Shout! Factory To Complete "Leave It To Beaver" On DVD

This is one of the most worthwhile projects Shout! Factory will undertake this year. Leave It To Beaver only had two seasons released by Universal. Shout! has licensed the show and will continue with the individual season releases; but they will also release a complete series set on June 15. The complete series set will contain remastered versions of the first two seasons, which means that if you want the new remastering/special features you’ll need to buy the complete series.

This is a technique that Shout! and other companies are using more often: releasing the whole show as a package, and then, later, releasing the seasons individually. Ally McBeal, Get Smart and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show are other shows that have been released this way, and Shout! just split its Sports Night set into individual season releases. It’s a sensible practice if only because it’s the only way to guarantee that all the seasons are released; if you start with the first season only and then the stores decide they don’t want to carry the second season, fans are pretty much doomed.

This is also good news because Leave It To Beaver is one of those “classic” shows that actually deserves to be called a classic, a gigantic influence on virtually every comedy and drama about growing up, and a milestone in the way a TV series could do observational comedy based on real-world situations. (It wasn’t the first show where the plots had to be based on things the writers had seen or experienced, but that was certainly not as common then, in U.S. series television, as it became.) Also, Eddie Haskell is one of the greatest characters ever created for television; everybody knows an Eddie Haskell in every possible setting.

The show’s impressively detailed and analytical Wikipedia page gives a good indication of why it’s important.

Shout! has also made a deal to release the fourth season of The Facts Of Life, which does not have the same historical importance but does have a catchy Alan Thicke theme song. Also, I never really thought about this before: Nancy McKeon got the “…and” billing, which she did not have in an earlier version of the intro. That doesn’t happen very often to people who don’t get that kind of billing from the moment they join the show. Alison Hannigan got the “…and” after Tony Head left Buffy, and Valerie Bertinelli’s status as the only reason anybody watched One Day At a Time was acknowledged when the producers made her an “…and.” In all three cases, the actress had gotten popular enough that she might have had offers to leave for some other show, so the extra billing might have been an extra inducement to stay.