|The Addams Family: Volume One (1964)
Starring: John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Ted Cassidy, Jackie Coogan, Ken Weatherwax, Lisa Loring
If you don’t like “The Addams Family,” you’re just not cool, man. Don’t you see that the Addams were the Stones to the Munsters’ Beatles? Of course they were. They were more dangerous, more insane, and – let’s face it – more real (well, with the exception of Thing and Cousin Itt) than the Munsters. Plus they were jus funnier all around. Both shows debuted in 1964 and both only lasted for two seasons. But “The Addams Family” remains the triumphant of the two bizarro shows because it worked well with the older audiences at the time and continues to do so in the present. Whereas “The Munsters” was often filled with nothing but slapstick goofball tomfoolery that would have made Vaudeville proud, “The Addams Family” was definitely creepy and kooky.
The family itself is of course a product of the great cartoonist Charles Addams, who found early fame in the 1930s with his drawings for The New Yorker magazine. It actually wasn’t until the TV show was adapted that Addams even gave the family’s characters their individual names. So if you need a refresher course, the Addams are comprised of Gomez, a wealthy billionaire, his wife Morticia, their children Pugsley and Wednesday, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, the butler Lurch, the always helpful disembodied hand Thing, and of course Cousin Itt, who would beat the hippies to their own look way before anyone even thought about hippies.
In regards to Gomez and Morticia, has there ever been a sitcom couple more hot and horny for each other? God knows it was hard to fathom Herman and Lily Munster getting it on, but Carolyn Jones as Morticia was absolutely hot stuff, period. And all she had to do was start speaking French and Gomez was always ready to get the sex on instantly. Again, this was 1964 and well, these two were breaking some new ground. Of course, Morticia was equally attracted to the suave Gomez with the trademarked insane twinkling in his eyes and constant cigar smoking. A match made in heaven.
So here we have “The Addams Family” making its long-away debut on DVD. This first volume of shows includes 22 of the first season’s 34 episodes (it’s being done this way so there can be three neatly-packed volumes). The show now looks better than it ever has, with the re-runs on TV still looking like 20th generation masters. It’s interesting to be able to see the first episode, “The Addams Family Goes to School,” and see how the world was introduced to the TV version of this clan. Of course, as intro episodes go, it’s not exactly knee-slapping, as we’re all familiar with the show by now, but one can still relive going through the Addams estate and getting to know everyone and their weird ways.
Of course, everyone else in the Addams’ neighborhood was positively freaked out by them. This is an element that was largely missing from “The Munsters” as Herman had his job and Eddie had some pals. But the fact that there was never any real explanation as to how the Addams were tied to the supernatural – or if they even really were – was part of their weird charm. There was nothing “scary” about them; they just had odd tastes. But again, one could chalk this all up to Chaz Addams and his creations being ahead of the times, before the ‘60s rock and drug revolutions, and certainly before the sexual revolution came to pass.This DVD set features the “Snap, Snap” and “You Rang, Mr. Addams” featurettes, as well as the theme song in karaoke form, commentary on three of the episodes, original Addams drawings, and an “Addams Family Portrait” featurette. All in all, a great first package for the old fan or the newcomer. It’s definitely nice to have the Addams on DVD. Why it took so long is anyone’s guess, but seeing these shows in pristine form and without commercial interruption is a real thrill.