I think I must have seen every episode of that show as a kid growing up and this behind the scenes look is fascinating. The author covers pretty much every episode their creation and evolution, and interviews many of the participants, many of whom went on to famous careers themselves. Steve Martin. Rob Reiner. And of course Pat Paulsen. I had never realized that the Bob Einstein who played “Officer Judy” and now haunts “Curb Your Enthusiam” is Albert Brooks’ brother. Tommy Smothers is particularly fascinating when you see how he was the driving force behind the show and realize just how sharp he is compared to the character he played. Even if you weren’t a big fan, this book also takes a look at a key transition in American culture as the show manages to straddle the traditional while making way for a new era. So many famous bands had their beginnings there. The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Buffalo Springfield. By the end, even the Beatles were guests. It made me miss the days of one television, 3 channels, and the whole family having to watch the same thing, especially when I got to snicker at the jokes that were targeted at my generation and going over the head of my parents. What’s sad is when you pull your head out of this book and look at the endless prattle of today’s reality television and realize we can never return to this level of creativity just because of the economics of television. Great stuff.
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Although the biography primarily focuses on the famous TV show that nuked the then boundaries of television, there is more to this solid look at this groundbreaking show. David Bianculli opens with a section on the childhood and early steps of the brothers entering the entertainment world until their key appearance on the Jack Paar show. However, it is the deep look into each show and the battles with CBS and with other members of the show over what can be said or used on the air that makes this a fascinating biography. Finally the ultimate tribute to Tom and Dick Smothers besides bios like this one is how far they opened TV with current satire that tore into the establishment. The show was killed in its third season in 1969, but Mr. Bianculli makes a strong case that its influence remains stratospheric today in Stewart, Colbert and Maher.
The Smother’s Brothers were what the country needed and the types that are still vital to our lives. It’s called honesty. The network executives without the back bones or balls to weather the storm are the ones to blame for removing them from the airwaves.
Anytime you have networks who live for the perks from the politicians who live for the perks from the lobbyists….well, you know the drill.
The Story is good and honest, thank you for letting me grow up being forced to think, not follow like a sheep.