on March 7, 2006
When I was a kid (about 35 years ago) this was just about my favorite show. It was funny, creative and decent, the whole family could watch it. There was no laugh track and it was better for it I think. I've always enjoyed Bill Cosby's comedy (spent many hours listening to records of his comedy routines) and I've been hoping this t.v. series would become available on DVD some day so that I could enjoy them again. If you like Cosby at all go ahead and order it.
I remember watching this show on television as a child and loving it. I loved Bill Cosby and the funky soundtrack, and the fact that this show tended to deal with real life in a funny and optimistic way, and there was no soundtrack. This show doesn't need to tell you when to laugh.
I've mentioned this show to friends over the years and nobody knew what I was talking about. I thought that perhaps for some reason Bill Cosby himself had decided to never let this show see the light of day again.
Well, I was wrong and I am thrilled to be able to see this show in color since my family had only a black-and-white TV back in 1969. And, they even put it on one-sided discs! They did the packaging right!
So, why not kick back and watch one of the very best TV shows ever. In a way it's rather dated, but it's rather timeless too.
This is a 4-disc set of Season I of the first Bill Cosby Show, the 1969 series - not to be confused with "The Cosby Show," the more recent Show. No, this was the original Cosby. Here he plays a bachelor high school coach. Cosby's loose ad lib style is already brilliant and fully developed in this series, and you might find you actually prefer it to his long-running turn as a family man. These episodes have more a slice-of-life feel than a staged sitcom feel. And the young people featured in this earlier series have unpredictable personalities that run the spectrum from shy to self-assured. They aren't uniformly smart-alecky and precocious, as almost all the children in modern sitcoms tend to be.
The adults aren't stereotyped either. They aren't boxed into being humorous by way of being self-absorbed. This isn't a series of one-liners, of zingers-and-retorts delivered like shoot-outs. People still have conversations here. This is something really different, something with heart.
A number of big-name stars show up occasionally. You'll see Henry Fonda, Elsa Lancaster, Cicely Tyson, and others. But you might not notice them, because they too blend in with the warmth of everyday neighborhood life.
One of the series' funniest episodes, perhaps one of the funniest episodes of all time, is entitled "Goodbye Cruel World" and features Wally Cox. Cox plays a lovelorn cafeteria server at Coach Kincaid's high school. When all of Kincaid's advice to Cox about how to ask that special woman for a date fails - Cox decides he's going to commit suicide. This might not sound as if it would make likely material for a comedy, but believe me, it turns out to be hilarious.
Kincaid (Cosby) is again unpredictable. He doesn't feverishly try to dissuade Cox, as one might expect. Instead he takes a low-key approach. He settles down to have a cup of coffee in Wally's kitchen, while casually advising Wally about the practicalities involved in every suicide method that Wally contemplates. Jump out the window? "Well no, you're only on the second floor, so you'd probably only break a leg or something." Stab yourself with the kitchen knife? "Too messy. And your knife is too dull. Do have a sharpener? No? Well then, that's no good."
Finally, Kincaid agrees with Wally that hanging might be the best way to go. But Wally has no rope, so the two set out together for the hardware store. There Wally espies a can of ant poison first and veers toward that. The two argue back and forth - rope - poison - rope - poison - making the hardware store clerk the picture of puzzlement as he tries to fathom what household malfunction could possibly be addressed by two such divergent alternatives. When Wally finally agrees to the rope, all the hardware store clerk has to offer is a 50-foot length of marine halyard that can't be cut. So Wally ends up straggling weighted out of the store, with 50-feet of impossible hemp cordage over his shoulder. But of course, that's not the end of it.
Possibly the most memorable episode in this First Season is called "A Girl Named Punkin." You'll probably carry this episode with you to the end, and pass it along to your children. Here Cosby shows his talent for approaching children as a mentor, as an educator who is more friend than teacher. A little girl at the community center where he volunteers has refused to speak a word for a long time. No one has been able to get through to her. By way of trying to get her to come out of her shell, he tells her a story. Kincaid virtually morphs into real-life Cosby here. Cosby tells one of his inimitable stories. It's about an egg that refuses to hatch. The little creature inside the egg won't come out - and won't come out. Everyone tries to lure her out with laughing and joking and promises of all the presents and goodies and fun and entertainment that await her - if she'll only come out. But the little egg still won't hatch. Ages pass. Finally, finally, someone comes up to the egg and says the thing the little creature inside has been waiting all this time to hear. It's the thing we all wait to hear.
I won't tell you what it is. Perhaps you can guess. But anyway, you'll have to get this DVD set to know the truth of it.
