Monday, August 12, 2013

The Carol Burnett Show – This Time Together DVD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Featuring 17 complete and unedited episodes handpicked by Burnett herself, the newly-packaged set includes over two hours of exclusive bonus features such as the “This Time Together: a cast reunion” featuring Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner, guest appearances from A-listers like Dick Van Dyke, Sammy Davis Jr., Lily Tomlin, Hal Linden, Steve Lawrence, Peggy Lee, Bernadette Peters, The Pointer Sisters, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara and much more!  Showcasing some of the most memorable and hilarious moments from CBS-TV’s star-studded series, This Time Together contains many of the classic sketches and characters that will forever be a part of “The Golden Age of Television.”

Show (5 out of 5 stars) 

By 1967, Carol Burnett was a veteran television actress who had either been a guest star or a supporting actress for a variety of television shows including stints on “The Paul Winchell Show,” “Stanley,” “Pantomime Quiz,” “The Tonight Show,” and in what would be her big break, a regular gig on “The Garry Moore Show” where she even won an Emmy.  Burnett spent three years on that show honing her craft while also starring in  Off-Broadway and Broadway shows like “Once Upon a Mattress” which only increased her visibility.  As if that wasn’t enough, she was also doing her own television specials with guests like Lucille Ball and Julie Andrews (a special that won her a second Emmy) that were very well received.
The CBS television network noticed her popularity and decided to sign her up for specials to appear on their network.  That alliance proved to be successful and when Burnett’s contract came up f0r renewal, Burnett had the choice to star in a situational comedy or she could “push the button” to enact her rare clause in her contract to create her own variety television show.  Burnett decided to gamble on the variety show and “The Carol Burnett Show” was born.
The show would go on to become a massive hit and lasting eleven seasons as well as making stars out the of the cast. Burnett surrounded herself with talented people behind the scenes and on screen with Harvey Korman, Vicki Lewis, Lyle Waggoner, and last but not least Tim Conway, who many believe was a regular on the show from the beginning but in actuality, he was just a frequent guest star that wasn’t brought on board full time until the show’s fourth year.  There were a lot of cast changes over the years as Waggoner left in 1974 (and ended up starring in “Wonder Woman”) and three years later Korman left too with Dick Van Dyke being brought in to take his place.
Van Dyke ended up leaving after three months and frequent guests Steve Lawrence and Ken Berry were added to the show for its final season.  The show had a lot of popular sketches that have been included in this set including: the soap opera parody ”As the Stomach Turns”, ”Carol & Sis”, “Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins”, “The Family” (which would later become the spin-off show called “Mama’s Family” that would last for seven years), “Nora Desmond” (Burnett’s send-up of Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond), and “Stella Toddler”, and “Kitchen Commercials”, where the cast members would parody TV commercials.  The show would prove to be highly influential and it ended up winning twenty-five Emmys over the course of its eleven year run.  This volume includes 17 episodes from various seasons and showcases some of the most acclaimed moments of the show.    Take a look at these episodes to see why: 

Show #612, Original Air Date: November 8, 1972

Guest Starring:  Steve Lawrence, Lily Tomlin
  • We’re All Playing in the Same Band/I Believe in Music—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle, Steve Lawrence, Lily Tomlin, Dancers and Singers
  • Comedy Spot: Restaurant Monologue—Lily Tomlin
  • Carol and Sis: The Gay Divorcee—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lily Tomlin
  • I Get Along without You Very Well/Without You—Steve Lawrence
  • The Godfather—Carol, Harvey, Lyle, Steve Lawrence
  • Caged Dames—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lily Tomlin, Steve Lawrence
  • Charwoman: If My Friends Could See Me Now/Baby Dream Your Dream—Carol
  • Goodnights

Show #914, Original Air Date: November 29, 1975

Guest Starring:  Pointer Sisters
  • Q&A
  • TV Commercials—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki
  • Save the Bones for Henry Jones—Pointer Sisters
  • The Noisy Speech—Harvey and Tim
  • Miss Nobody—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki
  • Cinderella Gets It On—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Pointer Sisters
  • Goodnights

