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|Index||24 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On a December 1957 night when I was 8 years old, my favorite TV
program, Lassie, was dramatically changing in an episode appropriately
named "Transition". Jeff Miller, played by Tommy Rettig, then 15, would
turn over his collie to the younger Timmy and finish the portion of the
Lassie series later syndicated as Jeff's Collie. I was sad because Jeff
was for me an idealized older brother and he and his wonderful mother
Ellen, played by Jan Clayton, were leaving forever. Yet I was curious
to see Timmy's new foster mother and I wanted to witness the formal
The opening scene marked the passing of Gramps, played by George Cleveland who had actually died before filming began. Suddenly, the picture on my parents' TV set disappeared due to a blown vacuum tube (this was before transistors). The sound remained but I could not visualize the new mother nor properly experience the transition. I was so upset that I stopped watching the series. Years later I heard about June Lockhart's role as Timmy's mother but I discovered the actress only after she left Lassie and began the Lost in Space show.
This past summer I revisited Jeff's Collie through reruns on a local channel. Imagine the lonely widow and her lonely father-in-law clinging to the memory of their lost loved one by raising his son in the highest ethical standards. Above all, there was Jeff, the lonely boy without his father, overcoming all obstacles in doing the right thing, lovingly guided by his mother, grandfather and almost magical dog. Alas, the "Transition" chapter was not shown, and once again, I was left without closure.
So now, after 46 years, I've finally been able to see it on the new DVD by Sony Wonder titled Lassie - Best of Jeff's Collie. While containing only 3 of the more than 100 Jeff's Collie episodes, this disc is nevertheless immensely satisfying. The quality of the images and sound is superior to the broadcast in the fifties. "The Inheritance" starts the saga of Jeff and Lassie. "Lassie's Pups" is a tearful heart warmer establishing her legacy. "Transition" literally concludes Jeff's relationship. Simply flipping between these few stories lets you contrast the beginning and the end, over and over.
By the way, the new mother was not June Lockhart, rather she was Cloris Leachman. June joined the series the following season as a replacement for Cloris. Both women are fine people, but neither was a match for Jan Clayton, who passed on in 1983.
Tommy Rettig is also no longer with us. Death and the mystery of life is especially sensitive to me as I've lost several friends recently, and I nearly died six years ago. Surely you've experienced what are called unexplainable coincidences. I was 46 when Tommy died at age 54. Closure on Jeff's Collie has occurred for me after 46 years when I'm now 54.
Whatever the time we have left, we can take comfort that Tommy and his TV family live on through the Best of Jeff's Collie. Indeed, it's the very best.
I've watched a few episodes of the '54-'58 Jeff's Collie [Lassie] and it brought back some good child memories. Being Hispanic and living in New York City, I fantasized how nice it would be to live in the midwest, on a farm, where I could go out with a friend like Porky, on our bicycles, and do the things they did like going fishing, and having a great dog like Lassie to watch over us. I would hear how they greeted each other with what I believe was "Aquie! Aquie!" Which in Spanish means over here, over here. Next time anyone watches the show, listen to their greeting, aquie, aquie, and see if I'm right. Sorry to hear that Tommy Rettig [Jeff Miller] past away. I'll be looking for Joey D. Veira's [Porky Brockway] movies, to see what he looks like as an adult. I know what John Provost [Timmy Martin] looks like. Thanks to the TV network/s, and IMD.com, for helping us walk down memory lane.
I was 9 years old when Jeff's Collie 1st came on Sundays. It was our first B&W TV and I was glue'd to it. I had my favorite line-up on Sat mornings but could not wait until Sunday to see Jeff's Collie. I was from the midwest and could relate to Jeff and the farm. (later to work on one at 16) I truly believe all my values came from that great show. What a mother Jan Clayton was and even that grumpy Gramps, (whom I adored) as he was just like my Grampa. After reading all the comments so far. I see we all have the same opinion that this series was the best ever made, -BAR NONE. I am so happy that Discovery Kids plays all the series. I believe I'am in my second childhood sometimes in that I can't wait to see another episode every. The passing of Tommy, Jan and George has left a big hole in my heart, so thank God for film. I still look at all of them as alive each day and the're message will go on forever. I now collect all the movies that each of that cast was in thru-out their acting years. To me there is nothing wrong with holding on to memories like these as in this world, there is not much to hold on to.
When i was growing up in the late 50's are early 60's there was
one program we ever watched at 7pm on Sunday and it was Lassie. I remember
the 2 part episode when Tommy and Lassie were lost and
i cried at the the end of part 2 when Lassie found her way home . I was very dissapointed when the Martin's sold the farm and gave Lassie to Forest Ranger Cory Stewart. The show was never that same after that. Thanks to Discovery Kids Channel i can now see these wonderfull shows including the 1st three seasons 1954 to 57 when Jeff Miller and his family owned Lassie and the farm.
