The Cosby Show—Season 1

cosby show season 1 dvd cover review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good quality family sitcom

Takes a few episodes to get the swing, Cosby's personal actions have tainted show's legacy

cosby show season 1 title card review episode guide

Would you like a Jell-o Pudding Pop?

Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) is a proud father of five children.  He and his wife Clair (Phylicia Rashad) try to raise their children Sondra (Sabrina Le Beauf), Denise (Lisa Bonet), Theo (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe), and Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam) right.  Growing up in New York City, the Huxtables are also find their way through the daily challenges of life together.

The Cosby Show—Season 1 aired from September 20, 1984 to May 9, 1985.  The series was met with critical acclaim and huge ratings.  Revelations of sexual assault claims against Bill Cosby did lead to some channels pulling the series from reruns beginning in 2014.  The season won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series (“The Younger Woman”), and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (“Pilot”) with nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Rashad), Outstanding Live and Tape Sound Mixing and Sound Effects for a Series (“Presentation” and “Goodbye Mr. Fish”), Outstanding Technical Directing/Electronic Camerawork/Video Control for a Series (“Presentation”), and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (“Goodbye Mr. Fish”).

cosby show season 1 gordon gartrelle shirt theo malcolm jamal warner

One of the all time great TV sitcom episodes…Gordon Gartrelle

I was already indoctrinated to Bill Cosby when The Cosby Show came on.  Bill Cosby was the guy from Fat Albert and from Captain Kangaroo, so as a kid I wanted to watch the new show.  The Cosby Show became the definition of appointment television in our house.  We watched it every Thursday and it was only challenged for me when The Simpsons went head-to-head with it in 1990.  The Cosby Show was everywhere and reran often…having not seen it for years, it feels familiar and comforting.

The series was pretty innovative simply because it took an African-American family and didn’t really make it about race.  The Huxtables were like a lot of other well-off TV families that never seemed to have to deal with bills and financial struggles.  There were some complaints that it wasn’t realistic, but it also wasn’t realistic for the other TV families in the same boat.

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Got to admit that Dizzy Gillespie always kind of freaked me out when he do the cheeks thing

The Huxtables were very accessible.  They had a wide spread of children that everyone could identify with and their problems seemed like problems everyone had.  This allowed a bigger audience range and gave the show the ability to present an African-American family that wasn’t like a show like Good Times.  The goal seemed to be a role model but also lessons in acceptance.

The first season is a bit rocky like many TV sitcoms.  The show started out with only four kids and references only having four kids.  I always imagine Sondra not being added until season 2 but she is first mentioned in the sixth episode “Breaking with Tradition” which also sets up Hillman for A Different World.  The characters and cast are kind of finding their groove and aren’t as developed as later seasons.  The season also features guest appearances by Kadeem Hardison (who later appeared on A Different World), Dizzy Gillespie, Iman, Tony Orlando (in a backdoor pilot episode about a rec center), Angela Bassett, Kristoff St. John, Lena Horne, and blink-and-you’d miss them appearances by Blair Underwood (as one of Denise’s friends in “Jitterbug Break”) and a young Alicia Keys (as a friend of Rudy in “Slumber Party”).

cosby show season 1 episode 22 slumber party alicia keys bill cosby

Alicia Keys might have won the bucking bronco, but Peter won our hearts…

The show is also very typical sitcom.  I always had felt a tie to the house since we had the same Chicken poster in our kitchen from before the series started.  The shooting and the style of the show is done in the typical model and the show is sometimes credited for reviving the lagging sitcom at the time.  The Huxtable house is meant to be in Brooklyn, but the outside façade is actually in Greenwich Village…it also kind of frustrates me because the interior of the house doesn’t really match the exterior of the house as it is presented (there are side windows when the brownstone shares sides with the neighboring house).

The Cosby Show—Season 1 is still a nice family comedy with good, believable characters (in particular the kids).  Unfortunately through his off screen actions, Bill Cosby has tainted this show.  It becomes the debate of separating an artist from his art, but when the artist puts his name on the show, that separation becomes harder.  Cosby also made a habit of being really critical of other shows and parents who weren’t teaching their children the correct social skills while not practicing it himself.  Watching The Cosby Show would probably be difficult if you didn’t grow up with it and maybe even impossible, but even watching it again as someone who did grow up with the Huxtables, it still provides a challenge.

