How “The Promised Playhouse” (Father Knows Best) Was Recovered

Tales of Recovery examines how specific television programs once thought missing or lost have been recovered. Often, these recoveries were not well-publicized or took place so long ago that they themselves have been forgotten.

Father Knows Best ran for six seasons and 203 episodes from 1954 to 1960, first on CBS, then NBC, and then back on CBS. Shout! Factory announced in December 2007 that it would be releasing the first season of the series on DVD on April 1st, 2008. The first season included 26 black and white episodes.

Later that month, Home Media Magazine published an article about the release that included the following paragraph:

One caveat about the DVD, according to Shapiro, is that Shout! Factory couldn’t locate the original version of the episode “The Promised Playhouse,” and the version on the DVD is culled from a fifth-season episode that used the footage in a flashback.

“The Promised Playhouse” originally aired on January 23rd, 1955 as the 17th episodes of the season. A flashback episode with the same name was aired on April 20th, 1959 during Father Knows Best‘s fifth season. It contained most — but not all — of the 1955 episode.

Less than two weeks later, Home Media Magazine published a follow-up article with the news that an uncut version of the episode had been discovered:

However, upon reading the article a collector from Dallas realized he had a 16mm print of the original and loaned it to Shout! Factory.

According to Lorrie Shapiro, VP of DVD for Shout! Factory, both the original and abridged version will be offered on the DVD. The original is included in the “Play All” queue.

While there was enough time to include the episode on the DVD and make the street date, Shapiro said there wasn’t enough time to change the packaging.

Left unclear is whether the episode truly “lost” until the Dallas collector came forward with a 16mm print or just inaccessible. Do the original film elements for the episode exist? If so, what shape were they are in and did Shout! Factory have access to them?

Last Revised February 19th, 2016

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2 Replies to “How “The Promised Playhouse” (Father Knows Best) Was Recovered”

  1. I wonder WHICH 16mm print that Dallas collector has of “The Promised Playhouse” {January 23, 1955}- the original CBS network version for Lorillard’s Kent cigarettes….or a later repeat for a different sponsor [Scott? Lever Brothers? ABC prime-time/daytime repeat?]. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know….

  2. This is sad Father knows Best is a classic TV land me TV and other stations show the big valley, gun smoke , Lassie and other classics shows . There has to be other classic TV shows that had to have been taped at CBS ,NBC . There has to be a way to get it shown either on TV land or me TV even WGN in Chicago shows classics also.

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