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Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher
Jerry Mathers, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley
Writing Credits:

The comedic adventures of a suburban boy along with his family and friends.
Rated TV-G.

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 6002 min.
Price: $129.98
Release Date: 11/14/2023

• Unaired Pilot


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Leave It to Beaver: The Complete Series [Blu-Ray] (1957-1963)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 6, 2023)

When it comes to 1950s sitcoms, few seem as iconic as Leave It to Beaver. Though not a great ratings success across its six seasons, Beaver attained sustained popularity in syndication over the decades.

Which is how folks of my generation experienced the show. Back in college, we only got access to basic cable - very basic, which meant lots and lots of whatever ran on “superstation” WTBS.

And that led us to watch lots and lots of Beaver. I don’t even remember if we actually enjoyed the show, but we took what we could get.

With this 2023 Blu-ray set, I get to relive my college years – well, my college TV watching years, at least. I don’t believe I’ve seen any Beaver since the 1980s – insert your own smutty joke about my romantic life here - so this package allowed me to revisit the show after a long absence.

This 30-disc package includes all 234 episodes of Beaver that aired from October 1957 to June 1963. Given that this set fills more than 100 hours, I lack the time to view each and every show.

As such, I picked four per season as a sampler. The plot synopses come from IMDB.

Beaver Gets “Spelled” (Season One, aired 10/4/57): “Beaver (Jerry Mathers) expects the worst when teacher Miss Canfield (Diane Brewster) sends him home with a sealed note for his parents.”

The episode sets the series’ tone pretty clearly right off the bat. We get a sense that the show will look at the world through the eyes of a young kid.

Given the era’s sensibility, no one will find anything hard-hitting here, but I like how the program demonstrates that perspective. As innocent and dew-eyed as the series may be, it actually does fairly well in its ability to see the skewed childhood POV. The school staffmembers seem like idiots, though.

Captain Jack (Season One, aired 10/11/57: “Wally (Tony Dow) and Beaver secretly order a Florida alligator from a comic book ad, planning to keep the creature in their bathtub. When a tiny, baby alligator shows up in a shoebox instead of the full-grown 8-footer shown in the ad, the boys enlist the help of crusty alligator expert Captain Jack (Edgar Buchanan) to raise their new pet.”

Initially I intended to spread out the episodes I watched across the season, but this one’s title intrigued me. “Captain Jack” remains a Billy Joel staple, and I can’t help but wonder if he took this episode as an influence – at least in terms of title, as the song’s lyrics don’t connect to Beaver at all.

While “’Spelled’” kicked off the series pretty well, “Jack” seems less compelling. I do appreciate that it paints Beaver and Wally as good pet parents, but the program itself seems more silly than funny.

The Haircut (Season One, aired 10/25/57): “Beaver loses the money he was given for a haircut. In order to conceal his carelessness from his parents, he gives himself a haircut - with disastrous results.”

Again I violated my plan to sample across the whole season, mainly because “Haircut” offers the only episode of Beaver I actually recall from my college viewing days. Back then, we all found Beaver’s horrific chop job to deliver tremendous amusement.

Does this seem quite as funny more than 35 years later? No, but it still offers some amusement, partly due to the dopey reactions of Beaver and Wally.

Mathers also shows good comedic chops, such as when he gently attempts to comb his horrific haircut into shape. A lot of kids would’ve overdone this, but Mathers underplays the moment in a delightful way. “Haircut” doesn’t hold up to my old memories, but it comes with laughs.

The New Neighbor (Season One, aired 11/1/57): “June (Barbara Billingsley) sends Beaver with a welcome-to-the-neighborhood bouquet to new next-door neighbor, Mrs. Donaldson (Phyllis Coates). However, when the little boy gets rewarded with a kiss on his cheek, rascally Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond) warns that a jealous Mr. Donaldson (Charles Gray) will soon show up at Beaver's door.”

Once more I ignored my intention to sample across the season. Why? Because “Neighbor” offers our intro to notorious – and beloved – brown-nosing troublemaker Eddie Haskell.

Consider this to act as an inauspicious debut. While the basics of Eddie sit in place, Osmond clearly needed time to make his character as smarmy and unctuous as he’d become.

