Waxing Nostalgic Over Classic TV

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Beaver Fever

What was it that has made Leave It To Beaver one of the truly classic TV sitcoms? From 1957-63, Americans were glued to their sets every week to see what kind of trouble Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver would get into this time.

It was different from some of the other family shows of the time, in that the 2 boys, Beaver and his older brother Wally, were really the stars of the show, and the parents were the supporting players.

It's often been said that the show presented an idealized version of the American family, and that certainly is true to an extent, but looking back on my childhood, it wasn't really all that different, in many respects, than what happened within the Cleaver household in Mayfield. Except that my mom never wore pearls and high heels when she was vacuuming.

But as is usually the case, it was the writing that was really responsible for the success of the show. It was funny, crisp, and had a certain realism that made the dialogue ring true and allowed viewers to identify with it.

The writers were also very successful in creating some truly memorable supporting characters, particularly the kiss-ass Eddie Haskell. June Cleaver, of course, saw right through Eddie, and I think there's a good chance that her acerbic "Hello, Eddie" became the model for Seinfeld's "Hello, Newman" many years later. But I could be wrong about that.

The video above is a Good Morning America 50th anniversary reunion special with the surviving cast members.

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