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The Abbott and Costello Show - The Complete Series - Collector's Edition


TITLE: THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW - THE COMPLETE SERIES - COLLECTOR'S EDITION


Info:

Release Date: March 30, 2010 (E1 Entertainment)
B&W/produced 1951-1953/released Fall 1952
MSRP: $59.98
Packaging: Outer thin cardboard box with 3 Digipak cases inside
Number of Discs: 9
Number of Episodes: 52
Running Time: 1680+ minutes
Running Time of Features: over 3 hours
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: English SDH Subtitles
Special Features:

  • "Hey Abbott!" 1978 TV Special
  • Season One Classic Routine Reel
  • Lou Costello Home Movies
  • Interviews with Lou Costello's daughters Chris and Paddy Costello
  • "10,000" Kids and a Cop" 1948 Short Film


    Introduction:

    From "Who's On First" to "Niagara Falls," from "Mustard" to "The Lemon Bit"... these and all their classic routines are here - digitally restored and re-mastered - in this special collector's edition of The Abbott and Costello Show. Featuring both seasons of the riotous TV comedy that Time Magazine calls one of the "100 best show of all-time" and Jerry Seinfeld cites as the inspiration for his own hit series, this 9-DVD set also includes exclusive bonus materials from the Lou Costello family archives and much, much more.


    Episodes:

    Beginning in 1952, the filmed half-hour series The Abbott and Costello Show appeared in syndication on local stations across the country. Loosely based on Bud and Lou's popular radio series, the show cast the duo as unemployed actors, perpetually looking for work while struggling to pay back rent to Sidney Fields, their often frustrated landlord. Other fan-favorites/recurring characters included the elegant Hillary Brooke, the belligerent Mike "The Cop" Kelly (Gordon Jones), the malevolent and child-like Oswald "Stinky" Davis (Joe Besser) and the ever-gainfully employed immigrant entrpreneur Mr. Bacciagalupe (Joe Kirk).

    Included with the set is a 44-page commemorative book that provides a complete episode guide (and much more detailed later) that includes the writing and directing credits, guest stars, short 2-3 sentence summaries, interesting trivia and classic routines. Note that these episoes aired on various days at different times across the country, so there are no original broadcast dates. Here are the episodes by disc, including the running times:

    Season One (26 Episodes)

    Disc 1
    ----------
    1. The Drug Store (26:07)
    2. The Dentist's Office (26:13)
    3. Jail (26:12)
    4. The Vacation (26:15)
    5. The Birthday Party (26:10)
    6. Alaska (26:13)
    7. The Vacuum Cleaner Salesman (26:14)

    Disc 2
    ----------
    8. The Army Story (25:51)
    9. Pots and Pans (25:59)
    10. The Charity Bazaar (26:11)
    11. The Western Story (26:17)
    12. The Haunted House (26:17)
    13. Peace and Quiet (26:24)
    14. Hungry (25:52)

    Disc 3
    ----------
    15. The Music Lovers (26:09)
    16. The Politician (26:16)
    17. The Wrestling Story (26:07)
    18. Getting a Job (26:13)
    19. The Chimp (26:06)
    20. Hillary's Birthday (26:13)
    21. Television (26:14)

    Disc 4
    ----------
    22. Las Vegas (25:58)
    23. Little Old Lady (26:06)
    24. The Actor's Home (26:10)
    25. Police Rookies (26:13)
    26. Safari (26:10)
    BONUS - Classic Routine Reel (58:26)

    Season Two (26 Episodes)

    Disc 1
    ----------
    27. The Paper Hangers (26:05)
    28. Uncle Bozzo's Visit (26:06)
    29. In Society (26:04)
    30. Life Insurance (26:07)
    31. Pest Exterminators (26:13)
    32. Killer's Wife (25:26)
    33. Cheapskates (25:55)

    Disc 2
    ----------
    34. South of Dixie (26:08)
    35. From Bed to Worse (26:13)
    36. $1000 TV Prize (26:02)
    37. Amnesia (26:04)
    38. Efficiency Experts (26:14)
    39. Car Trouble (25:54)
    40. Wife Wanted (26:11)