“Neighbor” becomes a decent episode, mainly because Mathers allows Beaver’s anxieties to turn amusing. Nonetheless, the show doesn’t stand out as great.

Beaver’s Poem (Season Two, aired 10/2/58): “Ward (Hugh Beaumont) composes a simple verse for Beaver after the third grader waits until the night before it's due to write a poem for school. However, the helpful dad's good intentions go awry when ‘Beaver's’ poem is chosen to win a prize.”

“Poem” amuses due to its greater than usual focus on Ward, especially since it paints him into a hapless corner. Beaumont was an underrated aspect of the cast and he makes this a pretty winning show.

Eddie’s Girl (Season Two, aired 10/9/58): “June unwittingly jeopardizes Wally's friendship with Eddie Haskell after she accepts a dance invitation for Wally from Eddie's current crush, Caroline Cunningham (Karen Green).”

Once again, my intentions to spread the love across a season become foiled. When I saw the title, I figured “Girl” would offer a good chance to observe how much Osmand’s performance as Eddie has – or hasn’t – changed since his debut in “Neighbor”.

“Somewhat” appears to be the answer. While Osmond would still need more time to make Eddie as oleaginous as his reputation, “Girl” does demonstrate movement in that domain.

Beyond this, “Girl” intrigues because it focuses more on Wally than the average show. That allows it a different flavor, even if it loses points due to a weak performance by Green.

Found Money (Season Two, aired 6/18/59): “Beaver isn't worried that he doesn't have any money to spend at the carnival after his best friend Larry Mondello (Rusty Stevens) promises to pay the way. But conniving Larry has spent all of his allowance too and, sneaking money from his mother's sewing basket, throws it out the window and arranges to have Beaver ‘find’ it.”

Larry Mondello was the oldest-looking 10-year-old in existence. The kid could’ve passed for 50!

Perhaps that’s why the cast Madge Blake as Larry’s mom. 60 (!) at the time of this episode’s shoot, she was far too old to play the mother of a 10-year-old. Heck, in that era, it would’ve been a stretch for her to act as the mom of a 20-year-old, as women almost never had kids that late in life back then. Cripes, my mom was 36 when she pumped me out in the late 1960s, and that was old for motherhood back even then.

In any case, Larry offers something of a counterpart to Eddie Haskell, as he provides the bad influence for a Cleaver boy. Of course, Larry lacks Eddie’s conniving nature and blunders into his selfishness.

Larry never caught on like Eddie did, perhaps because he seems like a dull personality overall. Nonetheless, “Money” becomes a generally decent show.

Most Interesting Character (Season Two, aired 6/25/59): “Beaver has to write a school paper about the most interesting character he has ever met. He decides to make it about Ward, but has a hard time figuring out what to write.”

Beaver’s attempts to find out something interesting about Ward comes with plenty of potential humor. While the episode exploits these possibilities at times, it lands a little flat overall.

Blind Date Committee (Season Three, aired 10/3/59): “Wally is chairman of the Blind Date Committee for a dance and has to find dates for people. One girl is especially hard to find a date for.”

Much of “Date” leaves us in suspense to meet Jill Bartlett (Beverly Washburn), the potentially undateable girl who causes Wally such a challenge. Inevitably, she turns out to be attractive, but the issues that surround the dance create reasonable amusement, even with too much sappiness.

Beaver Takes a Bath (Season Three, aired 10/10/59): “When the babysitter cancels at the last minute, Ward and June leave Wally in charge while they are out of town overnight. They have a bathroom mishap in the new house when Beaver takes a bath.”

“Beaver Takes a Bath” sounds suspiciously like a porn title. Despite that, it offers a fairly standard exploration of misdeeds and goofs from the brothers.

Inevitably, Wally botches his job as temporary guardians. Some laughs result, but the episode doesn’t quite dig into the possibilities as well as it should – and another sappy ending doesn’t help.

The Last Day of School (Season Three, aired 6/18/60): “Beaver and Wally sneak a peek at the gift June bought for Beaver to give to his teacher. The embarrassed boys find a lacy slip, and not knowing that the department store made a mistake and that his gift was supposed to be handkerchiefs, Beaver must decide whether to give Miss Landers (Sue Randall) the slip or nothing at all.”

