By Chaz Lipp
Long before shows such as 7th Heaven or Full Houseprovided their respective generations with a TV family to rally around each week, Eight is Enough warmed hearts and tickled funny bones for five seasons. The first of those aired in 1977 and consisted of just nine episodes. Initially the series centered on the parents of the Bradford family, Tom (Dick Van Patten) and Joan (Diana Hyland), as they raised their eight children. In a tragic turn of events, Hyland passed away following a battle with breast cancer after shooting only four episodes. Obviously the dynamic of the series would never be the same, but the comedy-drama continued.
The second season was also the first full season, running for a total of 26 episodes in 1977-78. All are contained on two volumes recently issued by Warner Archive. Part one is a four-disc set containing the first 14 episodes, while part two is a three-disc set containing the remaining 12 episodes. It’s kind of an odd strategy. Who wants one part without the other? Even stranger is the retail pricing of the sets on the Warner Archive website. They offer each part separately or both together as “The Complete Pack.” You might expect a price break for buying the two parts together at the same time. As of this writing, it’s cheaper to buy parts one and two individually (at $22.46 each) than “The Complete Pack” (at $49.95).
The little tyke gets himself into a bit of hot water during another special two-parter, “Yes Nicoloas, There is a Santa Claus.” That episode also gives the kids a chance to express how much they miss their mother, as it’s their first Christmas without her. It’s all tastefully done family drama, with a somewhat annoying laugh track to boot (kind of odd for a show that is more drama than comedy). Another season highlight is the final episode, in which the Bradfords stage a benefit for a local orphanage. David, initially resistant to participate, closes the show with a rendition of what became the show’s own theme song beginning with the third season.