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Love Is on the Air DVD Review

Love Is On the Air DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Love Is On the Air (1953-1970)
Series & DVD Details

Featured Series: "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet", "Father Knows Best", "Leave It to Beaver", "Dennis the Menace", "Hazel", "The Patty Duke Show", "That Girl"

Directors: Ozzie Nelson, Peter Tewksbury, Norman Abbott, Charles Barton, William D. Russell, Stanley Prager, Saul Turteltaub / Writers: Don Nelson, Bill Davenport, Ben Gershman, Ozzie Nelson, Paul West, Katherine Eunson, Dale Eunson, Keith Fowler, Phil Leslie, Peggy Chantler, Sidney Sheldon, Saul Turteltaub, Bernie Orenstein

Cast: Ozzie Nelson (Ozzie Nelson), Harriet Nelson (Harriet Nelson), David Nelson (David Nelson), Ricky Nelson (Ricky Nelson), John Brown (Syd "Thorny" Thornberry), Robert Young (Jim Anderson), Jane Wyatt (Margaret Anderson), Elinor Donahue (Betty Anderson), Billy Gray (Bud Anderson), Lauren Chapin (Kathy Anderson), Gail Land (Marion), Susan Odin (Bernice Hadley), Jimmy Bates (Claude), Arthur Lovejoy (Mr. Wetzler), Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver), Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver), Tony Dow (Wally Cleaver), Jerry Mathers (Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver), Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell), Linda Bennett (Ginny Townsend), Jay North (Dennis Mitchell), Gale Gordon (Mr. John Wilson), Herbert Anderson (Henry Mitchell), Gloria Henry (Alice Mitchell), Billy Booth (Tommy Anderson), Sherry Granato (Susie Walker), Tommy Alexander (Pete Owens), Anne Bellamy (Mrs. Walker), Sara Seegar (Mrs. Eloise Wilson), Shirley Booth (Hazel Burke), Don DeFore (George Baxter), Whitney Blake (Dorothy Baxter), Bobby Buntrock (Harold Baxter), Robert B. Williams (Barney), Patrick McVey (Gus Jenkins), Patty Duke (Cathy Lane, Patty Lane), William Schallert (Martin Lane), Jean Byron (Natalie Lane), Paul O'Keefe (Ross Lane), Eddie Applegate (Richard Harrison), David Doyle (Mr. Jonathan Harrison), Marlo Thomas (Ann Marie), Ted Bessell (Donald Hollinger), Ronnie Schell (Bob Howard), Avery Schreiber (Mr. Franklin), Martin Walker (Mr. Steinmetz), Sandy DeBruin (Joan), Reva Rose (Marcy)

Running Time: 179 Minutes (7 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned; Airdates: February 1953 - September 1970
DVD Release Date: May 1, 2012; Suggested Retail Price: $12.99
Clear Keepcase; Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)

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With Love Is On the Air, Shout! Factory pulls romantic episodes from seven of the classic sitcoms they have been distributing on DVD. This three-hour compilation is the ideal Valentine's Day gift for the vintage TV junkie in your life,
only it arrives 2 months late (or, if you prefer, 9 months early) for the holiday.

I'm a huge believer in the themed multi-series single disc, having lavished praise on a number of Paramount/CBS' T.V. Sets volumes. Those bundled a bunch of shows I know and like. The sitcoms chosen for the cleverly-titled Love Is On the Air are way before my time and recognized primarily by reputation. This release provided the first time I can remember sitting down to watch episodes of "Father Knows Best", "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet", "The Patty Duke Show", "Hazel", and "That Girl." While I know enough about the other two, "Leave It to Beaver" and "Dennis the Menace", that I must have seen some of them at some point, any personal viewings are not recent enough to be in my memory.

But, what they hey, I'll watch a single episode of any half-hour TV series and I've found that variety almost always bests familiarity when it comes to reviewing DVDs of TV shows you haven't already consumed at your own leisure.

