11 July 2006 | rcj5365
A Grand Portrayal of family values in 1950's Americana
The series "Father Knows Best" started out on radio in 1949 on NBC and from there it remained one of the top radio programs of its day which lasted five years on radio until 1954,when it was produced for television by Eugene B. Rodney and its star,Robert Young,under the production company,Rodney-Young Productions. It wasn't until 1954,when NBC introduced this series based on the radio plays that were developed for television and it became one of the biggest hits of the era,right up there with some of the greatest family comedies of their day,"The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet","Leave It To Beaver",and right besides classics of that era including "I Love Lucy", and "The Honeymooners".
"Father Knows Best",made it astounding premiere on NBC-TV on October 3,1954 and from the first episode was a surprise hit. It also during its run on NBC,was one of the top ten shows of its day,making it one of the most watched shows during the network's impressive run. It ran on NBC from 1954 until 1958,and then went to CBS from 1958-1960,with the last episode of the series that ended on February 29,1960. It ran for six seasons(1954-1960) producing 203 episodes all in classic black and white and was produced by Rodney-Young productions in association with Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures Television. However,it aired again in repeated episodes on CBS from 1960-1965 and again in repeats in daytime television for ABC from 1965-1967 and from there episodes were aired again in daytime syndication until 1980. The series was produced by not only Eugene B. Rodney but also under the production values of Peter Tewksbury and William D. Russell. Tewksbury after his stint on "Father Knows Best" would go on to produced other great family shows like "My Three Sons",and "Nanny and the Professor",and also would serve as executive producer of "How To Marry A Millionaire",television series based on the classic motion picture starring Marliyn Monroe. William D. Russell would go on to become the head producer for a number of Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures television shows including "Dennis The Menace","Hazel","Bewitched","The Flying Nun","Gidget",and "The Donna Reed Show",not to mention "The Farmer's Daughter",while serving as executive producer for other shows outside as well including the family shows,"The Eve Arden Show",and "Family Affair",and "Bachelor Father",not to mention the riveting courtroom drama,"Perry Mason",for which he was also one of the writers for Raymond Burr's classic series.
"Father Knows Best" was a grand portrait of family values in 1950's America. Jim Anderson(Robert Young),was an insurance salesman for a large company,who was the breadwinner in the home,while his lovely wife Margaret Anderson(Jane Wyatt),was basically the stay-at-home mom who took care of the kids and the household while Mr. Anderson was at work. The Anderson children of course consisted of the oldest daughter Betty "Princess" Anderson(Elinor Donahue)and the son,James "Bud" Anderson,Jr. (Billy Gray),and the baby of the family,the youngest of the Anderson clan,Kathy "Kitten" Anderson(Lauren Chaplin). They all lived in a nice double style house in a residential quiet neighborhood in fictional Springfield,USA which was a small town but was never told about the state or the setting of the show from which the Anderson's live. Maybe either in Ohio or Indiana or Iowa in the heart of Midwestern America. In each and every episode there was some situation that came about and from there it was up to the father to solve to crises before it got out of hand. In perspective,this was a caring loving clan who were their for each other in times of crises and knew how to take care of their situations as well since this was a family-oriented show that ran for about an half-hour. The kids themselves had the normal 1950's problems of a white-middle class family with the oldest son "Bud" or sometimes the baby girl "Kitten" get into a situation or two when the father is not around. Everyday problems were handled in a caring and sensitive manner. There was never in any of the episode where the parents lost their temper to the children since the problems were treated with immense attention. It may have been corny in parts,but don't you wish it was the family we wanted but could never had?
Robert Young's character as the patriarch,Jim Anderson was magnificent to watch and it shows in the number of Emmys this show received during its six year-run on network television along with his co-star Jane Wyatt as well as understanding and sometimes caring and lovable mother who was there in times of trouble the children were having. Jim Anderson (Robert Young) showed an understanding that not only appreciated by the rest of the family,but by the viewers too who tuned in each week. He is right up there with some of the TV's best dads including Andy Taylor(Andy Griffith),Ward Cleaver(Hugh Beaumont),Steve Douglas(Fred MacMurray),and Ozzie Nelson(Ozzie Nelson),not to mention Ben Cartwright(Lorne Greene)as the fathers America loved at the time. This was a show that was brought back to television in later years after its repeats ended in syndication in 1980,were brought back on cable television in the mid-1980's on Nick-At-Nite and again most recently on TV Land. Also to note it has been picked up for the American Life TV Channel as well. Worth seeing it again if the powers that be at Sony-Columbia Pictures Home Video get the chance to bring this show on DVD to relive the golden age of the 1950's. And "Father Knows Best",was that show.