The Cosby Show—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

cosby show season 1 episode 1 pilot malcolm jamal warner monopoly


1.1       Pilot Airdate:  09/20/84

Theo (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) brings home a bad report card and Clair (Phylicia Rashad) taxes Cliff (Bill Cosby) with talking to him about it.  When Theo reveals he has a plan for his future, Cliff sets him straight.

cosby show season 1 episode 2 goodbye mr fish lamont funeral cast

“Goodbye, Mr. Fish”

1.2       Goodbye Mr. Fish Airdate:  09/27/84

Lamont the Goldfish is dead…and Cliff must explain it to Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam).  Demanding a burial, the Huxtables must have a ceremony for Lamont.

cosby show season 1 episode 3 bad dreams tempestt bledsoe phylicia rashad

“Bad Dreams”

1.3       Bad Dreams Airdate:  10/04/84

Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe) wants to see Death Track 2000 despite her fear of scary movies.  When she goes to see the movie anyway, Clair and Cliff find they have a new person sleeping in their bed.

cosby show season 1 episode 4 is that my boy football uniform

“Is That My Boy”

1.4       Is That My Boy? Airdate:  10/11/84

Cliff finds his dreams have come true when Theo comes home to reveal that he’s on the football team…but Cliff is about to get a reality check when he takes Theo out to practice.  Rudy finds no one seems to pay attention to her, and Clair must prove it isn’t true.

cosby show season 1 episode 5 a shirt story gordon gartrelle theo malcolm jamal warner

“A Shirt Story”

1.5       A Shirt Story Airdate:  10/18/84

Theo is going out on a date and promised his girlfriend Christine (Sonia Bailey) that he’s going to wear a Gordon Gartrelle.  When Cliff and Clair learn the price of the shirt, Theo must improvise, and an offer by Denise (Lisa Bonet) to make a duplicate shirt might be his only chance.

cosby show season 1 episode 6 breaking with tradition denise russell earle hyman lisa bonet

“Breaking with Tradition”

1.6       Breaking with Tradition Airdate:  10/25/84

Cliff’s father Russell (Earle Hyman) comes to visit and tries to promote Hillman College as the future destination of Denise.

cosby show season 1 episode 7 one more time phylicia rashad baby

“One More Time”

1.7       One More Time Airdate:  11/01/84

When Clair babysits for a baby, she contemplates having another child…much to the dismay of Cliff and the children.

cosby show season 1 episode 8 play it again vanessa tempest bledsoe clarinette

“Play It Again, Vanessa”

1.8       Play It Again, Vanessa Airdate:  11/08/84

Vanessa’s studying of the clarinet isn’t going well.  With an upcoming recital, she’s considering quitting, but Cliff and Clair won’t let that happen even if it means bringing in her teacher (Dizzy Gillespie) for extra lessons.

cosby show season 1 episode 9 how ugly is he denise boyfriend kristoff st john lisa bonet

“How Ugly Is He?”

1.9       How Ugly Is He? Airdate:  11/15/84

Denise has a new boyfriend named David James (Kristoff St. John), and the family wants Cliff to be nice to him unlike the previous boyfriends.  When David comes for dinner, it might not only be Cliff who struggles to accept David.

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“Bonjour, Sandra”

1.10     Bonjour, Sondra Airdate:  11/22/84

Sondra (Sabrina Le Beauf) is back from Princeton for Thanksgiving and she has a request…she wants to spend the summer in Paris with her friends.  Theo hopes to get his chance to carve the turkey.

cosby show season 1 episode 11 youre not a mother night phylicia rashad

“You’re Not a Mother Night”

1.11     You’re Not a Mother Night Airdate:  12/06/84

Clair is feeling stressed, and Cliff decides she needs a night out.  With dinner at a nice restaurant and a night at a fancy hotel, Cliff and Clair try to relax.

cosby show season 1 episode 12 rudys sick keishia knight pulliam

“Rudy’s Sick”