Show #824, Original Air Date: April 5, 1975

Guest Stars from Family Show
  • Q&A
  • The Family: Hardware Store—Cast
  • Mama’s Hit Parade Medley—Carol and Vicki
  • Shower Blackout: When Your Lover Has Gone—Carol
  • The Oldest Man: Clock Repair—Harvey and Tim
  • Ain’t That Nothin’—The Ernie Flatt Dancers and Singers
  • Charwoman: The Two of Us/Carol’s Theme—Carol
  • Goodnights

Show #1102, Original Air Date: November 11, 1977

Guest Starring:  Dick Van Dyke
  • Q&A
  • A New Leash on Life—Tim, Vicki, Dick Van Dyke
  • It All Depends on You—Carol and Dick Van Dyke
  • The Malpractice Policy—Carol and Tim
  • The Late Late Late Show: The Enchanted Hovel—Carol, Tim, Vicki, Dick Van Dyke
  • Finale: The Funnies: It Was Me—Carol, Tim, Vicki, Dick Van Dyke
  • Goodnights

Show #821, Original Air Date: March 15, 1975

Guest Starring:  Roddy McDowall, Bernadette Peters
  • Q&A
  • The Family: Visit to Phillip—Cast and Roddy McDowall
  • All That Jazz—Bernadette Peters, Singers and Dancers
  • The Typists—Carol and Bernadette Peters
  • The Late, Late Movie: The Lady Heir—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Roddy McDowall
  • Finale: Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock Paris ’90sMini-Musical: Good Clean Fun/Dear Friend/Matchmaker, Matchmaker/Will He Like Me/Sunrise, Sunset/Days Gone By/The Very Next Man/If I Were a Rich Man/Do You Love Me/She Loves Me—Carol, Harvey, Bernadette Peters, Roddy McDowall, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #901, Original Air Date: September 20, 1975

Guest Starring:  Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Q&A
  • Backstage—Carol and Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Medley: Yes I Can/Too Close for Comfort/Something’s Gotta Give/Hey There/The Birth of the Blues/Candy Man/What Kind of Fool Am I—Sammy Davis Jr.
  • No-Frills Airline—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • The Deputy—Harvey, Vicki, Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Finale: Salute to Harold Arlen Mini-Musical: Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe/Two Ladies in De Shade of De Banana Tree/Get Happy/Gotta Have Me Go with You/Come Rain or Come Shine/Hooray for Love/Follow the Yellow Brick Road/The Man That Got Away/Down with Love/Moanin’ in the Mornin’/When the Sun Comes Out/I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues/Stormy Weather/Over the Rainbow/Let’s Fall in Love/Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Sammy Davis Jr., Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #704, Original Air Date: November 10, 1973

Guest Starring: Petula Clark
  • Q&A
  • The Ham Actor: Contact Lenses—Carol, Harvey, Lyle
  • Silver Spoon—Petula Clark
  • Airline Security—Harvey and Tim
  • The Old Flame—Carol, Harvey, Vicki
  • As the Stomach Turns: Marian’s Problem—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Lyle, Petula Clark
  • Salute to the’50s and ’60s: Yesterday Once More/Born to Hand Jive/Peppermint Twist—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Petula Clark, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #1001, Original Air Date: October 16, 1976

Guest Starring:  Madeline Kahn
  • Q&A
  • The Family: The Rehearsal—Cast and Madeline Kahn
  • Talk and Duet: Friend—Carol and Madeline Kahn
  • Mrs. Wiggins: The Vending Machine—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • That’s Entertainment, Part 86That’s Showbiz/Oo-Oo-Oo-Oo-Oo/Slippery When Wet—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Madeline Kahn, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #1017, Original Air Date: January 22, 1977

Guest Stars from Family Show
  • Q&A
  • Wrong Number—Carol and Tim
  • Saturday Night—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • Nadia’s Theme—The Ernie Flatt Dancers
  • The Recital—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki
  • Vacuum Salesman—Tim and Vicki
  • The Late Late Late Show: Torchy Song—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Dancers
  • Goodnights

