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Prime shenanigans from the classic comedy duo. 4 Stars

The 3-D Film Archive and ClassicFlix have provided one of the year’s most valuable releases with The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 1, a treasure trove of their classic routines along with much new material. For fans of the boys, highly recommended!

The Abbott and Costello Show (1952–1957)
Released: 14 Sep 1957
Rated: TV-G
Runtime: 25 min
Director: N/A
Genre: Comedy, Family, Mystery
Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Sid Fields
Writer(s): N/A
Plot: Bud and Lou are unemployed actors living in Mr. Fields' boarding house. Lou's girlfriend Hillary lives across the hall. Any premise would lead to slapstick, puns, lots of gimmicks from their movies.
IMDB rating: 8.2
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Other
Distributed By: ClassicFlix
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: None
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 11 Hr. 16 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: clear keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 12/14/2021
MSRP: $44.99

The Production: 4/5

After conquering the worlds of burlesque, nightclubs, radio, and motion pictures, the comic team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello turned next to the fledgling world of television. They dipped their toes into the new medium as one of a series of revolving hosts of NBC’s The Colgate Comedy Hour and were so successful that Lou decided that the duo would do well with their own half hour show even though they were still riding high with their movie career. The Abbott and Costello Show was not a network production; Lou’s production company mounted the show (Bud took a straight salary for his participation in its two-season run) and sold it to local stations on a syndication basis, a lucrative proposition since the show’s two-year run was played endlessly for decades in repeats all over the schedules of local stations who could plug the boys’ antics in almost anywhere they had a spare half hour.

The first season of The Abbott and Costello Show made almost full use of Bud and Lou’s deep trunk of vaudeville routines. Many of them, of course, had been woven into the scripts of their films but were diluted by requisite secondary love interests and musical numbers featuring everyone from the Andrews Sisters, Judy Canova, Ella Fitzgerald to Dick Powell and Martha Raye. Here, with support from a series of regulars (Hillary Brooke, Sid Fields, Gordon “Mike the Cop” Jones, Joe “Mr. Bacciagalupe” Kirk, Joe “Stinky Davis” Besser, and jack-of-all-clowns Bobby Barber), the boys were able to present their finest routines in almost always complete and sometimes even extended form: “Who’s on First,” “Niagara Falls,” “Pack/Unpack,” “7 X 13 = 28,” “Dice Game,” “Alexander 4444,” “Loafing,” “Mudder/Fodder,” and several others.

Bud’s salaried-only participation in the series is pretty obvious throughout the first season as he’s often missing for half of the episode while Lou takes center stage (when Lou tries cooking for the first time, you know heavy slapstick is on the way; the same when he attempts to sell vacuum cleaners door-to-door) or does his bits of business with Sid Fields, Gordon Jones, Joe Kirk, or Bobby Barber as his straight man (or trades blows and pinches with his eternal nemesis played by Joe Besser). The first season of episodes follows a familiar format: Bud and Lou introduce the episode in front of a stage curtain (which gets more elaborate and textured a few episodes into the run), usually interrupt the shenanigans at the halfway point to comment on what’s been happening or what’s to come, and then make a brief appearance at show’s end for a comic capper. In between are the stories which find the pair of unemployed, usually broke stars Bud and Lou looking for a get-rich-quick scheme or attempting to find something useful to do with their lives (joining the National Guard where the wacky drill sequence will take you right back to Buck Privates, joining Hillary for a night in a haunted house to secure an inheritance which smacks directly of Hold That Ghost down to the moving candle bit, running for public office, or helping a pitiable old lady cast out on the street). While the series’ first season was filmed at the old Hal Roach Studio backlot and soundstages, there was no live studio audience. The finished episode was screened for a select audience with their laughter then recorded for the accompanying laugh track (a method All in the Family adopted in its later seasons when Carroll O’Connor tired of the stress of appearing live). If you want your Abbott and Costello unadorned by expensive production values, secondary love plots, and musical numbers, The Abbott and Costello Show gives you the boys at their seminal best. And the array of famous faces and glorious character actors who pop in during the season to add their own unique personalities to the show are a treat just in themselves: Iris Adrian, Elvia Allman, Virginia Christine, Rita Moreno, Anthony Caruso, Minerva Urecal, Marjorie Reynolds, Veda Ann Borg, Lillian Bronson, Raymond Hatton, Gloria Talbot, Isabel Randolph, Joan Shawlee, Chick Chandler, Lee Patrick, Ben Weldon, Barbara Billingsley, George Chandler, Burt Mustin, Allen Jenkins, and Thurston Hall, just to name the most familiar ones.

Here are the twenty-six episodes contained on the three Blu-ray discs contained in this first season set. The names in parentheses refer to the audio commentator(s) for that particular episode.

