TITLE: DENNIS THE MENACE - SEASON ONE
DVD Release Date: March 29, 2011 (Shout! Factory)
Black & White / 1959-60
Packaging: Viva Pack
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 32
Running Time: approx. 820 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 177 min.
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: Conversation with Gloria Henry & Jeannie Russell (2010), Audio Interview with Jeannie Russell & Gloria Henry from 2007, The Donna Reed Show: “Donna Decorates,” Original Promo, and Original Opening and Closings with Commercials
Dennis the Menace is now available for the first time on any home entertainment format thanks to Shout! Factory. All 32 original uncut episodes of the series’ first season is now available just for you! The series was based on the iconic, long-running comic strip (which debuted in '51) and still runs daily in over 1,000 newspapers in 48 countries. Airing on CBS from '59-'63, Dennis the Menace is a TV series based on the popular and iconic Hank Ketcham comic strip of the same name. The show follows the lives of the Mitchell family: Henry, Alice, and their only child, Dennis. Dennis is an energetic, well meaning, but trouble-prone boy but sometimes he is a mischievous child. He often tangles with peace-and-quiet-loving neighbor, George Wilson.
The sitcom stars Jay North as Dennis Mitchell, Herbert Anderson as his father Henry Mitchell, Gloria Henry as his mother Alice Mitchell, Joseph Kearns as George Wilson and Sylvia Field as Martha Wilson. Recurring are Dennis’s friends Tommy (Billy Booth), Joey (Gil Smith) and Margaret (Jeannie Russell).
We get all 32 episodes from the series’ first season. These days that is unheard of to have that many, though some years back ABC did air some of their sitcoms with close to that (like 8 Simple Rules, According to Jim, and My Wife & Kids). Anyway, the CBS sitcom starts off with “Dennis Goes to the Movies,” which was made over a year prior to it airing in 1959. In the episode, Dennis successfully sneaks out of the house and goes to a movie his parents also go to while Joey is left with the baby sitter, pretending to be Dennis. There are many memorable episodes from the first season, including “The Fishing Trip,” where Mr. Wilson & Dennis' father plan a secret fishing trip without Dennis. In “Innocents in Space,” Mr. Wilson thinks he has discovered a space satellite when the Martians are actually Dennis, Tommy, Joey, and the rest of the gang. The Christmas episode “The Christmas Story” has Dennis going crazy trying to find his gifts including a new sled. In “Dennis and the Open House,” Dennis' house is mistaken for a nearby open house that is up for sale. In “Dennis and the TV Set,” Dennis hears about Mr. Wilson getting a remote control for his television set and is fascinated and hilariously he uses his friend's remote to operate Mr. Wilson's television from Dennis' house, and Mr. Wilson can't understand what's happening. In the season finale, “Miss Cathcart’s Sunsuit,” Dennis and Tommy try to sell Valentine's Day cards in July to buy swim fins.
Guest starring in the first season are Ron Howard as Stewart, Madge Blake as Mrs. Porter, Irene Tedrow as Mrs. Elkins, George Cisar as Sgt. Mooney, Parley Baer, James T. Callahan and Mary Wickes as Miss Cathcart.
The episodes on the set appear to be ALL unedited. We get all of the opening teasers that are edited out in syndication. These scenes run about 30 seconds before the 20-second opening credits. There are no Sony Pictures Television logos or mentions on this set, which is strange. We get the Screen Gems logo incorporated during the closing credits, though. The set only mentions Hank Ketcham Enterprises. Runtimes for every episode are as follows:
1. "Dennis Goes to the Movies" (25:34)
2. "Dennis and the Signpost" (25:38)
3. "Grandpa and Miss Cathcart" (25:37)
4. "Lucy and Mannix are Held Hostage" (25:36)
5. "Innocents in Space" (25:40)
6. "Dennis’ Garden" (25:41)
7. "The New Neighbors" (25:38)
8. "Tenting Tonight" (25:40)
9. "Dennis Sells Bottles" (25:35)
10. "Mr. Wilson’s Awards" (25:38)
11. "The Christmas Story" (25:39)
12. "Dennis and the Cowboy" (25:39)
13. "Dennis Haunts a House" (25:40)
14. "Dennis’ Tree House" (25:37)
15. "Dennis and the Rare Coin" (25:40)
16. "Dennis and the Bike" (25:38)
17. "Dennis and the Open House" (25:40)
18. "Dennis and the Duck" (25:41)
19. "Dennis and the Swing" (25:41)
20. "Dennis and the Dog" (25:39)
21. "Mr. Wilson’s Sister" (25:41)
22. "Dennis and the TV Set" (25:41)
23. "Dennis Creates a Hero" (25:40)
24. "Dennis’ Paper Drive" (25:40)
25. "Dennis and the Bees" (25:41)
26. "Alice’s Birthday" (25:41)
27. "Dennis Becomes a Babysitter" (25:39)
28. "Dennis and the Starlings" (25:39)
29. "The Party Line" (25:40)
30. "Dennis by Proxy" (25:40)
31. "Dennis Runs Away" (25:35)
32. “Miss Cathcart’s Sunsuit” (25:40)
