Judge P.S. Colbert makes a mean pineapple upside down cake.
Who's the gal that's everybody's pal? It's Hazel!
Built like a fireplug and positively gushing with good will, Hazel (Shirley Booth, The Year Without a Santa Claus) may have been officially employed to look after the Baxter household, but by the time the sitcom bearing her name breezed into its second year, this merry meddlesome maid had just about worked her way into the heart of every American with a television set.
Facts of the Case
Hazel: The Complete Second Season gets right down to business with 32 episodes on 4 discs:
Let's meet the family: George Baxter (Don DeFore, The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet) is a prosperous attorney. His wife Dorothy (Whitney Blake, mother of actress Meredith Baxter, and future creator of the classic sitcom One Day At A Time) dabbles a bit with interior decoration. Their young son, Harold (Bobby Buntrock), shows up for mealtime scenes, projecting tousled hair and a winsome anonymity. If you plan on spending any amount of time with Hazel, you'd better get used to the Baxters being addressed as Mr. B, Missy, and Sport, respectively.
Hazel's not one for standing on ceremony. When the doorbell rings, this domestic servant doesn't answer it, she bull-rushes it. She may not wear the trendiest duds or make any effort to mask her Bronx accent, but when Hazel does something, she gives it her all; whether she's planning a wedding, preparing a soufflé, or playing "Taps" on the bugle for Sport's recently departed white mouse.
While categorized as a comedy and sporting a laugh track, the show doesn't necessarily concern itself with garnering guffaws, which puts it at odds with more modern sitcoms. Watching Hazel is more akin to dropping in on friends once a week, cavorting with a strong supporting cast of semi-regulars—as opposed to big name guest stars—which gives the show a real feeling of community.
What's sure to connect with audiences of any era is the peerless work of Oscar-winner Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba). Though based on Ted Key's popular comic strip character created for the Saturday Evening Post, the television version of Hazel belongs solely to Miss Booth, who won consecutive Emmys for the show's first two seasons, winning critics and audiences over with the same magic spell she's been casting for over a half century.
Presented in its original full frame, standard definition, the color transfers on Hazel: The Complete Second Season are strictly pot luck, with reds especially vivid and flesh tones vacillating between grey and powdered white. Many episodes look fine, considering their age, allowing for a reasonable amount of grit and dirt accumulation. The same allowances must be given Dolby Mono audio tracks, though the lack of English SDH subtitles for the hard of hearing is inexcusable.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
No extras? Really?! Isn't it well past time somebody did a definitive biography on three time Tony award winning actress and pop-culture icon Shirley Booth???
Time is on Hazel's side.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
Review content copyright © 2012 P.S. Colbert; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.