    Disc 3
    ----------
    41. Uncle from New Jersey (26:12)
    42. Private Eye (26:13)
    43. The Tax Return (26:10)
    44. Public Enemies (25:53)
    45. Bank Holdup (26:09)
    46. Well Oiled (25:51)
    47. The Pigeon (26:11)

    Disc 4
    ----------
    48. Honeymoon House (26:14)
    49. Fencing Master (25:55)
    50. Beauty Contest Story (26:00)
    51. Fall Guy (26:07)
    52. Barber Lou (26:05)
    BONUS - Lou Costello Home Movies: Home and Abroad (59:22)


    Packaging:

    This 9-disc collection contains all 52 episodes that were produced from 1951-1953 and that began airing in the fall of 1952. It comes in a thin outer cardboard box that holds 3 digipaks. The cardboard packaging is a little bit flimsy, but it gets the job done in an economical and space saving way. A color photo of Abbott and Costello with a red curtain background is featured on the front cover. The back cover has another photo of Abbott and Costello with Costello pointing his finger towards the bonus features. There are five smaller photos from the episodes and a short synopsis of the set is listed. The show logo is on the spines of the box. There's a velcro like strip that opens up and folds out to reveal many more black and white (and 1 color) photos from the show, including two with the red curtain background. The three digipak cases are held inside the main cardboard box. These feature Abbott and Costello on the front and four smaller photos from the show on the back cover. Episode titles are listed by disc. The third digipak contains the bonus features disc and has 7 color and black and white photos on the back cover. There are 2 discs held in plastic holders on either side of the first 2 cases. Each disc has the show logo and a gray curtain backround.

    A nice and informative 44-page commemorative book that is printed on some thick and glossy paper is included. Lou Costello's daughters Paddy Costello Humprheys and Chris Costello provide the introduction. Abbott and Costello historian/expert Ron Palumbo outlines the history of the series with background essays called "Abbott and Costello: From Burlesque to Your Living Room" and "Hi, Neighbors!" The Supporting Cast of The Abbott and Costello Show." Hillary Brooke, Gordon Jones, Sidney Fields, Joe Kirk and Joe Besser are profiled. Next up is the complete episode guide. The writing/producing/directing credits, guest stars, short 2-3 sentence summaries, interesting trivia and classic routines are provided for each episode. Since these episodes aired on various days at different times in syndication, there are no original broadcast airdates available. There is also a small image from each episode next to each summary. The bonus disc program guide provides details and scene selections for the various extras. There are quite a few still images from the episodes and publicity photos and other material sprinkled throughout the pages. Four exclusive black and white photo postcards taken from the original publicity photography for the series can be found inside the bonus features packaging. A color booklet promotes some of E1 Entertainment Film and TV DVDs.


    Menu Design and Navigation:

    The main menu begins with an animated red curtain opening to reveal the show logo and then a black and white photo of Abbott and Costello. The opening instrumental theme (each season had a different theme) is played in the background for about 30 seconds and then loops. Options are available for "Play All," "Episodes," "Subtitles," and "Bonus" (on Discs 4 and 8) at the bottom of the screen. The highlighted option is in yellow and turns white upon your selection. When you select Episodes, it takes you to a sub-menu that that has a red curtain background and black and white still images from each episode. The highlighted episode is in yellow that turns white upon your selection. You can turn on/off the Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on that menu which features another shot of Abbott and Costello. Chapter stops are available within the episodes, but there are no separate scene selectio menus.


