The Addams Family (TV series)


The Addams Family (TV series)
The Addams Family
Addams gomez5.png
Format Sitcom
Black comedy
Created by Charles Addams
Developed by David Levy[1]
Starring Carolyn Jones
John Astin
Jackie Coogan
Ted Cassidy
Blossom Rock
Ken Weatherwax
Lisa Loring
Opening theme Vic Mizzy
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 64 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) David Levy
Producer(s) Nat Perrin
Location(s) Hollywood, California
Exeter, New Hampshire
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Filmways
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Mono
Original run September 18, 1964 (1964-09-18) – April 8, 1966 (1966-04-08)

The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters in Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons in 64 installments on ABC from September 18, 1964, to April 8, 1966. It is often compared to its working-class rival, The Munsters, which ran for the same two seasons and achieved somewhat higher Nielsen ratings. The Addams Family ranked 23rd in its first season, with a 23.9 rating.[2] The show is the first adaptation of the characters to feature The Addams Family Theme.

It was originally produced by Filmways, Inc. at General Service Studios in Hollywood, California. Successor company MGM Television (via The Program Exchange for broadcast syndication, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for home video/DVD) owns the rights to the show. At one point, distribution rights were licensed to Worldvision Enterprises.

Contents

Premise

The Addamses are a close-knit extended family with decidedly macabre interests. They are humans with supernatural abilities. No explanation for their powers is explicitly given in the series.

The very wealthy, endlessly enthusiastic Gomez Addams is madly in love with his refined wife Morticia. Along with their two children, Wednesday (a girl) and Pugsley (a boy), Uncle Fester and Grandmama, they reside in an ornate, gloomy, Second Empire-style mansion, attended by their servants, Lurch, the towering butler, and Thing, a hand that usually appears out of a small wooden box. Occasionally, episodes would feature relatives or other members of their weird subculture, such as Cousin Itt or Morticia's older sister, Ophelia.

Uncle Fester and Lurch.

Much of the humor derives from their culture clash with the rest of the world. They invariably treat normal visitors with great warmth and courtesy, even though their guests often have evil intentions. They are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their (to them) good natured and normal behavior since they are under the impression that their tastes are shared by most of society. Accordingly they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. For example, Fester once cites a neighboring family's meticulously maintained petunia patches as evidence that they are "nothing but riff-raff." Ironically, many of the things that the Addams family was in favor of that seemed laughable in the mid-1960s have become mainsteam. Homeschooling, protection of swamps (now Federally protected as wetlands), banning of toy guns, and banning of classic fairy tales in schools were all plotlines in the show that were comic fodder at the time. A recurring theme in the epilogue of many episodes was the Addamses getting an update on the most recent visitor to their home, either via something in the newspaper or a phone call. Invariably, as a result of their visit to the Addamses, the visitor would be institutionalized, change professions, move out of the country, or have some other negative life-changing event. The Addamses would always misinterpret the update and see it as good news for that most recent visitor.

The tone was set by series producer Nat Perrin, close friend of Groucho Marx and writer of several Marx Brothers films. Perrin created story ideas, directed one episode, and rewrote every script. Much of the dialog is his (albeit uncredited). As a result, Gomez, with his sardonic remarks, backwards logic, and ever-present cigar (pulled from his breast pocket already lit), has been frequently compared to Groucho Marx. In addition, the series often employed the same type of zany satire and screwball humor seen in the Marx Brothers films. It lampooned politics ("Gomez, The Politician" and "Gomez, The People's Choice"), the legal system ("The Addams Family in Court"), Beatlemania ("Lurch, The Teenage Idol"), and Hollywood ("My Fair Cousin Itt").

