15. 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour' (1967-1969)
Rob Reiner, who, along with Steve Martin was on the writing staff, told the Archive for American Television that The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was "the most brilliantly well-oiled comedy machine," and "the most cutting-edge show on television at the time." Goofball Tommy and straight man Dick looked and sang like choirboys, but their fraternal shtick was deceptively counterculture. Political satire on TV is abundant now, but in 1967, their veiled drug references and jokes about bloated defense spending gave CBS ulcers. In 1968, they battled CBS to allow Pete Seeger to sing critically about the Vietnam War, then later lost over a pointed Harry Belafonte appearance, which was nixed and replaced with a commercial for Nixon's presidential campaign. Tommy openly mocked how the censors limited what he could say when chatting with guest George Harrison. The quiet Beatle lent support: "Whether you can say it or not," he urged them on the air, "keep trying to say it." Their trying eventually got the show cancelled.