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Mister Peepers - Season Two


TITLE: MISTER PEEPERS - SEASON TWO


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008 (S'more Entertainment, Inc.)
Black & White
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 26
Running time: Approx. 780 minutes
Audio Tracks: English Mono
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; none; closed captioned
Special Features Include:

  • 1998 Interview with Tony Randall about his experiences on Mister Peepers produced by the Archive of American Television
  • Short film from 1949 explaining what a kinescope is and how they're made
  • Footage of Wally Cox accepting the Peabody Award for the series for 1952
  • Episode from the TV series "Suspense" entitled "Murderer's Meeting" featuring Wally Cox with Jackie Cooper and Mildred Natwick


    Introduction:

    Wally Cox stars as Mister Peepers, a shy science teacher at Jefferson Junior High. Although easily baffled and befuddled, Peepers' naiveté shelters him from the harsher realities of life, allowing him to find endless joy in the wonders of nature that he shares with his students. Luckily, he has some good friends to help him along, including Harvey Weskit (Tony Randall), whose bluster and bravado more than make up for Peepers' timidity. At school, Mister Peepers has his anxious colleague Mrs. Gurney (played to comic perfection by Marion Lorne) to look after him. Mister Peepers is surrounded by a gaggle of mothers, girlfriends and relatives all intent on guiding our guileless hero through every day life... whether he asks them to or not! Although Peepers' polite attention to the wants and wishes of others often results in comic hi-jinx, it also always reveals Peepers as the thoughtful, warm-hearted character who has endeared himself to television audiences for years.


    Show History / Episodes Included / Notable Guest Stars:

    Mister Peepers aired on NBC from July 3, 1952 until June 12, 1955. The show was nominated for 8 Emmy Awards and won a Peabody Award in 1953. There were apparently 127 episodes produced. 102 of them still exist in the UCLA Film and Televison Archives collection. Other stars included Norma Crane as Rayola Dean (1952), David Tyrell as Charlie Burr (1952), Joseph Foley as Mr. Gabriel Gurney (1952-1953), Marion Lorne (Aunt Clara on "Bewitched") as English teacher Mrs. Gurney, Gage Clark as Superintendent Bascom, Patricia Benoit as nurse Nancy Remington (later married to Robinson Peepers), Tony Randall as gym teacher Harvey Weskit, Ernest Treux as Mr. Remington, Georgann Johnson as Harvey's wife Marge Weskit, Arthur O'Connell as Mr. Hansen (1953-1954), Sylvia Field as Mrs. Remington (1953-1955), Jack Warden as Frank Whip (1953-1955), Ruth McDevitt as Mom Peepers (1953-1955), Jenny Egan as Agnes Peepers (1953-1955) and Reta Shaw as Aunt Lil (1954).

    The previous Mister Peepers DVD release included the pilot plus 26 other episodes from the first season. This 4-disc set includes 26 episodes from March 8, 1953 (episode 36) until November 15, 1953 (episode 63). So this set basically contains the remaining unreleased and available episodes from the first season and the first 10 or so episodes from the second season.

    None of the episodes are identified by title on the menus. Everything is listed by original airdate. Here is what is included:

    03-08-1953, 03-15-1953, 03-22-1953, 04-05-1953, 04-12-1953, 04-19-1953, 04-26-1953, 05-03-1953, 05-10-1953, 05-17-1953, 05-24-1953, 05-31-1953, 06-07-1953, 06-14-1953, 06-21-1953, 06-28-1953, 07-05-1953, 09-13-1953, 09-20-1953, 09-27-1953, 10-04-1953, 10-18-1953, 10-25-1953, 11-01-1953, 11-08-1953, 11-15-1953

    The show had an ensemble of regular or semi-regular characters. I didn't recognize many of the guest stars listed. Martin Balsam appeared as Sergeant Ehrlich in the May 10, 1953 episode. Reta Shaw guest starred as Aunt Lil in the June 21, 1953 and October 18, 1953 episodes. Although he was more of a regular character in episodes on the first release, Jack Warden appeared as Frank T. Whip in apparently only one episode on this volume: November 15, 1953.


