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"My Three Sons" remains one of the most popular television series ever.
course it has its detractors as any show does, but its historical value
in its simplicity and naivete. A hybrid of the era the would be labeled
'dom-com' or domestic situation comedy, "My Three Sons" is notable for
star-friendly shooting schedule, and the composition of the nuclear
with a motherless family being brought up by the widowed father and
housekeeper grandfather, something that was relatively new to television
1960. In its early years the cast changes were minimal but as the show
progressed and additional characters were added, most viewers had no
keeping up with the Douglases. In reruns the show has found a whole new
generation of audience, even if they seem more sophisticated now than
we were at a younger age. The fact remains that the series is still
and with a huge catalogue of episodes in it's inventory, the reruns will
probably continue for ever as long as television stations need
By today's standards it appears wholesome, tame and perhaps slightly dated, but it's a slice of life that all of us can appreciate and learn from. "My Three Sons" is more than just another run of the mill television show from the 1960s - it is an enduring piece of sitcom entertainment that still entertains today some forty plus years after its premiere. The comfortably numb nostalgia that the show evokes is only part of the viewing pleasure. There really is great work here so take a step back in time to the good old days when there were no tv dinners... and watch a much loved part of television history.
When this show first came on, a lot of people called it a Disney show due to the fact that Fred MacMurray and Don Grady, who both appeared in Disney Films. This show was definitely the one of the first ones to deal with single parenthood, but it dealt with it in a humorous manner. This was also one of the few shows that survived a change in networks when it jumped from A.B.C. to rival C.B.S. in 1965. And that wasn't the only change. Like many other shows that year, it went from black and white to color. However, unlike many other shows, it managed to make the transition very easily and, ironically, it stayed on for an additional seven years on C.B.S. as opposed to the five that it was on A.B.C.. However, one thing that really changed when it went through all those changes was the fact that many people said that the A.B.C. episodes were more adventurous and were often very surreal. Hopefully, one of these days both eras of this show will be released and the fans of the show will be able to choose for themselves.
Because of its many changes over the years, My Three Sons seemed almost
two different shows. Both were very good, but I prefer the earlier
episodes, the black & white ones. They had a certain charm to them that
missing in later years. Robby somehow never seemed to fit the eldest
role the way Mike did. That, and the move from Bryant Park, Michigan out
Los Angeles took away the small town feel that the earlier episodes had.
Then came the arrival of women into the family, and that changed
For the first five seasons, 1960-61 to 1964-65, the show was aired on ABC and filmed in black & white. For the last seven seasons, 1965-66 to 1971-72, it was aired on CBS and filmed in color. For the first 4.5 seasons, the boys "nanny" was their grandfather Bub, for the last 7.5 seasons it was their great uncle Charlie. For the first 5 seasons, the sons were Mike, Robby, and Chip, for the last 7 seasons the sons were Robby, Chip, and Ernie.
William Frawley left the show halfway through the 1964-65 due to ill health (he died in 1966). In the story line, Bub went over to Ireland to visit relatives and decided to stay there. Shortly after his departure, his brother Charlie arrived for a visit, and ended-up staying for the rest of the shows run. After the end of that season, Bub was never referred to again. In the first episode of the 1965-66 season, Mike married his girlfriend Sally and moved to another town to take a job. This marked Tim Considine's departure from the series. To re-establish the "three sons" storyline, Steve Douglas adopted Chip's friend Ernie, who had recently become an orphan. Mike was never seen again (not even when Steve married Barbara) and was only sporadically referred to thereafter.
More bits of trivia:
Before being cast as Katie, Tina Cole had appeared several years earlier(in the black & white days) as Ina, one of Robbys friends.
Stanley Livingston and Barry Livingston are brothers.
Before being adopted by the Douglases, Ernies last name was Thompson. Years later, Chip married Polly Thompson, no relation to Ernie.
When Robby and Katie had kids, it was triplets. They were all boys, thus keeping with the "three sons" theme.
Originally, the show was going to be called "The Fred MacMurray Show", but MacMurray objected to that, so the title was changed.
In its early years, My Three Sons was sponsored by Chevrolet, thus Chevy cars were seen behind the closing credits.
There are two syndication packages for My Three Sons. One package consists of the first five seasons (the black & white ones) and the final season. The other package contains the other six seasons. Why it is done this way I don't know, it doesn't make sense to me. I would think they would just have the B&W episodes as one package and the color episodes as the other.
There have been many wonderful shows, but My Three Sons have to be one
of the best. Fred MacMurray, did such a wonderful job as the father in
this show. When had those special scenes in which he was advising his
kids or explaining something to them, he would come across as someone
who was caring and very attached to his kids. I know some fathers in
this world who have trouble at being interested let alone caring.
Today, this show might seem dated, but there is a lot we can gain from watching this show. The ideas of making a family that will work together and see things through, is a good example of one thing that we can gain from this. Television today doesn't have very many shows that will show a family working together as a unit.
Hopefully someday, we will see this show on DVD, and have it start from the beginning episode in season one. I think there is a lot we can get from this show.
