They're creepy and they're kooky... you know the rest.
Publisher: 20th Century Fox
Wed, 14 February 2007
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The Addams Family would have to be pretty high up the list when it comes to the catchiest theme songs of all time for a TV show. I wonder how many kids must've sung along and clicked their fingers to that song over the years. Over the last two nights I watched this series on DVD. Before that, I'd not looked at the show for a few years. But, as soon as the theme song started, it felt like only yesterday since I'd last seen it.
Series One of the Addams Family is a 3 disc set. Unfortunately my review copy has no Disc 1. Instead I have two copies of Disc 2. I really should have checked this earlier! I left it until just as the review was due to look at the DVDs, so it was too late to fix the problem (it was officially released in Australia today, which is Valentine's Day. I find something about that kind of funny). Nevertheless, Discs 2 and 3 have a good number of episodes on them, so I still had enough material to give it a decent judgement.
I had a good time revisiting the Addams Family and their mansion. The show looks great on DVD too. This first series was shot in black and white and I reckon that actually fits the style of the show better than colour. This is kind of a tough product to review, because...what is there to say? Surely everyone is already familiar with it. I guess I'll just go through the basics.
The show is an adaptation of news paper cartoon created by Charles Addams. It takes the ultra cheesy formula of the old "wholesome American family" sitcoms such My Three Sons and Leave it to Beaver and puts a macabre twist on it. In fact, in many ways The Addams Family is a parody of those kinds of idealistic portrayals of US family life. In this regard it could be considered ahead of its time and a precursor to the "dysfunctional family" types of programs that have since become quite standard: Roseanne, The Simpsons, Married...With Children and plenty of others. Something else several of those shows share with The Addams Family is that, despite the bizarre behaviour of the oddball characters, there's always an underlying sweetness apparent.
|Meet the family, in all their black & white glory. |
Also - while I don't know whether it was an influence for him or not - the series' combination of dark comedy with sentimental observation reminds me quite a bit of the material Director Tim Burton is best known for.
The family lives in a spooky mansion adorned with all sorts of bizarre decorations, such a mounted swordfish with a human leg in its mouth. The Addams clan is oblivious to how creepy everyone they meet considers them to be and most of the things they do that scare folks are actually intended as acts of kindness. The love the family feels towards each other is also always obvious, no matter how oddly they chose to display it.
The show's dark and twisted sense of humour meshes well with these strangely loveable characters and the charm of it all still holds up today. I didn't really laugh out loud much while watching, but I was nonetheless kept smiling and amused consistently by it. The main cast does a terrific job in their roles, which is undoubtedly a major factor in making the show work so well.
John Astin is perfect as Gomez Addams, a gregarious bundle of child-like enthusiasm, whose many strange hobbies include playing with his train sets solely to make them crash and engaging in sword fights with his wife Morticia. Moriticia is played by Caroyln Jones and she also does a great job with the part. She is a pale skinned "vampish" lady who is constantly adorned in a black dress so long and tight that she has to walk with tiny shuffling steps. Her hobbies are no less unusual than her husband's: Raising and feeding her beloved meat-eating plants and cutting the heads off vases of roses because she only wishes to display the thorns. I recall having a crush on Moriticia as a kid and even now I find her highly attractive (does that make me a freak too?).
Then there's the rest of the gang: Jackie Coogan as the unforgettable bald weirdo called Uncle Fester. Ted Cassidy as the family butler Lurch, who visually resembles Frankenstein's monster and speaks in a deep monotone voice, often using only groans, or his classic line "you rang?" when called upon. Little Lisa Doring is adorable as Gomez and Moriticia's daughter Wednesday Addams. I could go on, but let's just say the whole ensemble cast was very well put together and all of them perform their roles masterfully.
Interestingly enough, The Addams Family was apparently not a particularly successful series when it first aired. It was when it began to be shown on TV again years later that it really became popular (perhaps it truly was ahead of its time). The same can be said of The Munsters - another show featuring a goulish, freaky looking family that first went to air in the very same year as the Addams Family. These two shows are like many things in pop culture, in that people like to argue as to which of the two was/is better. It is just a matter of taste but, if forced to choose, I'd go with the Addams Family personally.
|Or you might prefer to see them in colour. |
Most should already know whether or not they like this show and, if you do, you'll doubtless find it well worth buying The Addams Family - Volume 1 DVD. If you have, somehow, never seen the show before, I suggest giving it a look. It is has a much quirkier and more clever type of humour than the majority of shows of its era and remains plenty of fun to watch. It'd make an ideal DVD to purchase for those who have young kids too; because you could all watch it together. But, if you do pick it up, just be prepared to have the theme song stuck in your head for days on end.
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Obviously it just depends whether you like the show or not. If you do, the DVD is great. It has a high level of nostalgia & would likely be a good one for family veiwing.