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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > TV Variety Show > Skits > Pat Paulsen’s Half A Comedy Hour (1970/MPI DVD Set)

Pat Paulsen’s Half A Comedy Hour (1970/MPI DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B-



In the wake of Ed Sullivan’s final years and the rise of color videotape, the TV variety show hit its stride and a star very specific to that era that retro revisits and posers trying to evoke the time always miss is deadpan comic actor Pat Paulsen.  He jokingly ran for president in 1968 and became a regular on controversial The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  That show was cut short despite very high ratings by pro-Vietnam CBS, so ABC stepped in and gave Paulsen his own show.


Unfortunately, Pat Paulsen’s Half A Comedy Hour was rushed and despite sharing a night that included classic hits like That Girl and Bewitched, only lasted 13 episodes.  A then-unknown Steve Martin was one of the staff writers and Bob “Super Dave” Einstein was a cast regular, but the result was a show that was uneven and not always funny.  However, when it works, it is as funny as similar shows of the time.  When not funny, it is often a time capsule of the era and I still pleasant viewing.


The segments where Paulsen tries to carry the show himself happen too often and more cast participation was needed.  A segment where he rides around on what seems like a motorcycle is one of the best ongoing gags.  The show also boasts interesting guest appearances by Tom Smothers, Hubert Humphrey, Debbie Reynolds, Don Rickles, Henry Fonds, Jo Ann Worley, Don Adams, Mike Connors, Joey Heatherton, Andy Williams and Angie Dickenson.  For Looney Tunes fans, early episodes have “interviews” between Paulsen and Daffy Duck, then Foghorn Leghorn.  The voice in both cases is by Mel Blanc and hand-drawn animation is superimposed on videotape.  There is ghosting and fringing too.  Hope the footage survives and can be readded (maybe in HD?) down the line.


The 13th episode is a cheat show, compiling bits from the first 12, but this is a show worth revisiting because of its attitude, approach, unique feel and interesting energy.  There are no musical numbers, save a song by Paulsen himself imitating an older crooner.  Too bad this was not a hit because I would have liked to see where the show could have gone if it had the chance to develop.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot in professional analog reel-to-reel color NTSC videotape and shows its age throughout, but color is not bad and a little 16mm film surfaces in parts.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is better with as much cleanness and clarity as can be expected.  Extras are surprisingly many and good, including a water safety film Paulsen made that is very funny, The Paulsens Remember Pat with his children paying tribute including some good stories, a bio, Greatest TV Bits compilation, very interesting network promos, Pat Paulsen Should Have Been President featurette and compilation of TV commercials he did in his career that runs about 10 minutes and rounds out an exceptional bonus section over the two DVDs.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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