Time Life more fully establishes itself as the king of DVD releases of '60s and '70s A-List celebrity variety shows with the February 11, 2020 DVD release of "I Got You Babe: The Best of Sonny and Cher." This 5-disc set with a modern-era interview with Cher and other truly special feature joins epic sets of (reviewed) "The Carol Burnett Show," "The Jackie Gleason Show" and (reviewed) "Laugh In" in the Time Life catalog.
Although "Burnett" and "Laugh In" are bigger hits, "Sonny" arguably better reflects pop culture and has greater influence over TV Land. This brainchild of lowest-common denominator genius Fred Silverman reflect the wisdom of "I Love Lucy." Ala Desi Arnaz, Bono puts his ego aside to let his more appealing and talented spouse be the main attraction,
On a related note, the playfully bickering husband-and-wife variety show format helps pave the way for similar '70stastic television fare that follows. The closest homage is "The Captain and Tennille," "Donny and Marie" also is very similar, and the influence extends to "Tony Orlando and Dawn."
Moving into the '80s, "Sonny" (ala "Lucy") ending when the stars experience irreconcilable differences also reflects "Happy Days"spin-off "Joanie Loves Chachi" ending for reasons that include Joanie no longer loving Chachi.
The "Sonny" set beginning at the beginning lets us see the genesis of the series; subsequent episodes in the set show how it evolves.
Two constants are Mr. and Mrs. Bono coming on stage at the beginning to sing a duet and give Cher a chance to deliver short, Italian, and fat jokes that reflect the era in which people have a sense of humor. Cher asking Sonny if he is a horny toad after he shares a review that states that he sings like a frog also is typical. Copious related humor that makes it clear that Sonny will be handling his romantic urges pro Bono that night are surprisingly racy for network television of the era.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as to "offensive" humor of the show. Much of this revolves around black ensemble member Freeman King, who does not seem to mind jokes that include him saying that he likes watermelon pie.
The first guest being Jimmy Durante both makes it clear that (ala "The Monkees") the Bonos are harmless hippies. This also shows that "Sonny" reflects the same wisdom as Burnett, who find that the best guests are the ones who can both sing and act.
The style of humor on "Sonny" much more reflects the rapid-fire and politically edgy style of "Laugh In" than the more extended (and kinder and gentler) sketch format of "Burnett"; not that there is anything wrong with that.
"Sonny" borrowing from "Laugh In" extends beyond incorporating a party scene in which regulars and guest stars fire off one-liners. "Sonny" regularly has Cher lead an all singing all-dancing group of troupers in a bit that intersperses short skits around a central theme. An example of this is the Art Carney episode that parodies Army life through the years; there surprisingly is no reference to Vietnam.
A variation of the above is the well-known regular bit in which Cher sings her "Vamp" song accompanied by skits that feature femme fatales throughout the ages.
The aforementioned bonuses include an interview with "Sonny" producers Allan Blye and Chris Bearde; their reminiscences include future Congressman Bono saying at an early discussion of the show that he has more substance than his "stumblebum" TV persona. This is particularly clear as to an insightful Bono dominating the conversation in a 1970 interview for the talk show "Jerry's Place" that is another bonus feature.
The biggest takeaway from all this further borrows from Burnett; her wisdom related to her wit is that something this is funny remains eternally funny.