I hate current television sitcoms made for kids. In fact, I block The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, etc. from our channel line up simply to avoid shows I believe to be obnoxious. However I posses a kid who loves TV. In order to allow him age appropriate viewing I search around the internet and find old shows from when I was a wee lass. We have watched lots of things like Punky Brewster and 227. Recently I found all 117 episodes of Mr. Belvedere (commercial free!) on YouTube.
I absolutely remember sitting down to watch Mr. Belvedere when I was young. It wasn’t one of the sitcoms I never missed like Cosby Show or Growing Pains. But I definitely remembered all the characters and the premise. I took the show for what it was back then, but now I have some serious questions for ABC.
Why on earth does a distinguished butler with ties to the royal family of England apply for a nanny job in a Pittsburgh suburb? Also, Mr. Belvedere worked for Winston Churchill. He may not be royal rich. But I can only assume he doesn’t need the piddly salary and unglamorous title of housekeeper to a relatively boring family. was he really getting newspaper ads across the pond, scouring for this one opportunity at mediocrity? I just don’t get it.
Second, why are half the characters so boring? The Owens family, who Mr. B works for, are very typical. That’s OK. It’s a suburban family with not many troubles and decent kids. Mr. Belvedere is interesting based on the fact that he’s British and polished and not used to the household he joins. He has a lovingly abrasive relationship with both George (the dad) and Wesley (the youngest son.) The conflicts between Mr. B and these two really carry the show, because Marsha (Mom), Kevin (oldest son), and Heather (daughter) are boring as dirt.
Marsha is going to school to become a lawyer, something she put on hold after having kids at an early age. She truly enjoys the nurturing aspect of her role as mom being taken away by Mr. Belvedere so she can get some extra homework done. While this may seem as a sexist view and maybe you think I ought to shut up and let Marsha get her degree already, that’s not it at all. Over and over the kids come into a problem in which Marsha simply stands back, remarks at how she always sucked at helping the kids anyway and makes Mr. Belvedere tend to their needs. George doesn’t utilize the housekeeper in the same fashion.
Kevin is painted as simple minded. He never understands his follies until the last minute of the episode when he suddenly has a moment and it all makes sense in a perfect sitcom lesson learned.
Heather is as generic as they come. A boy crazy, cheer leading, phone talking teen who constantly is coming to the realization that she’s not yet ready to go all-the-way with whatever boyfriend they throw in for the episode.
We’re then left with George and Wesley as they only two characters with any interesting dilemmas with the housekeeper, which is what makes the show work. George has his ever present facade of dislike for Mr. B, yet still manages to get sloppy drunk with the guy when Marsha bails on their romantic date. Wesley tortures Belvedere constantly for sport but he understands when Mr. B returns the torture in a valuable lesson.
Tonight we’ll be watching an episode somewhere in the middle of season three, which means there’s still three and a half seasons to go. After researching some (Yes, I researched Mr. Belvedere for my own personal knowledge, to share with you) the show was based on a book from the 1940’s which also turned into a few movies back then. Possibly those movies and the book will shed light on the origin of Mr. Belvedere’s Pittsburgh choice. I could assume Mr. Belvedere is really a Mrs. Poppins type. He just kinda blew in with the wind.