Show #1106, Original Air Date: October 29, 1977

Guest Starring:  Ken Berry, Dick Van Dyke
  • Q&A
  • Mrs. Wiggins: Ol’Paint—Carol and Tim
  • Girls/Emily—Ken Berry, Dancers and Singers
  • Hand Insurance—Carol and Dick Van Dyke
  • The Late Late Late Show: Stolen Serenade—Carol, Tim, Vicki, Dick Van Dyke, Ken Berry, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #706, Original Air Date: October 13, 1973

Guest Starring: Eydie Gorme, Paul Sand
  • Q&A
  • The Parolee—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle
  • Take One Step—Eydie Gorme
  • Honeymoon Sweet—Carol and Paul Sand
  • Royalty—Harvey, Singers and Dancers
  • Salute to Movie Series: Young Dr. Kildaire/The Cisco Kid/Tarzan/The Wolfman—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle, Paul Sand, Eydie Gorme
  • Finale: The Dead End Kids: Gee, Officer Krupke!—Carol, Harvey, Lyle, Paul Sand, Eydie Gorme
  • Goodnights

Show #610, Original Air Date: November 1, 1972

Guest Starring:  Peggy Lee, Stiller & Meara
  • Q&A
  • Sunday Comics: Mary Worthless—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle
  • A Song for You—Peggy Lee
  • Comedy Spot: Mr. and Mrs. Chou En-lai—Stiller & Meara
  • Girl Talk—Carol and Peggy Lee
  • As the Stomach Turns: Circus Soap—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller
  • The Auto Accident—Carol, Harvey, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara
  • Finale: Street Wedding: The Rhythm of Life—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, Peggy Lee, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #710, Original Air Date: December 8, 1973

Guest Starring: Edward Villella, Lucette Aldous
  • Airplane—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Lyle
  • It’s Today—Carol
  • Q&A
  • The Oldest Man: The Conductor: William Tell Overture—Harvey, Tim, Sydney Symphony Orchestra
  • Ballet: Corsaire—Edward Villella and Lucette Aldous
  • The Ham Actor: The Drunk—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle
  • Finale: Charwoman: Swan Lake/For All We Know—Carol, Edward Villella, Lucette Aldous, Australian Ballet
  • Goodnights

Show #908, Original Air Date: October 25, 1975

Guest Starring: Pointer Sisters
  • Q&A
  • The Family: Charades—Cast
  • How Long (Betcha’ Got a Chick on the Side)—Pointer Sisters
  • Take My Drink…Please—Carol and Harvey
  • Mr. C: Just in Time—Tim and Singers
  • Mr. C: Make Someone Happy—Tim and Singers
  • Sheepman Jack—Harvey and Pointer Sisters
  • Fight to the Finish—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • Finale: Get Me to the Church on Time—Carol, Vicki, Pointer Sisters, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #624, Original Air Date: March 24, 1973

Guest Stars from Family Show
  • Keep It in the Family—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle, Dancers and Singers
  • Q&A—Carol, Vicki, Lyle
  • Barbary and Ben—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle
  • Dueling Banjos/Arkansas Traveler—The Ernie Flatt Dancers
  • The Getaway—Vicki and Lyle
  • The Elbow: Dem Bones/The Elbow—Carol and Harvey
  • The Old Old Movie: Rancid Harvest—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle
  • Charwoman: Without Me She Is Nothing—Carol
  • Goodnights

Show #1019, Original Air Date: March 5, 1977

Guest Starring: Hal Linden
  • Q&A
  • The Ham Actor: Astro-Bowl—Carol and Harvey
  • I Won’t Last a Day without You—Hal Linden
  • Talk: Carol and Hal Linden
  • The Oldest Man: The Captain—Harvey and Tim
  • Riverboat Mini-Musical—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Hal Linden, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Show #714, Original Air Date: January 5, 1974

