Showing posts with label Not on DVD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Not on DVD. Show all posts

NOT on DVD: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

"The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," which ran from 1967-69, should be on DVD on the basis of historical interest alone: It was one of the most controversial and groundbreaking programs ever aired on U.S. television. But there is loads of entertainment value, too.

Steve Martin made his debut on the show and comedy regulars included Don Novello (later Father Guido Sarducci on "Saturday Night Live"), the so low-key you may wonder if he has a pulse Pat Paulsen, Rob Reiner and others. And just check out some of the YouTube videos below for the mind-boggling array of musical guests. (Trivia: That Who performance, with the huge explosion at the end courtesy of Keith Moon overfilling his bass drum with explosives, permanently damaged guitarist Pete Townshend's hearing.)

One of the most prominent of these is Pete Seeger. The folk star had been kept of television for years as a result of McCarthy-era blacklisting, but was booked onto the show at the Brothers' behest (Johnny Cash also bravely booked Seeger on his show).

And, not only did Seeger get airtime, he controversially used it to sing his tune "Waist Deep and the Big Muddy"--a scathing indictment of the Johnson Administration's Vietnam policy. The song was censored on Seeger's first appearance, but he was allowed to perform it during a subsequent visit. The tune still has a lot of resonance today, as the U.S. finds itself in another quagmire. (Interestingly, I just paid a visit to the Smothers Brothers' official site and saw that they are supporting an effort to nomintate Seeger for a Nobel Peace Prize.)

It was that anti-war stance, and the regular criticism and poking-fun at Johnson and Richard Nixon that ultimately got the popular show canceled

I don't know what sort of behind-the-scenes rights/business shenanigans are keeping this show off disk, but they need to stop!

In the meantime, I guess all we've got are bootleg snippets like those featured below and "Smothered," a 2002 documentary about the show's colorful history.

Pete Seeger

George Harrison

The Who

Harry Nilsson

Peter, Paul and Mary/Donovan/Smothers Brothers

Buffalo Springfield

The Hollies

The Byrds

Simon And Garfunkel

The Association

Steve Martin



Pete, in his comments to this post, mentioned the Mason Williams' hit "Classical Gas," which had its debut on the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." Williams, also a comedian, was a writer for the program and helped launch Steve Martin's career. "Classical Gas" became a hit record after it's debut on the Smothers' show, and you can see a video of it here:

NOT on DVD: Ringo Starr 1978 TV special

Officially titled "Ringo," this show is sometimes called the "Ognir Rrats" special, since it featured the former Fab playing a character by that odd name (his own moniker spelled backwards), as well as himself.

Basically an excuse for some songs and comedy bits featuring Ringo and friends, the special had a very loose "Prince and the Pauper"-type plotline, with an unhappy-with-fame Ringo swapping places with a down-and-out doppleganger.

Guests included Ringo's old pal George Harrison along with John Ritter, Angie Dickinson, Mike Douglas, Art Carney, Carrie Fisher and Vincent Price.

Very silly. Very 70s. But surely there'd be at least a small market for it on DVD?

I haven't seen it since the day it first aired nearly 30 years ago and I'm fairly certain it's awful. But, still, at that time it was fun seeing Ringo being Ringo on TV, with George along for the ride. And it'd be fun to see it (maybe just) once again.

You can probably score a cruddy bootleg DVD or videotape of the show on eBay. I also found it, in two chunks, on the Web: