The only thing that kept this 'gem' from being a major hit is timing. A new "Beaver" audience has been created from the re-runs on TVland, Nickelodeon, and TBS. Now is the time for these shows. I'm still waiting for someone to unearth these tapes and show them along with the originals.
I remember ordering the Disney Channel just for this show. Later, I dropped Disney when the show went to TBS. Is was a little rough starting out. Beaver, divorced with custody, moving back in with his mom, and his dad (Ward), now dead, are a bit hard to take from the simpler days of the past. After settling down, the shows were charming and funny. The next generation of kids, including the offspring of Eddie Haskell (a son who would make Eddie proud), "hipped" up the show a bit without losing the original flavor.
June would talk to Ward's tombstone on occasion, old faces would turn up (Eddie, Lumpy, and even Judy Hensler), and Wally and the Beav' interacted like they were still kids. They even had an episode with (June's) Aunt Martha's funeral, the mostly invisible aunt from the olden days.
One pet peeve of mine are writer's who are hired to do re-makes of shows who seem to show no knowledge of the original shows. They are 'lost' and the shows are terrible (ie. the 'new' Columbo). The writers of 'Beaver' were definitely devotees of the original. The Cleaver clan evolves smoothly and beautifully and I was sad all over again when the shows stopped.
The Cleaver's were more than just scripting though. The theatrical release, although technically sound, had no chance of duplicating the charm and success of this little bit of americana.
PS-- a nice touch was Wally marrying a girl very, very reminiscent of his mother...
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