Time Life releasing the 1968-69 second season of the classic comedy series "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" on January 9, 2018 is the latest in the long (and rapidly growing) additions to the Time Life catalog that remind us of the awesomeness of comedy-oriented variety series of the era. Time Life releasing "Laugh In" S3 on March 6, 2018 provides even more reason for a sexy mod party.
The uniqueness of "Laugh In" extends beyond presenting its material as rapid-fire jokes that straddle the line between vaudeville and the more racy content of burlesque. A prime example of this is having the worth their weight in solid gold dancers Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne gyrate in bikinis with apt slogans related to the theme of the week body painted all over them.
A more blatant example of the "naughty" aspects of "Laugh In" is having future "The Partridge Family" star Dave Madden explain during his inaugural appearance in the S2 season premiere that he will toss confetti in the air anytime that he has an impure thought in any appearance. Suffice it to say that the real-life cleaning crew for the show does a great deal of sweeping.
Other raciness comes in the form of much of the clever PG banter between hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin; a typical exchange has straight man Rowan make an innocent comment such as commenting that he admires Martin for being progressive by hiring a woman plumber and Martin replying that she does a good job cleaning his pipes.
The notable aspects of the S2 season premiere extend beyond Madden joining the cast. Then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon makes his well-known appearance in that episode. This demonstration of a sense of humor both is credited with helping Nixon win that election and is notable for coming roughly 25 years before what pundits consider the historic event of then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton playing his saxophone on "The Arsenio Hall Show" to enhance his populist image.
This episode additionally introduces the weekly "Fickle Finger of Fate" honor that Rowan and Martin award for absurd stupidity and/or waste. Designing a trophy that passes muster with the network censors does not diminish the impact of honoring the recipient with this distinction.
Politics also enters the picture via early versions of a news crawl that literally send a message; the first S2 one informing presidential candidate George Wallace that his sheets are ready for pick up shows that "Laugh In" barely holds its punches in this regard.
A more kind-and-gentle ongoing bit has cast members doing the classic schtick of joking about the names that celebrities would have if they married; a hypothetical example is Doris Day becoming Doris Day Jobs if she marries Steve Jobs.
Speaking of celebrities, "Laugh In" apparently attracts more stars than there are in the heavens. "Get Smart" star Barbara Feldon is an obvious guest for the first S2 outing. Co-guest Jack Lemmon is a less obvious participant but is equally awesome. Film royalty Greer Garson and Otto Preminger showing up and fully embracing the spirit of the series a couple of weeks later is more surprising.
We also get Eve Arden indirectly insulting her sitcom of that era "The Mothers-In-Law" and the sons of John Wayne separately showing up regarding a bit centered around trying to get their father to appear again after being an S1 guest.
The numerous other A-listers (including several national treasures and "it" stars) reflects the same sense of the coolness of guesting on "Laugh In" that is associated with being on "Saturday Night Live" or "The Simpsons" in the early seasons of those series.
In addition to outdoing SNL in caliber and quantity of celebrities, "Laugh In" outshines the "Weekend Edition" feature of that son of that classic. The "Laugh In" news of the past, the present, and the future segment is largely self-explanatory. The aforementioned predictions focus on the far-off year of 1988.
The spectacularness of "Laugh In" continues with the catch-phrases and characters that have never fully left the public consciousness and have found new life in these DVD releases. The aforementioned "sock it to me" is an eternal classic; watching the DVDs has triggered memories of the equally hilarious "look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls," and the "very interesting" catchphrase of the German solider character of Arte Johnson. The awesome thing is that these references barely scratch the surface regarding the number of memorable characters.
It is equally nice that we only need to wait two months to get the S3 episodes in which then-new cast member Lily Tomlin introduces the world to Ernestine the "ringy dingy" operator and adorable little girl Edith Ann.
The bigger picture is an element of "Laugh In" that shows how it vastly outdoes all modern shows; in addition to lacking any filler, this series literally has the cast and guests pop in to keep the hilarity going until the final second of the closing credits.
Time Life doing this series proud extends beyond the high-quality rermastering of the episodes and including a bookket with detailed episode synopses. The special features are three 20-minute interviews with Dick Martin, series announcer Gary Owens, and cast member Ruth Buzzi.
Highlights of the Martin interview include his sharing how he and Rowan team up and how that partnership leads to small-screen gold; Owens similarly discusses how his fooling around leads to "Laugh In" having an announcer and the homage that that personality offers. Buzzi focuses on how her pre "Laugh In" career influences her work on that show and how she befriends a real-life inspiration for a character on the series.
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