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Case Number 20253: Small Claims Court

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The Addams Family: The Complete Animated Series

Warner Bros. // 1973 // 480 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // December 5th, 2010

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All Rise...

Go ahead and speak French to Judge Patrick Naugle. It drives him wild!

The Charge

They're creepy, they're kooky, they're animated!

The Case

Are you ready to take a wacky trip with The Addams Family? Come along with wildly eccentric patriarch Gomez Addams (Lennie Weinrib), his pale wife Morticia (Janet Waldo), creepy Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), rotund son Pugsley (Jodie Foster), wispy daughter Wednesday (Cindy Henderson), ancient Grand Mama and butler/driver Lurch (Ted Cassidy) as they solve crimes, enter contests and find out what America really means to them (not really).

The following episodes are included in this complete animated series:

• "Left in a Lurch"
• "Boola Boola"
• "The Fastest Creepy Camper in the West"
• "The Mardi Gras Story"
• "Follow That Loaf of Bread"
• "Aloha, Hoolamagoola"
• "The Reluctant Astronaut's Trip to the Moon"
• "The Great Balloon Race"
• "Ghost Town"
• "The Circus Story"
• "The Addams Family at Sea"
• "The Voodoo Story"
• "The Roller Derby Story"
• "The Addams Family Goes West"
• "The Addams Family at the Kentucky Derby"

This animated version of Charles Addams' amusing cartoon series "The Addams Family" aired (presumably) on Saturday mornings from 1973-1975 following the popularity of the original live action television show. The animated series featured voice talent from the original show (the late Ted Cassidy and Jackie Coogan) and future Oscar winner Jodie Foster in the role of Pugsley Addams. Because the makers had most likely felt they'd exhausted all existing ideas of the Addams family in their home, The Addams Family: The Animated Series took them out of their dank dwellings and put them on the street so they could mingle with the locals and fall into wacky misadventures. However, since their car is essentially their house (complete with its own rainstorm and circling buzzards), the filmmakers were able to keep the kookiness of their mansion in tact while giving them free reign in America. Man-eating plants, crazy inventions and terrifying monsters still exist (like their pet octopus who apparently never needs water), but for the sake of the series it's now all portable.

Unfortunately, this now 35+ year old animated television series has not held up well over the ensuing years. Hanna-Barbera was never known for high quality TV (really, if you get right down to it shows like Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and The Flintstones are remembered fondly as childhood nostalgia, not as a great works of art). The Addams Family: The Complete Animated Series is filled with arcane references that will baffle children (at one point Jimmy Carter and Truman Capote are mentioned in the same breath) and stories that'll bore most adults. Many of the plot lines often deal often with two criminal masterminds (usually a tall smart one and a short dumb one) and the Addams efforts to foil their plot (sometimes without knowing they're doing so). Or the Addams family enters a cooking contest—and the HI-larious way that they bake a cake. Or they go visit the wild west. Every episode kind of just blends one into the other without much originality. No matter where they're off to, the adventures are usually bland, far fetched (rocket ships and outer space?) and utterly silly…and I don't mean that as a compliment.

Even worse is the animation which ends up being as stiff as a board. It's as if the creators took some old kids toy Shrinky Dinks, colored them, broke 'em in pieces and threw them on an animation cell. I'm exaggerating, of course, but only slightly—the animation is nearly that choppy and creaky. Characters generally stand in one place and speak, then the scene cuts to two characters running with dust clouds behind them (looped, natch), and then back to the other characters talking again. Or it may be the Addams Family's car driving down the road while voices are heard over the scene for what seems like an eternity, assumingly to save on animation costs. This makes for some extremely repetitive sequences and dull dialogue.

The voice talent here is uniformly poor. The actor playing Gomez Addams is absolutely grating—his voice is squeaky, whiney and sounds like Eugene Levy doing a bad Eugene Levy impersonation. Jackie Coogan—who was great as the original Uncle Fester in the black and white live action show—is somehow different here (his voice sounds exhausted and uninspired). The most interesting thing to listen for is Jodie Foster as Pugsley, though her screen time is rather limited. Only Ted Cassidy sounds good as Lurch, but much like Pugsley his moments are few and far between. Add to this one of the worst canned laughter tracks in the history of television—it's hard to imagine normal people laughing at anything onscreen, much less to the degree of this laugh track—and you've got yourself an early 1970s turkey.

Considering there are two very good Addams Family movies to check out (1991's The Addams Family and the even better sequel, Addams Family Values), there isn't much of a need to pick this set up outside of wanting to either complete your collection or relive your childhood. But as I've learned many times over, often what plays so well in your youthful memory ends up being a disappointment as an adult. If you have found memories of this show as a kid, do yourself a favor and keep it that way by skipping this set altogether.

Each episode is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. I don't have a lot of praise for the show, but considering its low quality and limited appeal (hardcore collectors and nostalgia buffs), Warner has done a nice job on this transfers. They are mostly free of any dirt, blemishes or markings and the colors—while slightly faded—look good.

The sound mix is presented in a wholly uninspired Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono mix. Not surprisingly, all you get is clear dialogue, corny laugh tracks and goofy music that is clearly heard and little else. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this set.

Warner has included on supplemental features to this disc (hey, all things considered feel lucky you've even gotten this series on DVD). As a note, this is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release and available exclusively through Warner's online store (although Amazon.com has it listed on their website).

The Verdict

The Addams Family: The Complete Animated Series is Hanna-Barbara at their most grating. This four disc set is really only for Addams collectors only.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 480 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Animation
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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