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.
You big dummy!
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 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?"
"Lamont as Othello"
"This Little TV Went to Market"
"Presenting the Three Degrees"
"Libra Rising All Over Lamont"
"Fred, the Reluctant Finger Man"
"Fuentes, Fuentes, Sanford and Chico"
"A House is Not a Pool Room"
"The Blind Mellow Jelly Collection"
"Grady the Star Boarder"
"Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe"
"Wine, Women and Aunt Esther"
"Fred Sanford, Legal Eagle"
"This Land is Whose Land?"
"Fred's Cheating Heart"
"The Party Crasher"
"Lamont Goes Karate"
"Will the Real Fred Sanford Please Do Something?"
"Tyranny, Thy Name is Grady"
"Aunt Esther and Uncle Woodrow—Phfft…"
"The Way to Lamont's Heart"
"Hello Cousin Emma, Goodbye Cousin Emma"
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.
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.
Not guilty, but Columbia is warned to give a little more effort in their transfer work.
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