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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hey Hey Hey! It's the profanity-strewn prison rape episode of FAT ALBERT!

A few weeks ago I came across a religious broadcasting station that runs episodes of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids on weekday afternoons.  I'd forgotten how awesome this show was!  My DVR has been set accordingly, so I can once again watch the wacky adventures of Fat Albert and his gang during the evenings or whenever.

From the show's start, its creator/producer/narrator Bill Cosby intended for the series to teach and enlighten as much as it entertained (it eventually became the basis of Cosby's doctorate in education).  As the show progressed, Cosby and his staff began to take on bolder issues, such as racism and guns (interestingly, that particular episode did not condemn firearms entirely, it just cautioned young people to be extremely careful with them).

So it was 1984 and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was finally winding down after being on Saturday morning television for twelve years.  And the Cos' decided that at long last it was time to unload a "scared straight" story at the kiddies.  Many other shows enjoyed by children were also doing "very special episodes" (I still cringe whenever I think of "Gordon Jump as the pervert bike shop owner" on Diff'rent Strokes... come to think of it, most of the Diff'rent Strokes episodes were like that.  Being "very special", not Dudley and the pervert bike store owner I mean).  Anyway...

"Busted" would be unusual if it had been produced today, but in the mid-Eighties it was way more daring.  In a departure from the norm, Bill Cosby began the show warning viewers that this episode would have foul language (like "bastard", "damn" and "hell") but it had to be that way to be as accurate as possible.  What Bill didn't tell us about is that we would soon be witnessing Fat Albert and his friends being oggled with lustful eyes by hardened felons!  No other episode to the best of my recollection ever had Fat Albert jumping scared into Dumb Donald's arms.  Or had poor little Russell (my favorite character of the entire show) being asked if he wants "a candy bar".

The language has been toned down from its original airing, but everything else is as disturbing as ever.  From 1984 here are Fat Albert, Rudy, Bill, Russell, Bucky, Dumb Donald, Weird Harold and Mushmouth in "Busted"...

That would frighten anybody into doing whatever they possibly could to avoid going to the big house!

Unfortunately, twelve years later would see the publication of Alex Ross' and Mark Waid's classic graphic novel Kingdom Come.  And in its very first pages we find Fat Albert and his pals shooting down some civilians on the streets of Gotham City, just before getting arrested by Batman's patrol droids.

(Looks like "scared straight" didn't work, huh.  One can only assume that Rudy wound up learning the hard way to watch himself in the shower...)