Characters

Addams Family

  • Gomez Addams (John Astin) - Gomez is passionately in love with his wife, often referring to her as "Querida" and "Cara Mia." His ardor is greatly intensified when she speaks French (a quirk that first appears in the eleventh episode, "The Addams Family Meet the V.I.P.s"). Before that his ardor was aroused when she called him "Bubele" a German-Bavarian, and Yiddish [3][4] word meaning "darling" or "sweetie". Gomez is very wealthy, due to owning numerous companies and stocks. He doesn't seem to regard money itself as a priority and squanders money cavalierly while remaining wealthy. Gomez spends a great deal of time with his family and does not go out to work. He refers to Spain as his "ancestral home" with his family background referenced as "Castilian," and he occasionally uses Spanish words and phrases. He can perform rapid and complicated calculations in his head. He is remarkably acrobatic and can easily dismount from a hanging position upon a chandelier. One of his hobbies is Zen-Yogi, apparently a weird blend of acrobatics and yoga. Another hobby consists of dynamiting model trains as they are about to collide with each other, by using a hand detonator.
  • Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones) - Morticia is a cultivated and beautiful woman who dabbles in art, raises flesh-eating plants, and trims her roses by clipping off the buds and arranging the stems in a vase ("Oh, the thorns are lovely this year"). She can light candles with her fingertips and emit smoke directly from her person. With her aristocratic detachment, she is often the calm center of the chaotic events of the household.
Fester finds buying a hairpiece is not so simple.
  • Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) - Uncle Fester is Morticia's exuberant, kind, and electric uncle. He frequently places a lightbulb in his mouth, where it lights up. When angered by outsiders, he may grab for a blunderbuss and announce that he will shoot the offender in the back.
  • Lurch (Ted Cassidy) - Lurch is the household butler. Morticia and Gomez summon him by means of a bell pull in the form of a hangman's noose, which rings the massive bell located in the mansion's bell tower; the resulting gong shakes the entire house when the noose is pulled. When Lurch appears (usually immediately thereafter), he responds with a baritone "You rang?" According to IMDb, Lurch was intended to be a non-speaking part, as the Charles Addams cartoon character was silent. However, Cassidy improvised the line during his audition, and it was well received and incorporated into the show. When questions are posed to Lurch his primary response is a deep annoyed grunt, from which the family glean complex meanings. He is superhumanly strong and often plays the harpsichord (the music is actually played by The Addams Family composer Vic Mizzy). Lurch is very high-minded about visitors; when a plainclothes policeman (played by George Neise) visited the family, Lurch patted him down and regarded him suspiciously when he found his gun. Neise showed Lurch his badge, whereupon Lurch returned the gun. Lurch occasionally regards his employers' activities with some dubiousness much like a servant expressing disdain for the idle rich. Ted Cassidy made a cameo appearance as Lurch on an episode of the Batman TV series.
  • Grandmama Addams (Blossom Rock) - Mother of Gomez (who occasionally calls her "Mamacita"). She is a witch who conjures up potions, spells and hexes. She also dabbles in fortune-telling, though it is obvious that, in this respect at least, she is a charlatan. Her given name is never revealed in the series.
  • Wednesday Friday Addams (Lisa Loring) - Gomez and Morticia's daughter. She is the youngest member (six years old) of the family, she is a strange yet sweet-natured little girl who pursues such hobbies as raising spiders, beheading dolls (called "Marie Antoinette," "Mary Queen of Scots," and "Little Red Riding Hood"), and practicing ballet in a black tutu. Her favorite pet is a black widow spider named Homer, although she also has a lizard named Lucifer. She is strong enough to bring her father to his knees in a judo hold.
  • Pugsley Addams (Ken Weatherwax) - Gomez and Morticia's son and Wednesday's older brother. Kind-hearted and smart, occasionally conforming to "conventional" standards contrary to his family, he nevertheless shares a close bond with his parents and sister, the latter whom he often plays with. He also enjoys engineering various machines (sometimes with Gomez), playing with blasting caps, and his pet octopus Aristotle. Despite his pudginess, Pugsley is, like his father, exceptionally agile, able to out-climb a gorilla and hang from branches by his teeth.
  • Thing T. Thing - A disembodied hand that appears out of boxes and other conveniently placed containers. Thing apparently has the ability to teleport from container to container, almost instantly: Thing sometimes appears from different containers at opposite ends of the room within seconds of each other. Though Ted Cassidy would often portray Thing, assistant director Jack Voglin would sometimes portray Thing in scenes where Lurch and Thing appear together. In all cases, the hand which portrayed Thing went uncredited, with its actor always being listed as "Itself" in the credits.

