My family had a few shows we watched together when I was a kid. All of them fill me with warm nostalgia when I watch them again. So naturally I have been trying to collect them all on DVD. One show that has evaded a release for way too long is the classic family drama, Eight is Enough. A show that had something for every member of my family, drama for the adults, comic drama for my sisters and Luke Skywalker for me (yes Mark Hamill was briefly a part of the show in the pilot). With all those wonderful family watching memories in my brain, I needed to own this show. I am very happy to announce that Eight is Enough evades me no longer. As of yesterday, this wonderful DVD is now in my possession.
My plan yesterday was to watch an episode or two, write something up in the evening and post it on the site. I guess I forgot how much I liked the show. I put it in the DVD player and 8 episodes later it was 2am. I think if I had started watching it in the morning, I would have tried to watch the whole series in one day (including the bonus reunion special). I loved it! I guess what I did not count on was that watching the show as an adult is much more rewarding experience than when I was a kid. All that “dramatic stuff” finally makes sense to.
Now I am talking like everyone has heard of the show before, which I know some of you have not, so here is a little info about the program.
Before the extended families that came to dominate prime time, from Full House to Parenthood, ABC launched Eight Is Enough, an adaptation of Crossfire host Thomas W. Braden’s memoir. The pilot sets the tone: parenting is serious stuff, but a little humor never hurts (consequently, a redundant laugh track occasionally comes into play). Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten, who sports TV’s cutest comb-over), a Sacramento columnist, and his wife, Joan (Diana Hyland), are imperfect, but involved parents. As the series begins, oldest son David (Mark Hamill, Star Wars), a construction worker, leaves the nest, but there would be a few cast changes by the second episode. Notably, Grant Goodeve would replace Hamill, while Willie Aames took over as Tommy. With women’s lib in full effect, the Bradford women spend much of these nine episodes trying to find their way in a changing world: Joan takes up photography, Susan (Susan Richardson) goes on a ski trip with a male coed, and Mary (Lani O’Grady) opposes her father during a newspaper strike. Other episodes revolve around Tommy’s crush on an indecisive classmate (Charlene Tilton) and David’s affair with an older woman (Adrienne Barbeau). That leaves Joanie (Laurie Walters), the drama student, Nancy (Dianne Kay), the cheerleader, Elizabeth (Connie Newton), the typical teenager, and Nicholas (Adam Rich), the elfin pipsqueak. Once you get past the flared jeans and wide lapels, Eight Is Enough holds up surprisingly well, since the primary concerns are timeless. If the acting can be uneven, the chemistry between cast members papers over the cracks. Sadly, Hyland only filmed four episodes due to illness (she passed away in 1977). In the second season, Betty Buckley stepped in as the newest member of the Bradford clan.
If you are a fan of good quality retro television and have not seen Eight is Enough, I suggest your check it out. The chemistry of this “family” is undeniable and writing is solid. I must admit, I have an ulterior motive in saying that. This show had 5 seasons and I want to own them all. To make that happen a lot of people need to get on board. So if you are an existing fan, tell a friend, because when it comes to seasons of Eight is Enough, one will certainly never be enough (see what I did there).
What are you waiting for? Get to your local store or if online purchasing is your bag, order your copy of Eight Is Enough: The Complete First Season on DVD today!