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Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

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I remember watching reruns of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" as a child, as well as their short-lived revival in the late 1980s. While there was always a feeling of "before my time" to the shows, I remember thinking they were funny, but I definately don't remember them as risqué. So when I saw an article on this Bravo documentary, I became interested and rented the DVD.
This film documents the difficulties Tom Smothers, and the rest of the staff behind the show, had getting their content to air. CBS originally brought in the brothers to go up against Bonanza, a timeslot that was considered doomed due to the popularity of that show. Tom Smothers, who was apparently the major creative force behind the show, was given full creative control over the Comedy Hour, mostly because CBS brass expected the show to fail like its predecessors.
Once the show began to air, the seemingly straight-laced brothers began to show their (or perhaps just Tom's) true colors, injecting some quasi-subversive counter-culture messages into the show. As these anti-draft, anti-war, and marijuana-friendly messages and themes began to become more prominent in the show, Tom (and the rest of the writing staff of the show) began to lock horns with the CBS Programming Standards and Practices department.
This film not only taught me alot about how the Smothers Brothers fought the good fight, but also how several artists (Rob Reiner, Steve Martin, etc.) got their start on the show. I had always regarded the Smothers Brothers as funny, but this film gave me a whole new respect for them. In light of the sanitized media we are being subjected to every day, it is nice to see that these problems have always been around, and that someone has always been around to challenge that authority. 

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 January 2013 05:49  


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