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Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids - Complete Series A Personal Review


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#1 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 02 2013 - 06:02 PM

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This is what will be the first of an ongoing review of each desc in the new complete series set of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

 

I was very, very excited about getting this series on DVD and when it arrivbed I eagerly popped in the first disc to start viewing. Then my excitement turned to disappointment and frustration.

 

I have finished the first disc and things are not good. Episodes 1, 2, 3 and 7 are edited versions of the episodes. They each have a run time of about 19:45. The correct openings are used. I didn't notice the date on the ending so I don't know if they are correct. I will have to check on that. All four of these episodes are missing the tag after the song and the reprise of the song. Not good. I can't believe that 100% intact episodes could not be located.

 

Episodes 4, 5, and 6 are complete except they all have the wrong openings and closings. These openings and closings are from the later 80's The Adventures of Fat Albert. They do, however, all have a run time of over 21 minutes and appear to be complete with the tags and song reprise at the end.  

 

Additionally, episode 1 has a different structure then the rest of the shows that follow. The song in the episode comes in the beginning before we even see the actual story that inspired the song. Seemed a little strange. I don't recall if I actually saw this episode when I was a kid, but it certainly doesn't match the structure of the rest of the disc one episodes.

 

So far, I'm not thrilled with this set. The packaging is great. It looks really cool on the shelf. The picture is really clean and crisp.  A few of the live action segments do have a bit of dirt, but this seems to be a part of the original source material. Maybe it couldn't be removed. The sound was clean and clear. I didn't have to turn the TV up too loud to hear everything clearly. I just wish that the episodes were 100% complete and uncut. I hope the rest of the set proves to be a bit better. Maybe only the first season shows will be this way. I hope so. I'd hate to think that after waiting for this for over a year that it's all going to be a huge disappointment.


Edited by Brian Himes, July 03 2013 - 12:27 AM.

The music does matter.


#2 of 42 OFFLINE   Jeff*H

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Posted July 02 2013 - 06:49 PM

Unfortunately, Shout Factory has something of a reputation for frequently settling for syndicated, edited versions of the shows they license (although there have been some stellar exceptions, like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER).  Just this year alone, they released (through Timeless) edited versions of GRIZZLY ADAMS, and edited versions of THE HARDY BOYS Season 3.  Print quality was poor as well.  They probably have a tight profit margin on these and thus settle for whatever the studios give them, and this is most likely what happened with FAT ALBERT. 

 

How do these transfers compare to the episodes released by UrbanWorks a few years back?


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#3 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 03 2013 - 12:31 AM

I don't know. I didn't purchase those DVDs so I can't compare them. I was going to get them, but decided to hold out for complete season sets or a complete series set like this one. From what I've read, these edits and incorrect openings and closings are the same as the UrbanWorks DVDs. I seriously doubt that Shout would have gone out of their way to attempt to locate more correct versions if these were already available and ready to go.

 

Some of this mess may not be Shout's fault. I know that Filmation has a nasty habbit of chopping their shows to shreds for syndication and not saving complete uncut versions and ultimately losing the edited footage.


Edited by Brian Himes, July 03 2013 - 12:34 AM.

The music does matter.


#4 of 42 ONLINE   derosa

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Posted July 03 2013 - 05:02 AM

I have the first two vols. of the Urban Works set that has 24 episodes,

and it sounds like the new set is using the same source material.

 

Ep 4, 5, 6 are about 21 minutes, (later openings, bad quality video)

All the others from Ep 1 all the way up to Ep 16 are 19:45

Ep 17 - 22 go just under 20:45

Ep 23 and 24 are 21:15

 

I also have the Christmas Special from 1977, which runs 23:40

and the Halloween Special also from 1977, which also runs 23:40 

 

It's disappointing, because after all the delays getting this set out,

I was hoping for improvements over the previous set.  I don't think

i'll be rebuying the series until it gets fixed, so likely never.

 

 

 

 

I have finished the first disc and things are not good. Episodes 1, 2, 3 and 7 are edited versions of the episodes. They each have a run time of about 19:45. The correct openings are used.

 

Episodes 4, 5, and 6 are complete except they all have the wrong openings and closings. These openings and closings are from the later 80's The Adventures of Fat Albert. They do, however, all have a run time of over 21 minutes and appear to be complete with the tags and song reprise at the end.  

