Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Classic Reborn: Still The Beaver (aka The New Leave it to Beaver)(1985)

Leave it to Beaver had been a staple in syndication after its initial network run ended, then was picked up on cable. So the nostalgia factor kicked in when the Disney Channel, then a premium network, took a chance on reviving the series in the mid-80's.

Problem was, Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver) had passed away in the intervening years. After co-stars Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers, & Barbara Billingsley, among others, had appeared on The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, among other places, the idea was pitched to Universal Television (formerly Revue Studios) for the revival. Disney started with a TV-movie, leading to Still The Beaver hitting the air as a weekly series in 1985.

Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (Mathers), and his brother, Wally (Dow), had gotten married, and in Beaver's case, divorced, since the series ended, as did Wally's best buds, "Lumpy" Rutherford (Frank Bank) and Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond). Each have two kids. In fact, Eddie's boys are played by Osmond's real life sons. Greedy, sleazy Eddie owns a contracting business that isn't exactly on the up-&-up. Wally is a lawyer. Lumpy & Beaver go into business together, spinning out of working for Lumpy's dad.

After the first season, Disney decided to drop the show, which would move to basic cable, specifically to TBS, which rechristened the series as The New Leave it to Beaver. In its new home, the show lasted three more years. This wouldn't be the last time Disney misjudged a program. Around the same time that the new Beaver ended its run, Disney pink-slipped another sitcom that found greater success elsewhere. That would be Saved by The Bell, which was known as Good Morning, Miss Bliss at Disney.

Now, let's take a look at the series premiere of Still The Beaver:

While this series was on the air, Barbara Billingsley was also doing some voice work on Jim Henson's Muppet Babies for CBS, which outlasted The New Leave it to Beaver, but not by much.

No rating.

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