Release Date: October 16, 2012 (Warner Archive Collection)
Color / 1970-71
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: approx. 611 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
The second season of the beloved TV classic shines so brightly that it attracted a very special guest star - real-life NASA titan Gordon "Gordo" Cooper! This groundbreaking situation "dramedy" was more about friendship than courtship - the special friendship shared by Eddie (Brandon Cruz) and his widowed father, Tom (Bill Bixby). Birth, marriage, crime, ghosts, poverty and women's liberation are just a sampling of the themes that father and son struggle with in this 3-Disc, 24-Episode Collection from Warner Archive. James Komack (Norman), Miyoshi Umeki (Mrs. Livingston) and Kristina Holland (Tina Rickles) continue to aid the Corbett boys in their adventures, while Jodie Foster (in a recurring role), Will Geer (as Eddie's grandfather), and Suzanne Pleshette (as a potential paramour for Tom) make notable guest performances.
Season two premiered on September 23, 1970, with "The Unbirthday Present," a spoof about the problems of making home movies. A little girl whose widowed father is about to remarry in "A Loaf of Bread, A Bar of Soap and a Jug of Peanut Butter." Tom learns a lesson in what not to do when Eddie joins a boys' club in "The Important Word Is And..." Tom thinks Mrs. Livingston loves him in "I Thought, You Thought." Tom has to tell Eddie that he has to work on the night of the school play in "The Business Trip." Eddie learns a lesson about the pain of growing up in "Eddie's Will." A free-spirited girl (Suzanne Pleshette) enters Tom's life in "Hello, Mrs. Bessinger, Goodbye." An Indian orphan teaches Eddie and Tom about sharing in "Love Is for Sharing."
Eddie's grandfather (Will Geer) visits in "Who Wants to Sail Down the Amazon, Anyway." A liberated woman has Tom delighted but not in love in "When the Shoe Is on the Other Foot, It Doesn't Fit." Eddie begins to think that he was adopted in "The Secret Box." Tom tries to exorcise a ghost in "Fear Is for Understanding." "Gifts for Giving" is a story about Norman's highly treasured gift. Tom's sophisticated boss Cissy (Tippi Hedren) falls for him in "A Little Get Together for Cissy." Tom tries to help a girl from the ghetto with a chip on her shoulder in "The Ghetto Girl." Eddie gets scared when Tom goes to the hospital for a routine physical in "The Hospital."
Tom refuses to buy a horse for Eddie in "The Rift." Tina expresses her feelings about Tom and Norman in a group encounter meeting in "The Encounter Group." Eddie meets Apollo 13 astronaut L. Gordon Cooper in a story about privacy in "Dear Mr. Cooper..." While Eddie's away, Tom plans to spend the weekend with his girlfriend (Brenda Benet) in "The Lonely Weekend." Tina's mother's belief in magic leaves an impression on Eddie in "The Magic Mrs. Rickles." Eddie joins a gang which demands that its members practice shoplifting in "To Catch a Thief." Eddie wants a brother and will do anything to see that he gets one in "Everybody Needs a Brother." Tom worries if he is being too permissive with Eddie in "Discipline Is a Four Letter Word Spelled Love."
Recurring and notable season two guest stars included Jodie Foster, Dave Ketchum, Suzanne Pleshette, Tippi Hedren, John Fielder, Ivor Barry, Andrew Prine, Gordon Cooper, Brenda Benet, and Willie Aames.
All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times of over 25 minutes. Just like the first season, all of the episodes have The Courtship of Eddie's Father in color title card at the very beginning of the episodes. A couple of the episodes didn't start at the proper place with the title card, but perhaps that was just a technical glitch with my DVD player. Everything is here, including the iconic theme song, "Best Friend" by Harry Nilsson or Nilsson as he was credited.
