Saying “Sock It To Me” will get you stared at today, but in 1968 it was just one of many catchphrases that were permeating the TV watching public. That’s because it was from a new show, ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN, which dissed the establishment with comedy, wit and a cast of intelligent yet zany and (most important) funny people, many of whom went on to well-deserved fame. How many know, for example, that Goldie Hawn started out not just as a “dumb” blonde but one who danced covered in colorful tattoos? Or that Barbara Feldon would go on to take over “Control” as the no-nonsense Agent 99? Or that for a limited amount of time a ukulele playing person name “Tiny Tim” would rise to national fame? If the 60’s have become a cliche of “love-ins” and “psychedelics”, then this was the show that embraced and gloried all that with humor. Plus it was really, really colorful to watch if you were fortunate enough to have a color TV or knew a friend who did.
Based on fast moving sketches, and even faster talk, ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON also introduced the two hosts, who were less important than the cast and guests. Sometimes it seemed that Rowan and Martins’ purpose was to do introductions and acted as placeholders (straight man and wisenheimer) between the action so that the audience could catch their breath. The cast shared the stage weekly with a host of guest stars that read like a time machine today, for example Milton Berle, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lewis among others who are still with us like Cher.
Composed of 4 DVDs, the 14 episodes of Season One have been remastered and frankly looks better than what most TV viewers were watching at the time. Plus it’s stereo sound, not found on the Zenith TVs of the day. Plus over 50% of the episodes are making their debut to the home audience. Also included are hours of bonus material including a new interview with the show’s creator, a blooper reel and a 25th Anniversary special (the 50th anniversary of the first season not being too far off now).
Retailing at $24.95, ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON pushes the bounds of what was then political correctives by poking it in the eyes and self-identifying as contrary to all that sedate and carefully to not offend stuff. Forget about streaming and pop in a disc and sit back to laugh. Really laugh.