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The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: The Best of Season 3

4.2 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Sep 16, 2008)
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$59.97 $19.99

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This 4 DVD set includes 11 star packed episodes from the third and final season of the hour-long variety show, uncensored, just as they were originally meant to be aired. The guest list reads like a '60s who's who, including comedy stars like George Carlin, Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, Jackie Mason, Jonathan Winters, David Steinberg and musical performances by The Doors, Ike & Tina Turner, Donovan, Harry Belafonte, Ray Charles, Judy Collins, Liberace, Joan Baez, the cast of Hair and more.

O, Brothers, where art thou? That's what fans have long asked about the DVD release of the controversial, infamously cancelled The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. In his thoughtful and candid audio introduction, Tommy Smothers admits he was reluctant to release the show on DVD, thinking it might be best left to memory as "a fantastic show of its time." He needn't have worried. No mere '60s time capsule relic, these 11 episodes from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour's final season are still as funny and entertaining as remembered. After 40 years, the political and social satire and bold anti-war stance are still sharp. With its mix of old-school show business and counterculture comedy, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour revolutionized the staid variety show format for a new generation, and ultimately paved the way for shows such as Saturday Night Live. When the clean-cut brothers got their own variety series, no one expected them to make waves. But at a time when TV's most popular programs offered pure escapism, head writer Mason Williams (and a staff that included Steve Martin and Bob "Officer Judy" Einstein) wanted to push the show in a more subversive direction, and Tommy, who only played dumb opposite his brother, sought and was granted (he thought) creative control from the network. By this third season in the tumultuous year of 1968, the brothers and the show were fully and unapologetically politicized. In the season opener that kicks off this set, their appearance has radically changed. Gone are their signature blazers, and both sport mustaches. With "beeping censors lurking in the wings," the Smothers defiantly sing, "We're still here." Among this set's many highlights: Harry Belafonte's performance of "Don't Stop the Carnival" juxtaposed with footage of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, which the censors did cut, forcing a noticeably upset Tom and Dick to fill in with an audience Q&A (also included as an extra); the benchmark sketch, "A Fable for Our Time," featuring impressionist David Frye going medieval on Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, and Richard Nixon; a surprise appearance by George Harrison; a charming Donovan sing-along to "Happiness Runs"; and the episode never aired by CBS (and the one said to have gotten the show cancelled) featuring David Steinberg's "Jonah" sermonette. The fourth disc is devoted to deadpan ensemble member Pat Paulsen, whose grass-roots campaign for the White House is chronicled in "Pat Paulsen for President," a special narrated by Henry Fonda. Many happy hours will be spent watching the treasure trove of bonus features, including the Comedy Hour reunion at the 2000 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, never-before-seen "Paulsen for President" outtakes with Robert F. Kennedy (his footage was cut in the wake of his assassination), a delightful bit in which performers from Barbara Feldon and Nancy Sinatra to Jackie Mason hum the Hour's cheerful theme song; contemporary interviews with performers, and footage of the brothers' post-cancellation press conference. Worth the wait, this is one of the year's best DVD sets, and one that does this landmark show justice. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Smothers Brothers
  • Directors: Bill Davis, Stan Harris
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Time Life Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2008
  • Run Time: 840 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,324 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tante Maren TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 14, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As everyone is asking, "Where are The Best of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Seasons 1 and 2?" I spoke directly to a Smothers Brothers rep and here's what I found out. There have been delays in producing the best of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour dvd sets due to reasons unknown. I would guess that the reasons have something to do with getting all the approvals needed by the numerous guests on the shows, that is the cause of delay. Even this Season 3 is a few weeks behind schedule.

When I asked about certain musical groups appearing on this Season 3, I was happily told that The Who will not be on Season 3, but will be appearing on Season 2, which is right now in the making! I was so happy to hear that they are currently working on Season 2! This Season 2 will contain the famous performance by The Who, when Keith Moon used too many explosives and blew out poor Pete Townsend's eardrum!

Even though all 3 Seasons are being released backwards, starting with Season 3, I am still totally thrilled! The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour always had the best performers on their shows, along with great musical performances by the best groups of the time, not to mention all the political buttons they pushed for the politicians here in America!

It's certainly wonderful to hear that they are making the "Best Of" all three Seasons of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, even if they are being released starting with this last Season 3! Getting to see these shows again is certainly a rare treat!

The information I received on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Season 3 dvd set from Time Life, states that the following is included:
This 4 dvd set includes 11 star packed episodes from Season 3, that were personally chosen by Tom and Dick Smothers.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Have waited so long for this to be released and what a disappointment!
How ironic that the Smothers Brothers who faught with censors are now censoring what they release to us! I'm glad they came out with this set. But most of the episodes were about 40 minutes. These are NOT the full episodes as aired. The booklet insert talks about the first David Steinberg sermonette - the controversial one. Then it's mentioned on one of the shows when Tommy apologizes for it....but it's not included here!! We are given the second, calmer sermonette entitled "Jonah"(which of course is good). On one of these episodes, the band comes out in the beginning of the show with the signs naming that night's guests. They list Leigh French and she only appears for about 2 minutes in a very quick comedy sketch. She's not listed in the menu of the disc as a guest for that show at all. Surely she was in more of that episode than that! They did leave her in one as the weather girl, so it can't be a rights issue. She was on 18 of their shows. 6 in 1969 and 6 in 1968. Why was she cut from this one!? The menu on each disc lists only a select few guests that they warrant important enough to have included. i.e. big names like Tina Turner, Jim Morrison, Harry Belafonte. There are other guests (as is shown in each week's introductory band sequence) but some have been cut out! I'd like to be the one to decide what the "Best Of" is. Give me the entire series - whole episodes and if there's someone I don't want to see I am perfectly capable of skipping over it on the DVD. The folks wanting these are mostly the baby boomers and I remember Biff Rose and Leigh French! What an outrage that they've been cut out of this set. There are four discs here and the entire 4th one is devoted to Pat Paulson! What a waste!
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Format: DVD
I wasn't even born when this show was originally on CBS. But I have been a fan of the Smothers Brothers for a long time, starting back in 1988 when they had a short-lived revival of their variety show. Having just purchased this 4-disc set (the information incorrectly lists it as having 3 discs), I have to say that I am really enjoying the show.

However, I have to wonder about the claims of all 11 episodes being uncut. I have only watched the first disc so far and am already noticing what I think are some cuts from the original broadcast versions. It would appear that these episodes are taken from a "Best Of" series that Entertainment Television did back in 1992. Each episode (so far) has an introduction and epilogue by Tom and Dick Smothers. In one of the episodes there are scenes shown during the epilogue from the 'Daily News' segment that were not in the episode I just watched.

I also have to wonder about the run time for each episode. If you take out the time for the 1992 intro and epilogue, you end up with about 38 minutes for most of the episodes. That seems pretty short for an hour-long variety show in 1968. Most hour-long shows from this time period were around 50 minutes. That would mean over 10 minutes cut from each episode.

There are some other editing issues that I believe have to do with the original CBS censors, but I'm not sure and can find no information online to confirm this. For instance, in one episode David Frye is doing some of his stand-up routine. It is pretty obvious that it has been cut. The segment is only 45 seconds long. And at one point there is a severe jump cut from an impersonation of William F. Buckley, Jr. to him taking his final bow with a hat that has suddenly appeared in his hands.
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