HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Funny how my hazy old recollection of this show was that it started running out of steam circa 71-72.  To the contrary, a new viewing shows that it just kept getting better and better--so that, in fact, by the time ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Time-Life, 6-DVD set) rolled around, it was faster, wilder, and funnier than ever before.

With the departure of Artie Johnson, Ruth Buzzi is now the last surviving original cast member, but it's still a great cast nonetheless.  Semi-veterans such as the ever-hilarious Lily Tomlin and the deliriously silly Alan Sues are aided by the now-familiar Ann Elder, Dennis Allen, Barbara Sharma, and roly-poly impressionist Johnny Brown, while the great Gary Owens remains as the show's permanent announcer.

And with the cancellation of "Hogan's Heroes", two of that show's former cast members--Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis--now join the "Laugh-In" gang of regulars.  Dawson in particular takes to the format as to the manor born, cementing his stature as one of TV's leading comics with his dry, improvisatory humor and sense of the absurd.

The format itself remains loose and unpredictable as ever, juggling such familiar features as "Mod World", "Quickies", "Present and Future News" (with kid actor Moosie Drier now supplying "Kids' News" from his treehouse), "Cocktail Party", "Fickle Finger of Fate", and others. As always, the show's main weakness is its tiresome song and dance numbers, which are best fast-forwarded through.

Famous guest stars are aplenty since just about everyone wanted to be on the show.  John Wayne appears several times, along with such stars as Raquel Welch, Rita Hayworth, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Hackman, Johnny Carson, Carol Channing, Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Johnny Cash, Edward G. Robinson, Hugh Hefner, Bob Hope, Paul Lynde, Liza Minnelli, Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price, Carl Reiner, Henny Youngman, and many more.

A special feature of this 24-episode collection is the inclusion of the show's 100th episode.  This sees the return of original cast members Arte Johnson, Judy Carne, Jo Anne Worley, Henry Gibson, and Teresa Graves, as well as the very first "Laugh-In" guest, Tiny Tim.

Rowan and Martin themselves continue in their hilarious comedy tradition with Dan as the perfect straight man and Dick as the perfect fool.  Like the show itself, their comedy is stream-of-consciousness, non-sequitur-based silliness performed by a couple of aging, booze-swilling swingers hitching a ride on the sexual revolution.

If this sounds good to you, or you're already a fan and want more, ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON is the good stuff in undiluted form, and plenty of it.

Format: DVD/6 Discs
Running Time: 1239 minutes
Genre: TV DVD/Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo


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