TITLE: FATHER KNOWS BEST - SEASON TWO
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008 (Shout! Factory)
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 36
Running Time: approx. 17.5 hours
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Closed-Captioned.
Special Features: Cast Interviews; “Window on Main Street” episode; Extended flashback version of “First Disillusionment” episode; “Stage to Yuma” pilot episode
Does father truly know best? He does if he is played by Robert Young, in the classic sitcom Father Knows Best! Season Two of the series brings 36 unedited episodes of the classic sitcom together in a five disc compilation, along with a great selection of bonus features.
The Anderson family, headed by father Jim (Young), is just your average (in other words, unrealistic) family living life in a Midwestern town with his wife Margaret (Jane Wyatt) and their three children. Sure, they dealt with problems, but the problems the family faced were typically issues that could be resolved without walking out the front door. They were truly a close-knit family that really cared about one another. The series always gave viewers a very rosy picture of family life, the life that all families would want to be, but could never quite achieve.
The series was canceled by CBS at the end of the first season, prompting the series to move to NBC. Unlike the modern era, where a network change would prompt major changes to the series, the series essentially stayed the same with this move.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
In “Father’s Private Life,” Jim tries to make the kids start to think that they know better to him and that they can solve their own problems, but does he really know best this time? The family comes together to save an old building in “Lesson in Civics.” In “First Disillusionment,” Bud loses a job to another boy that actually faked his own resume. Bud finds new love in “New Girl in School,” and the girl finds new love too--in his best friend. Kathy gets a magic kit in “Kathy Makes Magic,” and believes that she is about to cause Bud to die!
Bud is doing well in school, but is accused of cheating in “The Big Test.” In “Father is a Dope,” Jim sees a sitcom about a family on TV and thinks that his family life could mirror that family--which concerns him. Jim believes the kids when they tell him he is old in “Spirit of Youth.” The family thinks Margaret is psychic in “Margaret’s Premonition.” Bud has a new friend that likes to steal in “Bad Influence.”
Jim sets up a blind date for Betty in “Betty Hates Carter.” Jim is determined to get discipline in the family as he thinks they are lacking in “Jim, the Tyrant.” Bud is feeling the Jan Brady Syndrome of being the sibling of a sister that has it all in “Betty’s Brother.”
Kathy becomes a child abductor--sort of--when she makes a trade and gains a baby sister from one of her friends in “Kathy, the Indian Giver.” Jim realizes that all of his college friends are more successful than he is in “The Grass is Greener.” Bud’s new friend just won’t leave the house in “The Persistent Guest.” In “Family Dines Out,” Betty wants to keep up with her new upper class friend.
Betty decides that she wants to be an engineer in “Betty, Girl Engineer,” but how will 1950s society react to this choice? The PTA thinks that Margaret can’t control her own children in “Dilemma for Margaret.” The children have to stop tattling for one week for a ten dollar prize in “The Ten Dollar Question.”
The set is presented in a green color scheme this time, with the cover art containing a family photo and the back of the box containing the usual information about the DVDs. Inside, we have three slimcases, which contain the exact same artwork as shown on the cover. Two of the cases contain two discs, while the third case contains only one disc. On the back of each slimcase, there is a listing of all of the episodes contained on the discs and original airdates, as well as descriptions of all bonus features. Sadly, they decided to not include an episode booklet this time, as they did with Season One. That was a very nice feature, and it was unfortunate to see that it did not quite make it this time. Each disc contains different snapshots from the episodes contained within the set. There are seven episodes per disc, except for Disc Five, which contains eight episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very similar to the menus on the Season One set. The main menu has a family snapshot, and gives you options of Play All, Episodes, and Bonus. The theme song plays as the background music on the main menu. When you select an option from the main menu, you will get exactly what you selected, with no frills along the way. Selecting Episodes will take you to a list of all of the episodes on the disc, where you simply select the episode you wish to view, and it plays immediately. Chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality can be a tad bit disappointing at times, mostly because the episodes have (often times) looked better in syndication than the way that they look on this set. Of course, from what I understand, they went with prints from estates of Robert Young and Eugene Rodney, and it is very likely that better quality prints could be found from Sony. Grain and debris are where many of the problems within the set lie, but the video can often be jumpy as well. The audio is presented in mono, and not surprisingly, can be somewhat low and occasionally has that tin can effect. However, despite all of that, the episodes are still very much watchable, and the episodes by no means look like as bad you’d find on a public domain DVD or anything like that. It is just that it would have been nicer if greater restoration efforts would have been made. Closed-captioning is available on each episode.