    Video and Audio Quality:

    All episodes have been digitally resotred and re-mastered. They are presented in their original 4x3 format and in chronological order. These episodes are nearly 60-years-old and probably look better than when they originally aired. There are still a few glitches and some grain, but there are no major issues. There have been some issues with episodes being sped up on past releases, but that seems to have been corrected for this set. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times of 25-26 minutes. The full opening and closing credits appear to be intact for every episode. Unlike the previous 100th Anniversary Collection DVD sets, this release has chapter stops at the appropriate places so you can jump around to different scenes. There's a 1978 T.C.A. Television Corp. listing in the opening credits for season one. For both seasons, there is a very '70sish Alan Enterprises logo for the closing credits. The 1978 TV special hosted by Milton Berle has logos for Telepictures Corporation and ZIV International.

    The audio is your standard mono track. The dialogue is at a good level and easy to understand. They had a different opening theme for both seasons, and I think at least one variation for the second season theme. It's interesting to note that the episodes were screened at the Santa Monica Theater and the audience response was recorded. They would sometimes sweeten it by recycling the audinece laughter like most sitcoms have done in the past and today. Subtitles are available in English for the deaf and hard of hearing.


    Special Features:

    Over 3 hours of extensive bonus features are included on this set. Thye can be found on Discs 4, 8 and 9 which includes only extras. I believe most of these bonus features were all included on the 2 previous 100th Anniversary Collection season releases, but there are a couple of new ones. The "Hey Abbott!" 1978 TV Special hosted by Milton Berle and the Season One Classic Routine Reel are new to this release. They also have put the home videos in chronological order instead of a random order of the earlier releases. Here is a breakdown by disc:

    Disc 4:

    Season One Classic Routine Reel (58:26) - Classic routines from the first season with a woman holding a card identifying the routine. I'm a bit surprised that they didn't include "Niagara Falls ("Slowly I Turned") or "The Lemon Bit."
    1. Johan and the Whale (from "The Drug Store") (5:57)
    2. Hertz U-Drive (from "Jail") (2:09)
    3. Drill Routine (from "The Army Story") (5:18)
    4. Buzzing the Bee (from "The Charity Bazaar") (5:44)
    5. Moving Candle / Revolving Wall (from "The Haunted House") (10:18)
    6. Insomnia (from "Peace and Quiet") (4:56)
    7. The Piano Bit aka Alright! (from "The Music Lovers") (8:02)
    8. Hole in the Wall / Mustard (from "Police Rookies") (7:53)
    9. Who's on First? (from "The Actor's Home") (8:05)

    Disc 8:

    Lou Costello Home Movies: Home and Abroad (59:22) - These are a mix of color and black and white home movies. The quality on the color footage is pretty good, while the older black and white movies aren't as high quality but still watchable. These were shot by a professional photographer. Pretty fun to watch these and get a glimpse of the Costello family life. Many, if not all, of these home movies were previously on the 100th Anniversary Collection DVD sets.
    1. Introduction by Chris and Paddy Costello (1:17)
    2. At Home (1942-43) (8:15) - in color with background music and narration by Chris and Paddy
    3. Chris and Paddy on Crossing the Atlantic (2:51) - in black and white plus new interview
    4. The Costellos in Europe (1950) (39:33) - in black and white - narrated by Lou
    5. Hawaii Vacation Memories (1:13) - brief color footage and new interview
    6. Lou and Anne's Hawaii Vacation (6:10) - in color with Hawaiian background music

    Disc 9:

    "Hey Abbott!" 1978 TV Special (1:10:43) - Milton Berle hosts and narrates this affectionate tribute to two of Hollywood's funniest comedians, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. It ws taped on May 18, 1978. Highlighting the show are precise but zany routines that made Abbott and Costello the highest paid performers of the 1940's. "Hey Abbott!" includes their classic sketches in their entirety - "Floggle Street," "The Crap Game" and "Who's On First" - all filled with patter and punch lines straight out of and peculiar to American burlesque. Milton Berle supplements the hilarious comedy segments with biographical information on the famous duo and interviews other comedic celebrities such as Steve Allen, Phil Silver and Joe Besser. This is an enjoyable special with lots of great comedy bits. Seeing the episodes in poorer quality here will make you appreciate what a great job they did remastering them for the DVD. This special has been released on DVD in the past, but it's a nice bonus for those fans who haven't seen it yet.

