The Cosby Show ruled Thursday nights for many years on NBC. The first few seasons were quite good before the series jumped the shark with the many cute kids that somehow ended up in the Huxtable residence. Season 3 of The Cosby Show, a 3 DVD 25 episode box set features this situation comedy at the top of its form.

I never quite understood why The Cosby Show was considered groundbreaking (aside from the obvious reason). Perhaps it was because it featured a normal, if American Dream wealthy, supportive family where the family members were there for each other more often than they were fighting and yelling, a nice change perhaps from Roseanne or Married With Children. It also showed “positive family values” and, in the first few years, including season three, did so without being as obviously preachy and didactic as it would be later on.

One of the reasons The Cosby Show was interesting in the early years was Bill Cosby pretty much took center stage and was allowed longer bits of dialogues that were almost stand-up routines such as his plans for his 23rd wedding anniversary in episode 2. This Peace Arch Home Entertainment release of Season 3 features all 25 shows uncut, including the anti-drug public service message before episode 9.

Season 3 features the second time the Huxtables performed a lip-sync routine (in episode 2 Golden Anniversary). Though this got to be more of a gimmick in later years it is still fun to watch here. Of course, The Cosby Show could get quite didactic. I distinctly remember an episode where Cliff Huxtable just happened to turn on the TV when they were replaying a Martin Luther King speech and the family just happened to come into the living room and sat and watched it. Though not particularly subtle with its setup, episode 6 The March manages to tell viewers about the march on Washington without using the sledgehammer the show would drag out in later years. The show does use a sledgehammer in the anti-smoking scene in episode 17. By the way, one of the three expecting mothers in this episode will turn up as the wife on Home Improvement.

I always found Tempestt Bledsoe was underrated and underused in this sitcom. I also always enjoyed Geoffrey Owens as Elvin. There are quite a few good moments in The Cosby Show season 3 where Elvin gets a few relationship lessons from Cosby. Of course, Elvin is a slow learner, but the interaction between him and Cliff is fun to watch.

Episode 9, Denise Gets a D, sets up Lisa Bonet’s sitcom A Different World. There is even a moment when Claire says, “Denise, it’s a different world.” It is an episode many college teachers will wish their students watched. War Stories is also good; the guys play pinochle with a ringer to make Cliff lose and Vanessa has a date with a very eager to please young man named Tyrone who gets a few pointers from Theo.

My favorite episode in The Cosby Show Season three is episode 21 where the family gangs up on Cliff to pull a practical joke on him after Theo’s early efforts fail miserably.

Episode 23 guest stars Robert Culp who was with Bill Cosby in I Spy.

It would have been nice of The Cosby Show Season 3 included extras such as a blooper reel but it doesn’t so there you go.

The Cosby Show Season 3
Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Lisa Bonet, Geoffrey Owens
Originally aired NBC 1986-87
25 Episodes 3 DVDs
Peace Arch Home Entertainment 2007

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