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Family Affair - Season Five


TITLE: FAMILY AFFAIR - SEASON FIVE


Info:

DVD Release Date: February 26, 2008 (MPI Home Video)
Color/1970-1971
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: Approx. 11 hours
Running Time of Special Features: Approx. 19 minutes, 44 seconds
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English Subtitles
Special Features: Kathy Garver Tours the CBS Studio


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 5 contains 24 episodes on 4 discs and includes never-before-seen bonus features.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Family Affair's fifth and final season premiered on September 17, 1970 on CBS. The show continued to air on Thursdays at 7:30-8:00PM. Airing against The Flip Wilson Show (which finished 2nd in the ratings), the show dropped out of the top 30 in the rankings. 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. Nancy Walker joined the cast in a recurring role in the fifth season as the part-time housekeeper, Emily Turner. Gregg Federson appeared in the recurring role of Gregg. The family 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.

There were a number of memorable episodes in the final season. Tired of the unfriendliness from all of the tenants in the building, Buffy and Jody decide to throw a party for all of the neighbors in "The Good Neighbors." The kids celebrate five years of living in the Davis apartment by throwing a surprise party for Bill, who doesn't make it because of a trip to Washington D.C. in "It Can't Be Five Years." Jody falls for a girl named Geraldine only because he wants her stamp in "Stamp of Approval." Bill refuses to fight Jody's classmate's father in "Say Uncle." Events conspire to make French lose his cool in "The Unskinkable Mr. French." Jody makes friends with a boy in the park whose uncle is Ken Granger, a football superstar in "Heroes Are Born." Afraid that their uncle will be alone when they grow up, the twins try to pair him with their teacher Miss Berry in "Nobody Here But Us Uncles." Bill secretly helps Buffy join a clique she wants to be part of but quickly finds good intentions backfire on him in "The Joiners."

Notable guest stars included Ida Lupino as Maudie Marshwood in "The Return of Maudie." Lisa Gerritsen appeared as Geraldine Askins and Lee Meriwether was Claudia Wells in "Stamp of Approval." Linda Henning played Kathy Prentiss in "And Baby Makes Eight." Clint Howard guest starred as Tom Richards in "Say Uncle." Erin Moran appeared as Mary Ellen and Joyce Van Patten was Gail Spencer in "Class Clown." Marj Dusay played Dana Markham in "The Unsinkable Mr. French." Leif Garrett guest starred as Bobby Granger in "Heroes Are Born." David Ladd appeared as Russ Brooks in "Put Your Dreams Away." Pamelyn Ferdin played Shirley Dixon and Kathleen Richards (Kathy Hilton, mother of Paris Hilton) was Carol in "The Joiners." Kym Karath was Wynn Carter in "Goodbye, Mrs. Beasley." Erin Moran appeared as Janet and Lori Loughlin was Mary Ann in "Buffy's Fair Lady."


Packaging:

The packaging has remained very consistent for all five 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 seasons. This time it has a red/orange background. It's a nice photo, but there are many other cast photo they could have used for variety. The Family Affair logo is in white and blue at the top of the case. There is a red-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 and four sets. 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. 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 4 discs. Thankfully they've included a paper sheet that lists the episodes. My review copy didn't have it included for season four. A 30% off coupon is included for some select MPI Home Video titles. The discs have a red/orange-tinted cast photo. This is the same photo that they used on the season one release. Each disc is numbered and has the show log in white and blue at the top. Disc 1 has episodes 115-20. Disc 2 has episodes 121-126. Disc 3 has 127-132. Disc 4 rounds out the set with episodes 133-138 and the special feature.


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. For the last three seasons, they've used rotating still images on the main menus. 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 Jody, Cissy and Buffy. Disc 2 has Bill and Cissy. Disc 3 has Jody, Buffy and Mr. French. Disc 4 has 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 five 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 to 25 1/2 minutes in length. Only two episodes had a running time under 25 minutes. 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.

I noticed a new, fun thing on some of the episodes on this set. 12 of the episodes have brief intros at the start of them. Sebastian Cabot says "Good Evening, so nice of you to join us" in one of them. There were seven of the same intro by Cabot. In the other, Johnnie Whitaker says "Hi" and Anissa Jones says "Welcome to our show." There were five episodes that have those intros. I'm not sure if all of the episodes in the final season had these intros originally, or if they were ever shown in syndication.

