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THE COSBY SHOW is unquestionably one of the most iconic sitcoms in the history of television. A groundbreaking series in its depiction of a successful African American family, THE COSBY SHOW is also very much an old fashioned family oriented series that serves a showcase for Bill Cosby’s particular style of story driven stand up comedy. During the 1980’s, THE COSBY SHOW proved to be the perfect formula for success. In fact, the sitcom was number one in the rating for five consecutive seasons, which made it the series the most successful show of that decade. However, in an ironic twist, the popularity and the wholesomeness THE COSBY SHOW actually gave rise to the dysfunctional family comedies the followed- starting with MARRIED… WITH CHILDREN, which was titled NOT THE COSBY’S, while it was under development.

The premise of THE COSBY SHOW follows the lives of Huxtable clan, an upper-middle class family living in a Brooklyn Heights brownstone. Family patriarch is Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby), who works as an obstetrician, while his lovely wife Clair (Phylicia Rashad) is an attorney. Despite their successful careers, Cliff and Clair are hands on parents to their five children. Eldest daughter Sondra (Sabrina LeBeauf) is a successful Princeton University student when we first meet her. The next eldest daughter is Denise (Lisa Bonet) the family free spirit, who sometimes tests her parent’s patience. The only Huxtable son is Theo (Malcolm Jamal-Warner), who represents the classic underachiever, but usually makes good. Next up is daughter Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe), who falls into the role of the somewhat smartalecy teen. Finally, we have youngest daughter Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam), who is just too cute and precocious for her own good. Over the course of the series eight-season run, a number of other characters were added to the cast as the young Huxtables grew up and entered new relationships. Between new additions and reoccurring characters, the cast of THE COSBY SHOW also featured Raven-Symoné, Geoffrey Owens, Earle Hyman, Deon Richmond, Joseph C. Phillips, Erika Alexander, Clarice Taylor, Karen Malina White, Peter Costa and Carl Anthony Payne II.

THE COSBY SHOW: 25TH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIVE EDITION ($140) comes to DVD in a twenty-six disc set that includes all two hundred and one episodes that were produced during the show’s eight year run. The episodes are as follows- Episodes featured in Season One are as follows: Pilot, Mr. Fish (A.K.A. Goodbye, Mr. Fish), Bad Dreams, Is That My Boy?, A Shirt Story, Breaking With Tradition, One More Time, Play It Again, Vanessa, How Ugly Is He?, Bon Jour Sondra, You're Not A Mother Night, Rudy's Sick, Father's Day, Independence Day, Physician Of The Year, Jitterbug Break, Theo And The Joint, Vanessa's New Class, Clair's Case, Back To The Track, Jack, The Younger Woman, Slumber Party, Mr. Quiet and Cliff's Birthday.

Episodes featured in Season Two are as follows: First Day Of School, The Juicer, Happy Anniversary, Cliff In Love, Theo And The Older Woman, Halloween, Rudy Suits Up, Denise Drives, Clair's Sister, Clair's Toe, Denise's Friend, Mrs. Westlake, The Auction, Vanessa's Bad Grade, Theo And Cockroach, The Dentist, Play It Again, Russell, A Touch Of Wonder, Full House, Close To Home, An Early Spring, Theo's Holiday, The Card Game, Off To The Races and Denise's Decision.

Episodes featured in Season Three are as follows: Bring 'Em Back Alive, Food For Thought, Golden Anniversary, Man Talk, Mother, May I?, The March, Theo's Flight, Vanessa's Rich, Denise Gets A D, A Girl And Her Dog, War Stories, Cliff In Charge, Monster Man Huxtable, Rudy Spends The Night, Say Hello To A Good Buy, Denise Gets An Opinion, Calling Doctor Huxtable, You Only Hurt The One You Love, The Shower, Cliff's 50th Birthday, I Know That You Know, Andalusian Flu, Bald And Beautiful, Planning Parenthood and Hillman.

Episodes featured in Season Four are as follows: Call Of The Wild, Theogate, It's Not Easy Being Green, Cliff's Mistake, Shakespeare, That's Not What I Said, Autumn Gifts, Looking Back Part 1, Looking Back Part 2, Where's Rudy?, Dance Mania, The Locker Room, The Show Must Go On, Bookworm, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, The Visit, The Drum Major, Waterworks, Once Upon A Time, Petanque, Trust Me, Home For The Weekend, The Prom and Gone Fishin'.

