The ’60s gave us “in-crowds,” “be-ins” and “love-ins,” and starting in 1968, the happening place for free-form comedy was Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, broadcast from beautiful downtown Burbank. Straight man Dan Rowan and wisecracking co-host Dick Martin led a gaggle of goofballs including Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Judy Carne, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Gary Owens, Jo Anne Worley and Alan Sues through a rapid-fire assault of one-liners, skits, bits and non sequiturs that left viewers in hysterics and disbelief. Anything and anyone in the public eye was a target. Political correctness? Forget it! The off-the-wall groundbreaking, Emmy Award–winning show would go on to anchor the Monday 8 p.m. time slot on NBC until March 12, 1973, transforming both pop culture and the medium of television.
What We Thought:
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series is now available for the first time outside Time/Life. Time/Life has released some amazing box sets, but usually it’s the only place you can buy them. Now you can buy this beast of a box set at retail through places like Amazon.
And when I say beast, I mean it. It’s 37 discs with all 140 episodes remastered with 89 of those episodes not previously available at stores. I’ve gone over individual seasons previously so this will be about this set itself which is quite impressive and the historical aspect of the show. You get the pilot episode. You get the 25th Anniversary cast reunion. Bonus features include cast interviews. If you want every bit of Laugh-In, here it is.
And honestly, with a show as groundbreaking as it was, you do want all of it available. If it wasn’t for Laugh-In, would we have Saturday Night Live? MADtv? Key & Peele? The Kids in the Hall? Even Hee Haw? Probably not.
Goldie Hawn became a star thanks to the show. Lily Tomlin too. Then there’s the countless guest stars including Richard Nixon when he was running for president. We remember recent presidents appearing on shows like when Bill Clinton appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show, but Laugh-In got Nixon! You weren’t big until you hosted Saturday Night Live, well you weren’t funny until you guest starred on Laugh-In 20 years previously. It set TV norms well before anyone knew what was happening. Music, comedy, politics, whatever, Laugh-In did it and did it well. And you can see all of it in this collection.
Even though the show ended years before I was even born, a set like Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series is right up my alley. I find shows like this funnier than most of what’s on TV today. Today they are afraid to offend someone and don’t try anything new. This was groundbreaking. This was new and fresh. This changed TV. If you are a fan of the show, this set available at retail is…
- Laugh-In pilot
- 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion Highlights
- Interviews with Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Dick Martin, Gary Owens, Alan Sues, Lily Tomlin, and creator and executive producer George Schlatter
- Laugh-In Bloopers
- Still Laugh-In: A Tribute to George Schlatter