TITLE: THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER - THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (WBSHOP.COM) (AMAZON.COM)
Release Date: January 14, 2014 (Warner Archive Collection)
Color / 1971-72
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 23
Running Time: approx. 586 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
The third and final season of the beloved TV classic brings with it some new faces (comedy greats Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller in a series of roles), new fears (Summer camp! Karate! Fetching Soviets!) and new foes (Eight is Enough's Willie Aames taking up the "best frenemy" role previously enjoyed by Jodie Foster). But the show still delivers its sitcom-changing mix of maturity, tenderness and laughs, thanks to the evident bond enjoyed by series' stars Bill Bixby and Brandon Cruz, and the comedic support from series creator James Komack and series regular Kristina Holland as Norman Tinker and Tina Rickles. Adding to the razzmatazz is one very special guest star, Sammy Davis Jr. as Ronnie Rivers Jr., a phobia-filled insurance adjuster. Other guests include Carol Lawrence (the aforementioned sexy Soviet), All in the Family's Sally Struthers, Alice's Vic Tayback, Columbo's Bruce Kirby and One Day at a Time's Pat Harrington Jr.
Season three premiered on September 15, 1971, with "My Son, the Artist," in which nude models are the subject in this story about the trials of parenthood. Tom might be the next member of the school board in "The Candidate." Eddie learns to cope with fear in "Getting Back on the Horse." A small accident causes big legal problems in "Tell It Like I'm Telling You It Is."
Tom and Eddie try to convince Norman it is okay to be a kook in "A Very Different Drummer." A lesson in responsibility for Eddie gets out of hand in "The Bicycle Theft." A divorced couple makes Tom's life miserable in "Two's Company."
Norman doesn't want the surprise birthday party Tom and Eddie are planning for him in "Happy Birthday to You." Tina asks Tom for a raise in "Or Else." Tom's new neighbors are driving him crazy with kindness in "Thy Neighbor Loves Thee." A Soviet editor (Carol Lawrrence) encounters a conflict of values in "A Little Red." Eddie's first camping trip is a trauma to mother hen Norman in "A Brave at Natchanoomi." Tom meets a charming klutz (Sally Struthers) with an inferiority complex in "The Blarney Stone Girl." Eddie's part in the school play requires him to kiss a girl on the lips, which he finds he can't do in "Prince Charming." Tom's romance with a lady doctor depends on her choice to either get married or continue her studies abroad in "The Choice."
Eddie takes karate lessons so he can defeat the school bully (Willie Aames) in "The Karate Story." Eddie's saxophone playing is disturbing the bagpiper upstairs in "Very Young Man with a Horn." Tom and Norman invest in an oil well in "The Investors." Tom feels his creative writing is causing him to neglect Eddie in "It's All Write with Me." An insurance man (Sammy Davis Jr.) proves to be a disastrous house guest in "A Little Help from My Friend." A sixteen dollar gift of friendship becomes a $5,000 headache in "In the Eye of the Beholder." Tom considers buying a charming but rundown house in "Time for a Change." A story about an answering service with Jerry as Anne's boss in "We Love Annie."
Notable guest stars this season included Bruce Kirby, Jerry Stiller (2 episodes), Anne Meara (2 episodes), Carol Lawrence, Vic Tayback, Sally Struthers, Willie Aames (3 episodes), Pat Harrington Jr. and Sammy Davis Jr.
All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times of over 25 minutes. Just like the first and second season, all of the episodes have The Courtship of Eddie's Father 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.
51. My Son, the Artist (25:21)
52. The Candidate (25:21)
53. Getting Back on the Horse (25:21)
54. Tell It Like I'm Telling You It Is (25:31)
55. A Very Different Drummer (25:32)
56. The Bicycle Theft (25:33)
57. Two's Company (25:32)
58. Happy Birthday to You (25:33)
59. Or Else (25:32)
60. Thy Neighbor Loves Thee (25:32)
61. A Little Red (25:32)
62. A Brave at Natchanoomi (25:32)
63. The Blarney Stone Girl (25:33)
64. Prince Charming (25:31)
65. The Choice (25:21)
66. The Karate Story (25:01)
67. Very Young Man with a Horn (25:31)
68. The Investors (25:32)
69. It's All Write with Me (25:32)
70. A Little Help from My Friend (25:32)
71. In the Eye of the Beholder (25:31)
72. Time for a Change (25:32)
73. We Love Annie (25:31)
The 3-disc set contains all 23 episodes from the third and final season (1971-72). It comes in a clear plastic Viva case, just like the first two seasons. The cover art features a photo of Bill Bixby hugging Brandon Cruz. A sports themed background is used. The show logo is above the photo in black text. The Complete Third season is written in white in a magenta background at the top of the case. On the back of the case, there's a photo of Brandon Cruz and Bill Bixby from one of the episodes. A synopsis of the season and the DVD specs are provided. 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. I received pressed discs in my set. Warner Archive apparently presses a limited amount of discs for each season. Once they run out (or if you order from Amazon.com), you get the manufactured-on-demand DVD-Rs. The discs have the same photo of Bixby and Cruz as the cover art, although it is a bit cropped. It has a magenta background. The disc number and episdoe titles are printed on each disc. Disc 1 contains episodes 51-57. Disc 2 contains episodes 58-65. Disc 3 rounds out the set with episodes 66-73.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu is very simple and easy to navigate. It has the same photo of Bixby and Cruz with the sports background. The show title is at the top and The Complete Third Season is at the bottom. The episode titles are listed to the right of the photo in white text against a dark pink background. There's a black circle next to the episdoe you highlight that disappears 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 two seasons. 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 title card (without the "in color" note like the previous seasons). 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 in 2011 at the time of the first season release. 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.
That's a wrap for The Courtship of Eddie's Father on DVD. All 3 seasons and 73 episodes are now available. Warner Archive did a very nice job with the releases. It only took them a little over 2 years to release them, so that was a reasonable wait. Unfortunately, there were no special features included. The episodes do look very nice and remastered. They all appear to be unedited, so that is a major plus. The show has been in syndication in previous years, but has disappeared in recent years, so this is the only way for most people to see this enjoyable series.
The third season is my least favorite of the series, but there were still some memorable episodes. They just shifted the focus to more storylines with Tom and Norman instead of Tom and Eddie. The series lacked the same kind of magic of the first two seasons. There were quite a few big name guest stars in the final season. The husband and wife team of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara appeared in two episodes as different characters. It's fun to see sitcom stars like Vic Tayback, Sally Struthers and Pat Harrington Jr. before they became more well known.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 02/21/14
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