By Dalton Ross
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:39 AM EDT
The Cosby Show
Credit: The Cosby Show:

As a kid, I never missed an episode of The Cosby Show. Then again, I never missed an episode of She’s the Sheriff, so it was with some trepidation that I approached this season 1 set. Was the show as fresh and funny as I remembered, or merely a convenient excuse to ditch homework for 30 minutes? Thankfully, the answer is the former. In fact, save for one episode in which Denise’s friends teach Cliff to break-dance, The Cosby Show remains pretty timeless. Bill Cosby (like Jerry Seinfeld and Ray Romano after him) had a knack for finding humor in everyday oddities, be they either unwanted Father’s Day gifts or dead goldfish. Even the ”very special episodes” (”Theo and the Joint” comes to mind) do not go over the top in their specialness.

But the program was groundbreaking in other ways, portraying two successful African-American characters (he a doctor, she a lawyer) while also paying tribute to black legends (look for guest-starring spots from luminaries like Dizzy Gillespie and Lena Horne). In the 2002 TV special, The Cosby Show…A Look Back (included in this package), such fans as Oprah, Quincy Jones, and P. Diddy — who informs us that ”From a fashion iconic point of view, the Cosby sweaters were definitely the flava” — discuss how the sitcom expanded the perceived definition of what it meant to be black in America. Of course, the retrospective highlights more humor than history, showing outtakes and audition footage, as well as the myriad ways producers concealed Rashad’s pregnancy (they raised the kitchen counter, cut a hole in the mattress, and even had her sit behind a giant teddy bear). At least there’s no hiding the laughs.