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Half of one season of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is better than nothing,
This review is from: Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: Best of Season 3 [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
It would certainly be ironic and arguably hypocritical for the Smothers Brothers to censor their own programs, but I do not think that is the case here. Granted, the episodes are shorter than they should be and not all of the guest stars appear long enough to justify being on the show. But I think that the explanation comes from the fact that these were the dozen episodes that were rebroadcast on E! Take into account that there are more commercials today and the shows would have to be edited down. Then throw into the mix the introductions and conclusions with Tom and Dick, plus sundry interview clips with key figures, and you lose another healthy chunk of each show. Consequently, I do not think there was any censorship; these episodes were edited down before being rebroadcast. That begs the question as to why they could not go back and just show the complete episodes regarldess of what was aired on E!, but they did not.
I also have to assume that E! gets saddled with the responsibility for only picking a half dozen of the season three episodes and looking only at episodes from season three, as well as the credit for rebroadcasting them in the first place (or in showing them for the first time, as would be the case with the infamous episode that broke CBS's back). I never saw any of these episodes when they first aired because my father was stationed in Japan. But the last show I watched before we left the U.S. was "The Smothers Brothers Comedy" hour and I still have my autographed pictures of Tom and Dick from belonging to their fan club (although I did have to find a replacement for my "MOM ALWAYS LIKED YOU BEST" button). I got to meet Tom Smothers once and was able to tell him how important the Smothers Brothers were to making me who I am today. I had all of their records by the time I was in the 6th grade and I can clearly trace my love of satire and vocal harmony back to those records.
For the most part the music is superior to the comedy on these episodes, with performances by the Doors, Mama Cass Elliott, Donovan, Dion, Ray Charles, Judy Collins, the Ike & Tin Turner Review, Joan Baez, as well as Tom and Dick doing their lovely version of "They Call the Wind Maria." The best comedy comes from the guests, from Bob Newhart and Jonathan Winters to Geroge Carlin and David Steinberg. The banter between the brothers was always better than their sketch comedy, but they were certainly. The politics is represented by such pieces as "Don't Stop the Carnival" by Harry Belafonte set to footage of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, David Frye and others doing "A Fable for Our Time" with medieval versions of politicians, and Mason Wiliams' poem on "The Censor." Those certainly stand out the most, mainly because each one of them is another giant leap towards the precipice the brothers Smothers were heading for in that third and final season.
The fourth disc is devoted entirely to the late Pat Paulsen, which is ironic given that he was on so rarely during the third season, but totally understandably given how important he was to the career of the Smothers Brothers (Paulsen was writing material for them before they made it to television). There is the "Pat Paulsen for President" mocumentary that aired as Show 205 and a host of other pieces, from his appearance at the 1968 Democratic National Convention to an entire stand-up act at a comedy club in Anchorage, Alaska, from 1992. They also uncovered raw footage of Bobby Kennedy talking to both Paulsen and Tom Smothers about Pat's candidacy. Throughout the discs the bonus features usually find complete interviews with performers and writers from the show, from which excerpts were culled for the E! broadcasts as well as some assorted gems, such as a complete Jackie Mason routine from the show's dress rehearsal.
Yes, it would be nice to have all of the episodes from all three seasons of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," but apparently that is not going to happen. I am still trying to figure out why we cannot get all of their albums out on CD (and also why they would do "Aesop's Fables The Smothers Brothers Way" before "The Smothers Brothers at the Purple Onion" or "Mom Always Liked You Best"). It would be nice to think that down the road we might have companion sets with the best of the first two seasons of the show, but I have the feeling that this is all we are going to get and while it is a proverbial case of being better than nothing.
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