Further Into the Beaver

November 16, 2012

Late-breaking news here, of vital import to classic TV fans everywhere.

Two and a half years ago, I offered a no-prize to any reader who could identify any episode of Leave It to Beaver in which June Cleaver actually uttered the line, “Ward, you were awfully hard on the Beaver last night.”

Nobody has stepped forward to claim that prize.

Now, however, it would appear that Todd VanDerWerff, the AV Club’s indefatigable television columnist, has found the infamous episode.  Sort of.

According to Todd, it’s the second season entry “Beaver’s Ring” (ahem), and the actual wording is “Don’t you think you’re being a little bit hard on the Beaver?”  Which is kinda dirty, but not as perfectly dirty as the oft-quoted version.  You really need the past tense to suggest that – let’s see, how can I put this delicately? – that Ward was hittin’ it animal-style.

So again I pose the question: is that the closest Barbara Billingsley ever came to saying the infamous line, or is there another utterance that gets closer to the urban-legend?

In the meantime, be sure to read Todd’s piece in its entirety.  His descriptions of ten key Beaver episodes are an excellent reminder of why the show was so quietly transgressive, and also endlessly likable.

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