The Abbott and Costello Show
|The Abbott and Costello Show|
Title from the series.
|Directed by||Jean Yarbrough
Joe Besser (1952-53)
Hillary Brooke (1952-53)
Joe Kirk (1952-53)
|Theme music composer||Mahlon Merrick|
|Opening theme||"Toy Soldiers" (1953-54)|
|Composer(s)||Raoul Kraushaar (1952-53)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||52 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Pat Costello|
|Running time||25 min.|
|Production company(s)||T.C.A. Productions, Inc.|
|Distributor||MCA TV (original)
Alan Enterprises (1975-1982)
The Program Exchange (1982-present)
|Original run||December 1, 1952– May 1, 1954|
The series is regarded among the most influential comedy programs in history. In 1998 Entertainment Weekly praised the series as one of the "100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time". In 2007, Time magazine selected it for its "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME."
The show was a vehicle to bring the duo's tried and true burlesque routines to television in a format that the team could control. It contained none of the musical interludes or love stories that marked most of their feature films. Basically, if a situation or gag was funny, the team filmed it with little regard to plot, character or continuity. As a result, the show became a record of classic burlesque scenes performed by the duo.
Abbott and Costello portrayed unemployed actors sharing an apartment in a rooming house in Hollywood. The supporting cast included Sidney Fields as their landlord; Hillary Brooke as a neighbor and sometime love interest; Gordon Jones as Mike the Cop, a dimwitted foil for the boys; Joe Besser as Stinky, a "little boy" dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, played by the clearly adult Besser; and Joe Kirk (Costello's brother-in-law) as Mr. Bacciagalupe, an Italian immigrant caricature who held a variety of jobs depending upon the requirements of the script. Bobby Barber and Joan Shawlee also appeared frequently. Several episodes featured a pet female chimp named "Bingo", who was dressed exactly the same as Costello. Bingo was fired from the show after biting Costello. Brooke, Besser, and Kirk also left the cast after the first season.
Lou Costello owned the show with Bud Abbott working on salary. The show was not a network program when first introduced but was sold into syndication by MCA Inc. to about 40 local stations across the country. As a result, it was broadcast on different days and at different times in different cities. In New York, it first appeared on the CBS affiliate, WCBS, on December 5, 1952 but was not carried nationally on that network. (The 1953-54 season was telecast locally on WNBT, as NBC's New York flagship station was then known). However, first season episodes were repeated as part of CBS' Saturday morning schedule during the 1954-55 season.
This sitcom had a larger viewership in reruns from the late 1960s to the 1990s.
The program lasted two seasons (52 episodes) and was directed and produced by Jean Yarbrough (Costello's brother, Pat, was listed as the producer, but his function was nominal). Most of the scripts for the first season were written by Sid Fields after Eddie Forman wrote the early establishing episodes. Episodes in the second season were written by Jack Townley, Felix Adler or Clyde Bruckman.
The first season was filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City. The 14.5-acre (59,000 m2) studio, once known as "The Lot of Fun," was torn down in 1963 and replaced by "Landmark Street," an area of light industrial buildings, businesses and an automobile dealership, where a plaque marks the studio's former location. The second season was shot at Motion Picture Center Studios (today Red Studios Hollywood). The comedy team had recently made Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) there. Soon after, the studio became Desilu-Cahuenga Studios. I Love Lucy and the Danny Thomas and Jack Benny shows were also filmed there.
- Season One: September 5, 2006
- Season Two: October 3, 2006
- The Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete Series, Collector's Edition: March 30, 2010.
Jerry Seinfeld has declared that The Abbott and Costello Show, with its overriding emphasis upon funny situations rather than life lessons, was the inspiration for his own long-running sitcom, Seinfeld.