A five-week summer replacement series on CBS in August of 1971, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was an immediate hit. One of the top touring acts of the sixties, it had been a few years since their last hit, “The Beat Goes On.” However, variety shows were big in the ’70s and an appearance on The Merv Griffin Show convinced Fred Silverman, head of programming at CBS, that the married duo could be the network’s next big thing. Sonny and Cher’s musical arrangements, good natured verbal sparring and celebrity guests entertained viewers for three seasons, totaling 63 episodes.
Time-Life five DVD set I Got You Babe – The Best of Sonny and Cher contains ten episodes from across the series run. Things kick off with the first episode during their summer test run. The duo set the tone for the show–breezy musical arrangements of their hits and other pop songs of the day, friendly bickering between the two (Cher knocked on her husband for any number of reasons), and a guest appearance from Jimmy Durante. While the elderly Durante seems like an odd first guest to book for a show looking to appeal to the youth demographic, the “Inka Dinka Doo” singer helped launch the show very well. One skit, “Commercial Americanus” proves so popular that Jimmy Durante returned for January 10, 1972 episode to do the sketch again.
By 1972, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour had found its groove. As the series popularity grew, so did the star power of the guest stars. Tony Curtis and Dinah Shore turn up on the January 3, 1972 show. Carroll O’Connor, near the beginning of his run as Archie Bunker on All in the Family guest stars on the January 10, 1972 episode. Carroll sings his own lyrics to “Remembering You”, the closing theme song heard at the end of each All In the Family show. The season also featured appearances from Art Carney of The Honeymooners, Jerry Lewis, The Supremes (sans Diana Ross, who had already left the group), NFL legend Jim Brown, George Burns, Burt Reynolds, Bonanza’s Lorne Greene and a host of other big names of the era.
My personal favorite from the set is an episode from September 26, 1873. A medley of hits from Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, plus Bobby Vinton is along to sing “Blue Velvet.” What a lineup. Great Stuff.
The program featured regulars Terri Garr, Freeman King, Peter Cullen, Billy Van, Murray Langston (later the ‘Unknown Comic’) and Ted Zeigler. The show grew in the ratings over the three seasons, helped by having it go from Monday at 10 p.m. to Wednesday at 8 p.m. Despite finishing eighth in the ratings for the 1973-74 season, when Sonny filed for divorce, CBS had no choice but to cancel the series; 58 hours later, on February 22, 1974, the final episode of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was taped.
The ten episodes of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour included in this set provide a look at what made the show a hit and more importantly, a glimpse at a young Cher, still developing her style, who would become legendary for her singing and acting abilities. Sonny was elected to Congress in 1995, he died in a skiing accident three years later.
Presented in 1.33:1 full frame, for standard definition video, it does a good job of capturing the designs Bob Mackie came up with for Cher. The Dolby Digital mono track sounds fine for a show that was recorded on a soundstage in front of a live audience. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. English subtitles are included
The following extras are available:
- The Barbara McNair Show (8:07) A kind of “back door pilot” from 1970. Sonny & Cher do a comedic bit about Sonny’s mother; Cher sings a beautiful rendition of “Danny Boy.”
- Jerry’s Place (14:27) Jerry Blavat’s show on Philadelphia television. Sonny talks about being in Philly to check out studio space so he can make an indie film. Blavat was a big-time disc jockey in the town. Sonny & Cher sing “I Got You Babe,” and discuss playing in clubs.
- Interview with Cher (17:09) The singer/actress reminisces about her long career in show business.
- Frankie Avalon (10:23) The singer discusses how he guest starred on their live act in Vegas for a three week run. This is where Fred Silverman saw the couple.
- Producers Allan Blye and Chris Bearde (16:34) They discuss being part of the series after being part of the legendary Elvis Presley comeback special. Fred Silverman brought them together with Sonny and Cher.
I Got You Babe - The Best of Sonny and Cher (1971-74)
Movie title: I Got You Babe - The Best of Sonny and Cher
Duration: 10 Episodes on 5 DVDs.
Actor(s): Cher, Sonny Bono
Genre: Comedy, Music