Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Abbott and Costello Show – Who’s on First? DVD Review

There have been many comedy teams throughout the years such as Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges, but one of the biggest acts was Abbott and Costello.  The combination of the straight man schemer (Abbott) and the man perpetually in trouble (Costello) was a winning combination and led to their great success. 

Film (4 out of 5 stars)

From their most start in burlesque and vaudeville, to radio, Broadway, and eventually movies, Abbott and Costello steadily increased their popularity with funny skits like “Who’s on First,” which they later incorporated into their movies and their TV show.  This disc offers a collection of their famous skits from their television show and have been restored and remastered to look and sound as good as new.

The episodes seem to span a wide gap of time as Abbott’s looks change with some episodes showing him with a mustache and others clean-shaven, so it looks like these episodes were culled from the two seasons of the show to offer the most popular ones to the audience. The The Abbott and Costello Show: Who’s on First? DVD includes six episodes:
  • “The Dentist’s Office”
  • “The Birthday Party”
  • “The Charity Bazaar”
  • “Hungry”
  • “The Music Lovers”
  • “The Actor’s Home”
These episodes include some of their most famous routines such as “Who’s on First?”, “The Lemon Pit,” “Alexander 4444,” “The Piano Bit (Alright!)” and many more.  In fact, the “Who’s on First” routine on this disc is considerably longer than their earlier versions so it might surprise longtime fans.  The duo had the routine down so well that they could tailor it’s length by the requested time.  For example, if they needed to only do four minutes worth, they could edit the routine on the fly and do the shortened version in exactly four minutes.

With a talented supporting cast such as Sydney Fields as their grumpy landlord, Hillary Brooke as their beautiful and  occasional love interest for Lou, Mike Kelly as the policeman who has it in for Lou,  Joe Besser as “Stinky” Davis  as the overgrown boy, and Joe Kirk as Mr. Bacciagalupe as the neighborhood businessman.  The cast also played other roles on the show too so you might notice them as other characters too.

Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

This black and white 1.33:1 remastered transfer looks great considering the age of these shows.  Contrast is fantastic, and the shows have a nice level of detail that I wasn’t expecting to see.  Black levels are acceptable and this disc offers the best video quality of Abbott and Costello sketches that I’ve seen so far.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars)

The audio for these sketches has also been restored and remastered and it also sounds great for the age of the source material.  Dialogue is clear and while there were a few instances of audio defects, overall this sounded great for a show that aired sixty years ago.

Special Features (0 out of 5 stars)

There are no special features offered.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

These skits still hold up despite being filmed in the 40s and 50s, and they can also be enjoyed by the entire family which is rare these days.  The humor offered by Abbott and Costello is universal and their combination of slapstick, wordplay, and sight gags are still very funny and are so timeless that I’m sure future generations will love them as well.

Order your copy today!

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