The Addams Family

The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters in Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons.  The 30-minute series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons on ABC from September 18th, 1964, to April 8th, 1966, for a total of 64 episodes.

It is often compared to its CBS rival, The Munsters, which ran for the same two seasons and achieved somewhat higher Nielsen ratings.  The show is the first adaptation of the Addams family characters to feature The Addams Family Theme.  The Addams Family was originally produced by Filmways, Inc. at General Service Studios in Hollywood, California.
The Addamses are a close-knit extended family with decidedly macabre interests.  They are humans with supernatural abilities.  No explanation for their powers is explicitly given in the series.
The very wealthy, endlessly enthusiastic Gomez Addams (John Astin) is madly in love with his refined wife, the former Morticia Frump (Carolyn Jones).  Along with their daughter Wednesday (Lisa Loring), their son Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax), Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), and Grandmama (Blossom Rock), they reside at 0001 Cemetery Lane in an ornate, gloomy, Second Empire-style mansion, attended by their servants: Lurch (Ted Cassidy), the towering butler, and Thing (billed as “itself” but played by Cassidy and occasionally by Jack Voglin), a disembodied hand that usually appears out of a small wooden box.  Occasionally, episodes would feature relatives or other members of their weird subculture, such as Cousin Itt (Felix Silla) or Morticia’s older sister, Ophelia (also played by Carolyn Jones).
Much of the humor derives from their culture clash with the rest of the world.  They invariably treat normal visitors with great warmth and courtesy, even though their guests often have evil intentions.  They are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their good-natured and normal behavior since they are under the impression that their tastes are shared by most of society.  Accordingly they view “conventional” tastes with generally tolerant suspicion.  For example, Fester once cites a neighboring family’s meticulously maintained petunia patches as evidence that they are “nothing but riff-raff.”  A recurring theme in the epilogue of many episodes was the Addamses getting an update on the most recent visitor to their home, either via something in the newspaper or a phone call.  Invariably, as a result of their visit to the Addamses, the visitor would be institutionalized, change professions, move out of the country, or have some other negative life-changing event.  The Addamses would always misinterpret the update and see it as good news for that most recent visitor.
The tone was set by series producer Nat Perrin who was a close friend of Groucho Marx and writer of several Marx Brothers films.  Perrin created story ideas, directed one episode, and rewrote every script.  Much of the dialog is his (albeit uncredited).  As a result, Gomez, with his sardonic remarks, backwards logic, and ever-present cigar (pulled from his breast pocket already lit), is often compared to Groucho Marx.  The series often employed the same type of zany satire and screwball humor seen in the Marx Brothers films.  It lampooned politics (“Gomez, The Politician” and “Gomez, The People’s Choice”), the legal system (“The Addams Family in Court”), Beatlemania (“Lurch, The Teenage Idol”), and Hollywood (“My Fair Cousin Itt”).
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