Now, there is VERY good news this time. Everybody will remember that the first season was plagued with edited episodes. However, this time, every single episode is UNEDITED, running invariably between 25:50 and 25:55 per episode. What is even more fascinating is the episode “Advantage to Betty,” which for some reason, an original version with the original sponsor opening credits and closing credits slipped in, and even includes Robert Young introducing us to the episode coming up the following week. Naturally, this episode runs a bit longer, at 26:14. It would have been nice if all of the episodes could have been like this, but at least we got everything that should have been there this time.
The special features aren’t quite as numerous this time, but what we do have is pretty good. First, we have another episode from the series Window on Main Street (29:07). This series is an anthology series from 1960 starring Robert Young, and has Young’s character writing stories about characters that he sees on the street from the window of his hotel room. The episode presented on this set is called “The Teacher,” and tells the story of a young teacher that found romance, which caused her to have to resign after one of her students saw her in a car with her new love. Truthfully, I am still baffled as to why a teacher would resign over an issue such as this one. It leaves viewers almost wondering what the point of the episode is supposed to be. The episode is presented with all of the original commercials intact.
There is also a bonus feature entitled “Daddy’s Girls Part 2” (10:36), which is a continuation of the interviews presented in Season One. We just have more of Elinor Donahue and Lauren Chapin talking about their experiences on the series. Honestly, I feel like the insightful stuff was already presented on Season One, but there is still some good information contained here.
The remaining special features are hardly what I’d call special features. The first is a lost episode of the series, “Stage to Yuma,” which has aired in some (but not all) syndicated runs of the series. Basically, this is a pilot for a western series that never came to be. I don’t feel qualified to truly comment much on this episode, as the western genre is the one and only genre in which there is not a single show that I can stand, but it suffices to say that fans of the series Father Knows Best will be very disappointed with this episode. It really has nothing to do with the series, it contains none of the characters, none of the settings, and the only real connection is the fact that Robert Young is in the episode, but not playing Jim Anderson.
Finally, there is an “extended” version of the episode “First Disillusionment” (25:15). Basically, this is just a sixth season episode that looks back at the episode that is already included on this set. It isn’t even worth watching again, in all honesty. I’m not so sure what is “extended” about it either, as it is actually shorter.
While I’m generally not a fan of many of these older 50s family sitcoms, this one is actually pretty decent, which suggests to me that those that are fans of such shows would love this show. The funny thing is, the show would probably be somewhat politically incorrect in our current society of gender equality, as it presents the father character as being the master of the house, but is very much a somewhat accurate portrayal of the significance of the father in the household in that era. Besides that, sitcom fans probably don’t care quite so much about what a series portrays, but rather more about whether or not the series is well-written and enjoyable, and this series definitely passes that test... even after half of a century!
This set is a MAJOR improvement from Season One, mostly because we got all unedited episodes this time. And it is also nice to see that they actually included some decent special features still, because often times, these get neglected in DVD sets beyond the first season. Honestly, the only legitimate complaint about this set would be the video and audio quality, which even that wasn’t too bad. Any fans that were disappointed last time will certainly be happy this time, I think, and the improvement proves that perhaps Shout! Factory knows best when it comes to bringing us unedited episodes.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/16/08
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