“The Douglas family is back and ready for seconds in volume two of the second season of My Three Sons. Join America’s favorite pipe-smoking single dad Steve Douglas as he raises sons Mike, Robbie, and Chip with a winning combination of laughter, love and world-class fatherly advice.”
Just to look at it you would think that My 3 Sons was a Disney production. Its star Fred MacMurray had appeared in many Disney films of the 50’s and 60’s and is most likely recognizable from those appearances. Two of the three boys were also known for work with Disney. The eldest boy, Mike, was played by Tim Considine, who starred with MacMurray in Disney’s The Shaggy Dog. Middle son Robbie was played by a former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer, Don Grady. The youngest son, Chip, was played by Stanley Livingston, the only non Disney alum in that group. Another reason for the confusion is the decidedly Disney-like material the series covered. Steve Douglas (MacMurray) was a widowed single parent who was trying to balance his job with that of raising his three sons. Most of the stories involved the warm and fuzzy heartwarming stuff that Disney had pretty much cornered the market on in the films. Whatever troubles arose, no problem was so bad that a heart-to-heart talk couldn’t fix it. The style would prosper and continue in the form of 70’s shows like The Brady Bunch. The four guys were also joined by Steve’s father-in-law, Bud, played by I Love Lucy favorite William Frawley. That was no surprise, since the show was actually produced, not by Disney, but the Desilu studios.
My 3 Sons was for some time the second longest running sit-com on television. It lasted from 1960 until 1972. The series would undergo major changes as the boys each grew older and eventually married and led their own lives. Frawley would also become very ill after five years and leave the show. His replacement, William Demarest as Uncle Charley, is likely better known in the show. The syndicated version of the show often ignored these early black and white versions of the series, opting for the later color ones that featured the Uncle Charley character. It’s very likely you’ve never seen these early episodes, as they appeared infrequently in the syndicated markets. The theme from Frank DeVol became pretty popular in the mid 60’s and even entered the pop charts at one time. The show also originally ran on ABC, but moved to CBS in 1965, also accounting for the different syndication packages. It was during that move that many of these big changes occurred.
This collection features the last episodes of the second season. The wacky scenarios start with Bub Gets A Job where Bud reads a magazine article that has him thinking of his future and his temper. Chip gets lost in Paris when he stows away on his father’s trip in Le Petit Stowaway. A girlfriend mix-up has Steve believing that Mike is dating a young daughter when he sees his fraternity pin on the girl. But was it really Mike that put it there? Find out in Casanova Trouble. In The Pencil Pusher, Chip gains a newfound respect for his father’s job when he watches him help a pilot safely get back to the ground. It’s Caddyshack for Robbie who needs some extra cash. He decides to caddy at the local golf course, but ends up disqualifying his golfer. OK, it’s not really Caddyshack, it’s Robbie The Caddy. Robbie has his first day at high school, but it’s not going so well in Chug And Robbie. You get the final 18 episodes on 3 discs.
Each episode of My 3 Sons is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. The series was shot in black and white. The transfer is actually a remarkable one. There isn’t much in the way of print defects, and the picture is quite sharp. Black levels are rock-solid, and working along with sweet contrast makes this a picture with razor-sharp detail. You won’t believe this stuff’s almost 50 years old.
The Dolby Digital Mono track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation.
I won’t bore you with another complaint about these half seasons. I’ll leave that to the next review. Basically it’s more of the same for the Douglas family of 5 men. That includes Bub, of course. He’s actually the funniest character on the show. There’s still plenty more of the Douglas family to come. I expect I’ll be here tellin’ you all about it. “Well…that would be a pleasure.”