Guest Starring: Steve Lawrence
  • Q&A
  • Monkey Man—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • Maybe This Time—Steve Lawrence
  • Stella Toddler: Grauman’s Chinese Theater—Carol, Harvey, Lyle
  • In Buddy’s Eyes—Carol and Steve Lawrence
  • The Ad Men—Harvey, Tim, Lyle, Steve Lawrence
  • Finale: With a Pow! Pow! With a Bang! Bang! Bang!—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Lyle, Steve Lawrence, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights 
While I enjoyed the first Carol Burnett set Carol’s Favorites more than this set, this one still has a lot of funny sketches that makes it a worthwhile purchase.  This set is a mix from the show’s eleven years and for the first time, we get a look at some of the show’s latter episodes when Dick Van Dyke had stepped in once Harvey Korman had left the show.  I’ve always been a huge Dick Van Dyke fan so it’s great to finally be able to see two of his appearances on the show.  As expected, he shows off his remarkable physical comedy skills and his great rapport with Carol Burnett.  Other highlights of this set include fan favorite sketches such as “The Family,” “Mr. Tudball & Mrs. Wiggins,” “The Oldest Man,” “The Charwoman,” “The Ham Actor” and “As The Stomach Turns.”  I was glad to see a couple of “The Ham Actor” sketches because Harvey Korman is so funny in them.
There’s also some parodies this time including “TV Commercials,” “No Frills Airline,” “The Recital,” and “Airline Security.”  I was also surprised to see an episode that was filmed outside of their usual studio when they traveled to the Sydney Opera House in Australia to put on a show with Edward Villella, Lucette Aldous, and members of the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.  Speaking of dancing, usually during these kind of variety shows when it comes to the dancing or singing parts, I lose interest because I prefer the comedy sketches, but in this set the dancing segments are much better than they were in the previous set.  They are more intricate, better choreographed, and they now usually include the guest star as well which adds a new twist to the segments.  If you haven’t seen a variety show before, which isn’t hard to believe as it seems all that’s on television these days is mind-numbing reality shows, then you should give this set a chance and see why it was so popular then and even now after all of these years.

Video (3 out of 5 stars) 

Much like the previous set, the video quality still looks pretty good for a show that’s over forty years old.  The show’s original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame has been maintained.  That’s not to say these episodes don’t show signs of age because they do, as there are occasional artifacts and blemishes that pop up.  Color however looks excellent for the most part with the variety of different costumes looking very distinct and vivid.  Detail is probably as good as it’s going to get when you factor in the age of the show and the way it was filmed and stored.  I’m just happy to see all of these on DVD at least and that the show wasn’t

Audio (3 out of 5 stars) 

Just like the video quality, this English Mono tracks also illustrates the age of the show in the audio too.  There’s some hiss present but the dialogue is clear enough so there’s no difficulty in understanding what’s being said.  The many songs in the show also sound pretty good but a little flat.  For a show this old, this sounds better than I expected and while I would like it to sound even better, this is acceptable. 

Extras (3 out of 5 stars) 

Compared to the previous set’s wealth of extras, this set is pretty bare bones considering the show’s longevity.  Maybe they wanted to spread them out across the various sets, but considering how much the previous set had, it’s a little surprising to see how stingy they were this time.
  • This Time Together – Another cast reunion with Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner that I believe took place after the death of Harvey Korman.  It’s pretty good but I preferred the one on the other set that included Korman.
  • Interviews – We get some short but interesting interviews with frequent guest star/cast member Tim Conway and another frequent guest, Steve Lawrence.  I enjoyed the Conway interview as he had a lot of good anecdotes but Lawrence’s interview he spends as much time talking about himself than he does the show.  We also hear from the star herself – Carol Burnett and also from cast member Vicki Lawrence.
  • Gags and Gowns – A Tribute to Designer Bob Mackie – A short look at the man who came up with all of the costumes and occasional prop costumes which added a lot to the show.

Summary (4 out of 5 stars) 

There are few shows that have had the lasting power of “The Carol Burnett Show”.  Eleven years and twenty-five Emmys are nothing to sneeze at and these sketches are still wildly popular.  If you haven’t seen this very funny show then this set is a great introduction to it and its fantastic stars.  It’s also a rarity as it’s a really  show that the entire family can watch and enjoy too.   It’s also fun to see the guest stars come to have fun with Carol and company too even if some of the jokes and song and dance routines seem dated now.  This is still a very funny show and I highly recommend it!
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