Leave it to Beaver - The Complete First Season
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Finally, one of the most beloved series from television's Golden Age comes to DVD for the first time ever! Join the Cleavers, America's quintessential family, in all 39 digitally remastered, unforgettable episodes from the complete first season of Leave it to Beaver! Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Jerry Mathers) can't seem to avoid trouble, and his older brother Wally (Tony Dow), and mischievous pal Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond), aren't any help. But with some wise advice from his father Ward (Hugh Beaumont) and mom's (Barbara Billingsley) home-cooked meals, Beaver learns that all's well that ends well. Complete with the original pilot, brought out of the studio archives, this must-have DVD collection will have you declaring, "Gee, that Beaver sure is a swell guy!"
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LITB--which was almost titled, "Wally and the Beav," premiered on CBS in 1957, moved to ABC for its second season, and aired for a grand total of six seasons. Each episode revolves around the Cleaver family, who live in Mayfield, USA, and some new mess that young, elementary-school-age Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Jerry Mathers), or his older brother, Wally (Tony Dow), have gotten themselves into...with usually both brothers ending up in the same mess at the same time (Beaver usually drags Wally down with him).
Please note: Beaver got his nickname from Wally, who (as a child) could not pronounce "Theodore". Somehow,Theodore came out as Beaver. Oooh-Kay.
I've already introduced our two "heroes." Ward and June Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley), are Wally and The Beav's parents, and are ever-present in each episode as they help their sons out with advice--or punishment--when the situation calls for it. I like that they are active parents, and very concerned for their children's welfare--but have a sense-of-humor about it.
Please Note: In season one, Ward is a bit--just a bit-- "sillier" and less-serious than in future seasons. June also takes a more active role in disciplining her children. In future seasons she will defer almost always to her husband in this regard.
Actually, Wally and Beaver wouldn't get into trouble at all if not for the bunch of characters they have picked out to be their friends:
Ken Osmond is Eddie Haskell. He is the mischievous, wise-cracking "low-life" (he really isn't that bad) who is squeaky-clean Wally's best friend. At least that's what he keeps telling Wally. Whenever Beaver gets into serious trouble, Eddie--perpetually polite and well-mannered (around parents)--is usually the reason behind it.
* In one of TVGuide's countless myriads of "lists," Eddie Haskell was ranked as the 2nd most memorable television character of all-time. At least that's what my younger brother, Beav-, er, mrronald, told me.
Frank Bank is Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford. He is a couple of years older than Wally, and is introduced to the series as a bully--but they later become friends. He isn't the brightest of people--in fact, by the show's third season, he is in the same grade as Wally due to his having been held back in school. Look for veteran actor Richard Deacon as Lumpy's father, Fred Rutherford, and Ward's best friend (and co-worker).
Finally, Rusty Stevens is The Beav's best friend, Larry Mondello. His only ambition in life is to eat--and get Beaver into trouble. I must admit that, as a child, I wanted to punch Larry's lights out.
Season One contains 39 episodes in all, and they run for 25-26 minutes (imagine that today, huh?) each. No special features are included, but that's okay--I'm just happy to have the complete, uncut episodes.
Here are some episode synopses (SPOILER ALERT) of a few of my favorites:
Beaver Gets 'Spelled': The series premiere-October 4, 1957. Beaver's teacher, Ms. Canfield (Diane Brewster), gives him a note to take home to his parents. Beaver, thanks to some dire warnings from his "friends," believes he is going to get kicked out of school--and turns to Wally for help. Uh-oh. Wally writes a ridiculous letter (signed Ward Cleaver--The Beaver's father) explaining to Miss Canfield and school principal, Mrs. Rayburn(Doris Packer) that both he and June have "beaten" Theodore--and "please do not expel him!" That is all I'm going to say about this episode. You can figure the rest out from here.
Oh, by the way, (I will add this) it turns out the note was simply a request to have Beaver play Smokey the Bear in the school play.
* This episode was not intended to be the series premiere. Another episode, Captain Jack (in which the brothers bring home a pet alligator and keep him in their commode), was originally shot as the premiere. However, CBS' censors delayed its airing due to the use of said commode being shown on camera. How times have changed.
* Eddie and Lumpy always get talked about as "the bad guys" on this show. In my opinion, the little "punks" Beav hangs out with are far worse. Especially in the later seasons.
