Tonight one of the local UHF channels that sits at the bottom of the Dish Network channel guide ran a documentary about the Smothers Brothers' battles with the CBS censors during the late 1960s. For all that my everyday speech is still littered with expressions I picked up from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
, I'd forgotten just how subversive and edgy that show was.
I wonder sometimes if Tom and Dick Smothers would have been able to get away with more if they didn't look like the clean-cut college-boy singing duos and trios and quartets that dotted the music landscape in the early 1960s. They looked like college kids and played folk songs like the Kingston Trio, and Tommy Smothers had that whole Village Idiot thing nailed down. But what Smothered - The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
reminded me is that for all that television has changed a big deal, and for all that without shows like the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
and the all-but-forgotten Great American Dream Machine
, there would be no Daily Show
or Colbert Report
Watch these excerpts of segments by the hilariously deadpan Pat Paulsen, lampooning politics in general, health care, Social Security and gun control, and weep at how little has changed:
A lot of talent contributed to the writing of the show, including this guy:
...and some guy who's the very image of Dhani Harrison
stopped by once:
Seasons 2 and 3 are out on DVD. You can quick-click to them from the left sidebar.