Release Date: September 27, 2011 (Warner Archive Collection)
Color / 1969-70
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 4 Manufactured on Demand DVD-Rs
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: approx. 676 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
Sharing little with the 1963 film upon which it was based, The Courtship of Eddie's Father broke new ground on television while quickly finding its way into the nation's heart. Overseen by creator James Komack (who would also play supporting character Norman Tinker), The Courtship of Eddie's Father wisely focused on the relationship between magazine executive Tom Corbett (Bill Bixby) and his grade-schooler son Eddie (Brandon Cruz), as epitomized by Harry Nilsson's classic theme song "Best Friend." Not to be forgotten are the contributions of Corbett's housekeeper, Mrs. Livingston (Miyoshi Umeki) who helps make the father-son household a happy, high-spirited home. Among the first season guest stars to keep an eye out for in this 4-Disc, 26-Episode Collection is a young Jodie Foster in a recurring role as Joey, Eddie's tomboy nemesis.
The Courtship of Eddie's Father premiered on ABC on September 17, 1969. In the pilot episode, "Mrs. Livingston, I Presume," Eddie tries to get his dad to marry an aspiring actress. Eddie gets burned by his dad's romance with his teacher in "Teacher's Pet." Tom's new girlfriend wonders if she can be a good mother to Eddie and "Eddie Makes Three." Diana Muldaur guest stars as Lynn Bardman. Eddie finds a Japanese son for Mrs. Livingston. Bill Dana guest stars as the Policeman and Pat Morita appears as Duke. Tom tries computer dating in "The Computer." It is Eddie's first day at school and he doesn't want to go in "Pain."
A blind date for Tom teaches him a lesson in human relations in "Guess Who's Coming for Lunch." Cicely Tyson guest stars as Betty. Eddie is having trouble with a bully in "Bully for You." Jodie Foster makes her first appearance as Joey Kelly. Eddie and Tom try to find out who is the new man in Mrs. Livingston's life in "Gentleman Friend." George Takei appears as Mr. Sato. Tom teaches Eddie about the responsibilities of friendship in "Any Friend of Dad's." Mrs. Livingston failed her English test, causing Eddie to think she will commit hara kiri to save face in "An F for Mrs. Livingston." Tina proposes to Norman in "Member of the Wedding."
An overnight camping trip leads to a Corbett-Lockwood quarrel in "A Night Out for the Boys." Tom tried to take Eddie's mother's place at a school party in "Mother of the Year." Eddie's flamboyant Aunt Kate comes for a visit in "Who Pulled the BLues Right Out of the Horn." Francine York guest stars as Aunt Kate. Eddie loses the very first library book he takes out in "The Library Card." Eddie is suffering from a case of puppy love in "How Do You Know if It's Really Love." Erin Moran plays one of the party guests, Emily Ruth Gustafson. A retired school teacher unknowingly alienates Eddie from his father in "The Road yo You-Know-Where Is Paved with You-Know-What." Eddie has a crush on his babysitter, who has a crush on Tom in "They're Either Too Young or Too Old."
Mrs. Livingston departs, leaving Eddie and Tom alone in "The Mod Couple." Tom tries to find a future guardian for Eddie in "Guardian for Eddie." Martha Scott appears as Grandmother. Tom tries to prevent Mrs. Livingston from being deported in "The Promise." Norman has to lose five pounds in two days in "A Five-Pound Monkey on His Stomach." Tom has been ordered by his boss to fire his best friend in "Free Is a Four-Letter Word." Tippi Hedren guest stars as Cissy Drummond-Randolph. Tom's nutty secretary has become interested in astrology and quits her job in "Don't Look Now, Your Scorpio's Rising." Yvonne Craig plays Miss Atwater. Eddie finds ten thousand dollars in "Money Is a Five-Letter Word."
All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times of 25-26 minutes. They even have The Courtship of Eddie's Father in color title card at the very beginning of the episodes. Everything is here, including the iconic theme song, "Best Friend" by Harry Nilsson or Nilsson as he was credited.