27. The Unbirthday Present (25:18)
28. A Loaf of Bread, A Bar of Soap and a Jug of Peanut Butter (25:18)
29. The Important Word Is And... (25:16)
30. I Thought, You Thought (25:30)
31. The Business Trip (25:29)
32. Eddie's Will (25:29)
33. Hello, Mrs. Bessinger, Goodbye (25:30)
34. Love Is for Sharing (25:29)
35. Who Wants to Sail Down the Amazon, Anyway (25:28)
36. When the Show Is on the Other Foot, It Doesn't Fit (25:25)
37. The Secret Box (25:29)
38. Fear Is for Understanding (25:29)
39. Gifts Are for Giving (25:28)
40. A Little Get Together for Cissy (25:29)
41. The Ghetto Girl (25:27)
42. The Hospital (25:28)
43. The Rift (25:29)
44. The Encounter Group (25:29)
45. Dear Mr. Cooper... (25:29)
46. The Lonely Weekend (25:29)
47. The Magic Mrs. Rickles (25:27)
48. To Catch a Thief (25:29)
49. Everybody Needs a Brother (25:27)
50. Discipline Is a Four Letter Word Spelled Love (25:29)
The 3-disc set contains all 24 episodes from the second season (1970-71). It comes in a clear plastic Viva case, just like the first season release. The cover art has a photo of Brandon Cruz holding a large baseball mitt next to Bill Bixby. The show logo is above them in black text. A light blue background is used. The Complete Second Season is written in white in a purple background at the top of the case. On the back of the case, there's a cast photo of Bixby, Cruz, Miyoshi Umeki and James Komack. These two publicity photos appear to be from the first season because Cruz looks so young and is missing his front teeth. That's not really that big of a deal. A synopsis of the set and the DVD specs are listed. Opening the case, there is just blank white space. It would have been nice if they included some additional photos or trivia here. They also could have listed the episode summaries here or provided a booklet. Warner Archive's sets would definitely benefit by including some type of episode guide. My review copy contained pressed DVDs. Warner Archive reportedly presses a limited amount of discs before they switch to DVD-Rs. My season one review copy contained DVD-Rs, just like what everybody else received. They made the switch to a limited run of pressed discs sometime in the last year apparently. The discs have the same photo of Bixby and Cruz as the cover art. They have a purple and light blue background. The disc number and episode titles are printed on each disc. Disc 1 contains episodes 27-34. Disc 2 has episodes 35-42. Disc 3 rounds out the set with episodes 43-50.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very simple and easy to navigate. The main menu features the same photo as the cover art of Cruz and Bixby, with the show logo above them in white. The episode titles are listed to the right of the photo in white text against a purple background. There's a white circle next to the episode you highlight that disappeears upon your selection. A Play All option is available. Chapters are placed at the appropriate places.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality appears to be on par with the first season. 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. 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 are featured in several episodes of the series. There's nothing on the packaging to indicate that the episodes are closed captioned. No subtitles are available.
Once again, there are no special features included on the set. A screen test they found with an alternate Mrs. Livingston played by Chita Rivera was mentioned in a podcast interview with Brandon Cruz last year. Perhaps they couldn't get the rights to include it. The cast also made several commercials when the show originally aired. Those cast commercials or any other goodies would have been nice to have.
It was a long wait of over a year, but it's certainly nice to have the second season available on DVD. There were quite a few memorable episodes and notable guest stars again this season. Tom certainly did well with the ladies as beauties like Suzanne Pleshette, Tippi Hedren (in her second appearance) and Brenda Benet (Bill Bixby's girlfriend at the time and later wife) made appearances in season two. It's great to see the episodes complete and unedited and in such good quality. This is, once again, a manufactured-on-demand release that isn't available in stores. It can only be ordered online from WBShop.com or Amazon.com. It's currently around $8-10 cheaper on WBShop.com, so keep that in mind when ordering. I'm admittedly not the biggest fan of the third season when the focus of the show changed and it became more of the Tom and Norman show, but I look forward to having the final 23 episodes on DVD to complete the series. Hopefully it will be sometime early next year and not another wait of over a year this time.