While I wouldn’t call Season One “edgy”, those shows did show a vibe that seemed rougher than I expected. The kids were more likely to ignore ethics and Ward often felt on the verge of anger and losing his cool.

This appears to have changed over the subsequent years, and this seems like an issue with “School”. While it comes with the bones of what made S1 shows good, it leans toward a certain toothlessness that makes it mediocre – especially since Ward went from the often-exasperated disciplinarian to a total softie over time.

Beaver’s Team (Season Three, aired 6/25/60): “When Wally and Eddie coach Beaver's summer football team and give them a secret play to use against the opposing team, Beaver finds out that the best way to keep a secret is to not tell it - to anyone!”

As Season Three concludes, the return of Eddie brings potential spark to the proceedings, and he does add some laughs to the show. The rest seems predictable and not especially compelling, though, as the narrative related to the football team lacks much merit.

Beaver Won’t Eat (Season Four, aired 10/1/60): “When Beaver refuses to eat his Brussels sprouts, Ward and June try to find a compromise in their differing opinions on discipline, with surprising results.”

Every adult can relate to this plot, as we all were once kids who found a food item that we absolutely wouldn’t touch. The episode explores this battle of the wills in an unusual manner, as this plot point becomes the only narrative element of the episode. While not hilarious, that twist makes the show interesting, even with another mushy finale.

Eddie’s Double-Cross (Season Four, aired 11/19/60): “Eddie Haskell boasts about going steady with popular Caroline Shuster (Reba Waters) but Wally hears Caroline tell her girlfriends that she thinks Eddie is a creep and must decide how to break the bad news to his best friend.”

As always, I remain fascinated to see the evolution of Osmond’s Eddie. He appeared in “Eat” but this show gives him more of the spotlight.

Osmond manages to evolve Eddie but he doesn’t resort to hamminess. Osmond’s Eddie existed as arguably the series’ most memorable component.

“Double-Cross” actually places Eddie in a sympathetic spot because Caroline offers such an awful character. In theory, this should act as an intriguing twist, but Eddie works better when he doesn’t tug at our heartstrings, so the episode sputters.

Beaver Goes Into Business (Season Four, aired 6/3/61): “Mowing lawns seems like an easy way for Beaver and his friend Gilbert (Stephen Talbot) to earn extra money for summer.”

As noted earlier, S1 of Beaver boasted an edgier tone than the subsequent seasons. Again, “edgy” seems like an overstatement, but the series became sappier and mushier as it went.

“Business” manages to bring back some of the semi-snarkiness of S1. The characters seem more blunt and borderline jerky, led by one of the smarmiest turns from Osmond to date. Much more cynical than usual, this makes “Business” a better than average episode.

Substitute Father (Season Four, aired 6/24/61): “Wally takes his responsibility seriously when he is left in charge of the Cleaver household while Ward is in St. Louis on a business trip. However, he isn't sure he can fill his father's shoes when Miss Landers sends Beaver home from school with a note for saying a bad word.”

I guess we can ignore the chauvinism of an episode that requires a male to run the house, even when he’s a kid and the mother remains at home. In this era, sexism ran rampant, and Beaver wasn’t going to push those boundaries.

With “Business” and this show, we get the bossy, jerky version of Wally from earlier seasons and that helps it succeed. At times, the program seems to make out Beaver to be younger/less mature than the character should be at this point, but I don’t mind since the result entertains, even with a sappy finale.

Wally Goes Steady (Season Five, aired 9/30/61): “When Wally and his girlfriend Evelyn (Mary Mitchel) frequently double date with Evelyn's older sister Judy (Gloria Gilbert) and her husband Tom (Ryan O’Neal), Ward and June worry that spending so much time with the happy couple will make Wally forgo college for marriage.”

If nothing else, “Steady” seems notable due to the presence of future movie star O’Neal. 20 at the time, Beaver didn’t represent O’Neal’s first acting gig, but it came very early in his career.

O’Neal does little to stand out, but “Steady” offers something a bit different because it focuses more on Ward and June than usual. This minor curveball gives the show a decent flavor, but the basic plot feels too goofy to really work.

