12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2005
This is Volume 1 of several episodes on VHS of the 1964-1966 NBC comedy series "The Addams Family" which have not yet made it to DVD, and I hope it does soon. The irreverent, hilarious and intelligently-written comedy was based on illustrator Charles Addam's cartoosn for The New Yorker. They were a Halloween-honoring, bizarre, creepy, but self-possessed and proud wealthy family living in mid-60's America. Gomez is a Spanish-descended lawyer with too much money and time on his hands- his favorite activities include playing with his exploding toy train set, practicing Yoga (which Buddhist actor Jon Astin actually practiced and does to this day and was doing it a time before it was popularized and mainstream), hunting for wild things around the house and getting himself into various adventures. His beautiful wife Morticia wears a tight-fitting Goth outfit, speaks elegantly and was one of the few TV moms who had a will of her own and a high intellect as well as a more liberal and modern approach at raising her kids. Uncle Fester will forever be remembered for putting light-bulbs in his mouth and making them glow because his body generates electricity. Six foot plus Lurch the butler is quite a sight - a cross between Frankenstein and a Zombie- and has that recognizable deep voice, Thing is a severed hand that helps around the house by answering the phone or fetching the mail. Wednesdaay and Pugsley are mischievous and playful sprites, though never spoiled compared to their "normal" neighbor's children. In fact, it was quite refreshing to see the Addams get the upper hand when dealing with people who were discriminatory and bore ill will. Evidence of the mid-60's milieu on the series became visible when on certain episodes the Addams danced to such hit 60's dance as the watusi and the twist and when Lurch joined a rock group "The Beagles". Among my favorite episodes included The Addams go to Court, episodes which featured Ophelia, Morticia's sister, who was Carolyn Jones in a double role, Morticia the Artist, when Wednesday imitates her mother and wears the same outfit in miniature, and when The Wicked Witch of the West of Oz herself, Margaret Hamilton, guest starred as Morticia's mother. Other notable guest stars included the actor that played Mr. Mooney and other characters on I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball and the robot used in "Forbidden Planet". Still another great episode is when a James Dean type temporarily moves in with the Addams.
This collection includes the pilot episode and the following episodes which composed the bulk of season 1 (1964)- The Psychiatrist, Morticia Joins the Ladies League, Fester's Punctured Romance,The Addams Family Tree, Gomez, the Politician, The New Neighbors Meet the Addams Family, Morticia the Matchmake, Green-eyed Gomez and concludes with Wednesday Leaves Home. Today, only John Astin and the former child actors who played Pugsley and Wednesday are still alive. Carolyn Jones (Morticia) enjoyed a long career in the movies through the 50's- even starring opposite Elvis Presley once and almost won Best Actress for her role in "Marjorie Morningstar"- the 60's, 70's and the first years of the 80's. She guest starred in several popular TV series such as Batman (as the villainess the Queen of Diamonds) and again as a villain in Wonder-Woman. She died in 1983 of cancer. Fester (Jackie Coogan) was quite old by the time of this show and his first film role was in the 20's silent film Oliver Twist. Lurch died shortly after the 1977 Halloween special film which reunited the old cast. Grandmama Addams Rock Blossom also died shortly after that movie. Eventhough interest in this film re-emerged in "The Addams" movies starring Raoul Julia, Angelica Houston, Christopher Lloyd and Christian Ricci- it lacks the magic and freshness of the original series. And good looking Jon and Astin and Carolyn Jones are unbeatable as the original Gomez and Morticia, who had perfect chemistry and witty exchange of words and were the only married couple on TV at the time to unabashedly and unapologetically demonstrate their love for each other: Gomez would get aroused when Morticia spoke French or Yiddish to him and he would kiss up and down her hand or back. They danced a lot together and genuinely enjoyed each other's company.
In "The Pyschiatrist" Gomez and Morticia are baffled by their son Pugsley's behavior. He is acting as a normal, non-Addams boy would behave: he joins the Boy Scots, adores baseball, things a boy in 1964 would most likely have enjoyed. The therapist is in for a big surprise when he discovers just who Pugsley's family is and in the process of straightening the boy out, is driven crazy by the family's antics. In Morticia Joins the Ladies League, the Addams adopt an orangutan for a pet. It causes trouble, especially when Morticia, in an effort to establish friendships in the community decides to host a Ladies League in her home. In Fester's Romance, eternally love-lorn Fester puts an ad in the paper as he wishes to find the girl of his dreams. Instead, there's a hilarious mix-up involving a cosmetic/beauty product selling lady whom the Addams mistake for a woman of ill-repute. In The New Neighbors Meet the Addams, the new neighbor's children fight with the Addams children and the parents also engage in a feud involving which family has better blood/heritage. The Addams are descended of infamous, malign figures like pirates and are ashamed of the one rebel Addams, President John Addams. In the final episode, Wednesday leaves home, the Addams daughter is going through a rebellious phase and decides to run away from home. She writes a hilarious farewell letter: "Dear Mom and Dad, I hate you. Love, Wednesday."
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2005
For god's sake, with all the crap that's been released on DVD, this is one show that is perfect for the format. Anybody out there listening? This is one of the smartest comedies of the 60's: wry and sophisticated. My 10 year old saw some on TVland and thought they were brilliant...she's right.