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Critics of this type of show are quick to point out how "unrealistic" it was. After all no episode dealt with drug addiction, teen pregnancy,dropping out of school, or any of the other "relevant" topics that pass for entertainment today. Instead this program concentrated on the, now passe, issues of family love, warmth, charity, and decency. I challenge any parent, of whatever generation, to contrast an episode of this show with any "Married with Children" or the majority of today's teen oriented sitcoms and decide which world view they would wish for their children. Perhaps this show and others of its era (e.g. Andy Griffith) was overly hopeful in its portrayal of family and community, but isn't it better to aspire to the values of Father Knows Best than succumb to the spirit of the age we live in?
The town was Springfield but we were never told the state. I always
pictured the setting to be a very long way from either coast. Maybe
Ohio, Indiana or Iowa. Wherever it was, it was far away from any of the
country's real problems of the time.
There were no civil rights issues, no murders and no rapes in Springfield. Everyone was white, which was the norm for television of this era. Springfield was a make-believe fantasy by today's standards, but back then, it was the majority of real America.
With that said, I watched the show every week and wished I was a member of the Anderson family. Having belonged to a somewhat volatile family, I had the 30-minute escape every week to be a part of a caring, loving clan.
The kids had the normal 1950s problems of a white, middle-class family. Robert Young as the patriarch, Jim Anderson, showed an understanding that was not only appreciated by the rest of the family, but by the viewers, too. He was right up there with Andy Taylor and Ward Cleaver as the fathers America loved at the time.
Corny? To some it might be, but to many others, including myself, it was the family we wanted but never had.
It's ironic that culture commentators today, including many teachers, who seem never to have seen a single episode of this series, will refer to it as a frightening illustration of fifties complacency, patriarchal dominance, and even racism. In fact many of the episodes explore issues of male egotism, parental arrogance, and conformist nastiness in an effective way. Of course, it all ends well because it is a comic drama about a tolerant and loving family with solid values (and Father was often the one who had to be reminded of this). Robert Young in frustration complained that it was never meant to be a sermon or sociology lesson -- but this carefully written and popular series was bound to tell us something about our values, and despite current malcontents, the values illustrated by Father Knows Best were generally very good.
I was born the year after this series began and remember it very very
fondly. Unlike a program like Leave it to Beaver or even Ozzie and
this program was both more moralistic and more sentimental - the
heartstrings were pulled every program. I watched three episodes the other
night (although I was supposed to leave for a train) and was so thrilled
the warmth of it - the sentimentality, the pathos. This family had such an
effect on me growing up - neither adult really lost his/her temper, small
problems were treated with immense attention.
I just LOVED it - and am sure any non-cynic would.
I was so pleased today, being a baby boomer, to turn on TV land and see
three hours of 50's television. From 9am to 12pm I saw, Burns and Allen,
the Honeymooners, an hour episode of the Lucy-Desi comedy hour, Hazel, and
last but not least an episode of Father Knows Best. Kudos to TV land for
this three hour bonus which is supposedly going to happen every sunday
morning all summer long. Why does it only have to happen on Sunday
mornings? I want more of these shows from my childhood.
Father knows Best was one of my favorites. As has already been said by others, the show had wonderful values, laughter and pathos. Jane Wyatt was always my favorite TV mother. Why has she never been included in specials about favorite tv moms? Yes, she always dressed nice and wore pearls but I remember the particular episode when she was wearing a long shirt and pants to clean the house and she had a smudge of dirt on her face. That was when Jim was bringing home a women who was a famous author, someone he had been friends with. You never would have seen June Cleaver with a smudge of dirt on HER face. Jane (Margaret) was always there for her kids but she was so very human too. She lost her temper several times and once told her kids that they were brats. She made faces behind their backs once when she wanted to clobber them. She did what I never saw any other tv mother do, but what our own real mothers would do.
The whole cast was pretty wonderful. Bring back this show to tv again. There are plenty of baby boomers who would like to see it again and maybe it would be nice for it to get a whole new audience of a new generation.
As a child of the Sixties I grew to love and appreciate the Andersons. I enjoyed watching and listening to the dialog and reactions by each of the members of the family. I truly came to understand what was definitely "right" and what was "wrong" in decision-making. I became apart of the family when I came running home from school and plop down in front of the TV and tune in. I really wish that I could have lived there in Springfield and have a family like the Andersons. To me they were the epitomie of the way a family was supposed to be. I actually learned some "habits" and values that I stole from the series. To this day, working as a teacher in my mid 40's, I find myself whistling the theme song between classes, at lunch, etc. I remember thinking about some of the situations that Bud and his sisters would get into and how they would resolve them. I would then apply to my own life. Maybe that is why I probably have had a 'wonderful life'. Thank you, Mr Tewksberry, for this indelible imprint on my life!
I wasn't quite 9 years old when "Father Knows Best" made its move to TV, so I didn't get to see any of the first episodes because we didn't get our first TV until a year later. But I vividly remember watching many episodes over its 10-year run. Robert Young as James 'Jim' Anderson, Sr. was written as the almost "perfect" father, and Jane Wyatt as Margaret Anderson was written as the almost "perfect" mother. More than anything else, thinking back, this was a series written as a model for what was generally considered the correct way for a family to live and interact back in the 1950s. Some viewers today might scoff at that notion, but coming just a few years after the big war, and running during much of the "cold war", as a youngster it was reassuring to see peace and harmony. We didn't have the big national news networks back then reporting everything that was bad, in gory detail, and today I see that as a blessing. Elinor Donahue as Betty Anderson, Billy Gray as 'Bud' Anderson, Jr., and Lauren Chapin as 'Kitten' Anderson completed the family. It is always fun to occasionally catch an old episode or two. While TV technical production values have improved, the 'messages' of the shows have not.
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.
I was just thinking about the series and wondered why it has yet to be on the Nick or TV Land channels. This series was truly among the very best. Many of the episodes dealt with many issues that are still very relevant today. I especially liked the episode where the mother decides to take a day off from all the housework and cooking and treat herself to some new sights and sounds and how shocked the family is that the "routine" of things is upset. I saw Elinor on E! the other night by the way. I am looking forward to seeing this series air again somewhere.
I was raised abroad and watched it when the series was shown abroad, translations and all, long after its American release in 1954. In France it was shown in 1960. I am sure I also saw it about that time. I always looked forward to that half an hour to watch "Father Knows Best." Our entire family would tear up learning from Robert Young, the dad. Actually the reason I liked that series so much is because I always thought that my parents knew best! That was until I became a teenager, of course! Later I went back to my original opinion: that mom and dad indeed knew best for me. I do not remember specific episodes but I remember the theme song. Jim Anderson, dad, played by Robert Young , was an insurance salesman. Margaret Anderson played the mom and she also looked very pretty and dressed up for just staying home. Then there were Betty (princess) Bud, and Kathy (Kitty). They lived in Springfield. Mom and dad slept in separate beds. That I could not get because my parents slept in the same bed. But I have the great memories about the show. "Father Knows Best" had family values, good moral ethics, and valuable lessons were taught in every show. I would like for the series to be released in video in its entirety because I would like to see it again!
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