Friday, April 7, 2017

Classic TV: The Cosby Show (1984)

NBC was beginning to turn things around in terms of ratings by 1984. For adventure, you had The A-Team & Remington Steele on Tuesdays, and Knight Rider on Fridays. NBC was building their Thursday block, piece by piece, starting with Hill Street Blues, then Cheers & Family Ties, while adding Miami Vice to the Friday lineup.

To anchor the Thursday block, programming head Brandon Tartikoff turned to one of NBC's stars of the 60's, Bill Cosby.

Cosby had turned his attention to children's programming in the 70's with a 1 year stint on the original Electric Company leading directly to his seminal, quasi-autobiographical Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids, which had left CBS for syndication after 12 seasons, and a long stint shilling for Jell-O, becoming its most famous pitchman since Jack Benny. His last self-titled series for NBC lasted two seasons (1969-71), so how long would The Cosby Show run?

How about eight seasons? The sitcom environment was different, as instead of being a bachelor, Cosby was now a family man and a doctor.

Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable (Cosby) was almost never seen at work. Then again, his office was also his home, and, so, the focus was on the interaction with his wife, Clair (Phylicia Rashad), and their five children. People tend to forget that this was the series that introduced America to comedian Adam Sandler, who had a brief, recurring gig as a pal of Theo (Malcolm Jamal-Warner), before leaving for MTV and Remote Control.

Unfortunately, due to the sex scandal that has engulfed Cosby in the present day, few, if any, cable networks are willing to run this series or any of his later series, although I Spy & The Bill Cosby Show seem to still be in demand. It's better, then, to count the memories and the laughs with the man who became "America's Dad" from 1984-92.

Our sample comes from the 2nd season.

Cosby would reunite with Phylicia Rashad for a CBS series in the late 90's, which we'll cover another time.

Rating: A.

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