1. Mrs. Livingston, I Presume (25:59)
2. Teacher's Pet (25:58)
3. And Eddie Makes Three (25:57)
4. The Littlest Kidnapper (25:59)
5. The Computer (25:59)
6. Pain (25:58)
7. Guess Who's Coming for Lunch (25:59)
8. Bully for You (25:59)
9. Gentleman Friend (25:59)
10. Any Friend of Dad's (25:50)
11. An F for Mrs. Livingston (25:59)
12. Member of the Wedding (25:59)
13. A Night Out for the Boys (26:01)
14. Mother of the Year (25:50)
15. Who Pulled the Blues Right Out of the Horn (25:50)
16. The Library Card (25:59)
17. How Do You Know if It's Really Love (25:59)
18. The Road to You-Know-Where Is Paved with You-Know-What (26:00)
19. They're Either Too Young or Too Old (25:38)
20. The Mod Couple (25:39)
21. Guardian for Eddie (25:39)
22. The Promise (25:45)
23. A Five-Pound Monkey on His Stomach (25:29)
24. Free Is a Four-Letter Word (25:38)
25. Don't Look Now, Your Scorpio's Rising (25:39)
26. Money Is a Five-Letter Word (25:39)
The 4-disc set contains all 26 episodes from the first season (1969-70). It comes in a clear plastic Viva case. The cover art has a photo of Bill Bixby and Brandon Cruz. The show logo is above them in white. A maroon background is used. The back of the case has a cast photo from the first season of Bill Bixby, Brandon Cruz, James Komack and Miyoshi Umeki. A synopsis of the set and the DVD specs are listed. There's a pretty glaring error in the summary. They put "James Womack" instead of James Komack. Since this a manufacted on demand release, that seems like it would be pretty easy for them to correct. Opening the case, there is just blank white space. It would have been nice if they included some additional photos here. An episode guide would also have been a welcome addition. The DVD-Rs feature the same photo of Bixby and Cruz, although it is less cropped than the cover art. They have a maroon and yellow background. The episode titles are listed on the discs. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-6. Disc 2 has episodes 7-12. Disc 3 has episodes 13-19. Disc 4 rounds out the set with episodes 20-26.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very simple and easy to navigate. The main menu features the same photo of Bixby and Cruz, with a maroon background. It's good that they kept the same theme throughout the set. The episode titles are listed to the right of the photo in black against a light yellow background. There is a red dot next to the option or episode you highlight. A Play All option is available. Chapters are placed throughout each episode at all of the appropriate places.
Video and Audio Quality:
These episodes are newly remastered and look very good. Considering these episodes are over 40 years old, they've been cleaned up pretty nicely. They are presented in their original broadcast order and original full screen 4x3 / 1.37:1 format. The show was shot on film. There's still a fair amount of dirt, debris and white static/specks, but they are certainly improved over the syndicated copies that have been shown for the last 20-30 years. I didn't see any major glitches. As a big fan of the show, I am quite pleased overall with the video and audio quality. You can judge for yourself by previewing a clip at the WBShop.com page. For the closing logo enthusiasts, they have the classic MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) Television logo with the lion roaring. They also have The Courtship of Eddie's Father in color title card at the beginning of the episodes. That was a nice treat to see.
The audio is your standard English mono track. The volume is at a good level. Although the show was filmed without a studio audience, they added a laugh track later. All of the episodes have the classic "Best Friend" opening credits. I always thought that the show had a very nice underscore. Some of Harry Nilsson's songs, including "Little Cowboy," are featured in several episodes of the series. There's nothing on the packaging to indicate that the episodes are closed captioned.
Unfortunately, there are no special features included on this set. It would have been great to see some original network promos, cast commercials, new or vintage interviews and maybe a few commentaries with Brandon Cruz. In an excellent and detailed podcast interview with Brandon Cruz that was posted on the Warner Archive Facebook page, they mentioned they found a screen test with an alternate Mrs. Livingston played by Chita Rivera. I'm not sure if they filmed the interview, but even if it was just the audio I think this would be a nice special feature. They could play it as sort of an audio commentary while an episode or two is shown. Hopefully the screen test and some other goodies will make it on the second and third season releases.
The Courtship of Eddie's Father is finally on DVD as a complete season! When Warner Archive released an episode last year as part of their Classic TV Christmas Collection set, I thought it would be only a matter of time before full seasons would be released. Although the show ran for only 3 seasons and 73 episodes, I think it was a perfect candidate for a DVD release. It's one of the few shows that had a pretty limited run that has been shown in syndication reguarly over the last 20-30 years on various cable stations. This was one of my favorite shows growing up for a number of reasons. It had a great cast with Bill Bixby, Brandon Cruz, Miyoshi Umeki, James Komack and Kristina Holland. Bill and Brandon had excellent chemistry. They seemed like a real father and son. Who can forget the memorable theme song? It's still being used in commercials to this day.
The opening and closing "peanuts"where Eddie and Tom would have heart-to-heart talks were always memorable and sweet. Season 1 featured guest stars such as Diana Muldaur, Bill Dana, Pat Morita, Cicely Tyson, George Takei, Martha Scott, Tippi Hedren and Yvonne Craig. Jodie Foster makes her first appearance in the 8th episode.
This is a pretty basic release that doesn't have any special features, but it's so nice to see the show available for old and new fans. The most important thing to me is that the episodes are unedited at around 25-26 minutes in length and they look very good after being newly remastered. They even have The Courtship of Eddie's Father in color title card at the beginning. Amazing! Please note that this release can't be found in stores. It's available exclusively online through WBShop.com via their MOD (Manufacture on Demand) program. The 4 DVD-Rs should play on most DVD players. They may not play on some older DVD players, recorders or PC drives. There's also a pre-order listing at Amazon.com, so it should be available there soon as well. Hopefully we'll see the remaining two seasons available sometime next year. It seems like they may have already remastered them. They are talking about possible special features. With The Courtship of Eddie's Father being on DVD, I can only hope that Please Don't Eat the Daisies will be next.