When I was a kid, I must have played Bill Cosby's Revenge album about a million times. Ditto to Himself, which is comprised of seven ingenious tracks I can just about recite word for word to this day ("It was because of my father that from the ages of 7 to 15, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ. And my brother, Russell, thought that his name was Dammit"). I tell you this to clarify up front that I have a major soft spot in my heart for Bill Cosby and I think he's one of history's all-time greatest comedians ... but I have grave doubts about his new NBC sitcom.
The Cosby Show pretty much rebooted the genre back in the mid-'80s, and who among us doesn't have fond memories of the Huxtable family? But it's been a long time -- three decades! -- since Bill Cosby dominated the sitcom scene, and I'm just not sure sentimentality is enough to make this new show a hit.
NBC has announced that Bill Cosby will likely be returning to prime time next fall in a new family comedy. The as-yet-unnamed show sounds like it will include some mighty familiar elements: Cosby will play the patriarch of a multigenerational family, and the focus will be on his marriage and parenting views.
Cosby has apparently been working on returning to TV for a while now. In November, he told Yahoo he was interested in creating another family-friendly show:
I want to be able to deliver a wonderful show to [a] network because there is a viewership out there that wants to see comedy, and warmth, and love, and surprise, and cleverness, without going into the party attitude. They would like to see a married couple that acts like they love each other, warts and all, children who respect the parenting, and the comedy of people who make mistakes. Warmth and forgiveness. So I hope to get that opportunity, and I will deliver the best of Cosby, and that will be a series, I assume, that we could get enough people week after week after week to tune in to, to come along with us.
I can think of a million reasons why we'd WANT a new Cosby Show. It was a legitimately funny, heartwarming, uncontroversial series that paved the way for black sitcoms on major networks (which have since largely disappeared), and of course Cosby's parenting riffs are even more hilarious now that those of us who watched his show in the '80s have kids of our own.
But Cosby is 76 years old now, and I'm not sure the seemingly inevitable wacky-grandpa bit is going to be the ratings goldmine NBC is hoping for. The man is a comedic legend, but as Michael J. Fox's show has proven, putting a beloved star into an anemic series is just kind of a depressing move for everyone.
Then again, Bill Cosby is the man who once changed a generation of TV stereotypes, so perhaps he'll be the one who will represent older Americans as something other than bad-driving, outdated-view-having, cantankerous, forgetful coots. Fingers crossed he can bring some of that Cosby magic to a unique, original sitcom -- one that doesn't prioritize nostalgia over quality.
What do you think about a new Bill Cosby sitcom? Will you give it a chance?
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