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Case Number 26379: Small Claims Court

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The Courtship of Eddie's Father: The Complete First Season

Warner Bros. // 1969 // 676 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // October 9th, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge P.S. Colbert has a father, a grandfather, an uncle, and a son; all named Tom. Take that, Brandon Cruz!

Editor's Note

Our review of The Courtship of Eddie's Father: The Complete Second Season, published October 9th, 2013, is also available.

The Charge

"People let me tell you 'bout my best friend…"

The Case

"…He's a warm-hearted person who'll love me till the end-uh.
People let me tell you 'bout my best friend,
he's a one boy cuddly toy;
my up, my down, my pride and joy.
People let me tell you 'bout him,
he's so much fun,
whether we're talkin' man to man or
whether we're talkin' son to son.
'Cause he's my best friend…"

If you know this insanely happy and infectiously catchy little ditty ("composed and sunged by" Harry Nilsson, The Point), you're now either singing along out loud, playing the song in your head, or your soul is dead—and good luck with that.

Here at last! Here at last! Thank Warner Bros. Archive Collection, it's here at last: The Courtship of Eddie's Father: The Complete First Season; all twenty-six groovy episodes in one big, beautiful bundle.

Young and successful Tom Corbett (Bill Bixby, The Incredible Hulk) works as the managing director of Los Angeles-based Tomorrow magazine, and his six year old son Eddie (Brandon Cruz, The Bad News Bears) is a kindergartner with an eye for the ladies—for his dad, that is!

Still reeling from the recent loss of dearly beloved wife and mother Helen, Corbett and son reside in a luxurious condominium, spotlessly kept by housekeeper Mrs. Livingston (Miyoshi Umecki, Flower Drum Song), in the United States from Japan, on a visitor's visa. Though she makes tea, Tempura, and addresses Tom as "Meestah Eddie's father," Mrs. Livingston is treated as a respected member of the family, never subject to ridicule or stereotyping. As played by the incomparable Umecki (who won an Oscar for her performance in Sayonara), Mrs. Livingston remains one of the most unique, dignified, and ingratiating television characters of all time.

The regular cast is rounded out by Tom's best friend—and Eddie's "adopted Uncle," Norman Tinker (James Komack, Damn Yankees!), the magazine's photographer and mad (not to mention Mod!) creative genius. Finally, there's Tom's cute but slightly kooky personal secretary, Tina Rickles (Kristina Holland, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home)—picture a Laugh-In-era Goldie Hawn with chestnut hair.

When this TV adaptation of a hit movie (itself adapted from a novel by Mark Toby) bowed in the fall of 1969, prime time was absolutely teeming with handsome, eligible widower fathers: Sam Jones (Ken Berry, Mayberry, RFD), Gov. William Drinkwater (Dan Dailey, The Governor and J.J.), and Professor Michael Endicott (John Forsythe, To Rome With Love). Fred McMurray was starting his tenth season as Steve Douglas on My Three Sons, and Brian Keith was heading into his fourth year as surrogate father Bill Davis, in Family Affair, though he was actually raising his late brother's kids, having never married, himself.

What ultimately sets The Courtship of Eddie's Father apart—and above—the rest is its unwillingness to play strictly by standard sitcom rules. You'll sometimes hear a laugh track, but not as often as you'd expect to in a half-hour weekly that counts two zany characters among its regulars. Some of the strongest material here isn't comedic at all, but never fear—this isn't a "dramedy," either, where laughs and lectures jostle uncomfortably. The episodes have titles and plots, but they're not driven by either—here's that rare show about love and life lessons that actually works.

The episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with clear and sharp mono sound. There are some grain remnants here and there, but otherwise, you'd never know that forty years has passed since they were first broadcast. There are no subtitles and no extras; chalk that up as a life lesson about MOD (Made on Demand/DVR) releases in general.

Nilsson's wonderfully whimsical songs float throughout the stories, his singing occasionally voicing commentary, and each episode is book-ended by segments featuring Tom and Eddie alone together, taking in the scenery of a forest preserve, a zoo, or strolling along the beach. While they wander, the pair discuss this, that, and any old thing:

Eddie: Dad, why are Mrs. Livingston's eyes different?

Tom: Her eyes aren't different, Eddie. Our eyes are different.

If all this learning, loving and living together stuff sounds too sickly sweet to bother with, then believe me: You need this show more than I enjoy it!

The Verdict

Innocent. Refreshingly innocent.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 99

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 676 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Classic
• Comedy
• Drama
• Family
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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