I’ll be honest: I did not expect to put this show on this list. I mean, Leave It to Beaver? That sugar-coated jawbreaker of ’50s naivete? But on a fresh viewing, this show—unlike, say, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet—holds up. Jerry Mathers came across as a real kid, tentative, not too bright and fueled by a boy’s natural cocktail of curiosity and fear. (Beaver’s imagination always served up far more gruesome consequences for his antics than he ever actually suffered.) And in an underrated performance as Beaver’s dad Ward—June always got all the love—Hugh Beaumont added just a note of fallibility and wistful nostalgia to the typical role of the all-knowing dad.
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