My Three Sons: Hands down, this is one of my favorite TV shows. This show holds some of the most honest and heartfelt representations of family that the television world has ever seen. The crazy, rollicking lifestyle is something nearly any rowdy family can relate to. This show was a master at having three conversations going on at one time, perfectly capturing the happy chaos of a busy home.
The real high point in this series is William Frawley as Bub – without him, the series would have lost half of its charm. William Frawley’s alternately broad and subtle acting skills adds a class and dry hilarity to the show.
Fred MacMurray’s gentle approach balances nicely with William Frawley’s bombastic gruffness, and shows us that everyone has a different way of showing their loved ones that they care.
The three boys, Tim Considine, Don Grady and Stanley Livingstone are also outstanding. Never once do we think of them as child starlets – they are real boys, encapsulating all the wonder and woes of any normal kid.
The strong moral content and the old fashioned values are never too preachy and are a wonderful relief from most modern entertainment. Unfortunately, William Frawley retired due to health reasons at the end of season 4 and Tim Consindine left the show for other work. In my opinion it is only the first four seasons that are ‘My Three Son’s’ - everything that followed paled in comparison to these wonderful 1st four years.
Nanny and the Professor: A wonderful and hysterical series of how a magical nanny turns a family’s world upside down. Created by one of my favorite screen writers A.J Carothers, who knew how to write believable children like no one else.
The lovely Juliet Mills plays the title role to perfection – there was never a doubt in my mind that she is magical. You can almost see the pixie dust flowing off of her. This character could have been annoying because she is almost always right, but Juliet Mills adds so much graciousness to her performance that you can’t help but cheer Nanny’s victories.
Even more than Nanny, the real mark or break character in this show was the father, Professor Everett. You could have had another actress in the title part, going through the motions of being sweet and magical and it would have worked. It wouldn't have been as good, but it would have still worked since Professor Everett is the character that this show really hinges on. The subtle balance of doubt and humor in his friendship with Nanny is a very narrow tightrope to walk but the scriptwriters and Richard Long nailed it and unlike a lot of TV fathers, Richard Long portrays Pr. Everett as intelligent and attentive to his family.
The scene steal-er of the kids is Prudence. Prudence could have very easily been regulated to being ‘the cute one’, but the script writers did not skimp on any of the details and created a quirky, unique little girl that is played perfectly by the wonderful child actress, Kim Richards. This actress was so cute, she could have gotten away with just standing there, but aside from being adorable she was bursting with talent and personality.
Of all the kids, Butch, is probably the least talented actor, but he’s cute enough and his character is developed enough to make it work.
Hal, is the oldest and is played by a talented actor. In a brilliant move, the script writers made Hal the main antagonist of the show, instead of Professor Everett. Pr. Everett is distracted, and ultimately easy going in his acceptance of Nanny and mature enough to accept that there are some things that we will never understand. The analytical Hal is much more pugnacious towards Nanny, but he is cute enough to get away with it. He is young enough to never give up trying to discover her secrets...and young enough to be fooled every time. Making the kid character as the one always casting doubt on Nanny, instead of having the two adults bicker was a genius decision. Ultimately, Nanny is the mother figure and this would not have been a good family show if they had made her and the father character constantly at odds.
A warm, sweet series. None of that stuff where the Dad shakes hands with his twelve year old son because his child is ‘too old’ for affection. Professor Everett lovingly gathers all three of his children, ranging from 4 to 13 into his arms with such sincerity, it makes me smile just to watch it. The only way they could have improved this show would be to have had Nanny marry Professor Everett in the series finale and become an ‘official’ member of the family.
Content: The availability of this TV is spotty and I have only watched the 1st season. Nanny is shown as having ‘magical abilities’ such as being able to predict/foresee events, read people’s thoughts or even control the weather. Her magical ability is cued only by a bright smile and a twinkly sound effect. The magic is more of a vehicle and is never delved into at great length. Professor Everett dates occasionally and there is one very brief moment of innuendo. There also might have been one or two mentions of Evolution or other world views.
