Release Date: December 4, 2012 (MPI Home Video)
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 5
Number of Episodes: 34
Running Time: 900 minutes
Running Time of Features: 65 minutes
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: English Subtitles
Special Features: Paul and Patty Petersen Interview; Original Cast Commercials; PSAs by Donna Reed and Paul Petersen; Bonus Songs; French Episode; Daytime Opening and Closing Bumper
Donna Reed is back on DVD for yet another season of her classic TV series in The Donna Reed Show - Season Five. As was the case with season four, MPI has taken this classic series and put out a high quality release that is sure to please each and every fan of the series. Unlike the fourth season, however, this season is a return to episodes that have been seen in syndication packages, although considering that the series has had little syndication exposure in recent years (aside from MeTV), these episodes will be "new" or "lost" to many fans of the series.
The big highlight of the fifth season is Mary (Shelly Fabares) going to college... but the family isn't exactly going to shrink because of this. New to the family is young orphan Trisha, who follows the family home from the park one day... and just stays with them for the rest of the series. And she is more family than you'd suspect: she is played by Patty Petersen, the real-life sister of Paul Petersen, who plays Jeff on the series. So get ready to enjoy the 34 episodes of the fifth season of the classic series in Donna Reed - Season Five!
The fifth season begins with "Mr. Nice Guy," where Jeff is being awfully nice to Mary, but she can't figure out why. Donna becomes Alex's fill-in nurse for what may be a miserable week in "Mrs. Stone and Dr. Hyde." Jeff and Smitty make a pact to give up dating to save money to build a boat in "To Be a Boy." In "Who Needs Glasses?," Jeff is determined to get glasses to make him look older. Mary decides to move to the college dorm in "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary." In "My Dad," Alex is having trouble making time to spend a day with Jeff. Jeff discovers a bird that isn't quite as rare as he thinks it is in "Fine Feathers."
In "Rebel With a Cause," Donna is selected to take part in a survey to see how long housewives spend doing their chores. Mary tries to help a boy become a singing star in "Big Star." In "Man to Man," a camping trip for Jeff and Alex isn't as much of a father-son event as Alex hopes. Everybody helps a baby doctor buy a new car in "The Baby Buggy." In "The Makeover Man," Mary wants to turn a basketball star into something that he isn't. Jeff faces a moral dilemma in "The Winning Ticket." Everybody is out to collect on loans in "The Soft Touch."
In "Jeff Stands Alone," Jeff tries to prove to himself that he can survive independently. Mary's friend wants a simple wedding in "Just a Little Wedding," but her mother has other ideas. Donna decides to run for town council in "A Womans' Place." A mysterious woman asks Donna to buy a huge Chinese horse statue in "The Chinese Horse," but the entire family is wondering why. In "The New Look," Mary is concerned when her boyfriend calls her "wholesome." The family becomes a bit larger when a little girl shows up at the house in "A Way of Her Own." In "Three is a Family," Mary gets to babysit her new little sister.
Jeff has a fight with his girlfriend (on his birthday, of all days) in "Big Sixteen." In "Pioneer Women," Donna and Mary want to prove that women are as tough as men. Donna visits a reclusive woman in "The House on the Hill." The Stones take a vacation in "Where the Stones Are." In "The Two Doctors Stone," Donna is convinced that Trisha is going to become ill just before she and Alex go on a vacation. Mary has an admirer who just won't stop following her in "Everywhere That Mary Goes." Donna deals with an inept handyman (who Trisha loves) in "The Handy Man."
The Stones get new neighbors in "Friends and Neighbors." In "Boys and Girls," Jeff's girlfriend and Mary's boyfriend may be attracted to the wrong people. Jeff is excited about meeting Don Drysdale in "All Those Dreams." In "All Women Are Dangerous," two women are anxious to get Jeff to ask them to a dance. Jeff buys a bus and plans to use it as a school bus in "The Big Wheel." The season ends with "Day of the Hero," where Jeff faces a dilemma between two girls.
Guest stars in this season include Harvey Korman, Harold Gould, Richard Deacon, Hayden Rorke, Bob Crane, Don Drysdale, and Paul Winchell.
