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Leave it to Beaver - The Complete First Season Leave it to Beaver - The Complete First Season (Limited Edition Gift Set)


TITLE: LEAVE IT TO BEAVER - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

TITLE: LEAVE IT TO BEAVER - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (LIMITED EDITION GIFT SET WITH LUNCH BOX AND CLEAVER FAMILY PHOTO ALBUM)


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005 (Universal Home Video)
Black & White
MSRP: $49.98 (Regular Edition), $69.98 (Limited Edition Gift Set)
Number of Discs: 3 (Double-Sided)
Number of Episodes: 39 (plus pilot episode)
Running Time: Approx. 17 Hours, 20 Minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English and Spanish subtitles; Closed captioned
Special Features: Both editions include Bonus Episode - "It's a Small World" Original Pilot; Limited Edition Gift Set includes Collector's Lunch Box plus Cleaver Family Photo Album


Introduction:

Finally, one of the most beloved series from television's Golden Age comes to DVD for the first time ever! Join the Cleavers, America's quintessential family, in all 39 digitally remastered, unforgettable episodes from the complete first season of Leave it to Beaver! Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Jerry Mathers) can't seem to avoid trouble, and his older brother Wally (Tony Dow), and mischievous pal Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond), aren't any help. But with some wise advice from his father Ward (Hugh Beaumont) and mom's (Barbara Billingsley) home-cooked meals, Beaver learns that all's well that ends well. Complete with the original pilot, brought out of the studio archives, this must-have DVD collection will have you declaring, "Gee, that Beaver sure is a swell guy!"


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Leave it to Beaver ran from 1957-1963. The show premiered on CBS on October 4th, 1957. This was the same day the Soviets launched Sputnik 4. 39 episodes were produced for the first season and aired on CBS. The show moved to ABC starting with the second season. A total of 234 episodes (39 each season) were produced.

There were so many classic episodes in the first season. It is hard to choose my favorites. Beaver comes home with a black eye and Ward is upset when he learns that Beaver didn't fight back in "The Black Eye." After losing his lunch money for three days in a row, Ward gives Beaver one last chance, by letting him handle his haircut money in "The Haircut." When June goes on a trip to visit her sister, Peggy. June's Aunt Martha steps in and stays with Ward and the boys, and she buys Beaver a cap and small pants in "Beaver's Small Pants." Wally and Beaver want to win a fancy film projector and in order to get it they have to sell 24 bottles of perfume in "The Perfume Salesmen." The local bully, Lumpy Rutherford, has been picking on Beaver and Wally and, thanks to a story Ward tells them, decides to play a joke on Lumpy in "Lumpy Rutherford." Ward tries to teach Wally and Beaver the importance of saving by giving them a piggy bank in "The Bank Account." Wally and Beaver are helping Ward clean out the garage when they run across Beaver's old teddy bear, Billy in "Beaver's Old Friend." An incident at the park leads to Beaver ripping the pants on his gray flannel suit in "Beaver's Bad Day."

Many characters made their debut in the first season and would be recurring roles in later seasons. These supporting actors included Diane Brewster as Miss Canfield (only in the first season), Burt Mustin as Gus the Fireman, Stanley Fafara as Whitey Whitney, Jeri Weil as Judy Hensler, Ken Osmond as Eddie Haskell, Doris Packer as Mrs. Rayburn, Richard Deacon as Fred Rutherford, Buddy Hart as Chester Anderson, Tiger Fafara as Tooey, Rusty Stevens as Larry Mondello, Madge Kennedy as Aunt Martha, Frank Bank as Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford, Pamela Baird as Mary Ellen Rogers, and Madge Blake as Mrs. Mondello.

Some notable guest stars included Edgar Buchanan as Captain Jack in the second episode of the series, "Captain Jack." He would appear in later seasons as Uncle Billy. William Schallert appeared as Mr. Bloomgarten in "Beaver's Short Pants." John Hoyt played Dr. Compton in "Part Time Genius." Lyle Talbot appeared as Chuck Dennison in "Party Invitation." He is the real-life father of Stephen Talbot who played Gilbert Bates in later seasons. Shirley Mitchell guest starred as Janet Wilson in "Child Care." John Hart appeared as the Scoutmaster in "Lonesome Beaver." He is the real-life father of Buddy Hart who played Wally's friend, Chester Anderson. You probably know John Hart as one of the actors who portrayed The Lone Ranger on TV.


Packaging:

There are two kinds of packaging depending on which set you buy.