Some of the episodes mentioned by other reviewers aren't on this First Season set. I hope the other Seasons become available soon. I can hardly wait to re-visit this unique series in its entirety.
on February 16, 2015
It is a sad commentary on the television industry's selection processes that The Bill Cosby Show only got 2 seasons and is forgotten while The Cosby Show got 6 seasons and is considered a classic. In the latter the square Cosby (a slightly pompous, highly successful physician) is constantly outwitted and put down by the other 4 lovable, hip family members. Cosby carries the show, but all his funny lines (accompanied by a lot of tedious mugging) are as the butt of other peoples jokes. George Burns and Gracie Allen made that work because Gracie became the comedian and because underneath her apparent stupidity was a remarkable sensitivity and sense of humor. In the Cosby Show the 4 straight people have no subtlety; they just dish out smart putdowns that the ordinary viewer can identify with. Perhaps that was the secret of the show's success.
In the Bill Cosby Show, Chet (Cosby) is a mildly hip school teacher dealing with the hassles of everyday life. The humor comes from the situations, ranging from getting his car repaired to the mediocre performance of his student basketball team to his own prowess at handball. The supporting characters come through as unique individuals struggling for minor success against an adverse environment of hazards that are more funny than threatening. Best of all Cosby has most of the funny lines, whether giving advice to others or musing on his own intentions and motivations.
on August 23, 2006
Finally! One of the great sitcoms of all time is back. I always thought that the '80s "Cosby Show" was too self-consciously good. Cosby was a buffoon, his wife was too intelligent and the kids were too well-behaved. The original "Bill Cosby Show" drew humor from real-life situations. As Chet Kincaid, Cosby spends entire episodes looking for a valve needle to blow up his volleyballs, trying to get some sleep, trying to borrow a television to watch the Rams/49ers, attempting to find a letter signed by Abraham Lincoln, and many more. The premises were strokes of genius; 22 minute lessons in morality, love, and friendship, all without hitting the audience over the head with messages or even canned laughter. The guest stars were always amazing: from the famous: Henry Fonda, Will Geer, Cicely Tyson - to cult favorites like Antonio Fargas, Herb Edelman (hilarious, trying to quit smoking) and Len Lesser ("Seinfeld"). Jazz and blues fans should take note because you never know when a cameo appearance by Cosby idols like Jimmy Witherspoon (as a gym janitor) stroll by. Savor each episode; this is television at its best. Cos unfettered; his best stand-up routines brought to life.
on July 22, 2011
Hard to believe so much time has gone by since this was on TV. Three cheers for the Shout Factory releasing them. This is a super, nice transfer. If you still have an old tube tv lying around use that to watch these episodes on. Most standard dvds look better on tube sets than HDTVs with this being an excellent example. I couldn't believe how deep, bright and popping the colors are and how sharp the picture is. Just imagine them on Blu Ray.
As for the episodes, they are as good as I remember them being and are very entertaining, well written and acted. There is good chemisty between Cliff and the female teacher that is a regular on the show. I liked these enough to purchase both seasons and I can easily see watching these numerous times. The Bill cosby show reminds me of "That's My Momma" which also lasted two seasons and both were underrated and taken off the air too soon.
on June 29, 2010
Like many others, I never knew there was a Bill Cosby Show; I'd only known the Cosby Show. I wasn't expecting this show to be excellent that's for sure, but that's what I got. It's an incredibly underrated, funny and vastly forgotten TV show. I found out about this show, by the theme song "Hikky Burr" on a best of Bill Cosby album. I always loved the song, so when I found out Quincy Jones made it with Bill for the Bill Cosby Show; I knew I just had to buy it. This television show follows the life of gym teacher Chet Kincaid (Bill Cosby) who works at a high school in California. When I placed the disc in the DVD player, I was expecting canned laughter. I didn't get that, that's right, there's no canned laughter and that's exactly what Bill Cosby wanted. It took me a few episodes to get used to it, but I'm glad Bill made that decision. NBC wanted canned laughter and when Bill Cosby's contract was completed NBC canceled the show. And like that this is a forgotten masterpiece.
One of my favorite episodes is "Rules is Rules", it's all about Chet getting a valve needle to inflate some flat basketballs. That's it, but all these ridiculous problems stand in Chet's way. Another great episode is "Really Cool" when Chet recounts an important track meet for the school paper. I just love the way one problem takes so long to be solved for Chet, dogs barking, being stuck in an elevator, just so many problems which makes a great show. Also included in this DVD set is an interesting interview with Bill Cosby about the Bill Cosby Show, it's around twenty minutes and gives us more insight on this short lived TV show. Also, so you don't have to guess which episodes what, they have an episode guide. But even though the pamphlet included with this DVD has episode descriptions I'll list them below just in case you want to know.
The Fatal Phone Call - Airdate: 9/14/1969 - Chet gets involved in a domestic dispute when he answers a pay phone.
Lullaby and Goodnight - Airdate: 9/21/1969 - The neighbor's noisy dog won't let Chet get any sleep.
The Best Hook Shot in the World - Airdate: 9/28/1969 - A short student with a great hook shot thinks Chet is discriminating against him because he won't put him on the basketball team.
A Girl Named Punkin - Airdate: 10/5/1969 - A girl from a neighborhood settlement house follows Chet home but refuses to speak.
