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The Cosby Show is an American television situation comedy starring Bill Cosby, which aired for eight seasons on NBC from September 20, 1984 until April 30, 1992. The show focuses on the Huxtable family, an affluent African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York.

According to TV Guide, the show "was TV's biggest hit in the 1980s, and almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre and NBC's ratings fortunes".[1] Originally, the show had been pitched to ABC, which rejected it.[1] Entertainment Weekly stated that The Cosby Show helped to make possible a larger variety of shows based on people of African descent, from In Living Color to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.[2] The Cosby Show was based on comedy routines in Cosby's standup act, which were based on his family life. Other sitcoms, such as Home Improvement and Everybody Loves Raymond, would later follow that pattern. The show spawned the spin-off A Different World, which ran for six seasons from 1987 to 1993.

As of 2011, The Cosby Show is the third-longest running U.S. comedy with a predominantly black cast, surpassed only by The Jeffersons and Family Matters. The series had 197 episodes (201 in syndication).


HistoryEdit

In the early 1980s, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner, two former executives at ABC, left the network to start their own production company. At ABC, they had overseen sitcoms such as Mork & Mindy, Three's Company and Welcome Back, Kotter.

The two decided in order to get a sitcom to sell for their fledgling company, they needed a big name behind it. Bill Cosby, who during the 1970s starred in two failed sitcoms, produced award-winning stand-up comedy albums, and had roles in several different films, was relatively quiet during the early 1980s.

Outside of his work on his cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, he was doing little in the fields of film and television. The two watched his stand-up comedy film, Bill Cosby: Himself. They loved the routine and decided they wanted to build a television series around a comedian's subject material which, with Cosby, was observations of life and family.

After meeting with them, Cosby returned to Carsey and Werner with his own ideas: the family would be blue-collared, with a stay-at-home mother and a limousine driving father with two sons and two daughters.

Carsey and Werner were convinced by Cosby later on, as a change of heart to make the family well-off financially, by making the mother a lawyer and the father a doctor.

During its original run at NBC, it was one of five successful sitcoms on the network that featured predominately African-American casts. The other sitcoms were 227 (1985–1990), Amen (1986–1991), Cosby Show spin-off A Different World (1987–1993), and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990–1996).

OverviewEdit

The show focused on the Huxtable family, an affluent African-American family living in a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, New York, at 10 Stigwood Avenue.[3] The patriarch was Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable, an obstetrician, son of a prominent jazz trombonist. The matriarch was his wife, attorney Clair Huxtable née Hanks. The two characters were then followed by their five children, four daughters and one son; Sondra, Denise, Theodore (Theo for short), Vanessa and Rudy. Despite its comedic tone, the show sometimes involved serious subjects, such as son Theo's experiences dealing with dyslexia, inspired by Cosby's son Ennis, who was also dyslexic. Teenage pregnancy was also a topic when Denise's friend, played by Lela Rochon, became pregnant. [1][2]The cast of The Cosby Show in 1989Cosby had an unusually high level of creative control over the show. He wanted the program to be educational, reflecting his own background in education. He also insisted that the program be taped in New York City instead of Los Angeles, where most television programs were taped. The Huxtable home exterior was filmed at 10 St. Luke's Place[4] near 7th Avenue in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

The earliest episodes of the series were videotaped at NBC's Brooklyn studios (now owned by JC Studios). The network later sold that building, and production moved to the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens.

Although the cast and characters were predominantly African-American, the program was unusual in that issues of race were rarely mentioned when compared to other situation comedies of the time, such as The Jeffersons. However, The Cosby Show had African-American themes, such as the Civil Rights Movement, and it frequently promoted African-American and African culture represented by artists and musicians such as Jacob Lawrence, Miles Davis, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Miriam Makeba. The show's spin-off, A Different World dealt with issues of race more often.

The series finale aired during the race-related 1992 Los Angeles riots, with Cosby quoted in media at the time pleading for peace.[5]

CastEdit

Main article: List of The Cosby Show characters*Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable, OB-GYN

EpisodesEdit

Main article: List of The Cosby Show episodes===Pilot=== Main article: Pilot (The Cosby Show)The Cosby Show pilot episode uses the same title sequence as the rest of the first season, and is widely regarded as the 'first episode'. However, it is notable for a number of differences from the remainder of the series.

