20 October 2005 | zippgun
The Smothers boys contribute to the fantasy sitcom genre
Tom Smothers is an incompetent apprentice angel,sent back to earth by angel supervisor "Ralph" to earn his spurs(er..wings?),by helping people,using "angel powers",usually roping his frequently exasperated living brother Dick into his adventures. This was the first of the Smothers brothers TV shows of their own,a half hour black and white sitcom,which lasted a year,the premise of which was hardly uniquely "whacky" in the era of "I dream of Jeannie","the Munsters" and the notorious "My mother the car".The brothers' status in the TV comedy pantheon is based on their later "satirical" variety-sketch show "The Smothers brothers comedy hour",and they seem embarrassed about,and dismissive of this predecessor.However,the show is a perfectly acceptable example of the "fantasy" sitcom,so popular at this time,and is by no means unworthy as a showcase for their talents.Each episode starts with a short stand up routine by way of an introduction to the story.Then Tom-reluctant Dick often in tow-launches into his latest "angel assignment"-to end a hillbilly feud,make sure an ex con doesn't return to crime,or whatever.Like its contemporaries,sometimes silliness threatens to overwhelm the whole thing,and Tom's comic persona can become irritating if allowed too much leeway.But the presence of fine supporting casts,especially co-star Roland Winters-as Dick's blustering boss at "Pandora publications"-and guests like Edward Andrews,Gerald Mohr and Percy Helton,good production from the reliable "4 Star" television company and interesting stories,all complement the likable brothers,helping to make a very watchable show.
This sitcom may well wear better today than the "Smothers brothers comedy hour",where the agitprop comedy is very much anchored in the political and societal concerns of the late 60s(nothing dates like satire!).Modern audiences who enjoy the escapist fantasy sitcoms of the 60s,and have exhausted the likes of "Bewitched",might enjoy discovering this "lost" show-rarely seen since its original transmission.A colorized version would do no harm to the "integrity" of the series,and enhance the slick "Madison Avenue 60s" clothes.