The Abbott and Costello Show (TV Series 1952–1957) Poster

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Genius Surrealism
kurtack12 September 2006
For the love of . . . Cecil! This stream of Burlesque bits, connected by the flimsiest - and surreal-est - of segues is very funny.

Lou does tend to ad-lib, but watch also Abbott. He's hysterical! He was really the best "straight" man. He kept Lou on track. But, he also echoed Lou's actions in the background, as a sort of punctuation.

And, of course, Mr. Fields, with all his relatives.

Hard to pick a favorite bit. "Loafin'"; "Gold Ore"; "Floogle Street"; "Vacation".

Don't forget "Hold That Cuckoo!", the quiz show the boys went on. Lou wins 1,000 pieces of bubblegum. A few days after the show, Abbott says "Are you still chewing that gum?", slaps Lou, the gum falls on the sidewalk in front of Mr. Fields' Rooming House, where a "Mr. Rednose" (Bobby Barber), slips and falls on the gum, gets up claiming he broke his leg,and ends up suing Mr. Fields. They all go to court, where Lou drives the judge crazy. And, "I'm positive!" about that!
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Great fun
Russell Dodd10 August 1999
The first series(with the montage of earlier films in opening credits) was excellent. Very funny and great atmosphere. They hardly made any sense and the scenes with Stinky seemed to be used mostly to pad out the episodes. Most enjoyable.

The second series(Where Costello yells"Heeeeeeey Aaabbooooott!!) concentrated more on plot and the laughter was all from children and was less funny. Only a handful of episodes stood out. Half the cast left after the 1st series and they were sorely missed and Sid Field's character was toned down for some reason.

This nostalgic fun should please the viewer. Always good for laugh. Good fun and good atmosphere.
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The grandfather of modern sitcoms?
frankfob23 June 2002
Sitcoms had been around for a few years when this show premiered, but none of them were anywhere near as funny (Jerry Seinfeld is on record as saying this show was the inspiration for his creating "Seinfeld") as this one. The premise of the show lent itself to Bud & Lou's reprising many of their most famous routines, and it was good to see them back in action. The two of them--especially Costello--seemed to have regained the spark they once had before a string of movie failures and the team's personal and physical problems (Lou's infant son had fallen into their backyard pool and drowned several years previously, a tragedy Lou never got over; Bud--unknown to many at the time--had epilepsy and his seizures were becoming more serious) combined to send their career into a tailspin, and this show was their chance to revive it. Even though Costello was no longer a young man (he was in his mid-50s when the series debuted) he could still take the pratfalls he was famous for, and the team's exquisite sense of timing seemed to have resurfaced (in one episode they did their famous "Lemon" gag that was simply amazing to watch). A first-rate supporting cast and a somewhat more adult atmosphere (Costello had a major--and completely understandable--case of the hots for beautiful Hillary Brooke, and he and Joe Besser's wonderful Stinky had some quite nasty fights) elevated this show beyond just kid's fare.

Although it lasted only two seasons, this is a very fondly remembered show. It holds up well and is just as funny today as it was back when it was first shown.
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All of the greatest Burlesque routines done for the ages
max von meyerling4 August 2004
The raison d'etre of these 52 shows is the desire of Lou Costello to leave behind definitive versions of all of their burlesque and vaudeville routines. Most of these were not original, some having circulated since Plautus. Floogle Street (also known, incorrectly, as the Susquehanna Hat Company), Crazy House,

Niagara Falls (Slowly I Turn) were all such staples that every new burlesque comic was expected to know them in case they were needed to fill in at a moments notice. They were part of the stock repertoire. What Abbott and Costello did was present the absolute perfect version of each bit. It was this absolute perfection which caused them to rise to the very top of burlesque, and to, uniquely, make the transition to the mass medium of films.