A TV Classic in the golden age of early 60's sitcoms. Still,I do get the chance to watch some of episodes on a local cable channel,but the characters of Uncle Charley(William Demarest),and Uncle Bub(William Frawley,who was Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy"),are something else. Bub was more a strict disclipinary with the kids,but Charley was more ease and straightforward towards them. However,I did a comparison on the shows that were in black and white(from 1960-1965),and the ones that were in color(from 1965-1972),and the black and white episodes were the best ever especially when Chip,Robbie,and Mike were getting into all sorts of situations in the Douglass home. Oh yeah,how can I forget the family dog(Tramp),and Ernie(who came into the show during the 1964-1965 season when the show was going through some changes with different networks)who was adopted when Mike moved away and became part of the family. Fred MacMurray's role as Steve Douglass was the perfect father figure and an icon of what single families went through when their wasn't any woman in the house(that concept changed when Beverly Garland came in during the 1969-1970 season,and her and Steve got married). During the last two season of the show,you can find a very young Jodie Foster here,as Dody's playmate who was a regular on the show. The black and white episodes are rarely seen,but Hollywood is getting ready to do a remake of the classic TV show with Michael Douglas in the Fred MacMurray role. The show's theme song will live on in infinity,but still can't get the theme song out of my head!!!!
I never thought that Fred MacMurray would ever get a biography written
about him simply because of the subject. The man was apparently as
normal as he seemed. No scandals of any kind, no movie or television
star temperament, no salacious gossip of any kind. Still a good
biography was written about him in the past couple of years.
When MacMurray was offered My Three Sons his film career had rejuvenated due to Walt Disney's, The Shaggy Dog. Quite frankly MacMurray wanted to have it all, but there are only 365 days a year. Producer Don Fedderson to get his participation in the show agreed to a system whereby all of his scenes in all of the show's episodes were shot first, taking about 2 months. Then everyone else's scenes were shot and the episodes edited together. It allowed Fred time for his outside work, mostly with Walt Disney.
This was a firm and fast rule, even guest stars who didn't get around to their commitments on a show, found themselves saying their dialog to furniture as the episodes were put together. If they could be called back, they were, otherwise it was playing to the scenery.
What I find amazing is that people actually put up with this, but there's no denying the success of the results. My Three Sons had a twelve year run on the show, all of the original sons got married and started families. One son, Tim Considine quite halfway through the run like Adam Cartwright, still the show kept going as MacMurray adopted Barry Livingston to keep the trio with Don Grady and Barry's older brother Stanley Livingston.
Females gradually entered the all male household with the marriages of Considine to Meredith MacRae, Grady to Tina Cole, and Livingston to Ronne Troup. And the big finish was in those final couple of seasons as widower MacMurray married Beverly Garland and became a stepfather of girls for the first time with Dawn Lyn.
Before the females invaded the household chores and the raising of the boys was assisted by William Frawley and later William Demarest. Both had done films with MacMurray back in the old days. Frawley's health so declined the producer's could not get him insured any longer. He was not a happy camper when he was let go.
When My Three Sons completed its run, gentle family comedies like this were going way out of style. Shows like All In The Family which had a more pessimistic view of the human condition were the vogue when the Seventies were ushered in. Still the show provides some fond memories for me and it had the weirdest shooting schedule allowing it's star to have it all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"My Three Sons" is a show of the same happy-family caliber as "Brady Bunch". and yet it is a milder, gentler show, always portraying the nuclear family unit as warm, loving, supportive, and well-wishing. not a thing is wrong with seeing a family--albeit lacking in motherly figures until the last season or two--look out for each other's best interests, show respect for parental and grandparental figures, and treat everyone with kindness, giving the benefit of the doubt to all. remember how the elderly uncles are incorporated into the family and participate in meaningful ways? look at how uncle Charlie could cook. remember how Ernie is adopted along the way as a son? so lovely. much later in the series when widower dad Steve finally remarries, a daughter is adopted into the family, and is treated respectfully by her much elder new brothers. (think how late teens and early twenties persons look to a seven year old.) do we not value respectful, obedient behavior toward our parents and caregivers and authorities? then this show holds up, despite all the changes the household goes through--as any household is apt to have in twelve years of life. lovely, lovely.
I have read various postings of the My Three Sons subject, and sincerely hope that they NEVER make a "new" version of it ! I only wish they would syndicate the black and white episodes, as they were the best ! Yeah,I miss the early California sitcoms with a message,, and would opt to view them rather than watch Will and Grace any day ! Naturally Bill Frawley was great as Bub, but you do get to see him tire through that last year or two episodes....Will Demerest as Uncle Charlie was precious though !,, I'm so sorry that through the last few years,, that the show scummed to the changing times, and the boys went "hip", and the issues got more messagey....Yup, the early years were the best, and there ain't no replacing' it !!!
I would give anything to have My Three Sons out on DVD. All the other good old family comedies are, why not the best one ever made. I'd love it and I know many others who would love it as well. Can someone please tell me why such a fabulous award winning family comedy is not yet out on DVD for those of us who love the good old days of television shows. Shows like I love Lucy and Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith are out there on DVD, and they are all from the same era as My Three Sons. The acting was fabulous in this good old sit-com and they touched on some really wonderful family values and packed it all into a half hour show of light hearted laughs. What stops this wonderful show from being re-produced and sold like the other old shows? I'd pay most definitely to have them all.
My Three Sons, was one of many 60s family sitcoms. It revolved around
suburban patriarch, Steve Douglas, and his three sons. Steve was a
widower, trying to do his best to raise his sons without the help of a
spouse. The sons did have their gruff but lovable Uncle Charlie, around
to clean, cook, and give them his sage guidance.
It was fun to see the three boys, always get into one misadventure after another. Dad Steve, was always patient with his son's misgivings. Steve was the kind of father that most kids would love to have. He was at least as credible a father-figure as Ward Cleaver was, on Leave It To Beaver.
I'll always fondly remember this heartwarming show. It's not in syndication anymore, but you can watch it on DVD now. It's among the best of the 60s family sitcoms.
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