DVD Tuesday: The Mothers-in-Law, The Phil Silvers Show

Every Tuesday I take a look at obscure and/or classic television programs, specials, miniseries or made-for-TV movies being released on DVD. For the record I consider anything broadcast prior to 1980 to be classic or else there wouldn’t be much to discuss. The releases referred to in these posts are encoded for Region 1 use in the United States and Canada.

The big release today, from MPI Home Video, is The Mothers-in-Law: The Complete Series (8pc). First announced in February of 2009, the set was pushed back a few times but today all 56 episodes, originally broadcast between 1967 and 1969, are available along with slew of bonus features. Included are the original unaired pilot episodes, behind-the-scenes footage, promotional spots, interviews, a featurette, an unproduced script, cast commercials, home movies, and two unsold pilots — “The Carol Channing Show” and “Land’s End” — from Desi Arnaz Productions. And you can get it all at Amazon.com for the absurd price of $18.99, discounted from the suggested retail price of $39.98.

I’ve found two reviews of the set. The first, from Sitcoms Online, gives it an overall 4.5/5 rating and suggests that “even if you have never heard of or watched the show, this is probably one that you could pick up as a blind buy and enjoy.” The second, from user Rob_Ray at the Home Theater Forum, calls the set “a fine example of really going the extra mile to produce a product that does a series proud.”

Also out today, from Paramount Home Entertainment, is Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show – First Season. The series, which premiered in 1955, was originally called You’ll Never Get Rich before it was retitled The Phil Silvers Show and ran for 143 episodes and four seasons, ending in 1959. A 50th anniversary compilation set was released in 2006 with 18 episodes but this is the first time a complete season from the series has been available. You get all 34 episodes from the 1955-1956 season as well as a live audition show/pilot episode show that was never broadcast, network openings and cast commercials and an episode of The Lucy Show guest starring Phil Silvers.

Finally, Alpha Video is releasing two new single disc DVDs, Life With Elizabeth, Volume 3 and Life With Elizabeth, Volume 4, each with four episodes.

6 Comments

  • Mike S. says:

    My copy of “The Mothers-In-Law” came in the mail this week, and I have just started going through the collection. The extras are wonderful (gotta love the cast commercials and the unaired pilot with a different actress playing Suzie Hubbard), the episodes are wonderfuly restored, and any collection that includes the NBC Peacock opening (on the first episode that aired) is all right with me!
    And at $20 bucks including shipping, it’s one of the best DVD collections around. I loved the show as a boy; I’m enjoying it even more in my advanced years. Even if you never watched “The Mothers-In-Law,” it’s worth the low price just for the many extras alone.

  • pB says:

    Any information about Life with Elizabeth. I never heard of it.

  • RGJ says:

    Life With Elizabeth was a syndicated sitcom starring Betty White and Del Moore that ran for two seasons and 62 episodes from 1953 to 1955. White and Moore played a married couple whose antics were depicted in each episode. Actually, each episode featured several individual stories. You can watch several episodes at the Internet Archive:

    http://www.archive.org/details/Life_With_Elizabeth_5
    http://www.archive.org/details/Lbines-RetroVisionTheaterPresentsLifeWithElizabeth888
    http://www.archive.org/details/Life_with_Elizabeth
    http://www.archive.org/details/Betty_White_6
    http://www.archive.org/details/Life_With_Elizabeth_2
    http://www.archive.org/details/Life_With_Elizabeth_3

  • Mike S. says:

    “Elizabeth” actually started on a local Los Angeles television station in 1952; it was then syndicated to local stations a year later. Betty White co-produced the series under her Banda Productions banner (a rarity for a woman in the early days of television.) She earned her first Emmy award for her role as Elizabeth. White went on to play a similar housewife character, Vicki Angel, on the ABC sitcom “Date With The Angels” (1957-58). The rest of her long career, of course, is show business history.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    “LIFE WITH ELIZABETH” was also unique in that all three segments in every episode could also be syndicated separately, in ten minute segments, for a total of “195″ episodes…and there were several stations that scheduled 5, 10 and 15 minute shows during their broadcast day.

    “THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW” was primarily sponsored by R.J. Reynolds’ Camel cigarettes throughout its original priime-time run on CBS. Their “integrated commercials”, featuring Phil and several of his cast, usually appeared in the middle of the episode, often tied into the evening’s plot. The scene would always turn into a “plug” for Camels; similar “fumetti” magazine ads for Camel, featuring the same cast, appeared in LIFE and LOOK during the same period.

    I don’t remember the “integrated ads” Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard did for various Procter & Gamble products on “THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW” at the end of the show, but I’m pleased several examples were included on the DVD set.

  • Hal Horn says:

    LIFE WITH ELIZABETH was released several years ago in a combo set with LOVE THAT BOB. 16 episodes of BOB (aka THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW), the only ones yet to make it to DVD, and IMO season sets are long overdue for this classic.

    Of course, it took this long just to get a full season of BILKO out, so I guess we should all be thankful for that. The 50th anniversary set was really good, but BILKO needs to be out in its entireity.

Leave a Reply