DVD Review: The Patty Duke Show – Season One

In DVD's by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

Shout Factory | 1963 | 900 mins. | Not Rated

I don’t remember exactly, but I think I was around ten years old when I first saw Patty Duke with Anne Bancroft in the 1962 version of The Miracle Worker. Even at the young age, I was inspired by Helen Keller’s story and moved by the performances of Ms Duke and Ms. Bancroft as Helen and Annie Sullivan, respectively. In 1987, when Patty Duke’s autobiography Call Me, Anna hit store shelves, I read the book in just two nights. By then, I suppose you could say I was a full-fledged Patty Duke fan, having watched and/or taped nearly every film, television movie and television show she had appeared in. When Nick at Nite ran The Patty Duke Show from 1988 to 1992, I recorded several of my favorite episodes on VHS tape, so I could watch them at my leisure.

That being said, you can imagine I was pretty excited when my copy of The Patty Duke Show: Season One arrived at my door. For those of you not familiar with the series, here’s a little background: fresh off winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Miracle Worker, Duke, just sixteen, was given her own show. Created by Sidney Sheldon (who also wrote a majority of the episodes), the series focuses on Patty Lane (Duke) a typical teenager living in the Brooklyn Heights section of New York City, who loves boys, ice cream, and sleepovers. Her father Martin (William Schallert) is the managing editor of the New York Chronicle. In the unaired pilot episode, her “identical cousin” Cathy Lane (also played by Duke), whose father also works for the Chronicle as a foreign correspondent, arrives in the United States from Scotland to live with Patty’s family and finish high school.

The Patty Duke ShowThe show’s premise is that Cathy is more worldly and demure than identical looking cousin Patty. Most of the storylines involve Patty (occasionally Cathy) encountering a problem and the other cousin stepping in to try and get them out of it. While the idea of identical cousins is impossible, in the world of television it was explained that it had occurred because the girl’s fathers were identical twin brothers (Cathy’s father, Kenneth Lane occasionally appeared and was played by William Schallert). The rest of the regular cast is rounded out by Jean Byron as Patty’s mother Natalie Lane, Paul O’Keefe as Patty’s brother Ross Lane, and Eddie Applegate as Patty’s boyfriend, Richard Harrison.

When the first episode of the series aired on September 18, 1963 the split screen effect that was used to enable Ms. Duke to play the Patty and Cathy roles were a fairly new concept in television. Of course, as the sixties wore on, shows like I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched would stretch the special effects of the time even further, but when you consider that That The Patty Duke Show was a run-of-the-mill sitcom, the producers of show deserve a lot of credit for shooting the show so that Patty and Cathy really appeared to be two distinct people sharing the same scene. At the same time, Patty Duke deserves a lot of credit for being able to make Patty and Cathy into two very distinctive and fun personalities.

The six-disc set includes all thirty-six episodes from the series first season in 1963-64. For those who may wonder, the set doesn’t include the original unaired pilot, which featured Mark Miller as Martin Lane and Charles Herbert as Ross Lane.

Here’s a rundown of the episodes, as worded in the included booklet as well as notable guest stars.

1.) “The French Teacher” Patty’s grades suddenly improve when she takes an interest in her French class…thanks to a new substitute teacher she has a crush on. Guest Star: Jean-Pierre Aumont

2.) “The Genius” When the school gives an IQ test, Patty scores off the chart. Is she a genius, or is someone tampering with the computer? Guest Star: Paul Lynde

3.) “Elopement” When Patty is seen by her father’s boss at the licensing office with Richard, it looks like they are getting a marriage license and planning to elope. Guest Star: John McGiver

4.) “House Guest” Bossy Aunt Paulina stops in for her annual visit, and the house is turned upside down.

5.) “The Birds & the Bees Bit” When Ross is asked (or more like “told”) to go to the school dance by a new, forceful student, Patty and Cathy help teach him about girls.

6.) “Slumber Party” “Benedict” Ross tape records some conversations during Patty and Cathy’s slumber party and uses the recordings to blackmail the girls. Guest Star: John Soencer

7.) “Baby Sitters” To raise enough money to buy an evening gown for the dance, Patty goes into the babysitting business – with chaotic results.

8. “The Conquering Hero” When the star basketball player’s parents decide to move away before the season is over, Patty convinces her dad to let him move into their house. Guest Star: Charles Nelson Reilly

9.) “The President” Patty and Cathy reluctantly run for girl’s league president, and once the campaign begins, so does the mudslinging.

10.) “Double Date” Cathy ends up getting a double flu vaccination when she mistakenly receives Patty’s shot in addition to her own. Now Patty has to go on two dates. Guest Star: Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz)

11. “The Actress” Patty is bitten by the acting bug when she tags along to the auditions for Antony and Cleopatra with Cathy and Richard and ends up with the lead role her cousin had hoped for.

12. “How to Be Popular” Cathy decides that she needs to learn how to become popular like Patty, so she writes to advice columnist Aunt Jane. Aunt Jane sends a copy of her book You Can Be Popular, but calamity ensues when Cathy starts to follow the books advice. Guest Stars: Frankie Avalon, John Spencer.

13.) “The Songwriters” Patty thinks she is losing Richard to Sue Ellen, so she copies a poem from a book and sends it to him. Cathy finds the poem and puts it to music, then enters it in the Jimmy Dean songwriting contest. Guest Stars: Jimmy Dean, Phil Foster (Laverne & Shirley)

14.) “The Princess Cathy” Cathy and Patty compete for the affections of a new “dreamboat” foreign exchange student who is from a royal family.

