The children were intelligent, but not precocious. They were normal kids. And they could ACT.
Something else that made Donna Reed Show stand out was not only did the children LOOK like their parents, but you could feel the chemistry between all the actors in the real life situation, which then came out in the characters. Shelly Fabares and Paul Peterson have often written and remarked that they were treated like the children of Donna Reed and Carl Betz, and that the adults were fiercely protective of the child actors, and treated them accordingly. Donna and Alex also had somewhat of a sexual chemistry that wasn't seen on the other family shows. And the characters could be flawed, and in major ways, and yet, accepted for the flaws and mistakes. These were not super parents that did no wrong and had no emotional highs and lows. They were normal people acting as normal people.
Women's rights, drug abuse, child abuse, single fathers, poverty, children who need good health care but can't afford it...it was all shown on this show. Pretty groundbreaking for the era.
Donna Reed show didn't last for eight years without a reason. And it could have possibly endured, had it not been for Tony Owens and Donna Reed divorcing.
This show is highly underrated and should be shown so that other generations can appreciate quality.
In summary, I agree with the original poster, who obviously cares for the show, but I think that the Donna Reed show has SO much more to offer than casual entertainment.