Smothered - The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
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As this documentary shows, the Smothers Brothers were having trouble getting things past the CBS censors almost from the start. When Paulsen ran a joke campaign for the presidency, CBS kept him off the air fearing the real candidates would demand equal time, but the two key blows were an appearance by folk singing legend Pete Seger, who sang the Vietnam protest song "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" and a pair of comedy "sermons" by comedian David Bernstein. The technical reason for canceling the show was the failure to provide a tape on time to be cleared by the censors, but the motivation was clearly the anti-war, left-wing, and outspoken guest stars.Read more ›
My only wish is that there would've been more actual skits and songs from the show. Perhaps someone with a little bit of intelligence will realize that they could make a lot of money by releasing the seasons on DVD. If we have seasons of Gilligan's Island and the original Battlestar Gallatica, we should certainly have seasons of quality television such as the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
But, I must ask, where are the original shows? This DVD has enough clips (some never broadcast) that it would seem that the original series (which, oh by the way, was filmed using video rather than film cameras so the transition to digital should be SO easy!) is out there just waiting for some smart (hint, hint, hint) soul to package up, sit back and watch the dollars come flowing in!
Why isn't this happening? (I ask rhetorically but hoping for an answer somehow!)
I encourage you to buy this video BUT, if given a choice, I would buy the originals shows first! Of course since the original shows AREN'T available . . .
But, as Rob Reiner, one of the writers, and others commented, they were so...ordinary! The blazers, the short hair (earlier, anyway). They were so American that people couldn't resist. It was also "wholesome" humor, not, say, George Carlin, or Lenny Bruce. That's how they got on, to compete with the select hour which "Bonanza" had dominated for years.
Then they did a bit--Tommy and Elaine Maye did--spoofing censors. That's where the censorship began. The whole bit was removed from the show!
In fact, the documentary shows that they were politicized by the censorship. The more they tried to say, the more they were challenged by CBS.
For what it's worth, I think their comedy hour was the last variety show I could even stomach. Most weren't very good anyway. They either weren't funny or were pathetically predictable. This opened new doors. In fact, contemporary critics said if it weren't for the Smother Bros.' show, Saturday Night Live would probably have never been on the air.
The timing of the show is just about right. Any shorter and I might have felt short changed. Too long and it may have gotten a little dry. The people the producers talked to included the Brothers themselves, the writers, including head writer Mason Williams, famous for his single, "Classical Gas," and guests including Joan Baez and Pete Seeger (who was responsible for letters CBS received reminscient of the McCarthy witch hunt!)
If you want to remember an era when television even had some potential, or even just remember a great comedy duo, this is a DVD I recommend.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wish I'd read the other "negative" reviews. The documentary was fun, but, after trying to find all the "DVD extras" as advertised, I realized that part was a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Terrence Mack
It is interesting to hear of the challenges that existed and still exist today with power.Published 9 months ago by rew
The Smothers Brothers do not get enough credit for the huge influence they had on media and politics and just speaking your mind in these years. Well done documentary. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Dr Robert
Watched 3/4 of it and enjoyed it but got a little bored. Love the history and will finish it someday.Published on April 29, 2014 by S P
I grew up in the SMothers Brothers era and this was an interesting look at their lives and the impact of their show on the times.Published on March 10, 2014 by Eliza