August 18, 2009 Review - The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Second Season

Season 2 of The Donna Reed Show is here, and the wait was wonderfully short! There are 38 new episodes to enjoy. Mary Stone is now 15 and brother Jeff is now 12 years old. Mary starts to date, as the high school boys and even young college men take notice of the beautiful young woman she is becoming. There are great guest stars on these episodes as well. Esther Williams plays Donna's school friend Molly. And a young Marion Ross plays Jeff's new teacher. This second season is just as terrific as the first, as you follow life in the Stone household through the end of 1959 and halfway into 1960.

Starring as the Stones are:
Donna Stone.......Donna Reed
Dr. Alex Stone.....Carl Betz
Mary Stone.........Shelley Fabares
Jeff Stone...........Paul Petersen

Watching this show was just like watching a real family documentary, since the four main players are so comfortable with one another. It's interesting to note (and also adds to the enjoyment and realism conveyed) that Donna Reed tried her best to instill a real familial, warm atmosphere on the set, which comes through in the ensemble performances.

According to Reed's main biographer, Jay Fultz, the quartet became a very close-knit surrogate family throughout the show's initial run, amd remained so when it ended. The four remained close long afterward, usually meeting once a month for lunch and turning heads in the process. They all stayed close until Betz's death of lung cancer in 1978, as well as Reed's battle with pancreatic cancer until her passing in 1986. Today, Petersen and Fabares are still like brother and sister, remaining in contact; he also went to visit her when she was recovering from her liver transplant due to an autoimmune disorder, noting his "wild" days of the 1960s and '70s: "I do all the drinking and you get the liver!"

In sum, for those who love the classic era of TV, this is a well-written, well-acted, comical, and thoughtful show that was painstakingly overseen by its namesake, although her husband got most of the production credits. However, for those willing to delve deeper into pop culture history, they will find that Reed was an underrated, uncredited auteur who oversaw almost all of the elements of the show. The result is a timeless family show that fully deserves its place among the annals of classic programs released for home media.

The Donna Reed Show: The Complete Second Season

The Donna Reed Show: The Complete First Season

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