Those of us who spent entirely too much time listening to Bill Cosby records during our youth can't help but have a lingering affection for Cosby himself and for characters he created — perhaps most famously Fat Albert.
But Albert proved more than a piece of one of Cosby's monologues. He became the center of a series that not only brought an ensemble of black kids to Saturday morning but did so in a way that respected the characters, embraced all kinds of diversity — and made the experiences of a bunch of urban kids into something recognizable and appealing to the children watching in all manner of homes across America.
If you think I overstate, check out the 110 episodes on Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Complete Series. There have been previous sets of episodes, but this 15-disc set includes Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972-76), The New Fat Albert Show (1979-80) and The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1984-85). That's a lot of learning from one another while we do our thing.
Learning was a major part of the show, not only in the humorous adventures of Albert, Rudy, Weird Harold and other characters, but in live-action segments in which Cosby himself offered commentary on the events, guiding the littlest viewers toward a message.
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All in all, it was a sweet show — and one carefully thought out. In addition to a booklet, the set includes a 40-minute making-of presentation from 2012 with Cosby explaining in detail the development of the show and the individual characters.
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Complete Series retails for $119.99.
These DVDs were also released this week:
Films: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone; The Call; No; Phantom; A Place at the Table (doc umentary); Into the White; As Luck Would Have It (2011, Spain); Crawlspace; Black Pond; Cody the Robosapien; In the Family; The Rambler; Venus and Vegas; Lord of Darkness (aka Sawney: Flesh of Man); Beauty and the Least (aka Ben Banks); Babar Adventure Pack.
TV series: CSI: NY — The Final Season; Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis 6; MADtv: Season Three (1997-98); Jack Taylor, Set 1 (U.S. debut of British series starring Iain Glen); New Tricks, Season 9 (U.S. debut of British series starring Amanda Redman); Honest (U.S. debut of British series); Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: The Complete Second Season; The Garfield Show: Pizza Dreams; Beck: Volume 7 Episodes 19-21 and Volume 8 Episodes 22-24 (2006-07).
THE WASHINGTON POST