Having just endured the misogynistic antics of The Real McCoys, I was not anticipating the testosterone-fueled My Three Sons with delight. With five males (six counting Tramp, the family dog) under the same roof, a curmudgeonly female reviewer would surely be offended by antics going on in their house. My Three Sons, however, is a family-oriented show; in other words, it’s too bland to be offensive.
Fred MacMurray, as Steve Douglas, is the reassuringly great dad I remember, the boys are respectful (perhaps even nerdy by current standards), and grandfatherly Bub…with all his domestic duties and good-natured-but-snarky attitude, it’s hard to believe he’s not actually the mom. This family is so loving, organized, and—hell, I’ll just say it—functional, that they could only exist in a Hollywood fantasy. The profound absence of sibling rivalry is odd, at the least.
Each episode focuses on one member of the family and his “challenge of the week.” The challenges are innocuous and easily conquered. Sons Mike (Tim Considine), Robbie (Don Grady), and Chip (Stanley Livingston) are sure to pull boyish pranks and inadvertently get in trouble, but we need not be concerned that one of them will contract a socially embarrassing disease, impregnate the governor’s daughter, or experiment with drugs.
The adults are all very understanding—even when a major rule infraction occurs. Gruff grandfather Bub (William Frawley) may be a little testy at times, but for the most part he provides loving back-up to Dad, the aeronautical engineer who can’t always be home when he is needed.
There is an odd discontinuity about Dad’s presence which can be explained by Fred MacMurray’s unusual work schedule. Not wanting to experience the grind filming a television series could be, MacMurray insisted on a contract stipulating that all of his scenes were to be shot in “65 non-consecutive days.” Many of his scenes were filmed and then a script was based on the generalized monologue he delivered. Other times he interacted with the rest of the cast via telephone; as we know, aeronautical engineers spend a lot of time on the road.
My Three Sons ran from 1960 to 1972, first on ABC, then on CBS. Surprisingly, ABC did not want to spend the money to film the show in color. The second season features the original cast without assorted wives and adoptees (they all came later); this boxed set is comprised of the second half of the second season—18 episodes on three discs. There are no bonus features.
Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream My Three Sons – Season Two, Volume Two? Not really. I might stream a few episodes for nostalgia’s sake, but it’s just not that engaging.