The Ten Best THE ADDAMS FAMILY Episodes of Season Two

Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday… on a Wednesday, where we’re finishing the best of The Addams Family (1964-1966, ABC), which is currently available in full on DVD and Amazon.


The series goes into its final year with both an elevated awareness of its identity as a domestic comedy about a strange family who subverts the genre’s expectations and, thanks to Season One’s success, an enhanced ability to use its characters to satisfy this understanding. Accordingly, despite a high-concept structure that’s premise-led with supernatural decorations, Addams has become even more character-driven, or at least character-rooted, for now, with a stronger association between the regulars and the thesis, the show’s sophomore year turns away from its “a stranger comes to the house and encounters the Addamses’ ookiness” template, which we saw a lot last year, and instead focuses more on interpersonal stories between members of the family, furthering their development. Once again, there are tales about Fester and Lurch and Itt, but the spotlight goes principally to Gomez and Morticia, whose cultivated dynamic has emerged as the series’ defining emotional bedrock. In fact, their bond gains notable dimension here, aided by the introduction of new peripheral players — Morticia’s sister Ophelia and their mother, Granny Frump — who debut in a classic flashback (featured below) that shows us how the couple first met. This supplied history is something Munsters, for instance, never would have built an episode around, and it indicates Addams’ more pronounced desire to use its leads to further its overall goals… That said, with less of the outside, or “normal” world, in weekly narratives, sometimes the calibration of strangeness is off, yielding plots either too typical for this atypical show (see: the Christmas entry), or, like most ’60s efforts, more concerned with their episodic notions instead of anything truly in support of the characters or the premise. The feature films of the ’90s — this franchise’s most visible reboot — would correct these issues by emphasizing stylistic peculiarities while magnifying each of the leads’ comic depictions, ensuring that strangeness was obvious in the characters. However, the original series is the foundation for every screen adaptation that follows, revealing the premise’s domestic origins and the normalcy that it usually rejects, but — like all of these supernatural family shows — doesn’t abandon completely. It’s a perfect encapsulation of its era, and with all this in mind, I have picked ten episodes that I think exemplify Season Two’s finest.


01) Episode 36: “Morticia’s Romance (I)” (Aired: 09/24/65)

Gomez and Morticia tell the kids how they first met.

Written by Hannibal Coons & Harry Winkler | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

This is the aforementioned flashback show, where the series lets us see how Morticia and Gomez first met — a narrative that both helps further the emotional foundation of their relationship for future application in story and solidifies going forward that the characters, and theirs specifically, are the fulcrum for the strangeness feeding the series’ premise. As a result, this is my pick for the year’s Most Valuable Episode (MVE), for this two-parter legitimizes the show’s developed understanding of its primary focus while simultaneously making it easier for Season Two to utilize it thereafter. Also, this is a terrific showcase for the series’ trademark oddness, and it’s only abetted by the introduction of both Ophelia, a wispy blonde creature who’s nevertheless just as absurd as her sister Morticia and simultaneously played by Carolyn Jones (an underrated comic performer), and their mother, portrayed in a brilliant bit of casting by the iconic Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton, whose presence is great for Addams’ projection of its identity. Both of these new characters come back later in the season and, in addition to helping develop the Morticia/Gomez history and reaffirming the premise, they also spark story, making everything about their inclusion, and these two offerings, fruitful for the series. There’s nothing else on this list as smart or well-conceived.

02) Episode 37: “Morticia’s Romance (II)” (Aired: 10/01/65)

The story continues as Gomez almost marries Morticia’s sister.

Written by Hannibal Coons & Harry Winkler | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

The second half of this excellent two-parter maybe has a little more plot than its predecessor, as it has to build to the wedding of Gomez and Ophelia, so it doesn’t quite have the fun or novelty of the main duo’s initial meeting. But it better features the other regulars, like Fester and Itt, who are more integrated into the action when Morticia calls upon them for help in stopping her beloved’s pending nuptials. Otherwise, this outing works for all the same reasons that the above does — the cast, the story, the premise — and the flashback device, while a gimmick, is really a mechanism for exploring the characters, and its deployment is akin to how it was used on The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the most intelligent and best written shows of the era. Obviously, Addams isn’t up to that standard, but the domestic affiliation and these character-based interests make it worth mentioning, and again, this is in contrast to The Munsters, which never thought to do anything similar. As with Part I, don’t miss Part II!

03) Episode 41: “Halloween — Addams Style” (Aired: 10/29/65)

A neighbor tells Wednesday that there’s no such thing as witches.

Written by Hannibal Coons & Harry Winkler | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

The Addams Family’s second Halloween offering is less ostentatiously memorable than its first year’s “mistaking crooks for trick-or-treaters” plot, but it successfully reiterates the show’s satire of TV domesticity with a story about how the Addamses spring into action when their children are told that witches don’t exist. This is a lampoon of the “there’s no such thing as Santa” cliché, which the year shockingly does engage in its Christmas show — referenced above as an example of improperly calibrated strangeness, for it’s far too normal, and, heck, something this entry explicitly mocks, as Halloween is much more suited to their macabre values.

04) Episode 42: “Morticia, The Writer” (Aired: 11/05/65)

Morticia decides to write children’s books more aligned with her own tastes.

Written by Hannibal Coons & Harry Winkler | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

There are a handful of solid outings this season about Morticia’s self-expression — like “Morticia, The Sculptress” and “Morticia, The Decorator” (mentioned below) — which affably encourage a display of her dark sensibilities and bolster the series’ projection of its premise. But I’ve chosen to highlight this one because it’s the best, with a comic narrative about Morticia writing children’s books where ghosts and goblins aren’t treated as evil. It also boasts the most direct use of the Gomez/Morticia relationship, as the wife’s new career makes her husband jealous… a typical domestic notion enlivened by specifics. Also, Peter Bonerz guests.