The episodes all appear to be unedited on this set, running around 25:30. Unfortunately, there aren't any episodes with the original commercials intact this time, but that was just an extra bonus that we got last time. Runtimes for the episodes are as follows:
1. "Mr. Nice Guy" (25:32)
2. "Mrs. Stone & Dr. Hyde" (25:35)
3. "To Be a Boy" (25:29)
4. "Who Needs Glasses" (25:35)
5. "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" (25:35)
6. "My Dad" (25:33)
7. "Fine Feathers" (25:34)
8. "Rebel with a Cause" (25:35)
9. "Big Star" (25:31)
10. "Man to Man" (25:31)
11. "The Baby Buggy" (25:35)
12. "The Makeover Man" (25:31)
13. "The Winning Ticket" (25:34)
14. "The Soft Touch" (25:34)
15. "Jeff Stands Alone" (25:35)
16. "Just a Little Wedding" (25:34)
17. "A Woman's Place" (25:28)
18. "The Chinese Horse" (25:35)
19. "The New Look" (25:31)
20. "A Way of Her Own" (25:30)
21. "Three is a Family" (25:35)
22. "Big Sixteen" (25:31)
23. "Pioneer Woman" (25:35)
24. "The House on the Hill" (25:38)
25. "Where the Stones Are" (25:34)
26. "The Two Doctors Stone" (25:36)
27. "Everywhere That Mary Goes" (25:33)
28. "The Handy Man" (25:33)
29. "Friends & Neighbors" (25:35)
30. "Boys & Girls" (25:34)
31. "All Those Dreams" (25:32)
32. "All Women are Dangerous" (25:36)
33. "The Big Wheel" (25:31)
34. "Day of the Hero" (25:30)
The packaging for this set is very similar to the packaging that MPI used for the fourth season of the series, utilizing a standard sized Viva case. On the cover, there is a color photo of the family in a line of rocking chairs, with a green background. On the back of the case, there is a description of the season, along with smaller publicity photos from the series. Inside the case, you'll find episode titles and air dates printed, but as is typical for MPI, there are no episode descriptions. There are five discs, with the series logo on a green background. The episode numbers included on the disc are printed on the disc. The first four discs contain seven episodes each, while the fifth disc contains six episodes and all of the special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Like many MPI releases, the menus on the set are very basic. The main menu on each disc has the same artwork seen on the cover, with the family in the rocking chairs. From the main menu, you have options of Play All, a listing of all of the episodes on the disc, and an option to turn on English subtitles. Disc 5 also has a Bonus Features option. The theme song plays in the background on the main menu, but unlike in the past, it only seems to play once this time, instead of constantly looping (which is nice). Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
I am very impressed with how the episodes look and sound on this release. I've always had somewhat lowered expectations for this series on DVD, given the age and the source for the prints, but compared to the previous releases, the episodes actually look better this time. Perhaps MPI had better source material to work with for this set. There is still some grain and debris, but it is very minimal this time. The audio quality is pretty loud and clear, without any real problems. Each episode has English subtitles available.
Once again, MPI has brought us plenty of special features for this set. These can all be found on Disc 5. These begin with "Donna Reed Recollections: Paul & Patty Petersen" (29:45). As this sounds, it is a very nice retrospective of the series featuring Paul Petersen who played Jeff... but as an added bonus, we get to see his sister Patty Petersen, who joins the cast as newly adopted daughter Trisha in this season. It is a very nice and thorough interview.
Cast and Sponsor Commercials (4:15) is a series of commercials used throughout the season just after the opening credits or just before the closing credits to acknowledge the title sponsor for the episodes. You'll find commercials for Campbell's Soup, Ritz Crackers, and Singer Sewing Machines.
Public Service Spots (2:28) is a hodgepodge of public service announcements. The first is one that actually aired during the series, where Donna promotes the YWCA. The other ones are radio PSAs, but still related to the series. The first two are 1961 radio PSAs featuring Donna and Paul Petersen for the Automobile Club of Southern California. The PSAs end with a 1964 PSA featuring Donna for the American Heart Association.
Outtake Songs (4:30) is one of the most interesting special features that I've seen on a DVD set. The series was quite different from other series of the era in that there was often an attempt to use the actors and actresses on the series (the children, in particular) and turn them into music stars who could actually sell records... and in season 4, this was seen in particularly with Shelly Fabares "Johnny Angel," which debuted on the series. On this set, we have some songs that were produced for the series... but never even used! The first is "Quarantine" by Paul Petersen, and the second is "Just So Jimmie Can See" by Janet Landgard. These songs were very typical of the era, and it is almost surprising that the producers never used them in the series... they actually aren't bad songs!
"La Familie Stone" (25:21) is basically just the season premiere episode, "Mr. Nice Guy," but the French version of the episode. Not only is the entire episode in French, but they actually took care to change a lot of the written words (like on signs and posters) into French. And of course, it has the French opening and closing credits.
Finally, "Daytime Opening and Bumper Closing" (0:51) is just a version of the opening credits used during daytime reruns on ABC in later years (basically it used a version of the 7th and 8th season theme music with the original credits).
MPI has done another great job with yet another season of this series! I can't help but to wonder, though, if this is the last that we'll see of this classic series on DVD. This series has had one of the most unusual situations with home media rights, and we got the first three seasons from one studio, seasons four and five from MPI (they've done the best job with this series, by the way), and the remaining three seasons are supposedly in the hands of Sony to release or sublicense... but that isn't even absolutely certain. In any event, I enjoyed watching this latest batch of episodes on DVD, and I'm finding myself enjoying this series more and more as new seasons are released on DVD. I think that fans of the classic family sitcoms of the era (particularly ones like Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet) are sure to enjoy this set, as well as fans of the legendary actress herself. It is like looking back into a time capsule of a much different era, for sure, but it is still an excellent quality series.