They did these bits in their films but they were usually compromised by having plots and sub plots and romance and songs and whatever the studio executives or their agents (actually the same person) thought people who went to the movies wanted. Comparing their late films with the TV series is night and day. They look old and tired and out of shape in the films but crisp and perfectly timed on TV. The big difference with the TV series is that Lou Costello was in complete charge and did things his way. Absolutely the ne plus ultra of the burlesque comic genre, pardon my French.

One day the National Film Registry will have to list the entire series as a national treasure. Lou Costello was right and their act was for the ages and this black and white series preserves it perfectly. Meanwhile watch that bit again where Mr. Bacciagalupe (I still call my greengrocer Mr. Bacciagalupe) convinces Lou that two bananas are really three bananas. Also the routine where Abbott convinces Costello not to let Mike the Cop push them around which keeps getting Lou hit on the head which is so much like modern international politics that it's frightening.

P.S. Doing my Joe Besser ('Stinky') impression got me out of the draft.
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Great TV show.
PWNYCNY16 January 2006
The A & C show is one of the funniest comedy shows in the history of television. All of the skits that made this comedy team American comedy icons are in this series. And what adds to the shenanigans is the cast of those inimical characters that we still talk about - Mike the Cop, Mr. Fields the landlord, Hillary Brooks (Lou adored her. And how could anyone not react with a smile when she would condescendingly refer to Costello as "Louis?"), Mr. Bacigalupe and Lou's "friend" Stinky. Every episode is funny; every character is funny, and this show is proof that humor does not have to be dirty to be funny. Bud Abbott's sneer, Lou's whining, Mike's indignation, all that and more is what is to be found in this treasure chest of comedy, brought to you by one of the greatest comedy teams of all times - Abbott and Costello.
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Perfect showcase for arguably the greatest comic duo ever
george.schmidt5 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I've been a fan of A&C since I was a little kid and they always had me in stitches. Their films were a staple growing up and more importantly shaping my own sense (and appreciation) of humor. The great mix of sharp wit, breakneck slapstick, sight gags, verbal dexterity and the penultimate pairing of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, arguably the greatest comic duo ever, showcases their unique and groundbreaking style of comedy. The fast-talking, smooth, dapper Bud and the constant foil, child-like sucker partner, Lou, always the odd men out, were teamed up from the early days of vaudeville/burlesque and for nearly 20 years kept America (and later the world) in hysterics with their teaming up thru radio, stage, film and finally TV, the new medium, which only lasted 2 seasons (thankfully now available on DVD; after watching them back to back in one successful week it's so easy to recall why I enjoyed them so much; they still have me laughing). The simple 'premise' of A&C as consistently out-of-work entertainers trying to ditch their landlord Sid Fields (who wrote many of the episodes and appeared w/the boys in Mexican HAYRIDE) in the ongoing quest of rent in the cheap apartment building where (at least in the first season) their neighbors consisted of Lou's platonic gal pal, Hillary Brooke, a statuesque blonde; Joe Besser's overgrown Little Lord Fauntleroy manque, Stinky, whose warning of "I'll Harm You!" to Lou in their chronic case of slap-fighting; Gordon Jones as beat cop Mike who never heard of Miranda apparently, causing much violence with Costello, a constant source of annoyance; Joe Kirk - Costello's real-life brother-in-law, as local produce hawker/baker/all- around jack-of-all-trades, Mr. Bacciagalupe; and the diminutive real-life bud of A&C, Bobby Barber, as an all-purpose stooge. The team's regular bits involved many mistaken identities, misunderstood dialogue (plays on words, etc.) and their famous sketches including the immortal "Who's On First?" By all means check them out on video or the next time there's a marathon on cable, tape it; you'll be glad you did.
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Great Show!
Movie Nuttball8 July 2005
When this show was on I watched it every time I could! I thought that the characters were really funny and all had great personalities. The comedy in My opinion was really funny. It was really cool all of the great acts they did. In My opinion these actors are some of the funniest and talented ever seen. In fact, The things that goes on in this series' cartoons are in My opinion nuts which that is what makes them hilarious! There are so many to like and laugh at and the silly things they do! If you like the The Three Stooges and the Abbott and Costello feature films then I strongly recommend that you watch this show today!
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Bud and Lou for the Ages
bkoganbing27 October 2007
The wonderful nonsense that made up the comedy of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello is carefully preserved and is to be treasured in this two season television series which I can remember from my earliest days. It seemed like it was in syndication forever on WPIX TV in New York in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Made those Honeymooner episodes look like nothing.

