Thursday, March 20, 2008

TV Rebels: Smothers Brothers; Fox Moves New Drama to Fridays; Baseball Time For SitcomsOnline

It is time for our monthly TV Rebels essay! We have gotten special permission to publish at least 6 different essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by author Lou Orfanella. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.

So without further adieu, we bring you the fourth column of TV Rebels:

The Smothers Brothers: You Can’t Do That on Television

In 1967 when CBS was looking for a program for the time slot against NBC's longtime Sunday ratings champ Bonanza the network turned to the popular comedy/singing brother duo Tom and Dick Smothers. The network ended up with more than it bargained for. In addition to their trademark folk music and "Mom liked you best" sibling rivalry banter, they brought with them an alternative/counter-culture point of view on the state of American society that triggered weekly battles between The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and the CBS censors.
Lampooning public figures, particularly political personas did not have a long history on American television when the Smothers Brothers debuted. That Was the Week That Was ran for a season and a half on NBC in 1964 and 1965 to some initial attention but faded relatively quickly. In addition to the presidential race between Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, the escalating war in Vietnam gave the brothers an unending stream of material. "With hundreds of G.I.s dying every week in Vietnam, those who opposed the war were widely seen as betraying America, and that was the dilemma the Smothers Brothers presented to a network that already took flak every time Walter Cronkite dropped so much as a hint of bad news. The Smotherses were recruited specifically to help CBS appeal to The Young People. But when they started to use words Young People used, like 'mindblowing' well, CBS wasn't about to let a word like that on the air when nobody at CBS was sure what it meant" (Hinckley).
To Tom Smothers the show's comedy reflected a society where young people wanted more of a voice. "Things had heated up in the Vietnam War and protests were out there, so we started reflecting more of what younger people were thinking. We were in our late twenties at that time and most of our writers were in their early twenties, so there was a certain passion there, and it showed up in sketches on the war and voter registration...we expressed those alternative points of view that weren't being reflected, and it became a battle with the network censors" (Lasswell 161).
Those battles with the censors over both the comedic and musical (singer/activists like Pete Seeger were welcomed by the brothers but not embraced by the network) content of the show continued through its cancellation in 1969. The reason for cancellation has been debated over the years. Some believe both the outgoing Johnson administration and the incoming Nixon administration put pressure on the network. Others believed that the duo attempted to push the envelope a bit too far. "Were they sacrificial lambs-as an incensed New York Times article claimed shortly after their dismissal-victims of behind-the-scenes political maneuvering? Or did they do themselves in by displaying a mixture of bravado, immaturity, and youthful rebellion intolerable to their network and sponsors? However their war ended, while it raged it was indisputably a clash of two generations, with TV's old guard being challenged to put up their dukes for the first time" (Neuwirth 32).
Attempts to revive The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour by ABC in the summer of 1970 and by NBC in the winter of 1975 met with lukewarm receptions, the political unrest of the 1960s already becoming a memory. Their irreverent legacy, however, is preserved in everything from Saturday Night Live to The Daily Show. Tom and Dick Smothers never faded from view, becoming nightclub and concert hall fixtures. They even resurfaced on CBS from 1988-1989 with yet another version of their comedy hour.

Works Cited
Hinckley, David. Line of Responsibility: The Smothers Brothers. The New York Daily News 20 May 1991: 39.
Lasswell, Mark. TV Guide: Fifty Years of Television. New York: Crown, 2002.
Neuwirth, Allan. They'll Never Put That on the Air. New York: Allworth, 2006.


Fox has made a schedule change starting this Monday (March 24). New drama Canterbury's Law, which seems to skew very old, will be on the move to Fridays at 9pm starting March 28. House repeats were airing in that Friday slot and now Fox will move those repeats into Canterbury's Law old slot of Mondays at 8pm starting this Monday. I am afraid to see how Canterbury will do following the low-rated new sitcom The Return of Jezebel James.

Don't forget to tune into the second episode tonight of new sitcom Miss Guided. Over 9.2 million saw the premiere at a later than usual time for a sitcom, so hopefully tonight it will match that or do better. Tonight will be the premiere of its regular night and time of Thursdays at 8:00pm. Ashton Kutcher and Jamie Lynn Spears guest star. It is a very good and funny episode. Better than the pilot, I think...see my review if you missed it. Tune in tonight at 8 on ABC!

