Friday, August 11, 2017


Father Knows Best was alive for six years (1954-60) and -- sharing the same condition with Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver -- crashed and burned when midnight approached on the decade. Like LITB (but unlike O&H which had the good sense not to turn Rick Nelson into a big man on campus), the Anderson kids changed quite a bit and not for the better. The show is at times preachy, always drenched in Eisenhower monochrome conservatism, somewhat predictable, and toward the end Jane Wyatt as Mother turned herself (or somebody did) into a piece of arch waxworks so annoying as to ruin most episodes from years 5 and 6. Still, I love it, most of the time. It is beautifully photographed, scored, and paced. What's most attractive is its radical faith in the basic goodness of people. Unlike O&H and LITB, there are unrepentant bad characters in FKB (unlike any other 50s family show). There's a war going on here -- internal and external -- between Christian light and Christian dark, and when necessary both sides get their due. But the human good, in the most earnest way, always has the last word.

A lovely episode from March 1955, "No Partiality"