In the pilot, the Huxtables have only four children. Following the pilot, the Huxtables have five children, with the addition of their eldest daughter, Sondra (Sabrina Le Beauf), who is mentioned in episode 6 and appears first in episode 10. The character was created when Bill Cosby wanted the show to express the accomplishment of successfully raising a child (i.e., a college graduate). Whitney Houston was considered for the role of Sondra Huxtable.[6] Sabrina LeBeauf almost missed out on the role because she is only 10 years younger (b. 1958) than Phylicia Rashād (b. 1948), who played her mother.

Bill Cosby's character is called "Clifford" in the early episodes of the first season (as evidenced by his name plate on the exterior of the Huxtable home). His name was later switched to "Heathcliff". Additionally, Vanessa refers to Theo as "Teddy" twice in the dining room scene.

The interior of the Huxtables' home features an entirely different living room from subsequent episodes, and different color schemes in the dining room and the master bedroom. Throughout the remainder of the series, the dining room is reserved for more formal occasions.

Opening creditsEdit

The show's theme music, "Kiss Me", was composed by Stu Gardner and Bill Cosby. Seven versions of this theme were used during the run of the series, making it one of the few television series to use multiple versions of the same theme song over the course of a series.

Due to legal complications regarding the background mural, the season seven opening was replaced with the one from the previous season.[7] The original season seven opening, with slight modifications, was used in the eighth and final season.

To open the series' final episode (which was 60 minutes in length), an entirely new version of "Kiss Me" was used, while the credits featured clips from the openings from the previous seasons (excluding season one).

ReceptionEdit

The show was noted for portraying only a certain portion of the African-American population.[8] Conversely, it was praised for breaking traditional racial stereotypes, portraying African-Americans who were educated and successful.

Broadcast history and ratingsEdit

The Cosby Show aired on Thursdays at 8:00pm for all eight seasons.

The Cosby Show is one of three television programs (All in the Family and American Idol being the others) that was #1 in the Nielsen ratings for 5 consecutive seasons.[9]

Season Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Ranking Households
(in millions)
1st September 20, 1984 May 9, 1985 1984–1985 #3[10] 20.546 (24.2 rating)[10]
2nd September 26, 1985 May 15, 1986 1985–1986 #1[11] 28.948 (33.7 rating)[11]
3rd September 25, 1986 May 7, 1987 1986–1987 #1[12] 30.503 (34.9 rating)[12]
4th September 24, 1987 April 28, 1988 1987–1988 #1[13] 30.503 (34.4 rating)[13]
5th October 6, 1988 May 11, 1989 1988–1989 #1[14] 23.14 (25.6 rating)[14]
6th September 21, 1989 May 3, 1990 1989–1990 #1 (tie with Roseanne)[15] 21.27 (23.1 rating)[15]
7th September 20, 1990 May 2, 1991 1990–1991 #5[16] 15.92 (17.1 rating)[16]
8th September 19, 1991 April 30, 1992 1991–1992 #18[17] 13.81 (16.13 rating)[17]

Reruns/syndicationEdit

Carsey-Werner Distribution handles domestic and international distribution of the series, and has done so since 1997. In the United States, The Cosby Show began its television syndication run in September 1988 in broadcast syndication, shortly before the show's fifth season premiere, and was at the time distributed by Viacom; many stations that carried the series were Big Three network affiliates, though since the mid-1990s, the show has largely begun airing on independent stations and minor network affiliates.

Dallas-based KTVT (now a CBS owned-and-operated station), carried the series during the early 1990s, until that station dropped its status as an independent station and regional cable superstation in 1995. TBS, then a national cable superstation at the time it debuted on the channel, began carrying the series in 1999 and ran it for almost a decade. Fellow superstation WGN America began carrying the series shortly after, and continued to until September 2010. Nick at Nite began airing reruns of the series in March 2002. Sister network TV Land began airing reruns in 2004, however unlike most series that have aired on sister channel Nick at Nite before moving to TV Land in the past and since then, up until September 2010, The Cosby Show was carried on both Nick at Nite and TV Land.

