Last night I had the pleasure of watching a real rarity, the Pilot episode for the original Leave it to Beaver program. It was a simple morality play, and I’ll give you a clue about the story.
Note, this sentence is sort-of a SPOILER: The boys get tricked into “earning” a gift for themselves, but then they end up returning the item, and then they get rewarded for being “good boys.”
Here’s what IMDB says: And yes, this really is a SPOILER ALERT! “Sneaky Frankie Bennett tells Beaver that he can win a new bicycle by entering a popular television show’s Franklin Milk bottle cap contest; but Beaver and big brother, Wally, cause quite a commotion at the milk company’s office when no one there seems to know anything about a contest after the boys show up to claim their prize pulling a wagon loaded with a thousand bottle caps.”
Gee, it’s a swell story. Seriously, it’s cute and a nice way to remind yourself that there was indeed a day when life seemed simpler than today. I also found that watching this Pilot episode gave me the opportunity to play TV-Studio-Exec. Why did the network choose these actors, and why were some of them replaced?
Before Wally, there was Paul Sullivan. A clunky looking kid who is much taller than “the Beav.” His performance was believable enough, but he did not return in the series. Why? The scuttlebug is that Sullivan grew too much. He was too big to play Wally’s role. Okay, it happens.
Then we have Casey Adams who later in his career used the name Max Showalter. He seemed like a nice enough dad. His performance seemed convincing. He does have a nice satirical look about him. Maybe that’s why he didn’t return.
It’s hard to be objective when critiquing these actors. After all, the entire series was played by a guy who had obvious chemistry with June Cleaver for so many episodes. Yes, I’m talking about Ward Cleaver played by Hugh Beaumont…
And the beloved Barbara Billingsley is June Cleaver. Bye the way, did you ever think about their last name? Cleaver. I can hardly imagine an angel like “June” swinging a cleaver. Let’s move on 😉
What about Eddie (the hassler) Haskell? He’s not in the pilot – at least not by name. The kid that originally convinced the Beav to do what he does is Harry Shearer (Saturday Night Live.) He’s a Eddie Haskell type of smart-aleck. I think it’s safe to say that this character is developed later as the Eddie character.
The pilot can be seen in it’s entirety on TV.
The Cleavers (as seen in the rest of the series.)
I love that photo! Here’s what Jerry Mathers “the Beav” has to say about the Pilot’s name, the characters, cinematography, and how the show became a series in nearly 100 languages and countries. Here’s the Youtube url for those of you using a mobile device. https://youtu.be/35EMVyAntAg
Don’t forget to add my channels to watch the Pilot and other pilots like MR. ED! And meanwhile, I’d like to remind you that I depend on the support of folks like you. I have a Patreon page for my fund raising, please take a moment to lend your support of $1 or more. — (c) Dean Lachiusa