Coming to DVD this September is one of the most ground breaking television shows that left an impact on my funny bone with Time Life’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete First Season.”
Comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin hit the American television airwaves in 1967 with a special called “Laugh-In.” Little could they have predicated that the show was so successful that they would come back to television the next year!
Bringing in a combination of hippiness and slap stick comedy, there were fast-paced one-liners and skits that were filled with sex and politics and all led by Rowan and Martin. The series also became home to regulars such as announcer Gary Owens who had one hand over his ear.
With a cute and very young Goldie Hawn to a “very interesting but stupid” Arte Johnson (by the way I think I said that almost every day growing up thanks to him), a high strung Jo Anne Worley, a very English Richard Dawson, and the meek Henry Gibson.
Two of my all-time favorite characters on Laugh-In were and are Ernestine the Telephone Operator and the young girl Edith Ann ‘who is only five years old’ sitting in her large rocker telling tales of family life finishing with ‘and that’s the truth’ followed by a raspberry.
That’s what made “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” absolutely amazing to watch. The witty repartee between Rowan and Martin had the audience convinced that the latter may not be the bright bulb of the duo. All of that followed by a door backdrop called the ‘joke wall’ where 60’s music way play and stopped by the opening of a door and the cast laughed at one another’s jokes.
It all ended when Rowan would turn to Martin with ‘say goodnight Dick’ and the reply ‘goodnight Dick’ ended the show.
Time Life is taking us there again with the first season which means I get to reminisce all over again. The four-disc set has fourteen completely re-mastered episodes which much of it never-before-seen. There are hours of bonus material including the original pilot which I was thrilled to see again and can’t believe I remembered it!
There is also interviews with creator George Schaltter and guests including Harry Belefonte, Milton Berle, Johnny Carson, Cher, Tim Conway, Sammy Davis Jr., Sally Field and the beloved and iconic Jerry Lewis.
Time Life continues to bring never before released anywhere classic collections of television shows for fans to revisit and remember what has made television so special. Time Life has released “Mama’s Family,” “CPO Sharkey” and “The Tonight Show” and they now reminds of us of a time when sex and politics were up for grabs with “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”. For more of what Time Life has to offer fans of classic television visit www.timelife.com.
“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” also brought to the forefront those who would go on to do more amazing comedy such as the absolutely inspired Flip Wilson who gets to be Adam living outside the Garden of Eden. How about seeing Tim Conway and Cher as John Smith and Pocahontas? Yes, that is unexpected and fantastic comedy of this series.
Anyone want to tip-toe through the tulips once again with Tiny Tim and his ukulele or how about Ruth Buzzi’s spinster lady who just couldn’t seem to cut a break on the bench or in love! Judy Carne is introduced as the ‘sock it to me’ gal and Goldie Hawn shares with the world her memorable giggle.
The set features Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, Pamela Austin, Ken Berry, Eileen Brennan, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Barbara Feldon, Henry Gibson, Goldie Hawn, Larry Hovis, Arte Johnson, Gary Owens, and Jo Anne Worley. Also included are the Classic Long-Running Features Sock It To Me, Cocktail Party and the Joke Wall, First Appearance of Tyrone F. Horneigh, and Sammy Davis Jr. Introduces ‘Here Comes the Judge’.
A stellar list of guest stars include Don Adams, Kaye Ballard, Harry Belafonte, Milton Berle, Joey Bishop, Sonny Bono, John Byner, Johnny Carson, Cher, Tim Conway, Sammy Davis, Jr., Sally Field, Peter Lawford, Jerry Lewis, Ed McMahon, Jill St. John, Dinah Shore, Tom Smothers Connie Stevens, Larry Storch, John Wayne and so many more.
The best part is the Bonus Features with the Laugh-In Pilot, 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion Highlights, New Interviews with Creator and Executive Producer George Schaltter and my personal all time favorite of the DVD’s the Laugh-In Bloopers.
“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” was a television event that happened week after week. I’m not sure my parents were too thrilled in the beginning with my wanting to join in the comedy. Eventually it became their weekly guilty-pleasure until the show ended in 1973.
What this variety show did was open the door for so much talent to come through keeping comedy coming to our television screens. Time Life brings it all to a new generation who now can share in what made us laugh in the ’60s and ’70s because, quite honestly, it hasn’t changed much.
Pushing the boundaries of sex and politics mashed up with comedy is what we need again today and “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” does just that. This DVD couldn’t be released at a better time than now and I can’t wait for more seasons to follow!
In the end – just say goodnight Dick!