Produced by Harry Ackerman
Starring Hugh Beaumont, Barbara Billingsley, Tony Dow, and "Jerry Mathers as The Beaver"
- The Original Pilot: "It's a Small World"
Released by: Universal Home Video
Rating: NR (It's safe. Hello? It's Leave it to Beaver, for crying out loud!)
Anamorphic: Nope. It was made for small, extremely heavy television sets...
My Advice: Everyone should rent it at least once
This classic of American television is like a moving version of Norman Rockwell's paintings from the Saturday Evening Post. I think it's safe to say that not everyone's life was like this during the 1950s, but it sure is a nice ideal to strive for. The bottom line is this, America fell in love with an adorable little boy that they knew as "The Beav" and would tune in every week to see what he was going to get into next. Every man in Amerca wanted to be Ward and most boys wanted to be either The Beav or Wally. If you believe most of the advertisements and print ads from the time, most of the women in America were June.
The best thing to take out of watching this show after nearly fifty years is the nostalgia for an American lifestyle that is lost and will probably never again return. This was an America where it was safe to allow your kids to walk pretty much anywhere in town they wanted to without worrying about some sick, twisted pervert picking them up and taking them God knows where and doing God knows what. It was also an America where fathers were there to give fatherly advice whenever it was needed and mothers were always around in case someone got hurt or needed some cookies and milk to make things a just a little bit better. I'll leave it to you to ask your parents and grandparents how accurate the picture is.
Unfortunately, this DVD set is not quite up to par. It is nothing more than a collection of the television shows from the first season. While that's important enough for a show that's nearly fifty years old, it would have been nice to have some interviews with some of the people who were involved with the production, especially when you consider that Billingsley is still with us, but (with all due respect) is getting on in years. If we are not careful, we will lose her commentary and/or interviews on DVD sets like this. Surely, there are some vintage interviews that could have been included on the set.
As it stands, this DVD set only includes the original pilot episode for the show. It's neat to watch because it does feature different actors playing Ward (Casey Adams) and Wally (Paul Sullivan) and the show was titled "It's a Small World". As you would imagine, the show follows the same format as the original without the fatherly introduction to every episode that helped add to the charm of the show in its final format. It's a good thing they changed the father figure. It turns out that Adams was just not as fatherly as Beaumont. In fact, Adams came across a little bit creepy and Sullivan was a lot meaner than Dow.
So, if you've never seen the show and are looking for a blast from the past, you could do worse than this show. In fact, if you've never seen it, you should be flogged. Go rent it now, to make sure that this doesn't happen to you.