Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > The Donna Reed Show – Season Three (1960 – 1961/Virgil Films DVD)

The Donna Reed Show – Season Three (1960 – 1961/Virgil Films DVD)


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



Donna Reed was always typecast as the “good woman” in almost every role she did and the latter-day revisionist revival of It’s A Wonderful Life more recently cemented this image, but she also had eight seasons of the highly successful hit TV series The Donna Reed Show originally being the reason for this image.  However, as color TV arrived, her show was pushed aside and become one of many early TV hits to suddenly find itself out of circulation and later out of print on home video.  Now, Virgil Films has secured the rights and this is their Season Three set.


The epitome of the happy 1950s family show, it does not hold up as well as a Father Knows Best, but is still intelligent and has some interesting moments just the same.  Reed is just fine as Donna Stone, the happy wife with a great husband (Carl Betz), a good son (Paul Petersen) and daughter (Shelley Fabares).  The child actors are among the few to make it into adult careers and Petersen was just on the series Supernatural.  Fabares voices Martha Kent on the animated Superman.


Like Father Knows Best, My Favorite Martian or That Girl, the series is independently owned and that is another reason why it has not been as available.  I did not find this too memorable having not seen it for a few decades, but by today’s standards, is more professional and consistent than you might imagine.  You also believe that the actors are a real family and it all also serves as a time capsule of the era of how the 1950s did and did not exist.  Reed co-produced with real life husband Tony Owen.


Guest stars this season include Madge Blake (from the 1960s Batman series), Jay North in a crossover appearance as Dennis The Menace, Jay Novello, Maxine Stuart, Eddie Firestone, Miyoshi Umeki, Paul Barselou, C. Lindsay Workman, Herb Vigran, Jack Albertson, Stuart Nisbet, Tony Haig, Harvey Lembeck, Stephen Talbot, Douglas Lambert and Director George Sidney (despite some sources stating otherwise, this turns out to be accurate as recently confirmed by a highly reliable source).


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on black and white 35mm film.  Except for some softness and motion blur, this looks good and consistent throughout the four DVDs on all 38 half-hour shows.  If the masters are in really good shape, Blu-rays would be a good idea.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is a little more compressed throughout reminding us of the Perry Mason DVDs we recently covered.  They could use some cleaning, but are not bad otherwise.  Extras include Petersen and Reed’s daughter Mary Owen discussing the show at the New York City Barnes & Nobles, a WWII soldier’s letter to Reed and a stills section of It’s A Wonderful Life memorabilia and piece linked to the Someone Is Watching episode.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com