"Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" Pilot (TV Episode 1967) Poster

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Here's Dan & Dickie!
Chip_douglas7 November 2005
In the second week September, in a year not too long before our own, Spock traveled back to Vulcan for Pon Farr, the Monkees fought El Diablo and Batgirl debuted on Batman. Also, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin hosted their very first Laugh-In, starring a line up from 'practically everywhere'. Interestingly enough, series regular Judy Carne is introduced as a guest star, along with Pam Austin, Ken Berry and Barbara Feldon. Of the lesser, featured performers only Monte Landis failed to make it into the regular cast, but he still ended up playing a different villain in nearly every episode of the Monkees that same season (but not El Diablo).

Most of the usual Laugh-in elements are already here: The Cocktail party, It's a Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod, World (with a look at women), the bits with the elevator, the jabs at Vietnam, the body painted Go-go dancing and Henry Gibson's poetry. Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi have most of their trademark characters ready to go, though Gladys Ormphby has to cope without Tyrone for now. The News of the Future is here, but no news of the present. There is a look into the past, but it's not connected to the news. The song introducing the news is also different. What's missing is Dan Rowan's mustache, announcer Gary Owens, Goldie Hawn, Alan Sues, the Fickled Finger of Fate Award and the Joke Wall. We witness Judy Carne getting it socked to her for the very first time, but the accompanying expression had yet to be coined.

For once, the audience and the entire set are plainly visible, very much like they would be on the first few years of SNL. Some of the featured cast is 'introduced' in a extended segment called the "New Talent Department" This includes Jo Anne Worley's ventriloquist act. Larry Hovis does some lame news items behind a desk, two years prior to John Cleese and eight years before Chevy Chase. Barbara Feldon appears as the personality of the week (Scout Mistress Barbara Stuffed), go-go's in a skin tight body suit, and sings a couple of numbers with the other galls. When Judy and Ken do a song and dance act it looks like she forgot to put on the bottom half of her outfit. There is a larger amount of prerecorded footage than usual, especially towards the end when a silly 'Pink Panther' style chase scene leads to far out end credits featuring the cast blissfully bouncing enormous beach balls. All in all a great way to turn the audience into the Laugh-In generation. Cause 'Laugh-in is a state of mind', according to Danny & Dickie. In this case, a state brought to you by a famous watch manufacturer.

8 out of 10
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tforbes-229 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I clearly missed seeing this as a youngster (I was alive in 1967), but seeing this pilot almost 50 years after its initial airing is a revelation.

While the special itself was crude, it is immediately clear the show would be picked up. It was indeed very different from the usual comedy show, and it reflected the sensibilities of that memorable year of 1967, which is 50 years ago as of this writing.

While Gary Owens is absent here, some of the elements are already present, such as the cocktail party. One thing I liked with this special and with Season 1 was the New Talent portion of the program. Ruth Buzzi, who remained with the show to the end, turns in a memorable performance here. We also have the news segment as well!

Getting back to the crudeness of the show, some of the bit sequences play out like something from "The Banana Splits," which would air a year later on the same network as "Laugh-In" (and would factor in a crossover bit in fall 1968). Overall, this is truly worth a watch, because of its historical value! And it has value, since I remember television from that era, having grown up in that time.
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This "Pilot" of "Laugh-In" is quite amusing as the first of its kind
tavm10 July 2019
I've been aware for a while that a DVD set of the entire series of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" is at my local library, but it wasn't until the recent passing of cast member Arte Johnson that I had decided to check them out. So here I start with the special that eventually led to the eventual first season of the show. Among the familiar characters introduced here are Ruth Buzzi's Gladys Omphby and Johnson's Wolfgang the German Soldier both in the first "Cocktail Party" sketch though Wolfgang appears throughout the show always saying that eventual catch-phrase "Verrrry interesting!" The hosts are the comedy team of Dan Rowan & Dick Martin. We also get the first two of Henry Gibson's poems and the first time Judy Carne gets doused with water (but she's yet to say "Sock it to me!"). Among the guests are Ken Berry and Barbara Feldon who appears in more skits than any of the other guests maybe because she was also on another NBC show called "Get Smart" at the time. Quite amusing this first ep of the show though I'm sure it gets better as it gets going in subsequent ones. By the way, on the DVD version, there was also a Timex commercial with John Cameron Swayze and a skater who is doing what he does with that watch on his skate... P.S. During the "singing weather" segment, both Chicago and Baton Rouge-cities I was born in and live in now, respectively-are mentioned one after the other in that order.
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The Show That Changed TV Viewing Forever
PatrickHFriel13 July 2008
It's very surprising to see no other comments attributed to the groundbreaking, innovative 1967 Pilot of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In".

I remember the pilot distinctly to this day. Oh, I don't mean each gag or joke but, rather, the impact it had on my brain and all my senses. I felt, after watching the show, much the same as when a youngster experiences their first roller-coaster ride. "Wow!" I thought. "This is new and I want more-lots more!"

"Laugh-In" the pilot and the many seasons that followed planted its unique historical footprint with as much subtlety as General George Patton's tanks "tip-toeing" across Europe during World War II.

The show was responsible for causing a generation of TV style comedy to become extinct. No longer were we young TV viewers satisfied with sitting through "dull" adult style stand-up with the likes of a suited Jack Benny. Then, at that time, a Jonathon Winters could stand in front of a camera and transform an empty wallet into various hand puppet characters…for minutes on end!

Benny, Gleason, Winters, Coca, Caesar, Berle et al are truly comedic geniuses, an attribute which will never be taken away from them. However,"Laugh-In" robbed us young ones of our patience of having to sit through set-ups to the inevitable punch-line or sitting through Bob Hope's adult / political style banter with the home audience while going straight over the heads of we bored children at their feet.

No. No, indeed. When that young, hip, bawdy, naughty, machine gun joke delivering new generation comedy show "Laugh-In" rode into town…even if it was Burbank…a lot of pink slips rained down on those now old-time writers, producers and talent.

Geez! Forty years ago, huh? I must be getting old. I now enjoy watching Jackie Gleason's "The Honeymooners" on the tube.
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Still In Development
DKosty12311 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is kind of a rough pilot. While it is basic elements of what was to come, this pilot is not ready for prime time. Ruth Buzzi, Ken Berry, Barbara Feldon, Arte Johnson, & Judy Carne join Rowan & Martin on this pilot. There are a lot of things missing from the show that would develop.

The studio is rough and there are shots of the live audience that watched this one. Their seats look very much like the original trading floor of Let's Make A Deal and considering NBC is where Monty started, it is quite posible that is where this pilot was shot.

The humor is a little flat. The dancing and singing are Gong Show Level. The budget is so thin that there are none of the celebrity black-outs that would later be the element that would take the series to the top. This one does not have Gary Owens to announce. There's a lot missing, but hey it's only a pilot. The pace will pick up later on in the series. The cast would grow and the humor would get better. In this one, the humor is pretty much dreadful, but then it would not rise too much later. It's just the faster pace and more talent would help put it over better.
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