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The Groove Tube (1972)

Cast: Alex Stephens, Alex Stephens, Victoria Medlin, more...
Director: Ken Shapiro, Ken Shapiro
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Henstooth Video
Genre: Comedies, Parodies
Running Time: 74 min.
    see additional details...

Channel One was a New York-based comedy group which presented short satirical sketches concerning television. What set this group apart was that they performed in front of genuine TV cameras, while the audience watched on TV monitors strategically placed throughout the theater. Many of the best, and most censurable, Channel One sketches were assembled by the group's mentor Ken Shapiro and released to theaters as the feature-length The Groove Tube. Shapiro himself stars in several of the sketches, most notably as "Koko the Clown," a kiddie-show host whose idea of "Make Believe Land" consists of smoking a joint and reading passages from Fanny Hill. Most of the Channel One players will be unfamiliar to audiences of the 1990s, save for Richard Belzer and Chevy Chase, the latter offering a most unusual rendition of "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover." The Groove Tube was originally rated X, thanks to such bits as "Safety Sam," wherein the audience is offered cheerful anti-VD advice by a talking penis. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Groovy! by EPetersen October 16, 2004 - 10:55 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
This raunchy, irreverent parody of 1970s network TV was produced, directed, and written by legendary TV producer-director-writer Ken Shapiro. A low-budget pet project and labor of love, The Groove Tube has become a bona fide cult classic - and a rarity not seen since its VHS release in the mid-1980s. But now, thanks to the great people at Hen's Tooth Video, The Groove Tube has arrived on DVD!

In the late 1960s, Ken Shapiro founded a comedy troupe called Channel One. They performed sketches that parodied network TV programming, using real TV cameras that were fed into multiple TVs that surrounded the audience. Most of the troupe's sketches were too raunchy for real TV.

After Channel One broke up, most of the players went on to become successful in TV and movies, including Ken Shapiro. In 1972, Shapiro decided to rework some of his best Channel One sketches into a screenplay for a low-budget feature film. He got the old Channel One players back together, including future stars Chevy Chase, Richard Belzer, and Bill Paxton, and they made this movie. Shapiro himself also appears, playing multiple parts. He was a talented comic actor as well.

Basically, The Groove Tube is a free-form collection of sketches and skits parodying network TV programming - both shows and commercials. There's the Sex Olympics, a rather unappetizing cooking show, an action show called The Dealers, (about the adventures of two drug dealers) a kids' show clown (Koko) who reads excerpts from erotic novels, an anti-VD public service announcement featuring a talking penis, and much, much more!

Even though the humor is dated because of its subject (TV programming has changed a lot since the early 1970s) and style, anyone who remembers 70s TV will still love it. Others will find that the writing was actually way ahead of its time; compare The Groove Tube to more current envelope-pushing raunchy sketch comedy shows like In Living Color and Mad-TV and you'll see what I mean.

The Groove Tube was originally rated X, but has been re-rated R without any cuts. This DVD features a full-frame transfer. I think that may have been the original aspect ratio; it certainly doesn't look heavily cropped to me.

The bottom line: The Groove Tube is groovy fun for grownups, so don't miss it!

- Eric Petersen

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.27)
45 Votes
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