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Family Affair - The Complete Series


TITLE: FAMILY AFFAIR - THE COMPLETE SERIES


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 25, 2008 (MPI Home Video)
Color/1966-1971
MSRP: $159.98
Number of Discs: 24
Number of Episodes: 138
Running Time: Approx. 60 hours
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English Subtitles
Special Features:

  • Family Affair: Behind the Scenes with Kathy Garver
  • Photo Gallery
  • "An Affair to Remember" - a featurette with Kathy Garver
  • Family Affair Memories - memorabilia from the show
  • The Family Affair Reunion Special
  • The Child Stars
  • A Conversation with Johnny Whitaker
  • Kathy Garver Tours the CBS Studio


    Introduction:

    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 plane accident, leaving their three children orphaned. Davis becomes a father figure to six year-old twins Buffy and Jody (Anissa Jones, Johnny Whitaker) and their big sister, Cissy (Kathy Garver).

    Another popular chracter on Family Affair was Mrs. Beasley, Buffy's best friend and confidante. Although just a toy, Mrs. Beasley was a huge star in her own right. The talking Mrs. Beasley doll was first introduced in 1967. Coloring books, paper dolls, games and a Family Affair lunch box soon followed. Just like Buffy, the highly collectbile Mrs. Beasley was a source of friendship and comfort to little girls everywhere.

    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.

    This 24-disc set contains all 138 episodes from the five seasons.


    Show History / 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. It would finish in a tie for 4th place in the second season, 5th place for the third season, 5th place for the 4th season and out of the top 30 for the fifth season. 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. 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.

    For a listing of memorable episodes by season, please see our individual reviews:

    Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4 / Season 5

    There were a number of recoginzable faces from the 1960's and 1970's who appeared on the show. Here is a listing of some notable appearances by season:

    Season 1 - Louise Latham, Betty Lynn, Pamelyn Ferdin, Vic Tayback, Robert Reed, Sterling Holloway, Myrna Loy

    Season 2 - Pamelyn Ferdin, Lee Meriwether, Anna Lee, Jackie Coogan, Marcia Mae Jones, Diane Brewster, Joan Blondell, Richard Moll, Louise Latham, Ann Sothern, Keye Luke, Betty Lynn, James Hong

    Season 3 - Butch Patrick, Archie Moore, June Lockhart, Richard Bull, Eve Plumb, Alan Napier, Lisa Gerritsen, Eddie Hodges, Warren Berlinger, Jamie Farr, Dick Patterson, Joe Flynn

    Season 4 - Herbert Anderson, Pamelyn Ferdin, Richard Bull, James Hong, Erin Moran

    Season 5 - Ida Lupino, Lisa Gerritsen, Lee Meriwether, Linda Henning, Clint Howard, Erin Moran, Joyce Van Patten, Marj Dusay, Leif Garrett, David Ladd, Pamelyn Ferdin, Kathleen Richard, Kym Karath, Erin Moran


    Packaging:

    For this complete series release, we have some new and fresh packaging. It comes in a thick blue box that has photos of the cast on the front, back and spine of the outer box. There is a synopsis of the set, 2 cast photos in frames, a partial listing of the special features and the DVD specs listed on the back of the box. The inside cardboard box slides out from the right of the main outer box. There is a photo of Mr. French reading to Jody and Buffy while Uncle Bill and Cissy look on. On the back of the inside box, there is a photo of Buffy, Jody, Cissy and Mr. French holding umbrellas. The same cast photo that is on the spine of the outer box is used on the inner box. For the individual season sets, they used thick black Amaray movie-style cases. This time they've used five plastic slim cases that have clear outer edges, so that saves quite a bit of space. These slim cases have the same photo and color schemes as the individual sets. They used the same cast photo on each set with a different colored background. There is a synopsis of each individual season, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs are noted on the back of the cases. Inside the slim cases, the episode titles are listed underneath the discs on the front panel. I think it would have been better if they included a paper sheet with the listing of the episode titles like they used on the individual sets. There is a middle plastic holder used for seasons 1-4 that hold discs 3-4. The discs are the same as the individual releases and have a different cast photo by season and have the same colored background as the rest of the season packaging.


