LEAVE IT TO BEAVER ON DVD


Subject: Thank You!!!
Date: 6/30/2010 3:06:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Stu Shostak
To: David Von Pein

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Hi Dave...

I just wanted to thank you for one of the most thorough and fair reviews of "Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series" that I've read. I forwarded the link to Brian Ward at Shout! and I know he'll LOVE what you said!

For the record, I had all the guys and Brian [Ward] on my radio show last week. We determined that the reason Seasons 1 and 2 looked the same with all that grain was due to the fire that took place at Universal a couple of years ago.

They would never admit it, but we think they had the original negatives for the show there and that they never bothered to look there for the re-mastering. The only ones left are the ones they used for the first two seasons, and more than likely, they are clones or dupe negatives of the originals, hence the amount of grain.

Also - Universal themselves did all the re-mastering, not Shout! Factory. Brian explained on the show last week that when they sent them all over, he looked at all 234 of them and even rejected a few, saying they were inferior to the others. That forced Universal to look elsewhere in Kansas or in another vault, etc. So a lot of time and care did indeed go into these...and I helped wherever I could too.

With respect to the opening "teasers" narrated by Hugh Beaumont in the first season...we came to the conclusion that whomever did the supervising of the restoration at Universal simply looked at the other five seasons and decided that since they began with the opening titles, these should too in order to be uniform. I noticed this when Brian sent me three dozen shows for possible inclusion in the Ken/Frank video I produced and directed.

When I brought this to Brian's attention, he immediately called the authoring house to see if we could reverse them (it would not have been a big deal), but we were a week too late.

You found a couple of things even we didn't spot - the alternate video used over Hugh's narration for "Brotherly Love" and the one missing entirely from "Black Eye". Your recommendation for folks to hang on to their Universal version of Season One is an excellent idea so that between the two, a complete first season is indeed possessed, and I honestly believe most people will do that.

Brian also speculated on my show that the reason for the graininess of the first two seasons might have been due to the fact that they were produced at Republic instead of Universal and maybe they used a different, inferior film stock. Not sure I agree with that, but it is a valid argument.

Thanks again for a WONDERFUL review and a VERY nice plug for the radio show! I sincerely appreciate it!

Stu


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Subject: Re: Thank You!!!
Date: 6/30/2010 3:55:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: David Von Pein
To: Stu Shostak

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Hi Stu,

Thank you very much for your incredible e-mail reply. You answered a bunch of questions for me (without me even asking). ;)

And thanks, too, for your nice comments about my LITB review (blog), which I spent quite a bit of time on (non-stop) for the last two days after getting my Shout! LITB set in the mail.

I had the full episode guide for my review ready to go months and months ago. Obviously, I was able to write that portion of the review without ever having seen the new Shout! DVDs. In fact, my episode comments for Season 1 and 2 are just about the same as the ep. guide I did for my S.1 and S.2 reviews in 2005 and 2006 when the Universal DVDs came out. But I did make a few changes in the text, just so the episode lists for those two years weren't totally redundant.

I was lucky and received my LITB Complete Series set one day before the official street date. I see that several Home Theater Forum members are about ready to start chain-smoking (or climbing the walls) because they haven't received their Beaver sets yet.

You can see what this classic TV series means to a lot of us "boomers" when you read through some of those HTF LITB threads. ;)

RE: "The Grain":

Your explanations for possible reasons for why we see excess film grain in the earlier Universal Season 1 and Season 2 LITB sets are interesting indeed. Although I still have some questions:

If the reason is inferior film stock, then why on Earth do all of the OUTDOORS scenes in those two earlier Universal DVD sets look absolutely perfect and totally grain-free? It doesn't seem to make sense.

I could never figure out the reason for the big difference in grain content between the outdoor shots and the indoor ones (although some people over at HTF did offer some technical explanations for this occurring, but it still seems odd to me). Did they use only inferior film INDOORS while at Republic Studios, while using a vastly superior grade of film stock when the cameras moved out-of-doors?

~shrug~

Anyway, I'm certainly no expert on film stocks and the like, but it still seems strange to me to have crystal-clear and pristine outdoor scenes in the older Universal discs, while the grain gets heavy only when we're inside the Cleaver abode.

Oh, well. I'm not going to worry myself silly about such things. I'm just thankful for Shout's! existence. If not for them, my "Dream DVD" set for LITB would still be only a dream.