Limited Edition Gift Set:

The Limited Edition Gift Set comes with a Limited Edition's Lunch Box. The lunch box has a black and white photo of Jerry Mathers on one side and a cast photo on the other. Small circular photos of Jerry Mathers are on the end sides of the lunch box. It has a plaid background. When you open up the lunchbox, there is "The Cleaver Family Photo Album." It has a soft cover and looks like an actual photo album. There is a cast photo on the cover and photos of Beaver and Wally/Beaver on the back. There are plastic sleeves inside where the discs are held. There are 3 - 4 1/4+" x 5" cards that have "Life With The Cleavers" or quotes from June or The Beaver on them. There are 6 black & white snapshots that are approximately 4" x 6". The photos include: 1) The Beaver, 2) a shot of Beaver, Wally, Ward, and June, 3) Eddie Haskell, 4) Beaver and June, 5) Ward and Beaver, 6) Beaver and Wally. There are various captions at the bottom of each photo. The 3 discs inside are double-sided, so there is no artwork on them. I don't really care for the double-sided discs as they can be easily scratched and cause the picture to freeze. If Paramount can release The Andy Griffith Show on 5 single-sided discs, I don't see any reason that Universal couldn't have used 5-6 discs for this set.

I like the idea of the lunch box, but they don't include any traditional packaging in the set. There is some styrofoam inside the lunch box that takes up a lot of space, and it is a bit of a snug fit for the photo album inside. The lunch box measures approximately 7 1/2" x 6" x 3 1/4", so I don't think it's even big enough to hold a traditional box which is 5 1/2" x 7 3/4". I hope that Universal decides to offer a traditional box with the snapcases that hold the discs for free or a nominal fee as I don't think the photo album is an ideal way to store the discs. When you are paying a premium for the limited edition, I thought they would have included a traditional box with it as well. It would be nice if Universal provides an address to write or a phone number to call so people can get the regular packaging.

Regular Edition:

The regular edition of this set comes with a nice box holding three slim cases. The front of the box is white with the Leave it to Beaver logo in gold. There is a photo of the Beaver underneath that, followed by "The Complete First Season" wording in aqua blue. The back of the box has a nice family portrait of the Cleaver family, surrounded by a synopsis of the show and set. A red box also mentions that this set has a Bonus Feature (the unaired pilot). Then we take the slim cases out of the box. All three slim cases follow the pattern of the box--white color scheme, gold logo, and aqua blue first season wording. The first slim case has a large photo of the Beaver. The back of the first slim case has a screenshot of Ward and Beaver followed by all the episode titles on disc one. The second slim case has a large photo of the Beaver and his older brother Wally. The back of the first slim case has a nice promotional photo of the Beaver with a baseball and glove followed by all the episode titles on disc two. The third slim case has a large photo of the Cleaver family. The back of the third slim case has a photo of the mischiveous Eddie Haskell followed by all the episode titles on disc three. The discs are doubled-sided, so no artwork are on the discs.


Leave it to Beaver - Season 1 DVD Menu

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are quite nice and easy to navigate. The Leave it to Beaver instrumental theme song can be heard in the background. The main menus feature a black and white cast photo on the left with the Leaver it to Beaver logo and options listed on the right. The menu has a light blue background with "Season One" written on a plaid strip. There are options for Episode Index, Languages, and a Play All button. The Episode Index sub-menu has a photo of Wally and Beaver in the upper right hand corner. There are still images in tv boxes from each episode. There are 4 episodes listed on one screen with the other 3 listed on another screen. Your selections are highlighted with a red border that turns yellow upon your selection. When you select an episode, it takes you to another menu that provides the original airdate, fairly detailed summaries for all episodes, and some trivia notes on the guest stars for select episodes. The bonus pilot episode "It's A Small World" can be found on Disc 3 - Side B. Unfortunately, there are no chapter stops within the episodes. You can, however, skip the 22 second Universal opening that is at the start of the episodes. This is something that Universal should address on future releases.


Video and Audio Quality:

These episodes were digitally remastered for this set. The video is presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame - black & white. I was very impressed with the quality of the episodes. They look excellent and better than what I've seen in recent years on TV Land. Leave it to Beaver was shot on film, so there is some occasional dust and debris on the episodes. For these episodes being nearly 50 years old now, I don't think they could look any better. All episodes appear to be unedited running over 25 minutes in length. They even include the original prologues by Hugh Beaumont that aren't aired on TV Land, but I do believe they were shown on the TBS airings. The first 16 episodes have openings that were narrated by Hugh Beaumont. These are usually less than a minute and have various scenes from the episodes and he tells you about their story for that night. The remaining 23 episodes also have openings, but they aren't narrated by him. They just show what looks like a key scene from each episode. These are also under a minute in length.

The audio is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. The audio is very good and at a good volume. I didn't notice any major issues on the episodes that I've watched so far. I loved the incidental music cues that they used on the show. English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as Spanish subtitles are included.

