Seventy years ago, on Monday morning, May 21, 1951, cameras rolled on Stage 1 at Hal Roach Studios on what would ultimately become one of the most iconic television shows of all time: The Abbott and Costello Show.
Exactly 70 years later, Bob Furmanek, TCA Television Corp., and the Lou Costello Estate have announced that they will restore and preserve the classic series from the original 35mm camera negatives for Blu-ray release.
There are 26 episodes of 35mm picture and track elements in Season One, totaling nearly 120,000 feet of film. Needless to say, this is a very laborious and expensive project.
You can help preserve this beloved series and get it released on Blu-ray. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to secure enough pre-orders – approximately 624 units – to ensure break-even. Pre-order now, and the restored Season One Blu-ray will be in your hands by December 2021. What a great holiday gift!
Fans have enjoyed The Abbott and Costello Show on TV and DVD for decades, but never in crystal clear, 4K resolution. Furmanek was responsible for the initial restoration of the series back in the 1980s. He rescued many of the original 35mm camera negatives (some were nearly destroyed) and supervised the transfer of fine grain prints onto analogue one-inch tape. That was state-of-the-art technology some 40 years ago, but woefully dated today. Every version of the series that you have seen up to now was sourced from those transfers. (In 2010, a distributor re-released these same transfers on DVD, artificially sharpened them, and claimed that they were “Restored and Re-Mastered.” That was pure marketing hype.)
Furmanek has assembled the same creative team responsible for last year’s critically acclaimed 4K restoration of Africa Screams. (They are currently working on Jack and the Beanstalk as well.) Jack Theakston is Producer and Thad Komorowski/Cineaste Restoration is doing digital image clean-up. Greg Kintz will handle audio restoration and ClassicFlix will be distributing the Blu-ray and DVD.
See for yourself what a difference this long-overdue, definitive restoration will make. Here is a segment scanned from the original camera negative. Please note that this is a work-in-progress and additional digital clean-up will be performed.
There is one aspect of this release which is out of their control. Due to licensing restrictions, this campaign is restricted to the United States only and the Blu-ray will be locked to Region A. However, this definitive set will eventually be offered online through various retailers—but well after being shipped to backers of the campaign.
Whether you pre-order the Blu-ray or DVD, there are two terrific add-ons to help the team reach their goal as quickly as possible.
For an additional $50 on top of your pledge, you’ll receive a 35mm frame of safety film showing Bud and Lou in their apartment. For an extra $125.00, you will get an original 78 rpm record of Bud and Lou’s legendary “Who’s on First” routine. This incredible artifact was a special souvenir given to guests at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York on May 29, 1956 when this classic routine was added to the museum.
Once the pre-order goal of $31,200 is reached, two exciting stretch goals are ready to go. They include a commentary track and some remarkable audio rarities from the TV series which have never been heard before!
If this campaign is successful, a complete 4K restoration of Season Two is waiting in the wings. Please help spread the word about this project.