Also -- Thanks for saying the word I've been trying like the dickens to think of for the last two days while putting my review together for the LITB DVDs -- and that word is: "Teasers". You used that word in your e-mail to describe the Hugh Beaumont-narrated preview segments for the Season One episodes, and I just knew there was another word to describe those darn segments, but I could not for the life of me come up with it. I'm going to revise my review in a couple of places and replace "trailers" and/or "previews" with "teasers". So, thanks for saying that word.

[Additional teaser discussion HERE and HERE.]

Hope to chat with you again. And thanks for the part you played in making "Leave It To Beaver: The Complete Series" a reality.

Best regards,
David Von Pein



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Subject: Re: Thank You!!!
Date: 6/30/2010 5:04:32 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Stu Shostak
To: David Von Pein

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Hi again, Dave. Sure glad I'm not the only one up this late.

About the outdoor vs. indoor grain controversy--

I'm wondering if they used a different film stock speed for the natural outdoor
lighting and possibly some filters and faster speed film for the artificially lit shots on the sound stage.

Because TV Land always sped up and edited the shows when they aired there, and because they had been compressed, digitized, and re-compressed every time they added more commercials to the time slot, maybe the graininess was just not noticed in those versions.

It got to the point where I couldn't watch them anymore on TV Land because everyone moved and talked so fast, and the picture was so smeary, it looked like an EP VHS tape. Some of those last few airings had running times of 19 minutes!!

I don't care what they say about "crystal clear digital quality" - when you go generation upon generation and use time compression, the sound gets over-modulated and out of sync and the picture gets out of focus.

My point is that maybe these always looked grainy from the get go and the older TV sets didn't pick up on that when they first aired. It's only now with HD equipment that it's noticeable. I still think we can't rule out the original camera rolls may indeed be at fault and maybe there aren't other first generation negatives in existence.

In any case, I can tell you for a fact that the shows are not going to look any better than they do now - this is IT. And I can also tell you that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Shout! Factory because this series did NOT come cheap to them, and Universal had no intention of continuing the series themselves because they were disappointed with the sales of Season Two.

I was just thrilled that Shout! allowed me to help them with this (most of the archival materials came from me - unfortunately it was the best I had in the library and we didn't have a lot of time to scout for better preprint materials or legally clear other materials that I wanted to include).

As for the Ken Osmond/Frank Bank featurette, I had total creative freedom - Shout! let me totally write, produce, and direct it, as well as select the clips to use. They put their faith and trust in me and I hope you liked how it came out. It was done specifically for the fans. I figured the fans would like to see Ken and Frank in character again and to talk directly to the camera as if they were talking to one or two people in their own homes. I didn't want to go the "talking head" route.

I also had to make sure that most of the material we covered was not already discussed in the radio shows that are the secondary audio tracks on the season sets. I think both my video and the 75-minute documentary compliment each other pretty well and make for a fairly complete couple of informative and fun hours with the surviving regular cast members.

Thanks again for your very COMPLETE review about the COMPLETE series release!

Brian Ward may make a comment about your review on the Shout! board, so watch for that.

Stu


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Subject: Re: Leave It To Beaver Stuff
Date: 6/30/2010 5:46:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: David Von Pein
To: Stu Shostak

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Hi again Stu,

Gee, via your last detailed e-mail message, you have provided me with still more handy nuggets of info, data, and expertise. Thanks again. (You're pert-near as long-winded as I am it appears -- and in the middle of the night, no less.) ~grin~

BTW, my LITB review/blog will be a "work in progress", so to speak, for quite a number of months ahead. I'll be tweaking it frequently to add still more content (as if it's not already poised to rival the length of War & Peace).

Anyway, my goal is to eventually include in my DVD review at least one funny quote from all 234 episodes of the Leave It To Beaver series. And that shouldn't be very difficult to do, since every show had its fair share of humorous anecdotes and Eddie-isms. It will be time-consuming, though. But I'll eventually get it done.

BTW #2, were the episode descriptions that appear in the six booklets written by someone at NBC Universal, or by a Shout! representative? It doesn't really matter; I'm just curious. Because, being the anal LITB nutcase that I am, whenever I peruse booklets like the six excellent ones that were produced for the Shout! LITB DVD collection, I always find myself nitpicking little things to death.

For example, while glancing through the booklet for Season 5, I noticed an error right away in the description for the episode "Wally's Weekend Job". Can you spot the mistake, Stu? (I won't tell you what it is. I'll bet you'll be able to spot it immediately, though.)

