Mr. Belvedere: The Complete Third Season

Mr. Belvedere: The Complete Third Season
There is something inherently creepy about Mr. Belvedere, a series about a generic nuclear family wherein the parental units watch television and read magazines while a large, effete, sexually repressed British butler spends quality time with their sociopath son. Themes of female subjugation pop up frequently on the show, as do storylines involving malfeasance and stolid manipulation on the part of a small child who fakes animal deaths, threatens arson and attempts to deport the titular butler when he doesn't get his way. One can only assume that the writer's room was filled with irreverent cynics seeing what exactly they could get away with without people noticing. By season three, most of the fish-out-of-water comedy has subsided in favour of off-centre family life lessons, with each episode ending with Mr. Belvedere (Christopher Hewitt) writing in his diary. The context here is that the novel on which the series is based, written by Gwen Davenport, was about a refined man coming to America to gain insight on the typical American family for a book. The "typical family" here being the Owens, with sports caster patriarch George (Bob Uecker) and law student mother Marsha (Ilene Graff), who seem somewhat removed from their mentally-challenged oldest son, Kevin (Rob Stone), as well as their whiny daughter, Heather (Tracy Wells), and creepy son Wesley (Brice Beckham). Storylines in season three involve the accidental dropping of a television in the bathtub, the pain of Alzheimer's and the teenage daughter allowing the high school jock to shoplift from her place of employment in exchange for a homecoming date. Perhaps the most disturbing episode, aside from the one where Wesley fakes the death of his hamster to trick his parents into buying him a puppy, involves Kevin taking the town slut on a date when he wants to lose his virginity. Not only does she live in a rundown one-bedroom apartment with her waitress mother, sans daddy, but she comments on how most guys barely let her finish her cheeseburger before making her put out. It's played for comedy, as Kevin actually gets annoyed when she remarks on how much it means that he treats her like a human being. Mr. Belvedere then writes about this in his diary. Cast commentaries are included on six episodes with the three kids (now grown up) and Ilene Graff, wherein they mock their clothes and some plot holes. (Shout! Factory)