Loretta Young Show offers 145 doses of 1950s morals

The Loretta Young Show: Best of the Complete Series — 100th Birthday Edition

— What is it? The Loretta Young Show: Best of the Complete Series - 100th Birthday Edition, 145 half-hour episodes on 17 disks from Timeless Media Group

How much? $99.99

When? Now

Who is Loretta Young? Loretta Young was a movie star during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Born in January 1913, she began acting as a child in silent films, working her way up to starring roles and eventually winning an Oscar for 1947’s The Farmer’s Daughter.

As with most actresses, movie roles started to dry up as she neared 40.

Luckily for her, this coincided with the explosion of a new medium: television. What her fellow movie stars saw as a dangerous and inferior interloper, Young saw as a golden opportunity. With her husband, Thomas Lewis,she created the anthology series.

Each episode opened with Young practically twirling into a living room wearing a glamorous gown and introducing the night’s tale. And each episode closed with Young reading a Bible passage, poem or quotation that related to the story’s message.

The stories were a pretty varied bunch, taking place at different times, different places and with a rotating guest cast. Some of the stories were romantic. Some were suspenseful. Some were funny. Most starred, or at least included, Young, though ill health forced her to miss a large batch of episodes in Season 3 and others here and there throughout the run.

A sample:

‘‘Evil for Evil”: A woman finds herself standing between an angry mob and the man who murdered her beloved father.

‘‘Feeling No Pain”: A toothache, a thoughtless boss/fiance, a man-hungry flirt, a charming artist and some heavy painkillers create an eventful day for a secretary.

‘‘A Greater Strength”: A prison camp survivor searches for her young daughter.

Young was a devout Catholic and believed that her show should reflect her convictions. So the stories were all little morality plays, emphasizing the importance of civic duty, of being a good parent, of treating others well and so on.

The show was a hit, running for eight seasons (1953-61) and winning Young three Emmy Awards. Other classic movie stars, including Barbara Stanwyck and June Allyson, followed her to TV.

Would I like it? Well, it depends. The production values and acting are actually quite good, especially considering the age of the program. Some of the morals are delivered with the subtlety of a hammer and some of Young’s convictions don’t go over quite so well today, but the stories can be entertaining. And there’s no denying it has a place in TV history.

What about extras? They’ve assembled a few. There’s a very short biography on Young, a 15-minute interview with Young’s three children, theatrical trailers from a few of Young’s films and a 15-minute interview with frequent guest Beverly Washburn. Fans would probably enjoy the half-hour audio interview with Young and the 27 minutes of home movies (including some behind-the-scenes footage from her movie sets), narrated by Young’s son, Christopher Lewis.

One thing that’s missing that would have been nice? Episode summaries.

New this week: Adventure Time, Volume 4; Battlestar Galactica, Blood & Chrome; The Carol Burnett Show, This Time Together; Game of Thrones, Season 2; The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, Season 2; The Six Million Dollar Man, Season 3.

Next week: The Client List, Season 1; Law & Order, Season 12; Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Season 2, Volume 1; Rocko’s Modern Life, Complete Series; West Point, Complete Series.

Style, Pages 52 on 02/17/2013