1 November 2003 | zensixties
Excellent High Level '60s Satire: (foghorn) "Mail's In..Thank You Thing"
John Astin and Carolyn Jones brought the Charles Addams cartoons to life in this excellent counter-cultural '60s show. They each brought their own qualities to the characters, Astin his Zen Yogi Buddhism and his Shakespeare, Jones, her knitting and great looks. If you pay attention to the dialogue it's subversive on many levels which may be why ABC cancelled it after 2 years of great success.
Carolyn Jones is gothically georgeous with a great sing-songy voice that brings the dialogue to life, and a figure perfect enough to fit into that black widow dress. I always love how she says "Mail's In...Thank You Thing" when the foghorn sounds. Lurch is great when he moans all the time, and Fester with his gun "I'll shoot 'im in the back!".
I think the most poignant episode was when Rocky, a biker beatnik comes and the Addams' accept him as he is and teach his staunch father a lesson. His father tells them, "If there's a kook here, it's probably me". And at the end after everyone says "right", Morticia says, "reet"...a subtle message that she learned to be different from Rocky.
This hinted at the explosion of youth rebellion that was to come...and this series may have precipitated it on some level. The '60s had counter-culture all of a sudden injected into popular culture and it had an impact on the development of the actual counter culture of the late 60s...and even present day the "gothic" look can be traced directly to here.
Another memorable thing is Cousin Itt's tiny room everyone else had to crouch in and they hit their heads on the ceiling (now you know what Being John Malkovich was a rip-off of). And the moonbathing is great. But most important is the sexual chemistry between Morticia and Gomez: "Querida, that's French!" as he kisses his way up her arm. They never fought and prompted a psychologist to comment, "This is the healthiest show on TV". I myself grew up in an abusive disfunctional environment like many Americans, and this show was one of my respites as a kid because I knew Gomez and Morticia would never get mad at me or each other.
This show carried that je-ne-sais-quoi that a lot of '60s culture did, and there's nothing today that even comes close. There were alot of subtle things in the script you had to look for, like when Lurch always has whatever is requested on hand, Gomez' numerous Shakespeare references, and how they have to turn off the cave echo with a switch.
I finally saw the Addams' Family movie and it doesn't measure up to the original in any way. If you've never seen this show, you're in for some first class high level satire and memorable characters. Carolyn Jones' epitaph reads, "She gave joy to the world"...that cannot be denied.