DAVID BIANCULLI

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1967: The Start of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'
February 5, 2018  | By David Bianculli  | 5 comments
 
On this day in 1967, CBS presented a midseason replacement that turned out to be one of the most ambitious and controversial variety shows in TV history: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Tom and Dick Smothers, who had toured nightclubs and coffeehouses doing their comic versions of folk songs, began on this night with a fairly typical variety hour. Guests for their premiere show included Jill St. John and Jim Nabors, and a special introduction by Ed Sullivan.

Before long, though, the Smothers Brothers would inject their shows with more topical humor, musical acts, and political observations, leading to a change in the way entertainment shows were written – but at quite a personal cost. In 1969, CBS claimed the brothers had violated the terms of their contract (the courts eventually ruled otherwise), fired the Smothers Brothers, and took their show off the air.

“During its three-year reign, however, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was about as topical, influential, and important as a TV show could get,” I wrote in my 2009 book Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.’  The full story is now in paperback. 

 
 
 
 
 
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5 Comments
 
 
Judy Cooke
Would have loved to see what they could do with the latest election.
Feb 16, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
kenneth kahn
Any chance of Season 1 being made available? I have the 2nd and 3rd seasons on DVD but that was many years ago now. Your book made me even more anxious for season 1. There are a few videos of season 1 on youtube bit it would great to have the complete season. You mentioned that the show was broadcast un-censored in Canada. Are you aware of any place to obtain these shows?
Feb 5, 2017   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
I used to hope that the 50th anniversary of Comedy Hour would be enough to cause Season 1 to be released, so the show could be repackaged as a complete set. Didn't happen. But if you visit ioffer.com and look at the DVD section, that's your best chance to grab "home-grown," as in not officially released, versions of vintage TV shows.
Feb 11, 2017
 
 
 
Len
What's the latest on a film being made from the book?
Feb 5, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Loved the show when I was in high school! David's book on all the controversy is excellent. I read it when it was first published. Both the Nixon White House and CBS played dirty here. Bianculli documents it all very well.
Feb 5, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Jim Clark
What a wonderful show. I was in my teens when the Comedy Hour started. The Brothers Smothers were quite an influence. Any more word on the book becoming the Clooney movie and will we ever see Season One on DVD
Mar 6, 2013   |  Reply
 
 
 
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