Abbott and Costello Show, The: Season 1 (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jan 06, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Abbott and Costello Show, The: Season 1 (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Jean Yarbrough

Release Date(s)

1952-1953 (December 14, 2021)

Studio(s)

ClassicFlix
  • Film/Program Grade: A
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A-

The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 1 (Blu-ray Disc)

Buy it Here!

Review

After a successful career in radio and ruling the film comedy roost throughout the 1940s, Abbott and Costello came to television with their own program, The Abbott and Costello Show. Skipping the common variety hour format, they instead used the show as a way of showcasing new and classic bits with occasional guess stars. Simple situations like going to the dentist, getting a job, or going on safari were punctuated by their brand of classic comedy. The show ran in syndication for two seasons, starting on October 7, 1951 and ending sometime in 1953, becoming one of the most well-loved and influential comedy TV shows of all time.

Though the show has been available for years in reruns and even on home video, high quality presentations of The Abbott and Costello Show haven’t been made available before. Bob Furmanek, owner and operator at 3-D Film Archive, found the original camera negatives for the show in the 1980s while working for Jerry Lewis and later becoming the official Abbott and Costello archivist, which he discusses in detail in the accompanying featurette on this release. Most of those elements were thought to be lost or destroyed, and until now, were not able to be restored.

The first season of The Abbott and Costello Show was shot by director of photography George Robinson on 35 mm film. The show was later printed onto 35 mm fine grain masters, which were sourced for television and home video distribution copies, but the original camera negatives have never been viewed by the general public. Bob Furmanek and the restoration team at 3-D Film Archive (with the support of The Library of Congress, TCA Television Corp, and the Lou Costello Estate) have scanned 120,000 feet of film—nearly 175 reels of film elements—with additional frame-by-frame digital clean-up to remove dirt and damage. Fortunately, only four reels had either severely deteriorated or are currently lost. For those, a new scan of the 35 mm fine grain positive had to be substituted (Episode 9, Reel 3—deteriorated; Episode 14, Reels 1 and 3—deteriorated; and Episode 16, Reel 1—lost). A constant 4K workflow was maintained during this process, and now all 26 episodes of the first season of the show can be viewed in full 1080p.

The results are splendid, to say the least. Clarity has improved ten-fold as there’s so much more fine detail visible in the frame than has ever been seen in broadcasts or on DVD. Grain is evenly-handled, true to its source without seeming heavy or noisy. Gradations in the black and white cinematography are nearly perfect with lovely, deep blacks and excellent shadow detail, as well as solid grays and whites, the latter never appearing blown out. You’d also be hard-pressed to spot the lower quality reels as they blend into the rest of the presentation perfectly. The image is stable and clean with stunning levels of clarity. The only faults, which are inherent to the source, are scene transitions and the show's use of stock footage. Regardless, it has never looked better.

Audio is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with no subtitle options. The audio has been restored from the original 35 mm push-pull track negatives, which was a process that produced very high quality audio. This means that with the proper restoration tools, the sound quality of the show could be better than anything that has ever been heard before. (It's worth noting that Reel 1 on Episodes 4 and 16 were sourced from the 35 mm fine grain as the push-pull negative for those reels are gone.) The other exciting aspect of this release is that audio has been found for certain episodes without the laughter. Since the show was filmed on a soundstage and was later screened for an audience, the laugh track was recorded and mixed onto the final audio. The restoration team has managed to find and include two full episodes and six partial episodes without it in 2.0 Dolby Digital. Of course, these tracks are optional on their accompanying episodes. The final audience track is the main option for each and every episode. The sound quality is beyond anything heard prior. It’s clean with great fidelity, a surprising amount of low end, and plenty of push for the music and sound effects. Dialogue exchanges are also clear and perfectly discernible. It’s just as impressive as its video counterpart.

The following is a list of episodes and extras per disc, all of which are in HD:

(DISC ONE: EPISODES 1-9)

1. Drugstore (26:09)
2. Dentist (26:10)
3. Jail (26:08)
4. Vacation (26:11)
5. Lou’s Birthday Party (26:07)
6. Alaska (26:19)
7. Vacuum Cleaner Salesman (26:12)
8. Army (25:47)
9. Pots and Pans (25:56)

  • Audio Commentary on Vacation by Gerry Orlando
  • Audio Commentary on Lou's Birthday Party by Lou Sabini
  • Audio Commentary on Alaska by Ray Faiola
  • Credits (1:58)

(DISC TWO: EPISODES 10-18)

10. Charity Bazaar (26:09)
11. The Western (26:12)
12. Haunted House (26:12)
13. Peace and Quiet (26:20)
14. Hungry (25:48)
15. Music Lover (26:05)
16. Politician (26:12)
17. Wrestling (26:05)
18. Getting a Job (26:09)

  • Audio Commentary on The Western by Toby Roan
  • Audio Commentary on Haunted House by Paul Castiglia
  • Audio Commentary on Hungry by Ron Palumbo
  • Audio Commentary on Music Lover by Stu Fink
  • Audio Commentary on Getting a Job by Gilbert Gottfried and Frank Santopadre
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Politician
  • Full or Audience Laugh Track on Wrestling
  • With or Without Audience Laugh Track on Getting a Job
  • Credits (1:58)

(DISC THREE: EPISODES 19-26)

19. Chimpanzee (26:03)
20. Hillary's Birthday (25:23)
21. Television Show (26:09)
22. Las Vegas (25:53)
23. Little Old Lady (26:03)
24. Actors' Home (26:05)
25. Police Rookie (26:09)
26. Safari (26:04)