1.12     Rudy’s Sick Airdate:  12/13/84

Clair’s big day at the law firm is coming with the potential of becoming a partner.  Unfortunately, Rudy has fallen sick, and it is up to Cliff to watch her.

cosby show season 1 episode 13 fathers day bill cosby gifts

“Father’s Day”

1.13     Father’s Day Airdate:  12/20/84

Cliff is tired of all the bad gifts he receives on Father’s Day, and the children decide to give him a Father’s Day in December.

cosby show season 1 episode 14 independence day theo pierced ear malcolm jamal warner bill cosby

“Independence Day”

1.14     Independence Day Airdate:  01/10/85

Theo has pierced his ear to impress a girl.  When Cliff finds out, he leaves it up to his father Russell and mother Anna (Clarice Taylor) to reprimand him…but the Huxtables are about to learn that foolish attempts to impress girls run in the family.

cosby show season 1 episode 15 physician of the year theo speech malcolm jamal warner

“Physician of the Year”

1.15     Physician of the Year Airdate:  01/17/85

Cliff is being honored by his hospital as Physician of the Year, but when a patient goes into labor, Theo might have to step in for him.

cosby show season 1 episode 16 jitterbug break dancing party

“Jitterbug Break”

1.16     Jitterbug Break Airdate:  01/31/85

Clair and Cliff are set for a night of dancing while Denise hopes to spend the night outside waiting for concert tickets with her friends.

cosby show season 1 episode 17 theo and the joint phylicia rashad

“Theo and the Joint”

1.17     Theo and the Joint Airdate:  02/07/85

Clair discovers a joint in Theo’s geography book.  After denying it is his, Theo decides he still has to clear his name.

cosby show season 1 episode 18 vanessas new class science fair tempestt bledsoe

“Vanessa’s New Class”

1.18     Vanessa’s New Class Airdate:  02/14/85

Vanessa working on a science project for her new advanced class, but Denise warns her that she’s going to have to work harder than before.  When Vanessa finds everyone else’s project is better, she questions her own judgment.  A broken dishwasher turns Cliff into a repair man.

cosby show season 1 episode 19 clairs case phylicia rashad

“Clair’s Case”

1.19     Clair’s Case Airdate:  02/21/85

Sondra is suing a mechanic that she accuses of ruining her car, and Clair steps in to take the case when the other lawyer drops out.  Cliff’s cooking puts everyone on edge.

cosby show season 1 episode 20 back to the track jack running episode

“Back to the Track, Jack”

1.20     Back to the Track, Jack Airdate:  02/28/85

Cliff’s former Hillman track coach Ernie Scott (Al Freeman Jr.) has come to Cliff with a challenge.  Hillman’s track team is going to a rematch relay with their rival, and Cliff is getting his change to avenge himself against Colonel Sanford B. “Tailwind” Turner (Joshua Culbreath)…unfortunately, Cliff isn’t in his college shape.

cosby show season 1 episode 21 the younger woman robert king terry farrell

“The Younger Woman”

1.21     The Younger Woman Airdate:  03/14/85

Cliff and Clair’s widowed friend (Robert King) is getting back into the dating game but brings over a much younger woman (Terry Farrell) leading Cliff and Clair to debate what they would do if either one of them passed away.

cosby show season 1 episode 22 slumber party cast alicia keys review episode guide

“Slumber Party”

1.22     Slumber Party Airdate:  03/28/85

Rudy is feeling left out, and Cliff agrees to let Rudy host a slumber party…but he might regret it.

cosby show season 1 episode 23 mr quiet tony orlando ada maris

“Mr. Quiet”

1.23     Mr. Quiet Airdate:  05/02/85

Cliff, Clair, and Theo visit the local rec center and learn that Tony Castillo (Tony Orlando) and his girlfriend Selena Cruz (Ada Maris) are trying to get a quiet new boy (Alexis Cruz) to talk to them.

cosby show season 1 episode 24 cliffs birthday lena horne

“Cliff’s Birthday”

1.24     Cliff’s Birthday Airdate:  05/09/85

It is Cliff’s birthday, and Cliff is determined to find out what his surprise is.  Clair doesn’t intend to let that happen and goes about giving him the best 48th birthday she can.

Related Links:

The Cosby Show—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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