Rare look into TV's Golden Age...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 12/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is probably only one reason to buy this and other discs in the Reel Values set, and that's the little-known or rarely seen gems from television's Golden Age that are added with more famous shows. This disc is no exception, with a hidden treasure added with the sample of the better-known program (although we all love Andy Griffith). Paired with "The Andy Griffith Show" are three episodes of the overlooked classic "Life With Elizabeth". "Life With Elizabeth" starred Betty White, who also produced (a female producer was rare in those days, other than Lucy). Betty White is clearly the star of the show, playing the title character, while Del Moore seems to be more of a straight man for her antics as wife Elizabeth. What makes "Life With Elizabeth" so interesting is that it captures that amazing moment in the medium's evolution when television shows were a cross between radio and stage plays. Unlike the standard sitcom formula we're all familiar with, "Life With Elizabeth" was basically a series of skits (three per show), about married situations between a husband (Del Moore) and wife (Betty White). In between each skit, a host (the uncredited Jack Narz), would introduce and even play an introductary part in each skit, and wrap up the segment by thanking the audience for their applause. Another character would occasionally drop by, but for the most part, the skits centered on various stages of married life. Time is turned on its head as some skits purposely go back to newlywed days for the couple with no attempt to create a "flashback" scenario. Each skit is a stand-alone vignette, dependent only upon the audience understanding the basic set-up of the two characters and their domestic life. So, in many respects, the show draws more on radio and stage than television techniques, with few purely "television" visuals, directing, or styling. The inclusion of announcer/host Jack Narz is clearly a radio influence, while the skit comedy formula was both a stage and radio standard.Probably the best skit here is when husband Alvin is going on a business trip, the first time the newlyweds will be separated. That being said, there really isn't a klunker in the sampling of "Elizabeth" episodes that the Navarre Corporation offers us on the disc. When Betty first gives you that wink in the opening credits, you know the show is fun, clean, and entertaining. The "Andy Griffith" episodes consist of two early ones, and a well-known classic (an ex-con Andy captured years ago is being released from prison, and lets Andy know he's coming by Mayberry in order to "settle things" between them). Barney and Opie steal the show, as always, while Andy gives good-natured lessons to them both with his patented brand of country wisdom.Highly recommended here is the "Richard Diamond, Private Detective/ Highway Patrol/ Boston Blackie" disc in the Reel Values set, if you can find it."