The disc appropriately arranges the seven episodes by airdate and that is how I'll cover them here.

Bud Anderson (Billy Gray) has his sights set on Marion the checkout girl (Gail Land) in the "Father Knows Best" episode "Young Love." Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow) opens up to his younger brother Beaver (Jerry Mathers) on a matter of the heart in a featured Season 4 "Leave It to Beaver" episode.

1. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1.20): "The Valentine Show" (25:30) (Originally aired February 15, 1953)
The Nelsons were kind of like television's first reality family, although they were upfront about the scripted nature of their situations. Adapted from a radio program, this 14-season ABC sitcom focused on a family of four with a cast comprised of a real nuclear family. Snoopy Ozzie (Ozzie Nelson) and Harriet (Harriet Nelson) are worried that the new girl in town their teenaged son David (David Nelson) will be taking to a dance is a gold digger when they overhear him and Ricky (fan favorite Ricky Nelson) saving up their money to buy Valentine's Day gifts. In fact, the thrifty kids are just planning to get presents for their skinflint parents. What a wacky misunderstanding! The episode opens with some sponsor mentions intact, raising the question "What's a prophylactic toothbrush?"

2. Father Knows Best (4.25): "Young Love" (25:35) (Originally aired March 26, 1958)
One of many 1950s family sitcoms set in the suburban Midwest, this show about the Andersons began on the radio in 1949. High school junior Bud (Billy Gray) gets a job bagging groceries at the market so that he can get close to beautiful checkout girl Marion (Gail Land). Meanwhile, to his older sister's (Elinor Donahue) annoyance, the aloof Bud doesn't even notice plain girl next door Bernice (Susan Odin) has a crush on him.

3. Leave It to Beaver (4.29): "Wally's Dream Girl" (25:51) (Originally aired April 15, 1961)
Embodying wholesome suburban middle-class values, "Leave It to Beaver" is probably the most iconic family sitcom of its time. Sixteen-year-old big brother Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow) is pining for Ginny Townsend, whose family has just moved to town from Indianapolis. After he shares his lovesick feelings with the mischievous Beaver (Jerry Mathers), June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley) invites her son's dream girl to join the family on a picnic. Turns out the dreams were better than reality, as Ginny (Linda Bennett) is allergic to chicken and the sun. Ugh, what a loser.

Dennis the Menace (Jay North) makes life difficult for three couples in "Dennis, The Confused Cupid. That girl (Marlo Thomas) admires the used engagement ring that Donald (Ted Bessell) finally gives her in "Counter Proposal."

4. Dennis the Menace (4.19): "Dennis, The Confused Cupid" (25:24) (Originally aired February 10, 1963)
Mischievous blonde boy Dennis Mitchell (Jay North) longs to find out about love.
In doing so, he creates quarrels for three couples, when he discovers Mr. Wilson's (Gale Gordon) old love letters in the trash and plots with best friend Tommy (Billy Booth) to redistribute them as a teen boy's missives to his love interest. Adapted from a newspaper comic strip, this series remained relevant and recognizable in my lifetime through animated TV series, a 1993 family film, and some direct-to-video sequels.

5. Hazel (2.32): "So Long, Brown Eyes" (25:28) (Originally aired May 9, 1963)
Love Is On the Air gets some color (literally, not ethnically) with this 1960s sitcom about a live-in maid. In this Season 2 finale, Hazel (Shirley Booth) reconnects with her old flame Gus Jenkins (guest star Patrick McVey), who is eager to pick up where they left off. But their favorite old restaurant has changed and so have they. For Hazel, the Baxters take precedence over love and marriage.