I, too, have to chime in with the folks who prefer "Jeff's Collie" to the
other incarnations of "Lassie". Tommy Rettig, rest his soul, was superb,
were Jan Clayton and George Cleveland (and the wonderful boy who played
Porky, sorry, I've forgotten his name). Perfect family entertainment --
a brilliant vehicle for teaching young and old alike the all-important
lessons in empathy and do unto others. What better way to learn how to
beyond appearances and taking things at face value, than taking the time
understand what a dog is feeling or trying to tell us? Sometimes the
storylines were amazing, considering the time. I saw a rerun last week
dealt with the evils of people who engage in pit bull dogfights! I feel
very fortunate to have grown up with Lassie.
BTW, thanks to the poster who remembers the book "Lassie and the Secret of the Summer" -- I LOVED that book!
I grew up with the Tommy Rettig "Lassie" series. Looking back on
it, I would say that I was addicted to that show and that I fantasized
that I was the Jeff who lived with Lassie on the Miller farm, not the
Jeff who lived in New Jersey suburbia with a teddy bear. When George
Cleveland died, the show decided that Tommy Rettig was too old to be
Lassie's boy and the scenario was that since Gramps was dead, they had
to sell the farm and go live in a crummy apartment in Capital City
where Mom would get some miserable job and Jeff would simply go to
school. Mom explained all this to Jeff at the kitchen table, adding
that they couldn't take Lassie to live in some crummy Capital City
apartment, so...... I was ten years old when seeing this unfortunate transition. I
remember it felt like it was my life that was being eviscerated. I
never enjoyed the "Lassie" show much after that.
I too remember some of the episodes when I was a kid growing up,but by far
out of all the "Lassie" series that ever depicted the true meaning of a boy
and his dog was that of "Jeff's Collie". My friend and I had a debate is
which who was the best character of all the shows and to our decision we
came with Tommy Rettig for his performance to the show. He brings a
astounding depth of passion and emotion to his character and by far this was
the original and the first series that really brought "Lassie" out in the
open and the first ever to do so during the early 50's.
When Rettig left the show in 1957,he was replaced by actor Jon Provost and
the tone set the collie along with his new family,The Martin's.
The family consisted of June Lockhart and Hugh Reilly as the
In other words during this run,and in some of the episodes with Provost who
played Timmy,it was always up to Lassie to get him out of a tight situation
and boy was Timmy one hard headed individual at times when it came to
staying out of trouble! Good girl,Lassie! When the 1960's came along the
collie went into another direction where during this time
Martin family would move to another country and this time Lassie was taken
up by park ranger Corey Stuart played by Robert Bray and in
one Lassie had to defend her honor by helping out Ranger Stuart at
and in a two part episode called "The Tempest" it goes into that detail
where Lassie fights for survival in a barron land when the Ranger is
seriously hurt after a tragic accident(worth seeing and its in
By the end of the 1960's,Ranger Stuart and Lassie went their separate
ways,and the collie would take up with another family by the
season and from there her services would be needed once more and thus end
the shows' trimuph run making it one of the all time children's shows
For the 17 years it ran on the CBS network(from 1954-1971),Lassie was an
American institution every Sunday evening until the network changed the overall course of its programming. Truly,she was America's favorite dog. Catch the re-runs on Nickelodeon and on the Animal Planet Channel.
This is my favorite version of Lassie as well. I watched all the re-runs on the Animal Planet channel until I had seen them all. Tommy Rettig was a talented young actor; it's a shame he passed away. It's too bad they don't make classic TV programs like this one anymore.
I watched that great series without fail. I always thought how great it would be to be a friend of "Jeff Miller". Of course, knowing he was really Tommy Rettig the boy actor gave me a strong desire to somehow be like him. I even dreamed of getting a part on the show. This was, of course, pure fantasy and yet I remember the intense dedication I had as a boy toward that show. I was not aware, until now, that Tommy had passed away. It saddens me to learn this. I am about the same age as he was.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In my early NCY kiddy-hood, I recall when Timmy buried Lassie's toys,
assuming as she was lost, he would never see her. again. Then there was
a bark, and Lassie was HOME! I remember the scene well because my quite
grumpy maternal Grandfather watched the episode with tears streaming
down his face. When I saw that I was one stunned kid I can tell you!
No one has mentioned the very last season of Lassie which was like Lassie on LSD. She was lost and lived on her own in the wild (though magically she didn't kill and eat prey, but somehow stayed healthy). She met and fell in love with a male farm collie. Then, Lassie gave birth to her love-puppies in a cave. Then, because that wasn't far fetched enough, she proceeded to travel the country side, finding unhappy people and gifting them with one of her puppies. She 'gave away' her own litter of babies. I think the show's writers were on some kind of drug. You think I made that all up? I did not!
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