05) Episode 44: “Gomez, The Reluctant Lover” (Aired: 11/19/65)

Pugsley’s teacher thinks Gomez has sent her a love letter.

Teleplay by Charles Marion & Leo Rifkin | Story by Charles Marion | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

Once again, there are several offerings that make use of the same basic idea: a love triangle construct that develops with Gomez and Morticia and someone else. However, because of the passionate repartee between the two leads and the genuine dynamic that the series has since labored to add in support, these stories usually work well for their characters. To wit, what I like about this installment, as opposed to say “Morticia’s Dilemma,” in which another woman also makes Morticia jealous, is that it simultaneously prioritizes the show of affection between Gomez and Morticia while benefiting from a guest who can carry her own comedic weight — Jill Andre, who’s very funny as Pugsley’s buttoned-up school teacher.

06) Episode 45: “Feud In The Addams Family” (Aired: 11/26/65)

Social climbers mistake Wednesday Addams for Abigail Adams.

Teleplay by Rick Richards & Jerry Gottler | Story by Rick Richards | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

Fred Clark and Virginia Gregg play the parents of one of Wednesday’s classmates, on whom she has a crush, in this amiable excursion that gets big laughs by keeping us ahead of the characters, courtesy of a narrative in which a family believes that Wednesday is actually Abigail Quincy Adams, a descendant of John Adams and therefore one of the most prominent young ladies in the country. Obviously, we know that’s not the case — they’re just cousins — and the joke of these social climbers enduring all of the Addamses’ kookiness but passing it off as merely wealthy eccentricity plays well, highlighting the characters’ premised strangeness.

07) Episode 47: “Portrait Of Gomez” (Aired: 12/10/65)

Gomez seeks a photographer who can capture him at his most flattering.

Teleplay by Bill Lutz & Leo Salkin & Henry Sharp | Story by Bill Lutz & Leo Salkin | Directed by Sidney Salkow

I haven’t given enough praise here to the triumph of the series’ stars, particularly the hilarious John Astin, who brings so much zest and vitality to Gomez that he goes from being a figure to an actual character — indeed, he’s probably more responsible than anyone else for developing the Gomez/Morticia relationship into the impassioned fire/ice attraction that we know today. This installment is laudable because it proves Astin’s worth, showcasing Gomez and all his quirks, as he needs a picture for a magazine and ends up having to learn how to drive because the photographer he likes works at the DMV. Tom D’Andrea appears.

08) Episode 59: “Addams Cum Laude” (Aired: 03/04/66)

Gomez and Morticia take over managing a private school.

Written by Sloan Nibley & Bill Lutz | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

One of the few shows where the Addamses actually leave their own little bubble and venture out into the world, “Addams Cum Laude” claims the memorable suggestion of the family taking over a private school and implementing all of their bizarre changes, like switching the curriculum from Math and English to Advanced Headshrinking and Freshman Dynamite. As you can guess, there are a lot of identity-based jokes here, all of them stemming from our understanding of the family’s strangeness, which is on full blast in both the story and the script’s depiction of character. Also of note, Allyn Joslyn’s Mr. Hilliard, from the pilot, is back.

09) Episode 60: “Cat Addams” (Aired: 03/11/66)

A doctor pays a house call on Kitty Cat and meets the rest of the family.

Written by Paul Tuckahoe | Directed by Stanley Z. Cherry

John Astin reunites with his former I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster costar Marty Ingels in this amusing episode that takes a comic idea employed last year on a small scale with Uncle Fester, who needed a doctor after he lost his electric charge, and doubles down on the absurdity by having a vet pay a house call to examine all of the family’s critters, starting with Kitty Cat (who’s a lion), and continuing with Cousin Itt, Cleopatra, Uncle Fester, and Thing. It’s a lot of fun — Ingels maximizes the comedy — and the series’ self-contained “outsider trapped on the inside” template is rendered in one of its funniest, and most thesis-affirming, narratives.

10) Episode 64: “Ophelia’s Career” (Aired: 04/08/66)

The family tries to help Ophelia find something she can do.

Written by Hannibal Coons & Harry Winkler | Directed by Sidney Lanfield

Carolyn Jones is back doing double duty as Morticia’s offbeat sister, Ophelia, who makes her third of three post-flashback appearances in this offering, the series finale, which is her strongest entry because of two hysterical comic centerpieces in which she takes up singing after some lessons from Cousin Itt — whose instruction is evident — and then has her voice ruined by one of Fester’s throat tonics. Even more than Astin, Jones doesn’t get enough credit for her comic agility, and this segment conclusively proves why that’s unfortunate. Additionally, there’s some choice character beats here, both with Ophelia and the rest of the ensemble.


Other notable entries include: “The Addams Policy,” which is a generally solid show of the family’s quirks, “Morticia, The Decorator,” an above-referenced example of how Morticia’s characterization is explored in plot, and “Happy Birthday, Grandma Frump,” where Margaret Hamilton shines in her return as Morticia’s mother. Of more Honorable Mention quality are “My Fair Cousin Itt,” in which Itt becomes an actor, “Uncle Fester, Tycoon,” the best Uncle Fester show of the season, and “Morticia And Gomez Vs. Fester And Grandmama,” which I cite for being something of a “too typical” episode — more suited to the domestic-adhering Munsters, which actually did do this storyline (but made it funnier). Lastly, “Morticia Meets Royalty” is interesting as one of the series’ most bonkers offerings.


*** The MVE Award for the Best Episode from Season Two of The Addams Family goes to…

“Morticia’s Romance (I)”



Come back next week for the start of I Dream Of Jeannie!