The episodes are presented in their original broadcast order. An interesting trivia note is that "Captain Jack" was the first episode produced and intended to air as the premiere. They had trouble with the censors because a toilet was being shown. Here is the episode breakdown with approximate running times:

Disc 1 - Side A
----------------
1. Beaver Gets 'Spelled (10/4/57)(25:48)
2. Captain Jack (10/11/57) (25:50)
3. The Black Eye (10/18/57) (25:50)
4. The Haircut (10/25/57) (25:45)
5. New Neighbors (11/1/57) (25:45)
6. Brotherly Love (11/8/57) (25:37)
7. Water, Anyone (11/15/57) (25:45)

Disc 1 - Side B
----------------
8. Beaver's Crush (11/22/57) (25:46)
9. The Clubhouse (11/29/57) (25:40)
10. Wally's Girl Trouble (12/6/57) (25:50)
11. Beaver's Short Pants (12/13/57)(25:43)
12. The Perfume Salesmen (12/27/57) (25:44)
13. Voodoo Magic (01/3/58) (25:44)
14. Part Time Genius (01/10/58) (25:43)

Disc 2 - Side A
----------------
15. Party Invitation (01/17/58) (25:43)
16. Lumpy Rutherford (01/24/58) (25:42)
17. The Paper Route (01/31/58) (25:52)
18. Child Care (02/07/58) (25:34)
19. The Bank Account (02/14/58) (25:45)
20. Lonesome Beaver (02/28/58) (25:42)
21. Cleaning Up Beaver (03/07/58) (25:44)

Disc 2 - Side B
----------------
22. The Perfect Father (03/14/58)(25:45)
23. Beaver and Poncho (03/21/58) (25:40)
24. The State vs. Beaver (03/26/58) (25:45)
25. The Broken Window (04/02/58) (25:43)
26. Train Trip (04/09/58) (25:41)
27. My Brother's Girl (04/16/58) (26:08)
28. Next Door Indians (04/23/58) (25:49)

Disc 3 - Side A
----------------
29. Tenting Tonight (04/30/58) (25:42)
30. Music Lesson (05/07/58) (25:43)
31. New Doctor (05/14/58) (25:40)
32. Beaver's Old Friend (05/21/58) (25:43)
33. Wally's Job (05/28/58) (25:45)
34. Beaver's Bad Day (06/04/58) (25:46)
35. Boarding School (06/11/58) (25:47)

Disc 3 - Side B
----------------
36. Beaver and Henry (06/18/58) (25:43)
37. Beaver Runs Away (06/25/58) (25:43)
38. Beaver's Guest (07/02/58) (25:36)
39. Cat Out of the Bag (07/16/58) (25:43)
Bonus Episode - It's a Small World (25:24)


Special Features:

The limited edition gift set includes the lunch box and the Cleaver Family Photo Album with six photos as I mentioned earlier. The pilot episode called "It's a Small World" is included on both sets. This episode apparently surfaced around 1987 when there was a Leave it to Beaver revival with The New Leave it to Beaver series airing on TBS. It has aired before on WGN and possibly on TBS. It has also aired in Canada as part of The New Leave it to Beaver package. It's pretty rare and has never aired on TV Land as far as I know. Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers were in it, but Ward Cleaver was played by Casey Adams and Wally Cleaver was played by Paul Sullivan. There was an Eddie-Haskell type character called Frankie Bennett who was played by Harry Shearer. You might remember Casey Adams as the grandpa in the movie Sixteen Candles. You would know Harry Shearer from Saturday Night Live, This Is Spinal Top, and The Simpsons. In recent years he has done the voiceovers for TV Land. You've heard him over the Leave it to Beaver ending credits giving trivia and network promos.

It's a Small World - Beaver learns he can win a new bike if he collects 1,000 milk bottle caps, so he and Wally set about to win the prize. Unbeknownst to them, the contest is phony, made up by Wally's friend as a joke. But, when Beaver and Wally show up at the milk company, bottle caps in tow, they kick off a corporate chain reaction with humorous results.
Guest stars: Richard Deacon as Mr. Baxter (would later play Mr. Rutherford), Diane Brewster as Miss Simms (would later play Miss Canfield), Joe Kearns as Fred Cochran/Crowley (Dennis the Menace), Russ Thorson, Lennie Bremen, Harry Shearer as Frankie Bennett, Tommy Randall, Jim Graham, Virginia Carroll

There are 4 1/2 minutes worth of previews on the first disc for Kolchak: The Night Stalker, American Gothic, The Munsters, Kicking & Screaming, Focus Features, and Into the West.

It was nice to see the pilot episode again. There are all kinds of possibilities for future releases that I would like to see: audio commentaries, original commercials featuring the cast, photo galleries, and cast interviews. It will be interesting to see what special features Universal includes on future sets.


Final Comments:

Gee Wally, it's great to see Leave it to Beaver finally available on DVD! This show has been at the top of my most wanted list for the last few years. Overall, this is a very good set. There is some room for improvement though as far as adding chapter stops, eliminating the double-sided discs, and adding more special features. The limited edition set with lunch box and photo album is nice, but they should have included the standard box packaging and slimcases with it as well. This release is a good value as you get 39 episodes for a reasonable price. You can sign up for email alerts of upcoming releases at http://www.leaveittobeaverdvd.com . This is a good sign, and hopefully they will release atleast 2-3 more seasons in 2006.


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

Video Quality: 4.0/5
Audio Quality: 4.0/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 11/17/05

To order the Regular Edition DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000B7HZUK/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

To order the Limited Edition Gift Set with Lunch Box and Cleaver Family Photo Album click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000B7HZUK/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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