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Friday, June 14, 2013

'The Courtship of Eddie's Father' S2: The Dad of Steel


Courtship of Eddie
Reviewing the second season of the early '70s sitcom, which is based on the film of the same name,  "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" for a post on the opening day of "Man of Steel" and the Friday before Father's Day is a no-brainer that even Bizarro would think of.

"Father's" Tom Corbett, played by the truly awesome Bill Bixby, parenting skills both earn him the title of Television Father of the 20th Century and demonstrate that son Eddie considering him a superhero is justified.

I cannot imagine any son not wanting a dad who is so devoted to him that he gets restless on the rare Saturday that they are not together and so patient that he does not prod or get angry when he knows that his offspring is up to some form of mischief. The well-known dialogues in which Tom truly listens to Eddie and guides him with complete honest and absolutely no condescension is amazing.

Those of us who had averaged-sized rooms and shared a bathroom down the hall with at least one sibling growing up also envy Eddie's huge bedroom with a terrace and a private ensuite bathroom.

In the interest of brevity and avoiding repetition, readers who are interested in learning more about the "Father" film and the first season of the "Father" sitcom are asked to please read this site's reviews of that early Ronnie Howard movie and those episodes. The spoiler alert is that both of those productions are just as good as the second season that is being reviewed here.

The first few episodes of the second season of this series about a widowed magazine executive raising his young son with the help of his full-time, but "sleep-out," housekeeper Mrs. Livingston and his wonderfully sweet but slightly ditzy secretary Tina indicate that the focus has shifted from the titular courtship to the antics of the titular Eddie. This reflects that Edie portrayor Brandon Cruz is a little older and can assume a slightly larger role (pun intended) in the series.

The season premiere revolves around Eddie teaming up with "Uncle  Norman," who is a quasi-parental figure but is essentially Roger Healey to "I Dream of Jeannie's" Tony Nelson, to make a home movie as an "unbirthday" present for Tom. Eddie's logic is that people expect presents on their birthday and that surprising them with a gift on a random date shows that you really love them.

The subdued hilarity that ensues involves the subterfuge related to Eddie and Norman shooting the film without Tom finding out; a scene in which Tina frantically looks to see where Norman and Eddie are hiding when Tom unexpectedly arrives on the scene is hilarious.

The second episode of the season is truer to the show's concept in that it involves Eddie's nemesis turned buddy Joey, played by series semi-regular Jodie Foster, preparing to run away because her widowed father is planning to remarry. Joey feels that that marriage would upset her deceased mother.

Bill Bixby does his usual outstanding job reacting to the indications that Eddie is up to something and in being a model dad in counseling Joey. This situation also requires that Tom and Eddie actively think about feelings associated with the possibility that Tom will remarry at some point. His "Super Dad" ethics will ensure that said second wife will be a good mother for Eddie.

Only one of the first eight episodes in "Father's" second season involve the titular courtship. Eddie's friendship with caring but self-absorbed socialite neighbor Valerie Bessinger, played by "The Bob Newhart  Show's" Suzanne Pleshette, leads to Valerie and Tom dating seriously.

A surprising line in which Tom states in reference to Valerie's gardening that she is good at making certain things grow is out of character for Tom and is one of the series' rare double entendres. One theory regarding this is that it is designed to show that this romance is so serious that it prompts Tom to act like a true adult.

The episode is special as well because the contrast between Tom's respectable and "old-fashioned" lifestyle and Valerie's more free-spirited and modern outlook call attention to Tom's commitment to "traditional family values" without the narrow-mindedness that often accompanies that way of living. Tom really does stand for "truth, justice, and the American way."

These early episodes further reinforce Tom's superhero qualities by having him face some tough foes. Any Superman fan knows that the tales of this Kryptonian would not be exciting if he could easily defeat every obstacle.

Early season two challenges include Tom having to decide whether to take an important business trip or see Eddie in his first ever school play, achieving the proper balance between firmness and leniency regarding Eddie shamelessly procrastinating on a school project, and making a foster son feel welcome without making Eddie jealous.

As trivial as these plots may seem, it is important to understand that making Eddie unhappy is almost as powerful as a chunk o' kryptonite to the heart for devoted dad Tom.

The bottom line is that "Father" shows what a father-son relationship can be if a former properly expresses the love that he feels toward the latter.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Father" is welcome to email me.