  • Audio Commentary on Television Show by Jim Mulholland
  • Audio Commentary on Actor's Home by Lou Antonicello, Shane Fleming, Bob Greenberg, Jack Theakston, and Michael Townsend Wright
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Chimpanzee
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Hillary's Birthday
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Las Vegas
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Safari
  • With or Without Audience Laugh Track on Television Show
  • Alternate Middle Curtain Segment from Hillary’s Birthday (2:13)
  • Saving the Negatives (4:55)
  • Africa Screams Trailer (2:23)
  • A Night in Casablanca Trailer (2:18)
  • The Little Rascals, Vol. 1 Trailer (2:45)
  • The Little Rascals, Vol. 2 – Lovesick Trailer (2:33)
  • The Little Rascals, Vol. 2 – Stymie Shines Trailer (2:04)
  • The Noose Hangs High Trailer (2:11)
  • Zenobia Trailer (3:52)
  • Credits (1:58)

All ten audio commentaries are excellent, as is the featurette Saving the Negatives, which features Bob Furmanek himself explaining the fascinating history of how the original camera negatives for the show were located. The Alternate Middle Curtain Segment is a version of a scene that was present during the show’s home video and syndication afterlife when it was accidentally used by a distributor instead of the version that actually aired. It runs about 46 seconds longer and features more lead-in to talk about Hillary’s birthday party and Bud and Lou’s landlord. The trailers on Disc 3 are for other ClassicFlix Blu-ray releases, including Africa Screams and The Noose Hangs High, both Abbott and Costello films. The Credits found on each disc feature credits for the crew of the show, as well as the restoration team and other contributors. The discs are housed in a clear amaray case with double-sided artwork, featuring new artwork by Stewart McKissick on the front and a set of episode summaries on the reverse.

The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 1 is a monumental release for fans of the boys themselves and for comedy in general. The quality of the video and audio is staggering, making it one of the best home video releases of 2021. Highly recommended (and bring on Season 2)!

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

Tags

1952, 1953, 3-D Film Archive, 4K restoration, Abbott and Costello, Al Goodman, Albert Deano, Alex Gottlieb, Alix Talton, Allen Jenkins, Anthony Caruso, Anthony Warde, Barbara Billingsley, Ben Welden, Benny Rubin, Billy Varga, Bingo the Chimp, black and white, black-and-white, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc, Bob Furmanek, Bob Greenberg, Bob Hopkins, Bob Overbeck, Bobby Barber, Boyd Red Morgan, Buck Bucko, Bud Abbott, Bud Wolfe, Burt Mustin, Carl Sklover, Cecil Combs, Charles Anthony Hughes, Charles Cane, Clarence Eurist, Classic Flix, ClassicFlix, Clyde Bruckman, comedy, comedy TV show, Creighton Hale, Danny Beck, Dick Gordon, Don Zelaya, Donald Kerr, Dorothy Ford, Dorothy Granger, Dorothy Vaughan, Eddie Forman, Eddie Parks, Elvia Allman, Emory Parnell, Ethelreda Leopold, Florence Auer, Fortunio Bonanova, Frank O'Connor, Frank Santopadre, Fred R Feitshans Jr, Gene Fowler Jr, George Barrows, George Chandler, George Robinson, Gerry Orlando, Gilbert Gottfried, Glenn Langan, Glenn Strange, Gloria Talbott, Gordon Jones, Hallene Hill, Hank Mann, Harold Goodwin, Harry Clexx, Harry Tyler, Helene Millard, Henry Kulky, Hillary Brooke, Iris Adrian, Isabel Randolph, J Anthony Hughes, Jack Perry, Jack R Glass, Jack Rice, Jack Theakston, Jack Townley, James Alexander, Jane Frazee, Jarma Lewis, Jean Goodman, Jean Porter, Jean Yarbrough, Jeanne Baird, Jim Mulholland, Jimmie Booth, Jimmy Noel, Jo-Carroll Dennison, Joan Shawlee, Joanne Arnold, Joe Besser, Joe Devlin, Joe Kirk, John Daheim, John Halloran, John Skins Miller, Johnny Kascier, Joseph La Cava, Joyce Compton, Joyce Jameson, Judy Clark, Kathleen O'Malley, Kenneth Gibson, Lee Patrick, Lillian Bronson, Lou Antonicello, Lou Costello, Lou Nova, Lou Sabini, Louis Lettieri, Lucien Littlefield, Lyle Talbot, Mahlon Merrick, Margaret Plim, Marjorie Reynolds, Mary Beth Hughes, Maudie Prickett, Max Baer, Max Wagner, Mel Blanc, Michael Townsend Wright, Milt Bronson, Minerva Urecal, Mort Glickman, Murray Leonard, Nicla Di Bruno, Otho Lovering, Pat Collins, Pat Costello, Pat Flaherty, Paul Castiglia, Paul Fix, Peter Roman, Phyllis Coates, Phyllis Kennedy, Ralph Brooks, Ralph Gamble, Raoul Kraushaar, Ray Faiola, Ray Walker, Raymond Hatton, Renie Riano, review, Rex Lease, Robert Cherry, Robert Foulk, Robert J Wilke, Robin Raymond, Ron Palumbo, Ronnie Clark, Russell Custer, Sam Harris, Sara Haden, Sarah Padden, Season 1, Season One, Selene Walters, Shane Fleming, Sheila Bromley, Sid Fields, sitcom, Stanley Andrews, Stewart McKissick, Stu Fink, Syd Saylor, TCA Productions, Teddy Infuhr, Television Corporation of America, The Abbott and Costello Show, The Digital Bits, Thurston Hall, Tim Salmons, Toby Roan, Tom Kennedy, Tristram Coffin, TV show, Veda Ann Borg, Vera Marshe, Vic Parks, Virginia Christine, Virginia Gordon, Walter Bacon, Wilbur Mack, William Newell

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