Abbott and Costello Show, The: Season 1 (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jan 06, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Abbott and Costello Show, The: Season 1 (Blu-ray Review)


Jean Yarbrough

Release Date(s)

1952-1953 (December 14, 2021)


  • Film/Program Grade: A
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A-

The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 1 (Blu-ray Disc)

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After a successful career in radio and ruling the film comedy roost throughout the 1940s, Abbott and Costello came to television with their own program, The Abbott and Costello Show. Skipping the common variety hour format, they instead used the show as a way of showcasing new and classic bits with occasional guest stars. Simple situations like going to the dentist, getting a job, or going on safari were punctuated by their brand of classic comedy. The show ran in syndication for two seasons, starting on October 7, 1951 and ending sometime in 1953, becoming one of the most well-loved and influential comedy TV shows of all time.

Though the show has been available for years in re-runs and even on home video, high quality presentations of The Abbott and Costello Show haven’t been made available before. Bob Furmanek, owner and operator at 3-D Film Archive, found the original camera negatives for the show in the 1980s while working for Jerry Lewis and later becoming the official Abbott and Costello archivist, which he discusses in detail in the accompanying featurette on this release. Most of those elements were thought to be lost or destroyed, and until now, were not able to be restored.

The first season of The Abbott and Costello Show was shot by director of photography George Robinson on 35mm film. The show was later printed onto 35mm fine grain masters, which were sourced for television and home video distribution copies, but the original camera negatives have never been viewed by the general public. Bob Furmanek and the restoration team at 3-D Film Archive (with the support of The Library of Congress, TCA Television Corp, and the Lou Costello Estate) have scanned 120,000 feet of film—nearly 175 reels of film elements—with additional frame-by-frame digital clean-up to remove dirt and damage. Fortunately, only four reels had either severely deteriorated or are currently lost. For those, a new scan of the 35 mm fine grain positive had to be substituted (Episode 9, Reel 3—deteriorated; Episode 14, Reels 1 and 3—deteriorated; and Episode 16, Reel 1—lost). A constant 4K workflow was maintained during this process, and now all 26 episodes of the first season of the show can be viewed in full 1080p.

The results are splendid, to say the least. Clarity has improved ten-fold as there’s so much more fine detail visible in the frame than has ever been seen in broadcasts or on DVD. Grain is evenly-handled, true to its source without seeming heavy or noisy. Gradations in the black and white cinematography are nearly perfect with lovely, deep blacks and excellent shadow detail, as well as solid grays and whites, the latter never appearing blown out. You’d also be hard-pressed to spot the lower quality reels as they blend into the rest of the presentation perfectly. The image is stable and clean with stunning levels of clarity. The only faults, which are inherent to the source, are scene transitions and the show's use of stock footage. Regardless, it has never looked better.

Audio is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with no subtitle options. The audio has been restored from the original 35mm push-pull track negatives, which was a process that produced very high quality audio. This means that with the proper restoration tools, the sound quality of the show could be better than anything that has ever been heard before. (It's worth noting that Reel 1 on Episodes 4 and 16 were sourced from the 35mm fine grain as the push-pull negative for those reels are gone.) The other exciting aspect of this release is that audio has been found for certain episodes without the laughter. Since the show was filmed on a soundstage and was later screened for an audience, the laugh track was recorded and mixed onto the final audio. The restoration team has managed to find and include two full episodes and six partial episodes without it in 2.0 Dolby Digital. Of course, these tracks are optional on their accompanying episodes. The final audience track is the main option for each and every episode. The sound quality is beyond anything heard prior. It’s clean with great fidelity, a surprising amount of low end, and plenty of push for the music and sound effects. Dialogue exchanges are also clear and perfectly discernible. It’s just as impressive as its video counterpart.

The following is a list of episodes and extras per disc, all of which are in HD:


1. Drugstore (26:09)
2. Dentist (26:10)
3. Jail (26:08)
4. Vacation (26:11)
5. Lou’s Birthday Party (26:07)
6. Alaska (26:19)
7. Vacuum Cleaner Salesman (26:12)
8. Army (25:47)
9. Pots and Pans (25:56)

  • Audio Commentary on Vacation by Gerry Orlando
  • Audio Commentary on Lou's Birthday Party by Lou Sabini
  • Audio Commentary on Alaska by Ray Faiola
  • Credits (1:58)


10. Charity Bazaar (26:09)
11. The Western (26:12)
12. Haunted House (26:12)
13. Peace and Quiet (26:20)
14. Hungry (25:48)
15. Music Lover (26:05)
16. Politician (26:12)
17. Wrestling (26:05)
18. Getting a Job (26:09)

  • Audio Commentary on The Western by Toby Roan
  • Audio Commentary on Haunted House by Paul Castiglia
  • Audio Commentary on Hungry by Ron Palumbo
  • Audio Commentary on Music Lover by Stu Fink
  • Audio Commentary on Getting a Job by Gilbert Gottfried and Frank Santopadre
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Politician
  • Full or Audience Laugh Track on Wrestling
  • With or Without Audience Laugh Track on Getting a Job
  • Credits (1:58)


19. Chimpanzee (26:03)
20. Hillary's Birthday (25:23)
21. Television Show (26:09)
22. Las Vegas (25:53)
23. Little Old Lady (26:03)
24. Actors' Home (26:05)
25. Police Rookie (26:09)
26. Safari (26:04)

  • Audio Commentary on Television Show by Jim Mulholland
  • Audio Commentary on Actor's Home by Lou Antonicello, Shane Fleming, Bob Greenberg, Jack Theakston, and Michael Townsend Wright
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Chimpanzee
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Hillary's Birthday
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Las Vegas
  • Full or Partial Audience Laugh Track on Safari
  • With or Without Audience Laugh Track on Television Show
  • Alternate Middle Curtain Segment from Hillary’s Birthday (2:13)
  • Saving the Negatives (4:55)
  • Africa Screams Trailer (2:23)
  • A Night in Casablanca Trailer (2:18)
  • The Little Rascals, Vol. 1 Trailer (2:45)
  • The Little Rascals, Vol. 2Lovesick Trailer (2:33)
  • The Little Rascals, Vol. 2Stymie Shines Trailer (2:04)
  • The Noose Hangs High Trailer (2:11)
  • Zenobia Trailer (3:52)
  • Credits (1:58)

All ten audio commentaries are excellent, as is the featurette Saving the Negatives, which features Bob Furmanek himself explaining the fascinating history of how the original camera negatives for the show were located. The Alternate Middle Curtain Segment is a version of a scene that was present during the show’s home video and syndication afterlife when it was accidentally used by a distributor instead of the version that actually aired. It runs about 46 seconds longer and features more lead-in to talk about Hillary’s birthday party and Bud and Lou’s landlord. The trailers on Disc 3 are for other ClassicFlix Blu-ray releases, including Africa Screams and The Noose Hangs High, both Abbott and Costello films. The Credits found on each disc feature credits for the crew of the show, as well as the restoration team and other contributors. The discs are housed in a clear amaray case with double-sided artwork, featuring new artwork by Stewart McKissick on the front, and a set of episode summaries on the reverse.

The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 1 is a monumental release for fans of the boys themselves and for comedy in general. The quality of the video and audio is staggering, making it one of the best home video releases of 2021. Highly recommended (and bring on Season 2)!

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)



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