    Packaging:

    The packaging is similar to what was used on the first volume. It comes in a large, plastic snapcase. The cover art features a black & white photo of Wally Cox. It has a light blue background with Mister Peepers logo written in pink. Some of the other series stars, including Tony Randall, Jack Warden (although he's in only 1 episode by my count on this set) and Marion Lorne. The back of the case lists a summary of the show, the special features and the DVD specs. Wally Cox is featured on the spine of the case. When you open up the case, there is a holder that you flip that holds discs 2 and 3. Discs 1 and 2 are in embedded holders on the front and back panels. The discs have the Mister Peepers logo in pink and have a different colored background on each (disc 1 - orange, disc 2 - light blue, disc 3 - purple, disc 4 - lime green). It's interesting that they are identified as "volume 1" and "volume 2" instead of "disc 1" and "disc 2." Unfortunately, there is no sheet included that lists the original airdates, guest stars or episode summaries. It seems like the original episodes didn't have any titles, so they are all identified by original airdates on the menus.


    Menu Design and Navigation:

    The menus are very colorful and easy to navigate. When you first insert a disc, you'll see the logos for S'more Entertainment Inc. and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The main menu features a color photo of Wally Cox on the far right of the screen. Next to him, there is a television set where some video clips from the show are played. There is an animated Mister Peepers logo at the top of the screen. There are some animated stars, jacks and television sets that move down the screen. Each disc has a different color scheme: disc 1 - light blue, disc - yellow, disc 3 - pink, disc 4 - green. The Mister Peepers ending theme music can be heard in the background. It loops after about 30 seconds. There are options for "Play All," "Episodes" and "Bonus" at the bottom of the screen. When you select "Episodes," it takes you to a sub-menu where there is a blackboard and the episode airdates are written in chalk. These menus look similar to what was used on the first volume release. There are some flying paper airplanes in the background even. That was a nice touch. There are no scene selection menus or chapter stops within the episodes.


    Video and Audio Quality:

    These episodes were transferred to DVD from 16mm kinescopes with the help of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The show was produced live, so this is the only way it survived. I've read on other sites that people thought these episodes were long lost or destroyed. The video quality obviously can't be compared to other 1950's sitcoms like I Love Lucy or Leave it to Beaver, which were filmed in a different format. Desi Arnaz was way ahead of his time by having I Love Lucy shot on film. The episodes on this set really look as good as can be expected, considering their age and the fact they are from kinescopes. I would definitely say that the episodes on this second volume look a little better than the episodes on the first volume. There is less flicker and the picture is more clear. There is still quite a bit of grain, scratches, film specks and other techincal glitches. The episodes are certainly watchable though, and I think it's amazing that over 100 of the episodes have survived. There were only a few episodes on this set that I noticed that were noticeably darker or lighter in the picture quality than the rest. All of the episodes have a NBC closing logo with the chimes. Some of the early ones have a note that "This program was produced by the Kinephoto Process."

    The audio quality also seems to be better on these episodes. There is still some buzz and crackle in the audio, and it fades in and out a few times but I can hear the improvement. These episodes all run over 29 minutes in length compared to 24-25 minutes on the first volume. This is because all of the original commercials, which were done live, are included. There were typically 3 commercials in each episode: two for Reynolds Aluminum Products by NBC's Hal Gibney and then one for Reynolds Wrap by one of 3-4 different women. These were a lot of fun to watch. I never learned so much about the uses of aluminum. The episodes would close with a PSA or an announcement by Wally Cox. The show was shot in front of a studio audience of about 3,000 for the first season before moving to a smaller stage in front of 300-400 for seasons 2-3, so the audience's reaction was real. All of the episodes are closed captioned.

    Here is a listing of the episodes by disc, including the running times:

    Disc 1
    ---------
    03-08-1953 (29:37)
    03-15-1953 (29:38)
    03-22-1953 (29:38)
    04-05-1953 (29:38)
    04-12-1953 (29:38)
    04-19-1953 (29:40)

    Disc 2
    ---------
    04-26-1953 (29:38)
    05-03-1953 (29:39)
    05-10-1953 (29:39)
    05-17-1953 (29:39)
    05-24-1953 (29:38)
    05-31-1953 (29:39)
    06-07-1953 (29:39)

    Disc 3
    ---------
    06-14-1953 (29:37)
    06-21-1953 (29:38)
    06-28-1953 (29:40)
    07-05-1953 (29:28)
    09-13-1953 (29:41)
    09-20-1953 (29:38)

    Disc 4
    ---------
    09-27-1953 (29:42)
    10-04-1953 (29:39)
    10-18-1953 (29:44)
    10-25-1953 (29:39)
    11-01-1953 (29:40)
    11-08-1953 (29:39)
    11-15-1953 (29:38)


    Special Features:

    There is a nice mix of special features. There is one bonus on each disc.