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

Disc 1
---------
115. The Good Neighbors (25:18)
116. Deserted Isle-Manhattan (25:15)
117. Eastward Ho (25:17)
118. Meet Emily (25:09)
119. The Return of Maudie (25:24)
120. It Can't Be Five Years (25:20)

Disc 2
---------
121. Travels With Cissy (25:19)
122. Stamp of Approval (25:10)
123. And Baby Makes Eight (25:23)
124. Say Uncle (25:22)
125. Class Clown (25:21)
126. The Unsinkable Mr. French (24:54)

Disc 3
---------
127. Wish You Were Here (25:32)
128. Feat of Clay (25:20)
129. Heroes Are Born (25:08)
130. Nobody Here Bus Us Uncles (25:07)
131. Too Late Too Soon (25:08)
132. The Little Exile (25:20)

Disc 4
---------
133. Put Your Dreams Away (25:23)
134. The Joiners (25:22)
135. Cinder Family (24:54)
136. Goodbye Mrs. Beasley (25:21)
137. Buffy's Fair Lady (25:10)
138. You Can't Fight City Hall (25:28)


Special Features:

All five seasons have included one or two special features. If you got the season four set and saw part 1 of a conversation with Johnny Whitaker, you were probably expecting to see the second part of that interview on this set. For some unknown reason, they chose not to include it. We do get a nice tour of CBS Studio with Kathy Garver and her comments on the fifth season. This special feature can be found on disc 4.

Kathy Garver Tours the CBS Studio (19:44) - This new featurette has Kathy Garver giving a tour of CBS Studios in the first part (5-6 minutes) and her thoughts on the fifth season for the second part (14-15 minutes). She said at the start this idea came from requests from fans and on her website. CBS Studio Center is located in Studio City, California. She begins by giving a brief history of the studios. There are some vintage clips and photos shown. She shows the movie titles and tv show titles that are in cement, where her dressing room was located and the streets where Johnny and Anissa played on during the show's run. After filming at Desilu/Paramount for season 1, they moved to CBS Studios for seasons 2-5. She takes us to stage 10 where the show was filmed. The stage was much larger than I expected. She points out where different sets were located and mentions an interesting fact about another show that was shot on the same stage. Next, they show the home of "My Three Sons." She sits down in a chair in front of the house and talks about the fifth season. She covers of a variety of topics, as various video clips from the episodes are shown between the interview segment. Topics include her love interest on the show Gregg Fedderson, how they added Nancy Walker to the cast as the housekeeper, Peter Duryea playing Nancy's son, the guest stars, her relationships with the cast, her favorite episodes of the season, the end of the show, and what the cast members did after the show ended. There are some nice tributes to Brian Keith, Sebastian Cabot and Anissa Jones. Overall, this is another interesting special feature that fans will be sure to enjoy. Kathy Garver seems so nice and friendly and enthusiatic talking about the show and cast. She was a great hostess on the special features and was a big part of helping to try to get the show on DVD in the first place.


Final Comments:

All 5 seasons and 138 episodes of Family Affair are now on DVD! The first season was released in June 2006, so it has only been a little over a year and a half for the entire series. Congratulations to MPI Home Video and everybody that worked to put together these seasons together and for releasing them so quickly. These sets will look nice stacked together on your shelf. There wasn't the overall amount of special features included like "The Doris Day Show," but there was a nice mix of them with a lot of people participating. I really never watched the show when it was on TV Land, but it is so convenient to watch them now on DVD. The more I watch the show, the more I like it. There is just the right mix of comedy and drama. There was a lot of heart in this family sitcom and fine performances by the cast. I can see why it was so popular during the original run and why people still enjoy it today.

If you missed any of the previous four seasons, you can read my reviews here:
Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4

Now that MPI Home Video has completed Family Affair and The Doris Day Show, what will be next for them? I was going to suggest another Don Fedderson Production, My Three Sons, that would be sure to be a big hit on DVD. I read to today that CBS DVD/Paramount is planning a June 3rd release. More of The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction would be great, but I don't know if CBS DVD/Paramount would want to give up the rights. It would be great if they could get the rights to release some sitcoms that may be overlooked the major studios. Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show, The Patty Duke Show, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father would be great to have on DVD. So many great sitcoms of the '60s and '70s have never been released to date.


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
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 02/19/08

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000YKI4BI/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=220064


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