Voodoo Magic. January 3, 1958. After disobeying their parents' orders to not see monster movies (thanks, Eddie Haskell!), the Beaver decides to put a voodoo curse (using a Raggedy Andy doll) on Eddie--who plays along. Beaver is alarmed that Eddie will die from the "curse." Ward, as he usually does, manages to straighten the whole mess out by episode's end.
Beaver: "Wally, if Eddie dies, do you think I will get sent to the electric chair?"
Wally (sarcastically): "Yeah, Beav. They even have a little booster seat for it just like at the barber shop."
Lumpy Rutherford. January 24, 1958. Lumpy's debut, and he shows up bullying our heroes and extorting lunch money from them. Thanks to one of Ward's "When I was a kid..." stories, they plot their revenge by placing barrel hoops all around the back of Lumpy's home, and yell for him to come outside. Lumpy's father comes out instead and gets himself all bruised up. It does look painful to watch. Of course, the next night the Rutherfords visit the Cleavers for a game of bridge--but Beav and Wally think they are there to drag them to the police station! Hilarity ensues.
The Bank Account. February 14, 1958. Ward brings home a piggy bank for his sons in order to teach them the importance of thrift. Wally and Beaver want to use the money they save up to buy new baseball gloves instead. However, at the (most expensive) sporting goods store in town they get another idea on how to spend their money...even going and getting extra funds from their school bank accounts to make this major purchase. Ward, thanks to a phone call from Mrs. Rayburn, is furious, and in the middle of severely scolding his sons when the sporting goods package arrives at the Cleaver home. It turns out (we, as viewers, already know this, by the way) that Wally and Beaver bought their father a new hunting jacket--the delay in its arrival was due to its being monogrammed. A very good episode.
The Train Trip. April 9. 1958. Wally and Beav are returning from visiting their Aunt Martha (Madge Kennedy), who lives upstate. They plead with her to let them act like "grown-ups" (yeah, right) and buy their own tickets. She reluctantly agrees, and the brothers wind up spending most of their money on junk food and comic books. They do not have enough money to return to Mayfield, so instead buy tickets "to go as far as they can," and manage to convince the train conductor to let them go the rest of the way on credit. Ward, as he always manages to do, finds out about this and proceeds to blow the minds of his sons (be careful, Ward, there isn't a whole lot up there to begin with) by casually, that evening, mentioning to them the hectic day's events.
Tenting Tonight. April 30, 1958. Ward has to cancel a weekend camping trip with his sons due to his work. He promises to take them the following weekend, so Wally and Beav decide to spendthis weekend "camping" out in their back yard. Of course, a huge storm hits, but they manage to make it through the night--kinda sorta. Let's just say that Ward gives his sons some much-needed (and appreciated) help by leaving the back door unlocked for them.
So, in conclusion, I am going to rate this first season with five stars--and, the best part is that the series only gets better as the kids get older. I particularly enjoy the later seasons when Wally is an upperclassman in high school. There are some great "Wally, Eddie and Lumpy" episodes featured then.
As always, though, no matter which season of Leave It To Beaver we are discussing, you can rest assured that you will always be entertained by this program...a program that is perfectly safe for the entire family to enjoy--and it never gets "cheesy," either.
If you haven't already, check it out.
Thank you for reading.
Leave It To Beaver--The Complete First Season
DVD Specs (taken from packaging): Three discs--double-sided*Language is English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono*Subtitles in English and Espanol*Full Frame 1.33:1*Approx. 17 Hrs. 20 Mins.*B&W
Young second grader Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Jerry Mathers) is the titular star and the show follows him through daily adventures when there were no so-called helicopter parents and kids went outdoors in their neighborhoods (without fear of abduction or worse) and played with one another (no video games, social media) in person and even got into mischief. The core cast is great, perpetual suit wearing father Ward (Hugh Beaumont), apron and pearl wearing mom June (Barbara Billingsley) and older brother Wally (Tony Dow) round out the ensemble in each episode helping 'The Beaver' learn many life lessons. The supporting cast of young actors is quite good as well and stand out Ken Osmond as the smarmy suck-up Eddie Haskell is teriffic. So, if you're looking for a nostalgic trip back to a simpler time visitng 'Beave' and his pals will likely bring a smile to your face.
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