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Family Affair - Season One


TITLE: FAMILY AFFAIR - SEASON ONE


Info:

DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006 (MPI Home Video)
Color/1966-1967
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 30
Running Time: Aprrox. 12 hours, 30 minutes
Running Time of Special Features: 21 minutes, 40 seconds
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English Subtitles
Special Features: Family Affair: Behind the Scenes with Kathy Garver; Photo Gallery


Introduction:

Family Affair was a popular situation comedy and a regular top 20 hit show produced by Don Fedderson Productions for CBS-TV during its five-year run from 1966-71.

Brian Keith stars as bachelor Bill Davis, a highly-paid engineering consultant who lives in a posh Manhattan apartment with his proper English manservant, Mr. Giles French (Sebastian Cabot). Davis' carefree existence is turned upside down when his brother and sister-in-law die suddenly in a tragic car accident, leaving their three children orphaned. Davis becomes an instant father figure to six year-old twins, Buffy and Jody (Anissa Jones, Johnnie Whitaker) and their big sister, Cissy (Kathy Garver). Despite their reservations, Davis and French grow attached to the children. Through humorous trial and error, coupled with big doses of love and patience, the five become a real family.

Family Affair Season 1 contains 30 episodes on 5 discs and includes never-before-seen bonus features.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Family Affair premiered on September 12, 1966 on CBS. It became an instant hit, finishing tied for 14th place, with a 22.6 rating. The series starred Brian Keith as Bill Davis, Sebastian Cabot as Mr. Giles French, Anissa Jones as Buffy, Johnnie Whitaker as Jody, and Kathy Garver as Cissy. Brian Keith was nominated for an Emmy 3 times. They lived in Apartment 27-A on 600 East 62nd near Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Buffy was often shown with her doll, Mrs. Beasley. Mrs. Beasley was a huge star in her own right. The talking Mrs. Beasley doll was first introduced in 1967 by Mattel. Coloring books, paper dolls, games and a Family Affair lunch box soon followed. During the show's first season, Sebastian Cabot became ill and actor John Williams filled in for 9-10 episodes as French's brother, Nigel. A total of 138 episodes were produced over the show's 5-year run from 1966-1971. The show was filmed at Desilu Studios for the first season. It moved to CBS Studio Center for Seasons 2-5.

The excellent family series begins with the pilot episode, "Buffy," when Bill Davis, a fantastic construction engineer, unexpectedly adopts Buffy, who along with Jody and Cissy, have lost their parents in an accident. Other memorable episodes included "Jody & Cissy," in which Cissy joins the family and Mr. French thinks that he is not wanted anymore. Buffy's doll, Mrs. Beasley, gets knocked out of the apartment window by accident and Buffy goes up at arms about the whole thing in "Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You?". Buffy and Jody have been spending a lot a time with each other at school, and it is a major concern for the vice principal and a child psychologist who states that Buffy and Jody need to make friends and join in with other children in "A Matter for Experts." Cissy worships a teacher named Julian Hill and spouts his theories all through the household in "Think Deep." Bill plans to do some serious bonding with Jody by taking him on a business trip, but Murphy's Law plagues the trip in "One For the Little Boy." Mr. French helps out a maid who is very bad with housekeeping by covering up her mistakes, and this charade goes on until she is hired by a guest who is throwing a party in "A Helping Hand." Bill sends the kids away for a week-long trip at camp because they are driving him up the wall in "The Way It Was."

Notable guest stars included Louise Latham as Fran in "Buffy" and "Once in Love with Buffy." Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou on "The Andy Griffith Show") appeared as Miss Lee in "Jody & Cissy" and "That Was the Dinner that Wasn't." Pamelyn Ferdin guest starred as Melissa in "Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You?". Vic Tayback was Officer Chamus in "Who's Afraid of Nural Shpeni?". Robert Reed played a teacher, Julian Hill, in "Think Deep." Sterling Holloway appeared as Frack in "Fancy Free." Myrna Loy guest starred as Adele in "A Helping Hand."