Anyway, thank you, Stu, for an exhilarating series of e-mails....and I hope perhaps they can continue in the future. (You've got to send me at least one more anyway--to answer my "Weekend Job" inquiry.)

Sincerely,
David Von Pein


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Subject: Re: Leave It To Beaver Stuff

Date: 6/30/2010 1:58:55 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Stu Shostak
To: David Von Pein

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Hi Dave...

Brian Ward wrote the descriptions for ALL 234 episodes and I thought he did an excellent job! He takes A LOT of pride in his work and makes sure everything is right, even down to the look and navigation of the menus, which he also helped to create and supervise.

He thinks a lot like I do - keep it simple, short and clear, yet still make it look very cool. He succeeded in every way with this set.

In answer to your "Wally's Weekend Job" question, yes...I had to read it twice, but I did find it - it was a SLUMBER party, not a birthday party. At first I thought it might have been the amount of quarts ordered, but I knew six was right.

But, hey! Let's cut Brian some slack. We had only four months to put this entire masterpiece together, and he was working on the upcoming "Max Headroom" set at the same time. We can certainly forgive one little "boo boo". After all, it was still a PARTY, wasn't it?

Stu


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Subject: Re: Leave It To Beaver Stuff

Date: 6/30/2010 7:08:24 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: David Von Pein
To: Stu Shostak

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Hi again Stu,

You spotted the error. (As I thought you would.)

And, yes, you're right about "cutting some slack". That error was a very tiny one--and it's one that only 1 out of every million or so people would ever notice. (I guess I'm one in a million, huh?) ;)

I didn't know that Brian Ward wrote the descriptions (obviously I didn't; otherwise I wouldn't have asked you who wrote them). But, yes, I think he did a very good job with them. I really like the look of the six booklets. Heck, I wasn't even expecting to see ANY paper enclosures in the Shout! set at all. So I was thrilled to see a 12-page booklet included with each of the six seasons.

Thanks again for taking the time to write.

Take care.

David V.P.


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Subject: Re: Leave It To Beaver Stuff
Date: 7/1/2010 1:00:28 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Stu Shostak
To: DaveVonPein


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I received this e-mail from Brian [Ward] after I sent him the link to your review. It seems my theory about film stock has some merit indeed:

[quoting Brian Ward of "Shout! Factory":]

"The graininess between indoor and outdoor has an obvious answer. It’s the difference between “fast” film, used in low level light and “slow” film, used in brightly lit scenes. Why there’s less between the first two seasons and the last four is a mystery to me. But the differences between the indoor and outdoor scenes is explainable. BW"



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Subject: Re: Leave It To Beaver Stuff
Date: 7/1/2010 1:41:09 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: David Von Pein
To: Stu Shostak

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Yes, I just signed up today to post on the Shout! forums, and Brian did some further explaining about the grain, which makes sense to me (scroll down a little past my post to find Brian's response):

http://www.ShoutFactory.com

DVP



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Subject: Teasers - Once and For All
Date: 7/2/2010 5:15:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Stu Shostak
To: David Von Pein

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Hi Dave...

I notice there is still a "teaser controversy" on the Shout! board. Let's not bombard Brian with this - he has a full plate as it is.

For the record, I have about 10 network episodes on 16mm from the first season, and the teasers do indeed come BEFORE the opening titles.

After "...and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver", the video fades out as it does on the syndicated versions, but the music continues into an additional "cartoon" of an animated Beaver character skipping across a fence as an announcer says, "Brought to you by...Remington Rand" and the fence sports the RR logo and pans to a drawing of a typewriter as the announcer finishes the blurb and fades out.

A piece of this opening appears in the 75-minute documentary on the bonus disc. Act one then begins and the first commercial (usually about 2 full minutes) appears at the act break. Then there's a commercial at the end of Act Two (a minute).

After the "tag" and before the end credits, there's a "Leave it to Beaver was brought to you by Remington Rand" bumper; then the end credits, usually rolled over a shot of an RR typewriter, followed by the CBS eye...and there you have it!

Stu


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Subject: Re: Teasers - Once and For All
Date: 7/2/2010 5:22:08 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: David Von Pein
To: Stu Shostak

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Hello Stuart,

Thanks for the "teaser" update. I was nearly certain the teasers/previews were originally aired before the main titles. And now you have provided the proof that they did air that way in 1957 and 1958 on CBS-TV. Much obliged for the confirmation.

Regards,
David V.P.



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