15.) “The Christmas Present” Cathy is excited her father is coming for Christmas, but ends up in prison in another country just days before his scheduled arrival. Guest Star: John McGiver

16.) “Auld Lang Syne” J.R. “Just Rotten” Castle fires Martin’s brother Kenneth on Christmas. Cathy thinks that if Kenneth writes a best-selling book, Castle will hire him back – so Patty and Cathy set out to get him a book deal.

17.) “Horoscope” When two horoscope predictions she makes come true, Patty sees this as an opportunity to make some money as an astrologer.

18.) “The Tycoons” All the girls at school love a dress that Cathy made. Patty gets the bright idea that they can go into the dress making business, but Cathy isn’t crazy about the idea of becoming a one women sweat shop.

19.) “Author, Author” When a French teenager writes a bestseller, Patty decides to write a novel from the viewpoint of an American teenager and garners interest from a shady publisher. Guest Star: Roger C. Carmel (Star Trek)

20.) “The Continental” Martin is being transferred to Paris to run the international bureau. At first it sounds like a great idea to the family – until they realize what they’ll leave behind.

21.) “Let ‘Em Eat Cake” Patty and Cathy eat part of a cake that Natalie made to enter in a church bazaar contest, so the girls decide to take a stab at baking a replacement with the assistance of Ross. Guest Stars: Margaret Hamilton, George S. Irving (Underdog)

22. “Going Steady” Patty and Richard decide to go steady, but their parents think they’re too young and conspire to change their minds. Guest Star: David Doyle (Charlie’s Angels)

23.) “Are Mother’s People?” Natalie starts to feel underappreciated by the family for all the work she does and devises a plan with one of her friends to call attention to herself, but unfortunately it backfires.

24.) “The Con Artists” When Cathy pays to much for a vacuum cleaner from a smooth talking door-to-door-salesman, Patty steps in to get her out of the deal, but only makes matters worse.

25.) “The Perfect Teenager” When Patty fails a quiz in a magazine on “How Do You Rate As a Teenager,” she takes a modeling course to boost her confidence.

26.) “Chip Off the Old Block” Patty becomes editor of the school newspaper, but instead of modeling the publication after her father’s, she turns the paper into a tabloid.

27.) “Wedding Anniversary Caper” Ross wants to get his parents something special for their anniversary, but since he has no money, he enters Patty in a beauty contest hoping to collect the prize winnings.

28.) “Slight Case of Disaster” In order to show up archrival Sue Ellen, Patty buys a dress she can’t afford. She plans to return it after the dance, but things don’t go exactly as planned.

29.) “Pen Pals” Patty answers a pen pal ad in a magazine and gets so enamored with her new correspondent, she loses interest in Richard.

30.) “The Friendship Bit” Patty can’t stop sneezing. After a series of tests, the doctor proclaims she’s allergic to Cathy.

31.) “Patty the Foster Mother” For a school project, Patty becomes a foster parent for an orphan in Korea, but she accidentally adopts the young boy after signing some paperwork.

32.) “Drop Out” Richard decides to drop out of school and get a job. In order to convince Richard to continue his education, Patty pretends she’s going to quit school, but Richard thinks it’s a great idea. Guest Star: David Doyle

33.) “Leave it to Patty” Patty wins the position of chairwoman of the prom, beating out rival Sue Ellen by promising a celebrity guest. Now she has to find one.

34.) “The Little Dictator” When Cathy becomes principal of the high school for a week, she also teaches a class. Patty is reprimanded for being disruptive, igniting World War III between the cousins at home.

35.) “The Working Girl” Patty Gets a job at the local ice cream parlor. She loves the money, but not all the work that comes with it.

36.) “Cousins” Patty and Cathy reminisce about Cathy’s arrival at the Lane household. Guest Star: John McGiver

Like most television shows in the early to mid sixties (particularly sitcoms), The Patty Duke Show was lighthearted fun. If they did discuss a potentially sensitive subject like orphans in Korea, it was done in an utterly inoffensive way, and tied up nicely in twenty-three minutes. For the most part though, the series sticks to boys, the shake shop and harmless shenanigans. It’s the great cast and a good mix of guest stars that makes The Patty Duke Show fun to watch more than forty years after the show left the air.

Presented in full screen, all thirty-six episodes on this set look remarkably good considering they were filmed in 1963-64. I was pleasantly surprised at the solid contrast between the black and white. I don’t know for sure if Shout did any clean up on the print, but it sure looks like it, There are a few instances of dirt and specks throughout the episodes, but on the whole the transfer us remarkably clean.

The audio is presented in a solid mix that stays fairly even throughout the set. Unlike a lot of older series, I didn’t find myself having to readjust the volume as the voices fluxuated or episodes changed. Closed captioning is available in English for the deaf or hard of hearing.

The Patty Duke Show: Season One contains the following special features:

A Look Back At The Patty Duke Show (13:57) Patty Duke, William Schallert, Paul O’Keefe and Eddie Applegate reflect on their experiences doing the show. It is clear that Patty Duke still has a close relationship with William Schallert and in turn, he speaks fondly of Jean Byron, who died in 2006.
Booklet: The set also includes a nice booklet that has a synopsis for each episode, as well as a lot of trivia pertaining to guest stars and people who worked on the series.

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