Family Ties: A hysterical show featuring the always wonderful Michael J Fox. Whether he’s falling in love, battling insomnia or buying stock – Michael J. Fox makes us buy every single scene he is in. His performance is simply brilliant and he outshines almost everyone in the show. The only other character that can touch him are his sister, Mallory Keaton and her boyfriend Nick Moore.
Nick was a brilliant edition to the show and the actor did a superb job of developing his initially gruff character into the sweet, slow witted, Neanderthal that invaded the Keaton's lives on a daily basis.
Justine Bateman is absolutely perfect as Mallory and added so much to her character. You can see the actress gradually change Mallory through the first season, developing her from a more sarcastic, simplistic character to her classic, ‘dumb’, sweet, stylish self.
This series brilliantly portrays how there are all different kinds of ways of being smart. Alex, Mallory and Nick are all talented, just in different ways.
My other favorite part of this show was that the script writers took a character that would be considered boring by most audiences—a business/economics major—and made him so interesting and multi faceted. You could accuse Alex P. Keaton of a lot of things, but you could never accuse him of being boring.
Mr. Keaton, played by Michael Gross, is funny and plays well off of Alex and Mallory, but he is somewhat hampered by being the butt of the joke in the show, constantly one upped and beleaguered by his wife (Meredith Baxter) and kids.
Skippy, the luckless and lovelorn next door neighbor could have been excellent but unfortunately was never fully developed and relegated to being the goofy side kick.
In my opinion, the real touching part of the show is Alex’s relationship with Mallory and Andy. Having a big brother of my own, it makes me smile to see Alex’s tenderness with Andy. And no matter how much he and Mallory drive one another crazy, he always takes care of her.
Content: Mr and Mrs. Keaton are quite liberal in their views on gender roles, child rearing, dating and other subjects. Mrs. Keaton is portrayed as the real hub of the family, while the father is portrayed as foolish or is spoken to disrespectfully. Jennifer’s sarcastic attitude is portrayed as being cute while Alex’s conservative views are portrayed as ridiculous.
There’s a few swear words and a lot of inappropriate episodes. Reading the episode list, it is pretty obvious which episodes need to be skipped over entirely. Some of the good episodes, still have sex related dialogue and scenarios that need to be edited.
The Dick Van Dyke: A hilarious show with a cast that can not be beat. This isn’t really a ‘family show’, as Ritchie is conveniently shuffled out of the way at every opportunity – but it’s a good show about a young married couple who are working at the daily mechanics of living together. Full of laugh out loud acting and rapid fire dialogue. If you need an instant pick me up, Dick Van Dyke will rarely fail.
Content: There were a few episodes that could be skipped – a quick look at an episode guide is pretty self explanatory.
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: I enjoy watching other nations' TV shows, because it is a fascinating look into other cultures, allowing me to experience, in a very small way, the differences--and the amazing similarities--of people from all over the world.
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was extremely popular in its time. It was dubbed into 25 languages and was shown in 128 countries. It is a fun, decent show of family friendly adventures in a wonderful setting…and I just love their accents!
In my opinion, aside from the youngest boy Sonny—who had a natural screen presence—there isn’t really any outstanding acting - but it's still a good show. The script writers showed a functional, loving family. There is a strong authority figure who instills a moral code in his children, who not only can cooperate but like each other.
A lot of the episodes are slow paced but certain episodes—specifically the ones that focus on Sonny—are surprisingly exciting, full of real peril and adventure that put me on the edge of my seat. Three episodes in particularly had me yelling at the computer screen, afraid that Sonny was either going to be eaten by sharks, drowned, or killed in a helicopter crash. I didn’t go into this show expecting nail biting moments, but when the episodes called for it, the show delivered.
Some of the episodes could be a little hokey, but if you could believe Flipper, you can believe this. Skippy the Kangaroo can understand commands as specific as ‘bring me the jar of grape jelly on the lower right hand shelf’, has a strong connection to the Force that lets her know when one of her humans are in trouble, and possesses an uncanny dexterity that enables her to untie knots and pick up objects of all shapes. But hey, people/kids weren’t as jaded back then as they are now. Just think of Skippy as a superhero, sit back and enjoy the show.
Content: There’s one episode that features a couple that might be living together. Several skimpy bathing suits are featured.
What are some of your favorite TV shows about families? I would love to hear about your favorites. Comment below!