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Case Number 03598

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Sanford And Son: The Complete Third Season

Sony // 1973 // 596 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // November 20th, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Sanford And Son: The Complete First Season (published September 10th, 2002), Sanford And Son: The Complete Second Season (published November 20th, 2003), Sanford And Son: The Complete Fifth Season (published October 13th, 2004), and Sanford And Son: The Complete Series (published November 13th, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

You big dummy!

Opening Statement

Finally conquering the weaknesses that plagued the first two seasons, the third season of Sanford and Son set the tone for the rest of the series.

Columbia TriStar presents the third season on DVD for the first time, ripe for rediscovery in the crowded DVD market.

Facts of the Case

Fred G. Sanford (Redd Foxx) and his son Lamont (Demond Wilson) are still collecting junk and trading barbs against assorted friends, enemies, and each other.

Grady Wilson (Whitman Mayo) emerges as a major character this season, eventually becoming the focus of several episodes toward the end. Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page) is given more screen time and we see more behind the character. Of course, lovable old Bubba (Don Bexley) is still around, filling Fred's head with goofy ideas.

The Evidence

The show was really hitting its stride by the third season. Unlike the first two seasons, there is not a dud among this group of episodes. The cast grew more comfortable with each other and good chemistry became great as each episode unfolded. More emphasis was placed on one-liners and comic characters and that was a great recipe. Instead of becoming stale, the show was remaining fresh and witty. Some of my all time favorite episodes appeared in this season and the fourth season was the best to come.

Again, in addition to strong scripting and direction, the acting was what made Sanford and Son work so well. Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson had undeniable chemistry together, and the result was many comic highlights. NBC tried to revive the show minus Wilson in 1980 and it just didn't work. It's difficult to recapture lightning in a bottle and more times than not, they fail.

Also, Foxx and Wilson were surrounded by a group of top notch character actors, each well cast for their roles. I have mentioned how invaluable Whitman Mayo was in previous reviews and the final six episodes really give him a showcase for his unique talents. LaWanda Page's straight-laced Aunt Esther is the perfect foil for Foxx's gift of rankouts and one-liners. The reason why the jokes work so well is that the actors play it completely straight. One laugh and the mood would be ruined

A note: Redd Foxx and the producers had a contract dispute before shooting episode 19. As a result, that episode was not filmed and the remaining six episodes were rewritten, with Whitman Mayo as Grady substituted.

As with the second season, all 24 episodes of the third season are spread out over three discs. On a scale of zero to five dump trucks:

"Lamont, Is That You?"
Bubba sees Rollo and Lamont leave a gay bar and tells Fred, who jumps to the wrong conclusion.
Rating: *****

"Lamont as Othello"
Fred thinks Lamont has mistaken fiction for life when he walks in on Lamont and his white female drama coach rehearsing.
Rating: ****1/2

"This Little TV Went to Market"
Fred buys a used color TV and discovers that it is the same set that was stolen from Grady's home.
Rating: *****

"Presenting the Three Degrees"
Lamont and Rollo decide to manage the famous singing trio and Fred falls deep for them during rehearsal.
Rating: ****

"Libra Rising All Over Lamont"
Fred gets indigestion after eating eight-day-old collard greens and decides to milk the situation for what it's worth.
Rating: ***1/2

"Fred, the Reluctant Finger Man"
Fred catches two burglars ransacking Julio's house but is too scared to testify.
Rating: ****1/2

"Fuentes, Fuentes, Sanford and Chico"
Fred moves out after objecting to Lamont and Julio's new side business.
Rating: ****1/2

"A House is Not a Pool Room"
Fred's gift of a pool table quickly wears out its appeal. Guest star: Stymie Beard of "Our Gang."
Rating: *****

"The Blind Mellow Jelly Collection"
Lamont convinces Fred to donate his rare Blind Mellow Jelly records to a local library. After discovering their true value, Fred cooks up a scheme to get the records back.
Rating: *****

Fred is set to inherit his late uncle's fortune. Only one problem: he's afraid to fly!
Rating: ****

"The Engagement"
Fred proposes to Donna in order to scare off any rival suitors.
Rating: ****

"Grady the Star Boarder"
Grady moves into the Sanford home—and disrupts the daily routine.
Rating: ****1/2

"Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe"
Grady's friend casts doubt on whether Fred is really Lamont's father.
Rating: ****1/2

"Wine, Women and Aunt Esther"
After a funeral, Fred throws a giant party to cheer his friends up.
Rating: ***1/2

"Fred Sanford, Legal Eagle"
Fred decides to defend Lamont against an unfair traffic ticket.
Rating: *****

"This Land is Whose Land?"
Fred calls a surveyor to measure his property line. Disaster ensues.
Rating: ****

"Fred's Cheating Heart"
Fred fakes a heart attack to gain Lamont's attention.
Rating: *****

"The Party Crasher"
Lamont and Rollo scheme to get Fred out of the house so they can invite their hot dates over. It doesn't go according to plan.
Rating: ****1/2

"Lamont Goes Karate"
Lamont takes karate lessons after confronting a bully at the local hangout. Grady attempts to help Lamont win his battle. Directed by Bud Yorkin (Start The Revolution Without Me).
Rating: ****

"Will the Real Fred Sanford Please Do Something?"
Grady is mistaken for Fred by a woman whom he had a fling with several years ago.
Rating: *****

"Tyranny, Thy Name is Grady"
Lamont changes the locks to keep Grady away from his hot double date with Rollo. Grady brings Aunt Esther as a weapon.
Rating: *****

"Aunt Esther and Uncle Woodrow—Phfft…"
Esther throws Woody out of the house and he seeks refuge at the Sanford home.
Rating: ****1/2

"The Way to Lamont's Heart"
Lamont's girlfriend makes a move on Grady before Lamont gets a chance to propose.
Rating: ****

"Hello Cousin Emma, Goodbye Cousin Emma"
Grady's cousin Emma comes to visit and ends up being a major pain. Written by Bill Manhoff (The Owl And The Pussycat).
Rating: *****

After a surprisingly strong outing with Sanford and Son: The Complete Second Season, Columbia TriStar comes up a bit short this time around. The full frame transfer isn't as sharp, with artifacting, some brief pixelation, grain, and distracting hot pink bars in several scenes. Granted, it looks much better than the prints used for television, but after the visual treat of the Season Two set, this one is a letdown.

Not much better is the Dolby Digital 1.0 mono mix. The same problems that plagued the first two sets are present again. The sound is serviceable, but even the simplest mono mixes can be a great experience, if done well. Unfortunately, this is a concept few have grasped yet.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

As with the first two sets, no extras are to be found. This is a shame because there are many fine featurettes and documentary material that have aired on television and would have been welcome here. But as usual, Columbia TriStar misses the ball.

Closing Statement

I can happily recommend this set as a purchase. Once you watch an episode, you will want to see more and the best episodes will demand repeat viewings. The set is affordably priced, so it's well worth spending some hard earned money on.

The Verdict

Not guilty, but Columbia is warned to give a little more effort in their transfer work.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 84
Audio: 83
Extras: 0
Acting: 96
Story: 98
Judgment: 97

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 596 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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