 



#5 of 42 OFFLINE   Randy Korstick

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Posted July 03 2013 - 06:40 AM

Shout Factory's Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo sets have similar frustrations such not complete shows, varying quality of material. I've heard the same about The Mr. Magoo set but do not own that one. So their track record on animated shows is not very good.


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#6 of 42 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted July 03 2013 - 07:46 AM

Shout Factory's Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo sets have similar frustrations such not complete shows, varying quality of material. I've heard the same about The Mr. Magoo set but do not own that one. So their track record on animated shows is not very good.

 

Underdog (maybe TT too, I don't know) is particularly strange in that my understanding is that the rights to the show and the original elements are held by different parties.  So, Shout may deserve some slack on that one, although one wishes their release had been perfect.



#7 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 03 2013 - 12:02 PM

Well, I checked the eding credits for the episodes on disc one that have the original opening and they do indeed have the 1976 ending credits. So far not one single episode on disc one is as it originally aired. Sad.


The music does matter.


#8 of 42 ONLINE   derosa

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Posted July 03 2013 - 04:32 PM

There's a review on DVDTALK which doesn't even attempt to say anything about the content.

 

It also gets it wrong about what was released previously, which included two chronological volumes

of the first 24 episodes, 12 in each set.  

 

http://www.dvdtalk.c...omplete-series/



#9 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 03 2013 - 05:21 PM

Well, things are not looking all that good for this set. Every episode (episodes 8-14) on disc two are all edited to a run time of 19:45 with episode 8 clocking in at a mere 19:28. Every episode contains the correct opening but the 1976 end credits.

 

Not good Shout. This is NOT the set I was hoping for. I really beginnig to dread the prospects for the rest of the set. If out of 14 episodes we've only gotten 3 complete episodes (even with the 80's opening and ending credits) what does this say for the rest of the set? The 1979-81 episodes dont' even have a song, so what are they going to cut? Will these episodes be complete and uncut with the correct opening and closings? ARE we only going to get 100% complete episodoes for the final 50 episodes? I'm not looking forward to the rest of this set as I was a couple of days ago. Sad, sad, sad. Looks to me like Shout dropped the ball. Yet again. This should surprise me more than it does.

 

I've checked the Shout board and everything is quiet about this release. Mmmm.....I smell something rotten in Denmark.


Edited by Brian Himes, July 03 2013 - 05:28 PM.

The music does matter.


#10 of 42 OFFLINE   Mark Y

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Posted July 03 2013 - 06:43 PM

Given that this is part of the Filmation library, do the complete original episodes even exist? For that matter, do FILM sources exist at all?

 

I get the impression that in some cases, one of the previous owners actually junked film elements on certain shows and only retained PAL video transfers since the shows were considered marketable overseas but not in the US at the time.

 

It would be nice to be wrong about this.



#11 of 42 OFFLINE   Mark Y

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Posted July 03 2013 - 07:05 PM

Underdog (maybe TT too, I don't know) is particularly strange in that my understanding is that the rights to the show and the original elements are held by different parties.  So, Shout may deserve some slack on that one, although one wishes their release had been perfect.

 

My understanding on Underdog (and the other Total Television shows) is Classic Media (now Dreamworks) owns video rights and General Mills owns TV rights in the US "in perpetuity" per the original contracts when they were produced. Same deal with the Jay Ward shows and the same owners, although they do make more of an effort to keep the libraries separate, at least for video releases. The problem with the Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo DVD sets was General Mills/Program Exchange wouldn't play ball with the people assembling those releases. Classic Media had masters for most of the stuff but it was a real mess, there were segments where they had the picture element but no soundtrack, etc. and the guy they consulted to put the set together is a very passionate fan of the shows, but really didn't make an effort to reassemble them, just slapped the stuff together and called it good enough. Apparently there aren't any available records of the original show rundowns (though I wonder if TV Guide listings of the time would answer some questions). They got some stuff from collectors (including me) but just speaking from my own experience, I was asked at the absolute eleventh hour if I had this or that cartoon and in a few cases I overnighted (for instance) a burned DVD-R of certain segments to them. In some cases the final product has an Underdog segment with the cliffhangers and recaps missing, which I could have provided if I had known they didn't have them. The other cartoons such as Hunter, Go Go Gophers, Tooter Turtle (the latter of which was never even on the Underdog show) were just thrown in at random and then after they finished the booklet, they discovered a few cartoons had missing soundtracks, so they swapped them out for another cartoon and put in these on-screen text disclaimers apologizing for the missing listed cartoon -- again, if they'd asked me I could have provided more of this stuff. And to include only one part of a King & Odie cliffhanger (which they did several times) was just boneheaded carelessness.