Packaging:

The packaging style used is a thick, black Amaray case that MPI has used for some of their other releases like The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction. The cover art has a nice cast photo, with an orange background and the Family Affair logo in white and blue at the top. There is an orange-tinted photo of Mr. French, Jody, and Buffy on the back of the box. There is a summary of the set, a listing of the special features, and the DVD specs listed. They say in the summary that Bill's brother and sister-in-law died in a plane accident, but it was a car accident from what I've read online. The 5 discs are are in holders, which secure them nicely. Disc 1 is on the inside left. Discs 2-3 are on the middle two-sided middle panel. You continue flipping through the holders and there is Disc 4. Disc 5 is at the very back of the case. A single paper sheet is included inside the case that has the same cast photo as the cover art on one side and the episode titles on the other side. I would have liked to see them include the original airdates on the sheet, just to compare them with the airdates listed on various online episode guides. A MPI Home Video DVD Catalog list is also included. The numbered discs have the Family Affair logo in white and blue. There is an orange-tinted photo of the cast. Only the top of Jody's head is visible. Mr. French is holding Mrs. Beasley. I think it would have been better if they used a photo in which everybody could be seen. Disc 1 has episodes 1-6, Disc 2 has 7-12, Disc 3 has 13-18, Disc 4 has 19-24, and Disc 5 has 25-30 and the special features.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The well-designed menus are easy to navigate. The main menus feature a montage of video clips playing in 2 boxes. On the left side, the Family Affair logo is in yellow. It sligthly overlaps the video clips. I think they could have spaced it out a bit to make it look a little nicer. A blue background is used, and the borders have some beads/pebbles like you see in the kaleidoscope opening of the show. The ending theme (:50) can be heard in the background. It loops with the video clips after it is finished. On the lower right side of the main menu, there are options for "Play All," "Episodes," "Set-Up," and "Special Features" (only on Disc 5). There is white star next to the option that you highlight that turns gray upon your selection. The Set-Up menu has a photo of Bill and Mr. French. You can turn English subitles on or off on this screen. The Episodes sub-menu features various photos of the cast on the right side and a vertical listing of the episode titles on the left side. Disc 1 has a photo of Jody and Buffy, Disc 2 has Mr. French, Disc 3 has Bill, Disc 4 has Cissy, and Disc 5 has Buffy pictured. The special features menu has a photo of Jody. There are no chapter stops or scene selection menus included.


Video and Audio Quality:

Family Affair was one of CBS' first sitcoms to premiere in color in 1966. It last aired regularly in the U.S. on TV Land from 1998-2000. I don't remember seeing the show that often, so I don't have anything to compare the episodes on this DVD release. I don't think the episodes look quite as good as some other sitcoms of the era like Gilligan's Island, The Andy Griffith Show, I Dream of Jeannie, and Bewitched. The colors are not as vivid as they would be in later years when technology advanced. Sometimes the scenes look faded and washed out. There is some dust, debris, grain, occasional snow/static, and other digital artifacts in some scenes. Overall, the episodes are certainly watchable and look as good as possible - given their age and original source material. All the episodes appear to be unedited, running over 25 minutes (with 1 exception that runs 24:23). The episode order differs slightly for episodes 12-14 than what you see listed in online episode guides. They have "Think Deep" as #12 (compared to #14 on episode guides), "Love Me, Love Me Not" as #13 (compared to #12), and "The Thursday Man" as #14 (compared to #13). All of the other episodes match with the original airdate order listed on episode guides. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is one for Don Fedderson Productions and the current Universal logo.

The audio is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. I noticed a slight hiss in most of the episodes, but it wasn't that bad and I could adjust to it. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. Brian Keith sure had a big, booming voice. I loved Frank DeVol's theme and music used in the episodes. He also did the music for Don Fedderson's My Three Sons, as well as numerous other tv series. English subtitles are available for the episodes.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
1. Buffy (25:24)
2. Jody & Cissy (25:14)
3. The Gift Horse (25:17)
4. The Matter of School (25:30)
5. Marmalade (25:19)
6. Room with a Viewpoint (24:23)

Disc 2
---------
7. Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You? (25:13)
8. Who's Afraid of Nural Shpeni (25:25)
9. A Matter for Experts (25:24)
10. Beware, The Other Woman (25:27)
11. Take Two Aspirins (25:09)
12. Think Deep (25:27)

Disc 3
---------
13. Love Me, Love Me Not (25:27)
14. The Thursday Man (25:24)
15. Hard Hat Jody (25:25)
16. That Was the Dinner that Wasn't (25:12)
17. All Around the Town (25:28)
18. One For the Little Boy (25:26)

