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The Cleavers are the 1950's 'All-American Family' in this 'feel-good' family sitcom. Parents Ward and June, and older brother Wally, try to keep Theodore ('the Beaver') out of trouble. However, Beaver continues to end up in one kind of jam or another. Unlike real life, these situations are always easily resolved to the satisfaction of all involved and the Beaver gets off with a few stern moralistic words of parental advice. Instigator and troublemaker Eddie Haskell is an older kid who always manages to avoid being caught. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
It is easy to criticize "Leave it to Beaver" today for being an overly romanticized look at family life in the late 50s/early 60s. Because, well, it is an overly romanticized look at family in the late 50s/early 60s. But so what? This is a well written, well acted sitcom. I love it for the show that it is and I don't worry about the more realistic show it could have been.
Ward and June Cleaver are raising two sons: Wally and Theodore, who everyone calls by the nickname "Beaver." (To answer an earlier reviewer, the nickname came from older brother Wally who couldn't pronounce "Theodore" when his little brother was born, instead pronouncing it "Beaver.)
Beaver is definitely not a Bart Simpson, constantly making trouble and outwitting his dad. No, Beaver is a kid who gets into trouble usually because one of his friends (Larry, Richard or Gilbert) talks him into it. It is then usually up to Ward to help straighten the situation out and gently but firmly teach Beaver the lesson to be learned.
Wally and June are equally as important. Wally is the older brother we all wish we had. And who else but June could look so perfect while fixing up a batch of our favorite cookies?
One of the biggest reasons why the show was popular then and is still popular today, however, is the supporting cast. Eddie Haskell. ("And might I add Mrs. Cleaver, that is a lovely blouse you are wearing.") Fred Rutherford. ("See you in the salt mines, Ward.") Larry Mondello. Miss Landers. Mary Ellen Rogers. Gus the Fireman. All have endured for more than 40 years and become permanent fixtures in our pop culture.
Overly romanticized? Sure. But so what. Years from now when people have forgotten almost all of the sitcoms airing today, The Beaver will still be bringing smiles to our faces.
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