Leave It to Beaver is an American television situation comedy about an inquisitive and often naïve boy named Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver and his adventures at home, in school, and around his suburban neighborhood. The show also starred Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as Beaver’s parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and Tony Dow as Beaver’s brother Wally. The show has attained an iconic status in the US, with the Cleavers exemplifying the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century.
The show was created by writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher. These veterans of radio and early television found inspiration for the show’s characters, plots, and dialogue in the lives, experiences, and conversations of their own children. Leave It to Beaver is one of the first primetime sitcom series written from a child’s point-of-view. Like several television dramas and sitcoms of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Leave It to Beaver is a glimpse at middle-class, white American boyhood. In a typical episode Beaver got into some sort of trouble, then faced his parents for reprimand and correction. However, neither parent was omniscient; indeed, the series often showed the parents debating their approach to child rearing, and some episodes were built around parental gaffes.
Wagon Train is an American Western series that ran on NBC from 1957–62 and then on ABC from 1962–65, although the network also aired daytime repeats, as Major Adams, Trailmaster and Trailmaster, from January 1963 to September 1965. The show debuted at #15 in the Nielsen ratings, rose to #2 in the next three seasons, and peaked at #1 in the 1961–62 television season. After moving to ABC in the autumn of 1962, the ratings began to decline, and Wagon Train did not again make the Top 20 listing.
The series initially starred veteran movie supporting actor Ward Bond as the wagon master, later replaced upon his death by John McIntire, and Robert Horton as the scout, subsequently replaced by lookalike Robert Fuller a year after Horton had decided to leave the series.
The series was inspired by the 1950 film Wagon Master directed by John Ford and starring Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. and Ward Bond, and harkens back to the early widescreen wagon train epic The Big Trail starring John Wayne and featuring Bond in his first major screen appearance playing a supporting role. Horton’s buckskin outfit as the scout in the first season of the television series resembles Wayne’s, who also played the wagon train’s scout in the earlier film.
The Virginian is an American Western television series starring James Drury and Doug McClure, which aired on NBC from 1962 to 1971 for a total of 249 episodes. It was a spin-off from a 1958 summer series called Decision. Filmed in color, The Virginian became television’s first 90-minute western series. Immensely successful, it ran for nine seasons—television’s third longest running western. It follows Bonanza at fourteen seasons and 430 episodes, and Gunsmoke at twenty seasons and 635 episodes.