As promised in the review of the Warner Archive DVD release of the truly delightful 1963 feature film "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," I am sharing my thoughts on the 1969-70 first season of the television series of the same name.
A truly awesome part of "Father" S1 is that it meets the criteria that I established when beginning collecting DVDs of television shows in 2006. "Father" is a good but lightly syndicated show from my childhood, and the DVD set is fairly priced.
Watching the first six of the 26 episodes in the set made me wish that I had chosen reruns of that series on WLVI Channel 56 in Boston over competing fare on WSBK Channel 38 more frequently in the dark days before even VCRs.
The simple premise behind the film and television series is that widower Tom Corbett is doing an awesome job raising his young son Eddie, and the two are engaged in a ongoing search to find Tom a new wife.
The series pilot is a nice transition from the film in that both incarnations of the Corbetts' story have Eddie macing on an aspiring actress named Dollye Daly as a "wife" candidate. Eddie does so on a father-son outing to an arcade in the movie and on a father-son movie studio tour in the pilot.
It seems that series producer and co-star James Komack of "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Chico and the Man" fame chose that episode as the pilot to help attract fans of the movie. A later episode regarding Eddie's really rough first few days in the first grade seems to be a more natural pilot, especially considering that Tom dates Eddie's teacher in an early offering.
The conflict in the episodes regarding a search for the mother revolve around the effect of the romantic relationship on Eddie. For example, Tom dating the teacher gets Eddie branded "Teacher's pet."
The third episode is particularly memorable both for having Diana Muldaur play an absolutely fabulous model who is light years away from Muldaur's Dr. Pulaski character from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in terms of looks and personality. Seeing the childless "It Girl" try to care for a sick Eddie is hilarious.
"Father" is also a perfect show for its era in which networks were transitioning from supernatural, sci-fi, and rural shows to more realistic fare. There are undertones of understated sexual content, including Eddie not understanding why his father cannot pollinate childless housekeeper Mrs. Livingston in the same manner as bees pollinate flowers, and Bixby is a perfect mix of a Tim O'Haraesque of "My Favorite Marian" overwhelmed straight man and a father who truly knows best.
The show is further notable for having some of the more creative aspects of broadcast network sitcoms; the theme song's singer provides a one-man off-screen Greek chorus in terms of commenting on the action in the episode. Examples include the chanteur singing "bless you" one time that Tom sneezes and "remember your son is in the other room" when Tom begins to escort a woman into Tom's bedroom merely to have a private conversation.
Further, episodes begin and end with Tom and Eddie having heart-to-heart talks while having a great time doing things such as horsing around on the beach, enjoying fun-park rides, or pedaling a two-person bicycle. The sad part for many of us is that those conversations and activities are just as fantastical as harboring a martian who is stranded on earth.