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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > TV > TV Mini-Series > TV Movie > Telefilm > Literature > History > Mystery > Thriller > Abbott & Costello Show – Who’s On First (1951 – 1952) + Around The World In 80 Days (1989 TV Mini-Series/E1 DVDs) + The Curse Of Tutankhamen’s Tomb (1980/Network U.K. DVD/PAL Region Two Import)

Abbott & Costello – Who’s On First (1951 – 1952) + Around The World In 80 Days (1989 TV Mini-Series/E1 DVDs) + The Curse Of Tutankhamen’s Tomb (1980/Network U.K. DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C/C+/C+     Extras: D/D/C     Main Programs: B-/C+/C+



PLEASE NOTE: The Tomb DVD is only available in the U.K. from our friends at Network U.K. and can be ordered from them at the website address links provided below at the end of the review or at finer retailers.  This is in the Region Two/2/PAL format and can only be operated on machines capable of playing back Region 2/PAL discs.  The rest are NTSC U.S. releases.



The idea of a high concept TV event program has always had its appeal and the following three releases were aimed towards audiences that were assumed to be smart, literate and all were meant to be family friendly before that idea was turned into a mocked joke.


When commercial TV resumed after WWII and the tubes finally took off, big names were courted to do work in the small screen in any way possible.  While the big networks signed many big stars of the time, others landed up producing projects on their own like one of the funniest comedy duos of all time: Bud Abbott & Lou Costello.


They decided to make a TV comedy series in the early 1950s, but instead of a formulaic sitcom, each episode began with a little stand-up, a skit story, more stand up, a second story and a conclusion.  The format was a good one that was not followed much, but is a nice approach and that is why The Abbott & Costello Show remains one of the better early comedies for TV.  Who’s On First is a single DVD with six episodes of the show including the last one with the legendary comedy routine of the title.  We previously covered the show in earlier DVD releases at these links:


Passport DVD Singles



100th Anniversary Edition Season One Set




Plus we just covered this compilation of their work on The Colgate Comedy Hour:





The first singles were some of the first TV on DVD of any kind and now E1 is reissuing the show again and rightly so.  Far superior to most badly-written sitcoms today, the show did well for its limited budgets and even having the duo return to familiar territory, but they were comedy naturals and that is apparent as much now as ever before.  The Dentist’s Office, The Birthday Party, The Charity Bazaar, Hungry, The Music Lovers and The Actor’s Home are the episodes on this disc.


If any classic comedy is a candidate for Blu-ray with The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy, this is one of them.


There have been many versions of Jules Verne’s classic book Around The World In 80 Days, including the classic 1956 70mm feature film and the early 1970s Australian animated cartoon series (made around the time of the animated Abbott & Costello series hitting TV at the same time), which is what you would expect for such an important book.  In 1989, the able-bodied journeyman filmmaker Buzz Kulik (Brian’s Song, Bad Ronald and many TV series classics) helmed a TV mini-series version with Pierce Brosnan as Phileas Fogg, who makes a bet he can achieve the title deed and brings along an assistant Passepartout (Eric Idle) in the process.


Though not on the scale of the David Niven film, it has some nice locations, some energy, consistency and an exceptional guest cats including Peter Ustinov, Darren McGavin, Patrick Macnee, Jack Klugman, Julia Nickson, Robert Morley, Lee Remick, Jill St. John, Robert Wagner, Roddy McDowell, Christopher Lee, Cassie Stuart, John Hillerman, Gabriele Ferzetti, John Mills, Pernell Roberts, James B, Sikking, Simon Ward, Henry Gibson and more in one of the last great TV mini-series productions before TV gave up on them and doing them well.


It can run on and be longer than it needed to be, while some parts do not work as well as others, but it has no ugly digital effects and has some good moments.  Those interested should take a look.


By the way, Idle did a documentary series with the same title for the BBC and it is actually on DVD for those interested.  You can read more about it at this link:





Finally we have the less-seen Curse Of Tutankhamen’s Tomb (aka Curse Of King Tut’s Tomb) from 1980, a U.S./U.K. co-production that originally was to have Ian McShane in the lead role of Howard carter, but Robin Ellis took over when McShane was in an accident.  He is around when the tomb is opened and people involved and connected start dying.  Helping this romp are Eva Marie Saint, Tom Baker, Raymond Burr, Wendy Hiller, Harry Andrews, Faith Brook, Barbara Murray and Patricia Routledge in a goods telefilm that is not great, but can be interesting, even when it does not work.


To its advantage, it has a good journeyman director in Philip Leacock (Baffled!, Dying Room Only; now both covered on DVD elsewhere on this site) who keeps the pace going, even when things don’t work.  Interest in this history remains, was shot on location in Egypt and is based on the Barry Wynne’s book Behind The Mask Of Tutankhamen.  The result is a curio with some moments, though it would look more dated a year later with the arrival of Raiders Of The Lost Ark.



The 1.33 X 1 image on Costello is a generation down and you can see the shows were refinished on analog NTSC video of the time to add new credits, but they were originally shot in 35mm, which is why the entire series deserves HD remasters.  Tomb is all film down to its optically printed credits and being a PAL DVD, just edges out the NTSC-finished World transfer very narrowly.  They both have color limits and detail issues, but like Costello could use HD upgrades since they too were 35mm productions.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on all but World (in 2.0 Stereo) sound good for their age, though Costello sounds a bit worn down and second-generation.  Extras are only on Tomb and include a nice set of stills, including the only shots of McShane in the abandoned version of this telefilm, as his footage seems to have disappeared.



As noted above, you can order the Tomb DVD import set exclusively from Network U.K. at:









-   Nicholas Sheffo


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