DENNIS THE MENACE ON DVD -- SORT OF... @ 25 May 2010 04:26 PM
Rumor has it that the 1959 classic TV series version of Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace may someday reach DVD, but in the meantime, check out The Donna Reed Show, Season Three.

In the episode "Donna Decorates," Jay North as Dennis himself shows up at the Stone residence to help Donna Stone fix up her house -- and of course, hilarious wackiness ensues. When things get too much for Donna, she calls Mr. Wilson for help -- and Joseph Kearns appears in a phone conversation.

Crossovers were nothing new, even in 1960, and these were both Screen Gems shows, and I think shared the same house facade on the Columbia backlot. The Stones' living room turned up on both I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched.

By the way, The Donna Reed Show kind of became an easy target for Nick at Nite when it ran the series a few years ago. Marketing the show in a sarcastic, lampoon fashion was a clever approach, but it ultimately cast the series in an unflattering light. Sure, this was an archetypical "nice" TV family of the late '50s and early '60s before the counterculture and grittiness and satire of the years to follow made it out of fashion, but to be fair, the Stones do have arguments and exhibit faults in this episodes, though not to the degree of a Norman Lear series.

The Donna Reed Show is usually about the smaller issues in daily life -- often "about nothing" as Jerry Seinfeld later exemplified in his series. In fact, there's a Donna Reed episode in this Season called "The Mystery Woman" in which Donna meets a lady while shopping and is invited to dinner, and cannot remember the name of the lady. Seinfeld did the same thing, only with, as they like to say nowadays, "with an edge."

By season three, The Donna Reed Show has hit its stride, with tight, clever scripts and defined characters. It's definitely worth looking at and enjoying on DVD, and there's a bonus feature included with co-star Paul Petersen and Mary Owen (Ms. Reed's daughter).

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