DVD Review – ‘The Adams Family: Volume One’

     October 25, 2006

Reviewed by Jonah

They’re creepy, kooky, and there are probably only about six people who aren’t already familiar with the wacky antics of the family featured on the show, or the ridiculously catchy theme song that accompanied the show’s beginning. The Addams Family Volume One offers 22 Episodes from the first season of the cult classic show on three disks. Upon viewing, the first thing that you notice about the series is that it still holds up relatively well. The show has an innocence and simplicity indicative of other shows from the time period, and though some of the shows’ themes are a little dated—visits from behind the “Iron Curtain”, run-ins with a “beatnik”–the characters are no less entertaining for it. The cast is spot on as the family that is so delightfully odd, though not nearly as macabre as the family from the later films. John Astin and Carolyn Jones share a strong and believable chemistry on-screen and express their love for each other with implied sensuality not seen before on TV. The rest of the cast, particularly Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester, also shine. The show should be enjoyable, not only to those familiar with it, but also to those seeing the show for the first time.

Video / Audio / Extras

There are several special features, all of which can be found on disk three.

The Addams Family Theme Song Karaoke is a complete misnomer. Sing Along is more accurate. Still, it was interesting to actually read the words for the second verse.

Two still galleries give us a glimpse at the life and work of Charles Addams. But there is nothing in the way of backstage photos or production art–the sort of things that seem to proliferate nowadays. And this is indeed missed.

The featurettes, though, are what true fans will be interested in watching.

The Snap, Snap featurette lets composer Vic Mizzy tell about his creation of the iconic theme. He also points out that he wrote all the incidental music for the series, another thing setting the series apart from its contemporaries which mostly utilized canned music. The featurette also lets him spin his version of who introduced series creator David Levy to Charles Addams’ characters in the first place.

You Rang, Mr. Addams gives a wonderful, if brief, picture of the life of perpetually misunderstood cartoonist Charles Addams. For me the best part was listening to Addams’ own character descriptions created for the show’s producers.

We finally get a glimpse into the world of the show itself through the eyes of surviving cast members in The Addams Family Portrait. Interesting trivia tidbits including which cast member doubled as Thing, and what role John Astin initially tested for, are revealed by cast members Lisa Loring (Wednesday), Felix Silla (Cousin It), Ken Weatherwax (Pugsly), and Astin himself. This is the most satisfying featurette, though it is a shame none of the show’s creative staff is still around to offer more insight.

The commentary, by Lisa Loring, Ken Weatherwax, Felix Silla, and author Steve Cox, is the weakest link of the set. Again the production crew is missed. Also notably absent is John Astin. Astin’s absence is acutely felt as Loring and Weatherwax spend a lot of time trying to remember what was going on (they were six and eight when filming). Silla recounts amusing anecdotes from the series, but since he didn’t make an appearance till episode 20, he too offers little in the way of insight on any of the commentary save the one for his episode. Cox does little more than ask questions one presumes the author of The Addams Chronicles should already know the answer to.

Final Words

The set is good. While it does suffer from the fact that little archival material is available and that few cast or crew members survive to offer much in the way of things like commentary and the production stills that we have become accustomed to as DVD extras, the episodes in and of themselves are a joy, and easily bear repeated viewing. So do get a witch’s shawl on (that’s really the lyric) and settle in to enjoy the antics of a family that is decidedly less normal than your own.

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