of people slag this show. They call it “plastic” or “not real.” Now, I am not saying that this show is what life was like for everyone growing up, but as far as I am concerned, there are many things touched upon in this show that relate very heavily to my life. Also, this show ran for 6 years so this tells me that there was an audience that related to it beyond the show just being a mere novelty. People who only watch things to stand off to the side and laugh at them don’t hang around for 6 years.
It is great to own these shows on DVD. Essentially, we are getting a modern American family in the Cleavers. We have Ward (Hugh Beaumont), the firm father, June (Barbara Billingsley), the mother who runs the house, Wally (Tony Dow), the mean and nice big brother and of course Jerry Mathers as The Beaver. This show is packed with relatable life lessons for everyone. How many times as a young child were you misunderstood? How many times were we given responsibilities and things just went wrong that were totally out of our control? We have all been “The Beaver” at one point or another. I consider myself an aficionado of this show, but I had no idea how many of these early episodes I had already seen. All the shows played just as easily as when I watch them everyday on TV Land. I look forward to getting the other 5 seasons when they come out, so I can find out how Beaver’s bestpal went from being Larry to Gilbert. Or, I look forward to using the DVDs to examine the different homes that the Cleaver’s moved into over the course of the show. To my recollection they resided in 2 homes in the city of Mayfield.
To some, they will never see this show as anything other than something that was on TV before the shows got “good.” Personally, I see this show as being a good representation of our country. If you really watch it you will see that it’s dealing with personal/social issues that had to be handled with “kid gloves” due to the nature of TV at that time. However, over the course of it’s 6 season run it dealt with alcohol abuse, male and female relations, divorce, growing pains and many other things that are a common part of the modern American Family experience.
Titled “It’s A Small World” this original pilot deals with the misunderstanding Beaver has when he starts collecting bottlecaps. The plot of this show and the fact that the Leave It To Beaver magic really wasn’t there yet, isn’t why I found this thing hard to watch. It was difficult for me because there are other characters playing Ward and Wally. Thank goodness there was a casting intervention because this could have been really bad. I really buy Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers as being a family. I know that this probably because this is how I am used to seeing the show, but watching this pilot episode was a very jarring experience for me and it will be awhile before I revisit it.
Full Frame - 1.33:1. I love the look of the 1950s. I love the black and white look of this show. Everything just seems classier and in it’s place. Even when you see films of people with bad drug problems, if it happened before the early 1960s, there’s something better about it. It’s as if even though somebody might be stumblebum, they still have their act together enough to not look like so much of a mess. The compression on all the discs looks really solid, but I noticed that the picture quality was really sharp as well. As if these shows had just been sitting in cans and were thus ripe to be compressed and put out in this format.
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Subtitled in English and Spanish. The only sound problems I really noticed were in the pilot. It was hard making out what Beaver said sometimes. One could chalk this up to him just being a young kid, but I find that on the regular show I have no problem understanding him. I really am amazed at how the audio from the shows has held up. Sure, when the scenes cut from one to another, you sometimes get an audio pop of some sort, but when you take into account that the shows from this season are nearly 50 years old, I think that that is forgivable.
A solid white cover with the titles and a small picture of “The Beaver” in the center make up the front of this packaging. The back features a family shot of the Cleaver clan, a description of the show, a “Bonus Feature” listing and some technical specs. Each disc is housed inside it’s own plastic case, with different pictures of the Cleavers on the cover for all 3 cases. There is also a listing of what episodes are on each disc on the back. Sadly, there are no descriptions on the packing of what the episodes are about, but they do give detailed descriptions when you watch the show on your DVD player.
Okay, I am going to use this final word to give you a “Mushy Fact” and to also run a small contest. First off, everyday at 12:30pm, Leave It To Beaver plays on TV Land. I tape the show religiously. I know that now that they are on DVD this isn’t really necessary, but one day I fear that TV Land will change or cancel it’s syndication contract, and if that happens I want to have a decent amount of episodes stockpiled. I currently have 8 tapes each filled with 6 episodes each. My plan is to stop when I have a tape for each letter in the alphabet.
Lastly, there will be a prize, I don’t know what it is yet, to the first person who e-mails in and tells me why Theodore Cleaver has the nickname “Beaver.” I know why... and this will be revealed during my next review of Leave It To Beaver - The Complete Second Season.
Leave It to Beaver was released .