Rules is Rules - Airdate: 10/12/1969 - Chet Gets tangled in red tape while trying to get a valve needle to inflate a basketball.
Let X Equal a Lousy Weekend - Airdate: 10/26/1969 - Chet substitutes for a sick math teacher and finds that he can't solve and algebra problem.
To Kincaid, With Love - Airdate: 11/2/1969 - A student breaks up with her boyfriend and starts sending gifts to Chet.
The Killer Instinct - Airdate: 11/9/1969 - Chet is pressured by a student's father to put the boy on the football team.
The Substitute - Airdate: 11/16/1969 - Chet teaches a sex education class and baby-sits for his brother's kids while trying to get a date with a pretty substitute teacher.
Brotherly Love - Airdate: 11/23/1969 - Chet's brother arrives after leaving his wife, just as Chet is about to welcome a date to his apartment.
Going the Route - Airdate: 11/20/1969 - Chet takes over his sick nephew's paper route.
A Word From Our Sponsor - Airdate: 12/7/1969 - Chet is selected to star in a television commercial for a breakfast cereal.
A Christmas Ballad - Airdate: 12/21/1969 - Chet helps an old man get a job as Santa Claus at a community center.
Home Remedy - Airdate: 12/28/1969 - Chet's home sick with a cold but can't get any rest with friends and relatives bringing him their various cures.
Growing Growing Grown - Airdate: 1/4/1970 - Chet has to chaperone the school dance and escorts a new teacher there in his brother's garbage truck.
The Elevator Doesn't Stop Here Anymore - Airdate: 1/11/1970 - Chet gets stuck in an elevator with a stuffy English teacher and a cleaning lady who speaks very little English.
Lower's Quarrel - Airdate: 1/18/1970 - Chet tries to put an end to his aunt and uncle's constant quarrelling.
The Worst Crook That Ever Lived - Airdate: 1/25/1970 - Chet counsels a young shoplifter in exchange for new baseball uniforms.
The Gumball Incident - Airdate: 2/1/1970 - Chet goes to court to flight the charge that he broke a gumball machine.
Goodbye Cruel World - Airdate: 2/8/1970 - His shy friend has a crush on a girl, so Chet helps him get a date with her.
Driven to Distraction - Airdate: 2/15/1970 - Chet tries to teach a nervous student to drive.
The Blind Date - Airdate: 3/1/1970 - Chet allows himself to be set up on a blind date and is pleasantly surprised with the result.
How You Play the Game - Airdate: 3/8/1970 - Chet completes in the city handball
The Return of Big, Bad, Bubba Bronson - Airdate: 3/22/1970 - Chet takes boxing lessons when he learns that his old high school rival is coming for a visit.
This Mouth is Rated X - Airdate: 3/29/1970 - Chet tries to stop a star basketball player from using foul language.
Really Cool - Airdate: 4/5/2970 - When asked to tell a few stories about his life for the school paper, Chet recounts an important track meet.
The Bill Cosby Show is a terrific part of Bill Cosby's legendary career, and if you love Bill Cosby this is an essential. I also recommend purchasing the terrific CD The Original Jam Sessions 1969 which features the theme for the Bill Cosby Show "Hikky Burr" and many more funky tracks. One last word, season two of the Bill Cosby Show is on DVD, but it's only available at the Shout! Factory website, so don't go looking for it in stores.
on July 6, 2013
I do not have cable or satellite television. I like to control what comes into my house. I am always on the lookout for unique things to watch with my children. We already watch the Cosby show from the 80's that I grew up with. I also like Fat Albert. I did not even know this existed because it was before I was born and is not one of the Cosby shows that is in rerun rotation. What I like about this show is what I like about the Cosby brand. It is tells universal truths, teaches lessons all while amusing you. I also appreciate that he depicts Black people in non-stereotypical roles. Not only that he shows diverse racial groups co-existing together. Hard to believe that it is still hard to find any other show in 2013 that portrays any of these characteristics. If you like wholesome entertainment, this might be the find for you. Do not buy it looking for the 1980's version, this is a different animal, but it is still really good.
on June 9, 2014
I got the distinct impression the producers were sitting on Cosby to prevent him from being too funny. It's not a bad show for when it was made, but even back then I think they could have been a little less...vanilla.
I watched this short-lived series back when it premiered on prime-time television. I have always been a fan of Bill Cosby and admire him very much. This show is a reflection of his brand of comedy - gentle, insightful, making us laugh at the things we run into during our everyday lives. It is also good, clean humor; Mr. Cosby never has to lower himself to plunge the depths of low taste like so many comedians these days and their shows in order to go for the cheap laugh or guffaw.
I don't think this show is going to make anyone start rolling on the floor with laughter (well, there are some very funny scenes but they're not going for the big laughs here) but you can appreciate the situations Mr. Cosby's character, Chet Kincaid, finds himself in.
If you like Bill Cosby, you should like this show.