As of September 27, 2010, Centric airs the series. Malaysia's national TV broadcast channel RTM TV2 also airs the series as does Canada's Crossroads Television System. In 2011, Netflix added the entire series to instant stream, and in 2012 the series was removed.

Spin-offEdit

Main article: A Different World (TV series)The Cosby Show's producers created a spin-off series called A Different World that was built around the "Denise" character (portrayed by actress Lisa Bonet), the second of the Huxtables' four daughters. Initially, the new program dealt with Denise's life at Hillman College, the fictional historically black college from which her father, mother, and paternal grandfather had graduated. Denise was written out of A Different World after its inaugural season, due to Bonet's pregnancy, and the following season was revamped, with the addition of director Debbie Allen and new characters. Denise later became a recurring character on The Cosby Show for seasons four and five, and a regular again in seasons six and seven.

Awards, nominations and honorsEdit

Awards wonEdit

Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Comedy Series (1985)
  • Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (1984) Michael J. Leeson and Ed. Weinberger

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best TV Series—Comedy (1985)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series—Comedy Bill Cosby (1985–86) 2 wins

NAACP Image Awards

  • Outstanding Comedy Series (1988)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Bill Cosby (1989, 1993) 2 wins
  • Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Phylicia Rashād (1988, 1989) 2 wins

People's Choice Awards

  • Favorite New TV Comedy Program (1985)
  • Favorite TV Comedy Program (1985–1989) 5 wins
  • Favorite TV Comedy Series (1990, 1992) 2 wins
  • All-Time Favorite TV Program (1989)
  • Favorite Male Program in a New TV Program Bill Cosby (1985)
  • Favorite Female Program in a New TV Program Phylicia Rashād (1985)
  • Favorite Male TV Performer Bill Cosby (1986–1992) 7 wins
  • Favorite Female TV Performer Phylicia Rashād (1989)
  • Favorite All-Around Male Entertainer Bill Cosby (1986–1988, 1990–1991) 5 wins
  • Favorite All-Around Male Star Bill Cosby (1989)
  • Favorite Young TV Performer Keshia Knight Pulliam (1988)

Awards nominatedEdit

Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Comedy Series (1986–87) 2 nominations
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Phylicia Rashād (1985–86) 2 nominations
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Lisa Bonet (1986)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Keshia Knight Pulliam (1986)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Malcolm-Jamal Warner (1986)

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best TV Series-Comedy (1986–87) 2 nominations
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series-Comedy Bill Cosby (1987)

HonorsEdit

  • In 1997, TV Guide ranked the episode "Happy Anniversary" #54 on their list of the 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[18]
  • In 1999, Entertainment Weekly placed The Cosby Show's debut at #24 in its list of the "100 Greatest Moments in Television".[19]
  • In 2002, TV Guide placed The Cosby Show at #28 in its list of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.[20]
  • In 2004 TV Guide ranked Cliff Huxtable number 1 on its 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time list.[21]
  • In 2007, Time magazine placed the show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".[22]
  • In 2007, USA Today's web site ranked the show as #8 in its list of the "top 25 TV moments of the past quarter century".[23]
  • In 2008, in the 1000th issue of Entertainment Weekly, Cliff Huxtable was selected as the Dad for "The Perfect TV Family."[24]
  • Bravo ranked Cliff Huxtable #44 on its list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.[25]

AlbumsEdit

Two albums were produced that included various theme and background music from the show. The albums were presented by longtime Cosby collaborator Stu Gardner. They were:

  • A House Full of Love: Music from The Cosby Show (1986)
  • Total Happiness (Music from the Bill Cosby Show, Vol. II) (1987)

DVD releasesEdit

All eight seasons of The Cosby Show have been released on DVD in Region 1. Seasons one and two were released by UrbanWorks which was subsequently acquired by First Look Studios, who then released the remaining six seasons. Seasons one and two contain special features including a 90-minute retrospective documentary entitled "The Cosby Show: A Look Back" which aired on NBC in 2002. It contains interviews with cast members, bloopers, deleted scenes and audition footage. In 2010, First Look Studios filed bankruptcy and all its assets were subsequently acquired by Millennium Entertainment who also took over distribution of The Cosby Show DVD releases.