    "10,000 Kids and a Cop" 1948 Short Film (20:25) - Produced by Lou Costello, this 1948 documentary short film ws directed by long-time Abbott and Costello director Charles Barton about the philanthropic work of the Lou Costello Jr. Foundation in Los Angeles, California. The film features appearances by Abbott and Costello, James Stewart (as the narrator), William Bendix and Brenda Joyce, and was originally distributed for free to U.S. film exhibitors. This version was copied from a 16mm print from the Costello family archive. It was restored and preserved both digitally and in 35mm format as a tribute to Lou Costello on his 100th birthay in 2006. This was an enjoyable feature with a good message. I believe the foundation is still active to this day.

    Interviews with Chris and Paddy Costello (33:04)
    1. The Abbott and Costello Show (15:08) - They talk about the show in general, including Season 1, Sid Fields, Gordon Jones, Joan Shawlee, Hillary Brooke, Season 2, why the show ended and their favorite episodes.
    2. Bud and Lou (6:47) - They discuss the origin of the duo and their relationship with each other and the competition between them.
    3. The Costello Family (3:35) - They talk about their parents and how they began dating.
    4. Movieland (3:48) - They discuss their father's love of movies, visiting Universal and actor Glen Strange.
    5. Lou and the Cop (1:09) - They talk about their father being pulled over by a cop.
    6. Gambling and the IRS (2:34) - They discuss their father's love of gambling and troubles with the IRS.

    Lou Costello Home Movies: Holidays and Celebrations (1:01:14) - How lucky they are to have these home movies in color and how nice they are to share them with us. Some of these have the original audio, while others have added background music.
    1. Intro: Holidays at the Costellos (2:56)
    2. Paddy's 10th Birthday (1946) (3:23)
    3. Lou with Photographer Gene Lester (1946) (:40)
    4. Christmas 1946 (5:17)
    5. Easter 1947 (5:37)
    6. Lou and Baby Chris (1947) (1:06)
    7. New Year's Day 1949 (2:09)
    8. Easter 1949 (3:49)
    9. Chris' 2nd Birthday (1949) (3:10)
    10. Paddy's 13th Birthday (1949) (13:55)
    11. Christmas 1949 (2:56)
    12. Christmas 1950 (6:48)
    13. Chris' 4th Birthday (1951) (1:01)
    14. Paddy Costello's Wedding (1953) (8:20)


    Final Comments:

    It has been a number of years since I have seen this show. It appears to have disappeared from syndication sometime in the 1990's. Abbott and Costello were a great comedic duo. I never realized how popular they were during their era, especially for their many movies. They remain popular to this day with a fan club and these DVD releases. It's interesting how this was almost two different shows. The first season had more characters and Abbott and Costello talking to the audience at times. Season two had a more traditional sitcom format and several characters were dropped. I don't think the second season fit their comedy as well and they were a bit restricted. The ratings seemed to be higher for the firt season and more fans seem to prefer the first season.

    You might ask yourself why you should purchase this set if you had already bought the two seasons as part of the 100th Anniversary Collection released by Passport Video via Koch (which is now E1 Entertainment) in the fall of 2006. Those DVDs are now out of print and have been listed for around $100 in recent months before the prices have fallen. This new set is much more than just a repackaging job. It does have new style packaging, new menus with the themes on them, a 44-page commemorative book and 4 postcards, slightly improved quality episodes that have corrected some issues when possible, chapter stops within the episodes, and a couple of new bonus features with the Season One Classic Routine Reel and the "Hey Abbott! 1978 TV Special hosted by Milton Berle. In addition, I believe all of the special features on the separate season releases have been brought over to this new release. I think this set would definitely be worth double dipping for, or you could try to sell your previous releases and upgrade to this set. It's also priced cheaper than the previous two seasons combined. There's a lot of bang for your buck for this collection.


    Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Special Features: 3.5/5
    Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
    Overall: 4/5

    -- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 03/29/10

    To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00316DDZO/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

    Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

    http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=264336


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