1 – Drug Store

2 – Dentist

3 – Jail

4 – Vacation (Gerry Orlando)

5 – Lou’s Birthday Party (Lou Sabini)

6 – Alaska (Ray Faiola)

7 – Vacuum Cleaner Salesman

8 – Army

9 – Pots and Pans

10 – Charity Bazaar

11 – The Western (Toby Roan)

12 – Haunted House (Paul Castiglia)

13 – Peace and Quiet

14 – Hungry (Ron Palumbo)

15 – Music Lover (Stu Fink)

16 – Politician

17 – Wrestling

18 – Getting a Job (Gilbert Gottfried and Frank Santopadre)

19 – Chimpanzee

20 – Hillary’s Birthday

21 – Television Show (Jim Mulholland)

22 – Las Vegas

23 – Little Old Lady

24 – Actor’s Home (Lou Antonicello, Shane Fleming, Bob Greenberg, Jack Theakston, Michael Townsend Wright)

25 – Police Rookie

26 – Safari

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The program’s original 1.33:1 broadcast ratio is faithfully reproduced here in 1080p transfers using the AVC codec. Going back to the original negatives for most of the episodes, the images are splendid displaying a degree of detail and sharpness which has never been seen before. Except for an occasional soft shot or some stray hairs in the gate, these episodes are pristine in appearance with superb grayscale (you can see plainly the tiny woven monograms on Lou’s shirt pocket and cuff) and excellent contrast.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono audio tracks for the episodes are clear and clean as can be. There are no problems with hiss, crackle, pops, or flutter blotting out the rapid-fire dialogue, and the music and sound effects (hundreds of slaps to poor Lou’s face) have been combined into a most impressive soundfield for this early era in television. Selected episodes also provide the user the opportunity to watch the episode without the audience track or with only a partial audience track.

Special Features: 3/5

Audio Commentaries: ten of the episodes have commentaries (see above episode list for the participants) and except for the commentary accompanying “Getting a Job” where the participants laugh at the antics more than comment for their listeners, they are all quite interesting and contain valuable background on the production of the show or the participants on that particular episode, each of the participants displaying a deep love for the two classic comedians and their series.

Saving the Negatives (4:55, HD): 3-D Film Archive head honcho Bob Furmanek discusses his hunt for the best possible materials for the Archive to work with in restoring these classic episodes.

ClassicFlix Trailers (HD): Africa Screams, A Night in Casablanca, The Little Rascals Vol. 1 & 2, The Noose Hangs High, and Zenobia.

Overall: 4/5

I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up in a broadcast area that stripped The Abbott and Costello Show locally, so for a fan of Bud and Lou, this set offers a heretofore undiscovered treasure trove of prime Abbott and Costello antics. The 3-D Film Archive and ClassicFlix have provided one of the year’s most valuable releases with The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 1. For fans of the boys, highly recommended!

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Published by

Matt Hough

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rmw650

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Richard W
The show currently airs on Decades TV from 2:30-3 AM CT weekdays, for those that have that channel.
 

RobertMG

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Robert M. Grippo
The show currently airs on Decades TV from 2:30-3 AM CT weekdays, for those that have that channel.
Been DVR'ing them! They are showing Bilko, Donna Reed etc! Stations like WPIX were great back in the day Adv Of Superman, Batman, The Muntsers, The Addams Family, Star Trek, WPIX carries Antenna TV one of the great classic stations along with METV and FETV while WPIX is like other indie stations still stuck on trash tv "Steve Wilkos" a stinky "Judge" type show. I am told by an ex employee the ratings on those shows are tanking yet WPIX will not go back to CLASSICS
 

LouA

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Lou Antonicello
Is it just me, but isn’t this thread devoted to glories of this newly restored release of the Abbott And Costello Show on Blu-ray?
So why are some posters talking about TV stations that are airing outdated prints of the show? We should be discussing this incredible release. And I would think most A&C fans would be eager to get this and watch it in this incredible quality!
 

rmw650

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Richard W
Lou, Season 2 is already being prepped for Blu-Ray release sometime next year by those folks, so no worries there, but for those who cannot afford the sets, it's still airing on that channel to view.
 

Richard Gallagher

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Is it just me, but isn’t this thread devoted to glories of this newly restored release of the Abbott And Costello Show on Blu-ray?
So why are some posters talking about TV stations that are airing outdated prints of the show? We should be discussing this incredible release. And I would think most A&C fans would be eager to get this and watch it in this incredible quality!

Loul,

I have my copy and am very pleased with what I've seen so far.

I'm looking forward to hearing your commentary!
 

Tony Bensley

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Merry Christmas, Lou! I'm looking forward to hearing your commentary when my Season 1 Blu-ray set eventually arrives!

I also feel it's worth mentioning that for those who aren't set up for Blu-ray, this beautifully restored series is also available in the DVD format. This should still mark quite a noticeable improvement over the previous telecine sourced THE ABBOTT & COSTELLO SHOW DVD releases! :)

CHEERS! :)
 

RobertMG

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Robert M. Grippo
Got the set this past Thurs - loving the DVD edition - really an amazing job by Bob Furmanek and his team STUNNING quality that will bring this great show to a whole new generation. I will be posting a review on my FB ASAP! So many great shows that can be saved and shared and thanks to people like Bob who are making it happen.