 

Sorry for the rant, back to Fat Albert...sounds like what I'm looking for is a third volume to complete the original series if these are just the same versions released before.



#12 of 42 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

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Posted July 04 2013 - 03:43 AM

Thank you Brian for your information regarding this set.  You just saved me a LOT of money!  Very disappointed as I was looking forward to owning the COMPLETE series.  Seems this is anything but.


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#13 of 42 OFFLINE   Cowboy

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Posted July 04 2013 - 05:31 AM

  I was going to buy this set,but not now.I hate buying

  edited episodes.I believe the Filmation dvd releases of Isis

  and Shazam also had edited episodes.I read that the only

  film elements left are cut versions.



#14 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 04 2013 - 07:22 AM

  I was going to buy this set,but not now.I hate buying

  edited episodes.I believe the Filmation dvd releases of Isis

  and Shazam also had edited episodes.I read that the only

  film elements left are cut versions.

 

As far as I know, the only things cut from Shazam and Isis are the morals at the end. Everything else is intact as far as I know.

 

Filmation seems to be a big culprit of not saving complete uncut versions of their shows. The Archie shows (Archie, Comedy Hour, Fun House) are in so many pieces that it was impossible to reconstruct those series back into their original formats. That and apparently the missing segments were unable to be located and presumed lost. Shazam and Isis are missing their morals and those are lost. The only remaining versions are from off air recordings. Well, except for the second season of Shazam. Those morals were found and are on the DVD release. However, I don't know for sure if Filmation were the ones to cut Shazam and Isis. I thought those cuts were done by other entitiy.  

 

Other Filmation shows from the same era that have been released on DVD seem to be in fine shape. The Ghost Busters, Ark II, The Groovie Goolies all seem to be complete and intact. I have Jason of Star Command and Space Academy but I have not watched them so I really don't know if they are ok or not.

 

The same thing that happened to Shazam and Isis may be what happened to Fat Albert. The company that prepared the series for syndication (here and overseas) may have felt that the cut two minutes were redundant since the main portion was a reprise of the song just performed. If true, that still would not explain the three complete episodes with the incorrect opening titles and ending credits. Did those episodes come from a different set of masters? Or perhaps they came from Cosby's own personal archive of the series? Who knows? Whatever happened, I'm still not happy about the mess that is being presented and the complete series.


The music does matter.


#15 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 04 2013 - 04:49 PM

Well, here we go with disc three. This disc contains episodes 15-22 which are all of the season two episodes. All of the episodes have the original opening titles and the 1976 ending credits. Episodes 15 and 16 have a running time of 19:45 while episodes 17-22 have an average running time of 20:45. Episode 17 has the longest running time at 20:56. It seems that episodes 17-22 are in fact complete with the exception of the 1976 ending credits.

 

One other thing that I have noticed throughout the first two seasons of this show. They seem to have done the animation on the cheap. Watch carefully and you'll notice that in episode 7 Rudy's shirt and vest suddenly lose all color and then it has color. It looks like the animators forgot to color it in. In episodes 21 and 22 Rudy's shirt suddenly is the same color as his vest except for the collar. I don't remember which episode this happens, but there is a group shot and Rudy's mouth vanishes. It was there when the group shot appears and it just vanishes. Too funny. Guess they forgot to draw it in. 

 

Finally, if you watch carefully Old Weird Harold's red sock changes feet several times. Most of the time he wears one red sock on his left foot and one goldenrod sock on his right foot. But not always. The red one will be on the left and then later it is on the right. Sometimes he doesn't even have a red sock. Once he had on a white sock and goldenrod sock. I even noticed once he was wearing matching goldenrod socks.


The music does matter.


#16 of 42 OFFLINE   Mark Y

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Posted July 04 2013 - 07:18 PM

I don't remember, but could some of the time discrepancies be due to PAL speedup issues?



#17 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 05 2013 - 09:59 AM

I don't remember, but could some of the time discrepancies be due to PAL speedup issues?