Addams Family Pets

  • Aristotle - Pugsley's pet octopus.
  • Kitty - The Addams Family's pet lion.
  • Tristan and Isolde - The Addams Family's pet piranhas.
  • Homer - Wednesday's pet spider.

Recurring characters

  • Cousin Itt (Felix Silla in most episodes, Roger Arroyo for two episodes) - Gomez's cousin, a short entity completely hidden by his almost head-to-floor-long hair. He speaks in rapid unintelligible gibberish, which the family has no difficulty understanding (according to Felix Silla's commentary on the DVD release, the voice for Cousin Itt was recorded by a member of the crew in post-production). Gomez once asks him what is under all the hair; Itt answers, "Roots." In one episode, Itt is said to have "the eye of an eagle...plus a few of his own". Nevertheless, he wears conventional sunglasses, supposedly so people will not pester him for autographs.
  • Ophelia - Morticia's sister. Gomez was originally engaged to her in an arranged marriage, but when he saw 22-year old Morticia (dressed in a grown-up version of Wednesday's clothing), he was smitten and fell in love with her; when she spoke French, he claimed that for the first time in his life, his sinuses were cleared and his bronchitis was gone. Ophelia was played by Carolyn Jones in a blonde wig (a staple of 1960s sitcom twins). One quirk of Ophelia's is that the flower growing in her hair had roots that travelled down into her foot; another is her love of judo, with which she can hurl men (usually Gomez) several feet.
  • Mayor Arthur J. Henson (Parley Baer) - The mayor of the town that the Addams Family live in.
  • Sam L. Hilliard (Allyn Joslyn) - The school administrator.

Reunions

A reunion film, Halloween with the New Addams Family [5], aired on NBC in October 1977 and starred most of the original cast, except for Blossom Rock (Grandmama), who was very ill at the time and was replaced by Phyllis actress Jane Rose. Elvia Allman portrayed Grandma Hester Frump in the special who was previously played by Margaret Hamilton. On a related note, Parley Baer (who had previously played Mayor Arthur J. Henson in the TV show) portrayed the special's main villain "Bones" Lafferty. The picture also featured extended family members who were created specifically for the production and never appeared in the television series, such as Gomez's brother, Pancho (played by Henry Darrow) and two additional children, Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior. It was originally intended for a pilot for a sequel, but no other episodes were ordered.

In 1993-1995, The New Addams Family appeared on the Fox Family Channel (formerly FAM).

DVD releases

As of May 2009, the show can be purchased on iTunes, and can be streamed for free in the US on Netflix, IMDB, YouTube, Hulu, and Minisodes are available on Crackle. MGM Home Entertainment has released The Addams Family on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4 in three volume sets.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Volume 1 22 August 10, 2006
  • Audio commentary for The Addams Family Goes to School by cast members Lisa Loring (Wednesday Addams), Ken Weatherwax (Puggsley Addams), and Felix Silla (Cousin Itt), along with Stephen Cox (author of The Addams Chronicles)
  • You Rang, Mr. Addams featurette
  • Snap, Snap featurette
  • Theme Song Karaoke
Volume 2 21 March 27, 2007
  • Mad About the Addams featurette: Experts discuss the history and impact of the show
  • Thing and Cousin Itt commentaries
  • Guest Star Séance interactive featurette: A magical crystal ball conjures guest star clips and trivia
  • Tombstone Trivia on "Morticia's Romance, Part 1" Episode
  • Audio commentary with The Addams Chronicles author Stephen Cox
Volume 3 21 September 11, 2007

[6]

  • Thing and Cousin Itt commentaries.
  • Audio commentary with Stephen Cox, author of The Addams Chronicles.
  • Tombstone Trivia on "Cat Addams" Episode.
The Complete Series 64 November 13, 2007

[7]

  • Special "velvet-touch" package.

See also

References

External links



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