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DVD REVIEW
Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on DVDThe Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: Season 3

This superb DVD release is a Paul Brownstein production so you know going in it will be the best possible product; this one's is no exception. You get 11 third season Smothers Brothers Comedy Hours including the one that CBS ever aired, the episode that got them fired in 1969, supposedly because David Steinberg's sermonette routine was deemed offensive.

That episode also contains some interracial romance between Tommy and Nancy Wilson and a shout out to Martin Luther King's dream at the end of the show that surely would have been considered edgy in and of themselves.

While CBS cancelled other highly-rated series (like the Jackie Gleason & Red Skelton shows) at the time, that was an attempt to drop programs that attracted a primarily older audience. Demographics was the hot advertising buzzword in 1969 and the Smothers, with a top 20 show, had the coveted 18-34 age bracket locked in. Renewal from a business point of view was a no brainer, the contracts signed when CBS abruptly dropped the show.

(How serious CBS was that Steinberg's bit had crossed the line is undercut somewhat when you consider the network gave Steinberg his own summer variety show 3 years later where he did more sermonettes.)

If you're expecting to be shocked at how controversial the series was you may be slightly disappointed, by today's standards they never got really far out, the network muzzle was very tight. That the Smothers were poking fun of the establishment at all is what was amazing and the firing undoubtedly sent a chill and a strong message to other television producers to avoid anything that smacked of political satire.

And, indeed, with minor exceptions, it wasn't until The Daily Show debuted in 1996 that political satire returned to television. Even Saturday Nite Live, which owes a huge dept to the Smothers, rarely ventured into any real biting political satire outside of the Weekend Update segments.

The Smothers sued CBS for breach of contract and won but their career was irreparably damaged.

These episodes come with the wonderful intros and outros filmed for the E! Network in the early-1990s and there are extended interviews with the show's personnel, folks like David Steinberg, Bob Newhart, Allan Blye, Bob Einstein, and others included.

I can't recommend this amazing collection more highly, it's a fabulous trip back to a time that seems so far away, so long ago, yet so fresh as reflected in this series.

Sadly, the episodes aren't all complete. On one show, musician John Hartman is listed as a guest but there's no Hartman, which is odd since he was a Smothers regular and it couldn't have been that expensive to get the rights to the tune he performed.

Tom Smothers has stated that he doubts these shows will appeal to the modern audiences. I found the experience a rich and highly enjoyable one and can't wait for the best of season 2 collection which is reportedly in production.

You get 11 episodes of the Comedy Hour on 3 discs while the fourth disc is devoted to Pat Paulsen with the very funny (and trippy) Pat Paulsen For President special along with the comic's standup act, public appearances as he was running for office at various times, some hilarious outakes from the special, and more cool stuff.

There are tons of other extras - new audio intros by Tom Smothers, 2 show promos, excerpts from the Smothers' 1969 press conference after their firing, hundreds of network & government memos, and more. This one's a treasure!

Monday, September 8, 2008 - 10:32am
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MYSTERY CLIP
Want to read the story behind this clip from a 1978 Jerry Lewis Telethon (a break in Los Angeles) featuring an obscure band called Manakin? The story is here but it will lead you back to TVparty!

Saturday, September 6, 2008 - 12:31pm
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TV NEWS
TV BlogCast members of Private Practice - Kate Walsh, Amy Brenneman, Audra McDonald, Paul Adelstein, KaDee Strickland, Chris Lowell and series creator Shonda Rhimes celebrated the first season DVD release in the Tropicana Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel.

There's a spin-off of The Closer in development by the show's producer / writers. No word on whether or not one of the series regulars will star. What'll you bet it's J. K. Simmons, Chief Pope?

Ratings for the 2 part Bones season 4 premiere were up 18% over last year. Meanwhile the new Beverly Hills 90210 shattered the ratings records for key demographics on the CW and Sci-fi Channel also saw record numbers this summer.

Here's the Top 20 for last week (total viewers):
America's Got Talent - Tuesday, Deal or No Deal, America's Got Talent - Wednesday, Two and a Half Men, 60 Minutes, NCIS, America's Toughest Jobs, Criminal Minds, House

The New Adventures of Old Christine, Democratic Convention, Wipeout, Big Brother, Democratic Convention, Democratic Convention, Big Brother, CSI: NY, Big Brother, Greatest American Dog

Friday, September 5, 2008 - 7:01am
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ANNIVERSARY
Officer Joe BoltonKevin Butler writes: Monday is the exact date - 50 years ago - when The Three Stooges film comedies were rereleased to NYC's TV viewers on the kid's series The Three Stooges Funhouse.

The program debuted on WPIX 11 as a weekday evening show airing at 5:30 P.M. and Officer Joe Bolton returned as the series' host/performer.
The show aired 78 of the 190 films that the boys did for Columbia Pictures in the 1930s and '40s.

The Stooges themselves (Moe, Larry, and "Curly Joe" DeRita) also made guest appearances with Officer Joe on The Three Stooges Funhouse and later on The Dick Tracy Show during the 1959 - 1962 TV seasons.

Friday, September 5, 2008 - 6:27am
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DOING THE NEWS MEDIA'S JOB
This is just another example of how brilliant The Daily Show is.

Thursday, September 4, 2008 - 1:03pm
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