Hee Haw, the stalwart 1970s rural comedy/variety program which struck a chord with Middle America and became a staple of television during that era, first on network and then in syndication, has now been archived as part of a 3-DVD set by Time Life titled The Hee Haw Collection.
Debuting in the late 1960s, Hee Haw was in essence a countrified version of the comedy smash hit Laugh-In, in which rapid fire one liners, catchphrases, blackouts, and fast-paced sketches were the order of the day. Taking the same basic core elements but adding a kind of “southern” feel to the proceedings, replete with famous country luminaries such as Roy Clark, Minnie Pearl, and Buck Owens, pretty cowgirls, and hayseed-themed comedy and characters, Hee Haw debuted on CBS in 1969. The show lasted for two years and then became one of the longest running shows in syndication history, a success story on par with other shows of the era, such as The Lawrence Welk Show and Soul Train.
The formula of the program harkened back to the earliest days of variety TV, performances of songs interspersed with witty and light banter by the hosts alongside fun and silly sketches which contained humor of the folksy Americana style, the cornier the better in a way, and it was this exact charm and sort of kick off your shoes and get lost in the program whimsy that endeared and supported its longtime success, a success which endures to this very day.
Now, Time Life has collected some of Hee Haw’s earliest programs on this nicely packed 3-DVD set. Included are performances by the aforementioned artists and also numbers by legendary country figures like Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Jr., Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty, and Loretta Lynn. It’s a testament to the program’s success to be able to have corralled appearances by the genre’s A-list, something that was able to exist throughout the entire program’s run.
Bonus material includes interviews with some of the key figures of the program and a collection of some of the better known and memorable skits from the program. A nice collection to induct the curious and perfect for the rabid fan, The Hee Haw Collection (available over at Amazon) will fit perfectly in any classic TV fan’s collection. More expansive deluxe sets are also available at Amazon.