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Family Affair - Season Four


TITLE: FAMILY AFFAIR - SEASON FOUR


Info:

DVD Release Date: October 30, 2007 (MPI Home Video)
Color/1969-1970
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: Aprrox. 11 hours, 30 minutes
Running Time of Special Features: Approx. 58 minutes, 39 seconds
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English Subtitles
Special Features: The Child Stars Featurette; A Conversation with Johnny Whitaker Part 1 Featurette


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 4 contains 26 episodes on 5 discs and includes never-before-seen bonus features.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Family Affair's fourth season premiered on September 25, 1969 on CBS. The show moved to Thursdays at 7:30-8:00PM for the final two seasons. It remained in 5th place in the ratings with a 24.2 rating, down from 25.2 the year before. 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. 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. A total of 138 episodes were produced over the show's 5-year run from 1966-1971. After being filmed at Desilu Studios for the first season, it moved to CBS Studio Center for Seasons 2-5. Brian Keith received three consecutive nominations for "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series." The series was also nominated for "Outstanding Comedy Series" for two seasons.

One of the facts about the fourth season is that Anissa Jones broke her leg in the middle of the season in real life. That was written into the storyline. Then she re-broke it. Memorable episodes this season included "No Uncle is an Island," in which after Bill returns from a vacation, the kids decide to let him just kick back and relax, but constant interruptions make that totally impossible. Cissy's friend falls for Uncle Bill in "Uncle Prince Charming." While Jody is playing with his friends at school, a window gets broken and Jody is blamed for it in "The Jody Affair." Buffy gets a broken leg and the family tries to cheer her up, but to no avail in "What's Funny About a Broken Leg." The twins plan a surprise birthday party for Mr. French in "The Birthday Boy." Mr. French and the twins are snowbound in Vermont in "Marooned." The twins get a small inheritance in "The Inheritance." Jody is a victim of peer pressure when he is forced to choose between a stickball team and taking up for Buffy, who the team ridicules in "The Boys Against the Girls."

Notable guest stars included Herbert Anderson as Chuck in "No Uncle is an Island." Pamelyn Ferdin appeared as Jennifer in "No Uncle is an Island." Richard Bull played the Manager in "What's Funny About a Broken Leg." James Hong guest starred as Phil Lee in "Number One Boy." Erin Moran appeared as Amy in "There Goes New York."


Packaging:

The packaging has remained very consistent for all four seasons. It comes in a thick, black Amaray case that MPI frequently uses for some of their other releases like The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction. The same cast photo has been used for all of the releases. This time it has a green background. It's a nice photo, but there are many other cast photos they could have used for variety. The Family Affair logo is in white and orange at the top of the box. There is a green-tinted photo of Mr. French, Jody and Buffy on the back of the case. This is the same photo that they used on the season one set. A summary of the set, the special features listing and the DVD specs are listed. They say, once again, 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. Their summary says there were 25 episodes this season, but there are 26 episodes included so that must have been a typo. The trend of white, plastic holders inside the case is continued from the second season. These holders are very sturdy and the discs seem to stay in their place. There are 2 over-lapping holders that you flip through like a book that hold the first 4 discs. Disc 5 is in a holder embedded on the back of the case. One of the things missing that the previous three seasons had is a paper sheet that lists the episodes. I'm not sure if it just my review copy that was missing the episode listing or if they just didn't include it for this season. It was nice to have on the other seasons for reference, so you could easily check for a particular episode on a disc. Some of the previous releases have also included a MPI catalog, but that is absent this time as well. The discs have a purple-tinted cast photo on them. This is the same photo that they used on the season three release. Each disc is numbered and has the show logo in white and orange at the top. Disc 1 has episodes 89-94. Disc 2 has 95-100. Disc 3 has 101-106. Disc 4 has 107-112. Disc 5 rounds out the set with episodes 113-114 and the 2 special features.


Menu Design and Navigation:

Like the packaging, the menus have remained pretty consistent on all of the releases. They are well designed and easy to navigate. Instead of video clips on the main menus like the first two seasons, they again use rotating still images from the episodes. On the left side, the Family Affair logo is in yellow. It sligthly overlaps the photos. 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. Some flashing stars are shown in the background. The ending theme (:50) can be heard in the background. It loops with the still images after it is finished. On the lower right side of the main menu, there are options for "Play All," "Episodes" and "Set-Up." There is a white star next to the option that you highlight that turns gray upon your selection. The Set-up menu lets you turn on/off the subtitles. That menu has a photo of Mr. French reading a book to Jody and Buffy. The Episodes sub-menus feature various photos of the cast on the right side and a vertical listing of the episodes titles on the left side. Disc 1 features Bill. Disc 2 has Buffy. Disc 3 has Mr. French. Disc 4 has Buffy, Bill and Jody. Disc 5 has Cissy, Buffy and Jody. Unfortunately, the trend of having no chapter stops has continued.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality has seemed about the same on all four seasons. The colors seem to have improved slightly from season to season, as the technology advanced. 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 around 25 1/2 minutes in length. The episodes are presented in their original broadcast order. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is one for Don Fedderson Productions followed by the current Universal logo. Something I noticed on this set that may have also been on the first two releases: in the closing credits, it appears that the sponsor was cropped out and replaced with a solid, blue background.

