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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. MartinP.

    MartinP. Supporting Actor

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    Arte Johnson has said the German soldier character came about because he had noticed in many films that dealt with WWII Germans that there always seemed to be one of them smoking a cigarette and commenting on the situation saying, "Very interesting." So he adopted it, probably before Laugh-In even started. It was something he brought to the show.

    I agree that sometimes the character can get annoying, A lot of Arte Johnson's characters revolved around ethnic jibber-jabber, much like SId Caesar's characters did and I just never thought that dialectic ad-libbing was that amusing, myself, by Arte or Sid. Besides the German, Arte also did the Russian Rosmenko character and a Swedish one, mostly. There are also times you catch him being very abrasive to other cast members. He'll point out they're in the wrong position, for instance, and give them a shove, or make a wisecrack that sounds anything but charitable. (In the context of the entire series, though, these points, to me at least, are minor and mostly only noticeable if you have watched these episodes as many times as I have.)

    To be honest, the majority of most variety shows overall are not that funny. I'm a huge fan of 60's-70's variety series and almost each and every episode has a dud of a sketch or situation in them. One doesn't always care for the musical guests, either, for example. It's the nature of the beast. The best you can hope for is a few laughs or an enjoyable musical number each week.

    There is the notion that the first few years of SNL was brilliant, but if you watch those episodes there are just as many duds in them as there are in any after that cast left. And a bunch of musical guests one could do without.

    There was a huge fondness for The Smothers Brothers variety series, and many people wanted it to be available to see again, but years, or a couple decades, ago when Tommy Smothers was reviewing the series he said "people are going to hate this!" He said it wasn't going to be what people remembered! What they remembered was a compilation of things and not what you'd find in watching the episodes. So, as it was, for home viewing they put out selected, and often edited, episodes of the show, and even then not a great amount of them.

    The reason I find Laugh-In re-watchable is not only what you wrote above ("the nostalgia factor, re-visiting that era and seeing all the different stars from yesteryear"), but also the fact that because most everything on the show was quick etc., if something doesn't appeal to you, you know that it's going to move on to something else quickly. I'm also amazed at how at any given time, something in the show has relevance to the moment you're watching it right then and in a different context that makes it amusing in a way that wasn't when they aired.

    I also don't like when people will review something from the past as dated, and that's meant to be a negative thing. I may be different, but even growing up watching something from the past and something was mentioned I didn't know about, I was always interested in learning/finding out about that. It's like when someone will say, "Oh, that was before I was born." As though that's a reason not to know or appreciate something.

    Well, another post from me that's longer than any Laugh-In segment! :cheers:
     
  2. Message #362 of 410 Apr 10, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    Lecagr

    Lecagr Second Unit

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    Replying to Martin P.,

    My favorite parts of Laugh-In are probably the party segments and whenever the cast does a song and dance number, those are usually entertaining. When the series first started, there was a music video segment during the episode but it seems they dropped that idea fairly quickly. Most of the jokes/gags are silly but in episode 6 of season 2, I like the gags where Rowan & Martin appear as inept furniture movers, I think those are funny. :laugh:

    Talking about Saturday Night Live with the original cast 1975-80, the 1st season was in experiment mode, the 2nd season the series gets in a little better groove, the 3rd season things fell into place and they were pretty much off and running. The best host during those early seasons was Steve Martin, he usually hosted two episodes each season from season 2 thru season 5.
     
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  3. moviebuff75

    moviebuff75 Supporting Actor

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    I think these shows function, and always have, as comfort viewing. SNL often wasn't funny, but it was cozy.
     
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  4. MartinP.

    MartinP. Supporting Actor

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    Supposedly these music video segments with a then current musical group was not something George Schlatter and the producers wanted, but was at the insistence of NBC, which felt obliged, like other variety series of the time, to feature one of these groups. After a few episodes and the show became a hit, NBC stopped insisting. They were, however, some of the first music videos featured on American television.
     
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  5. nobajoba

    nobajoba Stunt Coordinator

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    You hit the nail on the head Martin in saying most variety shows of the era weren't really funny. There are hidden gems in every few episodes but you have to go through a lot of duds to get to them. Even Carol Burnett once said about her show that in people's memories the show was better than it really was and that the show ran hot and cold. It had to. You can't have a variety show for 11 years and have nothing but killer classic sketches.