A careful viewing of all their feature films will find all their famous routines in them at one point. But if you just want to see the boys do their stuff and not have to worry about the plot of some movie, than by all means try to acquire these shows on VHS or DVD.

The plots of these shows are absolutely meaningless. The common thread was the fact that they didn't pay the rent at their rooming-house and as their harassed landlord said on one show, they were going into their second year. Of course the fact that they didn't want to work and when they got jobs, they inevitably blew them up didn't help matters.

The landlord was Sidney Fields who went back in burlesque as long as Abbott and Costello did. Fields had one magnificent temper and when Abbott wasn't abusing his hapless partner, Fields was. He got almost as many laughs as the boys did, in fact they could have been a trio act.

Another tenant at the rooming-house was Gordon Jones, known as Mike the cop, though in one episode it did slip that his last name was Kelly. He also was driven to distraction by Costello's antics. There was the beautiful and ever patient Hillary Brooke who Costello was crushing out on big time. And there was Joe Kirk, in real life Lou's brother-in-law, who was the ever excitable Italian, Mr. Baciagalupe. Kirk was a poor man's Henry Armetta and the boys constantly made him lose his "temperature".

Somewhere on some cable station these shows are still playing, with comedy that is absolutely timeless and will be enjoyed a thousand years from now.

One thing I did wonder when I got older. Why didn't Fields just take Abbott and Costello to Landlord and Tenant Court. He had more than enough grounds.
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One of Television's best comedy classics.
webmaster-136817 May 2006
Abbott and Costello was arguably one of the best comedy teams of all time. The quality of their comedy is timeless. It's something the while family can sit down and enjoy. None of their comedy was ever off color or something anyone would feel embarrassed to watch..

The Abbott and Costello Show is one of Television's best comedy classics. While the basic theme of the show was the same every week (Bud and Lou trying to avoid the landlord, because they can't afford to pay the rent), it highlighted the best of all their movies and vaudeville acts. All of shows were filmed in black and white but still enjoyable today.

I just purchased the full 52 episode set. As I have the time I hope to review each episode. The following is a full list of all of the shows 52 episode titles which ran from 1952-1953: The Drug Store, The Dentists Office, Jail, The Vacation Louis Birthday Party, Alaska, The Vacuum Cleaner Salesman, The Army Story, Pots And Pans, The Charity Bazaar, The Western Story, The Haunted House, Peace And Quiet, Hungry, The Music Lover, The Politician, The Wrestling Star, Getting A Job, Bingo The Chimp, Hillary's Birthday, The Television Show, Las Vegas, Little Old Lady, The Actor's Home, Police Rookies, Safari, The Paper Hanger, Uncle Bozzos Visit, In Society, Life Insurance, Pest Exterminators, Killer Wife, Cheap Skates, South Of Dixie, From Bed To Worse, $1000 TV Prize, Amnesia, Efficiency Experts, Car Trouble, Wife Wanted, Uncle From New Jersey, Private Eye, The Tax Return, Public Enemies, Bank Hold Up, Well Oiled, The Pigeon, Honey Moon House, Fencing Master, Beauty Conteststory, Fall Guy, Barber Lou.
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Classically Funny Stuff !!!
degecko1329 August 2006
I must rebuff the previous comments made in the Feb 04 and Feb 06 reviews. First off, the individual who thought this was poorly written and predictable is entitled to his opinion, regardless of how unfounded it may be. But to call this classic comedy duo boring is grossly unfair. A comedic legend that inspired Jerry Seinfeld? What credentials are you going by? That person writes--"How about a joke"...the joke is on you!! This is sketch comedy at its finest!! I can't see how anyone cannot find humor and at least one good laugh in Costello's birthday skit between Lou and Mr. Fields. How Fields turns Costello's every word against him is just grand farce!! Or when Lou walks the old lady across the street. To see that old lady bonk Lou over the head, breaking her cane not once but twice is priceless. Throw in Mike the Cop several times in the same routine and you have a surefire recipe for laughter. And how one can overlook the banter between Lou and Stinky is beyond me, those two provide the show with many of its finest moments.