In Region 4, Magna Pacific has released all eight seasons on DVD in Australia and New Zealand. The first two seasons have similar artwork to the North American copies, although season two is red rather than blue. Each Australasian cover also features the tagline "In a house full of love, there is always room for more".

Universal Pictures UK has released seasons 1–4 in Region 2 (UK).

DVD title Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season 1 24 August 2, 2005[26] May 19, 2008 October 4, 2006[27]
Season 2 25 March 7, 2006[28] Aug 25, 2008 February 7, 2007[29]
Season 3 25 June 5, 2007[30] Oct 13, 2008 April 4, 2007[31]
Season 4 24 June 5, 2007[32] Feb 9, 2009 November 7, 2007[33]
Season 5 25 November 6, 2007[34] March 5, 2008[35]
Season 6 25 November 6, 2007[36] July 9, 2008[26]
Season 7 26 April 8, 2008[37] January 13, 2010[38]
Season 8 24 April 8, 2008[39] January 13, 2010[40]
25th Anniversary
Commemorative Edition
197 November 11, 2008[41]

Note: The Region 1 release of season one contains the edited versions of the episodes aired in syndication. However, all subsequent DVD releases (including the complete series set) contain the original, uncut broadcast versions. It is unknown if season one will be re-released with the original uncut episodes. The complete series set has been discontinued due to complaints about the packaging.[citation needed]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Cosby Show: TV Guide News". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  2. ^ "The Cosby Show's Last Laugh". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. Time, Inc.. May 1, 1992. Retrieved 2007-10-28. "The show that changed forever the way black families are portrayed on television, the show that paved the way for a rainbow of African-American sensibilities on TV from In Living Color to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is getting razzed these days by The Simpsons,"
  3. ^ "Cosby's Last 'Show'". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. Time, Inc.. May 3, 1996. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  4. ^ "TV Show Buildings At A Glance". Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  5. ^ Bay Weekly: This Weeks Feature Stories, accessed April 20, 2010[dead link]
  6. ^ "The Cosby Show: 1984–1992". People. June 26, 2000. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  7. ^ CHRONICLE - BILL COSBY has stopped using a mural designed for the opening credits of The Cosby Show. By Susan Heller Anderson Published: October 18, 1990, The New York Times
  8. ^ "TV's Black World Turns—But Stays Unreal". The New York Times. November 12, 1989. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  9. ^ "Classic TV & Movie Hits - The Cosby Show". Classictvhits.com. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
  10. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1984–1985". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  11. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1985–1986". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  12. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1986–1987". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  13. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1986–1987". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  14. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1988–1989". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  15. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1987–1988". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  16. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1990–1991". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  17. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1991–1992". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 02-12-2010.
  18. ^ "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28–July 4). 1997.
  19. ^ "The Top 100 Moments In Television". Entertainment Weekly. February 19, 1999. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
  20. ^ "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". CBS News. April 26, 2002. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  21. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 536. ISBN 0-7607-1.
  22. ^ "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time magazine. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  23. ^ "Did you see that?". USATODAY.com. May 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  24. ^ "TV: Breaking Down the List," Entertainment Weekly," #999/1000 June 27 & July 4, 2008, 56.
  25. ^ "The 100 Greatest TV Characters". Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  26. ^ a b The Cosby Show – Season 1
  27. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 1
  28. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 2
  29. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 2
  30. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 3
  31. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 3
  32. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 4
  33. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 4
  34. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 5
  35. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 5
  36. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 6
  37. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 7
  38. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 6
  39. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 8
  40. ^ The Cosby Show – Season 8
  41. ^ "First Look Provides More Info About Complete Series, Including Extended List of Extras". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2008-08-12.

External linksEdit

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