    I also agree that reviewers who dismiss because a show is "dated" are really dumb. OF COURSE it's dated. Any tv show in history, after a certain amount of time, becomes dated. That's called the natural progression of time. But nobody has to pay attention to my opinion....I'm only in it for the brilliant Lily Tomlin :)
     
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  6. Lecagr

    Lecagr Second Unit

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    I was a youngster in grade school when Laugh-In debuted in January 1968. My mom and dad watched the show each week and I would sometimes look in at it too. At the time we had a Zenith black and white TV, it had tubes in the back and was installed on a swivel stand with a "rabbit ears" antenna. Those were the days. I don't remember many details, but I clearly remember seeing the party segments, also remember seeing the park bench segments with the "dirty 'ol man" Arte Johnson and "lonely spinster" Ruth Buzzi. I also remember seeing the joke wall segments. Judy Carne was my favorite then and she's still my favorite today.

    Now it's 2019 and I have the Laugh-In DVD's, it's the first time I've seen these shows in color. My parents got their first color TV set in 1971, I remember it was a big deal at the time. Laugh-In was still on the air, season 5, but I think my folks no longer considered it as "must see TV" and were watching other shows.
     
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  7. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    Isn't it funny how getting your first color TV was a "BIG DEAL" yet every innovation since, stereo and WS primarily, has been met pretty much with "Oh... OK."

    Everyone I knew wanted a color TV. When you finally got one you let everyone know. No one I know rushed out to purchase a TV with "stereo sound" or made a big push to get a HDTV. Those "advances" were mostly purchased when the old set died. I even know a few people whose CRT died during the last days of CRT availability and they replaced it with a CRT rather than a HD set because they didn't want to be the "first on the block" with new, somewhat unproven, technology (as far as general home use and lifespan was concerned). No one really knew how long those first sets would last or what issues might crop up.
     
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  8. TJPC

    TJPC Producer

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    I think after 10 years of watching Disney’s “The Wonderful World of Color” and having The Rose Parade describe while watching in black and white, we were all hyped up and ready for colour sets.
     
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  9. MartinP.

    MartinP. Supporting Actor

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    I'm pretty sure I didn't see any of the Laugh-In series in color until it was syndicated in the half-hour format in 1983! You didn't catch any of those?

    In our days, many of us only saw series in black and white. We'd also have to catch anything we missed in a rerun. Later, when we had color TV's we would be interested to view the shows again in color in a different experience. Then VCR's let us record things and then VHS's and DVD's let us collect things. It's like every few years our interest was renewed in shows.

    Nowadays everything's available immediately at your fingertips. It also means the shelf life of things last a whole lot less than it did for us. When Laugh-In was airing once a week, except for a handful of reruns, it wasn't even on during the summer. I feel that's why some shows burn out so quickly. Too much all at once, whenever you want, over and over. Someone recently asked me if I'd recommend a certain show from the 1960's. I told them that I'd been watching episodes of it, but it wasn't a show I'd recommend watching a lot of episodes at once. I've found some shows I like are good "once" a week, but some characters are annoying in frequent doses.
     
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  10. Lecagr

    Lecagr Second Unit

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    I lived in Chicago during the 1980's. If I recall correctly, WGN aired those condensed, half hour Laugh-In's around that 1983 time frame. I didn't tune in because they weren't the full, hour long shows.
     
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  11. nobajoba

    nobajoba Stunt Coordinator

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  12. MartinP.

    MartinP. Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG]


    I watched this NetFlix special and I'm not sure what I thought this would be like before I watched it,
    but I enjoyed myself quite a bit. It's a mix of the old and new together and geared toward a good time.
    Like any variety based program there's usually some pluses and minuses, but if you like Laugh-In like I
    do, I'm guessing you'll like this too, if you don't have any preconceived notions of what it should be.

    Hope some of you see this and post your thoughts!
     
  13. Message #373 of 410 May 15, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    nobajoba

    nobajoba Stunt Coordinator

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    Martin I'm glad you asked, I was just going to post my two cents. I thought it was enjoyable enough but could have been better somehow. I LOVE that they recreated the cocktail party and did it live. That was the best part. All of the guests were fun to see too. But when you have three original cast members there I think they should have utilized them more. From the promo clip I saw of it I thought Ruth Buzzi was going to be in a full out sketch as Gladys but she really was just a walk on cameo. JoAnn Worley didn't get much to do at all. Lily didn't get near enough screen time. I realize they are all older now but come on, the fact that they're there means the producers really should have let them taken a bite out of the hour. It's really a shame that Goldie Hawn did not participate. That said, I think the updated jokes were fun and perfect for the time we live in now. Another BIG difference between the special and the original show is that with netflix they can say whatever they want. On the original they couldn't say any F bombs or language. It's too bad most of the original cast is gone now. Also it would have been nice to see Johnny Brown and Barbara Sharma again. I'm not sure why Snoop Dog or Loni Anderson were on the show.