 

Honestly, I really couldn't trell you. I've heard for years about PAL speedup but I've never been able to spot it. I really don't think it could be PAL speedup. The episodes that run 19:45 are definately missing the tag scene and song reprise. This is easily proven by the three episodes that run 21:30 because those missing scenes are in those episodes. I remember the song reprises from when I was a kid and watching this show during its original run. However, I think only the first season episodes and the first two episodes from season two have the tag and the song reprises. I may be wrong about that. I think episodes 17-22 should have a tag scene but it would only be about 45 seconds or so. Since those episodes run about 20:45 the seem to be complete, but again they could be missing about 45 seconds each. It's hard to be sure which is correct. If anyone with a better memory than me could clear that up, it would be great.  


The music does matter.


#18 of 42 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted July 05 2013 - 07:10 PM

Ok, here we go with the next two discs in this set. Discs four and five are the final two seasons of the 'classic' Fat Albert series. Things seem to be going pretty well. Disc four has all of the episodes from season three (episodes 23-28). All of these episodes have the correct opening titles but the 1976 closing credits. All of the episodes have a run time of about 21:10. I believe that they are complete and unedited. Watch carefully during episode 23. The animated Bill's shirt goes from white to yellow to white to yellow and back to white again. All in about two mintues. Also, throughout this season Bill's trashcan drum lid goes from green to orange in several of the musical numbers. Episode 26 contains another little animation goof up. Watch as the gang leave the club house. Bucky seems to have the ability to walk on air. Then in episode 27, Donald seems to be able to do a spot on imitation of Mush Mouth. It's clear that the animators drew the wrong character for the scene. It should have been Mush Mouth, to match the voice, and instead they drew Donald. Too funny.

 

Disc five contains all of the episodes for season 4 (episodes 29-36). Here we start to get into a bit more trouble. Episodes 29, 30 and 34-36 all have the correct opening titles with the correct ending credits. Yes, at last the 1976 ending credits finally match the episodes. However, episodes 31-33 all contain the 80's Adventures of Fat Albert opening titles and ending credits. Episodes 31-33 also have color bleeding issues and color oversaturation. These episodes do not look ilke they were sourced from the same set of masters as the rest of the season. The color oversaturation is really problematic causing a noticeable loss in detail during the animated portions of the show. The live action scenes look a bit better but Bill Cosby's skin tone is off and he looks a bit orange in some scenes. Episodes 29, 30 and 34-36 have a run time of about 21:10 while episodes 31-33 have run times of 21:21. They seem to be complete as far as I can tell.

 

Once again Rudy has a shirt color issue in episdode 29. Suddenly the purple sleeves are red one moment and then they are purple again.

 

Up next, the first episodes of the New Fat Albert Show with the premier of The Brown Hornet, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I will need input from anyone who knows this series from this point on. I didn't watch much of the series after 1979. I really didn't care for the new format. I missed the songs and the Brown Horner just didn't do it for me so I quit watching. Maybe I'll like it better now. We'll just have to wait and see.


Edited by Brian Himes, July 05 2013 - 07:12 PM.

The music does matter.


#19 of 42 OFFLINE   DeWilson

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Posted July 05 2013 - 10:43 PM

Perhaps we should post on Mr.Cosby's Facebook page and let him know about these issues? 



#20 of 42 OFFLINE   JMFabianoRPL

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Posted July 06 2013 - 05:52 AM

Very interesting...also, you forgot one of the most glaring examples of Shout using syndie/edited prints: RHODA, SEASON ONE. 

 

re: Magoo...did they used the original or censored Charlie?  P.S. I STILL WANT MY THEATRICAL SHORTS!!!

 

I wonder if, when they get to the '80s syndie version, will they show the uncensored version of the Very Special Episode where the boys go to jail?  The one on Netflix has the curse words muted or dubbed with less harsh words. 

 

Dumb Donald with Mushmouth's voice?  Maybe that's the episode Trey and Matt watched when they came up with the Fat Abbot parody on South Park :-) 

 

I do seem to remember some of the older episodes being part of the '80s syndication package, maybe that accounts for the edits and incorrect credits? I'll probably want this set eventually, as Shout may not be at fault and this might be all that's left for them to use.  Plus if what's there is good and reminds me of the show I used to watch...


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