The Addams Family - Volume One from 20th Century Fox
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If The Munsters was a traditional family sitcom as reimagined by Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, The Addams Family is a macabre twist on Father Knows Best. The Munster and Addams clans made their TV debuts in 1964 and lasted two seasons before the networks buried them. The Addamses are now gloriously resurrected in this three-disc set that digs up the series' first 22 episodes (oddly, 12 shy of the complete first season). Inspired by Charles Addams's New Yorker cartoons, The Addams Family is fiendishly funny, with a dead-on cast that indelibly embodies Addams's characters. John Astin brings a demented glee to eccentric, frighteningly wealthy Gomez Addams. Carolyn Jones is bewitching as his pre-goth wife, Morticia, whom the Beatles might have had in mind when they sang, "Baby's in Black." Jackie Coogan is the electrifying Uncle Fester, with Ted Cassidy (who famously took a kick in the groin from Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) is the monstrous butler Lurch, whose "You rang?" entered the pop culture lexicon.
The Munsters was family friendly. The Addams Family is more sophisticated and wickedly funny. As Gomez notes at one point, "There's a touch of madness" in the Addams household, where "every day is Halloween." Bear rugs growl, a disembodied hand, Thing, delivers the mail, and a torture rack is good for what ails you. The children, Wednesday (Lisa Loring) and older brother Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax), enjoy such hobbies as playing autopsy or exploding model trains. Gomez and Morticia were one of television's most passionate couples, with Gomez being driven to arm-kissing ecstasy whenever Morticia spoke French. The last episode included in this collection, "Amnesia in the Addams Family," is a classic in which Gomez is rendered "normal" following a conk on the head. The look of disgust on Morticia and Lurch's face when he asks for a glass of milk is priceless. The "altogether ooky" extras include three episode commentaries, a featurette on Charles Addams, reminiscences from cast members Astin, Loring, and Weatherwax, a segment on the creation of the classic snap-snap theme song ("They're creepy and they're kooky...."), and the inevitable theme song sing-along. The Addams Family at last on DVD? As Gomez might exclaim: "Capital!" --Donald Liebenson