The Addams Family
ABC - Premiered 9-18-64
The Addams Family was a half-hour television show that debuted on ABC for the 1964-65 season. It concerned the misadventures of a family of freaks and horrific misfits; the characters were originally created decades before by cartoonist Charles Addams, for his work in The New Yorker magazine. Like The Munsters, a TV show on a competing network that ran concurrently, TAF's appearance on the Fall schedule was likely the result of the popularity of the classic Universal monster movies and other horrors that were being sold in bundles to local television stations. The mid-60's were going through a phase of Monster Mania, and such shows as TAF appealed to this craze of the young. While the Munsters were fairly obviously influenced by particular monster characters, however, the Addamses - having been created in the 1930's - were just plain weird.
The family patriarch was Gomez Addams, a naive but likeable lawyer (he rarely practiced, and seemed to enjoy losing cases) who enjoyed cigars and blowing up his train sets. His wife Morticia was a vampiric beauty who wore floor-length black dresses and whose idea of beautiful flowers was simply displaying the stems in a vase. Their children were son Pugsley and daughter Wednesday; Pugsley was a genius (though you wouldn't know it to look at him) who enjoyed creating the explosives for his father's ghoulish tableaux; Wednesday played with a doll of Marie Antoinette, whose head she had guillotined herself. Also living in the house were Morticia's bald, goofy Uncle Fester and Gomez's mother, called Grandmama, who resembled a traditional witch hag. Their servants were the Frankenstein-like Lurch, and Thing, a disembodied hand who popped up frequently from conveniently-placed boxes. Also notable in his visits was Cousin It, a being covered entirely in long hair (with hat and tennis shoes) who spoke in gibberish.
As with the Munsters, the Addams family's doings usually revolved around their interactions with the more 'normal' members of their community. With their love of darkness and mayhem, the Addamses could be seen as a sort of anti-establishment organization - much like the communes full of freaks and weirdos who were beginning to gather around that time. Still, for all their outlandish appearance and somewhat skewed values, the Addamses were a happy, loving extended family. Gomez and Morticia were particularly amorous together under certain conditions - usually when she spoke French, which drove her husband mad with desire. Even Pugsley and Wednesday got along and played well together. Gomez, being independently wealthy from an inheritance, often gave large sums to charitable causes. As with The Simpsons and the Conner family from Roseanne several years later, The Addams Family brought a bit of consternation from the family-values crowd of the time - because, even though they were vaguely anti- (or simply non-) Christian, they proved to be a loving, functional family unit.
The Addams Family lasted two seasons, for 64 episodes. An animated version of the family's doings appeared in 1973, with an art style closely resembling Charles Addams's original designs. A TV movie, Halloween With the New Addams Family, was shown on CBS in 1977, with most of the original cast. Then, in 1991, a big-budget feature film was released, which proved to be highly successful; two sequels were made (1993's Addams Family Values