Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963)
Still The Beaver (1985-1986)
The New Leave It To Beaver (1986-1989)
Oh dear God can someone please let a happy old family sitcom rest in peace???? I guess not. Everything that used to be successful must be dragged out for the crowd in a humiliating and abusive fashion on the off chance somebody might want to watch.
In this case I am talking about Leave It To Beaver. Leave It To Beaver was your classic late fifties early sixties family sitcoms. Beaver was the nickname of the central character, young Theodore Cleaver. Why he was called "Beaver" I dunno. You would think some adult would have pointed him at a nickname a little less questionable... like Hooters! I mean geeze!
Anyway, Beaver was a young kid who wondered his way through kid adventures with a sort of slow comprehension. He would slowly make his realizations about life and it was cute. He had an older brother named Wally who was the cool older brother anyone would want. Wally's best friend was troublemaker and kiss ass Eddie Haskell. Beaver's dad Ward always had friendly advice and a helping hand for... the Beaver. And Beaver's mother June was the happy housewife who would clean the house in a dress, heals and a pearl necklace. Hey June! Throw on some sweats for crying out loud! She was always cleaning up after her cute little... never mind. I can't help it!!! It's just too easy!
The show went on long enough that Beaver started to grow up. Unfortunately, and with apologies to Jerry Mathers who played Beaver, while Beaver was a cute little kid, he grew into a funky looking pre-teen. And where the slow comprehension thing was cute in a little kid, in an older kid it looks like potential mental retardation. Lack of cuteness leads to lack of ratings and thus to cancellation after a healthy six year run.
Then in 1983 there was a reunion movie called Still The Beaver which brought back most all of the surviving cast of the old show (Hugh Beaumont who played Beav's dad Ward had passed on). It turns out Beaver was coming back to his home town with two young sons after breaking up with his wife. The whole old gang was back including mom, brother Wally and Eddie Haskell. Just as Beav had kids of his own, Eddie had a whole new generation of troublemakers of his own.
Well, as with most reunion movies it scored some pretty good ratings. The thing is - and I don't think the the television industry has figured this out yet - the thing is while we like to have a quick hit of nostalgia and reconnect with characters we cared about, for the most part I don't think we want to stick around week after week with a whole new version of an old show. So, on the basis of the movie's success The Disney Channel started a new series also titled Still The Beaver which continued where the movie left off. Then once Disney dropped the show after a single season, the cable channel WTBS picked the show up with the new title The New Leave It To Beaver. WTBS probably hoped keeping to the original title would increase the name recognition value from the original show.
Now to be fair, the updated show did last four years so I guess somebody wanted to see more of Beaver (okay that one was an accident). But still, it was hardly a runaway sensation. It was original made for cable fare. But still, for my money, I don't want to find out that the little quizzical kid from the 50's grew up to have a failed marriage and a struggling existence. It's just... depressing. LEAVE MY BEAVER IN PEACE.
Okay, I have to stop this page now because I can't write anything about this show without it sounding wrong. I apologize. To sum up: old show happy and impossibly ideal, new show too real and, well, cable.
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