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Chet Kincaid, gym teacher at an inner-city Los Angeles high school, deals with students, principal Mr. Langford and counselor Marsha Peterson. He lives with his mother Rose, brother Brian ... See full summary »
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2   1  
1971   1970   1969  
Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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 Chet Kincaid (52 episodes, 1969-1971)
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Storyline

Chet Kincaid, gym teacher at an inner-city Los Angeles high school, deals with students, principal Mr. Langford and counselor Marsha Peterson. He lives with his mother Rose, brother Brian and sister-in-law Verna who focus on his social life. Written by rharlan58

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14 September 1969 (USA)  »

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A Bill Cosby Show  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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1.33 : 1
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Will Geer and Ellen Corby appeared in an episode together a year before they starred together on The Waltons See more »

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Featured in TV in Black: The First Fifty Years (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

An honest attempt at something different
29 June 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Bill Cosby's work has always has always been distinguished by a keen intelligence, in every medium to which he turns his talents. 'The Bill Cosby Show' is one of Coz's less distinguished credits, but it deserves to be better known: this series is a brave attempt at doing something different.

Even the theme tune of this series was unusual and distinctive, featuring a vocal track by Cosby himself making weird scat-like sounds ... of the sort now associated with Michael Winslow in the 'Police Academy' movies.

Although nominally a comedy, 'The Bill Cosby Show' was not a conventional sitcom, and there was only secondary emphasis on humour. (In other words, the show wasn't very funny ... but it wasn't trying to be.) Cosby was more interested in depicting believable characters in plausible situations, addressing genuine issues of the time.

Cosby played Chet Kincaid, the gym teacher at an urban high school. In one episode of this series, Chet had to contend with a teenager on his basketball team who played brilliantly but had a penchant for foul language. Unfortunately, American TV in the late '60s couldn't handle this theme sensibly. Whenever the teenager spoke, the soundtrack made a weird electronic bleeping noise ... leaving the audience to **figure out** that the boy had uttered a cuss word. In another episode, Cosby coached a Little League baseball team that only played on Sundays. His star pitcher was a young Hasidic Jew. When a game was rescheduled for the Saturday, Cosby had to deal with the fact that his pitcher's religious beliefs conflicted with his obligations to his teammates.

Bill Cosby is rightly praised for being one of the few African-American comedians who doesn't do racial material, and the skin colour of the character he played in 'The Bill Cosby Show' was almost totally irrelevant. Almost, but not entirely. In one episode, Chet went for a morning jog but immediately got arrested by a couple of white police officers who claimed that Chet fit the description of a man who had just committed a crime. Race was never mentioned, but it's hard not to think of all the occasions when white police officers have randomly arrested **any** black man who happens to be near a crime scene. I thought that this episode would be going in that direction, but I was surprised: at the end of the episode, when the cops nabbed the real culprit, he looked very similar to Cosby. (This reminded me of Hitchcock's movie 'The Wrong Man', starring Henry Fonda, in which the real criminal looked a lot like Fonda.)

Speaking of Henry Fonda, the best episode of 'The Bill Cosby Show' is a real tour de force, a three-hander starring Cosby, Henry Fonda and Elsa Lanchester, and taking place almost entirely in an elevator. Fonda and Lanchester portrayed, respectively, the maths teacher and the Polish charwoman who get trapped in the school's lift with gym teacher Cosby. They spend most of the episode in the elevator, waiting for help. The fact that Lanchester's character speaks no English makes the situation even more frustrating. In a desperate attempt to pass the time, Cosby teaches Fonda how to play Twenty Questions ... with very funny results.

In another episode, veteran character actor Mantan Moreland guest-stars as Chet's uncle. Moreland was a very talented performer who had to spend much of his career doing stereotypical Negro roles ("Feets, do yo' stuff!") but he's very good here as the uncle of Cosby's character. I'll rate 'The Bill Cosby Show' 7 points out of 10 for its honesty, its intelligence, and its bravery in offering audiences something different. But audiences are more interested in brainless laugh-fests than in intelligent character studies... which is why this series flopped.


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