DVD blog review: Mister Ed: The Complete Third Season

A DVD is a DVD, you see, you see, but it’s more than that when it’s Mister Ed. The beloved ’60s sitcom returns this month in a four-disc set of The Complete Third Season from Shout! Factory, which is doing the job MGM Home Video failed to finish several years ago.

In 2004, MGM issued the first of two box sets featuring a total of 41 assorted “best of” episodes of Mister Ed from throughout its 143-episode, six-season run of 1961-66. While these out of print sets remain a source for randomlater-season shows, Shout! Factory is issuing season sets in their entirety, with the latest featuring all 26 episodes of Season Three. And this one puts us more than half-way through Ed’s TV output, since the upcoming Season Six was just 13 episodes, while all others were 26.

Again, Wilbur Post (Alan Young) and his adored horse, Mister Ed (voiced by movie cowboy “Rocky” Lane) have misadventures amid much bonding and sweetness in typical ’60s sitcom fashion. Wife Carol (Connie Hines) remains loving and supportive, even amid Wilbur’s oddities spurred by his secret life with Ed, his talking — and smart-mouthing — horse. And next-door neighbors Roger and Kay (Larry Keating and Edna Skinner) continue to be busybodies who walk into the Post’s home without knocking whenever they please.

Carol wears fancier duds and hair in this third season, as the Posts perhaps reflect an increased affluence, much as the Cleavers do in the upcoming season three of Leave It To Beaver (also from Shout! and do next week). And Keating, bless his heart, even in early Season Three episodes shows signs of the health decline that led to his sudden death near season’s end. A great comic actor, at least he went out with a winner of a show.

In future seasons you’ll see Leon Ames as Wilbur’s old military colonel, taking Keaton’s place as the next-door foil. But Ed would never be the same again, though it spurred onward for 2 1/2 more seasons.

The best part of Mister Ed is Ed himself, played by a horse who not only was beautiful but well trained, responsive and even dignified. Ed did everything right on cue, and it truly seemed he and Wilbur had a meeting of the minds in their conversations (with Lane speaking for him off-camera as the horse’s mouth moved). Young also did remarkable work in their scenes, making them feel real for every second. (You’ll hear him on an audio-only interview from around 2004, as this set’s DVD extra. Good stuff, but the host is too much of a sycophant.)

Though an impudent troublemaker, Ed also is a sentimentalist. As he says tearfully of himself and Wilbur in one episode, they’re a couple of “blubbering slobs.” I, for one, enjoy blubbering along with them while watching this very special show, which was preposterous on the surface but tender in its gallant heart.


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