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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Drama > Family Affair – Season Three

Family Affair – Season Three


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



There was a brief time in the mid-to-late 1960s when TV was more popular than films for a reason and that was because color had arrived in the home.  Sure, both TV and film was better then anyhow, but when color hit, some shows knew how to show it off.  One of them was Family Affair, the hit TV series about single executive (Brian Keith) who takes care of the children of his brother and sister-in-law when they die in a horrible plane crash.


“Uncle Bill” becomes the new guardian of Buffy (Anissa Jones), Jody (Johnnie Whitaker) and Cissy (Kathy Garver) and hires the experiences British butler Mr. French (the great Sebastian Cabot; take that Mr. Belvedere!) to form a new family unit.  The hit series lasted five seasons and part of a cycle of very colorful comedy/dramas that were very well written and in this case, had more than their own doses of melodrama.


Well, the cast has very believable chemistry and is often very charming, while the screenplays have exceptional intelligence and simple moral stories for a situation comedy that is more drama and very considerably lite entertainment by today’s standards, yet it is not as lite as it would seem.  The show has enough emotional intelligence to annihilate just about all sitcoms beginning in the 1980s and would be inconceivable to see this become a feature film.  You could never recast this and it is nice the show had savvy producers.


The one sad thing that now haunts the series is the 1976 drug overdose death of Jones, which was particularly shocking at the time and shadows the series forever, then Keith self-destructed more recently that makes watching tragic all over again.  However, the show is a minor classic and fortunately, no one has decided to build stupid “curse” rumors around the series.  It was a hot syndicated property in the 1970s, then faded away.  It is nice to have the show coming out on DVD, with this middle season (all 28 shows) amusing in its light approach to the juxtaposition of traditional, new traditional and counterculture families.


This is the 1968-69 season, so the country was in the thick of changes, yet here is this tranquil show and one of the last of its kind before All In The Family broke so much ground.  It is nice to see a family show that is not heavy-handed, child-hating, dysfunctional and even propagandic.  It is nice to see real family values than means something that is not made of phoniness and catchphrases.  Even with its limits, it is more authentic than anything we have been getting for decades, so don’t miss the shows or the interesting guest stars like Butch Patrick, June Lockhart, Eve Plumb, Paul Sorenson, Barbara Babcock, Maria Grimm, Jay Novello, Eddie Hodges, Veronica Cartwright, Jamie Farr, Rick Gates, Joe Flynn, Del Moore and Dick Patterson.


The one big flaw with this set are the film-to-video transfers.  The 1.33 X 1 color prints are dull and look like old analog transfers that plug up the terrific color and detail.  Like That Girl or later seasons of The Lucy Show, this is one of the most color-rich series ever filmed for TV and though these prints are passable, they have looked better before.  All the shows deserve HD upgrades.  What would Mrs. Beasley say?


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is sufficient and had good dialogue for its age, though the sound has some background hiss and is a generation down.  Of course, all shows feature the classic theme song by Frank DeVol, also known for The Brady Bunch and so much memorable TV and film music.  The only extra this time around is a reunion special with Garver and four of the other principal participants reflecting on the show’s success.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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