Lassie (1954) TV Poster Image

Lassie (1954)

(i)

 

One collie, 20 years of old-fashioned family adventures.
  • Network: Hulu
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1954

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series underscores the importance of family, loyalty, and the love of animals. The home lives presented reflect the television of the time -- with a traditional family structure, zero to no racial diversity, and old-fashioned gender roles.

Positive role models

Lassie understands everyone's needs and does her best to meet them. Most of the folks in her community try to make positive choices. Racial/ethnic minority characters are pretty much non-existent. Women often appear helpless or weak.

Violence & scariness

Nothing violent, but some episodes feature children caught in dangerous situations (like getting stuck in a well). Natural disasters like cyclones are sometimes part of the plot. Toy guns are visible. Once in a while folks fall down or get mildly hurt.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Campbell's Soup Company was the primary sponsor of the show, and its products are visible in the background.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the 1950s classic series Lassie features lots of cliff hanger moments with folks in trouble and a collie who is ready and able to save them. The show reflects the values of the time, including patriarchal roles for both men and women. It's mild by today's standards, but young viewers might be nervous to see children in dangerous situations (though they're always saved).

Kids say

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What's the story?

LASSIE (1954-1974) is the classic hit series featuring canine super heroine Lassie living in an American farming community. The series first features the dog living with 11-year-old Jeff Miller (Tommy Rettig), his mom Ellen (Jan Clayton), and Gramps (George Cleveland). But a few years later, she goes to live with Ruth (played by Cloris Leachman and later June Lockhart) and Paul Martin (played by John Sheppold and Hugh Reilly, respectively), and their adoptive son Timmy (Jon Provost). Life on the farm with Timmy is exciting, but her services are later needed by a unit of the United States Forest Rangers. Ultimately, she ends up settling down at a children's home, where she continues to protect humans and animals alike.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

From saving people trapped in wells and caught in bear traps, to independently leading ailing dogs to the downtown veterinarian's office, Lassie tells the tales of a canine heroine who is often smarter and more talented than humans. But the show, and its furry lead character, also reflect many of the post-World War II values of the time, including the importance of family, working hard, and being loyal. Meanwhile, Lassie serves as the show's matriarch, a role defined by the patriarchal values of the time, thanks to her natural capacity to identify everyone's needs, as well as her willingness to serve them.

While the years spent with Timmy are certainly the most popular for Lassie (the syndication title for which is Timmy and Lassie), the show's 20-year run manages to survive various cast switches, as well as the dog's various lifestyle changes. To date, the show continues to play a role in American popular culture, and Lassie herself continues to be known as one of the greatest TV stars of all time.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how TV characters, human or otherwise, can remain popular even after a show is over. What is it about those characters that give them their longevity?

  • Who are some of your favorite classic TV characters? Are there any modern TV characters who you think will be popular 30 years from now?

  • How has the depiction of families changed over the years? Does anything about how the families in Lassie are portrayed suprise you?

TV details

Premiere date:September 12, 1954
Cast:Hugh Reilly, Jon Provost, June Lockhart
Network:Hulu
Genre:Drama
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice
TV rating:TV-Y7
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byLowe's man February 15, 2016

Fine show in general, but look out for a few problem areas.

This show may or may not appeal to kids today. It'll probably appeal to some kids, but definitely not to others. 1950s values, both good and bad, are shown. Many of the show's values are good, such as leadership, loyalty, patriotism, hard work and looking out for others. Other values are less admirable, such as the nonexistence of nonwhites. Then there are the outdated roles of men and women. If gender-specific tasks were the only issue, all you'd have to do would be to tell children that times were different then. But a few things about this series, such as men not even wanting anything to do with certain aspects of the "women's 'sphere'", this gender stereotyping goes somewhat beyond "mere" gender tasks and gender roles. This is pretty much a "know your kid" show. More details can be found in my review of TIMMY AND LASSIE.

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