And for the reviewer who thought Joe Besser's "Stinky" character brought the series down, come on!!! Stinky's interactions with Costello are hilarious. To see the two of them beat upon each other, interjecting witty comments along the way-"I'll harm you" (from the Susquehanna Hat Company routine) is riotous.

It seems that no matter how wonderful a performer is, how universally recognized, a forum such as this is always bound to bring out the few dodos who have to go against the grain... Give these two comedy giants their complete due and give them a break!!!
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Classic and timeless American sitcom; great for laughs!
opsbooks24 May 2004
Having not seen the A&C show for 40 years I recently picked up the 'Best of' DVD and was suitably amazed at just how good the boys were early on. LOU'S BIRTHDAY is a masterpiece of comic timing, brilliantly directed and edited. Here is the genesis of 'Seinfeld' and 'Who loves Raymond'. GETTING A JOB consists of an extended version of the Susquehanna hat routine and is as insane as any Marx Bros scene. The pace and action is non-stop.

The ensemble gathered together for the original series worked like a finely tuned race car; fast and furious! Mike the cop and Fields in his many guises are worth a laugh a minute. In UNCLE BOZZO I found myself laughing non-stop as the three of them (the boys with Lou's newly arrived uncle) did the old double bed routine. An oldie, but never done better than here.

Finally in STOLEN SKATES we have Bingo the Chimp. Normally I hate chimps in movies and even did as a kid (well, except in 'Bomba' movies!) but here the director makes full use of the ape's talents. The entire street is brought into the act as every cast member magically acquires roller skates. Then it's on for young and old.

Given the choice of 10 DVDs to take to a desert island, I'd have no trouble in including this one. Brilliant!
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First Season was Great Second Not so Good
hfan775 August 2009
I remember watching the reruns of the Abbott and Costello Show in the 70s and i thought Bud and Lou were so funny in the sitcom environment. They were even funnier in burlesque and in more than 30 films. The first season to me was the best of the bunch since it incorporated their famous routines such as "Who's on First", "Sandwich", "Floogle Street" and "Slowly I Turned." Also contributing to the mayhem were Sid Fields as their irritated landlord, Hilary Brooke as herself, Gordon Jones as Mike the Cop, Joe Besser as Stinky and in several episodes before he was fired for biting Lou, Bingo the Chimp. Also, Fields wrote several episodes.

As for the second season, the switch in direction to more meaningful stories took a lot away from the manic premise from the first season. It seemed that the duo was running out of material. Those episodes weren't as good and that's what led to the end of a sitcom that had a lot of potential but still lived on for years in reruns. It was one of the most popular shows to be rerun on WPIX-TV in New York, which ran for years on the station along with The Honeymooners.

If you've never seen Abbott and Costello's routines, watch the first season. Don't bother with the second.
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Abbott and Costello Show... Funniest show ever.
Joevegany3 May 2002
I remember watching these shows at a very young age, and laughing until I felt my side would split. These are certainly the best programs ever to ride the airwaves! Collect the tapes and let your childern enjoy this trully," Good, clean, fun."
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Classic television that never gets outdated
KMM26 April 2002
When I heard this was originally coming out on DVD I knew it was going to be added to my collection. This show has a lot of nostalgia for me. I have been watching it in syndication since the 1970's. Abbott and Costello had some funny movies but it was this TV show that really left me in stitches. Yes, many of their routines were taken from their movies and from other comedy acts (Niagara Falls, for ex., was seen in a 3 Stooges short), but their timing and a great supporting cast, that included Sidney Fields as their landlord, Gordon Jump as Mike the Cop, Joe Besser as Stinky and Hilliary Brooke, made this a fun filled 30 minutes of television that I never get tired of watching.