The packaging for the set is similar to previous Shout! Factory series sets with a standard Viva-pack holding the discs. The cover art has a photo of Dennis in black & white (holding a slingshot) with a purple light blue scheme. The background is a cartoon style drawing. The show logo in red is on top. The back of the package has information about the series, along with three episodic photos in circles (Dennis, Henry & Alice and Mr. Wilson). The background is also in the comic book drawing format in light blue. There is also a white box showcasing the bonus features. Inside, we have a booklet listing of all of the episodes with synopsis, along with original airdates broken down by disc. It follows the same artwork style as the viva pack. The panels inside the viva pack also follow this style along with some episodic photos. The first four discs are on plastic holders that you can flip like a page in a book. The first plastic holder holds disc one on the front and disc two on the back. The second holder does the same for discs three and four. Disc 5 is on the right panel itself. Each Disc just has the series logo in red, with the light blue background and Dennis. This is the same artwork as the cover art. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-14, Disc 3 contains episodes 15-21, Disc 4 contains episodes 22-28, and Disc 5 contains episode 29-32 along with the special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus on the set are simple but effective. The main menu has options of "Play All" and "Episodes" on each disc but the last disc also has “Bonus Features.” Before we get into the main menu, on disc one before we get to the main menu, we see DVD trailers for Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Patty Duke Show and the upcoming fourth season of The Donna Reed Show. All of those are Shout! titles but Donna Reed, which is going to be released by MPI Home Video. Since thee is a Donna Reed episode on this set, perhaps that is why Shout! Factory is promoting it? Anyway, back to the menu, the theme song is playing in the background on the main menu and all of the submenus (Episodes & Bonus Features). Artwork is the same as the cover art, but we see that tornado cloud moving! There are six chapters within all of the episodes, but a few have seven stops for some reason.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality of the set is decent. The only real problems that I noticed are minor grain and debris in the video, and some fluctuation on audio levels. It isn’t too bad, though. It’s not crystal clear like other black & white sets like Bewitched. Oh well, it’s just great to have these episodes all unedited. I haven’t seen these opening teasers in years. They are edited out in syndication, as we see today on Antenna TV.
Wow, we actually have some bonus features! First up is an all-new interview: “Conversation with Gloria Henry and Jeannie Russell” (39:02) that is hosted by Stu Shostak, who has his own radio show. View more on Stu here. Anyway, Stu talks at length with “Alice” and “Margaret” from the show. It is really interesting and some of the things they talk about include if Dennis the Menace was CBS’ answer to ABC’s Leave it to Beaver and Jay North’s shorts in the later years. Then we have “Audio Interview with Jeannie Russell & Gloria Henry” from 2007. This was aired on July 5, 2007 on Stu Shostak’s radio show and is broken up into four segments that run 25:40, 25:41, 25:35 and 25:40. Wow, those are like four episodes! In fact, since this is an audio interview, we have actual episodes playing in the background! It looks like the episodes playing are “The Party Line,” “Dennis by Proxy,” “Dennis Runs Away” and “Miss Cathcart’s Sunsuit” -- which are all in fact on disc five anyway.
Next up we have an actual episode of the ABC series The Donna Reed Show titled “Donna Decorates.” The episode runs 25:49 and has 5 chapter stops. This episode of the series guest stars Jay North as Dennis and Joseph Kearns as Mr. Wilson. It’s a crossover! Next we have an Original Promo that lasts 17 seconds. It doesn’t even mention CBS or a time period, but it is still nice to see. And the final item on this set is “Original Commercials During Opening and Closing Credits.” This runs 6:02 and we have two sets of these with the show sponsored by Skippy and Bosco. Lots of mention of CBS on this one! It is really neat to see this, as any major fan of the show or television would appreciate this!
I am a big fan of Dennis the Menace. I’ll be honest, as a child I only watched the ‘80s animated series (which I love) and read the comics in the newspaper. I also loved the big screen movie, but it wasn’t until Nick/Nick at Nite started airing the series in the ‘90s that I started watching this show. I became a bigger fan when TV Land aired it for a bit in 2003. It is great that Shout! Factory has given us this show FINALLY on DVD. Let’s hope the remaining three seasons due get released in a quick but efficient manner with the same quality.
Support this DVD by buying it, especially if you want to invest in getting the entire series released. If you’ve never watched the show, I suggest you try it. It is has the same charm of other black & white series from the era like Leave it to Beaver, Donna Reed Show, and even Bewitched. So if you haven’t already ordered, what are you waiting for? Dennis won’t bother you while you order, so order below! Oh Mrrrrrr. Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilson, indeed!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Pavan on 03/26/11
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