The Addams Family vs. the Forces of Blandness
Based on a New Yorker cartoon strip by Charles Addams, The Addams Family aired from 1964 to 1966 and told the story of an eccentric, macabre family with a zeal for life and the conventional society that found them strange, terrifying, and dangerous...in a lighthearted, set-up-and-punchline sort of way.
Sure, the pacing is a bit stilted, like all shows of that era, and sometimes they lean a bit too hard on their gags instead of subtly selling the jokes, but the charm of the show survives much more intact than many of its contemporaries. After all, you can’t fault it for being dated. With The Addams Family, "The world’s not like that anymore," is a completely irrelevant criticism because the world was never like what it was inside the Addams house...and more’s the pity. Could somebody who is 80 and British let me know if I used that phrase correctly?
Of course, just about everything we find bad and worth avoiding about life, they find good and embrace it, but that’s not because they're contrarian. It’s because they find more good in more things, like children…with the exception of blandness, that is (also like children). They hate that. Among those exquisite pleasures are, strangely enough, kindness and compassion. Sure, they might try to skewer you with a sword or feed you to a carnivorous plant, but it’s because they think you’ll derive as much pleasure from it as they do. And at the very least it will fight off the blandness for you.
As to the characters, while they all bring something to the Addams family dinner table, and as much as I like the dish best served cold who is Morticia and the perennial agony and befuddlement of Lurch, Gomez Addams carries this show on his pin-striped back.
It surprised me at first that something so entrenched in popular culture as The Addams Family only ran for two seasons (64 half-hour episodes). But then I remembered that like every other entertainment property, it has been recycled over and over, in this case into three movies, two cartoons series, a second television series, and, most recently, a Broadway play. I regularly make fun of professional sports as a hamster wheel, recycling the same stuff every season, but I guess we can do the same thing with our stories.
But two seasons means two Halloween episodes. And what could be more in the Halloween spirit than spending the holiday with the Addams.
The first Halloween episode, Halloween with the Addams Family, guest stars Don Rickles as one-half of a pair of thieves. As funny as that guy is, he will always be the violently ashing vampire from Innocent Blood to me. Please go watch that scene. The plot involves a pair of thieves who must decide between having to face the frying pan of the cops or the fire of the well-meaning Addams family.
Highlights include when Gomez discovers a ton of cash in what he assumes to be their trick-or-treat bag, and he embarrassedly puts the apples he was going to give them away and grabs handfuls of cash from his desk drawer to add to their trick-or-treat loot. Also, his response to the police who tell him that they’re on a manhunt: “It’s a nice night for it."
The second Halloween episode, Halloween, Addams Style, starts off by audaciously recycling the pumpkin carving scene footage from the first Halloween episode, but then moves to its own storyline about trying to find a witch after Wednesday comes home distraught from trick-or-treating after hearing that witches don’t exist.
So even though it’s always well-worth it to watch the original Addams Family series, there’s no real bonus for timing their Halloween episodes for Halloween. The possible exception to this might be the full-color Halloween special that the cast reunited for in 1977. However, I’m not sure about this because it’s only on YouTube and my computer isn’t in front of my couch and doesn’t have a screen of at least 48”…a prerequisite for me for watching movies. The rumors of our advancement as a species have been greatly exaggerated.