Leave It to Beaver
is a 30-minute, black and white, family-oriented sitcom about a suburban middle class American family of the late 1950s. The show stars Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley as Ward and June Cleaver, and Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers as their sons Wally and "Beaver". Episodes follow the amusing misadventures of the two boys and the moral lessons their parents impart. The show was created and produced by writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher who based its situations on the experiences of their own children. The show was one of the first to tell its story from a child's point of view.
Beaver is a naive seven-year-old boy trying to make sense of an adult world in which he is expected to be tidy, on time, obedient, and agreeable. His brother Wally frequently acts as a facilitator between Beaver and his parents. June is a typical television "good mom" who prepares meals for her family and attends her sons' school events. She is kind and often mediates between her husband and children. Ward is the understanding disciplinarian who doles out punishment when the boys stray, or explains how their behavior is socially unacceptable.
The series claims the distinctions of being the first to display a toilet on television ("Captain Jack"), and the first to produce a final episode ("Family Scrapbook") written specifically to bring the series to a logical close. Although the show spanned television's transition period to color, Leave It to Beaver
was filmed entirely in black and white. The show received some critical acclaim with Variety
likening it to Tom Sawyer
. The show generated juvenile merchandise such as comic books and board games through its initial run, and, years later, when reruns became hugely popular, a spinoff series, a feature film, a line of Hallmark cards, calendars, clocks, and memoirs penned by the show's stars all found favor with the show's fans. Although the show never won any awards nor made the top 25 shows, it is celebrated today as an iconic representation of 1950s baby boomer middle class suburban family life and values.
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