Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids – The Original Animated Series V.1
Sound: C+ Extras: B- Episodes: B+ CD sound: B-
When it first aired, television had never seen anything
like Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids, which debuted in 1972. There had never been an all African-American
cast animated series before (and few since), while commercial TV had seen few
such shows that combined education and morals.
In the first shows, especially the ones where Bill Cosby hosts in a
yellow shirt, he added music numbers ala Hanna Barberra series like Scooby
Doo and Josie & The Pussycats.
Urban Works has been issuing many titles from the series, and here is a Volume
One double DVD set that offers the following half-hour shows:
2) The Runt
5) Fish Out
10) The Hero
11) The Prankster
12) Four Eyes
They are some of the most important, classic pieces of
Saturday Morning TV programming ever and was among a golden age of children’s
programming like nothing ever seen before or since. When the show replaced music numbers with Brown Hornet
segments, a superhero spoof on the tail end of such send-ups, it was never the
same. The show was still good, but got
in creative trouble. That is why this
is a particularly good set to get if you have trouble choosing between what has
been issued so far, though I do look forward to seeing the later shows.
Bill Cosby has been derailed and criticized lately often,
but at the same time has achieved so much in his career. The Cosby Show was a huge hit, as
were several feature films (especially the great Hickey & Boggs
reviewed elsewhere on this site) and I Spy the series is still light
years ahead of the awful feature films.
As far as his TV work is concerned, even after many memorable guest
appearances and other hit sitcoms, these shows remain the most important work
he ever did in the television medium.
Even the recent feature film could not recapture the magic.
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image is nice and clean in many
instances, but there are many shots where the image is distorted and even has
double vision blurriness that I do not recall in any broadcasts. As with the other installments in Urban
Works’ series of DVD releases, the video you see comes from composite D1
digital videotape, which was then restored in the video realm only by JCA TV
with Snell & Wilcox Archangel Ph.C digital restoration system. This is good for DVD releasing at this time,
but not for preserving the shows in the future for digital HD presentation and
more durable film storage. The early
shows are going to need work digital cannot alone fix. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is fine for its
age, but no match for the PCM 2.0 16Bit/44.1kHz monophonic CD that is a bonus
disc in this set. This includes songs
that always sounded like Smokie Robinson producing Three Dog Night and they
Albert Opening Theme
2) Don’t Go
Telling A Lie
Look Down On A Small Guy
No Fool Like A Fool Playing Hookey
9) Don’t Be
Scared (Of A Hospital)
10) Beggin’ Benny
11) Oh Don’t You Know He’s Not A Hero
12) A Joke Isn’t A Joke
13) Four Eyes
14) Fat Albert Closing Theme
Though simple, these are children’s music classics and
more people know them than you might think.
If you get this set and have seen the film, you might be surprised how
quickly you recall some of this particular material. The other extra in the case is connected with this CD, a nice
booklet with listings of all the episodes, songs and song lyrics. That rounds out a great set of discs that
are perfect children’s fare. Fat
Albert & The Cosby Kids - Volume One is a must for any children’s, TV
and animation library.
- Nicholas Sheffo