These 2 comic greats shine with episodes that included their famous "Who's On First?" routine, and one of my favorites where Costello runs for mayor. Abbott explains that Costello is a combination of both a Democrat and a Republican, and someone in the audience yells out: "He sure is. He eats like an elephant and thinks like a jackass!!" Classic television. Costello was a true comic genius and this show was a great platform for letting him display his great timing for physical slapstick and funny dialogue. Thanks to the creators and writers for giving us this classic TV show. It will be a favorite of mine for the rest of my life.
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Sublime Television. This is the Shakespeare of Television Vaudeville
jayraskin116 September 2012
In the 1950's and 1960's, I believe these were run for an hour in the morning on WPIX in New York. This means I would watch ten episodes a week and after five weeks and one day, I saw every episode. Being born in 1953, I probably saw every episode ten times by the time I was five years old. I continued to watch them whenever I was home from school - sick, on holidays and during the Summer. I probably saw every episode 30-40 times by the time I was ten.

In 2012, I bought the complete set DVD. Watching most of them for the first time in fifty years, I was amazed. They are as fantastically funny as they were back then for me. The only difference is that now I can appreciate the true brilliance of Lou Costello. This is the height of vaudeville comedy, an art-form developed and practiced from the 1860's to the 1940's in the United States. It was fast and witty and filled with slapstick kicks, slaps, punches and falls.

Many films of the 1930's and 1940's was filled with this kind of material as was many television variety shows of the 1950's. The Three Stooges were perhaps the purest expression of it in movies, but Danny Kaye, Bob Hope and many others also put it in their movies.

We get much of it in many Abbott and Costello films too, but it is generally mixed with songs, romance and many other plot elements. In the television series, the vaudeville elements dominate. We get about 20 minutes of straight vaudeville routines in many of the shows.

Lou Costello produced the series, while Bud Abbott was just a hired hand on it. So the series really showcases Costello. Yet, he generally shows off all the other performers wonderfully. There are a half dozen other brilliant comedians like Sid Fields, Joe Besser, Joan Shawlee, Joe Kirk, Gordon Jones, and Hilary Brooke who are given a chance to shine. Even the chimpanzee, Bingo, the chimp, may be the funniest animal performer ever on television.

The show creates a warm and beautiful world, where eccentricity is the norm. It is a place where violence is silly, not painful. The normality of this world breaks up swiftly into the absurd almost every minute.

The only sad thing about this series is that there are only 52 episodes.
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ctomvelu18 September 2009
The beauty of the A&C Show was that it gave the classic comedy duo a chance to re-enact many of their best routines, most of which dated back to the days of burlesque. They brought these routines to a whole new generation and preserved them for posterity. The framing device of the show -- A&C as out-of-work actors, with a testy landlord, a slow-witted cop, Lou's buxom blonde gal pal and several others -- kept the show from being just one old routine after another. It was simply amazing. While the duo's best movies were their earlier ones (with the exception of 1948's "Frankenstein"), this 1950s TV show showed that they still had it. Interestingly enough, in keepijg with the burlesque +nature of their TV act, Lou dressed like a baggy-pants comedian of old with a silly bowler hat precariously perched on his head, which was completely unlike any of the suits or other outfits he wore in the movies.
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"Who's On First? Radio, Movies, Network Comedy-Variety or a Silly Little Kiddie Vehicle Like This? Hmmmmmm, Tough Choice!"
redryan6425 August 2007
When our household became truly aware of this ABBOTT & COSTELLO SHOW it was already in reruns. As kids, we didn't like or perhaps we really didn't understand a lot of what was being presented.