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
---------
89. No Uncle is an Island (25:36)
90. The Wings of An Angel (25:39)
91. Uncle Prince Charming (25:39)
92. Cissy's Apartment (25:35)
93. The Jody Affair (25:39)
94. With This Ring (25:33)

Disc 2
---------
95. What's Funny About a Broken Leg (25:38)
96. The Birthday Boy (25:37)
97. The Stowaway (25:40)
98. Number One Boy (25:38)
99. A Tale of Two Travels (25:39)
100. Maudie (25:27)

Disc 3
---------
101. Goodbye Harold (25:38)
102. The Girl Graduate (25:40)
103. Grandpa, Sir (25:36)
104. Marooned (25:38)
105. Mr. Osaki's Tree (25:35)
106. The Language of Love (25:32)

Disc 4
---------
107. The Inheritance (25:38)
108. There Goes New York (25:36)
109. Wouldn't It Be Loverly (25:36)
110. The Boys Against the Girls (25:35)
111. The Old Cowhand (25:38)
112. Angle in the Family (25:29)

Disc 5
---------
113. Family in Paradise - Part 1 (25:33)
114. Family in Paradise - Part 2 (25:27)


Special Features:

The previous three seasons have included one or two special features. This season we have two interview featurettes. They can both be found on disc 5.

The Child Stars (36:22) - This new featurette is a panel discussion with Kathy Garver, Veronica Cartwright ("Leave it to Beaver," "The Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds"), Jerry Mathers ("Leave it to Beaver"), Kym Karath ("The Sound of Music"), Pamelyn Ferdin ("Bewitched," "Gunsmmoke," "Star Trek") and Producer John Stephens. They are seated in chairs in a semi-circle. Veronica and Jerry guest starred in one episode. Kym was in three episodes and Pamelyn appeared in four. The featurette begins with them introducing themselves. After their intros, there is some text that gives some of the roles they are known for. The Family Affair theme song is played in the background. Many interesting topics are covered here. They discuss how they entered show business. Some of them had very early starts, as young as three years old. Next, they talk about their experiences and memories of appearing on Family Affair. There is a lot of interesting trivia and background details, such as that Anissa and Johnny had clothing deals. One of the panelists made their own clothing for the show. Jerry Mathers discusses how he got the role of the Beaver on Leave it to Beaver in some detail. Another topic they discuss is some of their readings that were difficult. They talk about their parents and are asked if their parents saved their money. Other topics covered include how their friends and peers reacted to their fame, their schooling and their transition into becoming adult actors. John wraps up the featurette with his experiences of working with child actors. A lot of video clips are shown during the featurette. I didn't see any clips of Jerry's episode, however. Everybody looks great, youthful and healthy. Overall, this is a very interesting discussion that has some funny moments. There's a good mix of people that have different backgrounds in the business. They all seemed to be happy to be there. It moves very quickly. All fans should enjoy it.

A Conversation with Johnny Whitaker - Part 1 (22:17) - Johnny Whitaker finally participates on the DVD! It is nice that they asked him to appear to give his thoughts on working on the show and in the business. He talks about how he got started in acting at the age of three. His first major film was "The Russsians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" with Brian Keith. That eventually led Brian to telling the producers about Johnny. He talks about auditioning for the part. The role was originally intended for a 10-year-old boy. Johnny gives a lot of interesting trivia and talks about working with the other cast members. For him being so young on the show, it sure seems like he can remember a lot of the details. Other topics covered include the work schedule for child actors, watching the show on tv, working with the directors (Bill Russell in Season 1 and Charles Barton in Seasons 2-5), the clothing lines for the kids and going to a mall for a fashion show in Memphis, TN in 1968 or 1969. The focus here is his time before and mostly on Family Affair. I guess we can expect part 2 on the season five DVD release. Maybe that will go into his life after Family Affair. He certainly has gone through his share of ups and downs. Today, he works as a drug counselor and holds acting workshops.


Final Comments:

Another solid effort by MPI. They've done a very good job releasing these sets on a regular basis. It's nice to know that they aren't abandoning the show. They've remained consistent with the packaging and menus. While the video and audio quality won't blow you away, the episodes are all very watchable and they appear to be completely unedited. They've also done a nice job of including one or two special features on each set. It was great to see Johnny Whitaker participate for this season. He has a lot of memories to share of his time on the show.

There's just one season left to go. We should see that sometime in early 2008. It should include the second part of the conversation with Johnny Whitaker. It will be interesting to see what else they have lined up in the special features department. Maybe a commentary track by Kathy Garver? We shall see soon.


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

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 11/06/07

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000TGJ88A/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=212930


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