Eight is Enough: The Complete Second Season DVD Review: And Abby Makes Nine

Based on the book by syndicated newspaper columnist Thomas Braden, a real-life parent of eight children, Eight is Enough is a family drama, although it offers a good deal of laughs, that ran for five seasons on ABC from 1977-1981. The series centers on the lives of newspaper columnist Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten) and his children David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas, whose birth order can be remembered by the phrase “Dumb Martians Just Sit Nearby Eating Tender Noodles.”

In the first season, Diana Hyland played Tom’s wife Joan for four episodes, but she unfortunately became ill and couldn’t continue, dying of cancer shortly after the first episode aired. The second season, which Warner Archive has now made available in two multi-disc sets, introduces Sandra “Abby” Abbot (Betty Buckley) in the second episode “Trial Marriage” as a tutor for Tommy after he broke his leg. The growing relationship between Tom and Abby is dealt with realistically as it’s not all smooth sailing. They break-up in “Double Trouble,” though soon patch things up get married in the two-part “Children of the Groom.”

The writers do a good job telling stories that are relatable to families, still to this day. When Tom and Abby go away, the kids throw a party in “The Lost Weekend.” David’s new roommate Jonathan romances sisters Joanie and Susan in “Triangles,” and can you blame him? All the Branford ladies are attractive. Mary moves in with her boyfriend (Don Johnson) in “Trial Marriage” and Tom takes it awfully hard by today’s standards, which likely hints at how society in the late ’70s looked upon unmarried people living together.

Joan’s memory is a presence during the season, which is to be expected, and it’s the youngest children who have the most trouble adjusting. Nicholas thinks she’s going to return one day, Elizabeth isn’t thrilled about getting a stepmother and runs away, and in “Yes Nicholas, There is a Santa Claus” Tommy struggles during the first Christmas without his mom.

For fans of the show or those looking for some classic family television, Eight is Enough: The Complete Second Season is a wonderful collection to pick up. But don’t take my word for it. This season was the #12 most-watched program of the ’77-78 season, so quite a few people found it enjoyable as well. Just know it’s a bare-bones set with no extras and no remastering has taken place, which is clearly obvious in some scenes that show a great deal of wear and defect.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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