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Mr. Belvedere: Seasons One & Two
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When Pittsburgh sports columnist George Owens (Bob Uecker) and wife Marsha (Ilene Graff), a new law school student, find themselves with little time to spend with their three rambunctious kids, Marsha places an ad for some household help. Enter Mr. Belvedere (Christopher Hewett), a quick-witted, refined, portly English housekeeper. Despite the objections of George, Mr. Belvedere is hired and quickly sets about whipping the Owens family into shape.
Mr. Belvedere premiered in 1985 and enjoyed a six season run, but has endured ever since as a symbol of its time. The story of one family trying to have it all, with some unlikely help, the show was not afraid to deal with real issues and still make us laugh. Affectionately remembered, Mr. Belvedere lives on as a cult favorite and an icon of 80s suburbia.
* New Interviews With the Cast
* Saturday Night Live Mr. Belvedere Fan Club Sketch
The Owens household faces potential chaos: Two working parents and three unsupervised children! In sweeps Mr. Belvedere, British nanny/housekeeper, imposing order on America's suburban anarchy. From this simple yet preposterous premise, a classic sitcom was born. Though popular sportscaster Bob Uecker (Major League) was the first actor cast (as hapless father George), the success of Mr. Belvedere rests on two sets of shoulders: Christopher Hewett, as the snippy but affectionate Lynn Belvedere, and Brice Beckham, as Wesley, the smallest, smartest, and wiliest of the Owens children. The rest of the family--George, mother Marsha (Ilene Graff), teenage brother and sister Kevin and Heather (Rob Stone and Tracy Wells)--get to have their moments, but Hewett and Beckham dominate the show, and deservedly so. Though ostensibly a fish-out-of-water/culture-clash comedy, Mr. Belvedere is secretly about the amoral drives of childhood slowly being shaped into the civilized consciousness of adult life. Or, to put it another way, Wesley is a cunning, self-serving brat being taught compassion and thoughtfulness by the effective one-two punch of Mr. Belvedere's barbed comments and gentle wisdom. What makes the show delightful (and delightfully subversive) is that Mr. Belvedere doesn't teach Wesley rigid notions of right and wrong, as might happen in a more conventional sitcom. Instead of laying down rules, Mr. Belvedere seeks to awaken Wesley's conscience; he inspires the pint-sized schemer to look at the world, recognize injustice, and make up his own mind what to do about it. This may take the form of being nice to guests at a party or standing up for a friend who's ostracized because he has AIDS. The AIDS episode, which came out during the Reagan era, may have been a cultural landmark, but Mr. Belvedere treated everyday social conflicts with the same mixture of gravity and wit. Don't get the wrong idea: This is a formulaic sitcom, with all the slapstick and gags-per-minute that requires. But what keeps Mr. Belvedere from being Alf with a plump Brit instead of a second-rate muppet was this surprising sense of humane purpose. This, combined with the great rapport of Hewett and Beckham, resulted in surprisingly good television. Extras include some sweet reminiscences by the cast and a sour Saturday Night Live sketch about a Mr. Belvedere fan club. --Bret Fetzer
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Now for the show itself. I watched this show when it originally aired and haven't seen it much in syndication since. My memory of the show is mostly from it's original network run. I loved the show then but wasn't mature enough to fully appreciate it's humor. After watching this set I enjoyed the show even more than I remembered. As an adult I can catch the adult jokes that I missed when I was a kid. This show is as entertaining to adults as it is to a younger audience. It holds up well. I watched episode after episode not wanting to come to the end and enjoying every second of it.
The set does have special features. There are interviews with the surviving cast members (minus Tracy Wells). They talk about how much fun they had on the show, including the pranks they played on each other. They talk of their fond memories and how they are still rmeembered to this day for their Mr Belvedere roles. Hopefully future sets will have an interview with Tracy Wells. The other special feature is the SNL Mr Belvedere fan club skit. That has nothing to do with the show, but it is hysterically funny. Tom Hanks is in it. The set also features two clips Family Guy in which Stewie sings the Mr Belvedere theme song. This is also mentioned in the interviews.
If anyone is on the fence about buying this set and worrying that they won't enjoy it as much as they remember, worry no more. The show is better than remembered. A few plots may be dated but as a whole the show stands up very well. You won't be disappointed.
As Belvedere notes in his journal entry: "Although the individual members seem well intentioned enough, they do seem a bit out of touch with each other. But with a certain amount of patience and direction, I'm sure I can whip them into shape...even George. They're damn lucky to have me".
Indeed. And thanks to Shout! Factory (props to DVD producer Brian Blum), the show's fans are lucky to have him finally on DVD. Mr. Belvedere - Seasons One & Two is a 5-disc (single-sided) set featuring the show's first 29 episodes (all 7 from Season One, plus all 22 from Season Two); Full Frame (1.33:1) video; plus the following Special Features: New Interviews with the Cast, and Saturday Night Live - Mr. Belvedere Fan Club sketch.
The discs are housed in 3 slimcases inside a handsomely designed [brown] slim outer box. Disc 1 contains Season One Episodes 1-7, Disc 2: Season Two Episodes 1-6, Disc 3: Episodes 7-11, Disc 4: Episodes 12-17, Disc 5: 18-22 plus Bonus Features. The picture and sound are fairly good, despite some noticeable grain and a very noticeable sound drop in "The Letter" episode. There are chapters for the episodes which you can skip through using your remote.
Stranger in the Night (3/15/1985)
The Outcasts (3/22/1985)
Gotta Dance (3/29/1985)
Gorgeous George (4/5/1985)
What I Did For Love (4/12/1985)
The Lost Weekend (4/19/1985)
Sweet Charity (4/26/1985)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (9/27/1985)
The Contract (11/1/1985)
The Letter (11/22/1985)
The Prize (12/6/1985)
The Teacher (1/10/1986)
The Dropout (1/17/1986)
Wesley's Friend (1/31/1986)
The Will (2/7/1986)
Valentine's Day (2/14/1986)
Heather's Tutor (2/21/1986)
Dinner For Two (3/21/1986)
The Play (3/28/1986)