    Anyway, overall it certainly could of been worse so I'd have to say they didn't botch it up too bad. Thank God we have the complete original series now to go back and enjoy with this new special.
     
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  14. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    I can see why they'd have had Loni on. She's a celebrity who would've been of prime viewing age when the show was on TV, so I'm sure she remembers seeing it. Now Snoop, I'm just not sure (he's younger than me, and I'm too young to have remembered watching it on first-run).
     
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  15. MartinP.

    MartinP. Supporting Actor

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    Yes, that's a good way to put it!

    Ruth Buzzi may not have gotten more time on this because she's beenhaving health issues.
    I hadn't even heard that she was going to be on it.

    I loved Lily's updated Ernestine segment, that was my favorite. As for Edith Ann, I'm not sure she should
    be doing that one any more. She's going to be 80 this year and making up an 80 year old to look 75 years
    younger is a little creepy! (Make no mistake, I love Lily Tomlin.)

    You can never get enough JoAnne Worley!

    Don't know why Goldie usually refrains from these public Laugh-In reunions, of sorts. She's gone to more private
    celebrations of the show, like the tribute for George Schlatter. She didn't go to the Paley Center reunion in 2003,
    where most everyone else did.

    As for Snoop, I guess I just don't get or like drug humor. Snoop makes references to weed and people laugh. There's
    nothing amusing to me about that. There's no inherent humor just because you mention drugs. Seth Meyers mentioned
    something in a monologue recently about cocaine and the audience applauds and cheers. Just for mentioning a drug?
    Don't get it.

    There were a couple people on this special I don't like, but will refrain from mentioning because others might.

    I guess there were no male Laugh-In regulars around that might've appeared. Above Johnny Brown was mentioned.
    I always liked him a lot on Laugh-In. Arte Johnson is 90 and I don't know if his health is good or not.

    George Schlatter is like a Timex watch, I guess. He takes al ickin' and keeps on tickin'.
     
  16. MartinP.

    MartinP. Supporting Actor

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    I noticed that Norman Lear was in the audience sitting with George Schlatter. He's been wanting to update
    his famous series, like they did with One Day at a Time, and there's a special airing next week with new casts
    doing an episode each of All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

    It makes me wonder if George Schlatter, because he's wanted to revive Laugh-In in some way for a few decades,
    if this NetFlix special is a kind of try out to see what people would think of an updated version. On NetFlix? It
    certainly would have to be on cable or NetFlix and not network TV nowadays. 1.) Networks are too sensitive about
    everything and 2.) constant commercial interruptions would not benefit a show like this.

    Wondering.
     
  17. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    I hated it. So disappointed. Had really been looking forward to it. But I groaned far more than I laughed. I finally turned it off with about 15 minutes left.
     
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  18. Message #378 of 410 May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    AndyMcKinney

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    Just like Norman Lear 'was inspired by' (copied*) classic BBC comedies to make his shows ('Steptoe & Son' and 'Till Death Us Do Part') this sitcom revival sounds very much like something the BBC did in September 2016 called 'Lost Sitcoms', where they re-staged an episode each of 'Steptoe', 'Till Death' and 'Hancock's Half Hour' on minimalist sets with new casts.

    *At least he did attribute the source, unlike the makers of "Amanda's", the 'Fawlty Towers' ripoff.
     
  19. nobajoba

    nobajoba Stunt Coordinator

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    Ruth Buzzi- I wondered if she was having health issues because when the three of them walked out on the stage, JoAnn, Ruth and Lily, it seemed as if the other two were helping Ruth walk. Is she having mobility issues?

    Arte Johnson- I can't remember where but somewhere online I read that he has dementia. Don't quote me on that. So I could see him not being on the special. I'm afraid we'll be losing him soon.

    I could see this as a try out for a netflix reboot of Laugh In. I don't know. They should give it a try I suppose but I honestly don't know how good it will be.

    I have no desire to watch the All In The Family and The Jeffersons live episodes special. I just do not need to see other actors playing those iconic roles.
     
  20. MartinP.

    MartinP. Supporting Actor

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    In regards to what I wrote above...a couple paragraphs from an article I read:

    When Lily Tomlin was filming the special she felt as though “Laugh-In” was potentially being groomed for a comeback or revival. But while executive producer Dave Broome says he could see the team working on a version of the show, today’s TV standards and the number of issues that have become taboo to talk about mean that “Laugh-In” in the spirit that it was originally presented could never exist today.

    “I cannot see that show,” he says. “There’s no way that show could be done with the way the humor was done then, today.”
    _______

    "A version of the show" ...I guess that doesn't totally eliminate the idea.
     

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