Written by Hombre Divertido
CBS/Paramount has released the second installment of the first season of the classic television show My Three Sons which ran on CBS from 1960 to 1972. This release, which completes the first season, comes roughly four months after the release of volume one.
The series chronicles the life of consulting aviation engineer Steve Douglas (Fred MacMurray) who was raising his three sons with the help of his father-in-law “Bub” played by William Frawley, who had previously co-starred on I Love Lucy. Steve’s wife passed away before the series started, and now, Steve would handle the challenges generated by college-bound Mike (Tim Considine), young teen Robbie (Don Grady) and rambunctious seven-year-old Chip (Stanley Livingston), with a lit pipe and a calm that one could only hope for in a parent.
Running for twelve years, the show set records in its day. The family would shrink, as Mike would marry and move away never to be mentioned again, and the family would grow through adoption and marriage. In the first season it was simply our five men, six if you count the family dog Tramp (Canine), struggling to cohabitate and survive.
It’s interesting that the packaging of this three-disc release touts the episodes as smart, funny, and extremely well written. This will seem very generous as you delve into the eighteen episodes in this collection. The scripts seem to fall into three categories: “Misunderstandings,” that would later be a staple of “Threes Company”, where someone gets the wrong impression due to something they saw or heard and then jocularity insures as in “The Delinquent;” “Disney,” where the story is cute, has a lot of physical antics, and is not very realistic as in “Deadline” which features a young Beau Bridges and Mark Slade, who would go on to star in High Chaparral; or “Nothing,” where there simply does not seem to be enough story to fill the time as in “The Croaker” where far too much time is spent watching Bub play with a frog.
The “Disney” dynamic could be easily explained simply due to the actor’s roots. MacMurray and Considine both had individual Disney projects and had appeared together in the hit Disney Movie The Shaggy Dog, and Grady had been a Mouseketeer. The “Nothing” stories may simply have been due to the extensive editing process associated with what was termed the MacMurray method. The actor agreed to do the show only if the time associated with his participation was limited. Thus many scripts were written, and several scenes from different episodes, such as those taking place in the kitchen, would be shot all at once, and then pieced together in postproduction. There are scenes in many episodes, such as “The Croaker,” that seem to go on far too long, as if they are simply trying to fill time. This may be a result of the previously mentioned editing process. As for the “Misunderstanding” episodes, though ahead of their time, are simply too staged and far-fetched to be anything but trite.
What does make this series work are the performances and chemistry between the actors. Though Grady has yet to fit into his character and often seems just a bit off, generally these characters are believable as a family and enjoyable to watch. There is an overall energy generated by the young actors that is complimented by the subtle humor generated by the endearing MacMurray, and the classic comedic timing of Frawley.
Recommendation: There is simply not enough here to recommend this endeavor. Without any bonus material, and not even the first episode of the series included since this is volume two, this is a very tough sell. There does not appear to be a logical reason to have split the first season of this iconic series into two volumes other than to glean more profit. CBS/Paramount has released other series with as many first season episodes in a single volume, so there is little explanation for this dual release. Also unacceptable are the changes made to the music from this classic series denoted in ever so small print on the backside of the packaging.
My Three Sons - Season 1, Volume 2 is only for the true fan who already has the first volume and can’t wait for the full series to be packaged together.