10 TV Shows That Pushed the Limits of Censorship

'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'
Dick Smothers, Glen Campbell and Tom Smothers on 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour' in 1969. CBS Images/Contributor/Getty Images

The Smothers Brothers: Tom and Dick, two nice, clean-cut young men who told jokes, played instruments and frustrated censors. From 1967 to 1969, the brothers fought with CBS over what could be aired on their popular musical variety show. Politically, the brothers were to the left, and their humor revealed it. In a 1967 skit, Tommy Smothers and Elaine May played censors, cutting words like "breast" from a script. Not surprisingly, that segment was axed. During the same year, Pete Seeger was scheduled to sing, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy." Censors decided it insulted soldiers and banned the musical number. Somehow the song lost its inflammatory nature, because Seeger was allowed to perform it the next year.

In the final season, Harry Belafonte was supposed to perform "Don't Stop the Carnival" while violent protests from the Democratic National Convention were shown in the background. Not only was the bit slashed, but a five-minute Republican commercial for Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon was added for good measure. At the end of their rope, CBS finally canceled the series, claiming the brothers had violated their contract by completing an episode late. Tommy and Dick later won a lawsuit that vindicated them. In this instance, the brothers got the last word.