According to TV Guide, the show "was TV's biggest hit in the 1980s, and almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre and NBC's ratings fortunes". Originally, the show had been pitched to ABC, which rejected it. Entertainment Weekly stated that The Cosby Show helped to make possible a larger variety of shows based on African Americans, from In Living Color to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The Cosby Show was also one of the first successful sitcoms based on the subject matter of a standup comedian’s act, blazing a trail for other such successful programs as Roseanne, Home Improvement, The Drew Carey Show, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond. The Cosby Show along with All in the Family are the only two American programs that have been #1 in the Nielsen Ratings for five consecutive seasons. The show spawned the successful spin-off A Different World.
Cosby had an unusually high level of creative control over the show. He wanted the program to be educational, reflecting his own background in education. He also insisted that the program be taped in New York City rather than Los Angeles, where most television programs were taped.
Although the cast and characters were predominantly African-American, the program was unusual in that issues of race were rarely mentioned when compared to other situation comedies of the time, such as The Jeffersons. However, The Cosby Show had African-American themes, such as civil rights marches, and it frequently promoted African-American and African culture represented by artists and musicians such as Jacob Lawrence, Miles Davis, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington and Miriam Makeba.
In the pilot, the Huxtables have only four children. Following the pilot, the Huxtables have five children, with the addition of their eldest daughter, Sondra (Sabrina Le Beauf). Sondra was created when Bill Cosby wanted the show to express the accomplishment of successfully raising a child (e.g.- a college graduate). Whitney Houston was considered for the role of Sondra Huxtable. Sabrina LeBeauf almost missed out on the role because she is only 10 years younger (b. 1958) than Phylicia Rashād (b. 1948), who played her mother, Clair Huxtable, on the show.
Bill Cosby's character is called "Clifford" in the pilot (as also evidenced by his name plate on the exterior of the Huxtable home). His name was later switched to "Heathcliff". Additionally, Vanessa refers to Theo as "Teddy" twice in the dining room scene.
The interior of the Huxtables' home features an entirely different living room from subsequent episodes, and different color schemes in the dining room and the master bedroom. Throughout the remainder of the series, the dining room is reserved for more formal occasions.
Furthermore, it is implied that Cosby's screen wife Clair is more of a housewife in the pilot, rather than the lawyer she came to be known as.
The show's theme music, "Kiss Me", was composed by Stu Gardner and Bill Cosby. Seven versions of this theme were used during the run of the series, making it one of the few television series to use multiple versions of the same theme song over the course of a series.
Season seven's opening credits were originally those that were ultimately used in season eight. Due to legal complications regarding the background mural, season seven's opening was changed to the previous season's opening. The original season seven opening, with modifications, was used in the eighth and final season.
To open the first part of the series' final episode (which was a two parter), an entirely new song was used as background music, while the credits were a combination of the openings from previous seasons (excluding season one's opening).
These were the ratings for each season, according to ClassicTVHits.com at the end of the season, were:
|1989-1990||#1 (tied with Roseanne)|
Magna Pacific has released seasons one through four of The Cosby Show on DVD in Australia and New Zealand, with similar artwork to the North American copies, although season two is red rather than blue. Each Australasian cover also features the tagline "In a house full of love, there is always room for more".
The Season 1 only contains the edited versions of the episodes aired in syndication. However, all subsequent DVD releases contain the original, uncut broadcast versions.
|DVD Title||Ep #||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Season 1||24||August 22005||May 192008||October 42006|
|Season 2||25||March 72006||February 72007|
|Season 3||25||June 52007||April 42007|
|Season 4||24||June 52007||November 72007|
|Season 5||25||November 62007||March 52008|
|Season 6||25||November 62007|
|Season 7||26||April 82008|
|Season 8||24||April 82008|
|The Complete Series||201||November 112008|