Archive for the ‘Mister Ed’ Category

DVD blog review: Mister Ed: The Complete Third Season

June 8, 2010

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.

‘Mister Ed’ on DVD is a treat–of course, of course

October 6, 2009

What the world needs now, besides love, sweet love, is innocence. And that’s what you’ll get from vintage ’60s TV chestnut Mister Ed, a hit show which aired for five years and 143 episodes, yet till now has had only two compilation DVDs (from MGM)  totalling 41 episodes.

Now the fine folks at Shout! Factory have issued Mister Ed: The Complete First Season in a four-disc set featuring 26 episodes, only four of which appear on the first volume of the aforementioned compilations.

The show, of course, concerned a lovely horse, Ed, owned by an architect, Wilbur (Alan Young). Ed lived in a barn behind Wilbur and wife Carol’s (Connie Hines) sprawling new suburban home, and Wilbur even set up his office there, amid the hay.

Amusing mayhem ensues when Wilbur learns Ed is a talking horse with seemingly as much brain power as the average human — maybe even more. But Ed only speaks to Wilbur, a secret they keep.

Ed was voiced by an uncredited Allan “Rocky” Lane, a one-time star of big-screen westerns. As Young and Hines reveal in a commentary for the show’s first episode, Lane almost lost his job at one point in the 1961-66 series, but was retained — and got a studio parking space — because he was the only one good enough to do it.

Indeed, Ed’s dry humor and gentle sneeers are what powers this show beyond its often typical sitcom silliness. Everything perks up whenever Ed opens his mouth — achieved by getting the horse to chew his bit and make mouth movements that actually looked as if he were talking.

BTW, Bamboo Harvester was the real horse’s name, but as far as I’m concerned, the golden Palomino was and always will be Ed. On the other hand, the Posts’ put-upon nosy neighbor was replaced, when original costar Larry Keating died and Leon Ames took over.

It’s still jarring and wearisome for me to watch neighbors and other folks blithely walk into people’s homes in such early sitcoms. Anyone ever heard of a lock, a knock or personal privacy? But that does tend to move the plots along without a lot of door-answering scenes.

The DVDs have beautiful picture quality, and there’s also a recent interview with Young and Hines. Let’s hope Shout! Factory picks up where this season left off by issuing a second season. That’s when CBS picked up the show originally, after Mister Ed had run in syndication for its first season. Getting new life on a network was quite a rarity.

Indeed, this is one special show. Forget the nonsense of its premise and enjoy the fun of its execution — of course, of course.

I’m referring — of course — to Mister Ed’s theme song, which begins “A horse is a horse, of course, of course.” When you don’t hear it with the first episode, don’t fret. After using an instrumental track for six episodes, the show went with a vocal version sung by song  co-writer Jay Livingston in Episode 7. That one stuck till the end while Mister Ed, for five years, made hay.