Finally, we leave you today with some off topic news. Every year at SitcomsOnline.com we have various online fantasy sports seasons (provided by Yahoo!), such as Fantasy NBA, NCAA March Madness Pick'em, NFL Pick'em, and Fantasy MLB. We only have 7 teams thus far for our upcoming Fantasy MLB league and we need 12 teams...so 5 spots are open. Whoever joins first will be in. The live online draft will be tomorrow (Friday) at 11:15pm ET, so if you want to join, please play with us. If you can't make it to the online draft, you can pre-rank your players that you want. To find out how to join click HERE. Todd and myself will be in the league as well, along with other sitcom fans. You know this is a sitcom league as we have one team called "Furley's Ascots." So, sitcom fans, come join other sitcom fans in playing some fantasy baseball...this isn't like the Happy Days softball team, but still fun! Let's see if you all can beat me ;)


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, December 7

The Conners - "The Dog Days of Christmas" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The holidays are approaching and Dan meets his mother-in-law for the first time. Elsewhere, Darlene helps Becky with a parenting problem.

The Golbergs - "Worst Grinch Ever" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Sleigh bells are ringing! When Erica buys a festive baby toy, Beverly goes full on Grinch in an attempt to steal Christmas. Meanwhile, Adam discovers some surprising information about Brea, and the JTP host their first holiday party.

Abbott Elementary - "Holiday Hookah" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
On the last day of school before winter break, Janine is convinced by her friend to go to a popular Hookah Club where she runs into unexpected colleagues. Elsewhere, Jacob crashes Barbara and Melissa’s traditional holiday dinner and in the process begins to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

Home Economics - "Santa Suit Rental, $25 Per Day" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
The most wonderful time of the year brings some unforeseen financial troubles for one member of the Hayworth family. With the help of the entire brood and some holiday magic, the Hayworths are reminded that there’s nothing better than being home for the holidays.

Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Mr. Bills" (BET, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Curtis throws a fit about all the money he and Ella are spending, he implements drastic cost-cutting measures; things backfire when Ella follows his direction and begins cutting back on the things he enjoys.

Tyler Perry's Assisted Living - "Fight the Power" (BET, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Phillip has been very responsible and begs to drive Jeremy's new car; Jeremy gives him the opportunity to drive, Philip wrecks Jeremy's new car after a night out with his friends.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 5)

Wednesday, December 7

  • Will Ferrell (The Office/The Oblongs) - Watch Will on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Lil Rel Howery (Rel/The Carmichael Show) - Lil Rel appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Kumail is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Lisa Ann Walter (Abbott Elementary/Emeril/Life's Work/My Wildest Dreams) - Lisa will be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Zoey Deutch (The Suite Life on Deck) - Zoey gives details on the new movie Something from Tiffany's on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Mindy dishes on how she's gearing up for the holidays with her two young children, her new book studio and more on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Don Cheadle (The Wonder Years/Black Monday/House of Lies/The Golden Palace) - Don will be on The Jennifer Hudson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi sits down with Sherri to discuss her new holiday movie, A New Orleans Noel, book, Two Old Broads and her LEGENDARY Christmas sweater line on Sherri, so check your local listings.
  • Judy Greer (Reboot/Kidding/Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy talks about Reboot on E! News on E! at 11:30pm.
  • Liza Lapira (9JKL/Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life/Super Fun Night/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23/Traffic Light) - Liza is a guest on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:40am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September-December)

Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Ghosts - Season One The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Christmas Collection Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

09/06 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
09/20 - Kim's Convenience - The Complete Series
09/27 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Five / The Complete Season Six
10/04 - Mr. Mayor - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
10/04 - The Munsters - Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Cast
10/18 - Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season
11/08 - Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/08 - Young Rock - Season Two (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/15 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Seven / The Complete Season Eight
11/22 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/29 - Ghosts - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
12/06 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Christmas Collection
12/13 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season
12/13 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

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11/30 - That '90s Show Premieres Jan. 19; The CW Midseason 2023 Schedule
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11/17 - MeTV's A Very Merry MeTV Schedule; HBO Max's Sort Of Returns Dec. 1
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11/14 - Netflix Books Sebastian Maniscalco Comedy Special; Hallmark Channel Signs Hunter King for Movies
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11/07 - Showtime and Paramount Network Set Simultaneous Premiere; Jeff Dunham's New Comedy Central Special