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Father Knows Best - Season One



DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008 (Shout! Factory)
MSRP: $39.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: 11 hours
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: Closed-Captioned.
Special Features: Cast Interviews; Home Movies; 24 Hours in Tyrantland; “Window on Main Street” pilot


Robert Young is the father, and, at least as far as this classic TV series is concerned, he knows best. And this DVD set brings the entire first season, all 26 episodes of this classic series, together on a four disc DVD set!

The series goes back to the days where sitcoms were pretty simple, particularly family sitcoms. There weren’t any unusual angles to series back in these days, instead sitcoms were just down to earth shows about “average” American family (in other words, the one that we all wish we had but know we don’t have). We got to see and hear stories about these “average” families on a weekly basis and their “average” problems. It made for great television back then, and makes for even better television now, as we look back on these shows and see what things were like back in the day where everything was so innocent...or at least innocent as far as Hollywood wanted us to know it as.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

In the first episode, “Bud Takes Up the Dance,” Bud needs to learn to dance, so he decides to learn how--by reading an old and outdated book. Father says Bud can get a motor scooter and mother says no in “The Motor Scooter,” so who knows best? Jim has to choose between his daughter and his friend when it is time to take somebody to a football game in “Football Tickets.” Bud is 14, which apparently means he is old enough to move out, in “Live My Own Life,” but can he make it?

Jim and Margaret are going away for the weekend in “Second Honeymoon,” but how long will that last? The family goes to chop down a Christmas tree (and gets stranded in the woods) in “The Christmas Story.” Jim gets a traffic ticket and Bud may just be the judge in court in “Boy’s Week.”

Bud finds security in a Halloween mask in “Bud the Snob.” Jim wants the family to live up to their promises, which leads to him having to sleep in Kathy’s playhouse in “The Promised Playhouse.” The father that knows best thinks that the best thing to do is to quit his job and become a farmer in “Jim the Farmer,” but is he right? Jim is nominated for father of the year in “Father of the Year.”

Margaret becomes a matchmaker in “The Matchmaker,” but will it work out? You’ll find out that answer in “Bud the Bridesmaid.” Bud gets a job delivering newspapers, but as the title of the episode indicates, “Father Delivers the Papers.”It’s Jim’s priorities versus Margaret’s priorities in “Close Decision.”


The packaging is very simple, but functional. We have the double slimcases used in this set. Clearly, each one holds two discs. The front cover has a picture of the whole family, one on top of another, in a vertical fashion. The two slimcases have the same artwork. The back of each slimcase lists all of the episodes and the original air dates. But if that isn’t enough for you, there is also a nice booklet inside that gives descriptions of each episode and more detailed information. This is probably one of the nicest episode booklets that I’ve ever seen in a DVD set. Discs 1 and 2 contain seven episodes each, while Discs 3 and 4 contain six episodes each.

Menu Design and Navigation:

There isn’t much to the menus. You basically get a main menu with the theme song playing and choices of Play All, Episodes, and Bonus. When you pick one of those, you get exactly what you want. The Episodes menu is merely a list of episodes, with all text. There are no scene selection menus, but chapters are placed throughout each episode.

Video and Audio Quality:

And THIS is where it all falls apart. I didn’t expect perfection when I got this DVD set. After all, the episodes are over fifty years old. But the episodes are all incredibly grainy and generally just disappointing as far as video quality is concerned. And audio quality is only slightly better, but it has a tin can effect on pretty much every episode. All episodes are closed-captioned.

So you read all of that and say “oh, that’s it?” Well, don’t. We have edited episodes. WAY too many edited episodes. In fact, more than half of the episodes are syndicated versions. I don’t know what went wrong, but that pretty much drags this set from a potential contender for DVD of the year all the way down to the WORST DVD of the year. Runtimes are as follows:

Disc 1
1. “Bud Takes Up the Dance” (22:30)
2. “Lesson in Citizenship” (25:09)
3. “The Motor Scooter” (22:33)
4. “Football Tickets” (22:29)
5. “Live My Own Life” (25:19)
6. “Grandpa Jim’s Rejuvenation” (25:20)
7. “Bud’s Encounter With the Law” (22:32)

Disc 2
8. “Thanksgiving Day” (25:27)
9. “Second Honeymoon” (22:24)
10. “Typical Father” (25:28)
11. “Margaret Goes Dancing” (25:27)
12. “The Christmas Story” (22:32)
13. “Sparrow in the Windows” (22:22)
14. “Boy’s Week” (22:39)

Disc 3
15. “A Friend of George’s” (22:29)
16. “Bud the Snob” (25:19)
17. “The Promised Playhouse” (original broadcast) (25:20)
17. “The Promised Playhouse” (flashback version) (22:29)
18. “Jim the Farmer” (25:19)
19. “Father of the Year” (25:13)
20. “The Mink Coat” (22:34)

Disc 4
21. “The Matchmaker” (25:42)
22. “Bud the Bridesmaid” (22:34)
23. “Proud Father” (22:29)
24. “Father Delivers the Papers” (22:33)
25. “No Partiality” (25:37)
26. “Close Decision” (22:34)

Oddly enough, “The Matchmaker” seems to be totally unedited, even including the original sponsor opening and closing credits advertising Kent cigarettes.

Special Features:

The special features are great on the set, it is too bad that they are overshadowed by the edited episodes. First, we have “Daddy’s Girls” (23:09), which is a very nice extended interview with Elinor Donahue and Lauren Chapin about their days on the series. It is a brand new interview created just for this set, and pretty interesting to watch.

Next, we have some home movie footage, that is narrated by Robert Young’s grandson, Bill Proffitt. “Robert Young’s Home Movies” (9:47) is precisely what it sounds like...home movies from Robert Young’s collection. “Behind the Scenes” (2:50) is even more interesting, they are home movies from the set of the series, but in full color. It is very nice to see what things looked like on the set in color.

Many years ago, the US Department of the Treasury would pay to produce special episodes of television series to promote savings bonds to those in schools and community groups. And this series had one, entitled “24 Hours in Tyrantland” (33:00), and it can be found on the set. It is very fun to watch, especially since it strongly portrays a very strong sense of American nationalism.

Finally, we have the pilot episode from a series that Robert Young did after Father Knows Best, called “Window on Main Street” (29:10). I’m not going to lie, I found it to be pretty boring, but it is a nice bonus feature, plus all of the original commercials are intact on this episode.

Final Comments:

This set had the potential to be one of the greatest DVD sets of the year, and I am very disappointed with how it turned out. Many fans were anxiously awaiting for this classic series to be released, and it sounded like it would be the perfect set with all of the bonus features that were included. It is too bad that the quality of the episodes themselves turned out to be a major bust.

Still, if a fan wants to see the show at all, this is probably the best way of doing it, and the bonus features that are included are all great bonus features. They did a great job of mixing things up in that area. But where are the complete and unedited episodes? It makes no sense to me that these would not be there, and it turns this set from a great set to a less than average set.

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

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 03/16/08

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