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Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete First Season
Score: 90%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Time Life
Region: 1
Media: DVD/4
Running Time: 869 Mins.
Genre: Classic/Comedy/TV Series
Audio: Stereo
Subtitles: SDH English

Features:
  • Laugh-In Pilot
  • 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion Highlight
  • New Interview with Creator and Executive Producer George Schlatter
  • Laugh-In Bloopers

In 1968, television viewers across America waited for the innovative broadcast from "beautiful downtown Burbank" (California) that came from Rowan and Martin's free-form comedy spectacular of one-liners, skits, and bits called Laugh-In. The concept of Laugh-In was to express the feeling of a frame of consciousness for a simpler time. This was defined by a single rose or "flower power," and this is how Laugh-In explored this zany culture in the world at this time.

This groundbreaking, Emmy award-winning show debuted on NBC on Monday evenings at 8:00 p.m. and ran until March 12, 1973. Hosted by the dashing duo, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, the show made no apologies when it poked fun at any and all targets with comedy guests as stunning as some of the stars: Burbank's Mayor Compton, Pat Morita, Regis Philbin, Dinah Shore, Milton Berle, Flip Wilson, Bobby Vaughn, Tim Conway, John Wayne, Peter Lawford, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, Jill St. John, Ken Berry, Tom Smothers, Walter Slezak, Richard Dawson, Connie Stevens, Sonny Bono and Cher, Jerry Lewis, little Anissa Jones, Joey Bishop, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, Sally Field, Harry Belafonte, Lorne Greene, Robert Culp, Hugh Downs, Leo G. Carroll, Muriel Landers, Willie Mays, Buddy Hackett, and so many more -- and who could ever forget the dynamic Sammy Davis Jr. introducing "Here Comes the Judge." Dan Rowan and Dick Martin introduced acts featuring their regular performers Henry Gibson, Roddy Maude-Roxby, Larry Hovis, Arte Johnson, and announcer Gary Owens, with female regulars Judy Carne, Eileen Brennan, Ruth Buzzi, Goldie Hawn, and JoAnne Worley. Other performers for this initial season included the Bee Gees, the First Edition, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Temptations, The Curtain Calls, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Tiny Tim performing as "New Talent" in the first and last episodes.

Time Life has now launched Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete First Season with its hysterical classic bits and pieces, beginning with the fashionable Cocktail Party with the "in-crowd" dancing away and commenting on the craziest of topics just to get you in the mood for what was to come. Arte Johnson as the man from India prophesying he "who soweth his oats in the garden of his neighbor, perhaps he has not a pot to plant in." You'll see mini and evening dresses, Nehru suits, and even shots of graffiti body-painted bikini dancers like Judy Carne and Goldie Hawn with a comment like "Pimples are wasted on the young." You'll get a peek of Arte Johnson as a WWII German Soldier while he hides secretly away, commenting "Very Interesting." Some of the shorts you might see will be Tim Conway as a pole vaulter, a 106-year-old man, and "The Great Nervo," JoAnne Worley singing short songs, and romantic Ruth Buzzi trying to catch Dick's eye.

Laugh-In's New Talent Time might feature Tiny Tim with his weird classic "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" ukulele melody, or Paul Winchell performing as a ventriloquist with his dummy. News of the Day would give headliners from the past, present, and future where you'd be most likely to read "Peace Breaks Out in Vietnam," and in the Bobby Kennedy family, "Ethel's not expecting." Classified Ads and Mod Mod World might feature commentary on money, advertising, or censorship. And, of course, the show wouldn't be complete without Judy's reluctant "Sock It To Me" skit, and JoAnne's Short Song might declare that there's "No More Money in the Bank," to round out the show as it closed with that rapid-fire comedy from the Joke Wall where the faces of guests and stars would pop-up with note-worthy comments throughout the show and end it with hilarious jokes and quips.

All-in-all, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete First Season is great fun and entertainment for the entire family – perhaps a little risque for some, but from a time when this show was what was "happening." There are four discs with 14 episodes of hilarity and side-splitting laughter. Bonus features include the Laugh-In Pilot with the original date being September 9, 1967, showing some of the New Talent with Ruth Buzzi performing a song about Lady Bird and the Audubon Society and JoAnne Worley’s song with a hand-puppet.

This feature also showcases some of the shorts with the Weatherette girls giving their rendition of the weather report, Henry Gibson performing some poems, the ever-changing door, and Dan and Dick reporting the News. There's an in-depth interview with Creator and Executive Producer George Schlatter explaining the origin of the series and particular aspects of the show such as "Here Comes the Judge" and "Sock It To Me Time." There's an interesting question and answer format from the audience during Laugh-In's 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion; and the Bonus feature is rounded-out with the ever-funny Laugh-In Bloopers.

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete First Season is a very comprehensive collection of one of America's iconic shows and would be a great addition to anyone's library. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete First Season is geared toward an older crowd or enthusiasts seeking nostalgic shows from days gone by. I was extremely anxious to receive this product for review, and even though I found the entertainment top-notch, after several episodes, it did become a little monotonous. However, my adult son found the show fascinating, and, in some respects, thought that some of the content amazingly mirrored what's happening today.



-Kambur O. Blythe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jan Daniel
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