DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012 (Shout! Factory)
Color / 1962-1963
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 32
Running Time: approx. 720 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
Shirley Booth is "cleaning up" on DVD with the return of the classic TV series Hazel! After a long wait (over five years to be exact), Shout! Factory has picked up the rights to the classic series about the housekeeper who has a command over the house in a four disc set, containing all 32 episodes from the 1962-1963 of the season. The season also transitions to color this season (although there was a promotional episode in the first season that was broadcast in color).
The series, based upon a series of original cartoons in The Saturday Evening Post, is about a maid who runs the household for George and Dorothy Baxter (Done DeFore and Whitney Blake), and their son Harold (Bobby Buntrock). The series focuses on the family type relationship that Hazel has with her employer, with often results in battles between Hazel and her boss. But in the end, Hazel is usually the one that is right and always wins.
The season begins with "Hazel's Cousin," where Hazel's cousin is about to be married, but will Hazel be invited to the wedding? Rosie (Maudie Prickett) gets a contract from her employer in "Rosie's Contract," so how will Hazel react when she finds out about this? The Baxters have a domestic squabble in "We've Been Happy Till Now." In "How to Lure an Epicure," George and Dorothy try to influence a newspaper columnist. The mailman disappears in "Barney Hatfield, Where Are You?" In "A Four-Bit Word to Chew On," Hazel works on increasing her vocabulary, making everybody miserable. The IRS questions Hazel's deductions in "Hazel's Tax Deduction." In "Mr. B. on the Bench," George may be on his way to becoming a judge.
Hazel and George may be close to being related by marriage of their nephew and niece in "License to Wed." In "Genie with the Brown Lamp," Harold is convinced that he has a genie in a bottle. It's George vs. Hazel in bowling in "The Natural Athlete." In "New Man in Town," Hazel and Rosie compete for a new man in town. Hazel tries to persuade Mr. Griffin into hiring their neighbor in "Herbert for Hire." George's sister tries to intervene in a relationship in "Hazel and the Lovebirds." In "Top Secret," Hazel could be a spy when she walks out of a senator's office with top-secret papers. Decisions have to be made between a song festival and a reception for Mr. Griffin in "The Sunshine Girls Quartet."
Hazel challenges George and Dorothy to tell the truth at all times in "A Good Example for Harold." In "Hazel's Highland Fling," Hazel tries to help George find a loophole for a client. Hazel and her nephew try to convince George to invest in plastics in "Ain't Walter Nice?" In "Mr. Griffin Throws a Wedding," Mr. Griffin's nephew plans to elope with George's secretary. Hazel causes a scene at a stockholders' meeting (where she owns stock) in "Hazel and the Stockholders' Meeting." Hazel teaches one of George's clients how to relax in "Hazel's Day Off." In "I've Been Singing All My Life," Hazel may not get into a talent show. Hazel reunites an author and his girlfriend in "The Fire's Never Dead While the Ashes are Red."
Hazel has an adventure at a shoe sale in "Hazel's Navy Blue Tug-Boats." In "The Hazel Walk," Hazel protests the conversion of a hiking trail into a highway. Hazel tries to make George's mother a businesswoman in "Hazel Digs a Hole for Herself." In "Hazel Sounds Her A," Hazel tries to convince an orchestra to rehire a violinist who was fired. Hazel rips up a chain letter in "Hazel's Luck." George doesn't want Hazel to know of his aching back in "Oh, My Aching Back." In "Maid of the Month," Hazel wins a cherished award. The season ends with "So Long, Brown Eyes," where Hazel gets engaged.
The episodes on the set mostly appear to be unedited, running around 25:30. However, one episode is about 13 seconds shorter than the rest ("Hazel and the Stockholder's Meeting"), and the opening teaser to the episode seems to start somewhat abruptly, without any musical cues or anything. I'm not sure what, if anything is missing here, but it would have to be minor if anything is indeed missing. Runtimes for all of the episodes are as follows:
1. "Hazel's Cousin" (25:34)
2. "Rosie's Contract" (25:31)
3. "We've Been So Happy Till Now" (25:30)
4. "How to Lure an Epicure" (25:31)
5. "Barney Hatfield, Where Are You? (25:31)
6. "A Four-Bit Word to Chew On" (25:25)
7. "Hazel's Tax Deduction" (25:29)
8. "Mr. B on the Bench" (25:30)
9. "License to Wed" (25:30)
10. "Genie with the Light Brown Lamp" (25:31)
11. "The Natural Athlete" (25:32)
12. "New Man in Town" (25:31)
13. "Herbert for Hire" (25:28)
14. "Hazel and the Lovebirds" (25:28)
15. "Top Secret" (25:29)
16. "The Sunshine Quartet Girls" (25:27)
17. "A Good Example for Harold" (25:31)
18. "Hazel's Highland Fling" (25:30)
19. "Ain't Walter Nice?" (25:29)
20. "Mr. Griffin Throws a Wedding" (25:30)
21. "Hazel and the Stockholders' Meeting" (25:17)
22. "Hazel's Day Off" (25:28)
23. "I've Been Singing All My Life" (25:29)
24. "The Fire's Never Dead While the Ashes are Red" (25:29)
25. "Hazels Navy Blue Tug-Boats" (25:30)
26. "The Hazel Walk" (25:30)
27. "Hazel Digs a Hole For Herself" (25:28)
28. "Hazel Sounds Her A" (25:29)
29. "Hazel's Luck" (25:31)
30. "Oh, My Aching Back" (25:29)
31. "Maid of the Month" (25:29)
32. "So Long, Brown Eyes" (25:29)
The packaging for this set is a very basic Viva case, with the cover having a photo of Hazel holding a cake, and on the back, a brief description of the series, along with several episode snapshots and one family (that would include Hazel, of course) photo. Inside, there are four discs, all of which have the same artwork as seen on the cover. Each disc contains exactly eight episodes. Episode titles, along with very brief descriptions and airdates, are printed inside the case.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus on the set are very simple, with the main menu on each disc having a photo of Hazel with a cake (the same photo shown on the cover) while the theme song plays in the background. The only options on the main menu are Play All and Episodes. Selecting Episodes will take you to a list of episode on the disc, and as soon as you select one of the episodes, it plays immediately. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on the set is mostly fine considering the age of the series. The episodes presented on this set aired in the 1962-1963 season in color, so clearly, this series was among the first series to be broadcast in color. Surprisingly, though, the color looks great on these episodes, and not dull and faded as some of the early color television era appear. There are a few minor video transfer artifacts on some of the episodes, as well as some grain and debris, but it isn't that bad. The audio is slightly less than impressive, however. Just as the series is presented on TV, it is a somewhat low dull audio track, but it isn't impossible to hear. Unfortunately, the episodes are neither subtitled nor closed-captioned.
There are no special features on this set. Original promos would have been nice to see, or perhaps something from behind-the-scenes (if any such footage can be found, that is).
This is by no means a set that will 'wow" anybody, but it does satisfy the desire that fans have had to see this series continued on DVD. The third season of the series has already been announced, leaving only two seasons after that. Hopefully, we will see the remaining seasons on DVD. Still, it would be nice if they could include some special features on future releases.
As for the series themselves, this is an interesting series to watch. I honestly never bothered to watch the series until it aired on Antenna TV, and while it does share some qualities with other family sitcoms of the era, it is much different in that it often takes on a more serious tone, and of course in the sense that it focuses on the domestic help of the household. There have been very few series to focus on that aspect of a household, before or after the series, which gives this series the chance to explore unique plots that other series could never really get in to. I think fans of TV series of the era, despite the differences this series has with many of them, are sure to enjoy this DVD set.