Judge P.S. Colbert comes from a family of 12; beat that, Bradfords!
"What I'm trying to tell you nicely is that about four of you were accidents…That doesn't mean you're not loved, it just means that you weren't planned."—Joan Bradford, mother of eight.
"Let's see now…one daughter being charged with felony drug offense. One small son just out of surgery. One large son leaving home for good. Half a thousand further in debt. So far, so good."—Tom Bradford, father of eight.
Welcome to Casa de Bradford. Comfortably nestled in sunny suburban Sacramento, this house is crowded with laughter, tears, and brotherly/sisterly love. Come meet the family: newspaper columnist and dear-old-dad Tom (Dick Van Patten, Westworld), his wife Joan (Diana Hyland), and their offspring octet—several of whom changed dramatically when the show went from pilot to series.
• "Never Try Eating Nectarines Since Juice May Dispense"
• "Pieces Of Eight"
• "Women, Ducks, and The Domino Theory"
• "V Is For Vivian" Tom's jet-setting, bon vivant sister (Janis Paige, Silk Stockings) breezes in for a visit, and encourages the kids to follow their dreams. Susan dreams of sky-diving.
• "Hit And Run"
• "The Gipper Caper"
Nominally based on Washington columnist Thomas Braden's family memoir, Eight Is Enough was a ratings smash right out of the box during its initial Spring 1977 run. Nevertheless, it struggled quite a bit behind the scenes; numerous casting changes made to strike the perfect balance between cutting edge, topical drama, and situation comedy (complete with laugh track).
The biggest obstacle the fledgling series faced was the loss of actress Diana Hyland, who became too ill with cancer to continue filming after four episodes. She tragically succumbed to the disease at age forty-one on March 27, 1977, two days before the third episode aired. Hyland was a beautiful and skilled actress, earning a posthumous Emmy award for her performance in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble. Her loss is still deeply felt in the remainder of the first season's episodes.
According to several adamant bloggers, additional phone conversations with Hyland were filmed to establish that Joan was temporarily "away," but these segments were removed after their first run, and were missing from reruns. I saw the show during its original broadcast run, and though I don't specifically recall these scenes, I was struck once again by the strangeness of the Bradford children's mother being absent without any mention.
Presented in standard definition 1.33:1 full frame with Dolby 2.0 Mono (the norm for 20th century television series), these episodes look and sound fantastic. Yes, there are the occasional hiccups in these 34-year-old masters, but that's not unexpected. There is one DVD production glitch, though. Someone at Warner Home Video stuck the closing credits for episode four onto episodes six, eight, and nine. Smooth move. But, there are English subtitles for the hearing impaired and additional subtitles in French and Spanish, so all is forgiven.
There's only one bonus feature, a March 2010 "reunion" appearance on NBC's Today Show. Not all of the cast is present (Lani O'Grady sadly passed away in 2001, while Adam Rich and Susan Richardson are AWOL) but the interview is lively and informative; a definite plus.
To be honest, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed revisiting these shows. Each and every episode is guaranteed to bring happy memories flooding back to fans that've been waiting so long to see this old favorite again. I look forward to seeing the remaining four seasons released soon. I hope!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Cast Reunion
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