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, January 29

The Goldbergs - "Geoff the Pleaser" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Adam questions his career path of filmmaking when “the other Adam” moves back from Los Angeles and warns him making it big in Hollywood isn’t easy. Meanwhile, the JTP house is in shambles, and Geoff becomes the home manager as they know how much he loves to please and can’t say no.

Schooled - "Titanic Love" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The hit film has love on everyone’s brain, and Lainey has a realization about CB. Meanwhile, Principal Glascott uses the season’s bad football team to teach Coach Mellor how to be both a good winner and a good loser.

Modern Family - "Tree's a Crowd" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Dunphy house is bursting at the seams when Dylan’s hippie mom moves in and Claire’s lonely stepdad, Jerry, wants to pay them a visit. Meanwhile, Jay and Gloria attempt to help Manny get over his big breakup with Sherry.

Single Parents - "Yarn and Pebbles" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
While Graham joins Derek at Ratso’s for a day of father-and-son bonding, a jealous Angie enlists Douglas to help her make sure they don’t bond too much. The twins and Rory eat all the food in Douglas’ house to save his life, and Poppy and Miggy try to help Will with a dating situation named “Kay,” only to have it backfire.

Last Man Standing - "Yours, Wine and Ours" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Kristin entrusts Mike with her gender reveal party.

Outmatched - "Pilot" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Kay and Mike cope with raising three high-IQ children.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 27)

Wednesday, January 29

  • Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) - Watch Lakeith on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Kumail drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Dan Levy (Schitt's Creek) - Dan is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Tom Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Tom appears on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Aisling Bea (Living with Yourself) - Aisling is a guest on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Ilana Glazer (Broad City) - Ilana chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus (Still the King) - Billy Ray appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Tommy Davidson (Between Brothers) - Tommy talks about his new book Living in Color on NBC's Today in the 9am hour, on Tamron Hall (check your local listings), on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET and on the BUILD Series at 4pm.
  • David Alan Grier (The Cool Kids/The Carmichael Show/Bad Teacher/Life with Bonnie) - David is in the kitchen making brisket and dishing on his new Broadway show A Soldier’s Play on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly is a guest on E!'s Pop of the Morning at 11am and on People Now at 12pm.
  • Tim Robbins (The Brink) - Tim talks about VHYes on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy talks about the Hotel Tonight travel app on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Danielle Fishel (Girl Meets World/Boy Meets World) - Danielle is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One

11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
11/18 - The Guest Book - Season Two
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (Blu-ray)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
12/03 - The Simpsons - The Nineteenth Season
12/03 - The Simpsons - Seasons 1-20: Limited Collector's Set
12/06 - 9JKL - The Complete Series
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Atlanta - Season 2 - Robbin' Season
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
12/17 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (2019 Release)
12/17 - The Other Two - Season 1
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season ((Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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