Episodes featured in Season Five are as follows: Together Again And Again, The Physical, Rudy's All-Nighter, Move It (A.K.A. The Baby Game), Out Of Brooklyn, The Birth Part 1, The Birth Part 2, Cyranoise De Bergington, How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?, If The Dress Fits, Wear It, Is There A Hamster In The House?, Truth Or Consequences, Cliff Babysits, Mrs. Huxtable Goes To Kindergarten, The Lost Weekend, No Way, Baby, Can I Say Something, Please?, The Dead End Kids Meet Dr. Lotus, The Boys Of Winter, It Comes And It Goes, Theo's Women, Birthday Blues, A Room With No View, What He Did For Love, Day Of The Locusts and 57 Varieties.

Episodes featured in Season Six are as follows: Denise: The Saga Continues, Surf's Up, I'm 'In' With The 'In' Crowd, Denise Kendall: Navy Wife, Theo's Gift, Denise Kendall: Babysitter, Shall We Dance?, The Day The Spores Landed, Cliff's Wet Adventure, Grampy And Nu-Nu Visit The Huxtables, Cliff La Dolce, Getting To Know You, Elvin Pays For Dinner, Cliff's Nightmare, Denise Kendall: Singles Counselor, The Birthday Party, Not Everybody Loves The Blues, Rudy's Walk On The Wild Side, Mr. Sandman, Isn't It Romantic?, Theo's Dirty Laundry, What's It All About?, Off To See The Wretched, The Moves, Live And Learn and The Storyteller.

Episodes featured in Season Seven are as follows: Same Time Next Year, Bird In The Hand, The Last Barbecue, Period Of Adjustment, It's All In The Game, Getting The Story, Just Thinking About It Part 1, Just Thinking About It Part 2, The Infantry Has Landed (And They've Fallen Off The Roof), You Can Go Home Again, It's A Boy, Clair's Liberation, It's Your Move, Theo's Final Final, Attack Of The Killer B's, Total Control, Adventures In Babysitting, 27 And Still Cooking, The Return Of The Clairettes, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Home Remedies, Nightmare On Stigwood Avenue, There's Still No Joy In Mudville, Cliff And Jake, Theo And The Kids Part 1 and Theo And The Kids Part 2.

Episodes featured in Season Eight are as follows: With This Ring?, There's No Place Like This Home, Particles In Motion, Pam Applies To College, Warning: A Double-Lit Candle Can Cause A Meltdown, It's Apparent To Everyone, The Iceman Bricketh, Olivia's Field Trip, For Men Only, Olivia Comes Out Of The Closet, Two Is A Crowd, Clair's Place, Theo's Future, The Price Is Wrong, Bring Me The Lip Gloss Of Deirdre Arpelle, Eat, Drink And Be Wary, The Getaway, Cliff Gets Jilted, Cliff And Theo Come Clean, Clair's Reunion, Rudy's Retreat, You Can't Stop The Music, Some Gifts Aren't Deductible, And So We Commence Part 1 and And So We Commence Part 2.

First Look Studios and Carsey Werner Distribution has made all the episodes that comprise THE COSBY SHOW: 25TH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIVE EDITION available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Shot on analog NTSC video during the 1980s and 1990s, the image quality of this collection is about as good as it can be. The earlier seasons produce a softer image than those that follow, but the picture never exceeds the limitations of it production format. Across the set, one will find a respectable level of definition. However, the picture can appear mildly fuzzy in anything beyond a close up. Colors generally hold up well for a videotape source, but highly saturated hues can become a little unstable. Blacks and whites seem just fine. As expected, the sitcom lighting flattens out the picture. Additionally, contrast limited to what NTSC broadcast video can provide. Some videotape based irregularities and dropouts creep up, but not to any significant level. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

All the episodes featured in THE COSBY SHOW: 25TH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIVE EDITION come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel surround stereo soundtracks. This is basic sitcom sound all the way; it gets the job done without any bells or whistles. Sound quality is perfectly fine and none of the tracks exhibit any serious defects. Dialogue is always completely understandable. Fidelity is not exemplary, but it isn’t problematic either. No other language tracks or subtitles have been included on the DVD.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. The Cosby Show: A Look Back is a ninety minute retrospective produced for prime time in 2002. There is an Interview With Dr. Cosby, which runs fifty minutes, as well as twenty-two minutes of Show Bloopers. Other supplements include: Season 2 Blooper, Cliff's Parenting Tips, a New Interview with Director Jay Sandrich and a couple of Audio Commentaries. A hardcover version of the Pilot script is also included inside the box set.

As I stated above, THE COSBY SHOW is one of the most iconic sitcoms in the history of television. The DVD collection offers solid presentations of all eight seasons of the series. Recommended.



The Cosby Show: 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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