    Disc 1
    Tony Randall Interview - Archive of American Television interviewed by Matt Roush on April 30, 1998 (11:04) - These are excerpts from a much longer interview of Tony Randall. He talks about television's early days in New York and his first TV roles. He talks about how he had to do Broadway and Mister Peepers at the same time. He discusses his bond with Wally Cox and how he had known him. Then he talks a little about how the show started, the writing process, how they shot the show, and working with the Producer Fred Coe and the show creator David Swift. You can watch the full interview at emmytvlegends.com or on their YouTube page.

    Disc 2
    How a Kinescope is Created (7:40) - This short film from 1949 was created to help explain the kinescope process. It was hosted by NBC's Hal Gibney, who also did the commercials for Reynolds Aluminum on the episodes on this release. They show the early efforts in 1938, a Joe Louis boxing match in 1946, a March 1948 NBC symphony concert, and some footage of the National Conventions in Philadelphia. Then they show some of their newest equipment at the time. I think some of the newest clips that they mentioned were cut out for the DVD. You can see they made a lot of progress with the kinescope process from 1938 until 1952 when Mister Peepers debuted. Unfortunately, I couldn't really see in that much detail how the process actually worked. There really weren't any close-ups.

    Disc 3
    1952 Peabody Awards (Excerpt) (28:04) - Wally Cox accepts the Peabody Award for Mister Peepers. These kinescopes were courtesy Margie Compton and Ruta Abonis at the Walter J. Brown and Peabody Awards Collection, University of Georgia Libraries. These were the 13th Annual Peabody Awards held in New York City. Various clips are shown of people receiving the Peabody Award for shows such as Meet the Press, Your Hit Parade and Victory at Sea. Wally Cox appears with about 5:30 remaining and is on screen for a little less than 2 minutes.

    Disc 4
    "Murderer's Meeting" episode from the TV series "Suspense" (29:32) - This episode, which aired on April 24, 1951, featured Wally Cox, Jackie Cooper and Mildred Natwick. This was on kinescope, so it doesn't really look as good as Mister Peepers. There is a CBS (Columbia Broadcast System) closing logo. It was provided courtesy of Falcon Picture Group where you can purchase 60 episodes of "Suspense" at http://www.falconpicturegroup.com .


    Final Comments:

    Mister Peepers finally has finally returned to DVD! It has been a little over 3 years since S'more Eintertainment's first volume of episodes. They've done another very good job with this release. The episodes have some noticeable improvements in video and audio quality over the episodes on the first volume. There is less flicker and the picture appears more clear and stabilized. It's very nice that they included the original commercials, which were done live, on the episodes. These were really fun to watch. I never knew so much about aluminum products and aluminum foil! What happened to the days of the commercial pitchman? Simpler times for sure. There is also an interesting and funny interview with Tony Randall from 1998. I would like to see more vintage interviews with Wally Cox and the other cast members on future releases.

    It's noted on the packaging that this set contains all 26 episodes comprising the entire season 2, but that's really not true. They should have simply called this Volume Two. What you really are getting here are the remaining episodes from season 1 (the first full season) plus the first 10 or so episodes from season 2. According to the episode listing at epguides.com, there were 53 episodes in the first season. They released the first 26 episodes that they had available on the first volume. It would have been less confusing if this set was identified as Volume Two. Mister Peepers and Nancy Remington were married at the end of 1953-1954 (second) season, but you won't find that episode on this release. Hopefully S'more will release the remaining episodes at a more rapid rate. It will probably take two more volumes to have every episode that is available to be released. Thanks to Arny Schorr of S'more Entertainment for these sets!


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

    Video Quality: 3/5
    Audio Quality: 3/5
    Special Features: 3/5
    Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
    Overall: 3.5/5

    --Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 12/01/08

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

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000BNMX0G/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

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

    http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=229035


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