Time Life awesomely socks it to us one more time regarding the July 10, 2018 (POSSIBLY delayed a couple of weeks) DVD release of the 1971-72 S5 of genuine pop culture phenom "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." The legacy of this music-variety show includes recruiting the biggest stars of past, present, and future and launching the careers of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. This is not to mention topical humor that makes the Smother Brothers ask "did they just say that?"
The episodes remain very strong and look and sound perfect better on DVD than as originally aired on NBC. However, one glaring omission earns Time Life The Fickle Finger of Fate award that "Laugh-in" bestows for onerous acts. Time Life does so exceptionally well with extras that include new interviews with cast members on the S1 through S4 sets that the absence of any extras on the S5 set is moderately disappointing. At least give us a "Best of" S5 clips or a blooper reel Judy.
The myriad S5 changes begin with a cast member other than hilariously flamboyant Alan Sues showing up with a beard. We also see the sad departure of Arte Johnson and the fun arrival of Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis of the '60scom "Hogan's Heroes." We additionally get the debut of a new bit in which double-coyote-ugly spinster Gladys Ormphby (Ruth Buzzi) dreams that she is married to historical and fictional men. Tarzan is first up.
The very special guest star is '60s sex kitten Raquel Werlch, who fully embraces the spirit of the series as enthusiastically as other A-Listers who appear. A highlight is Welch teaching Gladys how to sexy only to have things take a rip-roaring twist.
The season premiere further is notable for having Martha "the Mouth" Mitchell make numerous outrageous comments of the variety that keep husband Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell awake at night. Vice-President Spiro Agnew is the her primary target.
This premiere also begins a "must-see" ongoing bit in which "Adam-12" stars Martin Milner and Kent McCord appear in character. These leads of that early "CHiPs" series showing their comedy chops is wonderful fun.
The highly sports-oriented second S5 episode features numerous top (and past) athletes. Football player Roman Gabriel is the headliner. ("Broadway" Joe Namath shows up later in the season.) The rooster includes jockey Willie Shoemaker and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
The epic 100th episode brings back former "Laugh-In" stars Judy Carne, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, and Jo Anne Worley. John Wayne and Tiny Tim also join in on the fun. A highlight includes precious five-year-old Edith Ann meeting her elders in a two senses of that word.
A snarktastic episode has Paul Lynde join fellow Friend of Dorothy Alan Sues; pairing Lynde with macho man John Wayne makes things even better. Sadly, Charles Nelson Reilly appearing in another episode prevent the one with Lynde achieving a trifecta.
Giving all the other guest stars his or her due is an almost impossible task. The best way to provide a sense of this is to share that dropping the names Liza Minnelli, Carl Reiner. Rita Hayworth, and Debbie Reynolds barely scratches the surface.
The bigger picture this time is that "Laugh-in" perfectly captures the spirit of Unreal TV. It achieves its objective of providing a break from the harsh realities of the late '60s and early '70s just as well as it does regarding out own challenging times. It further avoids the toxic lethalness of the 21st century by following the equally insult everyone philosophy of Don Rickles; the show seems to give Richard Nixon and LBJ equal time.