Beaver’s Birthday (Season Five, aired 10/21/61): “At breakfast, Ward and June convince Beaver to bank his birthday money instead of buying the model race car he really wants. However, when Uncle Billy's $10 cash gift arrives in the mail later in the day, sneaky friend Gilbert urges Beaver to keep the money a secret and use it to buy the car.”

In 1983, SCTV ran a sketch about a fictional sitcom called Oh That Rusty. The joke here came from the fact that Rusty stayed on the air for 25 years with the same star but stuck with plots that pretended the primary character never aged.

Beaver didn’t literally attempt this, and “Birthday” displays some acknowledgement that our lead is no longer a little kid, primarily from his view of birthday parties as “kid stuff”. However, Beaver often still feels like the second grader we met, as episodes like “Birthday” treat him as younger than his actual 13 or so.

“Birthday” lacks much luster anyway, as it feels like a recycled plot – didn’t we already see a show in which Beaver deals with saving vs. spending? This turns into a forgettable program.

One of the Boys (Season Five, aired 5/26/62): “Wally and Eddie are excited to be judged 'cool' enough to be invited to join The Barons, a popular school club, especially when the perks seem to include pretty girls and fast sports cars.”

As this review pretty clearly implies, I enjoy Eddie Haskell more than any other Beaver character, so his prominence in “Boys” should elevate the episode. However, the show attempts a more serious tone than usual.

This means “Boys” – gasp! – actually attempts to humanize Eddie some, and that feels like a mistake, as he fares best when stuck in his usual two-faced self. “Boys” becomes a dull program without much spice.

Un-Togetherness (Season Five, aired 6/30/62): “June takes it hard when Wally decides he doesn't want to go with the family on the Cleaver's annual summer trip to the lake.”

While the series tends to keep Beaver himself stuck in amber as a little kid, it allows Wally to change quite a lot. We saw that in “Boys” and the theme continues with “Un-Togetherness”.

Unfortunately, this means that ala “Boys”, we get an episode heavier on drama than comedy – and more specifically, melodrama. I appreciate that the series evolved, but as seen here, it didn’t do this kind of more seriously material well.

Beaver’s Football Award (Season Six, aired 10/4/62): “Beaver stubbornly refuses to put on a suit for his school's father and son football awards banquet after he and the other team members secretly agree to wear casual clothes to the formal event.”

The series’ final season launches with an episode I figured would just be about Beaver’s weird reluctance to follow rules. Instead, “Award” digs into peer pressure, as Beaver gets influenced to avoid a suit because a popular kid pushes for casual wear.

As was the case with the S5 shows I watched, this means more of a serious tone than Beaver built with the comedy of its longer run. Not that “Award” goes truly dramatic, but it avoids much that aims at laughs, so expect a fairly bland episode.

Double Date (Season Six, aired 10/25/62): “Wally and Beaver arrange a double date with two sisters who are new to town, but unforeseen problems arise.”

Despite the prior episodes’ attempts to “mature” Beaver, it still comes as a surprise to see him date – mainly because so many previous shows still treated him like a little kid. “Double” still shows some of that, as Beaver gets a date more for Wally’s convenience than because he craves time with the opposite sex.

Nonetheless, Beaver does show interest in girls here so “Double” pushes along his maturation. In theory, that seems appealing, but the episode seems flat and without much spark.

Summer in Alaska (Season Six, aired 5/9/63): “When Eddie Haskell's uncle gets his nephew a summer job on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska, Eddie makes it sound so exciting that Wally and Lumpy (Frank Bank) want to go too - until Eddie's interview with the boat's captain (Harry Harvey) bursts everyone's bubble.”

S6 finally allowed viewers to meet Eddie’s parents, and I admit they disappoint. They feel too normal to be Mr. and Mrs. Haskell.

Still, I feel happy to see them, and I like that “Summer” focuses more on goofy comedy than a lot of other later episodes. “Summer” shows some minor madcap charm, especially when Harvey gives Eddie the hard line about the job.

However, it also tries to make Eddie sympathetic, which still doesn’t work for me. I dislike the schmaltz, but other aspects of “Summer” entertain.