    Menu Design and Navigation:

    The menus are exactly the same as the season sets. The menus remained pretty consistent on all of the seasons, with only a few slight differences here and there. They were all well designed and easy to navigate. For seasons 1 and 2, they used video clips on the main menus. For seasons 3-5, they switched to 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. Various photos of the cast members were used on the sub-menus. Unfortunately, there were no chapter stops available on any of the seasons.


    Video and Audio Quality:

    The video and audio quality has seemed about the same on all five seasons. The colors seemed 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. For season five, 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. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is one for Don Fedderson Productions followed by 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.

    For a listing of the episode titles by disc, including the running times, please see our individual season reviews:

    Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4 / Season 5


    Special Features:

    All five seasons included one or two special features. Kathy Garver particpated on basically all of them. There was an intervew with Johnny Whitaker on the season four release that was called part 1, but there was no part 2 included on season five. Overall, there was a pretty nice mix of special features on all five seasons that new or long-time fans will be sure to enjoy. It would have been nice to hear a few audio commentaries, but the new interviews are interesting.

    For more detail on the special features, please see our individual season reviews:

    Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4 / Season 5

    Here are some basic details on the special features included:

    Season 1

    Family Affair: Behind the Scenes (21:40) - This featurette includes an all-new interview with Kathy Garver. It provides a lot of interesting information on how the show was developed. She reminisces about it how it had a family feeling and atmosphere.

    Photo Gallery - This features 23 cast photos and publicity stills that you can flip through with your arrow button.

    Season 2

    "An Affair to Remember" (15:44) - A new interview with Kathy Garver filmed at The Hollywood Heritage Museum. Many topics are covered with a focus on the second season.

    Family Affair Memories (4:52) - Kathy Garver talks about some Family Affair memorabilia items that are laid out on a table.

    Season 3

    The Family Affair Cast & Crew Reunion Show (30:37) - It was recorded in 2006 at the Hollywood Heritage Museum with John Stephens (Producer), Kathy Garver (Cissy), the husband and wife team of Austin "Rocky" Kalish (Writer) and Irma Kalish (Writer and Co-Story Editor), and Sherry Alberoni (Sharon - Cissy's girlfriend and the upstairs babysitter). They give many interesting behind-the-scenes stories and bits of trivia that probably even the most-die hard fans never knew about.

    Season 4

    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 discuss how they entered show business, their appearance(s) on Family Affair, and their transition into becoming adult actors among many topics.

    A Conversation with Johnny Whitaker - Part 1 (22:17) - He talks about working on the show and in the business. The focus here is his time before and mostly on Family Affair. Unfortunately, the second part of the interview wasn't included on the fifth season release or on this complete series set.

    Season 5

    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.


    Final Comments:

    All 5 seasons and 138 episodes of Family Affair are now on DVD. These sets were released pretty quickly. It only took a little over a year and a half to release them all. If you already have purchased the individual season sets, there probably wouldn't be a lot of incentive to purchase the complete series box as an upgrade. The sets are basically identical, except for the more compact packaging on this release. The cardboard boxes are sturdy and would look nice on a shelf. The slim cases are less bulky than that large plastic cases they used for the individual seasons. If you haven't purchased any seasons, there may be some savings for you if buy this release over buying them separately.

    I wasn't very familiar with Family Affair before it came to DVD. I didn't realize the show was such a ratings hit when it originally aired on CBS. It was a top 15 hit for four of the five seasons. Family Affair has often been called one of the gentlest sitcoms in TV history. There was a nice mix of heartwarming humor and tender drama. It wasn't a pure sitcom like The Brady Bunch.

    Congratulations to Kathy Garver and everybody at MPI for a job well done on these releases and for making them available. Besides the 138 unedited episodes in good video quality, there were over 2 1/2 hours worth of special features that covered many different topics. Kathy Garver was an enthusiastic and bubbly host on nearly all of them. Family Affair is rarely seen in syndication these days, so it's great that fans can now view them at any time that they choose.


    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 12/14/08

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

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001D5C1F8/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

    http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=237646


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