Disc 4
---------
19. Fancy Free (25:26)
20. A Helping Hand (25:14)
21. Once in Love with Buffy (25:24)
22. Ballerina Buffy (25:21)
23. The Mother Tongue (25:23)
24. Everybody Needs Somebody (25:26)

Disc 5
---------
25. The Way It Was (25:17)
26. All Nephews are Created Equal (25:25)
27. The Prize (25:24)
28. What Did You Do in the West, Uncle? (25:17)
29. The Award (25:28)
30. The Butler Method (25:27)


Special Features:

MPI Home Video is known for having great special features for many of their releases. The extras on this set are pretty decent, but not as nearly impressive as some of their other sitcom sets like The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and The Doris Day Show.

There is a Behind the Scenes with Kathy Garver featurette and a Photo Gallery. As somebody who is not that familiar with the show, I found the featurette entertaining and had lots of interesting bits of trivia. Kathy Garver is very bubbly and enthusiastic talking about the show. It is too bad that the other surviving cast member, Johnny Whitaker, isn't interviewed. I would have liked to hear his comments and memories. I thought we would see episode introductions by Kathy Garver like they had Linda Kaye-Henning do them for Petticoat Junction, but unfortunately they didn't do them for this set. For future releases, I would like to see some orignal network promos, vintage cast member interviews or other appearances, and maybe a featurette on the numerous Family Affair memorabilia items that were produced. The Mrs. Beasley talking dolls became a phenomenon.

Family Affair: Behind the Scenes (21:40) - This featurette includes an all-new interview with Kathy Garver. There is also a narrator that gives some information. The interview is mixed with clips from the episodes. It provides a lot of interesting information on how the show was developed, and Kathy Garver reminisces about it how it had a family feeling and atmosphere. Many topics are covered, including: how it was one of the first sitcoms shot in color; how it was cast and the original plans for the ages of the kids; some actors that turned down the roles of Bill and Mr. French; how Kathy Garver got the part of Cissy and auditioned for it after the original girl cast was replaced; how they shot the show to accomodate Brian Keith's film career (it was much like how they did My Three Sons with Fred MacMurray); how it was working with Brian Keith; the contrast between Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot; the success of the show in syndication in various countries; Mrs. Beasley's popularity; how John Williams filled in as French's brother, Nigel, while Sebastian Cabot was sick in the first season; one of her favorite episodes; guest stars like Robert Reed; what made it a hit. Overall, this was a well-produced and informative featurette that new and long-time fans will enjoy. You can tell how much Kathy Garver liked being on the show. This isn't like an E! True Hollywood Story, so you don't hear about the tragedies in some cast member's lives. Maybe we will see Johnny Whitaker in a future season.

Photo Gallery - This features 23 cast photos and publicity stills that you can flip through with your arrow button. They are on a similarly designed menu like the other menu screens. Sometimes you just see DVD captures as photo galleries, but these are nice publicity photos. There are 8 in color and 15 in black & white.


Final Comments:

Family Affair has often been called one of the gentlest sitcoms in TV history. After watching a few episodes, I would have to agree with that assessment. There was a nice mix of heartwarming humor and tender drama. You could say the show appears dated, but a lot of the morals and lessons still ring true today. TV today depicts so much that is wrong with people, but Family Affair dealt with the good. I've always liked family sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and The Brady Bunch. There are some 60's sitcoms like Family Affair and My Three Sons that I just haven't got around to watching over the years. It is nice to see shows that haven't been widely shown in syndication in recent years now available on DVD.

MPI Home Video has done a good job with this first season release. While the episodes may not have truly outstanding video and audio quality, they do appear to be complete and are definitely watchable...so you are able to see the 3+ minutes from each episode that were edited out when it was syndicated. The featurette with Kathy Garver was interesting, but I was hoping for a few more special features. MPI really didn't give Family Affair the full treatment like they've done for some of their other sitcom releases. It has been reported on Kathy Garver's website that she already has filmed a featurette for the second release. They say it will be released at the end of August. That seems a little soon after this first release, but we shall see when something if officially announced by MPI.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 06/15/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000EXZFS0/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=175115


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