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Time/Life Press Release: Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: The Complete Series

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ronald Epstein, May 9, 2017.

  1. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Producer

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    Prime Video doesn't support 60FPS at all. Not the best reference period.
     
  2. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    The Amazon prime video looks bad. At least the first episode does.
     
  3. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Producer

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    I think the pilot is from an off-air copy, not the master, which I assume got wiped. Episode "2" looks much better.
     
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  4. MartinP.

    MartinP. Second Unit

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    Season 6: Episode 21
    Guest Stars: Meredith Baxter, David Birney
    Airdate: February 19, 1973

    I'm watching the last few episodes (once a week) of Season 6, which I have never seen before.

    JoAnne Worley was back for some cameos in this episode which was a welcome addition at this point in the series with only three more episodes after this one. They do a couple things on this episode which Laugh-In would never have done before and which is why people always write about the last season being like any other variety show on the air at the time and having lost it's way. For one, the guest stars are using the show to promote their own series, Bridget Loves Bernie. That series was really liked by critics, but controversial, and it didn't last the year, either. Laugh-In would've never pandered to that in the past. The other is that they let one of the regulars, Jud Strunk, sing an entire song, in a legit way, that he'd composed, titled "A Daisy a Day." It was done like a musical guest would do on any other show. Laugh-In had many singers on the series, but they never had the traditional song number. (Except for some music video numbers in a handful of first season episodes, which the network thought they should have, but were quickly discarded.) The closest they ever got to guests singing a song number previously was when the rock group Three Dog Night were the guest stars and they sang their hit song "Joy to the World" at the cocktail party segment, being interrupted with jokes as was the custom.

    Jud Strunk's song did make it to #14 on the Billboard charts and was his most successful composition. I don't know if that was because of the exposure on Laugh-In or not.

    Also noticeable in Season 6 is the fact that since "gay rights" issues were becoming more visible in the country, and hence the news, there are a lot more gay jokes. However, in this season they don't seem as progressive and used more as just easy humor, thereby seeming a lot more regressive. Having straight people do gay jokes would obviously make it seem that way as much as having white people do the jokes Willie Tyler was doing, for example. And though there was still no out LGBT person in the cast, they did use some out gay performers in cameo spots, notably Rip Taylor in this episode and Michael Greer in one a couple before this episode.

    I may have mentioned this before, but another reason for the show seeming like other variety series of the time is the showing of the studio audience. Again, except for a scant few episodes in the first season, the studio audience was never seen. Laugh-In had the feeling of a mod happening somewhere out there that was hugely appealing. Season 6 often shows the audience, especially with Dan & Dick's monologues and Guest Star introductions, among other things.

    Still, this episode made me laugh out loud several times.

    Another conceit of Season 6 is that during the "news" portion they would have an actual entertainment critic or writer do a joke during the segment. One joke. Rona Barrett was that person in this episode.
     
  5. nobajoba

    nobajoba Agent

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    I loved the episode with Three Dog Night at the cocktail party. It's one of my favs.

    True season 6 was different than the other seasons but it sure stayed colorful! They really seemed to favor Greens in particular.
     
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  6. MartinP.

    MartinP. Second Unit

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    Yes, you can tell Season 6 by the new color scheme...a more 70's look, LOL!

    Yes, the Three Dog Night cocktail party was certainly different. A bit awkward, having to stop their song in places, but it did work quite well. As a bonus, those guys in the band were really quite amusing. I wonder whose idea it was? "...joy to you and me..."
     
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  7. likewow

    likewow Agent

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    The tall lead singer looks mighty foxy at the party!
     
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  8. nobajoba

    nobajoba Agent

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    Lily Tomlin is such a classic on this series. Her work ranks right up there with anything Lucy or Carol Burnett ever did on their shows. The characters! I only wish she had gone on to have her own weekly series like the other two, but alas it was not in the cards. Still she has had an impressive career since Laugh In.
     
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  9. MartinP.

    MartinP. Second Unit

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    I read an article once, probably by an L.A. Times columnist, after one of her variety specials, and he commented about a weekly series concerning Lily Tomlin. He wrote positively about all her variety specials, but I remember that he thought a regular series wouldn't be a good idea, He thought that her talent was best brought out by honing and sharpening her material and the humor came from being enlightened by much of it. Or something like that. I don't know, she "was" on Laugh-In every week, so one could argue against that notion. I have a feeling that "Lily Tomlin" wouldn't have been so comfortable being herself as a "host", but maybe she could've come up with a host "character."

    Do you happen to know if she ever wanted a regular series for herself? I agree with you about her work ranking right up there with Lucy and Carol Burnett. I first saw her on the Letters to Laugh-In afternoon series the week before she appeared on her first Laugh-In episode, and I was an immediate fan. I was in college in 1975 and she came there and did two shows. She was one of the first celebrities I'd ever seen in person. (I saw both shows.) A few years later I was in Los Angeles and I've seen all her stage shows that she's done here and had a couple public opportunities to talk to her. One was a book signing of "Intelligent Signs..."

