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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Mr. Belvedere – Seasons One & Two (1985 – 86/Shout! Factory DVD)

Mr. Belvedere – Seasons One & Two (1985 – 86/Shout! Factory DVD)


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



One of the dumbest hit sitcoms of all time and one that helped kill it as an artform, Mr. Belvedere is one of those bad TV shows you still cannot believe was ever greenlit, was any kind of hit and shows how desperate (especially ABC at the time) was reeling from the double hits of cable and home video.  Christopher Hewitt (who replaced Herve Villechaize on Fantasy Island when Villechaize though the show had typecast him) plays the title character, who used to be a butler and more to some of the wealthiest people in England and the world, maybe in part by his British connections.


Times must be pretty tough when he accepts a job working as the butler for a goofy family of five in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He gets there by hitchhiking from somewhere and arrives in a Pittsburgh that could never exist in fantasy or reality.  For instance, Bob Uecker is the father who makes a living as a sports broadcaster, yet despite all the hugely successful and popular sports teams the city has produced (dubbing it The City Of Champions at one point) never brings up Pirates baseball, Steelers football or Penguins hockey.  That is not Pittsburgh.  We never see any posters or other items from any of these teams, so everyone else in the house must hate sports… including dad?


There is also no mention of the steel era, new industries or anything about the city or any of its many suburbs.  You could argue the teams were idiotically dropped because that would repel viewers who liked rival sports teams, but this version of Pittsburgh makes the classic Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood look like Film Noir.


There is Ilene Graff as the mother who is not all there and three children (two boys, one gal) who have their own problems and adventures, if you can call it that.  There was always something phony and goofy about this show I never liked and now a quarter-century later, you can see how the show tried to have it several contradictory ways.  It wanted to be hip but was far from that.  It wanted to be another feel good sitcom with no brains, but it was hard to play stupid when its darker jokes, sudden sardonic dialogue and disturbing observations showed writers being coy to stupid.  Then it expected the audience to accept they were always smart on those few odd moments that would have made a better show and it would go back to moron time.


Of course, there is humor in what a snob Belvedere is, but the show does not know what to do with that and the result is a very embarrassing show that just stays bad half-hour after half-hour.  There are 29 here and they are all equally bad, even if Stewie Griffin from Family Guy watches it.



The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on analog NTSC videotape and throughout has a harsh digital look on every show with aliasing errors pointing to what looks like second-generation digital copies.  Well, the color could be worse.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono shows its age, but is still better than the image, but standards for TV sound were still weak at the time in general.  Extras include a strange skit from one of the many Tom Hanks appearances on Saturday Night Live dubbed the “Mr. Belvedere Fan Club” here and a featurette interviewing the cast about the show.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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