6. The Patty Duke Show (1.22): "Going Steady" (25:38) (Originally aired February 12, 1964)
Much like Haley Mills in The Parent Trap a few years earlier, Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker's Oscar-winning Helen Keller) held double roles in this rare sitcom developed for and named after a young actor. Duke plays both the ordinary American teenager Patty and her identical-looking, mild-mannered, foreign-accented cousin Cathy. In this episode, Patty starts going steady with Richard Harrison (Eddie Applegate), wearing his ring around her neck. Suddenly ever-present and always eating, Richard annoys Mr. Lane (William Schallert) enough for the patriarch to hatch a plan to break them up. "The Patty Duke Show" was the shortest-lived of the disc's featured programs and if this stupid, broad episode is any indication, three seasons on ABC was a more than generous stay.

7. That Girl (5.01): "Counter Proposal" (25:06) (Originally aired September 25, 1970)
Donald (Ted Bessell) plans to propose to Ann (Marlo Thomas) at their traditional Citrus City celebration of their fourth anniversary as a couple. But the plan is complicated after Donald's co-worker Bob (Ronnie Schell) convinces him to buy his more lavish barely-used engagement ring instead of a smaller new one. Much more modern than the rest of its company here, "That Girl" is nonetheless very dated in its own right.

David and Ricky Nelson do a terrible job of hiding their Valentine's Day gifts for their mother Harriet in "Ozzie and Harriet." Rekindled love does not fit into the live-in maid lifestyle of Hazel Burke (Shirley Booth).


Per original productions and broadcasts, all seven series are presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Picture quality varies from show to show, but is satisfactory on the whole. As you'd expect, the newer episodes generally look better than the older ones, although that is a bit of an oversimplification. Shot on 35mm film, "Beaver" is the sharpest of all. By contrast, "Ozzie and Harriet" looks just adequate, with its blurry picture and occasional scratch. Others have their own minor print imperfections too, even the color ones; with a pale yellow tint marring "Hazel" and smudges cropping up on "That Girl."

The monaural soundtracks are aged to varying degrees, but all remain fairly intelligible, which helps because, as usual, Shout! sadly fails to supply either subtitles or closed captions. I have no doubt that these files were dragged and dropped from their respective season set DVDs, so the picture and sound are comparable to their releases elsewhere. Like most of the Shout! releases I've seen, the quality is limited by original methods, but almost always sufficient and on par with bigger studios' efforts.

The DVD main menu for Shout! Factory's sitcom compilation "Love Is On the Air" further points to a Valentine's Day theme.


With three hours of featured content, the disc understandably goes without bonus features, unless you count the skippable barrage of ads with which it opens.
They promote classic TV shows on DVD, "Dennis the Menace": Season One, "Father Knows Best", "Ozzie & Harriet", "Leave It to Beaver", and "That Girl."

An insert further advertises the relevant season sets of the featured shows, while its valuable back supplies airdates and synopses for the disc's seven episodes.

Scored and mildly animated, the basic but serviceable one menu screen arranges the featured series' titles on what look like Necco Sweethearts candy, allowing you to watch any episode or the entire lot chronologically. The clear keepcase displays more lavender backdrop on the reverse side of the cover artwork.

Patty's (Patty Duke) family isn't all that crazy about her steady new boyfriend Richard Harrison (Eddie Applegate). "Kids today...", think June (Barbara Billingsley) and Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beamont) on a family picnic.


Love is On the Air is a fun and inexpensive way to sample many old comedy series you are likely less than familiar with. The romantic subject matter lends to some of that patented sitcom corniness on most of these episodes, and fans of early television would have it no other way. Unless you own all of the season sets from which these episodes spring or are completely opposed to black & white TV, this disc should be of some interest to you. I hope it paves the way for more thematic compilations from Shout! and other companies with deep television libraries.

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Reviewed April 30, 2012.

Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Shout! Factory and 1953 Volcano Productions Inc., 1958 Rodney Young Productions/Screen Gems, 1961 Gomalco Productions, 1963 Dariell Productions/Screen Gems, 1963 Columbia Pictures Television, 1964 Chrislaw Productions/United Artist Television/Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 1970 Daisy Productions. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.