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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Leave It To Beaver - The Complete First Season

Leave It To Beaver – The Complete First Season


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B



Only rivaled by Ozzie & Harriett, which was actually created by an advertising agency despite a radio past, Leave It To Beaver is considered the quintessential 1950s “happy family/good family” series that set the standards for such sappy situation comedies all the way to date and has been endlessly referenced, including in darkly comic moments from Richard Donner’s Scrooged (1988) and much of the world in Gary Ross’ Pleasantville ten years afterwards.  Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley (later the mom on the animated Muppet Babies) became the understanding, concerned, smart, loving, perfect parents, while brothers Wally (Tony Dow) and “The Beav” (Jerry Mathers) were the children growing up who had to navigate those “common childhood problems” that are a picnic today.


Of course, life was not that simple for children even growing up back then in the conservative 1950s, but Leave It To Beaver offers the well-rounded construct that kept it going for six seasons, though it more than any other show seems like it never ended.  The adult acting always seems controlled, yet sincere, which has always sold the show.  The series was done in half-hours like all sitcoms to come and they did log an amazing 234 shows in that time.


The shows become repetitive, but are pleasant, safe and (now more than ever) too safe for their own good.  But there are other highlights.  Character actors who showed up in this first season include Harry Shearer, Edgar Buchanan, Phyllis Coates, Charles H. Gray, Buddy Hart, Herb Vigran, Norman Alden, William Schallert, Lyle Talbot and Frank Wilcox.  Richard Deacon, later of The Dick Van Dyke Show, became known first as Fred Rutherford in these shows.  Majel Barrett, later of Star Trek fame, was Gwen Rutherford.  That is reason enough to giver this set a look, even if you are not a fan.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on real black and white film of the time and though there is grain throughout all the prints, they look good and clean.  Detail may be a little limited, but for shows shot in 1957, you will be surprised.  They may be a tad lighter at times, but as good as I have seen any shows over the decades on broadcast and cable.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is pretty good for its age, though you can hear some background hiss, this is still good for its age as well.  The show is mostly dialogue driven, especially in the first season.  There are 40 episodes covering both sides of three DVDs in those great slender-cases we all appreciate and 39 of the shows are the whole season, with the other a bonus.  There are really no extras per se; Universal has included the original pilot It’s A Small World before the cast was finalized, though Billingsley and Jerry Mathers are mother and son.  More extras would be nice, but Leave It To Beaver – The Complete First Season has solid presentation and fans will be pleased.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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