Truly, there are two LITBs ~ and I'm a huge fan of the first "incarnation". Aside from one obvious answer -- namely, Jerry Mathers growing up into a rather awkward adolescence --, I've always wondered what were the reasons for the DRAMATIC shift in tone, look, and -- IMHO -- quality of "Leave It To Beaver". And it can be absolutely marked as to when this happens: when the Cleavers move into the second house. In "First House" incarnation, everything is different. Ward is a handsome, even dashing figure. A relaxed, happy man with a good life. And the boys obviously adore him. June -- what a looker! Her style is the classic, mid-50s Grace Kelly look, and the sweet thing is that she carries it off beautifully. She's witty, graceful, and very much in love -- and in lust -- with her husband. That's one of the first MAJOR things that goes out the window when the Cleavers move into that new airplane hanger of a house -- the sexy, fun, adoring relationship between June and Ward. (At its best, worthy of comparison to the screwball comedy couples of the 1930s.) Why in the world did they get rid of this? Why did they change Ward from a stylish man-about-town into a cranky, always worried, humorless stiff? And what they did to June was worse! Everything she wore in the first house was beautiful, especially her hairstyle. After that, she became this dull, washed-out mannequin. With the worse hair possible from that time. (Yes, I know that the hairstyles of the early 1960s could be ridiculous, but not always. Look at Jacqueline Kennedy as one very stylish example.) And the boys. Yesterday, TV Land showed one of the sweetest shows in the history of TV: "The Bank Account". Here were two boys who were in love with life, always thinking about what was the right thing to do(and often failing). Caring more about others then themselves. "The Bank Account" is a perfect example of this. But then the family moves -- and the boys become different. Often nasty, selfish, looking at their parents as these old fogies who don't understand anything about fun and life(and considering what they turned June and Ward into, I guess the boys were on to something). Wally becomes this obnoxious Big Man on Campus. Beaver becomes this Big Man On Campus-wannabe. And their friends!! Couldn't the boys have at least one friend who wasn't a butthead? Eddie, Lumpy, Larry, Whitey, Richard, Gilbert. Holy-moly! What happened to the very cool Chester? Or the adorable Chuey? Or the incredibly cute Benji? Who were the producers of the show trying to appeal to, once the show became a hit? I really would like to know the answer to that, because once they decided to base the show on a "kids are more fun and smarter than their parents" theme, the show really went downhill. Just take the show's look. The first two years, the show glistens with an almost Fassbinderian white glow. Just look at the way the characters are photographed in that first house! Gorgeous. Then they move -- and everything seems as if it had been shot in someone's garage. The same is true of the music. There's that lovely, sad melody they use in the first two years -- then after they move, it's gone. So as a big fan of what this show was in its first incarnation, I've always wanted to know what caused the very big change in tone and quality. Answer: LITB changed networks. They went from CBS to ABC, and the Shark swallowed LITB whole.
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