'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In' S6 DVD: Final Season of 'SNL' Predecessor Literally Leaves Us Wanting More
EDITOR'S NOTE: Unreal TV is proud and privileged to announce that '70s child star/"Laugh-In" Cousin Oliver Moosie Drier has granted an interview regarding his experience joining that series in its final year. This interview is scheduled to run during the weekend of September 7, 2018.
The Time Life September 4, 2018 DVD release of the 1972-73 S6 of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" provides a chance to see a genuine TV time capsule. This set also allows completing your collection of this musical sketch-comedy show that straddles the line between vaudeville and burlesque in delicately balancing between edgy social commentary and incurring the full wrath of the powers-that-be.
The larger legacy of "Laugh-In" includes introducing a comparable quantity of catch-phrases and other pop-culture humor as that of the '60s spycom "Get Smart." Would you believe that these expressions include "sock it to me," "look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls," and "The Fickle Finger of Fate?"
We further get genuinely enduring characters. The better known ones are Ernestine the telephone operator and Edith Ann the precious five-and-a-half year-old girl. This is not to take anything away from frumpy Gladys Ormphby and her regular partner-in-comedy dirty old man Tyronne F. Horneigh. We further get the German soldier with the "veeery interesting" catchphrase.
But wait there is more. "Laugh-In" also launches the careers of many household names that include Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Ruth Buzzi.
The legacy of "Laugh-In" begins with starting life as a 1967 special that is such a phenom that is becomes the series that is still loved more than 50 years later. The review of the S2 season, post on S3, thoughts regarding S4, and recent S5 article chart the evolution of the series. These musings include summaries of the past, present, and future film and television stars who help make the series so special.
"Laugh-In" paving the way for "SNL" is comparable to "The Simpsons" making adults watching cartoon cool; this impact of that show about a nuclear (of course, pun intended) American family more specifically makes the once-great three-hour "Animation Domination" block on Fox Sunday night possible,
The comparison continues with "Laugh-In" leaving the air long before any stagnation period that infects any 30-year series. This exit while still strong further allows the copious musical-variety series of the era to fill the gap in the manner that "Bob's Burgers" almost certainly will move into "The Simpsons" time slot when that series completely outstays its welcome on the prime time schedule.
The numerous changes that are apparent from the opening moments of the S6 season premiere reflect methods to freshen up the series in manners that future shows emulate. This effort that reflects an adapt or perish attitude likely would have included adding Ted McGinley and Heather Locklear to the ensemble if those two actors had been performing in 1972 and were a little older.
Adding 10 year-old child star Moosie Drier to the cast a few years before Cousin Oliver moves in with the Bradys reflects dual campaigns to bring in fresh blood and to attract more younger viewers. The primary contribution of Drier and another boy is an adorable and hilarious "Dear Moosie" segment that involves reading kid-friendly letters seeking advice and Mossie providing answers that are pure vaudeville.
The season-opener also introduces the audience to the "Laugh-In" cheerleaders who are akin to the Vegas showgirl style Mermaids who join "The Love Boat" late in the run of that classic. This also is the era in which late-to-the-party McGinley joins the cast as Ace the ship's photographer.
A unexpected diminished amount of political humor and an equally surprising reduction in the edge of the jibes at elected officials in this Watergate era likely reflect a combination of the following considerations., "Laugh-In" may have decided that playing nicer would have helped ratings, they may have been effectively directed to not discuss Watergate, and that scandal may have prompted the American people to decide that the wrongdoings of our leaders have reached a toxic level that no longer is funny.
We further see "Laugh-In" emulate phenom "The Carol Burnett Show" in a "Laugh-In" version of an audience Q & A session. This version being less kind-and-gentle than the comparable "Burnett" segments highlights the differences between the series.
The aforementioned roster of A-Liisters begins with incredibly good sport John Wayne, whose history includes a faux refusal to appear in early seasons. The best brains at "Laugh-In" mine wonderful humor spoofing the conservative tough guy image of Wayne. The Duke playing along illustrates that the best guests on any comedy show are the ones who go with the flow.
We next get Dyan Cannon joking about her recent role in the racy comedy "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice." Her opening bit in which she jokes about playboy host Dick Martin grabbing at her in a dark dressing room perfectly illustrates the era of f**k 'em if they can't take a joke now being a period of f**ked if you tell 'em a joke. The lesson here is to understand the context of humor along the lines of knowing that Ralph Kramden threatening to send wife Alice to the moon is far different then either joking about putting her in the hospital or actually hitting her.
Star of film and television Ernest Borgnine helps wrap things up in the final episode; his role primarily consists of joking about his well-known roles in productions such as "Marty" and "McHale's Navy." A highlight of the episode is pointing The Fickle Finger of Fate in a surprising direction regarding the final bestowing of that award for reprehensible behavior. In many respects this reflects the validity of giving this award to any individual or entity that cannot laugh at itself,
The good news regarding the series finale is that it maintains the quality of the show and literally leaves the audience wanting more. The bad news is that it seems that Rowan, Martin, and company do not realize that this is the season finale, let alone their very last time together in the spotlight. There are no references to any endings, and a preview of the next (apparently lost) episode literally promises more to come.
Cursory online research does not provide any answers; the probable reason is that diminished ratings and/or NBC making a last-minute decision to put another series in the "Laugh-In" time slot denies this ground-breaking series the final exit that it deserves. Either way, this justifies NBC getting the final Fickle Finger of Fate award.