    What about you? And why doesn't she have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
    I'm glad you're as much of a fan of hers as I am!
     
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  10. nobajoba

    nobajoba Agent

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    I've been fascinated and obsessed with this woman's talent for a long time. I think she would've said yes to an offer for a weekly series of her own but the offer never came. One of the reasons was because when she did her specials, two for CBS and two for ABC, she went for unconventional comedy. She did mood pieces and took risks. She didn't play it safe and the networks did not like that. They saw Lily as too risky and not cooperative. She had Richard Pryor on two of her specials and CBS did not want him on the show. They would send reps down to the set where they were rehearsing and/or taping and tell Lily she should not be doing such and such a sketch, or something to that effect. She ignored the censors and did what she wanted to do anyway. When her shows aired they got good ratings and won Emmy awards but unfortunately Tomlin had been labeled as too much trouble, and she was not offered a weekly series. That's the jist of what I've heard and read over the years. Nowadays, SNL and sitcoms go beyond what Lily was trying to do or say. No matter in hind sight. Lily went on to produce two outstanding one-woman Broadway shows which displayed her true genius and won her Tony awards. She is so versatile that she has been successful in all mediums of entertainment. I have all of Lily's shows-TV specials, stage shows, talk show appearances, guest spots on dvd format. I've spent years searching online and ebaying for most of them. Then lo and behold one lucky day I got to meet a contact for her. I've met Lily several times. I've seen her live in concert 9 or 10 times. She knows who I am (I'm too bashful to say why) She's as nice and down to earth in person which only makes me love and respect her more.
     
  11. Message #211 of 280 Mar 4, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
    Tony Bensley

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    Since Prime has been reported as not being a representative source, perhaps the next best thing might be to just buy the R&MLI Season 1 Time-Life DVD set, as it is less expensive than the rest. That way, you're not out many $ if its visual presentation proves a deal breaker for you, and you can use it as a trade in towards the complete series if you find the visuals pass muster. It's just a thought.

    CHEERS! :)
     
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  12. MartinP.

    MartinP. Second Unit

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    Season 6, Episode 23
    Guest Star: Dom DeLuise

    I watched the penultimate episode of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In last night. I've mentioned before, but have to again, what was anyone thinking by having Lisa Farringer in this cast? She was in nearly every episode of Season 6 and they had her deliver a variation on the exact same joke, and more than once, in every episode she was in. Whoopee. I don't think she ever did any joke with any other cast member, either. Just her and the same joke. Very strange.

    I like Dom DeLuise, too, but for some reason he seemed out of place on this Laugh-In episode. It was almost like he didn't think he had enough to do in a short joke or sketch and tried to be on camera longer, goofing up or laughing or whatever. I haven't analyzed this thought, it just seemed to me he felt out of place and you wouldn't have thought so.

    Also noticeable, there was absolutely not a single other celebrity cameo on this episode. This must be the only episode of the series where this was the case.

    Noticeably, also, through Season 6, is that Gary Owens was a minor presence in most every episode. In the previous seasons he was a glue that held things together throughout many of the series shows, but in Season 6 his presence seems quite limited. Unfortunately, too, there also wasn't much I found entertaining and/or amusing in this episode.

    So I have one more episode to go and I have never seen it before! I happen to have noticed this last episode was originally aired on
    Monday, March 12, 1973, and that is the same date, and day, of next Monday, so maybe I'll watch it then, 45 years to the day!
     
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  13. nobajoba

    nobajoba Agent

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    I cringe every time that Lisa Farringer is on. She was horrible. Dom was good in the other eps I saw him in. I don't remember this season 6 ep he's on. I guess I'll have to watch it. The LAST episode, March 12 1973, Lily is on. One last ringy-dingy on Laugh In before she sailed off to her television specials.
     
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  14. MartinP.

    MartinP. Second Unit

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    Season 6 Episode 24
    Cameo Guests: Ernest Borgnine, Sammy Davis, Jr., Rip Taylor, Robert Goulet
    Returning to the show: JoAnne Worley, Lily Tomlin

    I did watch the final episode of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In as I described in one of my posts above! It was a step up from the previous episode having several cast members all together from the best years of the show on this one program, JoAnne Worley, Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi, Dennis Allen, Richard Dawson, Dan & Dick and Gary Owens. It was a step down in that Lisa Farringer had even more spots in this one than the previous one (thanks for your perspective on her nobajoba) and also that Donna Jean Young was back, too. She was on most of Season 6, but not entirely. It always seemed to me that she was supposed to fill a role on the show much like Goldie Hawn. She did the same kinds of line readings with mistakes and then giggled etc., except when Goldie Hawn did it, the mistakes always seemed honest and her laughter genuine. She made it enjoyable. When Donna Jean Young does it, it just seems like she's stupid and it's annoying. Plus, the eye make-up she wore, coupled with her slightly bug-eyed look, just wasn't appealing. It was like a silent movie actress. I believe I read in the Hal Erickson book that Dan & Dick worked with her in a hotel or nightclub someplace in Florida and that Dan liked her and is probably why she was hired for Season 6.

