DVD Review: Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (The Complete Fourth Season)

The third season of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In had the series still on top with it’s fast editing ways and a dozen punchlines a minute punchline. But major changes took place over the summer with the cast. Jo Anne Worley, Goldie Hawn, Henry Gibson and Judy Carne left the show. People figured Goldie wasn’t going to stick around since she won an Oscar for Cactus Flower and the studios were eager to get her back on the big screen. Normally the loss of such amazing talent would spell doom. But the arrival of Lily Tomlin halfway through season three immediately kept audiences stuck to the show. They were eager to see the next thing out of the mouth of Edith Anne and the telephone operator. Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Fourth Season has Lily Tomlin in control and the final season Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi played together.

The season four cast brought back Gary Owens, Alan Sue along with Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. The new kids included Johnny Brown (who’d play the janitor on Good Times), Dennis Allen, Harvey Jason, Nanci Phillips, Ann Elder and Barbara Sharma. Sharma would be best known for her tap dancing skills. The new cast would have so much fun in 1971-72 as the Age of Nixon was about to erupt. You might want to read up on disgraced Vice President Spiro Agnew. Laugh-In remained an hour long party of weirdness on the TV dial.

Even with the cast changes, the show kept with the quickies over trying to expand out sketches like other comic variety shows. They kept up the news of the past, present and tomorrow. The Mod, Mod World took on topics at a machine gun pace with a musical number tying it together. The Fickle Finger of Fate trophy still gets given out. In a sense, this mocking of a bizarre person is like a segment on The Daily Show. This wasn’t The Carol Burnett Show. The guest stars this season included Joey Bishop, William F. Buckley, Phyllis Diller, Truman Capote, Art Carney, Bob Newhart, Debbie Reynolds, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Flip Wilson, Wilt Chamberlin, Vincent Price, Rod Serling and Orson Welles. The big star moment is when Goldie returns to the set with an Oscar winning attitude.

Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Fourth Season catches the show after a big turnover that allowed Lily Tomlin to shine as they got to poke fun at a burning Spiro Agnew.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The standard definition video transfer looks fine for the age. The audio is Dolby Digital mono and doesn’t let the laughs step on the punchlines. The episodes are subtitled.

Interviews with Lily Tomlin (10:41) and Arte Johnson (25:02) have them reflect on their time at Laugh-In.

Time Life presents Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Fourth Season. Starring: Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi and Arte Johnson. DVD Boxset: 26 episodes on 7 DVDs. Released: May 8, 2018.

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