What I mean is in one episode that would feature Sid Fields(a cast regular as A & C's Landlord)in another role. It would be explained away as being "Mr. Fields brother". When cast regular,Gordon Jones (Mike the Cop) showed up as another, different antagonist to the Boys, no explanation was offered.

At the early age of about 5 to teen years, we enjoyed the Abbott & Costello gags and interplay, but resented such previously mentioned explanations. One should never underestimate the sensibilities of a kiddie audience. It was truly years later that we understood and appreciated the series for what it was.

What we really had was a thin set of circumstances that existed if for no other reason, so that we have a reason for Buid & Lou to get into a situation and hence having an opportunity to do some of their routines. And the routines that the did were mostly standards, done by not only A&C, but also by a large number of others in Vaudaville or Burlesque. Bud & Lou committed them to a film record and hence to virtual immortality.

In addition, Abbott & Costello had been top Radio Stars with their own , very popular series in the 1940's. A lot of what we know as commonplace A&C lore came from the Radio programs. For one thing Lou learned to try to kept his voice a little higher, so as to be more distinguishable from straight man Bud's. He also invented a kid character, Sebastian(named for Costello's own Father). It was for this "baby" character that Lou developed the now famous tag line, "I'M A BAD BOY!"

There is another contribution of this short little B & W filmed series. In addition to tapping such old stage Comedians' talent and material, like as Joe Besser (neighbor "Stinky" a man-child in Buster Brown type clothes)and the master, Sid Fields' writing and performing. That is that the show employed comedy veterans from the silent days. Writing and Direction was in the hands of Felix Adler,. Clyde Bruckman(Buster Keaton long time Collaborator)and Jack Townley. They even had former Laurel & Hardy foil, Charlie Hall appear as a worker on a roof.

Bud & Lou were well known to the public from their Films and Radio Show; but also from frequent TV appearances as rotating guest hosts on NBC's COLGATE COMEDY HOUR. But in the final analysis, this little, corny filmed series, aimed at the juvenile trade, may well have revealed much that wasn't apparent in these other venues of performance.

It's hard to believe that anyone could get through a review without mention of Miss Hillary Brooke, a lovely long-haired, glamorous and even sexy Actress of the B Film category. Miss Brooke was in evidence in so many Films of the '40's, but never seemed to crack the big time.In spite of such feminine pulchritude, the air of "class" in speech and lovely mannerisms, the Actress is probably best remembered for her roles like femme fatal in the A&C feature, Africa SCREAMS, the A&C SHOW and as 'Roberta', a co-star on MY LITTLE MARGIE TV Series, along with Gale Storm and Charles Farrell.
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the vaudeville version of Abbott and Costello in a sitcom
MartinHafer7 February 2006
This is a show that I definitely enjoyed much more as a child than as an adult. As a kid, I loved seeing re-runs of the show and thought it was terribly funny. However, one of the reasons I now avoid the show because I just don't feel that nostalgic about it or have a desire to see it again. So for me, this is definitely NOT a timeless series but it isn't as horrible as the one reviewer stated. Instead, I see it as more of a historical record of the type of humor that Abbott and Costello did on Vaudeville combined with a sitcom format. The results are often very familiar, as they reprise many of their famous bits. If you haven't seen them before, give them a try. If you have, you may feel very bored by the "same old same old". BUT for me, the biggest problem with the series and the major reason I just can't watch it today really is Joe Besser. He plays probably one of the most annoying characters in the history of television and I think he was one of the most unfunny "comedians" that ever lived. Not only did he make the WORST Stooge (even less funny than Joe DeRita), but he made the A & C Show, at times, horribly annoying. His spoiled little boy act was just grating. So, if the episodes lack him, I score them a 6. With him, -3.
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