The Best of Mister Ed: Volume One

The Best of Mister Ed: Volume One
The '60s talking horse sitcom gets the DVD treatment with The Best of Mister Ed: Volume One, a reissue of 21 episodes taken from the show's first three seasons. At 24 minutes per episode that's more than nine hours of Mister Ed. Things begin appropriately with the pilot episode: Newlyweds Wilbur (Alan Young) and Carol (Connie Hines) move into a country house and discover that its previous owners have left behind a talking horse, Mister Ed. The problem is the horse will only speak to Wilbur. After unsuccessfully trying to convince Carol and the ill-tempered neighbours of the talking horse, Wilbur agrees to keep Mister Ed's secret. Considering this rather thin premise, writer Lou Derman works into the stories a surprising amount of variation. Whether Ed's recording a hit single or playing ping pong, the series consistently finds clever, if outrageous, ways to work the horse into each episode. To that end, director/producer Arthur Lubin uses a huge arsenal of camera and trained animal tricks to enliven the horse. And for the most part, the horse's stunts (like answering the phone) come off surprisingly well. Included in the package are guest appearances by George Burns, Zsa Zsa Gabour and a very young Clint Eastwood, all playing themselves. Unfortunately, these are among the weakest shows in the set. There's an air of reverence surrounding the celebrities that is inconsistent with the show's otherwise acerbic wit. As a comedy series, Mister Ed stands on its own four legs. But the show also serves as a poignant historical document. In one episode from early '62, a group of young beatniks invade Mr. Addison's California beachfront property. This is just before the hippie movement started to take off and the show is oddly sympathetic to the disaffected youth. But more often it's what is not shown that's significant. There is no racial diversity and all the characters play into the strict gender roles and sexual stereotypes of the day. Unfortunately, you won't find any of this discussed on the DVD's extra features. There are none. MGM took the time to provide a decent transfer of the show (it looks great), but apparently decided to let Mister Ed speak for himself. (MGM)