Opening theme "Hikky Burr"
Country of origin United States
Theme song Hikky Burr
Starring Bill Cosby
Composer(s) Quincy Jones
First episode date 14 September 1969
|Created by Ed Weinberger
Theme music composer Quincy Jones Bill Cosby
Cast Bill Cosby, Joyce Bulifant, Lillian Randolph, Beah Richards, Lee Weaver
The Bill Cosby Show is an American sitcom that aired for two seasons on NBC's Sunday night schedule from 1969 until 1971, under the sponsorship of Procter & Gamble. There were 52 episodes made in the series. It marked Bill Cosby's first solo foray in television, after his co-starring role with Robert Culp in I Spy. The series also marked the first time an African American starred in his or her own eponymous comedy series.
In this droll, light-hearted sitcom, Cosby played the role of Chet Kincaid, a physical education teacher at a Los Angeles high school, a bachelor, and an average cool guy trying to earn a living and help people out along the way.
The show ran for two seasons, 52 episodes in all. While only a modest critical success, The Bill Cosby Show was a ratings hit, finishing eleventh in its first season.
With the high school as the setting of most episodes, storylines comprise: life lessons, students and fellow teachers, family drama, a coach's purview, and a few challenging forays as a substitute teacher of algebra or English. Cosby was lauded for using some previously unknown African-American performers such as Lillian Randolph (as Kincaid's mother) and Rex Ingram. Well known guest stars appear as well, including Henry Fonda and veteran comedians Mantan Moreland and Moms Mabley as Kincaid's married—and feuding—uncle and aunt.
The show's horn-centric and funky theme song, "Hikky Burr", was written by Cosby and Quincy Jones, with Cosby providing the vocals. A new version of the theme was recorded for the second season.
Notably, the show did not use a laugh track; in that regard it was unique among half-hour situation comedies at the time. According to commentary on the show's Season 1 DVD, Cosby and NBC were at odds over his refusal to include a laugh track in the show. Cosby felt that viewers were intelligent enough to find the humor themselves, without being prompted. While a few comedy-dramas already aired without laugh tracks, few sitcoms went without and those that did had studio audiences. The handful of no-laugh-track, no-studio-audience, non-drama sitcoms prior to this included The Trouble with Father and The Beulah Show.
In 1984, Cosby returned to NBC with a similarly named sitcom titled The Cosby Show. The popularity of that sitcom led to reruns of this one being picked up on the CBN Cable Network.
In 2013, reruns of this series began being broadcast on the ASPIRE Television Network and Soul of the South Network. In 2015, both networks ceased airing the series following accusations of sexual assaults made against Cosby.
Shout! Factory has released both seasons of The Bill Cosby Show on DVD in Region 1.
Mill Creek Entertainment released a 10 episode best-of set entitled The Bill Cosby Show- The Best of Season 1 on March 22, 2011.
♦ - Shout! Factory select title, sold exclusively through Shout's online store