September 08, 1986 12:00 PM

WTBS (Mon., Sept. 8, 6 p.m. ET)


It’s poignant and a little pathetic to see ’60s TV stars return to what they think is their lost glory: MTV runs The Monkees and then some of the Monkees make an album and a video. Gilligan’s Island, The Andy Griffith Show and I Dream of Jeannie return as TV movies and then dream of returning again. Leave It to Beaver hits the air as a TV movie, then as a Disney Channel series and now as a WTBS series. But let’s be honest: All these shows came back, not because they were TV genius, but because they are camp. We love them because they remind us of the old days. But nobody would call them great. Yet The New Leave It to Beaver retains a good deal of the naive, simple charm of the original. Jerry Mathers, still the Beaver, hasn’t advanced much in acting skill since he was 6; he stands stiff and delivers almost every line as if it were “Gee, Mom.” But even now—playing a divorced dad of two—he’s an endearing character. Barbara Billingsley still makes an ideal Mom and Tony Dow a perfect big brother. And Ken Osmond is two-faced as ever as friend Eddie Haskell. The old Leave It to Beaver was, to use the Beav’s own words, “mushy stuff.” So is The New Leave It to Beaver. So this is a rare moment in TV nostalgia: If you like the original, you’ll like the copy.

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