Sunday, February 21, 2010
If you watch a show on network TV like Modern Family or 2 And A Half Men and wonder how they get away with "saying that", you may want to thank (or maybe blame)"The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour". What began with a clean cut pair of brothers who did folk songs with a little comedy mixed in, ended with two angry brothers (eventually with each other) at all out war with the CBS network censors, the government and the Viet Nam War.
David Bianculli writes the history of the brothers, who start out in clubs and work their way up to a "sure to fail" time slot against TV's gold standard, Bonanza. TV viewer may not have been aware about all the battles going on because every taped show had to be submitted to the network censors. The Smothers did not for the most part use bad language or sexual situations. They mostly poked fun at the U. S. Government in ways that now seem quite tame. The show was eventually cancelled after being renewed, triggering an expensive lawsuit. The ironic thing is that had the network allowed the show to run it's course, the show may have been soon forgotten. By sending the show to an early demise, the brothers became a cause celebre and a symbol of the war on the establishment that so characterized the 1960s.