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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Horror > Satire > The Addams Family – Volume One (1964 TV Series/MGM)

The Addams Family – Volume One (1964 TV Series/MGM)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B



In recent years thanks to the feature films and Tim Burton’s style being so connected to Charles Addams it is not even funny, the original Addams Family has not been seen much on TV in syndication or otherwise.  For the longest time, it has not been available much on home video, with any VHS long gone.  MGM owns the original show and has finally decided to issue The Addams Family – Volume One, the first half of the first season on DVD.


Remarkably, this is the first time it has been on DVD, which seems inexcusable, but here it finally is and the show holds up very well (already) 40 years later.  The first of the First Season episodes include:


1)     The Addams Family Goes To School (guest stars Madge Blake)

2)     Morticia & The Psychiatrist

3)     Fester’s Punctured Romance

4)     Gomez, The Politician (guest stars Bill Baldwin)

5)     The Addams Family Tree (guest stars Frank Nelson)

6)     Morticia Joins The Ladies League (guest stars Peter Leeds)

7)     Halloween With The Addams Family (guest stars Don Rickles)

8)     Green-Eyed Gomez

9)     The New Neighbors Meet The Addams Family

10)  Wednesday Leaves Home (guest stars Jesse White)

11)  The Addams Family Meets The V.I.P. (guest stars Stanley Adams)

12)  Morticia, The Matchmaker

13)  Lurch Learns To Dance

14)  Art & The Addams Family

15)  The Addams Family Meets A Beatnik

16)  The Addams Family Meets The Undercover Man

17)  Mother Lurch Visits The Addams Family (guest stars Ellen Corby)

18)  Uncle Fester’s Illness (guest stars Lauren Gilbert)

19)  The Addams Family Splurges (guest stars Roland Winters and Olan Soule)

20)  Cousin Itt Visits (guest stars Bill Baldwin and Alan Reed)



The show stars Caroline Jones as Morticia and John Aston as Gomez, the romantic loving couple with that unique combination of love, romance and death.  Of course, it is a comedy, so no need to call Dr. Freud.  Jackie Cogan was also great as Uncle Fester and the great “big man” Ted Cassidy (who has done endless monster and creature voices) played the humorless butler Lurch.  The Addams also has Cousin It (the original one in the box) and two children, Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) and Wednesday (Lisa Loring).  The writing on the show was funny, still is and has a certain sense of joy remaining all this time later.


At a time TV had plastic families, this show was subversive, exploiting the limitations of what we now know as the dysfunctional family.  Some of these shows are especially funny, including Gomez, The Politician, a political satire that is funnier and edgier than it at first seems.  One of the jokes is that the wealth The Addams has always back the candidates that loose.  Oh, the good old days.  The titles give you an idea of how funny the show can get at a time when TV classics were surfacing left and right.  The show was not a big hit in its original release, only lasting two seasons, but along with The Munsters was a huge syndicated TV hit that did big business.


MGM (taking a page from new distributor Fox) has decided to issue only the first half of the season as a volume and also added some nice extras.  The gentleman journeyman Hollywood director Arthur Hiller even helmed a show. 


The 1.33 X 1 image is sometimes soft, but the transfers are pretty good overall and were all shot in black and white film by Cinematographer Archie R. Dalzell (The Beverly Hillbillies, T.H.E. Cat, The Rookies) in what is one of the first modern, naturalistic looking filmed TV shows of the time.  The lighting is good and camera shooting better than remembered, faster-paced than many shows of the time and with quick (and usually bad) editing the norm, this well-edited show seems fresher than you’d think.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono also varies slightly, but sounds pretty good overall for its age and the Vic Mizzy finger-snapping theme song remains another one of the great classic TV themes.  Dialogue is recorded well enough and there is little compression anywhere.  You might get a little background noise, but it is never too distracting.


Extras are many and include three new audio commentaries, stills section, a theme song karaoke section, Addams Family Portrait featurette (14:24) about the making of the show, Snap Snap featurette (5:40) about Mizzy’s theme and You Rang, Mr. Addams featurette (12:02) about Charles Addams himself.  Fans will note that none of the extras that appeared on the 12” Criterion LaserDisc are here, while home video people know that MGM and Criterion have not been working together for a long time.


Of course, Fox does work with Criterion and maybe some of those extras might surface on the later volumes.  For all the Special Editions not available from Criterion/MGM team-ups (including the never-issued Usual Suspects), maybe Fox will be able to get those issued again.  However, these are fine extras for a TV original from the classic comic strip.  Catch it now and surprise yourself.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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