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Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In Season 1 DVD Review


“Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In” lacks laughs.

Before “Saturday Night Live” and even “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” there was another variety/sketch show called “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” The 1968 NBC show hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin was innovative in its quick-cut editing and almost frantic style as well as its comedic stylings. While the series is deeply rooted in the 60’s and features a lot of 60’s era touches ala the dancing, songs, the body graffiti, music, and jokes, there was a lot of accessible comedy ala the running jokes and gags such as Sock It To Me, the news in the future bit, the cocktail party segments, and so on. The show is perhaps most noteworthy for feature players that included like the likes of Ruth Buzzi, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, Jo Anne Worley, and, of course, Goldie Hawn.

Having been released before my time, I was curious to explore the 14 episode first season of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” series. Right off the bat, it was clear that it was an innovative show both in the way it was presented and for variety shows in general, but looking at it now as I am, it’s certainly a bit tough to watch unless you have a nostalgic love of it. Unlike a timeless show such as “The Andy Griffith Show” or even “Saturday Night Live,” ‘Laugh-In’ is very much a 60’s show. It feels like a product of its time with its tired jokes, reliance on cameos by the likes of John Wayne, Cher, and Jerry Lewis, and the overall general 60s pastiche. It’s the type of show that you had to be there for I would imagine as I struggled to find something to laugh at.

Even though ‘Laugh-In’ doesn’t hold up, it’s hard to deny its influence. Whether you’re seeing it amusingly spoofed in the Austin Powers film or seeing the variety show template perfected in the aforementioned “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” (which debuted a year later), the show had an impact on comedy and television and for that it must be respected alone.


Presentation: Fullscreen. How does it look? It likely looks as it did when it aired so don’t expect a glossy new transfer.

Audio Track: Unspecified Audio Track. How does it sound? It’s a bit flat but decent enough considering its age.

Extras: * The 1967 pilot episode for “Laugh-In.” * A 40 1/2 minute interview with executive producer George Schlatter who talks about the show’s inception, the series and cast, and more. * “25th Anniversary Cast Reunion Highlights”-15 minutes from a special that contains cast member Q&As and lots of jokes. * 24 ½ minutes of bloopers.

Season 1 is available on DVD September 5, 2017. The complete series is now available on TimeLife’s website.

August 12, 2017 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , ,

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