Family Scrapbook (Season Six, aired 6/20/63): “The Cleavers reminisce when June finds a family photo album while cleaning out the cupboard.”

Leave It to Beaver closes with a whimper, not a bang, as “Scrapbook” provides nothing more than a clip show. I guess I should appreciate that the series gets a form of conclusion and doesn’t just end, but it still disappoints that “Scrapbook” wraps the show with so little new material.

Having not seen Leave It to Beaver in decades, I found it interesting to revisit the series – and I got a pleasant surprise as I found more entertainment value than I anticipated. Beaver generally declines as it goes, mainly because it loses the rougher “edge” it initially displays, but it nonetheless displays decent spark much of the time.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus D

Leave It to Beaver appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. Though not without issues, the shows held up well over the decades.

One should anticipate variation, especially because Seasons Four through Six look better than Seasons One through Three. All six suffer from mild source flaws, though, as I saw sporadic instances of specks and marks.

However, these did decrease over time, so expect the final few seasons to come with fewer distractions than their predecessors. None of these defects ever became dominant anyway, as they remained acceptable given the series’ age and origins.

Grain offered another variable that changed as the series progressed. Earlier episodes offered fairly heavy grain that sometimes felt more like noise.

As with the print flaws, this domain improved over time. Grain remained apparent through the final few seasons but it seemed lighter and less intrusive.

Unsurprisingly, sharpness became another variable, though not one with the same ups and downs as print flaws and grain. Overall delineation seemed fairly positive to very good.

Again, the later seasons delivered more consistent definition, but earlier shows also came with positive accuracy. Soft shots cropped up over the programs – almost certainly due to issues with the sources – but they usually exhibited appealing sharpness.

Blacks generally felt fairly deep and full, while shadows and contrast also brought reasonable clarity. Grain impacted these elements and inevitable variations occurred, but the shows usually delivered good visuals in those domains.

I went with a “B” for picture quality mainly because I thought that even with ups and downs, these shows looked very good when I considered their age and TV roots. No one should expect demo material, but I felt pleased with what I saw.

As for the series’ DTS-HD MA monaural audio, it seemed erratic but acceptable given the material’s age and origins. No one should expect sonic pleasures from a TV show shot an average of 60 years ago, and the audio worked about as I’d anticipate.

Speech remained perfectly intelligible. Lines could seem a little edgy and times but they felt reasonably natural – well, outside of a fair amount of awkwardly looped dialogue.

Music leaned a little shrill, but the episodes’ scores seemed acceptably concise, even if these components lacked range. The same went for effects.

Granted, a sitcom like Beaver didn’t use effects as a prominent element, so I didn’t find a lot to judge. Nonetheless, these showed some distortion but remained reasonably clear.

Noise appeared at times, mainly due to some pops that came with awkward edits and other aberrations. Nothing here seemed good enough to deserve more than a “C+”, but the audio seemed adequate for this series.

Only one extra appears here: Season One comes with an unaired pilot called “It’s a Small World”. It runs 25 minutes, 25 seconds and comes with two obvious differences right out of the gate: Max Showalter – billed as “Casey Adams” - as Ward and Paul Sullivan as Wally.

We do find Barbara Billingsley as June and Jerry Mathers as Beaver, at least. Interestingly, Mathers plays Beaver in a broader and less charming way here, so he toned down his work for the series proper.

As for Showalter and Sullivan, I find it difficult to judge their work just because I’m so used to Beaumont and Dow in those parts. I can’t claim they seem appealing as the characters, though, so the decision to recast made sense.

We can see the basics of the series’ charms here, but “World” lacks much real charm. It’s fun to see this pilot as a historical curiosity, though.

Note: if jerky kid Frankie Bennett looks familiar, that’s because a very young Harry Shearer plays him. We also see Richard Deacon – later of The Dick Van Dyke Show - Joseph Kearns – soon to be Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace - and Diane Brewster, who we’d see in the series’ aired debut as Beaver’s teacher.

Like many TV series, Leave It to Beaver peaked early and declined as it went. Still, it comes with good material spread across its six seasons, even if the first seasons fare best. The Blu-rays comes with erratic but generally solid picture and audio along with the series’ pilot. Fans should feel pleased with this package.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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