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Fowler’s Flix 12.31.18: Make ‘Em Laugh x 3

Larry, Moe and Curly are up to their numbskull antics in Time-Life's "The Best of the Three Stooges".
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What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

Of course, in case love is all sold out, I’m sure a century of filmed laughs will do. From the well- marketed trio of smart-aleck legends to an ahead-of-his-time weirdo that was big on early television, all the way to one of the undisputed stand-up heroes of the 1980s, these massive collections of hilarity will leave each generation—and those interested in the generation’s before them—rolling on the floor.

For those knuckleheads who missed Sony’s individualized volumes a couple of years back, they’re going to want to pick up the three volume set of The Best of the Three Stooges (Time-Life). Larry, Moe and Curly’s career of short film—and don’t forget stints from Shemp, Curly Joe and Joe Besser—is mostly essayed here, eye-gouging and nose hair-plucks for all to emulate on their younger brothers, ranging from about the early 30s to circa 1945.

While we all know what total amusement to expect from the Stooges and their antics, the third volume is of particular interest for completists: besides episodes of the long-underrated cartoon series, also included are the virtually ignored feature films including Have Rocket, Will Travel, The Outlaws is Coming and Rockin’ in the Rockies, as well as the 2000-era made-for-TV biopic that’s definitely worth a view. Or three views.

To celebrate his 100 th birthday, Ernie Kovacs: The Centennial Edition (Shout! Factory) is well over 20 hours of groundbreaking mirth from the almost-forgotten mad-man of 1950s comedy. Kovacs’ spontaneous comedy was a surreal thing for television back in the day, predating the non-comedy of Andy Kaufman and especially the insanity of Adult Swim by decades.

This DVD package includes episodes from his NBC Show Kovacs on Music, five ABC-TV specials and even the rare pilot for Medicine Man, co-starring silent film hero Buster Keaton. Watching these collected specials from a comedian whose work I had very-little-to-no-knowledge of outside of a name, it’s a bizarrely hilarious sojourn through the history of the American side of bizarre uniqueness, mirroring Peter Sellers and the Goon Show on this side of the Atlantic.

Last up, it’s a mostly side-splitting remembrance of the manic—in more ways than one—performer Robin Williams in Robin Williams: Comic Genius (Time-Life). Tracking his career from stand-up routines to stardom as Mork from Ork, to guest appearances on Carson, Leno and Saturday Night Live to starring in some of the most-loved comedies of the 80s and 90s, it’s strange to realize that not only is the man long-gone, but it’ll be almost five years this summer since he’s passed.

Two volumes with six discs each, included here is all of William’s HBO specials, USO tour appearances, the first six episodes of Mork and Mindy and, most interestingly, the 2018 HBO documentary Come Inside My Mind which is worth the price-tag alone. For fans of the actor, this is a mostly seminal collection that goes far beyond the performer we know and deep into the shadows of who we realize didn’t.

Laughter is the best medicine they say—that’s what they tell me, at least—and these comedians and the collected histories of their work might as well be the whole darn pharmacy. Consider this a prescription.

Next week: Television events of a future past…

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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