|Based on||One Foot in the Grave|
by David Renwick
|Developed by||Dennis Klein|
|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||96 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||Kaufman Astoria Studios|
Astoria, New York, U.S.
|Camera setup||Videotape; Multi-camera|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||September 16, 1996 –|
April 28, 2000
Cosby is an American television sitcom that aired on CBS from September 16, 1996, to April 28, 2000. The program starred Bill Cosby (in his final series) and Phylicia Rashad, who had previously worked together in the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1984–1992). Madeline Kahn portrayed their neighborly friend, Pauline, until her death in 1999. The show was adapted from the British sitcom One Foot in the Grave.
Set at the corner of 33rd Ave and 1539 Blake St. Astoria in Queens, Cosby portrayed grumpy Hilton Lucas, a New York City man forced into early retirement from his job as an airline customer service agent. His wife Ruth was again played by Phylicia Rashad. Initially, Telma Hopkins was cast as Ruth Lucas; however, she was recast after she reacted poorly to Cosby's tendency to ad libitum. The couple had one daughter, Erica Lucas, initially portrayed by Audra McDonald and later portrayed by T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh. Doug E. Doug played Griffin Vesey, a foster son the Lucas family took in when he was younger. Griffin occasionally tried to win Erica's affections, but they decided just to remain friends when in the fourth and final season, Darien Sills-Evans portrayed Darien Evans, Erica's fiancé/husband. Jurnee Smollett also joined the cast as 11-year-old Jurnee, whom Hilton adored.
The show was based on the concept from the BBC series One Foot in the Grave, starring Richard Wilson and Annette Crosbie. David Renwick, the creator and writer of One Foot in the Grave, was listed as a consultant of Cosby. One Foot in the Grave was notable for containing dark humor for a mainstream sitcom. The tone was significantly lightened for Cosby, although certain controversial scenes, such as a scene in which the lead character incinerates a live tortoise, albeit by accident, were recreated (though, in this version, with a turtle).
A notable later episode was the fourth-season premiere, "My Spy", which showed Hilton watching an episode of I Spy (the 1960s series in which Cosby co-starred) and then dreaming an adventure with Robert Culp's character from that series; the episode ends with a brief dream sequence in which Rashad dreams she is playing her previous character from The Cosby Show. The same season also presented an episode entitled "Loving Madeline" which featured the standard opening credits for the series but was in fact a tribute to Kahn featuring the cast members out of character discussing the recently deceased actress, punctuated by clips from past episodes.
Cosby premiered to an audience of more than 24.7 million viewers, but averaged 16 million viewers during the course of the season. As the series progressed, ratings shrank and CBS, fresh with new hit comedies in Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens, decided to move the series from Monday to Wednesday, then to the Friday night death slot. The moves led to a drop in ratings. At the end of the fourth season, having accumulated 96 episodes, Cosby and CBS executive Les Moonves mutually decided to end the series. The last episode, "The Song Remains the Same", aired on April 28, 2000, and was the 96th episode to be produced and broadcast, drawing just over 7 million viewers.
Main article: List of Cosby episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||25||September 16, 1996||May 19, 1997|
|2||24||September 15, 1997||May 18, 1998|
|3||25||September 21, 1998||May 17, 1999|
|4||22||September 29, 1999||April 28, 2000|
Cosby was considered to be a ratings success for CBS, winning its time slot of Monday, 8:00 PM in households and viewers for the first three seasons.
|1||Monday 8:00 pm (September 16, 1996 – May 19, 1997)||25||#21||16.0|
|2||Monday 8:00 pm (September 15, 1997 – May 18, 1998)||24||#28||13.8|
|3||Monday 8:00 pm (September 21, 1998 – May 17, 1999)||25||#35||12.5|
|4||Wednesday 8:00 pm / Friday 8:30 pm (September 29, 1999 – April 28, 2000)||21||#82||8.4|