    JoAnne's presence was quite welcome as well as Lily Tomlin reprising some of her most famous characters--Edith Ann and Ernestine. (Ernestine calls up Clifford Irving. If you don't know who that is, look it up in your Funk & Wagnall's.) I'm guessing by the time they taped this episode in January of 1973, it had been decided to end the series, but the final episode plays like an average Season 6 episode more than something to take note of or a raucous send-off. Rowan & Martin themselves get the Fickle Finger of Fate award from the City of Cleveland for making so many jokes about them. In Dan & Dick fashion they still amusingly insult the city while accepting it. A finale send-off doesn't seem so momentous, either, when they have previews for the next week's episode, a rerun of Season 6 Episode 7 with Guest Star Jean Stapleton.

    To be fair, though, back then TV series didn't end their seasons with cliffhangers or special episodes nor wrap them up with a big finale. Only The Fugitive had done something like that in 1967 and I recall the producer said that doing that lost them a lot of syndication money.

    For me there was always some excitement or intrigue in that there was nearly a whole season of Laugh-In out there that I'd never seen. And the Complete Series release has finally allowed me to view Season 6 in its entirety after all these years. (It ended 45 years ago yesterday as I'd mentioned!) And I very much enjoyed doing so on its own terms.

    So OMG, now what? I guess I could hold out some hope for seeing the "Laugh-In '77" episodes that I've never seen or maybe someone'll discover another episode of "Letters to Laugh-In" around somewhere!

    In the meantime, I have the entire six season series at my fingertips!
     
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  15. nobajoba

    nobajoba Agent

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    I absolutely agree with your take on Donna Jean Young. I don't care for her either. Sarah Kennedy was pretty underwhelming as well.

    I did enjoy Patti Deutsch, and Willy Tyler and Lester.

    Like you said, we have the whole series...ANY episode we want is available to pull out and watch anytime. That is something we've been waiting so long for. Now we can enjoy.
     
  16. Message #216 of 280 Mar 15, 2018
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    Regulus

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    That's one of the reasons I like home video, the ability to watch whatever you want to watch when we want to. R,I.P. "Appointment TV".
     
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  17. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    That's exactly why, in the late 60s, I started a music collection and the reason I started collecting TV shows and movies with the advent of DVD.
     
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  18. Message #218 of 280 Mar 17, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
    Gordiac

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    Well, after watching the entire run on-almost-a daily basis, I figured that would be the best place to share my thoughts at.

    Dated? yes.

    Some of it wouldn't fly today? for sure.

    But I'll take even the worst of the sketches today over the current humour.

    First, the things I've disliked:

    On the technical side - as one who counts on subtitles because English isn't his native language, I feel obligated to ask: was the person responsible to the subtitles hard of hearing himself? it seemed so at least half the time.

    The Lisa Farringer sketches - obsolete would be the best word for those. For some reason IMDB credits her with 60 appearances, even though I doubt she's gone beyond 7-8 of those.

    The water - what was it good for?

    Alan Sues - very talented despite camping it up at times, yet I couldn't tolerate his sports' report.

    The "Funny, so was/am I" quote - often repeated despite being quite unfunny.

    The "Fickle Finger of Fate" section - should've ended within 2 seasons at best and held on for way longer than it should've.

    Lily Tomblin's "rambling and getting to nowhere" character - while being decent to very good at anything else, this character simply shouldn't have been created.

    Now for the positive (if I'm not remarking over someone's performance, I probably have nothing to say about him/her or can't remember anything special:

    Rowan & Martin - got the comic timing down to a tee.

    Gary Owens - great voice.

    Ruth Buzzi - the veteran of the crew and always seemed onwards with her comedy.

    Henry Gibson - very amusing.

    Jo Anne Worely - loaded with charisma & could always carry a tune and a sketch.

    Dennis Allen - don't let the somewhat glum-face fool you, as he's actually quite good.

    Goldie Hawn - cute & charming. Loved the occasional duck-face.

    Arte Johnson - very good. Great with accents.

    Richard Dawson - good. Loved his Groucho & Fields impressions.

    Johnny Brown - very talented.

    Byron Gilliam - OK as a performer & great as a dancer.

    Jud Strunk - Reasonable. Was sad to read about his death.

    Patti Deutsch - Also quite good. Loved her impressions.

    Perhaps it's just me, yet I've also loved the outside Gorilla sketches.

    The show in general picks up steam quite fast and the crew seem to blend together very quickly and do their best until the third season ends. This is where the decline is very noticable with jokes which aren't too amusing or just very predictable.
     
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  19. nobajoba

    nobajoba Agent

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    Thanks for you take on the show. Is that ALL you can say about Lily Tomlin? She did far more than just that bit :)
     
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  20. Gordiac

    Gordiac Auditioning

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    Thanks for you take on the show. Is that ALL you can say about Lily Tomlin? She did far more than just that bit :)[/QUOTE]

    You're right. Tomlin seemed to be very talented and amusing, at a certain point I was wondering about her - how many characters can a person be given to portray?

    In addition: my introduction to most of the sixth season was mostly "who's that?".
     

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