The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters in Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons in 64 installments on ABC from September 18, 1964 to April 8, 1966. It is often compared to its working-class rival, The Munsters, which ran for the same two seasons and achieved somewhat higher Nielsen Ratings. The show used a laugh track.
It was originally produced by Filmways, Inc. at General Service Studios in Hollywood, California. Successor company MGM Television (via The Program Exchange for broadcast syndication, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for home video/DVD) owns the rights to the show. At one point, distribution rights were licensed to Worldvision Enterprises.
The Addamses are a close-knit extended family with decidedly macabre interests. They all have supernatural abilities, although no rationale for their powers is ever explicitly given.
The very wealthy, endlessly enthusiastic Gomez Addams is madly in love with his refined wife Morticia. Along with their two children, Wednesday and Pugsley, Uncle Fester and Grandmama, they reside in an ornate, gloomy, Second Empire style mansion, attended by their servants, Lurch, the towering butler, and Thing, a hand that usually appears out of a small wooden box. Occasionally, episodes would feature relatives or other members of their weird subculture, such as Cousin Itt or Morticia's older sister, Ophelia.
Much of the humor derives from their "culture clash" with the rest of the world. They invariably treat normal visitors with great warmth and courtesy, even though their guests often have evil intentions. They are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their good-natured, if extremely bizarre behavior, since they are under the impression that their tastes are shared by most of society. Contrarily, they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. For example, Fester once cites a neighboring family's meticulously maintained petunia patches as evidence that they are "nothing but riff-raff."
The tone was set by series producer Nat Perrin, close friend of Groucho Marx and writer of several Marx Brothers films. Perrin created story ideas, directed one episode, and rewrote every script. Much of the dialog is his (albeit uncredited). As a result, Gomez, with his sardonic remarks, backwards logic, and ever-present cigar (pulled from his breast pocket already lit), has been frequently compared to Groucho Marx. In addition, the series often employed the same type of zany satire and screwball humor seen in the Marx Brothers films. It lampooned politics ("Gomez, The Politician" and "Gomez, The People's Choice"), the legal system ("The Addams Family in Court"), Beatlemania ("Lurch, The Teenage Idol"), and Hollywood ("My Fair Cousin Itt").
Created by Charles Addams
Developed by David Levy
Opening theme Vic Mizzy
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 64 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) David Levy
Producer(s) Nat Perrin
Location(s) Hollywood, California
Exeter, New Hampshire
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Filmways
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Original run September 18, 1964 – April 8, 1966