Synopsis by Mark Deming
With their blend of folk singing and stand-up comedy, Tom and Dick Smothers became a popular nightclub attraction in the early 1960's and were frequent guests on many television variety shows of the day. In 1967, in a bid to win younger viewers away from NBC's perennially popular western series Bonanza, CBS gave The Smothers Brothers an hour-long comedy-variety series airing on Sunday evenings The show became an unexpected hit, and in their second season, The Smother Brothers and their writing staff (which at the time included Rob Reiner and Steve Martin) began using the show as a platform for satiric humor which examined key issues of the day, including the war in Vietnam, drugs, racism, and the right-wing policies of the Nixon White House. While the show remained popular, it also became wildly controversial, and The Smothers Brothers soon found themselves battling their network and the FCC for the right to say what they wanted on their own show. Smothered: The Great Smothers Brothers Censorship Wars is a documentary which explores the history of the show, and how network brass and Nixon's cabinet worked together to pull the plug on a hit TV series; the film includes interviews with Tom and Dick Smothers, Rob Reiner, Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, and Joan Baez.
censorship, comedian, controversy, duo, satire, television