I was grown and educated on Robert Youngson's compilation of 'Golden Age of Comedy' which by the end of the 50s was bringing back to audiences world-wide the great masters of the first decades of comedy in the cinema. The endless collection of gags made me and all audiences roll under the theater chairs with laughs and at the same time taught a lesson I never forgot about the great comedians of the screen - from Keaton and Chaplin to Laurel and Hardy.
The six part series from PBS could have done the same thing, It covers a much longer period, practically the whole 20th century and each part is dedicated to one specific genre - stand-up, family shows, physical comedy, wise-guys parody. The main problem is that the show while quite informative and well written is simply not enough fun. The first episode is especially boring, and if I had to watch it weekly rather than get all six episodes recorded I doubt that I would have shown up the next week at the same hour on the same station. Rather than talking heads we could have used more comedy. Making a too serious documentary about comedy is a capital sin.
(and come on - a the family comedy episode that does not mention 'Married with Children'?)
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